Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

It’s Saint Carol now…*

April 16, 2009

… because I have been honored by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the lovely order of drag nuns who make San Francisco (and everyplace in the world you find them) a more fabulous and communitarian place. This, per their website, is what the Sisters are all about:

“…community service, ministry and outreach to those on the edges, and to promoting human rights, respect for diversity and spiritual enlightenment. We [the Sisters] believe all people have a right to express their unique joy and beauty and we use humor and irreverent wit to expose the forces of bigotry, complacency and guilt that chain the human spirit.”

CQ's Sainthood Certificate

CQ's Sainthood Certificate

And who doesn’t love that? Well, OK, I know some folks don’t, but hopefully one day they too will be converted.

So Robert and I went to Dolores Park on Easter Sunday, the Sisters’ really big shindig, and both of us were sainted: I am now Saint Carol, Queen of Orgasmic Pleasures (and Patron Saint of Positive Perversion), while Robert is Saint Checkmate (because sometimes the Queen takes the King from behind). (And if that seems like too much information or an unsaintly use of chess nomenclature, please recall that Robert and I are the king and queen of Bend Over Boyfriend, and apparently that movie has made the rounds not only of all the frathouses of America –oh, I can dream– but also of the Sisters.)

It may be possible, even, that we are the first male-and-female couple ever sainted together; I’m not sure, but I haven’t heard of another. Sometimes our gay friends make the nomenclatural error of calling us a heterosexual couple, but that is not, strictly speaking, correct. Bisexual is more like it, although that does imply only two genders… and we are both quite certain there are way more genders than that, and are not averse to being attracted to all of them. Surprise us!

On stage at The Sisters' Dolores Park Easter

On stage at The Sisters' Dolores Park Easter

Plus we’re honored together by inclusion on the Alternatives to Marriage website, along with other unmarried couples like Simone de Bouvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre. August company (to add to my collection from Oxford)! And we are in grand company as Saints, too, because the Sisters have really good, eclectic taste in this department as in other things, like, say, drag. I defy you to find me a more amazing wearer of eye makeup than a really done-up-for-Easter Sister of Perpetual Indulgence.

Sister Sarra Femme (r) and friend

Sister Sarra Femme (r) and friend

And Dolores Park on Easter Sunday is a miracle on every side, especially an Easter Sunday that proves the Rev. Fred Phelps has no clue, none, whom God loves or hates (because if God hated fags, or drag nuns, or any of us San Franciscans, it’d rain on the park every year instead of giving us suntans –it was a freakin’ beautiful day– and Pride Day would be nasty too and it usually is also beautiful, and the Folsom Street Fair is generally exquisite — and instead this year the rain was saved for the teabagging demonstrations on the East Coast).

Dolores Park on Easter features a zillion good-looking people, happy and gay, plus quite a few of their dogs, may of whom are also in drag (Easter bunny ears on greyhounds=TOO cute). Onstage you have many, many nuns, plus other famous people and performers and such (our sainthood ceremony was preceded by Kitten on the Keys, off to France now to be in a fabulous movie — and herself a Saint).

Sr. Sara Femme confers with Kitten on the Keys

Sr. Sara Femme confers with Kitten on the Keys

Plus the Easter Bonnet Contest! (My favorite was the guy whose hat held a full bar, complete with celery for the Bloody Marys — but he didn’t even place, that’s how many festive hats there were.) Plus the Hunky Jesus Contest! (This year’s winner: Brokeback Jesus, as in, “I cain’t quit you, Jesus.” An eerie convergence with all the illos on all the blogs of the Brokeback Mountain cover in stories about the homophobia-or-whatever-it-was meltdown.)

Bonnets on Parade

Bonnets on Parade

All in all an exquisite day, a great honor, and — oh, I almost forgot! — the 30th anniversary of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and their good works. Best wishes, dear Sisters, for many more — San Francisco and the world need you!

*Here’s what the sainthood certificate says — it’s powerful stuff:

“For upholding and promoting the ideals, beliefs, and convictions held sacred by the Order,

For creating positive changes in our world by by honoring The Mind, The Body, and The Spirit,

For perpetually dedicating untold hours of freely expended energy in service to The Order and The Community,

For promulgating Universal Joy! and expiating stigmatic guilt everywhere you go, Be it decreed from this day forward that

Your transgressions will be reduced to mere fluff in the eyes of the Goddess who knows all and forgives all,

Your good works shall be remembered in honor and in perpetuity,

You shall forever stand as a pillar of strength in The Community,

You are hereby perpetually allied with the Order of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Inc.

