coming out

Bekhsoos's picture

Framing Visibility: Coming Out and the International LGBT Spectrum of Progress

 

 

- Contributed by Lynn on behalf of Meem at the ILGA Women’s Pre-Conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil

In 2007, Meem was launched as a little lesbian support group in Lebanon. At the time, and after 4 years of trying to organize alongside a majority of gay men within the framework of LGBT public advocacy, we had understood that in order to create a strong and empowered movement, we were to create a safe space to ourselves as women first. We had also understood that for women to feel safe enough to explore, share, and experience their relationships with their sexuality, confidentiality and anonymity had to be key elements in our organizing. We wanted our members to benefit from support and services without the fear of being legally and socially “outed.”

Total secrecy would have turned Meem into a static bubble. There had to be a way, an intricate way, to reach out to the queers that we hadn’t reached out to. Some of the ways Meem did this was through writing.

We’ve published a collection of true stories – our stories – “to introduce Lebanese society to the real stories of real people whose voices had gone unheard for hundreds of years” and “whose sexualities have been mocked, dismissed, denied, oppressed, distorted, and forced into hiding” (Bareed Mista3jil 1). These stories are all anonymous. “We did not sign the stories with any names, nicknames, or initials because we wanted to guard the safety and confidentiality of the brave people who told their stories” (Bareed Mista3jil 8).

Clarisse Thorn's picture

[litquote/storytime] There It Is

This was originally posted on October 18, 2010, over at Feministe. The comments on the original version are mostly excellent, though some are insane and at Clarisse Thorn: Pro-Sex Outreach, Open-Minded Feminism





A quotation from Michelle Tea’s Rent Girl, a memoir about her experiences as a sex worker:

Marina [a sex worker] had been abused by her dad when she was a girl, and she’d do coke and tell [a client] about it as he jerked off.

Marina! I gasped.  I was astonished.  She didn’t really care.  It gave me flutters of anxiety, her blasé admission, the idea of the creepy man getting off on the rehashing of a child’s abuse.  Maybe the anti-sex industry feminists were right, maybe this was evil work, work that tore the fragile scabbing of every wound a girl ever got, again and again, till pain felt regular, felt like nothing.  Maybe we were encouraging the worst of men, helping blur their already schizophrenic line between fantasy and reality, what they’re allowed to have and what they’re not.  I knew that some girls thought we were actually preventing rape and incest by giving the men a consensual space to act out their fantasies, and it grossed me out beyond belief to think that I was fucking would-be sex criminals, but I believed them.  What I didn’t believe was that any of us, with our cheesy one-hour sex routines, would be enough to keep these men from hurting a female if that’s what they wanted to do.  And what I secretly wondered was, were we empowering them sexually to go and do just that.  Go and do just anything they wanted.

I love this quotation (I’m loving this whole book and I’m not even done yet).  Here’s why: because I can relate.  Oh yes, I think it’s full of problematic negative stereotypes about men, so I’ll note that up front.  (Though this book sure makes it easy to understand where those stereotypes come from.)  And I’ve never done sex work myself, so I don’t want to come across as co-opting Michelle Tea’s experience, or saying things about it that she didn’t mean.

But I believe I recognize those anxieties, because they come up for me sometimes, as a sex-positive feminist woman who can’t stand the idea of actual non-consensual sex.  Hell yeah, I get angry about sexual abuse, and it hurts to think about it.  Hell yeah, it kills me to think about sex workers who are trafficked or abused or desperate, who don’t get into the industry willingly (unlike so many sex workers I know who freely chose, who enjoy their jobs).  And this quotation, its worries about cultural masculinity and sexual power dynamics, most reminds me of the unease I once felt so terribly about my own S&M sexuality.  Unease that still surfaces sometimes, somehow, against my will.  Surfaces, for example, when I hear about tragic cases like abusive relationships that masquerade as BDSM relationships.

How to reconcile being an S&M submissive?

Encouraging the worst of men.  Fucking would-be sex criminals.  Empowering them to go and do just anything they want.

