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HERKIND NEW!

THE ACCEPTANCE ISSUE MARCH / APRIL 2020

queer up YOUR

spring 5 makeup trends to try yourself

RELIGION + SEXUALITY rediscovering faith during dark times

confessions of a

BABY GAY

facing queer imposter syndrome £4.99


THE ACCEPTANCE ISSUE

TEAM LIKES

Queer favourites of the season p. 4-5

THE JOURNEY TO SELF ACCEPTANCE A column on a trans journey p. 6

SAD GIRL, QUEER POP

BIDENTITY: DRESS TO EXPRESS

Bisexual clothing decoded p. 14-15

STRAIGHT PASSING, A PRIVILEGE?

A column on being “straight enough” p. 16

SEX IS FOR PLEASURE Discussing queer sex education p. 28-29

SPRING TRENDS

LOVE IN THE PLURAL: MAKING IT WORK

ALLAH AND THE GAYS

ARE YOU KIND TO YOURSELF?

Why we need the Muslim Pride, explained p. 22

A guide on taking time p. 32-33

DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR HISTORY?

MY NAME IS ALISE

HOROSCOPES

MINUS DE KOCK AND VICTORIA STONE

QUEER IMPOSTER SYNDROME

An exploration of queer music p. 7

TEN YEARS OF LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION Gay icons on screen decoded p. 8-9

Why knowing queer culture matters p. 10-11

Meet your drag kings p. 12-13

How to make your eyes bloom p. 17-21

A recollection of a religious epiphany p.23-25

Polylove in focus p. 30-31

p.34

On being a baby queer and validity p. 26-27

THE IMPORTANCE OF OUR HISTORY p.10-11


queer up your spring p.17-21

HOW BI DO YOU DRESS? p. 14-15

Dear womxn, When I was a teenager, there was very little in the way of magazines that were tailored to girls who thought they might like girls. There was plenty of content for teenage girls and there was certainly no shortage of magazines dedicated to teenage life but they were often centred around ‘which boys I should crush on’ and how best I should style my hair ‘to maximise my appeal to the opposite sex’. I would rake through magazine after magazine, hoping to find some kind of kinship somewhere - hoping for just one page that would tell me that I was normal, that girls could like girls too and that I wasn’t completely alone in my thoughts and my wants. Instead, I navigated my way through my queerness mostly on my own and learnt my lessons by myself, largely by trial and error. While I survived and live happily now as an openly gay woman, I know that I would have felt a lot less alone if even just one of the magazines I pored over when I was coming of age had been designed for queer girls. What we want to do here at Herkind is provide a lifeline for young LGBTQ+ womxn and girls, and to serve as a safe space for them, particularly if they don’t feel comfortable enough to actively come out at this current moment in their lives. We want to provide for them what a great deal of us wish we had been given when we were younger - a place to explore their queerness without fear and a place to ask the questions they might be too afraid to voice aloud. We hope the young womxn that read Herkind find comfort in knowing that they are not alone and that there is a compass right here to help them along in their navigation of their identities. We hope you enjoy this first issue and join us on a journey to provide solace and queer entertainment.

Hannah

JAMES AND EMMA ON POLY LOVE P. 31-32

HERKIND @herkindmag bitly.com/herkindmag Fear you’re not quite on top of all the slang? Check out our glossary online. If you see a • next to a word, you’ll find it in there! Let us know if we should add more terms!


the

FOMO edit

The Herkind team tell you what they’ve been loving recently so you don’t get the fear of missing out

KILLING EVE AMY FRETWELL This dramatic thriller captivated the nation. Its female protagonists challenged the typical female submissive roles often encountered on TV. The psychopathic character, Villanelle, is easy to obsess over and defies all societal expectations placed upon womxn; but still, I adored her and her strength of character. The complex relationship between her and Eve hints at a lesbian romance and the infatuation that Eve has serves as an intriguing foundation for the show.

IMAGE CREDITS (starting from far left going clockwise): BBC, XL Recordings, ih8mondays, Beachside Films, Steam, BBC, Skunk Anansie, Polydor.

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LÅPSLEY, WOMXN MAUDE AGOMBAR Låpsley’s track Womxn from her unreleased album, Through Water has a laidback tone and catchy hooks. Her voice is unique and takes you on an emotional journey. Womxn is about trusting in the passage of time; about not knowing what to do but knowing that at some point you will. The English singer is part of the LGBTQ+ community and feels the title is inclusive and sensitive. The song radiates a message of power, strength and self–belief; a must-listen!

IH8 MONDAYS KAIYA SIMON This Youtube channel consists of four members of the LGBTQ+ community reacting to Riverdale episodes whilst playing a drinking game – and it’s as fun as you expect. These four huge personalities reacting to the chaotic and camp energy that the show radiates is hilarious and no matter how extreme the plot gets, they LOVE it. If you like movie/TV commentary and people just ripping into a show that they hate to love, this is for you.

THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST HANNAH RYAN Desiree Akhavan – a bisexual American Iranian filmmaker – hit the mainstream in 2018 with her second feature. A striking portrait of a teenage girl grappling with her newfound sexuality, while under the watchful eye of so-called ‘counsellors’ at a conversion therapy camp. For anyone searching for a knowing, delicately crafted take on a topic that has so often been framed before simply as a melodrama in cinema, this is where to look.


THE LEGEND OF KORRA VITTORIA ZERBINI The fighting, the spirituality, the friendships and the personal growth were all amazingly portrayed in this series. To an attentive eye, though, there were details which made my non-straight heart jump; the constant, subtle flirting between Korra and Asami, the protagonist and a ma jor character of the series, both clever, loving and flawed young womxn. In a universe filled with many plot lines I was amazed by how easily this cartoon allowed the relationship to unfold and grow in front of a fairly young target– audience.

GENTLEMAN JACK CERYN EVANS Discover badass lesbian icon of the 1800s, Anne Lister, in this quirky BBC dramatisation of her life in which she details secret accounts of her complicated relationships with womxn in a cryptic diary – a queer Fleabag set around 200 hundred years prior, if you will. Set in 1832 West Yorkshire, England during the Industrial Revolution, the series follows her attempts to revive her ancestral home left to her by her late uncle and, more importantly, find herself a wealthy wife.

LES FAILLES CACHÉES, POMME ELISSA ABOU MEHRI Our French sadgirl writes and composes songs as heart–warming as they can be heart– wrenching. Openly queer, Pomme writes about her love stories with all pronouns without hiding, taking pride in being so open about her fluid love. Her latest album, les failles (loopholes), was celebrated at the Victoires de la Musique for “revelation album of the year”. Proof, if needs be, that being queer doesn’t affect your music, doesn’t limit it, and simply offers a new path.

AN ACOUSTIC SKUNK ANANSIE (LIVE IN LONDON) EMILY ELLIS Indie rock band Skunk Anansie has been breaking barriers and challenging stereotypes since the mid-90s. Lead singer, Skin, who is bisexual, was recently unmasked as ‘Duck’ on The Masked Singer – probably no surprise to anyone familiar with her distinctive voice. Her extraordinary range is on full show in this acoustic live album, recorded in 2013. With a mix of familiar hits, given a new resonance with acoustic backing, Skin is persuasive and sensuous. Perfect for a chilled out evening.