Therefore, Sainthood is forever Proclaimed on this Honorable Day, April 12, 2009…”


I Donned My Cloak of Promiscuity and Went Down to Oxford…

March 13, 2009

… to engage in one of the most thrilling intellectual adventures of my life: debating at the Oxford Union. Yes, that Oxford. In England. And the topic, “This House believes that Promiscuity is a virtue, not a vice,” is truly the debate I was born to have. You can imagine how delighted I was, shortly after New Year, to hear from Charlie Holt, current president of the Oxford Union. And you can see why I might wear a Cloak of Promiscuity! In fact, I had purchased it just that afternoon, on Oxford’s High Street, and it was just the thing: a scarlet linen wrappy garment with sleeves like a sweater and everything else drapey and capelike. And in fact the words I’ve used for this post’s title, above, were my first words at the debate. But let me back up a little. In visiting Oxford Union I joined an august company — which includes among many others Mother Theresa, the Dalai Lama, Albert Einstein, Kermit the Frog, and Ron Jeremy — and stepped into history: a most gorgeous red-walled room with the acoustics of a theatre or church, the sort of place that would make almost anyone want to wax stentorian. It certainly had that effect on me. And I was on a team of notable sex-positive feminists, joined by Joani Blank and Shere Hite. One the opposing side: the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, who’s an Anglican flirting very heavily with the Catholics because the Church of England has gotten too liberal and, especially, woman-inclusive for his tastes; Anne Atkins (be sure to scope out that link, it’s a doozy) — Anne reminded me of a sort of “Ann Coulter’s mum” type, though her snark was far less toxic — only the USA can grow an Ann Coulter; and finally (and the last to stand up and debate), Wendy Shalit, with whom I’d debated in San Francisco after her first book, A Return to Modesty, came out (her newer book is called Girls Gone Mild, and it has my vote for the very best-ever title of a book with whose premise I’m sure to disagree). Plus two intrepid Oxford students went mano a mano on the topic before we got to it. Just hearing about our opponents’ profiles may be enough to give you a sense of what they said; in fact, they left few of the usual anti-promiscuity stones unturned, though less was said about gay men than I expected. Our debate was skewed toward addressing the issue of women and promiscuity, which is why the proponent side (”a virtue, not a vice”) lined up three women with strong ties to feminism. (I do understand that some feminists are allergic to feminists like us, but that’s a topic for another day.) The Bishop has provided pastoral care to people whose lives have been crushed by promiscuity (plus, usually, booze and a bunch of other things); Anne Atkins and Wendy Shalit both feel sex is SOOOO much better in a committed monogamous relationship, plus Wendy was quick on the draw with statistics and did not seem to understand the distinction between causality (promiscuity leads to depression and suicide in teens — hey, what about the teens who aren’t having sex? A lot of them are awfully depressed too) and correlation (which does not imply causality). When Robert called her out on her knowledge of stats later she bristled and said, “My father is an economist!” Um, Wendy? This year, that’s actually not the strongest argument. Actually, when I met the Bishop he asked me, “So, are you a novelist? Or perhaps a banker?” I wanted to tell him that promiscuity is all the vice I can manage, in every respect less a weight on the heart of God than what the bankers have been doing. Anyway. So Dr. Hite started off with a discussion of female sexuality — Freud famously lost a wheel over the question of what women want, but Hite has contemplated that question for a lifetime; she pretty much left Sigmund in the dirt years ago, at least as far as data collection is concerned. Joani’s take on our topic was fabulous: she laid out ten things to contemplate when considering having casual sex with a person, not only showing the thoughtful, boundaried side of promiscuity (very helpful — and great modeling, JB), but also giving some valuable instruction on just how to be positively promiscuous. And, as my always-helpful darling Robert had discovered in helping me research the book-learnin’ side of my topic (I felt I already had an adequate grasp of the praxis), Joani’s helpful hints were going to the right crowd: the UK was said to be the most promiscuous place in the world! And by Wikipedia — so it MUST be true! So I felt