Posts Tagged ‘events’

2009 4 Mar

Coming out BDSM: Outness as a political act, and the perils thereof

There can be serious consequences for identifying publicly as BDSM, and there’s a lot of anxiety in the BDSM community about that. Yet one of the most effective ways to combat the anti-BDSM crowd is for us BDSM people to come out. Being out about our kink can be a very powerful statement: a statement that we aren’t ashamed; that we don’t think there’s anything wrong with what we’re doing; that we are people too … all that good stuff. If you’ve seen “Milk” or “The Life and Times of Harvey Milk” — both movies about the famous gay politician — then you may recall that Milk urged all gay people to come out, as a fundamental part of the gay liberation movement. There are BDSM advocates who take the same position.

Recently, I was in a position to observe a great conversation on this subject among a bunch of smart kink advocates, and I’m going to reproduce a bunch of that conversation here. First, though: greetings from New York … I’m back again! I don’t usually spend quite so much time here, but there were a number of events to tempt me. I’ll be giving my BDSM Overview presentation at the Museum of Sex this Friday; if you know anyone in New York who could use a general introduction to BDSM — how the community welcomes and educates people, the way we differentiate between BDSM and abuse, BDSM-related legal issues, and so on — then you should send them down to 233 5th Avenue, Friday, 7PM. Plus, CineKink was this past weekend, and I was privileged to see a number of really excellent sex-positive films there. I highly recommend CineKink — and it tours, so if you’re in another city, you should check the CineKink website to see if it’s coming to your town.

There’s another great event happening this weekend: KinkForAll, on Sunday. I’m really looking forward to KinkForAll … it’s going to be a huge learning opportunity, not to mention a chance to meet some sex-positive advocates that I admire a lot. I encourage anyone — anyone at all, gay or straight, kinky or non, whatever — anyone with an interest in sexuality to attend KinkForAll.

Here’s something worth emphasizing about KinkForAll, though: taking photos and recording video will be allowed. Not just allowed — encouraged! To quote from some of the early KinkForAll emails, “information from the talks will be spread on the web afterwards. It’s to get everyone in on the discussion on sexuality, it’s to get everyone sharing and teaching with everyone else, and it’s to get sexual information available to all people, regardless of age, socioeconomic station, gender, sexuality, etc.” Of course this is a noble goal, but means that people who aren’t currently seeking to come out are taking a serious risk when we attend KinkForAll.

I recognize that (notwithstanding my recent whiny entry on coming out BDSM) I have not suffered any real consequences for my high visibility. And even if I were properly outed — if my birth name were widely associated with BDSM — I would still be in a better position than most. My parents, for instance, already know about my sexuality, and are totally cool with it. And although I would very likely suffer professional damage if I were outed, my economic status is such that I wouldn’t be out on the street. Still, though I don’t have any children yet, I do plan to — and children are hostages to social stigma … as would be anyone I want to get romantically involved with. If I date someone whose parents don’t know he’s into BDSM, and I’m widely known to be into it, what happens then? We keep our relationship a secret? He risks his relationship with his family to date me? What a mess.

When Maymay, event organizer, first announced to the KinkForAll mailing list that recordings would be encouraged at the event, I made the obvious point: that this would arguably discourage attendance. Maymay responded by saying that the event would institute colored nametags that would indicate the wearer’s status — either “willing to be recorded” or “not willing to be recorded”. I said:

I certainly don’t think recording should be disallowed, because I do believe recording is a noble goal. But I think it will encourage attendance if there is a more effective way to demonstrate one’s unwillingness to be recorded — you know, better than wearing an easily-missed nametag. For instance, maybe certain areas of the venue should be specifically designated as recording-free.

Maymay answered:

I tend to agree with you, actually, that encouraging cameras and recording devices will probably discourage *some* people from attending. While that’s unfortunate, it’s also simply the nature of things. Social change is great and wonderful but it simply can not happen if people don’t put their faces behind the message.

… So, to be precise: [it’s not impossible to institute recording-free zones]. However, the fact remains that even if you confiscated every cell phone, digital camera, tape recorder, and every other recording device you could find at the door to the event, there is *still* a chance that people will be photographed or otherwise recorded even if they ask not to be. There’s no way to stop it and ultimately you’re always asking people to play by the rules honestly anyway.