THE FOMO EDIT / HERKIND / ISSUE 1

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to y e n r u o j The

SELF E C N A T P ACCE Grace, an active member of Bristol’s queer and poly community, talks about her journey towards accepting herself as a transwomxn•

T

36 years

his is how long it took me to feel brave enough to tell the world I was born in a body that didn’t feel right and see myself the way the world saw me. I always knew I was different, but 20 years ago it wasn’t easy to even come across the word transgender•, much less know what it meant and how to go about transitioning•. I was in my late 20s when I knowingly met someone who identified as trans. Since my early teenage years, I was happy enough when I wore clothes which I felt more comfortable in, when I went out to spaces I felt safe in, or when I was playing femme characters in roleplaying games. To actually transition both socially and medically seemed impossible in my 20s.

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Grace

Withe

rs

What changed that for me a decade later? Being part of a queer• community and helping to create a space where individuals who didn’t feel safe or seen anywhere else could feel loved, supported and valid. In reaching out to other LGBTQ+ people who needed a chosen family I was able to meet people who felt like me and had gone through the same struggles I did. The number of transgender• and non-binary• friends I had multiplied exponentially. The overwhelming support and safety I felt from them made me realise that I could do it too and I wouldn’t have to do it alone. It even makes “second puberty” just about manageable! I’m privileged to know trans men, womxn and non-binary people of all ages. I want to thank younger generations of queer folks in particular for showing me that acceptance and inclusion are definitely the future. If I had to choose one bit of advice to give to younger people who are questioning their gender, or who want to transition, it would be to find your local queers and make friends! If you’re isolated and don’t have many queer people around you, go online and look for social and support groups on social media. And if you’re a proud ally to trans and non-binary people, thank you! w

COLUMN / HERKIND / ISSUE 1


Clairo – Bags Over dreamy lo-fi beats, Clairo pours her longing into lyrics balancing female friendship and romantic intimacy – a theme that courses through the veins of Bags, the single that propelled her to fame. Bags is an ode to the tentative nature of queer pining. One womxn doesn’t dare overthink the touch of another for fear of misreading the moment, yet wondrous things can emerge from the slightest brush of the fingers.

Lucy Dacus – Night Shift

Snail Mail – Heat Wave

Night Shift, Dacus’s epic six– minute contemplation on the search for closure, is a beast of a mourning track. Dacus begins her story of a failed romance by singing the first time she ‘tasted some– body else’s spit,’ she ‘had a coughing fit.’ This image is raw, it rips the song’s subject apart and tosses the remains aside in the hope of creating tracks to eventually ‘feel like covers, dedicated to new lovers.’

Lush, Lindsey Jordan’s debut, is a record preoccupied with the subject of unrequited love. Perhaps nowhere is this theme more prevalent than on Heat Wave. It chronicles the break– down of a relationship with another womxn, as Jordan refuses to serve as her occasional lover. She repeatedly asserts that she is ‘not into sometimes’ in a blistering outro, preceded by verses in which she begs for scraps from the table.

THE RISE OF

sadgirl queer pop

Ceryn and Hannah explore the growing popularity of contemplative love songs made by LGBTQ+ womxn

C

onfessional pop is nothing new. For the past decade in fact, it has been a core component of Taylor Swift’s brand and has coloured the works of artists such as Lana del Rey and Lorde. What is new, however, is a recent trend in which more and more queer womxn are baring their souls in a string of deeply intimate releases. A great deal of indie rock and pop in 2019 was dominated by womxn that just so happened to be singing about other womxn – from the ascent of King Princess after endorsement from established artists such as Harry Styles, to the rise of Clairo. We take a deep dive into the recent success of queer womxn’s music and explore the rather tragic themes that so often permeate their work.

IMAGE CREDITS: Instagram

MUNA - Pink Light ‘So I let it happen again, I loved someone who’s indifferent’ – we’ve all been there. Going through a series of break-ups can leave us feeling like we just can’t catch a break, but queer trio MUNA want you to know that there is a (pink) light at the end of the tunnel. Pink Light is a true heartbreak bop encompassed by self-doubt and what-ifs, as is expected of anyone going through a breakup; ‘thinking if I start again, I can change the way it ends.’ But, that pink light is a sign for happier things to come.

The Japanese House Something Has to Change Amber Bain oozes all elements of sadgirl queer pop. Something Has To Change consists of dreamy electronic pop paired with silky androgynous vocals that make for an emotive track about – shock – queer heartbreak; ‘Your heart keeps breaking in the same place.’ Here, Bain laments on the cyclical nature of queer confusion, where it is common for womxn to fall into unhealthy relationships as they get caught up in the turbulence of navigating their identity.

CULTURE / HERKIND / ISSUE 1

Check out our sadgirl playlist on Spotify:

King Princess – Talia King Princess AKA Mikaela Straus, is queer pop royalty for sure. Crowned ‘king’ of the lesbian ballad, the 21-year-old has earned herself a dedicated queer fanbase. Being openly gay, gender-fluid, and so overtly comfortable with her sexual identity, she is an important role model for young queer people. Talia is a melancholy track that questions queer love and its power. The ultimate message is that everyone deals with heartbreak in their own way but sometimes you just need to let yourself feel whatever you’re feeling.

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a brief

2

history of

LGBTQ+ TV

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3

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3

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Glee

Faking It

(2009-2015)

(2014-2016)

Glee features two transgender characters, Unique and Sheldon. Unique was pre-op and always comfortable with who she was, despite being misunderstood and ridiculed at school. There was confusion over what toilet to use and she even used a disposable toilet to avoid conflict. Sheldon, formally known as Shannon, however, didn’t come out until season six. After battling with his identity for years, it culminated in a heartfelt moment where a transgender choir sang a rendition of Queen Latifah’s I Know Where I’ve Been as support.

For what it was, this show was good, but problematic. Two girls are mistaken for lesbians, but continue the charade to gain popularity in school. One of the girls then figures out that she is a lesbian who is in love with her friend and the show goes through her struggles coming to terms with that whilst still ‘faking it.’ From the premise alone, you know that the show features many LGBTQ+ people, including an intersex character that struggles when her secret is revealed – rare for teen television to explore.

(1997-2003) One of the earliest TV shows to represent a part of the community on the small screen: a lesbian relationship between Willow and Tara. This may have been the first time seeing queer womxn on mainstream television for some of Buffy’s audiences. Although the relationship fell foul of the ‘lesbian death trope’ – where queer womxn are seemingly punished for indulging in their sexuality – Willow and Tara served as a sexual awakening for many. Buffy set the bar for shows that followed later in the 2000s.

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Kaiya looks at the various role models we’ve grown up with on TV that have helped and impacted us when discovering our sexual identity. Without these representations on the small screen, many of us would still be as confused as we were at the beginning of our journeys

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IMAGE CREDITS (from left going clockwise): Disney, FOX, MTV/Viacom Media Networks, Netflix, Netflix, Netflix

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Stranger Things

Riverdale

Sex Education

(2016-)

(2017-)

(2019-)

Set in 1980s middle America Stranger Things introduces Robin in season three. Her sexuality was not discussed until the last few episodes where she comes out to Steve – a lovely moment between two friends. Considering the time it was set, there were doubts about how Steve would react. But despite not being an expert in the community, Steve proves that he is no longer the archetypal ‘arsehole’ he was in the first season. He has become a sweetheart, which is shown when he is comforting and humoring Robin about her taste in womxn.

