Page 1

MARCH 02, 2016 | OUTFRONTONLINE .COM | FREE

The

grownUps

issUe

epigenetics +

what goes on

an encoUnter

THE SEARCH FOR THE “GAY GENE”

IN THE DUNGEON STAYS IN THE DUNGEON

WITH LESBIAN BED DEATH

pg.20

pg.14


O U T F R O N T O N L I N E . C O M  3


CONTENTS MARCH 02, 2016 VOL39 NO23

26 08 THE UNCARNAL KNOWLEDGE OF AN ASEXUAL MALE 10 A PERSPECTIVE BY THE BI 12 GROWN UP LOVE 14 LESBIAN BED DEATH: AN ENCOUNTER WITH THE SEXLESS RELATIONSHIP

20

32 YOU CAN’T SAY THAT ANYMORE

18

34 LIVING DOLLS + FURRIES: GONNA DRESS YOU UP IN THEIR LOVE 36 SEX AND ELDERS: MY EYES! MY EYES! 39 USE THE PAST AS A TOOL, NOT A PUNISHMENT 40 FROM WHOA TO WEIRD: 35 SEX FACTS 44 CONDOM STIGMA + SHAMING 46 DUELING WITH DEPRESSION: JUST GET OVER IT 50 INTERESTING STD FACTS

16 4  MARCH 02, 2016


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O U T F R O N T O N L I N E . C O M  5


Ryan Howe

IN CASE YOU

MISSED IT JUST A TIDBIT FROM OUTFRONTONLINE.COM

RUTH BADER GINSBURG PAYS TRIBUTE TO ANTONIN SCALIA Long-time equality foe and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died on Saturday from a suspected heart attack at a Texas ranch. He was 79. The justice had dissented against LGBT equality on nearly every issue. From the court’s decision in throwing out sodomy laws, to ensuring marriage equality, Scalia was clearly not a fan of the queer community. He openly compared the rights of gay people to pedophiles and incestuous couples.

But he was also good friends with fellow Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was as far left as he was right. (I mean, she married same sex couples last year after they passed marriage equality.)

WHAT’S THE T ON CANNABIS CUP 2016?

Despite their polar opposite views in court and disagreements on nearly every case, the pair were also such good friends that an opera was written about them, Scalia/Ginsburg.

“From a safety perspective, I have serious concerns about this event and this venue,” Adams County Sheriff Michael McIntosh told the commission. He wasn’t the only police officer to note this, taking testimony from several law enforcement officials who warned that there were too many people sampling too many cannabis products openly.

See the rest of the stories at OutFrontOnline.com

MANNY PACQUIAO APOLOGIZES AFTER ANTIGAY REMARKS … SORT OF Boxing star and Philippine Senate candidate Manny Pacquiao apologized Tuesday for denouncing people in gay relationships as “worse than animals,” but said he stood by his opposition to same-sex marriage. Pacquiao, who is currently running for a seat in his country’s senate, made the eyebrow-raising comments while speaking out against same-sex marriage in a Feb. 15 interview with Filipino television station, TV5. “Will you see any animals where male is to male and female is to female? The animals are better,” the 37-year-old boxer said in the interview, according to CNN. “They know how to distinguish male from female. If we approve [of] male on male, female on female, then man is worse than animals.”

Adams County commissioners just rejected a permit for April’s High Times Cannabis Cup, the marijuana fair that coincides with the 4/20 pot celebration rally in downtown Denver. Commissioners unanimously denied the Denver Merchandise Mart a permit for the April 16–20 event.

Denver Mart co-owner John Doyle told the commissioners a new set of rules has been drawn up to control crowd size, with a cap of 15,000 daily visitors imposed. That would cut the attendance down drastically, as nearly 35,000 attended the cup each day last year.

OREGON FRATS TO ACCEPT TRANS MEN Two University of Oregon fraternities have announced they will begin accepting transgender men into their groups for the first time. Delta Upsilon and Delta Tau Delta are joining the handful of fraternities and sororities that will accept trans students into their Greek family. Henry Korman of Delta Upsilon said the fraternity

is looking to make “frat culture” more inclusive. Delta Tau Delta Eugene chapter President Alec Malnati said he hopes the fraternity will provide a social space for people to feel like they belong. They are hoping their acceptance will trigger a chain reaction, and that the remaining 17 fraternities will follow suit.

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK AND STAY UP TO DATE ON ALL THAT’S HOT IN OUR WORLD. /OutFrontColorado

6  MARCH 02, 2016


LEGAL DIRECTORY

THE GREATEST BENEFIT OF ESTATE PLANNING? PEACE OF MIND!

Michael O’Connell, Esq.

It often comes as a surprise, but believe it or not, you have an estate. Yes, you! An estate essentially consists of everything you own — your home, car, bank accounts, life insurance, furniture, and any other stuff you may have. What’s probably a surprise to nobody is the fact that you can’t take it with you when you go. So what’ll happen to it? That depends entirely on you. Good estate planning can ensure that your assets (your “stuff”) goes where you want it to go, with the tax man getting as little as possible. Even modest estates can benefit from a little planning. Here are the basics: WILLS: A will says where your assets will go, but still requires the supervision of a court to carry out. This process is called “probate,” and can be messy and expensive (i.e. involving lawyers). REVOCABLE LIVING TRUSTS: This is the preferred way to make sure your assets get where you want them to go. It avoids probate and therefore, avoids the

courts. Assets stay in the trust, are administered by someone you select, and are private. You decide when the assets that are in the trust are distributed, and how they are distributed. YOUR WISHES. There are many other things that can be accomplished with proper estate planning, not the least of which is making sure that what you want to happen actually happens when you leave this world.

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In short, none of us like to think about our own mortality. However, estate planning, even done modestly, can bring peace of mind that our affairs will be left in order, and that what we want done with our assets will, in the end, be accomplished.

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The opinions expressed in this article are general in nature. For specific legal advice about your particular situation, please contact an attorney.

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O U T F R O N T O N L I N E . C O M  7


GrownUps issue

The Uncarnal

Knowledge of an

AsexUal Male BERLIN SYLVESTRE

B

rian’s been my motorcycle and adventure buddy for awhile now, and though we’ve wagged our chins well into the night on countless topics for years, it only recently occurred to me that we’ve never talked much about women. I always assumed, because of his singular dalliance with a soft-spoken Bohemian lass many years ago, sharing smooches with senoritas was something we had in common — only he preferred the “I don’t kiss and tell” method. Turns out, I was way off.

the “true asexual.” Asexuality appears to espouse a general “meh” attitude toward sex. Love, however, is a different theme and one that asexuals can agree is possible (better, even) without sex.

Brian is tall and lean with dark hair and pale skin, long lashes and bright brown, puppy dog eyes. His nose is prominent, beautiful, the ones you see in ancient Roman art, and his lips are (not to be weird but) delicately shaped and always red with the telltale blush of vitality. (I’m gay; not blind!) He’s brainy, sweet, athletic, teaches basketball to neighborhood kids who absolutely adore him — he’s just good people. So why isn’t he bestowing that genuine goodguy stuff onto an equally amazing lady (or lad, if that be the case)?

“I already knew she was going to want sex and the family life and that’s not what I want. It’s not as sad as it sounds; I’m still comfortable with who I am.” I remind him of Bohemian Girl. “I’ve experimented,” he admits, “but I’m fine as I am. I do think society is pushing me [to be sexual], especially as a guy, and when I push back, it seems like my perceived ‘sexual suppression’ is making me defensive and uptight, when really it’s just me being frustrated at the model I’m supposed to follow.”

“I’m asexual,” he finally told me one day over the phone. “I’m not interested in sex,” he reiterated, then said he had to run some errands. Wallowing in a thousand questions, I took to Google. To thumb through what’s written is to tear through page after page describing the different types of asexuality and to note that, just as we’ve found it necessary to uber-categorize our own brands of gaiety (twink, bear, lipstick, tomboy), asexuals have categories as well. In other words, they’re just like us with all label-assigning, but without the added confusion behind the bow-chicka-wow-wow. For examples, there are noted asexuals who will still have sex — but strictly for the advantages sex can bring to their life. I’ve read the term “opportunistic asexuals” to describe them. There are asexuals who sleep with people simply for physical benefits owing nothing to sexual desire, deemed “sex-favorable asexuals.” There are also the asexual purists who believe that even masturbation and kissing sever the ties between the sex-favorable “offender” and 8  MARCH 02, 2016

“I’ve fallen in love with a woman before,” Brian told me in a later conversation. I ask how that went, which is odd because I was there. “I was heartbroken before anything began.” “Why didn’t you just tell her?” I asked.

I ask for an example. “If I have a physical response to a girl, I’m expected to follow through with it. I’ve been called gay, a pussy, stuff like that, because I don’t think having an erection obligates me to have sex. It’s not chastity; I’m not avoiding it out of choice, but by nature.” I tell Brian that some psychologists promote weird notions about asexuality, theorizing that the lack of sexual desire stems from repression after a traumatic encounter. “Is it offensive when people think you’re gay because you might’ve been molested?” he asks. “It’s rude, yeah.” “Exactly. People assume the strangest things. I’ve got a friend who’s known me for years, who assumed I was sexual and asked me a ton of questions about it, having trouble wrapping her brain around the fact that I’m not into sex and I haven’t been this whole time.” Oh. Touche, Brian. Touche.