Disallowing cameras is just not something KinkForAll as an event has much of a reason to enforce. Moreover, in the spirit of spreading information, creating any policy disallowing cameras is itself a counterproductive idea.

… In other words, the message I want to send to people who are considering not coming to KinkForAll because they might be photographed is: we will miss you, and we hope you will be comfortable enough next time around to come out and be part of the discussions with the rest of us face-to-face.

There was a bit more talking at the time, and at subsequent times, but I think the most comprehensive and eloquent argument against allowing recording at KinkForAll was put forth by Corey Alexander:

I guard images of myself, and do not publicize them, with good reason, and in ways that cause some difficulty, in all arenas of my life, including professionally. My personal reasons aside, I think it is important (as someone for whom these issues matter very much) to communicate to you what it may mean to hold such an event, and who you may be excluding because of it. I understand that you intend to go forward with the event as planned and I am very aware of why you are invested in a politics of outness, and I do not dispute this as a political strategy. I just want to talk about risk, and potential cost, because I think that folks that are invested in outness need to be aware of these issues.

I personally would be pretty much guaranteed to lose my job if I were out, and I am not alone there, as would pretty much anyone who works with kids, and who works in the social services or government. Additionally, those with kids or those who intend to have kids run the continued risk of losing custody of their children, should they be publically identified/identifiable as a kinky person. I personally have known several people that have lost their kids, and several who are currently involved in custody battles over this very issue. …. These are the risks that come with outness, and they are just some of those risks, but I find them the most compelling in my life, because they illuminate places where some people simply *cannot* choose to attend your event; they do not have the privilege. In this economic climate, where I have friends getting laid off right and left, I would support anyone who would choose their economic survival over attending an event like this (of course those folks that are assured of the economic support of others or the tolerance within their profession may have privilege that allows such risks). As someone who has lost custody of children I have parented, I would also support any parent who would choose not to take such a risk.

Another thing to note is that any event that is invested in publicizing images of attendees widely is unlikely to attract folks that are survivors of violence that have taken steps to hide their whereabouts.

… More than that, I want to draw your attention to the community resources you will lose, presenters, volunteers and attendees, because of this policy. I am not the only one, I am sure. … As you are interested in Kink For *All*, I would urge you to consider that as you welcome some (through your publicity on the internet), you exclude others (who cannot or choose not to take such risks) by this policy.

Maymay responded:

All of these risks you mention are real and valid but they are ones I believe are ultimately transient for society; that is, they will not always be risks. That said, I do not believe it’s possible to get to a place where kink for *all* is really possible without just such “politics of outness,” as you have described them.

… To date, other sexuality community events have excluded the very people *this* event wants to involve. If that means losing parts of the more traditional and valuable sexuality community, such as yourself, this is a price I am willing, if not happy, about paying.

… There are lots of examples I could give of people who are for one reason or another excluded by most other sexuality community events [such as Sex 2.0, Dark Odyssey, traditional BDSM conventions, and others] and who I believe are fantastically valuable additions, but I had two primary thoughts on this:

1. People who are not familiar with the public sexuality communities and who therefore do not go to the same events as many of us on this list do.

2. People, typically younger ones, who are familiar with the public sexuality communities and find them not to their liking for whatever reason.

Sara Eileen added:

We hope that the Kink For All space will feel safe for everyone who participates. But, in keeping with the core concepts of the idea, we hope to make this happen through encouragement, support, and expectations rather than rules.

These concerns are valid and difficult to answer, mostly because I think we really need to see how this community-focused space will shape up *on the day itself.* In the meantime, the risk of finding the space unsafe may be regrettably too high for some.

I’d like to mention again that if you’re presenting, you are by no means expected to present on an explicit, demonstrative or practical subject. The intersection of sex and life has many issues to be explored, and I truly hope we run the gamut of them when the time comes. I’d also like to point out that our venue explicitly forbids nudity, and the 20-minute presentation time frame makes practical demonstrations very difficult. That’s not to say they may not happen, but I expect to see much more talking than anything else.

We will have colored nametags or markers for people who don’t wish to be photographed. These markers, as with all components of safe spaces, function on the basis of trust. This event is bringing together a lot of different groups and new faces. It’s up to each of us individually to determine whether we have enough trust in the respect and consideration of other attendees.

