Annabelle River's picture

Report from the Folsom Street Fair

By Annabelle River

After my last few posts on homophobia, the Family Research Council, and the U.S. Republican Party - It's a lot more fun to write about the Folsom Street Fair, which I attended last weekend with my husband, my boyfriend, and a couple friends. I'd been hearing about it for years: the third largest street fair in the state of California, with about 300,000 - 400,000 people celebrating the BDSM subculture in the open air. It's an opportunity for a dazzling mass of kinky people to get together in public without any of the usual constraints of subtlety or discretion. And when I say that it isn't subtle or discrete, I mean that they have someone in leather dancing in a cage suspended from a crane in front of a church.

arvan's picture

Queer: New Voice for Sexual Minorities in Argentina

By Marcela Valente

BUENOS AIRES, Sep 26 (IPS) - A monthly magazine published by an Argentine umbrella group of some thirty organisations of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans (LGBTs) seeks to become a major communications channel for the community and an instrument for disseminating the actions that sexual minorities undertake to defend their rights.

"The Pride March (Argentina's annual LGBT celebration organised since 1992) is a big part of us, but it doesn't cover all of our community. There are lesbians with no visibility and transgender women who have fought for years to have their identity recognised," Mónica Ferrari, editor-in-chief of the just-released monthly publication Queer, which is distributed free of charge, told IPS.

(Visit the website or download)

The magazine is the official voice of the Argentine Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Trans (FALGBT) and has a circulation of 15,000 copies in print and a summarised version online. The name Queer was chosen because of its connection to a theory of diversity that sees sexual identity as constructed socially and not determined by biology.

The magazine had already appeared for a few years but was forced out of circulation in 2002 due to lack of funding. Queer's original editor-in-chief and founder was FALGBT's current president, María Rachid, who has now supported this new edition.

arvan's picture

LGBTQ Youth of Color Development Workshops - Organizing 101

As part of the Youth Pride Center (YPC) LGBTQ Youth of Color Development Workshop Series, Gender JUST Organizers Renisha Campbell, Eric Amaya, & Sam Finkelstein will be offering an:

Organizing 101 Training:
How to build power and develop leadership in your community through organizing!

• Do you want to develop a basic understanding of grassroots organizing?
• Do you have a hard time getting people to come out to meetings, actions, or events?
• Would you like to develop a better analysis of power?
• Are you looking for a deeper grasp of strategy?
• Do you want to understand direct-action?

Come to the Organizing 101 Training, as a part of YPC’s LGBTQ Youth of Color Development Workshop Series.

Presented by Gender JUST Organizers Renisha Campbell, Eric Amaya, & Sam Finkelstein

Tuesday, September 15th from 6 - 8pm
1525 E 55th St, Chicago
Free for members/$1 for non-members

*2 Credit Hours of Service Learning Available!

Training format will be based in participatory popular education, where we will work together to develop a shared understanding of organizing and its implications for our communities.

arvan's picture

Jake Raynard: In His Own Words

Jake Raynard, who sustained 15 cheekbone fractures, and a broken jaw, eye socket, and upper palate, in a homophobic attack by a gang of up to eight men in Thunder Bay, Ontario on Saturday.  This is released in advance of the community rally held in his honor, this evening.

arvan's picture

Jake Raynard: Rally and Support Info

Our Community Response to Violence

Friends and family of Jake Raynard are inviting the greater Thunder Bay community to a walk and a rally starting at Waverly Park at 6 pm on Friday, September 11 to positively respond to the targeted violence Jake and some friends experienced a week ago.

On Friday, September 4th, Jake, a 30 year old gay man and some of his friends were attacked by a group of men outside a bar in downtown Port Arthur. The beating left Jake with 15 fractures to his cheekbone, a broken eye socket, a broken jaw and a broken upper palate. This violent hate crime has shocked, devastated and enraged Jake, his family, and the entire Thunder Bay community. This is not the first time this type of attack has taken place and it is time for the community to respond in a positive display of support.

The Unified Community around Jake Raynard is calling on all people in the greater Thunder Bay community to attend this rally to:

1. Welcome Jake back into our community from the hospital, give him support, help him with his desire to put a face to hate crimes of all kinds, and acknowledge his courage in coming forward.

2. To stand united as a community and declare that WE the residents of the greater Thunder Bay area and our response to this hate crime define this community, not the attackers or this terrible crime.

