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COMSOLE magazine

July 2018 Issue 2

COMSOLE magazine

At 22, he was so unhappy and disappointed with his life that he was feeling suicidal. That was when he met Maria and found peace.


COMSOLE magazine

Contents We Meet Again When the heart gets bruised


Cover Profile Pierre Edel, From Russia With Rock


Shouts & Murmurs Help for Men Who Are Being Abused


Traditional QUEER Pride Reading 2018


Domestic Violence in the LGBT Community


The Itch

Personal History 31

person oming out about being abused and

agree completely about the awfulness of miles away but it touches our hearts. what





happens very close to us? How do we feel 40

about that? What do we do, if anything? More often than not, we do not do anything,

Your child’s Secret Double Life


anD now some news



because we figure that either things will work out or else, the person being abused will come to us for help if it gets really bad. When does it become “really bad?”


Is it when there’s bruses all over the victim’s arms? Or is it when the children can’t sleep because of the shouting in the room

a·buse: verb/əˈbyo͞ oz to treat (a person or an animal) with cruelty or violence, especially regularly or repeatedly.

When the heart gets bruised

their struggle, and we nod our heads and


How It Ends

Disconnecting Our Senses

We read in the news about a famous

that situation. It is happening thousands of

Deferred Identity Chemsex: The Story of Tina & B. Diddy

At what point enough is enough?

praise for how brave they are to publicize

“Transversandome” 28

‘american boys project’ trans men

We are you.

next door? Perhaps it is when the victim is in the kitchen late at night, while everyone else sleeps, holding a sharp knife to the wrist and crying for being a coward not

daring to cut into the skin and bleed to death. Abuse can be desguised very easily and in a number of ways. It can be used by men, women, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, relatives or strangers. And it can be physical, emotional, mental or sexual. The result, however, turns out to be usually the same: shame, hatred, pain, separation and, in many cases, death. In this issue we take a close look at abuse when it hits close to home, when it simply cannot be hidden any more and what steps need to be taken to protect the victims and take care of the guilty.

@Break the Silence

@Break the Silence

Abuse always digs deep under the skin, where it can hide its shame and destruction.

04. To involve the legal and police systems

03. To advance public education

02. To protect and preserve the victim’s health

01. To relieve the hardship, distress and suffering of victims

@Break the Silence

You are being abused if your spouse/partner: * Verbally abuses you, belittles you, or humiliates you in front of friends, colleagues, or family, or on social media. * Is possessive, acts jealous, or harasses you with accusations of being unfaithful. * Takes away your car keys or medications, tries to control where you go and who you see. * Tries to control how you spend money or deliberately defaults on joint financial obligations. * Makes false allegations about you to your friends, employer, or the police, or finds other ways to manipulate and isolate you. * Threatens to leave you and prevents you from seeing your kids if you report the abuse.

While the majority of domestic violence victims are women, abuse of men happens far more often than you might expect.

COMSOLE magazine: cover Profile


01. All information for this article was gathered from the artist’s website and Facebook page.

His parents divorced when he was young, and Pierre remained mostly with his father. After he graduated high school, he lived in London for a while and then some time with his mother in Russia. As a result, Pierre speaks well Russian, French and English. And sings excellently in all these languages as well.

Home: Paris, France Contact:


Born in Paris in 1987 to a French father and a Russian mother, Pierre Edel is an experienced musician who grew up in a very wealthy environment. He started playing the piano at six and bought his first guitar at thirteen.

Genre: rock, blues

COMSOLE magazine: cover Profile

Find Pierre Edel music at:

COMSOLE magazine: cover Profile

At seventeen, he and his band Argentum Mori had already been signed to French label Wild Palms. But the band was dropped by the label, and although Pierre went on to self-release ten albums, play over 300 gigs and produce many of his own videos, he never broke out in the French music scene. Immersing himself deeper and deeper into the “rock ‘n’ roll” lifestyle, he tried to find happiness in drugs and alcohol. His mother’s wealth afforded Pierre everything except that which he needed most, a vision of who he really was and what he really wanted from life. By 2009, when he was just 22, he was so unhappy and disappointed with his life that he was feeling suicidal. That was when he met his future wife, Maria, and the two moved to her native Moscow to live together. Pierre’s life didn’t change. He continued to drink, smoke and use drugs. As he found himself sinking more into an abyss, he saw his wife standing by him but living a very different life. A happy life. A quiet and fulfilled life. It was Maria who introduced him to the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), known colloquially as the Hare Krishna. Their devotion to vegetarianism, yoga and spirituality guided Pierre out of his downward spiral into a productive life. Presently, Pierre has left the Krishnas behind, they fulfilled their purpose and he has no interest in their movement beyond that. Pierre has participated very successfully in The Voice Russia, France, Belgium and Ukraine. It is from his participation there that his following began strongly. Today, that following has grown from Eastern Europe to Western Europe, America and beyond.

COMSOLE magazine: cover Profile

Today Pierre is a successful artist with a strong musical roster under his belt and a steady run of presentations and concerts. Those who love him, love him strongly. His shrieks and high tones lift his music to a level where many compare him to the legendary Led Zepelin. This fresh voice of rock, if nurtured and pushed to its limits, will carry the Russian artist far into universal fame.

01. S ources: 02. 03.,4635 04. about/?ref=page_internal

@Break the Silence

Recognizing Domestic Violence Against Men and Getting Help

COMSOLE magazine

Help for Men Who Are Being Abused

COMSOLE magazine @Break the Silence

While the majority of domestic violence victims are women, abuse of men happens far more often than you might expect. Typically, men are physically stronger than women but that doesn’t necessarily make it easier for you to escape the abuse or the relationship. As an abused man, you’ll likely face a shortage of resources, skepticism from police, and major legal obstacles, especially when it comes to gaining custody of your children from an abusive mother. Whatever your circumstances, though, you can overcome these challenges and escape the violence and abuse.