The discussion went a little bit afield in places, but these are all the points that I found most compelling and interesting — both as a kinkster considering the politics of outness, and an organizer of sex-positive events. If you want to look at the KinkForAll mailing list archives and examine the full threads for yourself, you can find the KinkForAll Google group here.

2009 24 Feb

First reaction to Daniel Bergner’s “The Other Side of Desire”

This post is a bit of teaser — I’ll own up to that at the start. I’m not going to review Daniel Bergner’s new book The Other Side of Desire yet … because I will be interviewing the man himself on this coming Thursday, before his 7PM reading at the Leather Archives and Museum. I’ll post that interview, along with my commentary and book review, next week. Exciting!

So if I’m not going to talk about my first reaction to reading the book, what am I talking about?

The Other Side of Desire has been generating a huge amount of buzz, and not just for sexuality geeks. I first heard about it when one of my sexuality geek friends grabbed me and said, “You have to read this ‘New York Times’ article.” We went through the whole thing with much commentary, then rushed to the computer to read excerpts from Mr. Bergner’s book.

I wasn’t sure how to read Daniel Bergner — the writer himself, that is, rather than his material. What does it mean that he compares profiling kinky people to investigating a Louisiana prison, or covering war in Sierra Leone? * What does it mean that he characterizes — or at least, has been reported as characterizing — the greatest benefit of feeling comfortable talking about sex as good cocktail party conversation? ** What does it mean that one of the editorial reviews chosen for the back of his book describes his subjects as “oddly winning”? ***

I mean … seriously? How much was he kidding about the party conversation thing? Did he choose that review himself, and did he himself consider his subjects “oddly winning” — as if it’s such a great big insight that fetishists can be nice people? Was Mr. Bergner making these statements because he was trying to make The Other Side of Desire more accessible to a wide, potentially intolerant audience … or because he, himself, sees conversations with sexual fetishists as analogous to reporting on a war zone in a foreign country?

I didn’t know. I knew already that I wanted to talk to him and hear his perspective, but I had no obvious channels to do so.

A little while later, someone emailed me the “Times” Magazine review of Mr. Bergner’s book. That review, by Lori Gottlieb, shifted me from slight unease to actual irritation — specifically, this quotation:

The only story about a woman — a celebrated clothing designer and sadist who’s in a conventional marriage — is also unfortunately the weakest. To be fair, Bergner doesn’t have a lot to work with. His subject, a narcissist who enjoys torturing and humiliating her underlings, is inherently unsympathetic. … While his other subjects struggle mightily with their unconventional cravings, the Baroness, as her victims call her, denies any inner conflict. In her mind, she’s happy, her victims are grateful, and she is their “beacon.”

Wait a minute, I thought. Why is Gottlieb describing the Baroness’s BDSM partners as “victims”, and what does this imply about how Daniel Bergner described the Baroness and her activities? Of course, it’s worth noting that at the article’s beginning, Gottlieb mentions that the one time a partner asked her for anything remotely untraditional in bed (specifically, he asked her to handcuff him), she flipped out and fled home to tell all her friends “what a freak this guy turned out to be”. (Really — that’s an actual quotation from her article.) I guess Lori Gottlieb has trouble understanding that it might be a good thing for a kinkster to feel sexually unashamed. For her, it’s only acceptable for people to explore their fetishes as long as they feel really horrible about it. Shame is what matters to Gottlieb, not consent. In fact, Gottlieb seems to have much more of a problem with the Baroness than she does with Roy — another subject of the book and a convicted child molester. ****

But even though her perspective is obviously kink-phobic, Gottlieb’s words gave me more questions. What was Daniel Bergner saying? I’d read excerpts from his book posted online; I knew I’d have to read more. Were his words being twisted, was I being too harsh in my assessment? What were his goals in writing this book?

I finally got my chance when I heard about the Leather Archives event. Daniel Bergner was going to be in Chicago, and he’d chosen to do his reading at the BDSM museum! Thrilled, I redoubled my efforts to get in touch. This culminated with me sending Bergner’s publicist an email introducing myself, describing my activist work and then holding my breath. Was this author really all about communicating with us “oddly winning” fetishists … or was this, for him, merely about making good conversation at parties? He’s been featured by the “New York Times” and NPR; I knew he had no reason to talk to me unless he really wants to engage with the BDSM community.