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GrownUps issue

A

Perspective

By the Bi RIPLEY GREY

A

funny thing happened the year I turned 24: I discovered I felt (quite naturally) attracted to women. Not in the sense that I felt they made wonderful shopping buddies and confidants, but in the sense that they made a wonderful addition to my sex life. It wasn’t the first time I’d felt that way, and I knew it wouldn’t be the last, but a persistent voice in my head told me to put a lid on the urge. “If you know what’s good for you, you’ll shut up and stay quiet about this whole thing,” the voice told me. What was this late-blooming affection for women, anyway? I’m nearly 24, shouldn’t my sexuality be fully informed by now? My inner gay man — the well-adjusted and accepted one — considered the whole thing fashionably late. Throw some glitter on the whole mess and call it an entrance. The rest of my (rattled) psyche wondered if maybe a few wires hadn’t crossed upstairs. It was all eerily reminiscent of that tearful grade-school conversation I’d had with my mother: coming out.

Still, the need to unbox my feelings was almost stifling. Having felt normalized for years in my identity, I suddenly felt typecast in my own life. There was this upwelling need to correct people who sort of offhandedly bemoaned, “Gosh, what a pity you’re only into guys.” Whoa. Hold the phone, how do you know me so well? Yet, that’s part of the whole equation — the ease of assuming some (or all) of a person’s identity by their sexual orientation and public presentation.

The trUth of the matter is, most gay men act like foUr year olds when discussing women. They scrUnch up their faces and wrinkle their noses talking aboUt roastbeef, fish, and the need for more marinara sauce at the clambake.

The whole idea of a “second coming” was terrifying. Wasn’t the first time difficult enough? It felt like that rock I’d been pushing up the hill my entire life had rolled right over me. I sat on my thoughts for some time. Otherwise completely confident in every area of my life, I was mostly perturbed by this inclination to conceal any piece of myself. What gives? What’s the big deal? Who really cares, anyway? As it happens, a lot of people care (and everyone has their opinion). Bisexuals, like unicorns, are given the same treatment as folklore or urban legends. Gay men will give you side-eye, drag queens will give you side-eye, and women will wonder if you’re capable of committing to anything beyond a cellphone plan. 10  MARCH 02, 2016

In fact, during a recent conversation with some friends, more than one brandished their air quotes. You know, “bisexual.” On the path to full sexual liberation, more than one gay man has claimed to be bisexual to escape the full wrath of family and friends. On that note, it’s also interesting how many male celebrities cite their bisexuality trying to make their star shine a little brighter in the public eye (or perhaps when it isn’t shining as brightly as it once did).

The truth of the matter is, most gay men act like four year olds when discussing women. They scrunch up their faces and wrinkle their noses talking about roast-beef, fish, and the need for more marinara sauce at the clambake. Personally, the majority of gay men I’ve met are more misogynistic than any heterosexual guy could ever reasonably be. They say, and do, things to women that heterosexual men would (quite literally) get beaten for — and they get away with it. Especially in gay clubs. With startling regularity, it isn’t merely okay for the GBF (gay best friend) to fondle the nearest pair of breasts, he’s also berating how women around him look, what they’re wearing, and how much “work” they need done to look more beautiful. Gay men, who typically honor the powerful female, tend to degrade the ordinary ones doing their best to make it day by day.


Ironically, women tend to extol the ease of being in a gay bar. “I never feel like I’m going to get harassed here. It’s so much better than going to my local bar,” she’ll say. In a single sentence, a woman can neutralize male sexuality while simultaneously making it impossible for men to approach her without betraying that sense of safety. Worse than a fear of rejection, bisexuals confront the risk of total sexual marginalization. “You’re just confused! It’s fine, go find a cute guy and say hello,” someone will (inevitably) suggest. Yet that isn’t really the way it works, is it? Can’t a person conceivably enjoy men, enjoy women, or enjoy both (and call it a great weekend)? I’m certainly not confused, and I’d hope the vast majority of other men and women out there aren’t either. Even so, people who progress to heterosexual relationships will have merely “gone through a phase” while people who wind up in same-sex relationships were “gay all along.” Most at risk seems to be one’s masculinity. Why do so many men, gay and straight, look down on bisexual men? I’d like to suggest it’s poor understanding on behalf of both parties: heterosexual men will never understand attraction to another man, while gay men will never understand a man’s attraction to another woman. As for the ladies, do women actually think less of bisexual men, or is it one of their biggest fantasies? Our friends at PornHub tell us the number one thing women search for is (you got it) gay porn. Finally, a bright spot. If we take away anything from all of this, it’s that the mental health of bisexual men and women is deeply affected by all these (very confusing) feelings. Bisexual men (specifically), have a suicide rate twice as high as gay men, and increased incidences of anxiety, substance abuse, and depression when compared to their gay counterparts. When we think about all the alphabet soup we’ve concocted over the years, it’s vitally important we never overlook (or marginalize) the ‘B’ in LGBT. It’s a real thing. No, really. OUTFRONTONLINE.COM 11


GrownUps issue

Grown Up

Love RICK KITZMAN

W

hen I was young, finding a boyfriend consumed my life — or maybe it was just sex. Either way, mind and libido fought for control of my behavior. Stomach-churning nausea and indescribable bliss defined my young heart. I found innumerable guys to lust after, but love remained gut-wrenchingly elusive while I remained single. Singles are judged mercilessly and we’ve heard all the refrains: You’re trying too hard/not hard enough/on a unique path; que sera sera; it’s God’s will; Auntie Boopsie knows cousin Poopsie’s neighbor Shapoopie who has a son/daughter; what’s wrong with you? What was wrong with me? I agonized over the answer because (up to now) my first relationship had been my only relationship. My summer of ’81 was a summer of firsts: Sam, first lover met on the dancefloor of New York’s The Saint; eating kiwi fruit for the first time; and before its first meager mention in The New York Times, my first discussion with friends about a strange disease affecting gay men. Sam and I lay awake worrying about infection sneakily snaking inside.

Gay prejudice appears in all guises. When poz guys had had enough, groups formed. I joined, trained, and led them, all filled with special men of a different kind. But I remained single, believing I was a lesser gay man, wishing I’d been born lesbian, envying the many, great relationships I knew; or perhaps even straight, yearning for the social ease of relationships taken for granted. Through forty years, I joined the denizens of bars, dance clubs, bathhouses, a church, then the dating upheaval wrought by the internet. And IF, during those forty years, I’d been looking for love in all the wrong places — dear God — where were the right places?

For decades, my hidden poz flaw stymied desirability. From within myself and my fingerpointing special group, shame sabotaged self-esteem.

At the time, uncertainty became the only certainty, as death loomed and doomed any future fulfillment. For the record, Sam lasted six months — my stretch for relationship experience. Then, through all the brouhaha about same-sex marriage, I felt excluded because I would never partake, and because other issues void of indecorous display, more publicly palatable and deserving of resources went ignored. Marriage to a man? Not even in my vocabulary. (Critics, I own my discomforts.) I’ve shunned the straight world’s institutions except those required to live in it. In my gay youth, with its alluring secret codes to gain admittance, life was special — and private! Gay life became so public, and brought with it feelings of exclusion from my own special group. Admitting no relationship experience elicited incredulous guffaws and my brief encounter with Sam, 12  MARCH 02, 2016

clear proof of personal flaws, hidden and suspicious. I knew, though, that in a way, it was true. For decades, my hidden poz flaw stymied desirability. From within myself and my finger-pointing special group, shame sabotaged self-esteem. I didn’t belong to the straight world nor the elite gay world with its status symbols of relationships and HIV-negative test results. Some observations are imagined, projected — but not all.

Turns out, the Supreme Court might be one. Though still a foreign concept to me, their decision electrified my world vision: freedoms for every generation and for future LGBTI tykes! Even the new acronym LGBTI — I for intersex — extends our inclusive definition. Relationships of all kinds will be honored, not by everyone, but everywhere, by freethinkers of every kind. And, maybe someday, mine. Because at long last, one so-called “wrong” place ... turned right. My grown up love brings different challenges, an assuredness missing from my volatile young love, a relaxed happiness. And, I’m still fiercely independent. Ask Neil, my boyfriend of almost three years. I’d tell you more about him, but this good man is truly special. And that’s private.