Riverdale features LGBTQ+ characters but it’s undeniable that they’re poorly written and put in questionable situations. Toni, a bisexual character, has had no development in three seasons. Her role consists of being Cheryl’s – who was sent to a gay conversion camp – girlfriend, nodding and saying ‘yes babe’ every now and again. The show’s four LGBTQ+ characters eventually get brainwashed into joining a cult – causing a discussion about the negative representation this community gets on television.

Sex Education frequently represents the LGBTQ+ community. Ola, trying to wrap her head around her sexuality, does discover she is pansexual through a quiz but is unphased. Another character learns what it means to be asexual and discovers that not having sexual feelings doesn’t make you ‘broken’. What it lacks, though, is lesbian screentime. Season one does feature a lesbian storyline for one episode, but this is centered around Otis’s therapy skills rather than the relationship between these womxn.

CULTURE / HERKIND / ISSUE 1

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DO YOU

H

istory is written by the victors. We also know that history is predominantly written by the rich and powerful, and mainly by white men. This can be seen in the ongoing Wikipedia controversy where the vast ma jority of writers are ‘young, collegeeducated males’, only 16% womxn – and a paltry 18% of biographies about womxn. If over 50% of human beings are not adequately represented in the world’s biggest encyclopaedia, what hope is there for minorities? History is plagued by such absences, none more so than lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ+) people. For most of history being LGBTQ+ was either illegal (up to and including the death penalty for men), or socially unacceptable. The letters, diaries, biographies and social documents so frequently used to construct histories are for the most part absent for this group, either never created or destroyed by authors or their families and close friends. It is worth bearing in mind that only those under the age of 16 have lived in the UK free of legal persecution on the grounds of their sexual orientation. The iniquitous Section 28, passed in 1988 to ban the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality, was not repealed until 2003. This act decreed that any public body receiving tax-payer’s money could not promote LGBTQ+ people, despite the fact we paid taxes too. The consequence was that teachers in schools were not allowed to discuss being gay, bi, or trans, and heritage organisations did not include LGBTQ+ in their galleries or displays. Even today there is little permanent representation in heritage organisations and inclusion is restricted to celebratory days and months – a setting aside from the mainstream population.

those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it This means LGBTQ+ history can be difficult to locate and difficult to share, a problem I experienced when writing the first historical book on Welsh LGBTQ+ history, Forbidden Lives: LGBT Stories from Wales (Seren Books). Approaching some archive gatekeepers, I was told that their stories were nothing more than ‘innuendoes and rumours’. So, I deliberately included those individuals in the book to clearly show their lives could not, and should not, be reduced to such belittling terms.

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Section 28. (1)A local authority shall not— (a)intentionally promote homosexua intention of promoting homosexualit (b)promote the teaching in any main homosexuality as a pretended family


?

YOUR

a piece by Norena Shopland

ality or publish material with the ty; ntained school of the acceptability of y relationship.

Another problem is people’s perceptions of what or when history is, as many see it as the deep, dark past. But history is all around us. Those over 16 lived at a time when their Prime Minister sought to curb their existence, because when Section 28 was up for repeal in 2000, Theresa May voted to keep it, calling it a ‘victory for common sense’ when it was retained. Boris Johnson voted to abolish Section 28 but his recent homophobic comments have alarmed many. If history is blighted by the lack of representation for womxn in general, it is far worse for those who are LGBTQ+. So, I went looking for these hidden lives and found thousands of womxn who have never been written about. I found them not by looking for what people were, but by what they were doing: for example, many gay women were cross-dressing and living as men in order to have wives. Much of this history is completely new and will appear in a book, Women in Male Attire: their fight to wear trousers (forthcoming, Pen and Sword Books, June 2021). This battle is still happening today – many gay womxn say wearing a dress would make them feel like a transvestite – yet in some countries womxn can still be whipped or jailed for wearing trousers. In the UK it is (mostly) acceptable for girls to wear trousers to school but boys cannot wear skirts. This is living history. There is a saying that those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. Today we see the rise of the far-right, so reminiscent of fascism in the 1930s, where hate was actively encouraged by those in power. Now we’re seeing retrograde steps in LGBTQ+ rights around the world – how depressing it is to see news feeds of atrocities in so many countries – and how Trump and those like him are rolling back LGBTQ+ rights. Think that can’t happen here? What if far right-wing parties had won the election and now ruled this country – how many of our freedoms would have been taken away from us? Leaving Europe has worrying effects for us all. The Conservatives have threatened to alter the British Human Rights act and we are watching attentively. Because we know. We know from history, our own and others, that reversals of rights can come quickly and we have to be vigilant.

History is a powerful tool. Use it, because if we do not safeguard and promote our own histories,

CULTURE / HERKIND / ISSUE 1

who will? w

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EE T

M

THE ARTISTS THAT’LL

VICTORIA SCONE Victoria Scone AKA Emily Diapre, 26, pansexual womxn,

Cardiff, Wales; AFAB •(assigned female at birth) /bio queen “I was originally Victoria Sponge – Victoria because it’s royal and Sponge because I love cake! I changed it to Victoria Scone though because the whole name sounds like ‘Victoria’s gone’.”

Why did you get into drag? VS I entered Drag Idol in

2018 and got all the way to the final.

MDK After I had my daughter

our household was on one income and I wanted to help by doing something I enjoyed. I entered drag king competitions in London and got work. It all sort of snowballed from there. © victoria stone

Were your family and friends supportive of your drag? VS My family were very

supportive, my mum was happy I was using my theater training for something. My friends were also really supportive, coming along to gigs and taking photos. MDK I didn’t tell my husband

until after I performed, but he has always been supportive. I will explain properly to my daughter when she is older. Now it’s just dressing up and having fun.

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Did you have to overcome any social pressures? VS Yes, I feel like I have to

overcome social pressure every time I perform. However, every time I perform I overcome these pressures a little more. MDK When performing there’s

a lot of competition between the sexes. For example, AFAB queens and drag kings are often not given the same gravitas as the more ‘traditional’ queens.

Are you making any political statement with your drag? VS I would say anytime

someone is performing in drag it is a political statement. However, my drag might be considered particularly political because drag is so stereotypically thought of as a man in a dress, and I am a female presenting as a female.

MDK No labels, love is love,

education is key. If children are taught acceptance from an early age it will make a big difference in the future.


QUEER UP YOUR NIGHTS Maude asked two fabulous drag kings all about their drag journey

MINUS DE KOCK Minus de Kock AKA Jules Deacon, 39, married, bisexual womxn; “I am South African and de Kock is a popular surname there. So I added Minus to make it more fun.”

What is your favourite drag memory? VS Performing at the Two Brewers in

Clapham almost two years after my drag debut there! Having a real, good rapport with the audience always makes a show. MDK Performing at Cardiff Pride on the

float for Mary’s. It was celebrating the 50-year anniversary of Stonewall and the drag that has come since. Me and my daughter were punks and she came on the float with me as Mini Minus! She got her first gig booked there and then for next Pride! © minus de kock

How does drag make you feel? VS For the most part it makes

me feel exhausted because I put my heart and soul into every performance. It pushes me all the time constantly performing to new people, thinking of new material and songs. I do not associate sexuality with drag at all. Personally I feel they are two separate things. However, performing in LGBTQ+ places means I am surrounded by very welcoming and accepting people.