Alex Karydi's picture

Coming out and the Different Stages... Step by Step.

 

 

Everyday I get an email from a reader struggling with coming out or even questioning their sexuality.  Confused and lost searching for answers. It upsets me to know how many of us feel alone and with more barriers and walls in front of us in discovering who we are then is needed.

Coming out is stressful issue in an LGBT’s life and that can cause us to make poor decisions. Finding your sexual identity is crucial in being a healthy person, understanding the process even more so. Dealing with that stress may be to go through the transformational process and find ways to stay healthy. I am going to briefly describe the stage of finding ones identity, so as to provide a guide. Now you may not experience these in order and do not compare the stage as one is no better than the other. Just because you find yourself in stage 3 and not 5 does not mean you are any less mature or “underdeveloped.”

Alex Karydi's picture

Coming Out with The Lesbian Guru

Coming out Lesbians!  This is a celebration of your true identity being unveiled and released into the world.  I wish there were a more beautiful and transformational term to refer to the process of developing and sharing your sexual orientation. I believe if it were a more affirmative term it would create a more positive and hopeful experience. Words have a powerful and energetic effect on people when said, thought, and expressed. 

Everyone’s coming out story is so unique, an imprint on our life’s journey, so powerful it can have a life altering effect on where it leads us in our future and how we perceive the world and those we hold closest to us. For some lesbian’s coming out is met with love and support, as well as “yeah, everyone knew already.”

I was so frightened to tell my sister, the only family I had, that I was going to be exclusively with women and that I figured out why I could not connect with men as much as I tried, “I am Gay!” Her response was witty and dry as always to her true form, “Babes, I don’t know about you but if you’ve been looking under girls skirts since you were six you probably are Gay!” We both laughed and that was the end of it, now she is the most supportive and loving person in my life and I get to enjoy being completely true to who I am with her.

This is not to say that all my “Yes I’m a homo” experiences have been as pleasant.  Coming out is a long and difficult struggle and will often be met with a lot of resistance? In fact I had a couple of childhood female friends that became angry with me. They thought that during our friendship I may have secretly desired them and didn’t tell them.

Clarisse Thorn's picture

Love Bites: An S&M Coming-Out Story (mirror)

Originally posted at Clarisse Thorn: Pro-Sex Outreach, Open-Minded Feminism

My coming-out story was first published in February by "Time Out Chicago". I am grateful to them for the publication, but the license with them is not exclusive, and so I've decided to mirror the story here on my blog. Because this version is under my direct control, it will have the most up-to-date links and other followup information. If you would like to mirror my story on your own site or blog, please let me know -- I'm always available at [ clarisse.thorn at gmail dot com ].



I was very drunk. My perceptions had a frame-by-frame quality, and the evening didn't seem immediate: pieces of it were foreign, disconnected as a dream. I was being bitten very hard on the arm. It would leave marks the next day.

I was so muddled by assorted things that even now I can't sort out how I felt at that moment. When Richard's nails scored my skin I gasped, but I didn't ask him to stop. I flinched away, but he kept a firm grip on me. "Beg for mercy," he said softly.

Frame. Skip. I discovered that a mutual friend of ours had seen us, stopped, and was sitting on the grass across from Richard. "Hey," he said. "You shouldn't do that."

"It's okay," Richard said, "she likes it," and pulled my hair hard enough to force me to bow my head. I do? I managed to think, before thought vanished back into the blur of alcohol and pain. Our friend's face loomed over me, concern sketched vividly on his features.

I closed my eyes.

"Mercy," I whispered.

Clarisse Thorn's picture

5 sources of assumptions and stereotypes about S&M

Why do BDSMers often feel bad about being into S&M? Why do so many of us freak out once we discover our BDSM identity, or live in secret and repress our desires, or write only under false names, or fear openly joining the S&M community, or ….