OUTFRONTONLINE.COM 13


GrownUps issue

Lesbian Bed Death:

an EncoUnter with

the sexless

Relationship BERLIN SYLVESTRE

I

never knew it was a thing, this ‘lesbian bed death,’ until it was mentioned in passing on Showtime’s The L Word. Apparently, a couple had stopped having sex and it was such a common phenomenon among lesbians that it had a name. (The horror, right? Lesbian. Bed. Death.) The notion struck me in (what’re the kids saying these days?) some type of way. I mean, certainly a sexless relationship would be a relationship worth ending, I surmised — at that point you’re just best friends trying desperately not to end up alone. A good deal later, it struck me like a skillet thrown from a wagon that my current girlfriend and I hadn’t had sex in months. My blood ran cold with unfavorable epiphany as I lay there, listening to her get into the shower, knowing I wasn’t going to sneak-attack her nakedness with irrepressible affection. At that point, the most I’d managed were quick booty-tweaks and boob-honks from the other side of the shower curtain on especially good-humored days. At night, I’d often stay up working on my book or fiddling with the wires coming from the entertainment center (anything, really) while she called from our room, “Come to bed!” It never honestly occurred to me how low I prioritized sex with my ever-patient sweetheart. Not until that morning.

around by her hips in the kitchen and masterfully encroaching her personal space or ambushing her as she changed into yoga attire. Like I used to. Like I used to with many-times-daily frequency. Back when things were better. And I would agonize in bed at night, knowing that all I had to do was reach over and show my feelings in that type of way. But I didn’t want to. I became irritable, more upset with myself than anything else. I thought of all the people from her past, present, and potential future who could lavish her with the sexual attention she not only deserved, but most likely needed, in spite of her insistence to the contrary. How awful of me to put her through this desert of a love life, watching the tumbleweeds of depleted attraction blow by as lazy and empty as her attempts to justify it for my sake.

AT NIGHT, I’D OFTEN STAY UP WORKING ON MY BOOK OR FIDDLING WITH THE WIRES COMING FROM THE ENTERTAINMENT CENTER (ANYTHING, REALLY) WHILE SHE CALLED FROM OUR ROOM, “COME TO BED!”

This is the beginning of the end, I worried. No, it can’t be. I love her, I do. This has nothing to do with not loving her. When I asked Cara about it a few days later, she mentioned that she’d noticed I was stressed out a lot lately. (For the past few months?) I nodded along and rattled off watery excuses (bills, school, work) like they somehow prevented me from turning her 14  MARCH 02, 2016

Then I became irritable with her. Why doesn’t she initiate sex more? Why is it my responsibility to take control of our love life? Well, of course I can’t feel sexy — it’s all this pressure!

Where once I was embarrassed, I now felt fit enough to broach the subject with my buddy James, who was single despite his constant surge of gentleman callers … or perhaps because of it. I filled him in on the lack of sex in my life and he waved his hand. “It’s over,” he said flatly, leaving me to protest and frantically, naively ‘count the ways’ about my lady. He wouldn’t have it. He eventually said something like, “Take inventory of your relationship and you’ll see that it’s more than just sex you’re missing” and my heart sank. I’d been doing that anyway. We no


longer talked about the things we saw in our future; we didn’t playfully argue over marriage or kids or a home in California; we didn’t go jogging together, didn’t want to meet for lunch, didn’t talk politics or school or damn-near anything we used to go on for hours about. I’d been kicking and screaming that the deep bond we shared transcended sex, but who was I really kidding? Certainly not us. Months later, it happened. I met a woman at my university who made my knees quake and my heart race. I tried to deny it, avoiding her at first. Being around her only made me feel worse about that spark I got when she’d touch my arm or laugh at length at my anecdotes on life. How I missed that rush of vitality! Partly through shame, I tried to reignite the lost magic between me and my girlfriend — an utter and miserable failure that made me finally drink the water to which life had lead me.

PHOTO CREDIT: DANIELE ZEDDA

We both deserved better than this facade. When we called it off, James didn’t gloat. He took me out for drinks and assured me that lesbians aren’t the only group of lovers who linger in sexless relationships. “Y’all just stay longer,” he laughed, assuring me that when I look back on this time years down the road, I’ll see that it was more than a lack of sex that drove us apart; it was just two people changing their minds about the whole idea of union … and of their future in one. Sexlessness was merely a symptom — not the cause — of our failed relationship. (And he was right.) OUTFRONTONLINE.COM 15


GrownUps issue

PERSPEC TIVE

On Being

an Effeminate

Straight Man AKIVA WEINSTEIN

I

’ve only been in heterosexual relationships. My friends know this, my family knows this. Who doesn’t seem to pick up on this, however, is the gene pool — the hundreds of young and attractive (or not so young and attractive) men and women I’ve encountered since entering the world of seeking and being sought. Thing is, I don’t confine to a strictly heteronormative dress code, nor do I try to. I speak with a (perhaps) “effeminate” tone, and my body language propagates the misconception, but so what? I read a great article the other day titled Is This Dude Gay? The article contained a flowchart that gave a list of constituencies that, when followed, all led to the ultimate, “Oh, I completely forgot the most important question: Is he attracted to men?” My friend once described me as “too caring to be straight,” which to me, underlined the issue poignantly: We need to stop assigning labels. I guess the point I’m making is that straight people and otherwise are assigned to categories similarly as in the case of the reverseracism argument which, while controversial, basically says that to avoid targeting and oppressing the “inside” group, we have to focus on the “outside” group instead.

I know what you’re thinking: “So what if men hit on you? Even if it can occasionally interfere with your dating scene, it’s harmless right?” To which I will respond: No. It is not harmless. I know the type of sexuality I portray can be considered a real turn-on for women (you know — the sensitive and “in-touch with his feelings” male), but I am here to say that feeling comfortable in my own skin without others putting labels on me is far better than being considered sexy.

In fact, no one shoUld eVer have to justify his oR her sexuality to a potential paRtner. After a first oR second oR third date, when the night has calmed down and I’m speaking on a mOre intimate level, there is nothing more of a buzz-kill than explaining how I am, in fact, straight.

The assignment of labels, apart from being hurtful, is downright confusing, too. I can’t say how many times I’ve been on a first date (with women, let me remind you) and have had men hit on me. During the date, I’m doing the stereotypical things: holding doors, holding hands — all the normal things. But, when buying the movie ticket, or the cup 16  MARCH 02, 2016

of coffee, or even talking to the waiter about the soup du jour, I get a tone of flirtation and presumption in response to my innocent vernacular.

In fact, no one should ever have to justify his or her sexuality to a potential partner. After a first or second or third date, when the night has calmed down and I’m speaking on a more intimate level, there is nothing more of a buzz-kill than explaining how I am, in fact, straight.

So, I’m here to say, as a straight male, something I can’t believe still needs to be said in 2016: Stop making assumptions. Most of the time, it’s not your damn business which way someone rolls. So, if you really want to take your young and attractive (or not so young and attractive) self and hit on another body you spot at Starbucks, Whole Foods, or wherever you meet potential partners, here’s some advice: Do. Not. Assume.


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OUTFRONTONLINE.COM 17


GrownUps issue

Not

your Mother’s

Vibrator

THE E XCITEMENT A STR AP- O N C AN B RIN G TO ANYONE’ S B ED RO O M

RACHEL BECHER

F

rom vibrators to penis rings and dildos, the art of the sex toy has diversified to accommodate a growing and enthusiastic customer base. The use of sex toys has an old and historical legacy. (Historians date dildos back to the Paleolithic era, in which polished phallic structures have been discovered.) Whether used solo, or with one or multiple partners, extra buzz or penetration can really go the extra mile to heighten sexual satisfaction. A lot of hype is placed toward less extreme toys, such as external vibrators. While enticing as the sexual appetites and curiosity of people expand, I feel as though attention should be brought upon a more adventurous aspect the sex toy realm — the strap-on.

One can give or receiVe penetration regardless of gender, destroying the notion that sexual dominance is acqUired throUgh the possession of a birthgiven penis.

For both homosexual and heterosexual relationships, a strap-on can bring an entirely new dimension into lovemaking. The first that comes to mind is the aspect of gender-bending, in which a female can don an artificial phallus and penetrate her male partner — often referred to as pegging. This is also positive in lesbian relationships when penetration is desired. Indeed, some strap-ons don’t even require a strap, functioning as a dual-sided phallus that penetrates both partners at the same time, leading to more physical closeness. However, strap-ons are not just for women! Strap-ons can give men extra confidence if they suffer from erectile dysfunction, and provide the option for double penetration of their partner. Buying a smaller strapon can make their “original package” seem larger, 18  MARCH 02, 2016

boosting their self-esteem and, in turn, their libido. Some strap-ons are hollowed out, and allow men to perform for a longer amount of time, without having to worry about losing an erection. As well, it’s not uncommon for transgender gents to wear them not only in bed, but around the clock. Strap-ons come in a variety of shapes, sizes, materials, and harness types. Vibrating dildos are available, as well as chin-straps designed for penetration during oral stimulation. The handsfree option of all strap-ons allow the hands to roam the rest of the body, and can be used in combination with other toys. Beyond these exciting options, a strap-on works to change the way gender is displayed through sex. Men can be the ones receiving penetration, shattering the myth that only gay men can enjoy anal. Switching gender roles in heterosexual relationships might seem daunting, but through trust and honesty, each partner can experience positive and sexy results from experimentation.