MDK I was already comfortable

with myself before I started drag, but I love being Minus because of how people react.

WHERE CAN YOU MEET YOUR KINGS? Minus de Kock performs in a quarterly show at Mary’s called ‘Suited: Drag King Takeover’ and other performances can be found on her Facebook page. Find her on Instagram @minus.de.kock Facebook @ManHerUpBeADragKing Victoria Scone performs mainly in Cardiff at Mary’s on Wednesdays and Pulse on Fridays and Sundays among other pubs and clubs across the UK. Find her on Instagram @victoriascone Facebook @VictoriaScone

CULTURE / HERKIND / ISSUE 1

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bidentity

AND SEXPRESSION

Ceryn and Sorcha explore bisexual visibility through clothing as coding

OUR shopping spots The Ragged Priest (£££) – perfect if you’re feeling a bit edgy but want to look cute Lazy Oaf (£££) – great for bright, quirky, fun pieces

SkinnyDip London (££) – amazing for statement coats you won’t see elsewhere Monki (££) – if you want a bold print, great trouser or collared shirt, this is the place Nasty Gal (£)– the place to go for looking cute on the cheap


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s bisexual womxn we find ourselves having to come out to every person we meet and often they’ll invalidate our bisexuality. They may not say it to our face but let’s face it, they’re probably thinking “maybe she’s confused”, “she’s just gay” or “she just wants attention”. Being bisexual can, of course, be confusing; existing in this space between two distinct identities, belonging to both and neither at the same time. But that doesn’t make us any less valid. According to a YouGov survey of 18 to 24-year-olds, in 2015 only one in 50 identified as bisexual. Fast forward to 2019 and those identifying as bi is as many as one in six. Yet, over a quarter of the UK population disregard bisexuality as a valid sexual orientation, believing everyone is either homosexual or heterosexual. If bisexuality is imaginary what does that make us? Invisible? Ghosts floating in limbo? A myth? How we manage our bodies and appearance in relation to our bisexuality is how we can feel validated and visible. But, research shows bisexual womxn struggle to communicate their sexuality through their clothing and appearance. This is probably because there aren’t really any distinct appearance norms associated with bisexuality. In many ways it’s much easier to visually identify as ‘gay’ or ‘straight’. There are distinct gay and lesbian appearance norms that everyone can recognise but bisexual identity is more complicated and fluid. Instead, stereotypically, it is assumed that our appearance is constructed in relation to both lesbian appearance norms and heterosexual femininities. And this is true, to an extent. So, how can we stand out as bisexuals in a world where we are virtually invisible? For us, we like to make a statement so that we feel seen. Being bold makes us feel a little less ghost-like because sometimes

it’s a great feeling to walk down the street and be noticed by others. ‘Bisexual fashion’ is hard to pin down. Bisexual ankles are almost a comedic trope; always getting them out at inappropriate times, always cold, often unshaven (#feminism). Plaid flannels are a must. Everything has to be tucked into our cuffed jeans (at all times) and Dr. Martens are always the perfect addition to a cute outfit to add a bit of ‘butch’ – right? But, we are so much more than just queens of the ankle grazer and tucked-in flannel shirt. We want to appeal to both genders and this is reflected in our wardrobe. Statement coats and quirky shoes are a great go-to. It can be tricky making sure we’re feminine but not too feminine – verging on ‘edgy’ to make people question us but not too much. This is how we make our sexuality stand out – you definitely wouldn’t catch a ghost rocking a leopard-print fluffy coat paired with big stomp–worthy docs, would you? Bisexual fashion is pretty non–existent but that just means we can have fun with it and keep it as fluid as possible. In a way, it is what makes bisexual dressing so fun because we can make it completely our own. w

FASHION / HERKIND / ISSUE 1

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Straight passing a privilege?

Maude discusses the complexities of being a straight passing member of the LGBTQ+ community

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eing a straight passing member of the LGBTQ+ community is an undeniable privilege. It means that to people in your day-today life, you appear outwardly as a cisgendered• heterosexual womxn. This is something that is mainly seen in bisexual womxn and femme• lesbians, however, this is a generalisation and many people from all areas of the LGBTQ+ community can pass for straight. It is a similar concept to that of straight privilege, however the two are not synonymous. Straight passing womxn are rarely subjected to the same level of harassment, abuse and violence that other members of the LGBTQ+ community face on a daily basis. This makes it much easier for straight passing people to blend into society. In the case of bisexual womxn, it generally makes it easier to attract male partners as you present as traditionally feminine and heterosexual. But being straight passing comes with its own set of problems. As it appears some womxn can choose the way they present, it can be construed as a choice to be gay or not. This is a hugely damaging mindset, as not only does it feed into ideas of bi-erasure• but also severely undermines the gay agenda. Being LGBTQ+ is not a choice, no matter how you present or who you are currently sleeping with and no one is allowed to make you feel otherwise. Not obviously appearing as LGBTQ+ makes it much harder to signal to other womxn that you are interested in them, without going over the top and

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Being LGBTQ+ is not a choice, no matter how you present

© Екатерина Исаева

or who you are currently sleeping with decking yourself head-to-toe in rainbow patterns. In times like this, clothing can be used as a coded identifier. Accessories such as fake nails often let people assume you are straight too, for obvious reasons. Speaking from my own experiences of being a straight passing womxn, imposter

COLUMN / HERKIND / ISSUE 1

syndrome is a big issue. People constantly assume that I am straight, and especially currently being in a heterosexual relationship, I often don’t feel queer enough to call myself part of the LGBTQ+ community, despite my attraction for all genders. This means that where more stereotypical looking lesbians are clearly identifiable, as a straight passing womxn I have to come out multiple times a day to many different people. This repeated reassurance that you are part of the LGBTQ+ community may be really affirming to some people, as you are drilling it into your brain like a mantra. For me, the more I mention it and the more I have to let people know, the more it feels like I am faking it. The assumptions people make about me fuel this imposter syndrome, a move that while not malicious, feels like a total dismissal of my identity. It is assumed that straight passing womxn will end up with men, the social pressures of conformity squeezing us into perfect boxes for widespread heteronormative consumption. This is invalidating on so many levels, as it is often perceived to be the ‘preferred’ option due to ease and social traditions. Love is not always meant to be easy; the best and most chaotic emotional experiences are often the ones that shape you the most as a human being. No matter the way you present, remember to remain true to yourself and that you are loved, appreciated and always valid. w


EYES IN

bloom The Herkind team bring you the freshest makeup looks to queer up your spring

FASHION / HERKIND / ISSUE 1

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90s GRUNGE Gina is wearing: Stila Eyes are the Window in Soul palette (£12.54) NYX Slim eye pencil in Brown Black (£3) Kylie Cosmetics Matte lip liner in Dolce K (£9.20) MAC Matte lipstick in Whirl (£12.50) MAC Liptensity lipstick in Smoked Almond (£19)