Well, here’s a particularly sad example of how bad some of us feel. A BDSMer friend works as a therapist who does couples counseling. He once told me about a couple who had some random argument in his office — the argument, apparently, wasn’t even about sex — during which the wife lost her temper and turned away from her husband. “You know what this freak likes?” she snapped, and proceeded to describe her husband’s biggest fetish. Her husband looked humiliated and was quiet.

Now, from the perspective of my kinky counselor friend and my kinky self, the husband’s fetish wasn’t particularly weird — in fact it seems much tamer than, say, my own desire to have needles slid through my skin — but I can see how the fetish would seem weird to the mainstream. More importantly, it was obvious that this poor kinkster’s wife had been using his fetish as her ace in the hole — her secret back-pocket weapon — for quite a long time. Whenever she wanted to shut him up or shame him, she just mentioned his Deep Dark Fetish and he was silenced and shamed.

So. Obviously, there are a lot of poisonous assumptions and stereotypes surrounding S&M. There are so many of them that lots of kinksters have taken them into ourselves: not only do we fear society’s judgment, but we also feel tons of anxiety from internalized social norms.

Clarisse Thorn's picture

My S&M coming-out story — published at last

“Time Out Chicago” has published my S&M coming-out story to their website. It’s probably one of the most important things I’ve ever written, at least on a personal level, and it’s a little strange to see it finally out there.

I wrote the first half — everything up to the line, “Still, for a moment I wished …” — in early 2006. I wrote it for catharsis more than anything else, though I did submit it to one venue for publication on a whim — but after I submitted, I sharply regretted it. I remember that I was totally terrified it would be accepted. What would it mean if I published something like that? At that point I had no real experience in the BDSM community; I was finally starting to break out of my near-continuous freakout from discovering my sexuality, but I was still drowning in stigma. And I’d simply never written anything so personal before. When I received the rejection letter, I felt the typical burn, but I also heaved a sigh of enormous relief.

I left the piece alone on my hard drive for a long time, healing and adjusting all the while. In late 2007 — towards the end of my relationship with Andrew — I decided to add the second half, though I had no real idea what I’d do with the finished product. I was living in a huge building with communal kitchens at the time, and I remember that at 2AM one morning I went downstairs for a bagel. In the kitchen I came upon another artist, a filmmaker. He’d been living there for months, but we hadn’t talked much. Still, in each other we instinctively recognized the stamp of late-night obsessive artistry. “You’re a writer, right?” he asked. “What are you working on?”

Clarisse Thorn's picture

Where are all the male dominant bloggers?

Today I had a thought that stopped me in my tracks: I don’t believe I have ever read a single blog post by a male-identified BDSM dominant and/or sadist. I’ve kept this blog for over a year now, and y’all can see from the blogroll on the right-hand side that I’ve encountered a fair number of cool sex blogs; but I don’t recall ever seeing a male top’s blog.

Off the top of my head, I can think of many (oft-updated!) examples of the other combinations. For female bottoms there is of course myself, and violetwhite writes in a lovely, highly personal style. Female tops also represent: over a year after I found it, I can still recall my electrifying first reading of Trinity at SM-Feminist; a trio of clever female tops recently started a group effort called Topologies. And it’s not like it’s just women writing sex blogs — for male bottoms there’s the amazing activist maymay at Maybe Maimed But Never Harmed, the eloquent Orlando at In Scarlet Ink, my adorable college and Chicago-based friend Danny at Sex, Art and Politics, and the always-incisive Thomas of Yes Means Yes fame. And then there’s the queer butch top Sinclair “Sugarbutch” Sexsmith; and I have never seen a trans person’s blog strictly dedicated to BDSM, but Chicago’s own extraordinary Hazel/Cedar — who identifies as female but prefers the gender-neutral pronoun — sometimes notes hir kink experience as a BDSM-switch.

ptaguy's picture

Rather Be Black than Gay

(Originally published on Warfare: The Delightful and Dreary Sides of Gay Life - http://warfare-delightful-dre

cleofaye's picture

Coming out: My story

Cross posted from www.sexetcetc.blogspot.com

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