So it counts for a lot, I think, that Daniel Bergner agreed to be interviewed by lil ole me. And as I slowly cover my copy of The Other Side of Desire with underlines and margin notes, I find myself — yes, bothered by aspects of this book, but somewhat heartened as well. I’ll withhold complete judgment until I’ve actually spoken to Mr. Bergner; I’m definitely looking forward to it.

We come to the cliffhanger: watch this space ….

(And if you’re not in Chicago, check out the author’s site to see whether you might be able to catch him in your city.)

* “What,” the people I write about often ask, “are you doing here with me?” I heard the question in Angola Prison, Louisiana’s maximum security penitentiary, where I followed the lives of men sentenced to stay locked up until their deaths, with no chance of parole. I heard it in Sierra Leone, in West Africa, where I attached myself to missionaries and mercenaries and child soldiers amid the most brutal war in recent memory. And I heard it as a sought the stories — of eros, obsession, anarchy, love — that fill The Other Side of Desire. (from the book’s Introduction)

** “Well, it definitely deepened my sense of the power of the erotic,” he said. “And if I was always at least fairly comfortable talking about sex, now I’m very comfortable. That in itself has led to something good. It’s good for cocktail party conversation.” (from the “Times” article)

*** See the cover and read excerpts by clicking here.

**** And let’s not forget that to some people, Gottlieb comes across as a veritable “libertine”. Christ.

2009 18 Feb

Latest sex-positive links, publications and Chicago events

Lots to report! Four things:

Firstly: fabulous poly podcaster Cunning Minx interviewed me for her latest podcast! Also on the podcast are her thoughts on “Sex Positive”, the last documentary we screened at Sex+++. Thanks Minx!

Secondly: Richard Berkowitz, the sex education activist profiled in aforementioned documentary “Sex Positive”, left a great comment on my quick semi-review of the film. He and I corresponded briefly, and I will be interviewing him soon — watch this space for more on that! Also, it turns out that you can order his book Stayin’ Alive: The Invention of Safe Sex through his website.

Thirdly: Sugasm #159!

The best of this week’s sex blogs by the bloggers who blog them. Highlighting the top 3 posts as chosen by Sugasm participants.

This Week’s Picks
+The Annual Anti-Valentine’s Day Posting: 2009 Edition “Ahh, Valentine’s Day. Sigh.”
+ Exposed “We talk a lot about putting me on display, and it was even more intense in reality as it has been in fantasy.”
+ Yes “At the edge of the precipice, my nerves rippling with electricity, i tumbled down into you”

Sugasm Editor
+ Sex Work And Compassion: A Call From Baghdad

Editor’s Choice
+ Stairwell

BDSM & Fetish
+ 25 Things, the Kinky Way
+ The Domme Experiment — The Result
+ Firsts, part 2
+ Permission
+ Single Minded Passion
+ My post, “There is no ‘should'” and the sex-positive “agenda”

+ More Sugasm
+ Join the Sugasm
+ See also: Fleshbot’s Sex Blog Roundup each Tuesday and Friday.

Fourthly: Last but not least, let’s talk about some upcoming Chicago sex-positive events! All events are totally free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.

+ Thursday February 19, 12 noon: Yes Means Yes! sex-positive anthology discussion at Hull-House Museum. Includes Hazel/Cedar Troost, amazing local trans activist.

+ Thursday February 19, 7.30 PM: Yes Means Yes! sex-positive anthology discussion at Women and Children First. Includes Hazel/Cedar Troost, amazing local trans activist.

+ Tuesday February 24, 7 PM: “When Two Won’t Do” documentary about consensual non-monogamy at Sex+++

+ Thursday February 26, 3 PM: Leadership in the Bedroom: Communicating What You Want and Don’t Want sexual communication workshop with Clarisse Thorn at UIC (312.413.2120 for more information)

+ Thursday February 26, 7 PM: The Other Side of Desire fetish and sexuality book reading with Daniel Bergner at the Leather Archives and Museum. I’m going to be interviewing Daniel Bergner soon — watch this space!

+ Thursday February 26, 7.30 PM: Bound to Struggle kink and radical politics zine discussion at Women and Children First. Simon Strikeback, the zine editor, is really great and also helps run Threat Level Queer Shorts.