DEWY GLITTER Sevda is wearing: Stila Magnificent Glitter and Glow liquid eye shadow in Sea Siren (£24) Benefit RollerLash mascara (£22.50) Glossier Cloud Paint in Beam (£15) KIKO Milano 3D Hydra lipgloss in Clear (£5)

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SHAPES AND COLOURS Cynthia is wearing: NYX Vivid Brights Liner in Sapphire Blue and Light Red (£6) Glossier Cloud Paint in Storm (£15) Glossier Niteshine in Platinum Rose (£17)


GRAPHIC LINER X2 Vittoria is wearing:

Sorcha is wearing: Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance palette (£45)

KVD Tattoo Liner in Trooper Black (£16.25)

Soap & Glory Supercat eyeliner (£6.50)

MAC Retro Matte Liquid Lipcolour in Feels so Grand (£19)

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector pressed highlighter in Moonstone (£29.40) Glossier Cloud Paint in Beam (£15)

Glossier Cloud Paint in Beam & Dusk (£15 each)

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ALLAH AND THE GAYS

.THE QUEER AGENDA. 22

If being gay still makes eyebrows rise and being Muslim can grant you some weird glances, you can easily imagine what being both might do. Faith and queerness, whatever your religion, are always hard to navigate, but BAME minorities seem to always take the full blow. And that’s coming from both the LGBTQ+ community and their community of faith.

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HAT’S HAPPENING? In hopes to reconcile these two sides, IMAAN, a LGBTQ+ Muslim group, set the date for a historical event in queer history: the first Muslim pride in a Western country, and it’s happening, this April, in London. Ian J. Brown, a Twitter supporter, explains, “The #homophobia from within their own cultural/ religious community combined with a lack of openness within the #LGBTQ+ community makes it important to promote their voice and visibility.”

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HAT’S THE CURRENT SITUATION LIKE? Hate crime in the UK has blown up in recent years, encouraged by a strong rise in xenophobia following the 2016 Brexit referendum. In a report published in 2017, Stonewall noted that nearly a third of LGBTQ+ people from a non-Christian faith were more likely to have experienced a hate crime or incident. With Brexit having now passed in law, fears are understandable.

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H

HAT WERE THE OW IS IT REALLY? RESPONSES? Aaminah Khan, With some of the a queer Muslim who online reactions lived in Australia and to the Muslim is now currently in Pride bashing the the United States, ‘Muslim gays’, these comes from a fears are terribly Turkish mother and tangible. “You a Pakistani father. should be ashamed From the example of being a part of/ of Queensland, supporting LGBT, it where throwing “a is clearly forbidden gay from a rooftop and a sin,” writes because you thought an anonymous he was coming user on Twitter, onto you” wasn’t while another perceived as murder one partakes in and others horror conspiracy theories stories, Aaminah as they write, exposes in a twitter “Probably a ploy to thread how people make a list of how are deluded if they many people to believe Islam is stone/behead.” the epicentre of While these homophobia. horrendous “Some of [my comments spam the family] don’t talk to posts, some positive me. Some of them reactions do pop don’t let their kids up, and show more talk to me,” she than ever the writes, “but importance most of them, of a day as while they such. Mona are varying Eltahawy, degrees of feminist not-thrilled, LGBT people from author, get along a non-Christian with me just writes, “This is faith experience fine.” Yet, important she is not hate crime and historic, disillusioned and it will be life either. “It’s difficult changing for so for me to envision a many.” Plethoras of future where I could other anonymous return to Pakistan or named users or Turkey and live tweeted enthusiastic there. It’s hard messages full to be gay in the of “thank you”, Muslim world.” She “let’s smash that pauses. “The thing glass ceiling” and is, it’s hard to be gay ‘fantastic news!”. everywhere.” w

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“ I am n ot g ay, I am Ali s e ” (and yes, I am gay but whatever)

Vittoria talks to Alise about her journey of self– discovery through the lenses of faith and love

L

ike many other children born in religious families, Alise didn’t question why she had to pray or go to church. She simply did it, placing her full trust into her parents. After all, they do look invincible when you’re young – so knowledgeable and always there to protect you, holding your hand through the early phases of your life. “Let’s pray,” Alise’s dad would say before every meal, and “I will now read a passage from the Bible,” he’d add after dinner, calmly flicking through the pages to find the point where he had left off the night before. It was a privileged childhood that Alise and her siblings had, in a nice, vast suburban house surrounded by the unmistakably Dutch countryside. A postcard of childhood memories, ready to be shown to Alise’s future grandchildren who’d be sitting around her on the floor and on the sofa, admiring those stained photographs of a happy life. “And that was your grandfather when we were thirty. Look at how handsome he was!” Alise would say, smirking at her sister who would be beside her husband. “And this is your mum. She had just turned eight. Didn’t we look so happy?” she’d ask the youngest of her grandchildren,“Very

happy, grandma!” Oh, the joy, the laughs and the dinner slowly cooking in the oven, looked after by that chubby eight-year-old who is now a grown woman and mother of two. Another perfect postcard for the future generations. Perhaps this was what Alise’s parents had always wanted for her and her four siblings. But life that hasn’t been imprisoned in a serene image has the power to amaze even after the darkest of times. As they say, the sun always comes out after a storm.

Anyone there? That storm was Alise’s teenage years. A time in which the uncertainties of her identity matched those of her faith and hope in the world. Seeing the news on television and reading about the many deaths caused by hunger, war, disease and abuse, made Alise wonder, “How can there be a God that unconditionally loves his people but still lets them suffer?” Hearing her father’s homophobic comments did not help with her faith nor her coming out at all. She’d listen to him read passages from the bible stating that love

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“Did this mean that God didn’t loveAlise because she was gay?” between two men or two women was wrong. She’d sit there, hearing him agreeing with said passages saying, “This is not love, this is lust,” invalidating her feelings and sexual relationships at large and instilling even more chaos in Alise’s mind. This terrified her. Did this mean that God didn’t love Alise because she was gay? She tried to get some answers, praying to him many times. “Do you love me?” “Am I not good enough for you?” “Is my whole life going to be sinful? “Am I a sinner?” A young Alise felt horrible about herself for over a year. Who was she? Who was she supposed to be? An identity crisis at such a vulnerable stage. What was she allowed to show to the outside world and what did she need to repress deep inside of her? Lock it in the most remote part of your heart, of your mind, of your soul. You don’t need it, Alise. Look at all those normal people, so happy. Be like them. Be what they want you to be to fit in. Lose yourself and forge a newer self, it can’t be that hard, can it? Can it?