Ultimately, a strap-on functions as a tool of pleasure rather than a tool of dominance. Although one partner is receiving, the social constructs of gender come crashing down with the introduction of an artificial penis. One can give or receive penetration regardless of gender, destroying the notion that sexual dominance is acquired through the possession of a birth-given penis. They give an opportunity for lovers to communicate their sexual desires, and allow for deeper intimacy through


PHOTO CREDIT: MISS A

trust. The steps toward bringing a strap-on into the bedroom invites conversations about consent, and expands traditional notions of love-making. In heterosexual relationships, the routine of male-tofemale penetration is interrupted, and can lead to a closeness that can only come from sexual intimacy, and the discussion of internal desires. Vaginal, anal, oral, solo, or mutual penetration is expanded through the use of a strap-on, and not only spices up sexual activity, but changes the dynamics that gender enacts through sex. Anyone can now have a penis, and anyone can enjoy being penetrated. Either way, it provides the users with an experience that will bring them closer to that glorious O-moment, and a chance to get closer to one another. OUTFRONTONLINE.COM 19


GrownUps issue

Genomes,

Epigenomes,

and Genitals (O H , M Y.)

MIKE YOST

I

’m a guy who enjoys having sex with other guys. There. I said it. Not exactly an earth-shattering fact about my personal life for those who know me — except for maybe my mom. (Hi, Mom! I’m gay, by the way.) While I’m always captivated by shirtless men working out in the gym, I’m even more captivated by the question of why. Why am I gay? Why do I enjoy balls while my older brother enjoys boobies? There’s evidence to support the claim that sexual orientation has a genetic component, but no scientist as of yet has discovered what is sometimes erroneously referred to as “the gay gene.” (Though, there are gay jeans: denim, tight fit, holes cut just below the back pockets.) But the claim that sexual orientation has a genetic component presents a few puzzles geneticists have been struggling to solve. For example, there are numerous instances of identical twins — identical DNA, mind you — where one twin is gay and the other is straight. How can there be a genetic component to sexual orientation if identical twins with the same DNA play on different teams? “What we do know is that there are regions of the genome that have repeatedly shown to be associated with sexual orientation,” says Dr. Tuck Ngun, a postdoctoral researcher at the David Geffen School of Medicine of the University of California, Los Angeles. “The most famous of these would be Xq28 — a small part on the X chromosome.” But if there are identical twins with identical DNA where only one is homosexual, then what other biological factors are involved in determining sexual orientation? There’s also the problem of homosexuality being at an evolutionary disadvantage. “One of the big questions is, ‘If sexual orientation is genetic, why hasn’t it been selected, or weeded out of the gene pool?’ If you’re gay, 20  MARCH 02, 2016

your chances of having a child are quite a bit lower than if you were straight,” observes Ngun. From personal experience, I can tell you that we gays are not shy about passing our DNA onto others, but that’s certainly not the reason homosexuality remains a consistent trait in the human population. Last year, working with the Center for Gender-Based Biology at the University of California in Los Angeles, Ngun authored a study looking to answer these questions. He took saliva samples from 37 pairs of twins where one was gay and one was straight, and he took saliva samples from another 10 pairs of twins who both were gay. Ngun then examined differences in the twins’ epigenome to determine — (Wait, epi-what? Epigenome. Stick with me here. I’m willing to bet you’re not a geneticist, but neither am I, so you’re in good company.) Ngun examined the differences in the twin’s epigenome to determine if those differences were correlated with the twins’ sexual orientation. “An algorithm using epigenetic information from just nine regions of the human genome can predict the sexual orientation of males with up to 70 percent accuracy,” reads the study’s press release. Okay, there’s a lot to unpack here. After reading that last paragraph, you might even be sitting in a bar right now, vigorously scratching your head and asking that hot guy or hot gal next to you, “What the hell is epigenetics?” (This article would be a great conversation starter, by the way. You could get laid tonight. You’re welcome.) Let’s start with defining epigenetics. Your epigenome is nothing more than chemical compounds attached


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OUTFRONTONLINE.COM 21


to your DNA telling your genome what to do all the time — kind of like an overbearing husband or wife.

Using grammar to explain science! How cool is that?! (My English degree is finally paying off.)

“The epigenome doesn’t change your DNA, but it decides how much or whether some genes are expressed in different cells in your body,” Hank Green explains on his YouTube channel, SciShow.

Epigenetics can help explain why, with some pairs of identical twins with identical genomes, one is straight while the other is gay. It can also explains why some traits, such as homosexuality, continue to flourish while always being at an evolutionary disadvantage.

In his episode on epigenetics, Green uses the analogy of what he calls epigenetic punctuation — where the genome is like a paragraph, and the epigenome is like the punctuation in that paragraph. This means you can manipulate the meaning and interpretation of a sentence (the genome) using punctuation (the epigenome). Take the two following sentences as an example: Sentence one: Let’s eat, Grandma! Sentence two: Let’s eat Grandma! The words and syntax (word arrangement) in both sentences are identical, yet removing the comma in the second sentence changes the meaning dramatically ... and promotes cannibalism — which is wrong. Don’t eat your grandma. Now, if you compare the DNA of a pair of identical twins, their genomes (or their sentences) are the same, but differences in their epigenome (or their punctuation) can modify the expression of their identical, yet individual, genomes. This results in different traits expressed from identical DNA. 22  MARCH 02, 2016

Ngun and his team picked up on 10 years of previous genetic research diving into this question of sexual orientation and epigenetic variances in identical male twins. “When I came on board, the technology had matured quite a bit, so we decided to revisit this question of whether we see any differences based on sexual orientation in the epigenetic pattern.” “All of this on the molecular level,” adds Ngun, “has only been done on male sexual orientation, so female sexual orientation remains really understudied.” (Get on in, geneticists!) So now that we’ve got a handle on what the epigenome is, just how do these epigenetic compounds give instructions? Well, there’s a term for this process: DNA methylation. (Methy-what? I know, I know. Stick with me.) “Methylation helps to control how readily portions of the DNA are actually read and translated into proteins that actually affect traits that we observe,” says Jemery


OUTFRONTONLINE.COM 23


Yoder, postdoctoral research fellow at the Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences and the University of British Columbia.

caveats surrounding his findings. “The catch is that the authors of this new paper are working with a very small sample of people,” says Yoder.

Essentially, methylation is the process of your epigenome turning certain genes on your genome on or off.

“That tells us right off the bat that what they find is not likely to have a high degree of statistical competence.”

“DNA methylation has been looked at in a lot of different contexts,” adds Yoder. “Developmental traits, for example, things like height and productivity in corn plants. Anything you can measure you can relate to which parts of the genome have been methylated.” Ngun and his team compared the DNA methylation patterns of the twins in his study. “We took those patterns at each location at the genome — at position one we have a number for twin 1 that’s, let’s say, 20 percent methylated. And then in twin 2, it’s 50 percent methylated.” Ngun then took those numbers (a gargantuan amount of numbers, mind you) and fed them into a computer algorithm to compare the different DNA methylation patterns.

Ngun concedes that the sample size was small, but adds that garnering funds to acquire and test DNA samples from thousands of test subjects is problematic. “In the last few years, especially with increasingly tight budgets at the major funding bodies like the National Institutes of Health, it’s become all but impossible.”

An algorithm using epigenetic information from just nine regions of the hUman genome can predict the sexual orientation of males with Up to 70-percent accUracy.

“We trained the computer for us to be able to say, okay, this is what a typical straight methylation pattern is supposed to look like, and this is what a typical gay methylation pattern is supposed to like. Then we give it a set of new twins that it hasn’t seen before and try to get it to predict.”

And predict it did, calculating which twin was gay and which twin was straight with almost 70-percent accuracy, which is higher than the percentage you would get by guessing or just flipping a coin. “To our knowledge, this is the first example of a predictive model for sexual orientation based on molecular markers,” the study’s press release reads. Essentially, the algorithm is a form of gaydar using epigenetic patterns to predict who is gay and who is straight. How cool is that!? It should be noted that the conclusions drawn from this study are correlative, not causal. Ngun isn’t making the claim he found the biological cause to human sexual orientation. He didn’t find the gay gene. And just like any other frontier science, there are 24  MARCH 02, 2016

Yoder adds that the study would have to be repeated with possibly tens of thousands of test subjects in order to verify Ngun’s findings. “So we’ve got a ways to go.”

Not surprisingly, money for genetic studies is usually funneled into research grants for institutions working to find cures to ailments such as heart disease or cancer. “Funding bodies are also very squeamish about anything to do with sex,” adds Ngun. And to Ngun’s knowledge, there are no other geneticists who are looking at the link between the epigenome and human sexuality.

Another challenging variable in the study was the type of samples used (saliva) to find the differences in epigenetic patterns of the twins. “The thing about epigenetic marks is they solve this basic biological problem,” says Yoder, “which is that every cell in your body has the code you need to make an entire human being, but not every cell in the body is an entire human being, right? Each cell has different genes turned on and off using these epigenetic systems to get to the combination of genes to be a nerve cell or a blood cell or a muscle cell.” Yoder explains that looking at the differences in the epigenome of brain cells would provide more accurate and reliable data in trying to pinpoint which methylation patterns may contribute to differences in sexual orientation. “Epigenetic marks that might make a difference in sexual orientation are going to be particularly noticeable in brain cells,” says Yoder, quickly adding,


“to be fair, this is a hard thing to ask for.” Indeed. I’m certainly not willing to have samples of my own brain tissue pulled out of my head through holes drilled into my skull. (Though, that might allow all my voices to escape.) But despite his critiques, Yoder adds that Ngun’s work is a step in the right direction in finding a biological foundation for sexual orientation and development. “When I first saw the headline [of Ngun’s study],” says Yoder, “my initial reaction was, ‘Oh good! Someone’s finally taking a look at this.’ I want to give these folks credit for at least taking a stab at things. This really is a line of inquiry that lots of people think is going to solve this puzzle.” Ngun’s study has indeed assembled part of the puzzle by showing differences in the epigenetic patterns of identical twins where one twin is gay and the other twin is straight. These differences are so pronounced, that you can potentially predict the sexual orientation of an individual just by studying the epigenome.