it was left to me to argue actively in favor of promiscuity’s virtues. This is a complex topic and they had only allotted me ten minutes (which, as those who have ever seen me speak will know, was downright sadistic). I had to choose my battles, so I took on two main points: 1) Promiscuity is a virtue because it allows people to learn about sexuality and the diversity implicit within its study and practice: in short, promiscuity is many people’s primary (sometimes even only) form of sex education. Granted, you don’t always get clear information from sleeping around, but you don’t learn about the range of human anatomy and desire when you’re monogamous either; in an ideal world, promiscuity can teach you a lot. To shorthand the range between ideal and awful, I co-opted the Tarot theory of “the exalted and the detrimented”: that is, a single phenomenon can express its characteristics positively or negatively, depending on the context. I may be the first person who has argued Tarot Theory at Oxford (at least since the Middle Ages), and if so, I’m pleased to have been able to add to the conceptual tool kits of the students present. Actually this notion has always been highly useful to me, and is deeply embedded in my ideas about sex-positivity. So maybe I’ll write more about it sometime. 2) Promiscuity is a virtue because it helps us develop good social skills and a certain compassionate fellow-feeling for others. Sure, you can get soused at a bus stop like the poor members of the Bishop’s flock who, from the sound of it, then commit and suffer from sexual mayhem; but that’s never been my experience of promiscuity, and is certainly not the iconic “free love” that Victoria Woodhull advocated and that, at its most “exalted,” brings people together to seek connection and pleasure. Look, you have a better time riding the bus when people are nice to each other… why should sex be different? (Irony alert for you literalists: I do not mean to say here that sex and riding the bus are just like each other, or should be. Sheesh.) This also gave me the opportunity to speak pro-actively about gay and bisexual men, so often the targets of promiscuity-bashing but to me, some of the best teachers — and most profound developers of the fellow-feeling of sexual pleasure-seeking into community care-taking when HIV emerged and the need arose. (In fact, I said that I was going to speak about and for gay men for a second because no one else on the panel, as far as I could see, represented them, “at least not at this point on the space/time continuum” — Robert said the look on the Bishop’s face was priceless.) In fact the whole experience was priceless: spending our anniversary traveling to Oxford (as I announced during the debate, “20 years of stable yet promiscuous relationship” — hey, if I’d had time I’d have lectured them a little about Bloomsbury). Priceless to see our host Charlie in his white tie and tails (and I’m sure it was just coincidence that this sort of garb is likely to make so many of us inspired to thoughts of promiscuity; in fact, most of the OU students were fabulously dressed, because unlike so many places in the US, there, being smart is hot, and it was an added thrill to chat with so many smart, hot leaders of tomorrow). Priceless too because the town of Oxford exudes its intellectual history: it is old, lovely, serious, with hewn stone and wrought gates and gargoyles. Gargoyles! In fact, imagine a room out of Harry Potter with slightly older students talking openly about sexual freedom, and that image is about right. I left Oxford thinking that the future, so dicey in so many ways, has a distinct, gleaming — and yes, sexy — thread of hope in it. Carol Queen Postscript: We’re supposed to receive a video of the debate and have permission to show it at The Center for Sex & Culture, so go sign up now to get our email calendar, or bookmark it! And, to answer the two most frequently-asked questions I’ve heard: No, we didn’t win. Audience members leave through specially-marked doors to indicate whether they agree or disagree with the evening’s proposition: we lost 107-123, though one of the OU students whispered to me that word was out the conservative Christian organization had packed the room. Fans of the Bishop’s, no doubt. But most importantly: What DID Kermit debate about? Even Charlie didn’t know, or if he did, he lied to protect OU’s sensitive historical secrets, or to prevent their power from being unleashed upon me. It’s like the Da Vinci code! I think the topic must have been “This House believes that it’s easy being green.” But who won? Like any debater, I can see both sides.