This is a matter that concerns the safety of all groups in our community, the image of our beloved city, and the future we build together.

Stand up for your community as we march through the Port Arthur downtown district, and return to Waverly Park to hear from a diverse group of community leaders.

This is a crucial time for the greater Thunder Bay community-- let’s make Jake’s heroism and our community response be the stepping stone for healing and positive change on our streets and in our homes.

arvan's picture


Chicago, IL – On August 18, Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, Queer, Allied, and Gender-Non-Conforming (LGBTQA/GNC) students, parents, and allies met with top officials from Chicago Public Schools (CPS), including Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman, about ways to make schools safe and affirming for all Chicago students. “While we know you are an ally on this issue,” said Ahkia Daniels, Gender JUST member, to Ron Huberman, “we want to see what action you’re willing to put behind your support.”

“We agree that there needs to be a change in school culture,” said Mr. Huberman, speaking of the long term transformation that is needed to ensure safe and affirming education on a district-wide and equitable basis. CPS agreed to Gender JUST’s solution of creating a committee of students and community members to address the violence, oppression, inequities, and heterosexism experienced by many within CPS by providing resources to students, professional development curriculum for staff, and accountability for the central office.

Following up from the public forum organized by Gender JUST and attended by over 175 members of the community, Gender JUST in partnership with Blocks Together and Chicago Youth Initiating Change pressed Ron Huberman to implement student-initiated solutions, such as mandatory training for CPS staff and processes for accountability to students. “We’re here because we live this every day,” said Gender JUST member Joshua McCool.

“This could have helped you in your youth,” said Eric Amaya, Gender JUST Leadership Team member and sophomore at Kelly High, to Mr. Huberman “and it will create safer schools for your new child.”

Clarisse Thorn's picture

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 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.

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.

The Ultimates's picture

Sex Party Poopers

After experiencing the success of the Pleasure Salon, we asked the question, “Can we replicate this multi-dimensional sexual experience in a sex party setting?”  We’ve been enjoying swinger sex clubs for years, but were getting jaded with the “swinger only” scene.  And, even though we’re swingers, we’re considered “fringe” because we dabble in other sexual sub-cultures (including the BDSM scene).  We discussed the potential results of adding different types of sex-positive people to our sexual circle and concluded that the mix would certainly spice things up for us.  So, in the interest of science, we planned “Our Party Experiment.” 

We felt we had enough research to begin our experiment since we had visited swing clubs and dungeons multiple times, and had a variety of friends in these sub-communities.  Based on our experiences and discussion with our roommate, an experienced Dom in the BDSM community, we constructed a set of variables that we felt would help us conduct Our Party Experiment (and contribute to a fun evening of sexual play). 

We began with the assumption that all sex-positive people like sex and parties and that, if introduced, they would intermingle and have wild sex.  Our hypothesis was: 

“If we put a group of diverse, sex-positive people together in a liquor-lubricated environment and give them a safe, comfortable place to have sex, we can expect a wild sex party with interesting orgies."

Clarisse Thorn's picture

Interview with Daniel Bergner, author of “The Other Side of Desire”

I was all set to dislike Daniel Bergner. As a member of the BDSM community and an advocate for greater societal acceptance of BDSM, I was unimpressed by the reviews of his new book, The Other Side of Desire. I get annoyed when I see media depictions that play into BDSM stereotypes or create other problems for the BDSM community image; it seemed to me that Bergner had written a book that did just that. At best, it sounded naïve — at worst, cynical and insensitive. I requested an interview with him, wondering whether we’d end up at each other’s throats … and then I read the book.

The Other Side of Desire is far more complex than I initially gave it credit for. There’s too much silence around alternative sexuality, and it breaks that silence — not by promoting an agenda, but with a plea for personal understanding. I found myself believing that Daniel Bergner really had done his best — not to put us deviants on display like animals in a zoo, but to give profiles of human beings thinking about human concerns. Still, there were gaps in the book that I found very troubling, and I wanted to see if he could defend them.

I arranged to meet Daniel at the Leather Archives and Museum, a museum devoted to leather / fetish / BDSM on Chicago’s north side. There, I found him looking over the Archives’ BDSM history timeline. As he greeted me, I was impressed by his measured speech and unexpectedly dark eyes. There was an openness to him — even, perhaps, a vulnerability — that didn’t come across in photographs. I could see how he’d gotten so many people to open up about their sexuality, and I warmed to him instantly.

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