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In short, your very own epigenome could potentially influence who you end up sleeping with tonight. (Or more accurately, who you want to sleep with tonight, only to end up alone on the couch eating an entire pizza by yourself.) Ultimately, studying our epigenome is more than just working to understand the biological machinery that drives our sexual development. This type of research bores deeper into fundamental questions of what makes us who we are as individuals — of why I prefer balls while my older brother prefers boobies. “All the work has been done because we’re curious about why we are the way we are,” says Ngun. “Because sexual orientation, whether you’re gay or whether you’re straight, it’s such a fundamental part of your life.” So for those who are still reading this article in a bar, stop being a coward and turn to that hot gal or hot guy sitting next to you and tell that person that your epigenetic pattern finds his or her epigenetic pattern super sexy. And if you get laid tonight because you broke the ice with a discussion on epigenetics, you got laid because of science! How cool is that!? OUTFRONTONLINE.COM 25


the Kink

in Her

Works A B ELOVED D ENVER KINKSTRE SS KN OWS WH Y PLE A SURE AND PAIN WO RK SO WELL — AND HOW TO UNLO CK THE M YSTERY F O R CLIENTS

YVONNE WRIGHT

S

he can light you on fire, roast marshmallows off you while you burn, and then feed you s’mores while you’re still engulfed in flames. Saskia Davies is often referred to as “Colorado’s Mother of Kink.” She’s the owner and operator of Pavlovia, a Denver dungeon that offers everything from pony play to gynecological exams (not the medical kind). She’s quick to point out that kink isn’t always about sex. People often use it for sexual pleasure, but it can also be a way to feel new sensations or enjoy power exchanges. For some, she says, “it’s even therapeutic.” Sandwiched between several unassuming businesses, I almost missed it. Pavlovia is inside a rather bland beige building with only an address to give it away. But one step inside and you know this isn’t like any other business. The first thing I notice is its darkness. The walls are deep lavender and midnight blue. There is a juxtaposition here between dark and light. Amid the life-sized crosses, swinging tables, iron neck restraints, and walls dripping with wooden paddles, there are pink tutus peeking out of the corner.

PHOTO CREDIT: URBAN PIXEL

A former social worker, Saskia is as complex as the community she serves. Her voice is soft and melodious. She’s not what I imagined a dominatrix would look like. She isn’t large or frightening. She’s welcoming and sweet. Playful, even. She’s also extraordinarily intelligent. When I ask for a definition of kink I am flooded with a history lesson about World War II and the gay men who brought the leather culture to life. She says she enjoys kink because it is “culturally defined,” and — like culture — it’s constantly changing. Gender is often checked at the door. It is, she says “playing with boundaries, playing with taboos, playing with neurology.” I suspect she is just as comfortable addressing a class full of college students as she is handcuffing someone to the big, black cross in the middle of the room.


The dungeon caters to kink of all kinds: BDSM, fetishes, cross-dressing, basically anything the client wants short of sex. Her mistresses are not prostitutes; they are highly trained professionals. Unless they have previous experience, each mistress must apprentice for at least a year. This is because kink is about so much more than the body — it’s also about the mind. They are paid to play mind and body games. “I tell my apprentices they will have balls of steel before their training is complete,” Saskia says. Then she spins into a tale about why spitting in someone’s face can be cathartic for both the dominant and the submissive. BDSM is a combination of overlapping abbreviations for Bondage and Discipline (BD), Dominance and Submission (DS), and Sadism and Masochism (SM). In a nutshell, it’s for people who are into restraint, pain, and/or humiliation. It’s also about giving up control, providing structure, and emotional release. Saskia says play becomes BDSM any time there is an exchange of power. “Orientation doesn’t apply [in kink]. People who consider themselves heterosexual will play with same sex because it’s a power exchange they might enjoy.” Saskia stresses the importance of consent. Nothing is done without the client’s permission. “You are not a good or ethical partner if you’re not meeting your partner’s needs,” she emphasizes.

The Dungeon Pavlovia provides a safe place where people can experience kink without judgment. It’s like an adult Disneyland with maximum endorphin-pumping rides. Many are modern versions of devices that date back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Previously used for torture, they are now used for pleasure. There are ropes, whips, canes, floggers, paddles, chains, and handcuffs. The sessions range from the extreme to the sublime. If you want to be handcuffed and beaten, that’s an option. You may also partake in the ancient Japanese art of Shibari. It involves colorful ropes and/or ties. They restrain without the use of knots to create human sculptures, living breathing works of art that often hang from the ceiling.

27

The dungeon’s offerings include suspension tables, a genitorture chair (yes, that is what it sounds like), a hanging rack, what appears to be a lion’s cage, wooden crosses, and a pillory. Pillories were mostly used in the 1700s to put people on display with their heads and hands held tight through wooden holes. Their pillory is a table. Once the head and hands are locked in, “I put a piece of candy right here,” Saskia says with delight, while pointing to an area just out of reach from where the mouth would be.


Saskia enjoys combining the visual with the tactile. She blames porn for limiting information to the visual. She says what people are shown in the movies or on TV “is very limited; emotions are so much more powerful.” This is where physical sensations like fire play, medical play, and electro play come in. Electro play involves a machine that uses electrical currents for sexual or other stimulation. There is also a special room set up for medical play with everything from gynecological chairs and instruments to a dentist’s chair.

Fetishes Merriam-Webster describes a fetish as “a need or desire for an object, body part, or activity for sexual excitement.” Saskia and her mistresses have seen them all. A fetish may or may not incorporate BDSM. Again, that only happens when an exchange of power comes into play. At Pavlovia, there is a room straight out of Old Hollywood designed especially for cross-dressers. It is complete with the aforementioned tutus, as well as dresses, hats, heels, even nail polish. Pet play is also popular. It may include belly rubs, grooming, bathing, treats, even teaching a command. Saskia uses a language the person doesn’t speak because she says, “When you’re playing with real puppies, they have to figure out what the words mean.” The dungeon offers quarterly “Funny Farm” parties for people who enjoy both pet play and age play. They are usually themed like Alice in Wonderland and include Easter egg hunts, story time, snack time, dress-up, and more. “The Littles,” as they are called, dress up like children or babies and are catered to the way any child would be. People can have a fetish about anything. Research shows the most prevalent non-genital ones are foot fetishes. Some clients even request smelly feet. “Imagine,” she says, “trying to get ready for a client who wants me clean with shaved legs, while still having stinky feet.”

Leather is perhaps the best-known fetish of all. It can be a hobby, but it’s usually a lifestyle. People form families that may include moms, dads, children, and/or pets. A couple may also choose a master/slave dynamic. In this scenario, the slave often needs permission for everything. This includes when he or she may go to the bathroom, eat, dress, shower, or perform any other function. These roles are highly negotiated. They usually involve signed contracts detailing what can and cannot be done.

28

PHOTO CREDIT: URBAN PIXEL

Leather


OUTFRONTONLINE.COM 29


PHOTO CREDIT: URBAN PIXEL

Leather stems from gay male motorcycle groups following WWII. Most of its traditions are based on military protocols and rituals. Returning from war, Saskia says, “they felt they still had a place for their sexuality in a way that wasn’t accepted by the mainstream.” This evolved into what it is today. People of all genders and sexual orientations now participate. Some households are even headed by women.

Clients Clients, as you might imagine, come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. “The oldest client I’ve had was 80 years old,” says Saskia, but most are between 30 and 50. Most are men, with women sometimes accompanying their husbands or boyfriends. Some lesbian couples also come into play. Many couples visit the dungeon to learn gratification in non-traditional ways. Saskia says educating couples is one of their favorite things to do. For instance, you can have non-genital, full-body orgasms. “Using sensations people are not accustomed to [like spanking] can lead to a high that can last for many, many hours or even days,” she says. There are also generational differences. Gender, Saskia observes, does not play a big role for younger people. They tend to be more fluid because they’ve grown up in a world where gender, roles, and orientations aren’t as big of a deal as they were for older folks. “In my dungeon I see a bunch of undeclared majors,” she jokes.

The FutUre It’s been a long road from social worker to dungeon master, but Saskia has no plans to stop anytime soon. The reason she loves this work so much is that it’s ever changing. She describes it the way an anthropologist might: There’s always more to learn. The kink culture, she believes, is where the LGBT community was 20 or 30 years ago. There is a lack of research and understanding — there aren’t even legal or psychological terms.

30

“People refuse to believe that people actually enjoy it,” she says. “[LGBT] people used to be thought of as sick until taboos loosened and people realized it’s not a pathology.” That, she maintains, is where the fight is today, to help the world understand that kink is as relevant as any other orientation or lifestyle.