+ Friday February 27, 12 noon: Sex education history discussion at Hull-House Museum

+ Tuesday March 3, 7.30 PM: Cheap Sex workshop at Early to Bed — $15, or $10 for students and low-income

+ Tuesday March 3, 7.30 PM: “The Last Days of Desmond ‘Nani’ Reese” post-apocalyptic stripper play at Steppenwolf — $20 with code “5103”

+ Wednesday March 4, 6 PM: Women on Wednesdays meet-up features Babes with Blades at Center on Halsted — $10, women only

+ Friday March 6, evening: Fornication-themed party to benefit the Sex Workers Outreach Project at the Wild Pug — $5-10 suggested donation. Includes awesome sex worker and blogger Aspasia.

+ Tuesday March 10, 7 PM: “BDSM: It’s Not What You Think!” and other short S&M documentaries at Sex+++

+ Saturday March 14, 4 PM: Newcomer’s Social relaxed gathering at BDSM club Galleria Domain Two — 21+ only.

2009 15 Jan

For Immediate Release: New Sex-Positive Documentary Film Series

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PLEASE DISTRIBUTE FAR AND WIDE!

SEX POSITIVE
pro-SEX, pro-QUEER, pro-KINK

a free documentary film series for people who like sex
curated by Clarisse Thorn

* * *

+ Q. “What is being sex-positive?”
+ A. “Defining sex on my terms.”
+ A. “Understanding my sexual needs.”
+ A. “Being in charge of my sexual experiences.”

Explore sexuality in a new way by joining us for a series of films about positive sexuality and sexual identity. This free documentary series will create a new space to discuss sex, culture, and sexual fun! Each film will be accompanied by delicious snacks and followed by relevant conversation. The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum is pleased to host this series as a new expression of the Hull-House Settlement’s historic advocacy for sex education.

We spice up every second and fourth Tuesday by screening another documentary with a positive, informative spin on human sexuality. The series will showcase diverse experiences, orientations, and choices. Planned films cover:

+ bisexuality,
+ S&M,
+ polyamory,
+ swinging,
+ trans,
+ homosexuality,
+ heterosexuality,
+ the history of sex,
+ and so much more!

The 2009 film list is available here, and the 2011-2012 list is available here.

We want you to come to these screenings — whether you’re

+ a free speech advocate,
+ an AIDS worker,
+ a progressive pastor,
+ a sexuality activist,
+ a radical feminist,
+ a sex worker,
+ a pornographer,
+ a student,
+ not at all studious,
+ skeptical about our politics and aims,
+ or just someone who likes talking about sex!

All are welcome. Sexy prizes will be given for regular attendance!

Please note that cameras and other recording devices are not allowed at these screenings.

+ Join our Google Groups mailing list to receive updates!
+ Join our Facebook group, and invite all your friends!
+ Want to volunteer to help out? Join our volunteer mailing list!

* * *

This series is supported by …

CHICAGO SPONSORS:
+ Early to Bed Feminist Sex Toys
+ Women and Children First Feminist Bookstore
+ Galleria Domain Two: The Center for Expressive Roleplay
+ Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health
+ Polyamory Weekly Podcast
+ Comstock Films: Real People, Real Life, Real Sex
+ EdenFantasys SexIs Online Magazine
+ We’re seeking more Chicago sponsors — please get in touch if you’re interested!

CHICAGO PARTNERS:
+ Center on Halsted: Chicago’s LGBT Community Center
+ Sex Workers Outreach Project, Chicago Chapter
+ SexGenderBody.com
+ Creativefilth.com

FILMMAKERS AND FILM RESOURCES:
+ Picture This Productions
+ Erin Palmquist, filmmaker
+ Seventh Art Releasing
+ Sensory Image Pty, Ltd.
+ Cinema Libre Studio
+ Women Make Movies
+ Sam Feder, filmmaker
+ Beyondmedia Education
+ Regent Releasing
+ Indie Pictures
+ Marianna Beck, filmmaker
+ Comstock Films
+ Becky Goldberg, filmmaker
+ Frameline Distribution
+ Accord Alliance

SEX +++ FILM SERIES
2nd & 4th Tuesdays at 7PM

beginning January 27, 2009

Jane Addams Hull-House Museum
800 South Halsted
312.413.5353
FREE
All are welcome!
Hull-House Museum is wheelchair accessible. To request accessibility accommodations, please call the museum two weeks prior to the event.