Alise’s winter years The depression began creeping in, like a lazy autumn. The sun is still shining high against the pale blue sky and you’re wearing a cotton t-shirt with comfy old jeans which you’ve cut just under the butt at the beginning of May, because they were old and ruined and you didn’t want to throw them away. But add a light jumper to that outfit, it might get chilly in the evening when you’re sitting around that bonfire by the river with your friends. Then the day after you open the windows to a new morning and there’s a wind you hadn’t felt touching your face in months. The trees are suddenly divided between the strong ones, still green, and the weak ones whose leaves have started falling on the muddy soil. The few leaves that are still

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holding onto the branches are being recklessly moved by the cold breeze and only a few torpid birds dare to sing in that pale morning light. And before you know it, it’s winter. Alise began suffering with the world, realising all the privileges she had and how unfair life had been to others. All that suffering was unbearable. Why wasn’t God helping her? But then again, he was letting people die of poverty and war. Alise only wanted a hand to accompany her out of that darkness. Some love which she couldn’t find in her daily life. “So how is the Bible reliable and realistic?” she would ask. A question which inevitably piled up in the corner of unanswered questions. Too many to have some faith left in God. Eventually, Alise lost that too. Church was never an option. Her father always forced her to attend the services making his teenage daughter hate that cyclic engagement. Every time she stepped into that church she felt like she didn’t belong, as if everyone was judging her because she was gay. Not that they knew Alise or her ‘secret’, but she felt like people’s eyes were stuck on her back and she couldn’t shake them off. In retrospect, she knew that they probably weren’t, but in that moment the feeling of being stared at was weighing her down in a place in which she once felt safe. She wasn’t even sure that God wanted her there anymore. You know, Alise was a sinner. But could she get something o u t of going to church? Perhaps hope wasn’t dead after all. On several occasions the services happened to be about dilemmas which Alise had been struggling with for the days previous. She brushed these coincidences off like when you try to get rid of some dust from the shoulders


of your coat by beating it. But they just kept happening, over and over again. “Is this God trying to tell me not to let go?”, thought Alise to herself. Then one day everything changed.

In the name of the hands, the space and the Holy Spirit Alise was 19 and still depressed. Like always, she went to church with her family but that day the service was being preached by an English musician. He talked about Jonah and the whale and how Jonah was stuck in the whale’s belly for three days. Three days in which he was confused about his faith, his path in life and had lost all hope, much like Alise at that time. “If you have ever been stuck like Jonah would you please pray with me and raise your hand?”, the musician turned preacher said from the altar. Alise’s usual reaction to these types of requests would be to roll her eyes and ignore them. Normally she would think “Why would I do this? As if something is going to happen when I raise my hand.” Could anyone blame her? Exposing yourself and your struggles in front of a whole church and strangers. Church is supposed to be

“Is this God trying to tell me not to let go?” a space in which you can show your feelings and doubts without having to worry about people’s judgements, but who actually is willing to get naked and share their pain with strangers? They might even go back home after the service and gossip about you to their families over a steamy dish of mashed potatoes. “Darling, pass me the salt. Yeah, so I went to church with my sister today and you will not believe what happened. You know Rebecca, Dennis’s little girl, right?” “Dennis? The plumber?” “Yes, him. Anyway, the preacher was talking about being lost in life and asked to raise your hand if you were feeling like that. And Rebecca raised her hand! Can you believe it? That poor girl is only 14.” “Do you think it’s because of the divorce?”

months ago, didn’t they? And they’re going through the divorce papers now.” Horrible, isn’t it? But somehow, on that particular day, Alise felt different about the request of the preacher. She felt like she just had to do it. So she did. She lifted her hand in the air and the musician began to pray for the church. Alise held her hand up in the air and her eyes closed, trying once more to reach for God, to find an answer, a path. And in that moment she was shot into space. There were hands all over her body touching her. The hands were holding her up, leading her floating body through space. An unknown sensation, an unexplored territory – what was that? The Holy Spirit. Alise didn’t think that such a thing could have been possible, especially because she had lost all faith during the previous months. But that feeling left no room for doubt. She was sure that God was real and there to help her, and she should not question him. God taught Alise many things after their close and intimate encounter. She learnt that at the end of the day God was always going to be there for her and was always going to love her. Knowing this gave her strength. She learnt that there was no need for people to judge others, especially because of their sexuality or gender. “And why would loving and taking care of someone be a sin, anyway? How could God judge you for loving your neighbour and yourself?”, she’d rightly say. Love quickly became the only thing that mattered to Alise – love for herself, for womxn, everyone else, and God above anything else. w Read more about religion and sexuality on our website: bitly.com/herkindmag

Pope Francis said Gay Rights in May 2018 to Juan Carlos Cruz, a survivor of clerical abuse, when they privately met to talk. The leader of the Roman Catholic church said and we quote, “God made you like this and loves you like this.” These words are groundbreaking and a step forward towards the acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community within the Church.

“Maybe! I didn’t even think about that!” “Yeah, they split up a few

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A

t the ripe old age of 24, I did not expect to still be figuring out my sexual identity. Until July last year, I was in a committed five-year relationship with a man and (except for the last six months of it) was relatively sure I was straight. Around 18 months ago I was quite surprised to discover I might like women as well as men (or maybe only women?) and basically everything I thought I knew about myself thus far was very, very wrong – I’m working on it. After a pretty confusing year, I now know that I am a queer woman. But, I still don’t know how to label myself beyond that or if I even need to. I want to belong within the queer community – a community I strongly identify with and care for deeply – but as a ‘baby gay’• I feel like I need to earn my place within it, which sounds a bit ridiculous when I say it out loud but internally I’m battling with deep-rooted queer imposter syndrome.

I am a girl who likes girls, it’s as simple as that Imposter syndrome generally is defined as, “The persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills”, according to Google. Sufferers will experience

feelings of self-doubt that can leave them fearing that they will be exposed as a ‘fraud’. Apply those feelings to sexuality and you get how I and so many other queer womxn feel when they first come to terms with their newfound sexual identities. We feel like we don’t deserve to identify under the LGBTQ+ umbrella. For me, this is because I don’t feel ‘gay’ enough – I haven’t experienced any of the tragedy that is so often associated with queerness. I didn’t have to brave the turmoil of ‘coming out’ in my teens, I am fortunate to have parents that will always love and support me no matter what and I’m surrounded by a strong network of queer friends and allies in a very liberal part of the world. I don’t frequent gay bars, I’ve never celebrated Pride and there’s not a single rainbow to be found in any of my social media bios. That’s not to say I don’t want any of this, I just don’t feel like I’m eligible to claim it which is crazy because... I am a girl who likes girls, it’s as simple as that! When it comes to situations where I have to label myself, I really face the imposter syndrome head-on. I spend way too long stressing over the ‘sexual preference’ section on forms, for example. My hand freezes and my pen hovers between ‘lesbian’ and ‘bisexual’, then I’ll completely regress and want to tick ‘heterosexual’ – and back again until I settle on ‘prefer not to say’. I know I’m not straight but

QUE

imposte

Confessio ‘BABY

© Zulmaury

Saavedra on Unsplash


EER

er syndrome

ions of a Y GAY’

I don’t feel like I have the right to claim my queer identity either. People who identify as straight are not under the same pressures to prove their sexuality even if they’ve never been on a date! So, why is it that as a queer woman who is relatively inexperienced I crave the approval of others within the community? And, why do I feel guilty for having been with men in the past?