DUngeon EtiqUette ■■ Many observe RACK Guidelines — risk-accepted, consensual kink. Dungeon activity should include negotiation/discussion, clear understanding of potential risks, and absolute consent. ■■ Dungeons usually provide large BDSM-customized equipment and toys including whips, canes, and restraints. Participants may also bring their own toys. ■■ There are generally areas to change into fetishwear, areas for play, and areas to socialize. ■■ It is not mandatory to play; voyeurs are also welcome. ■■ It is not ok to touch others’ toys without permission. ■■ Parties vary. They may be invitation only, open to the public, or specify couples only or no unattached men. ■■ “Do Not Invite” lists of rule breakers are generally kept to ensure safety. ■■ Types of sexual contact varies from party to party. It can also vary depending on city/state laws.

DUngeon Safe Sex ■■ If playing with a new partner, discuss whether fluid exchange or exposure is a limit or concern. Inform play partners of any health issues. ■■ Remember fluids may be transmitted in many ways. ■■ Clean dungeon furniture as soon as possible after use. ■■ Be aware that porous dungeon toys or equipment cannot be sterilized. This includes anything leather or suede (like floggers, whips, or restraints), neoprene, ropes, and/or plant-based materials like wooden paddles or rattan canes (depending on type of sealant). ■■ Shared porous toys or equipment should be cleaned and set aside for at least three weeks to ensure all blood-borne pathogens die. ■■ If doing needle play, ask if supplies are sterile. Ideally, watch them unwrap needles from sterile packaging. ■■ Nonporous materials (often used for insertable toys and gags) include glass, metal, ceramic, hard nylon, and plastic. They can be cleaned with disinfectant wipes or put in the dishwasher. ■■ Rubber or latex items should be cleaned with mild soap and water. ■■ Be rested, hydrated, and have a meal no more than two hours before play.

in partnership with


GrownUps issue

PERSPEC TIVE

YoU

Can’t Say That

Anymore

A LO O K INTO GAY HO O K- UP CULTURE AND WHERE WE D R AW THE LINE O N WHAT ’S HO NE ST AND WHAT ’S DISCRIMINATIO N .

DON ALDERSON

W

up just because they both happen to be heterosexual. e’ve all seen it on dating apps: “No Blacks, In the world of sex and fantasy, can this same logic be No Fems, No Fatties, and No One Over 40!” What’s more, we’ve seen countless articles applied to hook-up culture? Should we make someone and posts about it, most coming to the same conclusion feel bad because they aren’t attracted to effeminate gays that statements like these make you racist, a bigot, or Asians or twinks or older men or white guys, etc.? ageist, close-minded, or a plain old, self-hating gay. I People should sleep with folks they’re attracted to and wanted to play a little devil’s advocate and try and see vice versa. I’d feel terrible if someone slept with me just where the other side is coming from. I’m not talking to prove some kind of point to society or themselves. about the people who are clearly racist, bigoted, ageist, Isn’t the sex hotter when both people are attracted close-minded, self-hating gays; I’m talking about the to one another? We don’t make gay men feel bad for people who say they’re none of the above but still not having sex with women because of their lack of feel comfortable saying, “No Asians,” attraction, so why do we make each “Masc4Masc,” or “Black guys only,” etc. We don’t make other feel bad for not being attracted (I could go on but I’ll assume we’re on gay men feel to one another for physical reasons? As the same page.) gay men, coming out of the closet isn’t bad fOr not In this day and age, where we have having sex with just admitting we like men; we’re also things like “hook-up culture,” we wOmen because saying we’re not attracted to women. run into arguments like those above. When we vocalize our physical of their lack Clearly it’s discrimination of some kind preference, we leave the door open Of attraction, for that preference to enter. Adversely, to shun someone over physical traits so why do we when we say what we’re not attracted that differ from the ones you prefer. However, in the world of sex and make each Other to, it avoids those who don’t fit our one-night stands, is it discrimination feel bad fOr not preferences from wasting their time. Is really that bad to find out you aren’t to have a type or a preference? being attracted itsomeone’s type before having to find I know some people don’t have a to One ANOTHER out the hard (and awkward) way? type, but clearly some people do or fOr physical We have no control over what we’re we wouldn’t be having this discussion reasons? as frequently as we do. People agree attracted to, so when someone decides to vocalize what they aren’t attracted to, are they it’s okay to have a type/preference, but it’s not okay [insert accusation here], or are we too easily offended to vocalize what you’re not attracted to. Why is that? by good old-fashioned honesty? Is it best to hold your No one gets upset when someone on a hook up app/ site says, “Latinos, Furry, and Uncut Guys to the front tongue for fear of a negative reaction which will lead of the line,” or “Dominant Black Tops A +++” ... but to unwanted conversations between an interested party and an uninterested individual looking for the if you say, “no Twinks or Middle Eastern guys,” then polite way out? In gay hook-up culture, must we choose you’re a “racist asshole.” between respecting someone’s feelings or respecting Let’s ask ourselves how many times we’ve been annoyed their time? when someone we just met says, “Oh. My. God! I have If we were given the room to be open and honest a gay friend you have to meet!” It’s rather ignorant to assume we’re attracted to someone simply because about preferences without all the name-calling, we they’re gay as well. I wouldn’t set two straight friends could actually be respectful of both.

32  MARCH 02, 2016


OUTFRONTONLINE.COM 33


GrownUps issue

Living Dolls + FUrries:

Gonna Dress YoU Up

In Their LoVe BRETT CALLWOOD

H

ere’s what I know — there’s a big difference between sex toys and sexy toys.

About ten years ago, I wrote a feature for Bizarre Magazine in the UK called Living Dolls about people who like their sexual partners to dress up as dolls, big red spots on the cheeks and all. The participants, gay or straight, are known as “dollers,” and a common play-theme among them is the idea of a mad scientist bringing a doll to life. Others like to go another way, playing the evil professor who turns somebody into a doll against their will. “There’s no single reason people are attracted to dolls,” Mikhail from Holland told me at the time. “Some (a tiny minority) get excited by dolls, period. In most cases, it’s a sublimated control or B&D thing, with subs and doms. For some, it’s the dressing up; others get turned on by the immobility.”

That’s certainly, at least partially, the case with the furry community. I didn’t get far into the furry world before they had me tagged as a curious journo with no real desire to join the pack. But, before that, I had made a real effort to fit in online. Now, don’t make the mistake of thinking I went in wanting to make fun of them. I honestly didn’t. While the whole concept didn’t give me the old fizzy willy, it didn’t repulse me either. And why would it? These are peeps just having a bit of dressy-upsy fun. Nobody gets hurt, and it certainly bears no relation to bestiality, as has been suggested by nitwits.

While the whole concept didn’t give me the old fizzy willy, it didn’t repulse me either. And why woUld it? These are peeps just having a bit of dressyupsy fun.

It all sounds like good old-fashioned fun and games to me, but I’ve been wrong before so I spoke to a psychologist who said, “If somebody is attracted to an inanimate object, such as a doll, that points to the fact they are unable to form a ‘normal’ attachment, a reciprocal relationship, with someone. They need a fantasy relationship. If somebody is in a relationship, and they want their partner to act like a doll, that suggests they had an insecure attachment to their mother. They need nurturing — it’s called the attachment theory. Sex with someone who appears to be comatose definitely isn’t normal sexual behavior.” Oh, if it’s normal sexual behavior you want, anonymous doc, you’ve come to the wrong place. That said, I see your point now as I did then. Playing the old “let’s pretend you’re not really a living thing” game has very niche appeal and, as Mikhail said, the appeal for many was in the dressing up. 34  MARCH 02, 2016

That said, there’s fun to be had on the message boards, though again not at anyone’s expense. The setup was usually simple for the online stories. Here’s an example: I am a wolf and I am prowling the woods. I am a bear and I see you, wolf. My, what big ears you have. Bear, you sure are large and hairy. Allow me to nuzzle you with my wolfy nose. Go ahead, wolf. Meanwhile, I shall stroke your big old wolf feet.

Cue smart-ass entering with: I am a skunk. I see wolf and bear and want to get in on this mash-up. Mind my stank? So here’s the thing. This writer isn’t a furry, a doller, or indeed a bronie, or a plushie. And maybe the anonymous psychologist has a point about the doller “comatose” thing being unhealthy, but really — who’s getting hurt? It all comes down to consenting adults doing whatever they want and not getting judged for it. If that means dressing up as a blue raccoon and nuzzling the butt of a grey and white cat-dude, knock yourselves out.


OUTFRONTONLINE.COM 35


GrownUps issue

Sex

and Elders:

My Eyes! MY EYES! RICK KITZMAN

I

f picturing elders having sex sickens you, wait until you’re old. (You’ll be glad you can perform at all.) If it stirs your loins, you’re a gerontophiliac, excited by the mature. But whatever excites you, there’s a porn niche for you. The sex industry — porn, prostitution, paraphernalia, print — generates the largest profits in the world. The pervasive juggernaut makes billions more than Hollywood; more than the NFL, NBA, and MLB combined; more than ABC, CBS, and NBC combined; more than Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo, Apple, and Netflix combined. Imagine all this time and money spent working for world peace rather than looking at a piece. PornHub crunched gay viewing stats discovering “the highest percentage of gay porn viewers is in the South.” Bible Belt busted! A Harvard study concluded Utah had the most porn subscriptions per Internet user. Mormons unmasked!