For more information, contact Clarisse Thorn: clarisse dot thorn at gmail dot com.

UPDATE: There is now a Sex+++ FAQ! It will hopefully answer any questions you might have. Also, it will help you start your own sex-positive film series, should you be so inclined!

2009 15 Jan

The Sex-Positive Documentary Film List … finally here!

SEX POSITIVE
pro-SEX, pro-QUEER, pro-KINK

a free documentary film series for people who like sex
curated by Clarisse Thorn

+ Read the Press Release for a description of the film series and discussion group!
+ Join our Google Groups mailing list to receive updates!
+ Join our Facebook group, and invite all your friends!
+ Want to volunteer to help out? Join our volunteer mailing list!

* * *

OFFICIAL FILM LIST

YOU ARE ENCOURAGED TO RSVP BY PHONE TO HULL-HOUSE MUSEUM FOR EACH FILM: 312.413.5353. If you RSVP, we’ll save you a seat — and if the venue fills up, you’ll definitely be able to attend! In other words, RSVPs are not required, but they’re in your interest. Please note that we unsave seats at 7PM.

* * *

JANUARY 27: “Kinsey” (2005)
Assesses famous sexologist Alfred Kinsey’s remarkable achievements, while examining how his personal life shaped his career.
+ Read the followup blog post!

FEBRUARY 10: “Sex Positive” (2008)
Starting in the 1970s, unflinchingly tracks the progress of gay activist Richard Berkowitz as he went from cocky S&M hustler, to angry AIDS activist, to broken but proud harbinger of a message too volatile, scary and true to be heard.
+ Read the followup blog post — including a comment from Berkowitz himself!
+ Read my interview with Richard Berkowitz!

FEBRUARY 24: “When Two Won’t Do” (2002)
Made by a polyamorous filmmaker, this film explores the alternatives — illicit affairs, swinging and polyamory — to a traditional monogamous relationship.
+ Read the followup blog post!

MARCH 10: “BDSM: It’s Not What You Think!” (2008) + “Leather” (1995) + “Cut & Paste” (2007)
#1: Confronts the stigma and stereotypes surrounding kink and fetish play through leading voices within the BDSM community.
#2: Members of the leather community discuss the freedom that surrender can provide, the trust implicit in the activity, and the quasi-religious ritual it can attain.
#3: Personal documentary that explores the historical contexts of race, gender identity and sexual agency.
+ Read the followup blog post!

MARCH 24: “Doin’ It: Sex, Disability & Videotape” (2008) + “Orgasmic Women: 13 Selfloving Divas” (2005)
#1: Tags along on a date between a woman with a disability and her able-bodied boyfriend, exploring their relationship issues over a candle-lit dinner.
#2: A rare gift of intimacy, a spirited sharing of erotic practices and a document of women’s authentic orgasms.
+ Read the followup blog post!

APRIL 14: “Bi The Way” (2008)
Attacks bisexuality from several angles: wondering if anyone is actually equally attracted to both sexes, if bisexuality even means that you’re equally attracted to both sexes, and asking ourselves … is everyone bi?
+ Read the followup blog post!

APRIL 28: “It’s Still Elementary” (2008)
Examines the incredible impact of the 1996 film “It’s Elementary”, which aimed to teach kids about LGBTQ issues. Follows up with teachers and students featured in the first film to see how those lessons changed their lives.
+ Read the followup blog post!

MAY 12: “Private Dicks: Men Exposed” (1999) + “Forever Bottom” (1999)
#1: Interspersed with clips from vintage sex education films and humorous cartoons, men — young and old, gay and straight, large and small, virgin and porn star — offer personal revelations that are honest, humorous and often poignant. Discussion ranges over puberty, power, impotence, circumcision, sexuality, myths and perceptions, growing old, and, of course, size.
#2: A clever look at the stigma attached to being on the receiving end in gay male relationships.
+ Read the followup blog post!