Domestic violence against men: If you’re a man in an abusive relationship, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. It happens to men from all cultures and all walks of life regardless of age, occupation, or sexual orientation. Figures suggest that as many as one in three victims of domestic violence are male. However, men are often reluctant to report abuse by women because they feel embarrassed, or they fear they won’t be believed, or worse, that police will assume that since they’re male they are the perpetrator of the violence and not the victim.

COMSOLE magazine @Break the Silence

Men are hesitant to report being victims because they feel embarrassed, or they fear they won’t be believed, or worse, that police will assume that since they’re male they are the perpetrator of the violence and not the victim. An abusive wife or partner may hit, kick, bite, punch, spit, throw things, or destroy your possessions. To make up for any difference in strength, she may attack you while you’re asleep or otherwise catch you by surprise. She may also use a weapon, such as a gun or knife, or strike you with an object, abuse or threaten your children, or harm your pets. Of course, domestic abuse is not limited to violence. Emotional and verbal abuse can be just as damaging. As a male, your spouse or partner may: 1. Verbally abuse you, belittle you, or humiliate you in front of friends, colleagues, or family, or on social media. 2. Be possessive, act jealous, or harass you with accusations of being unfaithful. 3. Take away your car keys or medications, try to control where you go and who you see. 4. Try to control how you spend money or deliberately default on joint financial obligations.

COMSOLE magazine @Break the Silence

If you’re gay, bisexual, or transgender You can experience domestic violence and abuse if you’re in a relationship with someone who: * Threatens to tell friends, family, colleagues, or community members your sexual orientation or gender identity * Tells you that authorities won’t help a gay, bisexual, or transgender person * Tells you that leaving the relationship means you’re admitting that gay, bisexual, or transgender relationships are deviant * Justifies abuse by telling you that you’re not “really” gay, bisexual, or transgender * Says that men are naturally violent

COMSOLE magazine @Break the Silence

Many people have trouble understanding why a woman who is being abused by her husband or boyfriend doesn’t simply just leave him. When the roles are reversed, and the man is the victim of the abuse, people are even more bemused. However, anyone who’s been in an abusive relationship knows that it’s never that simple. Ending a relationship, even an abusive one, is rarely easy. You may feel that you have to stay in the relationship because: You want to protect your children. You worry that if you leave your spouse will harm your children or prevent you from having access to them. Obtaining custody of children is always challenging for fathers, but even if you are confident that you can do so, you may still feel overwhelmed at the prospect of raising them alone. You feel ashamed. Many men feel great shame that they’ve been beaten down by a woman or failed in their role as protector and provider for the family. Your religious beliefs dictate that you stay or your self-worth is so low that you feel this relationship is all you deserve. There’s a lack of resources. Many men have difficulty being believed by the authorities, or their abuse is minimized because they’re male, and can find few resources to help abused men. You’re in a same sex relationship but haven’t come out to family or friends, and are afraid your partner will out you. You’re in denial. Just as with female domestic violence victims, denying that there is a problem in your relationship will only prolong the abuse. You may believe that you can help your abuser or she may have promised to change. But change can only happen once your abuser takes full responsibility for her behavior and seeks professional treatment.

COMSOLE magazine @Break the Silence

You’re not alone.

COMSOLE magazine

@Break the Silence

When dealing with your abusive partner: Leave if possible. Be aware of any signs that may trigger a violent response from your spouse or partner and be ready to leave quickly. If you need to stay to protect your children, call the emergency services. The police have an obligation to protect you and your children, just as they do a female victim. Never retaliate. An abusive woman or partner will often try to provoke you into retaliating or using force to escape the situation. If you do retaliate, you'll almost certainly be the one who is arrested and/or removed from your home. Get evidence of the abuse. Report all incidents to the police and get a copy of each police report. Keep a journal of all abuse with a clear record of dates, times, and any witnesses. Include a photographic record of your injuries and make sure your doctor or hospital also documents your injuries. Remember, medical personnel are unlikely to ask if a man has been a victim of domestic violence, so it's up to you to ensure that the cause of your injuries are documented. Keep a mobile phone, evidence of the abuse, and other important documents close at hand. If you and your children have to leave instantly in order to escape the abuse, you'll need to take with you evidence of the abuse and important documents, such as passport and driver's license. It may be safer to keep these items outside of the home. Obtain advice from a domestic violence program or legal aid resource about getting a restraining order or order of protection against your spouse and, if necessary, seeking temporary custody of your children.

COMSOLE magazine @Break the Silence

Domestic violence and abuse can have a serious physical and psychological impact on both you and your children. The first step to protecting yourself and stopping the abuse is to reach out. Talk to a friend, family member, or someone else you trust, or call a domestic violence helpline. Admitting the problem and seeking help doesn’t mean you have failed as a man or as a husband. You are not to blame, and you are not weak. As well as offering a sense of relief and providing some much-needed support, sharing details of your abuse can also be the first step in building a case against your abuser and protecting your kids. Resources and references Help for Victims – Links to services, male abuse communities, and various support organizations. ( Domestic Violence Against Men: Know the Signs – Learn to identify domestic violence against men and how to break the cycle and get help. (Mayo Clinic)

Path to Safety – Tips for staying safe while in or trying to leave an abusive relationship.

Authors: Lawrence Robinson and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D.

COMSOLE magazine @Break the Silence

Puerto Rico Domestic Violence Agencies Family Department Domestic Violence Department Guidance Line of theFamily Department: 787-977-8022 Family Department’s Maltreatment Line: 1-800-981-8333 PROSPERA: 1-877-660-6060 ASUME: 274-0111 Family In Contact- 1-877-991-0101 Government Services Line: 3-1-1 Physical Address: #306 Barbosa Avenue San Juan, PR 00917 Postal Address: P.O Box 11398 Hato Rey, PR 00910

COMSOLE magazine @Break the Silence

COMSOLE magazine shouts & murmurs

Traditional QUEER Pride Reading On Thursday, June 21 at the Librería Magica, a group of authors gathered to read their works addressing the theme of queerness as experienced by each one of them. Some of the orators were: Carmen R. Marín, Richard Rivera-Cardona, José Enrique García, Ana Maria Fuster Lavin, Mikaela Mart, Gaddiel Francisco Ruiz Rivera, Grimaldi Oyola Perez, Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro, Zulma Oliveras, David Caleb Acevedo, H Roberto Llanos, Max Chárriez, Larry La Fontaine, José H. Cáez-Romero, Xavier Valcárcel, Alexis Diaz. The activity was well received as evidenced by the large audience.