Health risks afflict sexually active, mature men and women. According to the Center for Disease Control, people over 50 accounted for about 25 percent (288,700) of the estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV infection. In 2013’s nearly 7000 AIDS-related deaths, 37 percent were among people 55 and older, with numbers of men and women of color disproportionately higher.

many older people lack knowledge aboUt HIV prevention and transmission, believe HIV is not their issue, and/or engage mUltiple partners.

Search engine PornMD surveyed worldwide user habits. In countries where homosexuality was illegal, gay porn was more popular than straight, exposing, for example, Pakistan, Kenya, staunch Catholic Peru, Chile, Venezuela, Ukraine (recently legislating anti-LGBT censorship laws), and Iran, where, according to its former president, no homosexuals exist because being gay incurs a death sentence. Hetero, homo, or in between, a porn star’s life isn’t glamorous. They risk vaginal/anal tears, throat hemorrhages, inherent aggressive bruising, prevalent drug use, and STIs including HIV. Performers must pay for expensive, mandatory testing, and unless popular and prolific, don’t make much (in the hundreds, 36  MARCH 02, 2016

depending on a single scenario). Careers average less than a year, with women undergoing dangerous operations to prolong them — like Elizabeth Starr and her 63 surgeries to correct her banned, life-threatening breast implant pumping her rack to an O-cup. A what? I buy medium-sized tighty-whities and call it a day, but the alphabet soup of brassiere sizes rivals the periodic table. Fill one with two basketballs, that’s an O-cup … I think — I never was good at chemistry.

The shocking increases indicate many older people lack knowledge about HIV prevention and transmission, believe HIV is not their issue, and/ or engage multiple partners. Mature women, no longer worried about becoming pregnant, are less likely to use condoms, or know that age-related thinning and dryness of vaginal tissue raise their risk for any STI infection. Women over 50 comprise nearly 10 percent of AIDS cases in the US, tripling over the last decade. Because not every state reports HIV infections, the number of mature women infected is unknown. I do know education and services are desperately needed to fight the unique stigma elders experience. But also, happily, elders have the potential for more fulfilling sex. Parts of the world judge porn and gay sex as social evils. Regardless, my boyfriend and I, two gay geezers, have found our niche. I’m lucky — and grateful — to be mature.


STEVE GRAND AT TRACKS Singer-songwriter Steve Grand kicked off his Valentine’s Day with an appearance in Denver at Tracks Nightclub on February 13th. Grand, who released his self-funded video All American Boy in 2013, took to the main stage before a full house at midnight. The singer held a meet and greet with his Grand Fam in the Svedka Lounge following the set. Grand released his first album, also titled All American Boy, in March 2015, financed by a very successful Kickstarter campaign. It’s available at SteveGrand.com. Photos by Charles Broshous

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GrownUps issue

Use the

Past as a Tool,

Not a Punishment O’BRIAN GUNN

E

veryone has at least one past regret when it comes to dating. There’s that one guy or girl who vibrated on a similar wavelength as you, but circumstances simply didn’t work out and he or she was shuffled into the pages of your past instead of your present. You look back months or years later and wish you’d done things differently. Regret takes root in your heart, rents out space in your mind. You really messed up. Or did you?

The Power of Perspective I indulge in more than my fair share of nostalgia. You can call it a comforting technique or a motivation tool to get back to that place of peace. I pump my veins full of old memories and go on the nod for a while as I hurl myself back in the past in search of answers. I’m especially indulgent when it comes to matters of the heart.

it quits. To this day I still use him as my true north when determining whether a guy is treating me well. There are a few more guys I think about from time to time, but Michael and Brandon are the two situations in which I ended the relationship. What it all boils down to is that I can’t keep beating myself up over my mistakes. I read a book recently with a quote somewhere along the lines of, “You can’t use present knowledge to judge past actions.”

Bad Dates & Horrible Mates Besides past relationship regrets, I’ve also gone on a few bad first dates. There was one guy who struck me as a bit of an alcoholic and seemed to like black guys a bit too much. (To avoid confusion, know that I myself am a black man.) There was also a musician who seemed more like an old man who loved to talk about pipe organs. And let’s not get started on Self-Deprecating Dude who was quick to point out his flaws and felt every silence was an awkward one.

There was one guy who struck me as a bit of an alcoholic and seemed to like black guys a bit too much. (To avoid confusion, know that I myself am a black man.)

There was one guy I dated named Brandon. He was an intellectual, had this raw honesty about him, was a bit of a geek. When I first met him at a coffeeshop, he was reading a book and sipping tea. It made my soul sing in three-part harmony. We had fantastic chemistry, but there was just something about him that I couldn’t latch on to 100 percent. I called it quits. Looking back, I knew my hesitation was entirely superficial, and I wasn’t willing to “settle” for “good enough.” And then there was Michael, the first offense on my rap sheet of love crimes. I was about 17 and just starting to figure out the equation to my “love diagram.” He was a nice guy, but a bit too feminine for me (blame it on my youth). He cancelled a dentist’s appointment to be with me, gave me a gift for my birthday, respected me enough not to have sex on the first date. I called

While these experiences could be filed under Bad Dates, I prefer to see them as learning opportunities. It’s the same way I prefer to see what I had with Brandon and Michael as learning opportunities. I could become bitter about these “failures,” keep examining my mishaps from every conceivable angle, and tell myself I’m going to be a lifelong bachelor. But I realize it’s much more productive to view them as guideposts in my future romantic endeavors. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ve fallen into despair when you’ve simply fallen into a pattern. And patterns can always be broken. OUTFRONTONLINE.COM 39


GrownUps issue

From

Whoa to Weird:

35 Sex Facts COMPILED BY RICK KITZMAN

1902: Female vibrator patented, 10 years before iron

HoUsework: Men who help with it get 50 percent

or vacuum cleaner.

more sex than men who don’t.

AUto-sUck: 1 in 400 men flexible enough to give himself a blow job.

Inactivity reduces penis size. (Maybe why some evangelicals and priests are little pricks.)

AUtoplUshophilia: Sexual arousal by the image

Iran: Legalized prostitution punishable by execution.

of one’s self as a plush toy.

BlUe whales:

(It’s complicated.)

Largest penis in the animal kingdom averaging 8–10 feet long.

Meat Monster: Largest penis = 13.5 inches,

Boners: Humans are the only primates without

Merkin: Pubic wig worn by 15th-century prostitutes

bones in their penises.

Breadsticks: One of the first dildos made by the Greeks from hard-baked bread, biscotti forerunner, Romans stole everything.

Calories: Seven in a teaspoon of semen. Continent/CoUntries most LGBT friendly: Australia, Argentina, Canada, Israel, Philippines, most of Western Europe.

Continent/CoUntries least LGBT friendly: Africa, Hungary, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Ukraine, most of the Middle East.

Corn Flakes: Eponymous cereal, invented by Dr. Kellogg, anti-masturbation zealot who advocated pouring acid on the vagina and inserting spikes in the penis. Opt for oatmeal.

Jonah Falcon, New York. who shaved their pubic hair to combat lice or to cover disease.

MUslim nations with legal homosexuality: Albania, Indonesia, Jordan, Mali, Turkey — none colonized by European empires, just sayin’.

Oil of O’Laid: Proteins in sperm contain antiwrinkle properties. Cheaper than Estée Lauder. Orgasm:

Best time for female = during menstruation due to the increase in blood circulation.

Orgasms: Most by female = 134 within one hour, about 2 per minute.

Orgasms: Most by male = too embarrassing to mention.

Diphallia: Male condition with two functional

SexUal intercourse: 100 million acts each day. (What the hell am I doing?)

penises, doubling your/her/his/their pleasure.

Sharks produce a glandular lubricant, squalene,

Dolphins: Bottlenose masturbate by wrapping live

also found in vaginal secretions.

eels around their penis. See Corn Flakes.

Sthenolagnia: Sexual arousal by muscles and displays of strength. (So gym rats.)

Erections: During arousal, a woman’s vagina can lengthen up to 200 percent its size.

Erections: Males average = 11 daytime, nine night time. (I must be dead.)

Foreskin: Can serve as skin-grafts for burn victims. Formicophilia: Sexual arousal by being crawled

Strippers earn more money when menstruating from releasing sexually-stimulating pheromones.

Symphorophilia:

Sexual arousal from witnessing disasters like car accidents. (So that’s why everyone slows down.)

on by bugs. (Hotel-sex nightmare.)

TrUth aboUt condoms: Only 6 percent of

Greece: Nation screwing the most with 87 percent,

the male population need extra-large rubbers, myself included.

averaging once a week. (Brb, moving to Athens.)

GUolizhUang: Beijing restaurant specializing in cuisine à la penis. 40  MARCH 02, 2016

TrUth aboUt the penis: Average erect penis is about 5.5 inches. (This just in: Men lie.)