MAY 26: “The Aggressives” (2005)
Butcher than butch, these dykes of color have coined a new term to define their identity: Aggressive. Identifying as women, but looking and acting like men, from their haircuts to their suits to their swaggering behavior, the Aggressives have powerful personalities that buck traditional societal restrictions on women’s roles.
+ Read the followup blog post!

JUNE 9: “Boy I Am” (2006)
A look at the experiences of three young Female-to-Male transpeople addresses the way conversations about trans issues can run into resistance from the many queer women who view transitioning as a “trend” or as an anti-feminist act that taps into male privilege.
+ Read the followup blog post!

JUNE 23: “On The Downlow” (2007)
Creates a portrait of Cleveland’s underground black gay scene including coming out to one’s parents; black homophobia; and the persisting rumor that only gay people spread AIDS.
+ Guest facilitator: Lisa Junkin, Education Coordinator at Hull-House Museum

JULY 14: “Filming Desire” (2000)
Female directors talk about the reality of an explicit women’s point of view, the desire in their films to “fantasize and dream a new image of themselves”, and how their depictions of sexuality and relationships are correctives.
+ Guest facilitator: Aspasia Bonasera, blogger at La Libertine’s Salon

JULY 28: “Hot & Bothered: Feminist Pornography” (2003) + “Bill and Desiree: Love is Timeless” (2008)
#1: A rare and empowering look into the pornography industry and feminist community to see how they intertwine within the politics and poetics of female sexuality.
#2: One of Comstock Films’ award-winning erotic documentary films about real couples having real sex. Bill and Desiree’s story starts in the second half of life: a chance meeting, a powerful attraction, a carnal connection, and a deep, sensual love. Pleasure is ageless, and love is indeed timeless!
+ Guest facilitator: Serpent Libertine, vlogger at Red Light District: Chicago

AUGUST 11: “Liberty In Restraint” (2005)
Profiling the life of fetish photographer Noel Graydon, this film gives Graydon’s perspective on the BDSM community, describes some BDSM practices, and shows how he creates his photographs.
+ Guest facilitator: Balthasaar

AUGUST 25: “Equality U” (2008)
Follows a group of 33 young activists on the Soulforce Equality Ride, a first of its kind, two-month, cross-country tour to confront antigay discrimination policies at 19 conservative religious and military colleges. While most of the young Riders identify as Christian, not all of them do so in the same way, if at all.
+ Guest facilitator: David M.

SEPTEMBER 8: “Yellow for Hermaphrodites: Mani’s Story” (2003)
Intersex activist Mani Bruce Mitchell tells her poignant story of growing up in rural New Zealand. Subjected to genital surgeries at an early age, Mani takes viewers through her life, discussing both the difficult times she considered suicide and her path to healing, reconciliations, and service.
+ Guest facilitator: Ben Graham

SEPTEMBER 22: “Queens of Heart” (2006) + “All Women Are Equal” (1971)
#1: The first psychological study of drag performance, set in the oldest surviving female impersonation club in the United States, shows how the work of drag requires a deep understanding of human psychology.
#2: We see Paula, an early 1970s transperson, fixing her make-up and discussing the difficulty of living as a woman and meeting other transpeople. Offers incredible insights into both the time and Paula’s individual psyche.
+ Guest facilitator: Rae Wright, from the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health

OCTOBER 13: “We Are Dad” (2005)
Two white HIV-negative gay men have a family of five kids. Four of the kids have AIDS, three are black, two come from a backwater cult in Oregon, and one of the children has been in the middle of one of the most hotly debated issues in this country: gay adoption.
+ Guest facilitator: Steve C.

CONTINUED: Amazingly, the film series was continued!
Clarisse initially programmed only 9 months of films, and went to Africa in the middle of the series. After she left, though, a group of community members who had been regular attendees volunteered to continue Sex+++! So, the film series was run by this committee for over a year, and films were scheduled month by month. When Clarisse returned in late 2010, she and the committee created new themes and a whole new film list.

* * *

SEX +++ FILM SERIES
2nd & 4th Tuesdays at 7PM

beginning January 27, 2009

Jane Addams Hull-House Museum
800 South Halsted
312.413.5353
FREE
All are welcome!
Hull-House Museum is wheelchair accessible. To request accessibility accommodations, please call the museum two weeks prior to the event.