I Can’t Help Myself: Must…Write…About…Elections…

November 4, 2008

Robert and I just got back this afternoon from Salt Lake City — yes, the one in Utah, filled with the very people whose zillions of dollars in contributions have made California’s Proposition 8, the anti-gay-marriage initiative, poll neck-and-neck. Yes, that would be the Mormons, but I am here to tell you that some, perhaps many (who knows?) Mormons are renegades, and when we go to SLC, we visit a group I fondly call the “jack Mormon perverts”: a happy family of BDSM aficionados who invite us there from time to time to lecture about nerve endings and the kinky things that can be done with them.

This was a very interesting time for me to go to a bright-red state, but the funny thing was how many Obama lawn signs we saw (OK, not *that* many, but at least plural, and in the neighborhoods we visited, none for McCain) and how many folks, and not just the kinky people we were there to visit, saw my political button and brightened up, whispered, “I hope he wins — I’m praying over it,” or variations on the theme. It’s not safe, at least this time, to predict or assume, and this of course reminds me more of sex than the presidential race does overall: you really can’t tell by looking, you know, what people’s private feelings are, either about eroticism or political choices (though this year there is a weird overlap of the two issues in the person of Sarah Palin, whom I’ll always adore for saying “Caribou Barbie” on Saturday Night Live and who seemed to *really* inspire the people at the Center for Sex & Culture’s Political Smut Night last week — almost half the readers read stories about her, not that erotic inspiration always wins votes).

There’s not a lot of overt sex in this election, but it’s there if you look — not only in the charisma quotient of at least some of the candidates (and I think we see in retrospect that John Edwards got out just in time), but in at least one breakout issue, sex education. I wish it were being dealt with more overtly, but given how controversial it remains in this country, I’m glad to see it mentioned at all — even as the subject of an attack ad, as when Obama’s support of a comprehensive sex ed program was twisted to make it look like he wanted to give sex information to tots. I only wish someone could take these folks to the woodshed and explain on the way back that age-appropriate sex education might have been a wise plan for, say, Alaska — since pretty much every study about sex ed and unwanted pregnancy can be interpreted to show that Bristol Palin’s current condition was far from inevitable.

Speaking of which — and here we interrupt our election-eve programming for just a second — did you hear today that a study has found more unwanted pregnancies among teens who watch sex-themed or -inclusive television? I have just one thing to say about that, which is: *that’s precisely why sex-themed TV is no substitute for comprehensive sex education*! Because if the teens who were thinking sexy thoughts after watching, say, my current favorite cable-TV vampire porn, True Blood (or even just, like me, fantasizing about being in a three-way with Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow), if those teens had a government that cared about them, they’d know about pregnancy prevention and safer sex. And if tomorrow’s teens are really lucky, their president will support that idea and have the political wherewithal to make cultural changes in that direction that, so far, most politicians are too wussy to make.

Thank you, and back to our election coverage. Now let’s move to the state level — California, specifically, because that’s where I live and because the two sex-related items on the ballot are far from local issues — both have been, and will continue to be, contentious culture-war issues throughout the United States. One is Prop 4, which would mandate parental notification when teenagers are going to terminate a pregnancy. Here’s another teachable moment about sex ed, wouldn’t you think? There would be, I mean, so many fewer pregnancies that might need to be terminated if good sex (and contraceptive) information were available to the youth who aren’t getting them now. And I wonder if the folks behind Prop 4 are campaigning hard for sex ed? Um, not so much… just against abortion. Plus they’re using misleading tactics, with a tear-jerker story about a girl who died after an abortion… without mentioning the young woman was in fact legally married, not your garden-variety pregnant teen. Oh, and did you want to balance that with tear-jerker stories about young women who’ve died after *illegal* abortions? Because there are plenty of *those* out there, folks. Until we can mandate that teens will be able to communicate with parents and not be, say, thrown out of the house or beaten to a fare-thee-well, maybe parental notification isn’t the panacea the pro-4 people would like to convince voters it is. And if they have money and time for a political campaign, it’s sex ed they should be trying to mandate, not this.

And how about that Prop 8? Its sly supporters sent out a ton of glossy flyers to Californian households saying that Barack Obama and Joe Biden were against gay marriage — another dirty trick, since the Obama camp is allied with the No on 8 message, and I don’t see most of the conservative Christian backers of Prop 8 working hard to elect those guys. The anti-8, anti-discrimination, pro-freedom to marry crowd responded with an ad that didn’t just name-check Obama, it included that wild-eyed radical Dianne Feinstein telling people how wrong discrimination is. And apparently the pro-8 demonstration in San Francisco today had a high level of hate speech that could be heard over the platitudes about marriage. People, can anyone explain to me how any heterosexual marriage is altered by the existence of homosexual ones? Is it that the expectation of blowjobs rises, or exactly what? Because look, I’m no big fan of marriage to begin with — I’ve written that a vote for gay marriage is a vote for gay divorce, and I’m proud that Robert and I are listed on the Alternatives to Marriage website as a notable unmarried couple, right there with Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre. But if *anybody* is going to get married, *everybody* should have the right to do it — or decide against it — too.