Being queer shouldn’t be associated with pain and struggle I’ve been on a few dates with women and at this point in my life, I have no real desire to pursue another relationship with a man. But, I can’t guarantee how I’ll feel in five, 10 or 20 years from now, especially considering this time two years ago I’d never really considered my sexuality as anything other than straight – I was raised straight and I assumed as much until proven otherwise. I definitely struggle with internalised homophobia from growing up surrounded by straight friends and family in a country that teaches its children about love and relationships as inherently straight, which doesn’t help. Anxiety surrounding our own queerness is extremely common, particularly among femme womxn and perhaps even more

so among bisexuals. We fear being invalidated and disbelieved for not being, or at least presenting, ‘gay’ enough. I’m terrified that I will appear to those already within the community as if I’m ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ so to speak – especially at a time when celebrities like Jameela Jamil are receiving so much backlash after coming out later in life. I’d like to think that a ‘we’re all in this together’ motif is the overarching attitude within the LGBTQ+ community but I definitely get the feeling that the more ‘gay’ you appear and the earlier you step out of the closet, the more deserving you are to identify. But, being queer shouldn’t be associated with pain and struggle. I’m not technically ‘out’ yet – well, I haven’t shouted it from any rooftops or had a tensely emotional conversation with my parents – but I’m open with my close group of friends, half of whom identify as queer which makes things easier. It’s an ongoing process and any queer person will agree that we will be ‘coming out’ for the rest of our lives anyway. So, if you feel like an imposter, fear not, it’s normal and expected but ridiculous! The ‘queer community’ is a figurative entity, you don’t need to meet specific entry requirements or know the secret password to get in. Sexuality exists on a spectrum and wherever you land on it is your business and can only really be validated by you. w

Love, Ceryn

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sex is for pleasure there is more

to sex ed

than condoms

and periods

by Amy


A

re we teaching young LGBTQ+ womxn the facts and info they need to stay safe and enjoy sex? We receive sex education in schools fairly early on in the UK, but for years this has been focused almost entirely on heterosexual sex, with little attention to same-sex intercourse. In our experience, the little education we did get involved the boys being moved to a separate classroom to the girls, learning that sex was purely to make babies and that periods were imminent, so we better suck it up and learn how to use a tampon. However, you’d like to think that sex classes in school were now up to speed and catering for all of their students. We spoke to Harmony Johnston, 18, who went to a grammar school, to find out about her own recent experience of sex ed in an all girls school in the UK.

Tips* for some safe and fun sex… * Avoid oral sex if either one of you has any cuts or sores in the mouth or on the lips

Did you have any LGBTQ+ sex ed in school? “No, we didn’t have any gay sex education. The sex ed that we got was very basic and year nine was the last time that we had it. So when we were 13/14 years old was the last time. It’s always good to be informed young, but it’s not ideal that it was stopped before it became relevant.”

* Alternatively, use a dental dam, like latex or a polyurethane square to act as a barrier during oral sex

Would you know where to go in school if you needed sexual health advice? “We do have support at student services for anyone in need of advice, but most are too embarrassed to go in there and ask for it. If I had a sexual health concern I would not deal with it through school. There is the occasional poster and the idea is to go to student services as they’re confidential, but in reality they’re not as most students are under 18 so parents and relevant staff members will be informed if you go for help.”

* Always wash your sex toys between use with soap and water

Harmony thinks that it would be wise to teach people more about sex than just reproduction and STDs, as she thinks that by not doing so, it creates a negative and frightening idea of sex. She says that in terms of contraception she only had one 20-minute session in year nine, where none of the girls were listening and the teacher couldn’t wait for it to be over either. She says that despite there being a huge LGBTQ+ community in her school, there is no sex education geared towards them. Although schools only seem to be catering for heterosexuality and therefore isolating the community, there are still places you can go if you are LGBTQ+ in the UK and need sexual health advice. Did you know that lesbian and bisexual womxn can still get STDs? – so it’s still important to be tested. w

* You can be extra safe by using a condom on dildos, as STDs can still be transmitted - or cut them to use them for oral sex!

* Wash your hands before and after sex to prevent the potential spread of infections

* Two womxn who are both menstruating are at an especially high risk, think of protection and/or get tested

*These are just tips, but the LGBTQ Foundation offers extensive

©sharon mccutcheon

support and advice. If you need to get tested for any STDs, you can find the nearest sexual health (GUM) clinic in your area with a quick Google search or through the NHS website. If you’re having casual sex, it’s recommended that you go every three months to be confidentially tested so you can keep on enjoying it safely! The GLSEN 2015 National School Climate Survey reveals that only 5% of LGBTQ+ students saw LGBTQ+ representation in their health class. This figure is shocking and something clearly needs to change. But for now, if you’re in the community and need some sex advice and knowledge, head to www.healthline.com, where you can be informed about the ins and outs.

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You’ve got sex advice any queer should know? Reach out to our community on @herkindmag or send us an email at herkindpodcast@gmail.com

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Poly Love

Emily talks to a pansexual polyamorous couple about what makes for a positive poly experience

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olyamorous• relationships are not considered as unusual as they were even a decade ago. Coverage is more widespread in the media and the idea of a ‘poly’ relationship is one that a good deal of people are familiar with, in theory, if not in practice. While statistics are not easy to come by for the amount of people in the UK having poly relationships, euroClinix reported almost one in five people who took part in their ‘Between the Sheets’ survey said they were poly. For people still not sure what polyamory is, the idea can seem like it’s simply a free-for-all for those who don’t want to be monogamous. But in reality, many poly relationships are based on careful and informed mutual consent to have more than one romantic or sexual relationship. Emma, 28, model, says, “I’ve always felt a little trapped in monogamous relationships. I’m young, pansexual and sexually liberal so although I like the stability of a mono relationship I’d get a bit restless. I’ve been with my current partner just over three years now and we decided we wanted to start exploring sexually together but are more interested in connections with other people than just casual one night stands.” She adds that although she isn’t 100% sure of how she would class her relationship dynamic at present, she feels it will develop naturally as connections with other people grow. James, 39, website editor & journalist, who is primary partners (in poly terms your ‘anchor’ or ‘main’ relationship) with Emma, says he loves the freedom he feels poly relationships bring. “I always feel we shut ourselves off to certain emotions we have towards people we vibe with when in a mono relationship. Being poly allows you to open up more and explore relationships on another level,” adds James.

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Emma and James embrace the poly lifestyle © Flack Photography

Does loving many mean having many problems? It’s no secret among poly people that navigating multiple relationships can be challenging. All the normal relationship issues can be present, plus a whole host of additional ones, which can be magnified by having more than two people in the relationship ‘mix.’ As James advises, “Consider the challenges of building and maintaining a relationship with a single person. If you are seeing two people, you double those challenges; three people, you triple them.” Feeling insecure or jealous is extremely common for people in poly relationships. The concept of ‘compersion’ is not well-known outside of poly circles - but essentially it means feeling happiness and joy in your love-finding and experiencing additional love. While that’s a beautiful concept, the reality is that compersion can take time, particularly for those new to poly. It is also possible for compersion to coexist with insecure or jealous feelings, which can be confusing. Emma says, “Jealousy, anxiety and insecurity are things I’ve felt along the way but it’s natural to feel these when boundaries are changing. Communication and reassurance are the ways we have dealt with any concerns so far and we will continue to talk about our feelings as things progress.”