COMSOLE magazine Shouts & murmurs

Nanim Rekacz Larry la Fontaine

H. Roberto Llanos

Elijah Snow

COMSOLE magazine

Domestic Violence in the LGBT Community 21

@Break the Silence

COMSOLE magazine @Break the Silence

Domestic abuse in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community is a growing issue. The experience lived by LGBT victims of domestic abuse is similar to that of their heterosexual counterparts, including the impact on the abused partner and the types of abuses such as emotional bullying, physical aggression, threats to harm the victim or other loved ones, social isolation, control of finances, extreme jealousy. However, there are several aspects that are unique to LGBT domestic abuse. As in opposite-gendered couples, the problem is underreported. Those involved in same-gender abuse are often afraid of revealing their sexual orientation or the nature of their relationship. Outing’ as a method of control – The abuser may threaten to “out” the victim to friends, family, coworkers and others as a method of control. Also, the LGBT community is not unified enough for the victim to have a group on whom to count on for support in these cases. A shared secret – For some, being LGBT is a secret to everyone until the abuser finds out and uses it against the victim. A husband, for example, who is gay but has fallen into a circumstance of marriage with a woman, can be an easy target for abuse by the wife. This can therefore fuel feelings of internalized homo, bi or trans phobia.

Ignorance by state agencies and departments – The judicial system and the police have not yet caught up with the reality of samesex spousal abuse and are ill-equipped to deal with the victims. This lack of under-

standing means that some people may not:

• Believe it happens in LGBT relationships. • Recognize an experience as domestic abuse if it does happen to them. • Know how to respond if they see domestic abuse being experienced by their friends.

COMSOLE magazine @Break the Silence

For some in their first same-sex relationship who may not have had much contact with the LGBT community before the relationship began, it can be difficult to know what to do or where to turn to. Fear of disclosure – The feeling of: “They’re going to see this and think that gay/lesbian people are always causing trouble and drama.” When people do seek help, police and other agencies may misunderstand the situation as a fight between two men or women rather than a violent intimate relationship and therefore LGBT people may be discouraged from disclosing if service providers use language which reflect heterosexual assumptions – for example, if it is a woman and she has not disclosed her partner’s sex, don’t ask about her boyfriend/husband or use the word ‘he’ about her partner. If her abuser is a woman she may feel that she cannot disclose this or that it mustn’t count.

Men Who Beat the Men Who Love Them : Battered Gay Men and Domestic Violence (1991) Island, Harrington Park Press; ISBN: 0918393973


Confidentiality and isolation – Not until recently, were LGBT people comfortable being “out of the closet”, many remain hidden out of fear and rely on chosen family around them. Victims may feel ashamed of going to the police or to a hospital out of fear of being discriminated against or ridiculed.

COMSOLE magazine @Break the Silence

LGBT Domestic Violence & Honour Based Violence Project Stonewall Housing What is Forced Marriage? A forced marriage is where one or both people do not consent to the marriage, and pressure or abuse is used. It is an appalling and indefensible practice, and is recognized in the UK as form of violence against men and women, domestic abuse , child abuse, and is a serious abuse of human rights. The pressure put on people to marry against their will can be physical (including threats, actual physical violence and sexual violence) or emotional and psychological (for example when someone is made to feel like they are bringing shame on their family).

COMSOLE magazine @Break the Silence

If you are over 18‌

Any local authority has a duty to offer advice, and in some circumstances, housing. To arrange this, it is always best to seek advice from the organisations listed at the back of this leaflet. If it has got to the point where you are living in fear and there are no other housing alternatives available, the last safety net would be to apply for emergency accommodation via a local authority. Approaching a local authority as an emergency can be exhausting, intrusive and time consuming. It should only be considered as a last resort when personal safety is at risk. You might also be able to find refuge accommodation where workers will be able to guide you through the re-housing process. To find this, call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0800 2000 247. If you do not speak English, they will provide an interpreter. This service is predominantly for women. If you are male or want to speak to a service that specialises in lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans support, contact the organisations listed on If you fear you maybe removed from the UK against your will, or are being taken on holiday and think you might not be able to return, contact the forced marriage unit. Leaving your family home is a big step and can feel overwhelming. Sometimes time away from relatives is the safest option. It also gives you time to think about your future. You have the right to live a safe life as a lesbian, gay man, bisexual or transgender person, and to live with people and partners who respect your life.

COMSOLE magazine @Break the Silence

Staying safe is really important. 1. Start preparing to leave over time. 2. Arrange with a friend or someone you can trust to keep some of your essential documents like your passport, medication, ID, bank card and details, emergency money and clothing. 3. If you have children, take them with you and do not tell them before hand that you are leaving. Make sure you receive legal advice on this issue. 4. Talk to an advisor at Women’s Aid, an LGBT agency , or the Forced Marriage Unit about your next steps. 5. Do not tell anyone, or write down your plans, including facebook or social media, as these may give your location away.

Stonewall Housing has created an online resource for victims of forced marriages. The focus is on how to find accommodation, and advice on staying safe. The resource also provides a practical step that breaks down a barrier to accessing services in two different ways; by providing information to those who may not have links to LGBT support groups, or survivor groups; and provide information to those who are in need of legal housing advice, and who are unable to approach mainstream services due to fear of outing themselves and increasing risk. Find out more about Stonewall Housing at:

COMSOLE magazine The Itch

COMSOLE magazine

“Transversándome “ On June 22, at the Libreria El Laberinto, in Old San Juan, the new book by Jose Enrique Garcia Oquendo “Transversándome”, was presented. The book consists of selected memories that have been reflected upon and turned into verses; a text that will make the readers reflect upon their own experiences.