Besides — and I have to thank Jon Stewart for, as usual, serving as the sharp cutting edge of political analysis in this country — how ’bout them Mormon Prop 8 donors? Remember, I was just there, right in the state of the union featuring multiple small towns full of polygamous marriages. You can get a dang t-shirt in the airport for a lovely beer company called Polygamy Porter (“Bring some home to the wives”)! The very state of Utah *exists* because Mormons were run out of so many other towns and states because their marriage customs were too new-fangled and controversial! Touchy, touchy, touchy, LDS! (And you know, another irony is that gay marriage *isn’t* fundamentally about sex, but about relationship choice: which is connected but also different. And you know what else it’s about? Homophobia, up one side and down the other.)

And that brings us almost to the end of our political coverage — except there’s one more electoral sex story to cover, that of San Francisco’s Proposition K. My little town might be the first in the nation to decriminalize prostitution using the New Zealand model (yes, there’s more afoot in old Wellington than sheep and unemployed extras from that Hobbit movie: you can learn all about it at And of course the mud is being slung here as well — in spite of the fact that Prop K’s language specifically states that it will not get in the way of enforcing laws against human trafficking, the anti-K folks have done nothing but try to connect decriminalization with trafficking: SF would become a haven for international pimps! Not so — in fact, sex workers, as much as police and city officials, have every reason to oppose trafficking. I have a dog in this race, as some of you know — sex work put me through school, and I’ve written and lectured about it quite a bit. If folks concerned that prostitution is (or, more correctly, *can be*) dangerous or unhealthy want to mitigate these ills, they’ll look to the ways decriminalization — not just in theory, but also in real-world practice — gives prostitutes more choices, control over their working conditions, and ability to get police help and legal redress if someone harms them. Look, sex work is not for everybody, but there is no reason to make every kind of adult sexual activity legal except the kind that can help a poor person pay her rent or buy milk for her kid or put himself through school. Decriminalizing this consensual behavior is a social justice issue. The people who are against it don’t believe citizens should have the right to make the choice to pay for sex or provide it for pay — pure and simple.

Are you itching to vote *right now* and maybe the polls aren’t even open yet? You can weigh in on Prop K right here: — and it’s not even too late to donate some money to the campaigns you favor, if you have any.

But whatever you do, make sure you vote on November 4th as if your future — including your sexual freedom — depends on it.

Pregnant Men? Well, It’s About Time!

April 6, 2008

I guess this week’s sex-and-culture news has Oprah very excited: a fella is going to have a baby. I can’t keep up with Oprah, personally, so it falls to the Yahoo home page with the news bites on it to inform me of anything inevitable she does: bitch out a shady “memoirist,” cry when girls in Africa are being mistreated (her girls, which makes her cry harder, of course; so would I, in her shoes). Yes, I know I should read her magazine, and then I’d be on top of all things Oprah (oops, I didn’t actually mean it to sound like that; I can barely top anybody)… but if I can’t find the time to blog every single day, how can I add this admittedly valuable burden to my already-challenging relationship to the time/space continuum?

Anyway. Now this. Which I assume means — in a weird way I would not have predicted, and do not exactly approve of — that transgender issues have really gone mainstream: that they have practically jumped the shark, maybe. Well, no. But it’s worth a head-shake nevertheless.

This Oprah phenom is not the first pregnant guy. One of my acquaintances did this — went off testosterone, found a donor, had a kid — some years back; I think it might have occurred in the actual 20th century, though it was pretty 21st-century even then. It was that thing we shorthanded when we said “Millennial” — like, everything is about to change! We’ll finally get our Jetsons cars, our refrigerators that talk, our Maxwell Smart wrist phones. The limits of technology, the mind, and the flesh will melt away, and as they do, the social structure will shift into the next thing, newness will rule, and everything that had seemed oppressive will find its technological fix.

We maybe didn’t think that on the way to the first African-American or female president we’d tolerate a dalliance with fascism. But I guarantee you, at least one guy out there has had his fingers crossed for years that the brave new century would give us pregnant men, and I’m sure he thinks this Oprah-fied situation doesn’t go nearly far enough.