* * *

This series is supported by …

CHICAGO SPONSORS:
+ Early to Bed Feminist Sex Toys
+ Women and Children First Feminist Bookstore
+ Galleria Domain Two: The Center for Expressive Roleplay
+ Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health
+ Polyamory Weekly Podcast
+ Comstock Films: Real People, Real Life, Real Sex
+ EdenFantasys SexIs Online Magazine
+ We’re seeking more Chicago sponsors — please get in touch if you’re interested!

CHICAGO PARTNERS:
+ Center on Halsted: Chicago’s LGBT Community Center
+ Sex Workers Outreach Project, Chicago Chapter
+ SexGenderBody.com
+ Creativefilth.com

FILMMAKERS AND FILM RESOURCES:
+ Picture This Productions
+ Erin Palmquist, filmmaker
+ Seventh Art Releasing
+ Sensory Image Pty, Ltd.
+ Cinema Libre Studio
+ Women Make Movies
+ Sam Feder, filmmaker
+ Beyondmedia Education
+ Regent Releasing
+ Indie Pictures
+ Marianna Beck, filmmaker
+ Comstock Films
+ Becky Goldberg, filmmaker
+ Frameline Distribution
+ Accord Alliance

* * *

For more information, contact Clarisse Thorn: clarisse dot thorn at gmail dot com.

UPDATE: There is now a Sex+++ FAQ! It will hopefully answer any questions you might have. Also, it will help you start your own sex-positive film series, should you be so inclined!

2009 5 Jan

Upcoming kink events and publications

I’ll post more about these as the specific times approach —

Awesome upcoming kink events:

Ongoing: Threat Level Queer Shorts, Chicago
A sex-positive series of queer shorts — explicitly kink-friendly. I heard about these folks while researching the Chicago queer film scene, since I’m curating a new sex-positive documentary film series myself (more on that soon!). I hope to share audience with them and promote each other’s work!

February: CineKink, New York City
“Cutting across orientations, topics covered at CineKink have included — but are by no means limited to — BDSM, leather and fetish, swinging, non-monogamy and polyamory, roleplay and gender bending. Or, frankly, given the current moral climate, as long as it involves consenting adults, just about anything celebrating sex as a right of self expression is fair game. (Far be it from us to define “kink” — if you think your work might make sense in this context, please send it along!)” With luck, I’ll be able to catch the tail end of CineKink on my next New York visit.

March: KinkForAll, New York City
Based on the quasi-anarchist, user-generated, very flexible BarCamp conference model, KinkForAlls are intended to be — well — quasi-anarchist, user-generated, very flexible sex-positive conferences. The idea is that they’ll hopefully start popping up all over the country … and be open to all orientations and kinks, not just BDSMers! I heard about this from BDSM blogger Maymay while emailing around the New York scene, last time I was in that fine city; I’ll most likely present on a variety of topics at the event in March.

May: Bash Back! Radical Queer Convergence, Chicago
A weekend of debauchery, mischief, workshops, games and more! I met a member of Bash Back through my friend Sex, Art and Politics, and they’ve got a lot of interesting things to say. There’s a chance that I won’t be around in May, but I really hope to be here to attend Convergence! If I am, I’ll probably run a BDSM Outreach workshop and sit on a BDSM discussion panel.

And I’ll post more about these as I read them —
Awesome upcoming kink publications:

Ongoing: Bound to Struggle Zine — Where Kink and Radical Politics Meet
“Does radical politics inform how you do kink? Has kink taught you ways to be a better activist or political thinker? Can the non-physical mechanics of kink (notions of consent, etc.) effect the nitty-gritty mechanics of an action bloc or campaign fight? Do conscientious ideas of environmentalism, anti-sexism, racism, able-ism, classism, gender-ism, etc. figure into the negotiating process of your scenes or relationships? How do you talk about power? Where do these ideas meet action and how do they affect our lives?” Editor Simon Strikeback is one of the great people who run Threat Level Queer Shorts! I’m hoping to contribute to future issues.

Available Now: Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape
I just found out that my new friend Hazel/Cedar has an essay in this anthology, and I’m a little starstruck — the book just looks so fantastic! Just one example of the coolness therein was recently linked by Sex, Art and Politics: a wonderful (very basic, very clear) essay on feminism and BDSM, which will probably feature heavily in one or two of my own later blog entries.