COMSOLE magazine

COMSOLE magazine personal history

‘american boys project’ wants to flood your instagram feed with diverse trans men Emily Kirkpatrick for i-d magazine JUN 22 2018, 10:34AM

COMSOLE magazine personal history

Photographer Soraya Zaman’s Instagram account and forthcoming book create a safe space online for personal gender expression.


As our society’s relationship with gender and the language surrounding it slowly begins to shift, trans people are finally being permitted to carve out an authentic, multi-dimensional place for themselves within pop culture. But while the roles for trans characters in movies and TV are starting to move beyond token stereotypes and bad cliches, there’s still a whole lot of work that needs to be done and a greater diversity of non-binary stories that need to be told.

COMSOLE magazine personal history

One person putting in that work is photographer Soraya Zaman whose “American Boys Project” is helping to expand our perceptions of the trans-masculine community, presenting viewers with a diversity of trans identities and experiences, while creating a safe space on Instagram for anyone who’s ever felt like they don’t fit tidily into culture’s strict conceptions of gender. Identifying as gender queer themselves, Soraya says, “Growing up and not having language or people to relate to and correctly explain how I felt in relation to my gender was hard. It took me a long time to come into my own sense of self. So the project is very personal in that way.” The youth of today, on the other hand, are finding new language and new means of forging their unique identities online. “I think its really exciting that the narrative around gender is changing and I wanted to explore that through my photography,” they say. “It makes me happy that young people might not have to sit and wonder why they feel different any longer and instead have a safe space to explore their expression.” And thanks to their stunning Instagram account @americanboysproject and forthcoming book by the same title coming out April 2019 with Daylight Books, which features portraits and brief interviews with a wide range of people within the trans-masculine community, finding a gender queer person who inspires you, looks like you, or simply understands exactly what you’re going through just got a whole lot easier.


COMSOLE magazine personal history


Can you tell me about how you got started? I started this project in the summer of 2016. I really wanted to get back in touch with taking photographs for the reasons I love being a photographer. For me, its about the human interaction and exchange you have with someone when you take their picture and getting that moment that is real and genuine. I’ve often explored my own personal photography from a queer space and had been doing a lot of street casting at gay and queer nights. I’ve always loved the natural story telling process of trans-masculine community online and it just evolved from there. In essence, I’m bringing all of these individual stories together into a single body of work. How has the project evolved or changed since you started it? It’s changed in a lot of ways! When I started this nearly 3 years ago it was a very humble beginning as a personal project. As I met and photographed each subject, I quickly learned what a validating experience it was for everyone I met and also how important it became to tell these stories. I felt a responsibility to honor their journey and do the best job I can to get it out into the world. What do you hope to demonstrate via these images? The essence of this project is to express humanity. Capturing the humanness, the vulnerability, the beauty, the humor, and the honesty in each person is hopefully something that a viewer can connect with, no matter what their gender identity is. For trans and non-binary youth, seeing positive imagery might help them take the brave steps to live their truth, or perhaps a family member will look at this work to learn more and feel more comfortable with the process. I also have high hopes that this work will live and be seen outside the trans and LGBT community and by those who maybe haven’t had a lot of exposure to trans and non-binary folks. I think people are genuinely wanting to learn more and ask questions.


A book is great way to explore this curiosity and learn more. Fear and prejudice stems from the unknown and a lot of transphobia or misunderstandings comes from not being informed. But I think the simple act of seeing images and hearing stories can help to break down some of these perceptions and debunk some of the mystery, so people can learn that it isn’t threatening to them and their own understanding of self.

COMSOLE magazine personal history

How do you feel about representations of trans men and trans beauty in popular culture? I think the trans-masculine community has been extremely under-represented in mainstream media, and when it is represented, often trans-masculine bodies get fetishized and over-sexualized. You see articles come out about the “The 10 hottest trans men” etc., and that can be all you see. Although, I do think this is changing which is great. I’ve tried to represent a range of people. Some may have been included in those type of lists, but also many who haven’t. The images offer the viewer a more raw and honest portrayal of trans identity. They are all photographed in their own clothing and in and around where they live. Also, the representation of the body isn’t to sexualize it, rather to tell the story that trans bodies don’t totally align with cis gender expectations and that’s ok. How do you find your subjects? I found each one of my subjects on Instagram and then I reached out over direct message. I actually believe that online social platforms such as Instagram and YouTube are a huge reason why the gender evolution is happening now. The youth of today have access to information and can connect with people from all over the world on their phones and computers and find a community or a reference point for how they are feeling. We’ve never been able to do this so easily. Almost everyone I photographed said that their “aha!” moment in realizing they are transgender was from finding a video on YouTube of a trans man documenting their transition or stumbling across someone’s Instagram page. I think this is pretty remarkable and a sign of the times.


COMSOLE magazine personal history

Do your subjects have any concerns about how their images will be received? Its been positive and everyone is excited to be a part of this work. I’ve always approached it wanting to show everyone I’ve photographed in a honest and positive light and the way they’d want to be seen. I’m working hard to cultivate a positive and inclusive space so any negativity has no room. I’m sure as the exposure around this project grows, negative commentary might pop up, especially on the Instagram page. I’m hoping we can take this and turn it into an opportunity to change awareness. What’s surprised you the most about the people you’ve featured? I think when I started this project, I was prepared to hear a lot of sad stories about families disowning their children for coming out at transgender. Don’t get me wrong, many had to battle for acceptance within their family and with friends, and often this was and still is extremely difficult. There are some stories that broke my heart for sure. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the number of positive stories; that parents chose to accept their child as trans once they saw how happy it made them to be living their truth. They’d rather see them happy and living than depressed and suicidal. I just hope that as time goes on, more and more trans folk will get this same acceptance.