See, back in the ’80s, when I knew him, my ex-boyfriend (who now runs a fertility clinic, because some people are truly blessed with a calling and do not just fall into some line of work because the wind changed) wanted to be the first pregnant man. He was SO serious about this. He was probably into me mainly because I had a uterus, which is ironic, given that I had and have no intention of using it for its so-called god-given purpose — indeed, I’d rather have that Galen thing happen to my uterus that they used to call hysteria, where the womb runs around the body causing trouble, than to have it stay put and cause trouble by producing another person. I do not want kids, pretty much never did, and I am perfectly happy to enjoy yours (well, a few of them, anyhow) mostly from a distance, and pet my cats, and admire my friends who choose to foster kids who otherwise would have a rougher life. I don’t want babies, but Boyfriend sure did, and one of the ways I knew I had an unusual man on my hands (after a lesbian-identified decade of mostly sticking to women) was this desire he had to be pregnant and bear a child.

Not just have kids, see. He has kids now, as a member of a queer intentional family. But he really truly wanted to be pregnant, which amazed me, since that’s not one of those Woman Things I ever experienced. He talked about it very articulately. He had a health care background, so he even had a keen sense of where an implanted embryo might be able to latch on and develop. He was quite sure that this technology would be possible one day fairly soon and fretted only that when it did develop, he might be considered too old to be the guinea pig. 

Boyfriend wasn’t trans in any of the ways we ordinarily define being trans (though I fully acknowledge that “we” in the aggregate aren’t the ones who ought primarily to be defining this — that should be the role of transfolk themselves). He was male-identified to the point of being kind of a men’s movement guy. But he deeply believed in, and desired, this profound breach of gender identity, without desiring to lose or basically change his own gender identity.

See, one of the gifts I’ve received from my transgender friends is the potential to explode gender (I realize, before y’all hit the “comment” button, that not all transpeople desire this or see it that way): most of all by the way some transgender people don’t buy into either/or male/female identities, at least not for themselves. But Boyfriend takes this social change into another realm when he desires the freedom and opportunity to do the one thing that, in our culture, absolutely defines a woman. And having known him, I wonder how alone he is in that desire: I am guessing not all that alone. It is the 21st century. It is the threshold of change. And maybe sharing that deeply gendered experience is what we as a people need to allow us to break on through to the other side of outmoded ideas about who men are and women are. Look, I’ll be the breadwinner, and honey, you have the kids. 

I know, a bunch of tenured biology professors will say smart-sounding things about biology and sociobiology, and maybe they’ll be right, but that’s the great thing about the space/time continuum, even if it flummoxes me by its demands on a day-to-day basis: it has no end. So the story they mastered to graduate with honors back in the 20th century, and get their tenure-track jobs and their Mr. Science book gigs, isn’t fully written. 

Professors, I got your biological imperative right here. I assume you would like it with lube.

The Sexies! A New Award for Sex-Positive Journalism

November 9, 2007


I know you haven’t heard from me in a while, and I suppose I owe you a “what I did on my summer vacation” post (partial report: I went to Scotland and looked out a window at a very green field filled with more sheep than I had seen since my sheep-filled childhood).

What, you didn’t know I had a sheep-filled childhood? Well, my memoir will cover all that: sheep, evangelicals, trees, the whole deal. Right now I want to talk about the present — nay, the future! I want to tell you about the most exciting new project I’ve been mixed up with in some time: the Sexies.

The Sexies are the just-announced Sex-Positive Journalism Awards. I’m one of the judges, and I look forward to reading many fabulous articles (and a few really heinous ones) and hobnobbing about them with my fellow wizards. This idea is the brainchild of Miriam Axel-Lute, a journalist who noticed how many other sorts of journalism awards there were, and also how relatively rare it still is for a mainstream journalist, especially, to have the freedom to do a really good job with a sex-related story assignment. Too many of these articles are hogtied by editors concerned about “community standards,” or are written by journalists who really exhibit their own bias and confirm those of their readers. Hence, the birth of the Sexies, which will recognize those who get it right (and there’s also a category for those who get it really, really wrong: compare and contrast, class! That one’s called the Unsexy).