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When love is magnified Though polyamorous relationships are not without their challenges, for people who love this way of life the benefits usually outweigh the difficulties. James says, “To me, polyamory is a way to express your genuine love and affection for loved ones without limitation and friendships without boundaries. When emotional and physical closeness exists in this way, it deepens and nourishes the relationship in ways not possible when all of your intimacy is saved for or limited to a single person. It is a way to explore every aspect of your sexual and romantic feelings; for example, a bi or pan-sexual person in a heterosexual relationship would otherwise have no means to express the other aspect of their sexual identity.”

The three C’s of poly If you’re navigating a poly relationship or considering exploring this lifestyle, James shares this advice, “For those contemplating this as part of a couple, it really is the three C’s: communication, communication, communication. Talk, be radically honest, be completely upfront about your desires, expectations and endgames. To what extent do you want to explore poly – dating only? Or would you consider deepening that additional relationship to the point where that person becomes a permanent part of your life – to the extent you would introduce them to your parents, or even share ownership of a property together?” Emma has this advice for those wanting to explore poly or improve their existing poly relationship, “Communication is key. Think about what you are looking to get out of your exploration, even if you are unsure, it’s good to have ideas of what you’d like to try and define any boundaries you don’t want to cross. Always be honest with each other and make sure you are both happy and comfortable with situations before they happen so you know you are both on the same page.” People should consider features of their poly relationships with the same clarity and consideration they would in a monogamous one, says James. He adds, “Above all, a poly relationship should not be considered disposable, or in any way less worthy than a traditional relationship. Because if you feel it is, polyamory probably isn’t something you need to be doing.” w “Communication is key for a healthy poly relationship” say Emma and James ©Tony Browne


e k b in

People in the LGBTQ+ community are at a higher risk of mental health issues. If you're struggling, here’s how developing self-compassion can make life easier

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elf-compassion is a term that many people use interchangeably with selfesteem, but the two are not exactly the same. Self-esteem tends to focus on your self-worth and how much you value yourself, which is extremely important. But it is also often tied to sources external to you – what job you do, how you look, what you have achieved in life. Seeking self-compassion Self-compassion is about cultivating a sense of care for yourself that is based on feeling warmth for yourself and treating yourself with care and empathy, no matter what is happening in your life. In an ideal world, having a high level of self-compassion would mean you’re able to treat yourself with kindness whether you’re ‘winning’ in life or facing a failure or disappointment. Our selfcompassion guides on the next page will help you be kind to yourself.

rself

y o o u t d

© Madison Lavern


Steps to self-compassion

Step 2. Here's how you can change this

Step 1. Listen to the pros

Are you taking time each day to check in with yourself? Catch up with what your internal monologue is saying. Often we don’t realise the kind of negative self-chatter we are regularly taking part in.

Kirsten Neff, self-compassion expert, advises people to ask themselves the following questions:

Are you checking in with yourself during your work day? Go for a short walk on your lunch break, find somewhere quiet to breathe deep, or ensure that you ask for help and support when needed.

a) Am I disapproving and/or judgmental about my own flaws and inadequacies? b) When I fail at something important to me, do I become consumed by feelings of inadequacy? c) Am I trying to be loving and comprehensive towards myself when I am feeling emotional pain?

Do you remind yourself every day that you are enough? We can't stress it enough: how you treat yourself matters. A great tip is to write the words - “I am enough” on a mirror (you can use lipstick - it cleans off easily!). Do you spend at least 10 minutes a day noticing things around you that bring you calm and joy? See if you can replicate this about yourself. If you can’t right away, set yourself a task to work on it.

If you realise that your answers are along the lines of yes, no and no then you probably have an issue with being compassionate to yourself...

Step 3.

Are you practising forgiving yourself - especially if you are very hard on yourself? Start small - it’s easy to carry around shame from impactful events. Begin by forgiving yourself for smaller, less emotionally charged mistakes.

Stress point challenge Take a look at the following questions and ask yourself whether the answer to each is yes or no (or sometimes). Asking yourself these kinds of questions can help you to understand which areas of your life you struggle with the most. I accept my body - even when I want to change things or make adjustments to my physique

When I screw up I easily forgive myself

If someone treats me badly I blame myself

I am happy with my work - even if I don’t achieve everything I want to

Most of my internal chatter about myself is positive

I am able to talk kindly to myself even if something has gone wrong

I take care of my body, even when it disappoints me

When life gets busy I make taking care of myself a priority

I’m ok with how other people feel about me even if they dislike me

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VICTIMS OF changing planets

Mercury has been really keeping you on your toes over these last few months Gemini! General advice is always to think twice before you speak but in April your natural ability to communicate will be back, GEMINI creating an overall great month for you improving your relationships and making you motivated.

LEO

LIBRA

Your ruling planet, the Sun, is in Aries for the ma jority of March and April bringing a lot of energy and positivity back into your personal aura. The Sun being in Pisces before this time may make you feel more dreamy and introspective. Focus on your growth rather than less positive memories.

Venus will be in Taurus from 5 March – 3 April. During this time you will find a lot of comfort and support from your friends and family. The Super Full Moon in Libra in April will heighten your emotional needs. Focus on balancing your life, but don’t do this at your own expense.

Your ruling planet, Jupiter, has been in Capricorn for a while and will continue to be in Capricorn over March and April. This means you will have luck and abundance in your social standing, especially regarding your career. But be wary when CAPRICORN communicating as it can come off as cold and thoughtless. You have been working extremely hard in a certain area of your life or on a specific project, perhaps with minimal support. The Saturn and Mars placements might start giving you doubts and fears but hang in there! These placements are AQUARIUS very double edged – this is a ‘final push’.

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The Pisces Mercury retrograde may have made you more prone to procrastination. Mercury entering Taurus from 27 April onwards will create a good environment for your social activities. Venus will be in Taurus TAURUS from 5 March – 3 April allowing things to start feeling normal again.

Horoscopes by Ash, follow her on Twitter @ashhhh737

ARIES

Happy Birthday Arians! From 20 March to 19 April the Sun will be in your sign giving you a boost of positivity and (much needed!) energy. Mercury retrograde made you feel sluggish and all over the place, but Mercury in Aries from 11 April will bring your interactions with people back to normal.

The Virgo Full Moon in March will bring your focus to comfort through organisation and stability, after which the New Moon in Aries on 24 March will kick this focus into overdrive – remember to avoid impulsive decisions! Finally the Super Full Moon on ARIES 8 April will make you want to harmonize everything in your life.

Mercury, your ruling planet, will make March and April slightly more challenging. However, this doesn’t have to be negative as it could be a good chance for you to learn different ways to communicate. Be easy on yourself during these months, and there may be some good lessons to learn!

VIRGO

With Sun in Pisces, you may be feeling extra reminiscent and spaced out. The emotional depth that comes with Pisces may be difficult for your normally strong and stable side to handle. Over these two months, try and resist the urge to isolate and accept SCORPIO support from your closest friends.

In March and April you’ll be really work– focused, and I am sure you won’t have any trouble with it! You may be in a period of your life where your career or studies have been the ma jor focus of your life, and the next two months will bring a boost of SAGITTARIUS energy to push you.

Happy Birthday Pisceans! Pay attention to your surroundings because you could be easily drained during this time. If something feels off, respect your intuition and remove yourself from the situation if possible. With the Sun in Pisces until 20 March, it it’s a good time to take care of you! PISCES

HOROSCOPES / HERKIND / ISSUE 1


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