I love that their images are accompanied by little descriptions about their personalities and journeys, why did you feel this was an important element to add? I think it’s nice to get a sense of each person and their character because everyone is so different and the diversity is important to share. When I met with everyone we sat for a few hours and just chatted. I recorded each conversation so I have a record of what we talked about. The book will actually have direct quotes from each person rather then my commentary. The quotes include stories of transition or insights into their understanding or gender identity, sexuality, politics, race, relationships, religion, etc. so it will be different to my Instagram

Most of your subjects have been on testosterone for at least few months if not years, do you have any plans to feature people who are just at the very beginning of their transition process? Everyone I photographed had started testosterone by the time I met and photographed them, although that wasn’t entirely planned. The process in finding people started well before I went to actually go visit them. I was looking for natural storytellers, either of themselves or the world around them. Some people just have an intuitive understanding for image making and storytelling and that was my driving factor. I found Chella Man pre-testosterone and I knew he had to be a part of the project, however by the time I could arrange to photograph him, he had just started T about 2 weeks prior. The reason I call out length of testosterone in each post is not about its validity for identifying as transgender, its being used as a marker of time. All the people in the project were either photographed 1 or 2 years ago and some have changed a lot since we met and shot together.

COMSOLE magazine personal history

Why do you feel it’s important to show members of the trans-masculine community at all of these different stages? I think people at different stages have different views and understandings about the process which is important to share as they are all valid. Also, It’s undeniable how amazing the process of injecting hormones can transform the human body and help to align one’s gender identity with the way they look and present in the world. What about the Americana aesthetic appealed to you for this project? I’m Australian, so I guess I can view American culture through an outsider’s lens. There is this nostalgic notion of what “American Boyhood” is across the country and how where you live and grow up impacts who you are. Growing up in New York is drastically different to growing up in Louisiana or Texas or Oregon. The title of the project, “American Boys,” is an intentional call-out to this notion and is meant to challenge how people view and perceive traditional gender roles and cultural interpretations across the country. For this reason it was really important to me that I had a geographical spread of people across the country. I ended up visiting 19 states across mainland USA and the map of places I visited will be an important inclusion in the book.


COMSOLE magazine personal history

Why do you feel there’s a need for a project like this right now? Because the millennial generation are spearheading the gender evolution. There is a strong movement across not just the U.S., but all over the world for us all to stop and recenter how we perceive and interpret gender. We are all being asked to listen to our young people who are coming out and saying, ‘My body isn’t a representation of what I feel my gender is.’ The people in this work are pioneers, or the first wave of this movement, and will be some of the first people to be on hormones from teen years into the future. So it’s really important to capture this. I hope that, in say 20 years, this work can act as a historical marker for our time as we look back on what’s happening now in gender and also the political climate it is happening in.


How do you hope to see this project grow? Well my next big goal is to get the book made and do an exhibition/opening in New York. I have a dream of somehow flying everyone in the project to New York to attend the exhibition. It would be an amazing meet-and-greet opportunity not only for them, but also everyone who comes to the opening. It think it could be a really special moment and an opportunity to bring the trans-masculine community into the spotlight and be visible in one space.

This article has been published from:

COMSOLE magazine personal history

COMSOLE magazine differed identity

Chemsex: The Story Of Tina & B. Diddy By Luis Valldejuli

On a Saturday night, two roommates get together to hang out. Both young men are gay and off from working at an ice cream parlor where they survived the night shift. Together they have an exact idea of what it is they want to do with their weekly salary. They stay at home, open GRINDR and swipe through all the pretty faces and solid abs until they find what they’re looking for: Tina. This is how the party starts. An hour later, their apartment is filled with total strangers lost in smoke, naked and ready and willing to go beyond sexual inhibitions. Gay and bisexual men, professionals, married men, musicians, supermarket cashiers, clergymen and politicians, there is no class or race discrimination here. As these men enter the dimly lit apartment, they shake hands with strangers, remove parts or all of their clothing, relax and join the party. Shirtless chit-chat in small groups with one hand holding a drink and the other slowly daring to caress loosely oneself and others. Grown men in their underwear being groped and fondled while light conversation about work, politics, and other topics is carried on. Welcome to the world of chemsex, men mixing alcohol, drugs and sex. An orgy of pleasure and self-assurance where all inhibitions are left behind.

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“Tina” is the common name for crystal meth, a highly addictive drug that is growing in popularity within the male gay community in Puerto Rico. Most users are young, lower-class “twinks” looking to lose their loneliness and sadness in quick release. But they are by no means the only ones. Most Puerto Ricans are very traditional. Growing up gay brings with it shame and knowing that to come out of the closet means losing one’s family and joining hundreds of others out in the streets, looking for a way to survive in an underground culture shunned by the heterosexual community, which is always scared of what it doesn’t understand. The effects of meth use are simple: it makes a user more aroused, and enables him to stay awake for much longer than usual. It releases a large dose of dopamine and an adrenaline rush that awakens the senses and sensibility. Most users will tell you that the drug makes them really horny, and this is why it is so appealing to this niche in particular. Tina distills the vision, makes other men seem more attractive, it increases physical sensations, intensifies perceptions of intimacy and facilitates a sense of sexual adventure. This wonder drug has found its home inside the gay community because, if there’s one thing that most gay men share, it is body dysmorphia, also known as BDD. BDD is a mental disorder characterized by an obsessive preoccupation that some aspect of one’s own appearance is severely flawed and warrants exceptional measures to hide or fix it. Hence the obsession with spending hours daily at the gym and taking selfies to show progress. Half of the photos on Grindr are of perfectly sculpted abs obtained through harsh weightlifting and cardio in an obsession to fit in. BODY DYSMORPHIA In a community where youth and perfect physical condition are revered, anything other than the perfect porn-star body is frowned upon. The turning point for most gay men is the age of 30. It is then that they begin to feel old, alone, unwelcomed and physically undesired. They open apps and find young, pretty boys looking for others like themselves. They watch porn performed by Greek-god-esque bodies. Magazines are filled with what can only be described as Andrew Christian twinky models.