2016 CUPID’S UNDIE RUN The 2016 Cupid’s Undie Run was held in downtown Denver on February 20th. Over 1000 people took advantage of the unusually warm weather to strip to their skivvies and frolic in the afternoon sun. Participants kicked off festivities with a few libations at Club Vinyl before meandering down to Civic Center Park and back. Proceeds from the event benefit The Children’s Tumor Foundation. Photos by Charles Broshous

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Brent Heinze, Senior Columnist HEY, BRENT. THERE’S BEEN A LOT OF PRESS ABOUT PREP AND HOW IT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT ADVANCEMENT IN THE FIGHT AGAINST HIV THAT HAS HAPPENED IN MANY YEARS. I BEGAN TAKING IT ABOUT SIX MONTHS AGO, BUT HAVE DECIDED THAT I STILL WANT TO USE CONDOMS MOST OF THE TIME BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO GET SOME OTHER STD. MANY PEOPLE ARE TELLING ME THAT I DON’T NEED TO USE CONDOMS ANYMORE BECAUSE EVERYTHING OTHER THAN HIV CAN BE CURED. I FEEL THERE ARE A LOT OF NEGATIVE COMMENTS BEING MADE ABOUT PEOPLE LIKE ME WHO STILL FEEL THAT USING CONDOMS IS A GOOD PERSONAL OPTION. AM I BEING A PRUDE AND WORRYING TOO MUCH OR AM I RIGHT? Feel confident that you’re doing what’s right for you and your own sexual health. Like many others, I feel that PreExposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is the most important advancement in stopping the spread of HIV since the development of effective drug treatment for people living with HIV. In past years, medications have been created that are increasingly more effective in treating HIV with fewer side effects. Research has also shown that HIV+ people are significantly less likely to transmit HIV if they have undetectable levels of HIV in their bodies. The addition of PrEP to this fantastic arsenal of tools we have at our disposal is extremely fortunate and welcomed by many, but condoms can still play a very important role for many people. I understand the excitement about regaining pleasure from our sexual life by removing the feelings of a rubber barrier between our skin and the flesh of the person moaning in front of us. There are people who feel that reducing the fear of contracting HIV takes away the concern 44  MARCH 02, 2016

of getting another sexually transmitted infection, but unwelcomed visitors like syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, hepatitis, genital warts, and herpes can definitely put a damper on naked activities. When used correctly, condoms are still a good method of stopping the transmission of these. It’s up to the individual to determine what risk-reduction methods are right for you. The sex you have and how you have it is a personal choice, but education is extremely important regardless of your position about using PrEP, condoms, both, or neither. Be aware of the risks associated with your activities; don’t just listen to what your buddy tells you or read random articles you found on the internet. Get out there and do some research on your own or talk to qualified health professionals. More than anything else, don’t feel bullied into any actions. In a perfect world, we should all feel confident about our decisions without judgment from others, but of course everyone has their opinions. Recognize that PrEP is an amazing tool to help us stop the spread of HIV, and offers peace of mind for both the HIV-negative and those living with HIV by providing protection from transmitting the virus. This tool should help bring people together by reducing fear and stigma regarding HIV, but it has definitely caused some discord in our community. Being on PrEP doesn’t make you sexually invincible or give you the right to judge others for their sexual practices. Regardless of how you do it or the ways you choose to protect yourself, get lubed up and go for it. Hope you have fun.

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LEATHER AND LACE Leather and Lace was held at the Eagle on February 13th. A capacity crowd turned out in leather, lace, and fetish wear to help Share the Love. The event, organized with the help of Charlie Lanigan, President of Hey Buddy!, served as a fundraiser to help the OUT FRONT Legal Fund Campaign in its battle with CBS. Festivities included a raffle and auction of art, products, and other services. Many thanks from OUT FRONT to the Eagle, Hey Buddy!, and all our other supporters. Photos by Charles Broshous

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H EA LT H

talked a bit about how much fulfillment he got biking the open highway. I mentioned that I write for OUT FRONT, and that some of the articles I draft are about my own struggles with depression. I could immediately sense his irritation. He asked me how many people really suffer from depression, in my opinion, commenting on how antidepressants are overprescribed — that most people who claim to be depressed really aren’t. He mentioned we all have difficulties in our lives, and that those who are depressed should, “Just get over it.” I took a pull from my beer and replied that I wish it were that easy. I do. I really, really do. I’ve heard this line of thought before, that depression is a choice and most who claim to be depressed are hiding behind a fabricated illness so they don’t have to act. It’s a way of hiding from responsibilities. Talking over the music at the party, I tried to explain to my biker friend that depression is like swimming with weights tied to your ankles. You have to kick your legs twice as hard as everyone else around you just to stay above the surface — just to keep from drowning. Are there are days when you’re so exhausted and fatigued from kicking your legs that the thought of just letting the water pull your under is incredibly tempting? As Nietzsche put it: “The thought of suicide is a strong means of comfort; it helps get us through many an evil night.” Looking back, I wish I could have that conversation again. What I should have told him was that depression sucks away any the few moments of joy you might experience in activities that once created a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

DUELING WITH DEPRESSION: JUST GET OVER IT Mike Yost A FEW MONTHS AGO I WAS AT A HOUSE PARTY, AND I STRUCK UP  a conversation with a friend of a friend. Standing in a crowded kitchen sipping beer, we chattered on about typical topics such as hobbies and what we do for a living. He was a biker, and 46  MARCH 02, 2016

I should have told him to imagine that the sense of freedom and wonder he experiences when riding his bike becomes vacuous. Imagine what it would be like if you jumped on your bike and felt nothing, or even dread, as you rolled down the highway, that biking suddenly had the same impact as sitting on the couch starting at a blank wall. That’s what depression does, fostering a persistent disconnect from the rest of the world, from the people you care about, from the very things that once cultivated contentment. Sex becomes mundane. Writing or listening to music feels empty and pointless, even though I know it’s not. Nothing you do has any emotional impact, the entire world reduced to the narrow tasks required for survival. I should have asked my biker friend how to “just get over it,” as I’ve been trying to answer that question for decades.


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48  MARCH 02, 2016


OUTFRONTONLINE.COM 49


INTERESTING STD FACTS STUDIES SHOW MEN WHO HAVE SEX WITH  men are more likely to be infected with antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea compared to straight guys. That means those convenient, one-time injections of ceftriaxone — the preferred antibiotic for the clap — may not be useful for much longer. Quite often, people get infected with both gonorrhea and chlamydia at the same time. If you have symptoms of one or the other, we usually just treat you for both using the antibiotics ceftriaxone and azithromycin. Cases of retained rectal foreign bodies are not uncommon, especially in males. In fact, the male-to-female ratio for ER visits due to rectal foreign bodies is 28 to 1. In about 75 percent of these ER cases, the objects were inserted for “erotic purposes.” Makes you wonder what the other 25 percent were doing … Colorado ranked 31st in the nation for syphilis infection rates, right behind Kentucky and one place ahead of Virginia.

Gay and bisexual men accounted for over 80 percent of all the male syphilis cases in the United States in 2014. Public officials are afraid syphilis has reached epidemic proportions in the LGBT community.

Rimming (or analingus if you want to sound smart) has led to outbreaks of Shigella, Hepatitis A, and other diseases that are transmitted through fecal-oral contact. Since rimming is a common pastime in our community, gay and bisexual men are at increased risk of these infections. Bottoms up, fellas!

Syphilis can have some serious complications if left untreated. Ironically, it is one of the last infectious diseases that can be treated with penicillin, an almost antique antibiotic. As mom always said, “Classic never dies.” HPV does not only affect women. Compared to the general population, men who have sex with men are 44 times more likely to have anal cancer, which can be caused by HPV. Vaccines for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and HPV are actually specifically recommended for men who have sex with men. I recommend that guys talk to their doctors about getting these vaccines whenever possible. In 2014, there were over 21,000 cases of chlamydia alone in Colorado. That’s enough to fill over 40 jumbo jets at DIA with infected Coloradans.

DEE & SAM, TERRIFIC TWOSOME DAKOTA THE SWEETCHEEKS Delilah & Samantha are two adorable dogs that’d love to find a home together. These sweethearts prove that things get better with age! They are calm girls who walk well on a leash and have lived with children and dogs in the past. Come meet this duo soon! 50  MARCH 02, 2016

Described by new friends here as a sweet girl who can be shy, she would do best in a quiet home with children over the age of 10 and would love to meet any household dogs prior to adoption. She hopes to meet you soon!

Stephen Small

One in every six folks between 14 and 49 years old have genital herpes. Enough said. Without insurance, one month of HIV treatment can cost between $2000 and $5000. That’s one pretty penny. Men who have sex with men are at much higher risk of sexually transmitted infections compared to women who have sex with women (WSW). But believe it or not, WSW can still catch diseases like bacterial vaginosis, which can be transmitted via fingering or sharing sex toys.

Condoms are more complicated than you’d think. Up to one-third of guys put condoms on inside-out. There is current research into making long-acting, injectable versions of antiretroviral drugs, which could be useful for things like PrEP. Patients could come to their doctor for their checkup, get their injection, and potentially be protected for several weeks until their next appointment.

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March 2, 2016 :: The Grown Ups Issue  
March 2, 2016 :: The Grown Ups Issue