This isn’t just an academic exercise. What people read in the papers, in magazines and on websites affects how they understand the world around them: look at the role US journalism has played in the politics of the US over the last six or seven years. When there’s a backstory we don’t hear, it makes the front story hard to understand; in the case of sex-related journalism, that can involve misrepresenting (or ignoring) the role of consent in a purported crime, or the presence of a sex community with its own community standards, or pandering to sex-negative opinion without showing a sex-positive slant that would change the way a reader experiences the story.

At the same time, there are journalists doing amazing work trying to help people really understand sexual issues, or remaining scrupulously fair about whose quotes they use, or doing the extra legwork to understand the context of the sex-related topic about which they’re writing. Several of those journalists will be awarded: the categories are News, Feature, and Opinion, and each of these has four divisions: daily newspaper, weekly or biweekly newspaper, online news publication, and sex-themed (or sexual orientation-themed) news publication. The first three divisions are for generalist publications rather than those which cover sex topics as a primary part of what they do. The Unsexy will not be awarded by division; contrary to the way Keith Olbermann does it, there will be only ONE worst… sex story… in the worrrrlddd!

And you can recommend your favorite articles! The Sexies are in their nomination process for the 2007 award until March 23, 2008. It’s fine for a writer to nominate her/him/hirself, or for a reader to do so. The only requirement is that the article must have been published in 2007. Nominate online at

Who will judge these, besides yours truly? My fellow wizards are a terrific lot: Judith Levine, whose great book Harmful to Minors uncovered, among other things, just HOW bad sex education in America has become (for a good look at her importance see “What Judith Levine is Really Saying”); sex therapist Marty Klein, PhD, author of must-read e-zine Sexual Intelligence and the recently-released America’s War on Sex; Jack Hafferkamp, PhD, one of the founding editors of the late, great Libido: The Journal of Sex & Sensibility (plus he used to be a journalism professor, so he knows what writers should be doing); the one and only Dan Savage, of “Savage Love” fame; Liza Featherstone, who wrote “Sex, Lies, and Women’s Magazines” for the Columbia Journalism Review;, a contributing editor to The Nation; and last but certainly not least, Claire Cavanaugh, co-founder of Babeland (which is also a sponsor of the Sexies, along with the Center for Sex & Culture, and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom).

Perhaps you are asking yourself, “Wow, what can I do to help this fine project?” I am SO glad you asked, because Miriam already thought of that, and she cooked up this useful list: 10 Ways to Support Sex-Positive Journalism

1. Give money! The Sexies are a labor of love. But love doesn’t pay the bills. If you can give $100, $50, or $25, it will help us promote the awards, cover our expenses, and honor our winners properly.
2. Submit entries. Yes, readers as well as writers can submit. Articles have to have been published in 2007, in a general audience newspaper or news site, and meet high journalistic standards as well as our sex-positive criteria. Full guidelines, criteria, and a submission form are on our website:
3. Tell everyone you know. Blog about us, bring us up at opportune (or inopportune) times with family and friends and your local newspaper editor…
4. Make us popular. Join our LiveJournal community (sexposjawards), friend us on Myspace (, post our site on, Digg us.
5. Sign up for our announcement list. If you don’t do LiveJournal or Myspace, sign up for our update mailing list,, to stay up to speed.
6. Link to us. Even if you don’t want to make a big fanfare, a link helps us in search-engine rankings.
7. Become a corporate sponsor—or connect us with your favorite sex-friendly business that might want to be one. E-mail for more information.
8. Donate airline or Amtrak miles to get our winners to an awards ceremony. E-mail if you’ve got a chunk to offer.
9. Mention us in a letter to the editor, especially our sex-positive journalism criteria and resources for journalists, both of which are on our website. If you’ve always been meaning to write in to your local paper about their sex-related coverage, good or bad, now’s a great time to do it!
10. Ask your favorite sex-positive publications, and your favorite mainstream ones as well, to cover the Sexies. We think we’re pretty unusual and would make a good story!

See? So many ways to have a hand in the improvement of journalistic discourse. Think how good you’ll feel about being part of this fabulous project — I know I am! Visit to get more acquainted.