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Body dysmorphia has turned these men into gym rats. There is a need to fix what’s wrong and maybe at least an hour at the gym daily might help. This problem is not just theirs, it is a problem also shared with the young, insecure gay teenager who has just come out to his family and has been kicked out of his home. Looking for a sense of community, some place to belong to, he too needs to fix what is wrong. Coming out of the closet, these young men find that the gay community can be more cruel than its hetero counterpart. Only those who fit in are welcomed and anyone else is shunned and even ridiculed. Gays turning against other gays. When slaving at the gym doesn’t work and the fix is not found, crystal meth fills the emptiness. One of the side-effects of crystal meth is the loss of appetite and this creates a huge appeal. Suddenly, the two roommates are hosting a jangueo - the term used to describe a social sexual gathering where drugs allow groups of strangers to be both gregarious and gratified without some of the awkwardness that anonymity might produce.

The need for connection, the feeling of loneliness, although not uniquely a gay problem, creates a vacuum easily filled by chemsex.

For men who consider themselves straight, the term is vacilar, or have a good time. Where once poppers increased pleasure, meth exponentially multiplies sensibility and pleasure. Straight, bisexual and gay men become one sex-hungry group. One little crystal rock is placed in a glass pipe and smoked, or it is liquified and injected to the arm. Some even break down the rock into powder and snort it. Suddenly the action turns from “So what is it that you do?” to silent stripping and caressing. THE ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA Of course, some of the guests bring their own share of other drugs, different combinations producing different effects and changing the level of associated pleasures and risks. The general mood shifts and no one wants to dance to Boiler Room club pounding anymore. They head off to a side room to have sex with each other. Smartphones are never turned off as many search through social apps seeking other conquests, people to invite over and share the experience with.

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Everyone at these parties has gone through it: fucking by the light of a smartphone, while searching for more hot men to invite over and share with.. Gay sex and drugs seem like a perfect match. Both share centuries of being suppressed, stigmatised, criminalised and pathologized. And through the years, little has been achieved beyond minimally discouraging those who engage in this. ADDICTION The first obvious risk at hand is the addiction. A gay man suffering from BDD sees himself as disgusting, unfitting in the community, unattractive. Using meth makes him forget his inhibitions, feeling, at least temporarily, desirable. He starts by using the drug occasionally for pleasure. Use becomes more common and he begins to feel he can’t have sex without the effect of the drug. As he becomes more addicted, the desire to consume the drug needs no reason other than that feeling of detachment from reality. He cannot have sex while sober. Crystal meth then defines how he has sex.

The need for connection, the feeling of loneliness, although not uniquely a gay problem, creates a vacuum easily filled by chemsex. Loneliness and anxiety disappear as strangers get together in a social gathering where intelligent conversation is common before the drugs evolve the intellectual interaction into uninhibited sex. The sensual electronic-music-filled living room is slowly emptied as bodies move into dark bedrooms, where groping and moaning almost follows the beat of the faded music outside. Many gay boys learn about sex through pornography, an industry which foregrounds certain bodies and types of sex, and eludes many realities: hygiene, the need for lubricant, occasional pain, the safety of condoms, the stigma of HIV and other STIs, eventual erection loss and performance stress to name a few. If being high can augment your relationship with the body you use to have sex, making it more readily a vessel for pleasure has a seductive appeal for meth users. Pornography becomes reality at least behind the smoky glass of meth.

For these younger men, trying to socialise can initially be confusing. They are expected to view all other queer men either as sexual conquests or sexual rivals. Feeling as part of a group, albeit anonymous, gives these men some form of security. If other, more mature gay men are doing it, how can it be wrong? Drugs then vitiate sensibility. As men get older, they lose the sense of omnipotence. For some, it has nothing to do with thinking that nothing can happen to them. Some simply don’t care. No one dies of AIDS anymore, right? There are pills. So there is even a growth among a group so morbidly sexual, that they actively seek other men who are HIV poz, begging to be “bred”, to have that acid juice dumped into them. It is the fear of nothing as one decides to forever be infected just for the sake of it. Freedom to have sex with whomever they like,they’re already carrying the virus, so fear is eliminated from the equation. For these younger men, trying to socialise can initially be confusing. They are expected to view all other queer men either as sexual conquests or sexual rivals.

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Feeling as part of a group, albeit anonymous, gives these men some form of security. If other, more mature gay men are doing it, how can it be wrong? Drugs then vitiate sensibility. As men get older, they lose the sense of omnipotence. For some, it has nothing to do with thinking that nothing can happen to them. Some simply don’t care. No one dies of AIDS anymore, right? There are pills. So, there is even a growth among a group so morbidly sexual, that they actively seek other men who are HIV poz, begging to be “bred”, to have that acid juice dumped into them.

seek other men who are HIV poz, begging to be “bred”, to have that acid juice dumped into them. It is the fear of nothing as one decides to forever be infected just for the sake of it. Freedom to have sex with whomever they like,they’re already carrying the virus, so fear is eliminated from the equation. HIV & STIs The second big risk for users is the infection of HIV or any other STI (Sexually Transmitted Disease). Crystal meth takes away inhibitions, which may be fine for BDD sufferers, but it also takes away fear. Gay men are no longer afraid of becoming HIV positive because there are medicines that can prolong any effects and allow the person to live a long relatively-healthy life. Some gay men say having HIV is no worse than having diabetes. Others rely on pills like PrEP as protection against HIV infection.

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Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) is a combination of two HIV medicines (tenofovir and emtricitabine) approved for daily use to help prevent an HIV-negative person from getting HIV from a sexual or injection-drug-using partner who is positive. The problem with PrEP is that it is not 100% safe and it does not protect users from any other STIs. Users are instructed to get medical check-ups once a month while using the pill for unprotected sex. It is not safe nor is it all encompassing. tricitabine) approved for daily use to help prevent an HIV-negative person from getting HIV from a sexual or injection-drug-using partner who is positive. The problem with PrEP is that it is not 100% safe and it does not protect users from any other STIs. Users are instructed to get medical check-ups once a month while using the pill for unprotected sex. It is not safe nor is it all encompassing.

No more than $5,000 worth of crystal meth is shipped in. Addicts await its arrival and are willing to pay up to $60 per gram. Javier uses GRINDR to announce availability and users immediately respond. The supply should be enough for the demand. And users expect for it to last until the arrival of the next shipment.


Some professionals use the drug only during the weekend allowing themselves one day for the comedown before restarting their week at work. The effects of meth last longer that those of most other drugs depending on how it is consumed. Inhaling meth through a

Not produced locally, about once a month a new shipment of crystal meth arrives in San Juan for direct consumption by gay men to a specific dealer, Javier (fictitious name).

Regular drug dealers don’t sell crystal meth because there is a limited number of users and most of these users tend to have a hard time raising the money to buy the drug. Also, pushers tend to be machistas and repudiate gay boys and their drugs. For Javier, the crystal meth dealer, it is a quick sale. He has a directory of consistent clients but hosts a couple of jangueos each month to attract newcomers. Before the month is over, Javier will find his clients asking when the next shipment is due in on his GRINDR account.

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pipe causes less effect than injecting or snorting it. But the more it is used, the more the body becomes immune to the effects and the psychological need for it increases.

like Javier there are throughout the island. However, word is getting out and the number of users keeps growing. Chemsex needs to be locally recognized and approached carefully.

The effects of meth last longer that those of most other drugs depending on how it is consumed. Inhaling meth through a pipe causes less effect than injecting or snorting it. But the more it is used, the more the body becomes immune to the effects and the psychological need for it increases.

Many older gay men who suffer from body dysmorphia together with younger gay men who are looking for a sense of belonging, are falling into this addiction. In the United States and in Europe, LGBT communities have recognized the danger and have tackled it by offering support to users. The way back from addiction to crystal meth is a long and painful one, but it is very possible for most. It takes civic responsibility on the part of local gay organizations and the authorities to combat this growing threat.

Every month a few new clients appear. And every month the shipment grows in size. Maybe because it is an addiction shared mostly by gay and bisexual men, authorities have focused less on attacking it. Or maybe the social need to hide the fact that many straight men are having homosexual intercourse keeps this abuse hushed. Ask any gay man in Puerto Rico and he will tell you he has experienced sex with at least one married man in his life. Crystal meth is now in small demand locally. It is estimated that hundreds in the gay community use it. There is no way of telling how many small dealers

In the closeted society of Puerto Rico, this is an underground problem best kept secret for the sake of the users as well as for that of the rest of society. The use of meth is merely a symptom of the major disease that is the discrimination against gay men by the heterosexual and the homosexual communities.

The intolerance still present in society leads many young people to continue suffering in silence for fear that if they reveal their feelings, they can be rejected by their families, friends and by society. However, although many times, as parents, we are not prepared to accept the reality about the sexual orientation of our children, we must take the time that we need to face it. In no way should this time of reflection pull us away from our children or make them feel underestimated, because they need to know that, no matter what we think about the issue, they are still our children and we will not stop loving them. Do not fool yourself, throwing them out of the house and abandoning them is never an option for a good parent. Once our child gathers up the strength to speak their peace, we, as parents, will go through the stages of : “this is a phase that will pass soon enough”, “this is a disease that needs to be cured”, “it’s just crazy”, “where have I failed, Lord?” And finally, “what will they say at the club?! “ Then, we will realize that this situation must be addressed maturely and face-to-face with our children.

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When Your Child’s Secret Double Life Becomes Your Business

“Is it that you want to be a woman?” Really? You must educate yourself better. Sexual orientation is not tied to gender identity. Feeling attracted to men is not the same as wanting to be a woman.

“I have no problems with gays per se, but why do There is no one to blame for the fact that they are gay: they they have to be so crazy? “ were born that way, period. This is the first thing that must be Wrong. This expression shows only mild tolerance, accepted. Nobody has faults here. The second: we must be not what our children are looking for. well informed to guide our children. Explain the risks in their new lives, guide them and let them know that we are always The big secret about how to survive that moment available for any help. when our children tell us: “I’m gay,” is no secret at all. We know deep within ourselves what we must do: “I never would have thought you were gay.” love them unconditionally and give ourselves space Although heterosexuals may think this is not an insult, it is. Be- to breathe deeply and support them in all the things cause you are telling them that being gay is being something in their lives. strange, that is, you are belittling them.

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US SUPREME COURT JUSTICE ANTHONY KENNEDY TO RETIRE Anthony Kennedy, Justice of the United States Supreme Court, announced he will be retiring from his post on July 31. His retirement leaves President Donald Trump with the opportunity to nominate his second Justice to the court, his first having been Justice Neil Gorsuch. Justice Kennedy had been nominated in 1987, by Ronald Reagan, and was confirmed in 1988. A moderate Republican, Kennedy served for 30 years on the bench and was key swing vote in numerous outstanding cases. Kennedy authored the majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states and celebrating its third anniversary this week. He also wrote the narrow ruling of the recent Masterpiece Cakeshop case. “For a member of the legal profession it is the highest honor to serve on this Court,” Kennedy wrote in his letter to the president. “Please permit me by this letter to express my profound gratitude for having had the privilege to seek in each case how best to know, interpret, and defend the Constitution and the laws that must always conform to its mandates and promises.” Writing to his colleagues, he wrote that although his family had urged him to stay on, it was his decision to spend more time with them. Supreme Court Justice appointments are lifetime appointments, which means that appointees can last for decades in that position. What this means is that if Trump assigns another conservative Justice, even past cases are at risk of being overturned. Liberals are especially worried over cases involving major decisions like antidiscrimination laws, religious freedom and abortion. William Pryor, one of Trump’s possible nominees, once called Roe v. Wade, the case that legalized abortion, “The worst abomination of constitutional law in our history.” Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnel said that they expect to have a new Justice nominated by this fall. Democrats will be attempting to hold off any confirmation until at least next November, when they expect a major change in Congress to move from a Republican majority to a Democratic majority.