Valentines Day ….so so soon

February 1, 2007

I know that people have mixed feelings about Valentines Day. My friends opinions tend to range from “its a merchandising based holiday aimed at driving post Xmas sales” and ” It’s a way to make single people feel bad” to “It’s the most romantic day ever!”.
To be realistic, it IS an awesome day for Good Vibrations. When Valentines Day appears suddenly everyone starts questioning the state of their love life. They want to have more sex, better sex, chocolate sex…
For me, I think of holidays like this as reminders of what I might have been forgetting to focus on in my own life. Have I been remembering to tell my loved ones how important they are to me? Am I making enough time for intimacy, pleasure, orgasms….
Even with a life that often revolves around the business of sex, I can get wrapped up in the daily grind and totally push aside my own sexuality. I’ve decided that this year, I’m not doing Valentines Day on Valentines Day 🙂 I’m going to pick a few random days and treat my partner to some extra special attention. It’s important to me that my expressions of love are seen as expressions of love, not as “its valentines day I guess I should do something sexy for you”. Sure, there will inevitably be February 14th related events. We do have reservations at an uber restaurant in Napa and I bought him a really cute card from Elephant Pharmacy, but that will not be the focus of the majority of my energy. I have much more scheming to do over the next few days. I have GV products to buy, exotic desserts to bake and sheets to launder! I’ll let you know how it goes.

Sexual Freedom

November 30, 2006

One of the things that I enjoy most about the Good Vibes culture is how diverse the company actually is. Our offices and stores are filled with people representing a variety of ethnicities, orientations, shapes, sizes, genders and political viewpoints. The one thing that we all share in common is our dedication to sex positive education. The good vibes vibe goes way beyond tolerance. People don’t “tolerate” each other here; they genuinely embrace diversity in an accepting, nonjudgmental way.

Lately, I’ve feel marginalized (and offended) by peoples closed minded attitudes quite a lot in other aspects of my life. At graduate school, I have an instructor who describes BDSM as “something rich people do out of boredom”. During a meeting of sex educators recently, I heard monogamy referred to as “boring, unexciting & something vanilla people do”. While meeting with a psychotherapist who supervises one of my therapy cases she heard me use the word “poly” to describe a client and accused me of “putting the words into her mouth” because it didn’t sound like something “a client in Marin would say”.

I feel myself being pulled in fifty different directions. To traditional groups I’m a pervert; to self proclaimed perverts I’m boring, to my lesbian friends I’m either a breeder or in denial. Why is it that people feel the need to analyze and negate the parts of me that don’t fit in with their paradigm?

The world needs to pick up more of the good vibes mentality. Sexual relationships can be exciting whether monogamous or polyamorous. Gay, bisexual and straight people can have meaningful relationships. Being proud of who you are doesn’t mean being embarrassed for people who are the opposite. The next time you start to judge someone’s life, think twice about it, don’t tolerate them, accept them as you would hope to be accepted and share some good vibes.

Good Vibrations First Annual Amateur Erotic Film Competition

October 31, 2006

After a lot of planning, viewing, judging, and organizing Good Vibrations was excited to finally present its First Annual Amateur Erotic Film Competition at the Castro Theatre last night with amazing results. It was a wonderful event from start to finish filled with emerging filmmakers, industry professionals, and a huge crowd of anxiously awaiting fans. With a searchlight you could probably see from space and the always fashionable Miss Donna Sachet doing the red carpet interviews, the excitement was in the air (and probably smoldering in a few nether regions as well) as the crowds lined up down the block.


What I found so amazing was the unique perspective each film took under the “erotic” umbrella. We purposely left the focus of “what is erotic” to personal interpertation, since the whole point of an Amatuer Erotic contest was to let independent filmmakers explore their own concepts of eroticism in whatever forms they would take (provided of course that everyone involved was consenting and of legal age). We wanted people to explore and create the kind of films they thought were sexy and boy did we get an eyeful. Within the 7 films were huge contrasts both in focus such as masterbation, domination/submission, female ejaculation, swinging, etc. as well as the technical merits each film contained– using negative 16mm film, black and white, color, special effects, and so on. When we first decided to start this competition I thought that most of the submissions would be people with their handy cams, and while I’m sure those would have been fabulous as well, the production quality of the films we received just blew away my expectations. All the filmmakers should be really proud of their work, and if that wasn’t enough the cheers and applause of 1200 audience members should’t have felt too shabby either.

I’ll save my winner’s recap for another blog so the lucky fans going to see tonight’s screening at the Parkway Theater can work that anticipation up a little longer. It’s gonna be another wild night.