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STARBUCKS TO OFFER COMPREHENSIVE HEALTHCARE FOR TRANS EMPLOYEES Starbucks has released a six-page document titled “Starbucks Transgender Medical Benefits”, which resulted from their close partnership with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). The document is the most comprehensive healthcare plan for their transgender employees. Although the company has offered gender reassignment surgery in their health-insurance plan since 2012, the new plan includes breast reduction or augmentation surgery, facial femininization, hair transplants and more. “The approach was driven not just by the company’s desire to provide truly inclusive coverage, and by powerful conversations with transgender partners about how those benefits would allow them to truly be who they are,” said Ron Crawford, vice president of benefits at Starbucks. Transgender people experience suicide ideation at a much higher rate than the rest of the overall population. A proven way to reduce this risk is by allowing, encouraging, and respecting trans people’s identities. This includes calling them by their chosen name, allowing them to present themselves authentically, and providing them with better access to healthcare. The company also has advocates specifically trained to help employees who are transitioning. Photo by Mike Kane / Starbucks Newsroom

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Disconnecting Our Senses

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When its first season, consisting of 12 episodes, became

available for streaming on June 5, 2015, this Netflix original series didn’t seem like it would grab the public attention nearly as much as it did. The first four episodes were tough to follow, but they grabbed the attention of the viewer if for nothing else, the beautiful location shots. Sense8 was filmed almost entirely on location in a multitude of cities around the world. And every location was an integral part of each scene. In case you missed it (it is still available for watching and we recommend you binge-watch during a free weekend because you won’t want to stop) SENSE8 is a science fiction web drama series with lots inside to keep you hooked episode after episode. The creators of the series are Lana and Lilly Wachowski and J. Michael Straczynski for Netflix. The show’s first season introduced a multinational ensemble cast, with Aml Ameen, Doona Bae, Jamie Clayton, Tina Desai, Tuppence Middleton, Max Riemelt, Miguel Ángel Silvestre, and Brian J. Smith portraying eight strangers from different parts of the world who suddenly become “sensates”; human beings who are mentally and emotionally linked. The idea alone of eight people being able to share life experiences with each other is very compelling to watch. But then you add the sensuality brought in by the script, and you have got one hot romantic action drama series that appeals to a huge audience, even if you are not into science fiction. Politics, gender identity, sexuality, HIV/AIDS and religion are dropped in as part of the successful recipe. Every subject is explored meaningfully.

By Source, Fair use, php?curid=53970717

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Photo credit: Advocate magazine

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Photo courtesy of Netflix/Variety.

Netflix released the first episode of the second season, a two-hour Christmas special, on December 23, 2016; the remaining 10 episodes of the season were released on May 5, 2017. On June 1, 2017, Netflix announced that they had cancelled the series, despite preliminary negotiations with the writers and cast for a third season. But the huge number of fans following the adventures of these eight sensates would not allow the producers to leave them hanging on. Due to their strong demand through social media, on June 29, 2017, it was announced that a series finale would be made. The finale special, with a runtime of two and a half hours, was released on June 8, 2018. Producer Roberto Malerba has disclosed that the first season had an average budget of about $4.5 million per episode, and the second season $9 million per episode. (1)

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Strange, sensual, delightful and lively scenes filmed in outstanding locations throughout the world, kept the viewers tuned in and the critics happy throughout. The heat is turned up during the sex scenes, remember, the eight sensates can feel and act upon what each other is doing at any given moment. Which means that if two are doing it, the rest are also enjoying it. In a report released by Netflix it was discovered that at least 70% of the viewers that watched up to the third episode ended up watching the entire first season.(2) Sense8 was listed among the shows whose viewers tend to heavily binge-watch their first seasons, rather than savoring their episodes by watching them at a slower pace.(3) And, less than three days after the premiere of the first season, Variety reported that it had been pirated more than half a million times, regardless of the series’ digital distribution.(4) If you have not had the chance to watch SENSE8, do, you will not regret it. Anywhere on the planet you may be from, you will be overjoyed to witness the fine production, good sounds, choice of locations and explosive acting by the international cast (including but not limited to the exquisite Miguel Ángel Silvestre as Lito Rodriguez, a closeted actor of Spanish background living in Mexico City with his boyfriend Hernando).

Photo courtesy of Murray Close for Netflix/

References: Roberto Malerba (May 11, 2017). “Sense8 producer: ‘If renewed, season 3 of Sense8 likely to be its last’”. Newsflix(Interview). Interviewed by Andrea Rocchetta. Archived from the original on May 31, 2017. Retrieved May 31, 2017. Todd Spangler (September 23, 2015). “Netflix Data Reveals Exactly When TV Shows Hook Viewers — And It’s Not the Pilot”. Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Archived from the original on May 7, 2016. Retrieved October 18, 2015. “Netflix & Binge: New Binge Scale Reveals TV Series We Devour and Those We Savor”. Netflix. June 8, 2016. Archived from the original on June 8, 2016. Which includes one very hot looking Retrieved June 8, 2016. Todd Spangler (June 8, 2015). “Netflix ‘Sense8’ Thriller from Wachowskis Pirated More Than 500,000 Times Since Debut”. Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Archived from the original on May 7, 2016. Retrieved June 12, 2015.

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Photo credit: Miguel Ă ngel Silvestre and Alfonso Herrera during a scene of SENSE8.

To find out more about Common Social Advancement Fund (COMSOLE), and the work we do for the community, please contact us at, or visit our web page and at @2018 COMSOLE

COMSOLE Magazine  

COMSOLE is a nonprofit foundation which seeks the marginalized by society to bring them hope through education andresources. Our magazine...

COMSOLE Magazine  

COMSOLE is a nonprofit foundation which seeks the marginalized by society to bring them hope through education andresources. Our magazine...