Do you think the Buggery Law should be?

The Safe House Homeless MSM Project 2009 a detailed look & more



In response to numerous requests for more information on the defunct Safe House Pilot Project that was to address the growing numbers of displaced and homeless men in Kingston in 2007/8/9, a review of the relevance of the project and the possible avoidance of present issues with some of its previous residents if it were kept open.
Recorded June 12, 2013; also see from the former Executive Director named in the podcast more background on the project: HERE

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lesbian sexuality/female sexuality: Rethinking 'lesbian bed death'

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Margaret Nichols, Ph.D.
Journal of Marital and Relationship Therapy, 2005
, In Press


Beginning in the early 1980s, sex researchers and sex therapists became interested in studying same-sex sexuality and romantic relationships. In part, this grew out of efforts to address the special needs of lesbians and gay men in psychotherapy and sexual counselling. But in addition, some sexologists were motivated by the belief that comparing the behaviour of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and heterosexuals could increase our understanding of the subtle interplay between sexuality and gender.

Health professionals with a special interest in female sexuality have focused on studying lesbians and bisexual women, suspecting that more sexual differences exist between males and females than between women of different sexual orientations (Peplau, 2003). To the extent that this is true, the behaviour of women with other women presents an opportunity to study how women function sexually when there is no male influence. This research has mostly concentrated on two issues: the frequency of sex in lesbian relationships; and the plasticity of sexual orientation among women.

The interest in lesbian sexuality: sexual frequency and 'lesbian bed death'

Blumberg and Schwartz (1983) published a highly-regarded study comparing lesbian, gay male, heterosexual married and heterosexual unmarried couples. A major finding was that lesbian couples experienced less frequent sexual activity than others. Blumberg and Schwartz's work was followed by a spate of articles from a more clinical perspective (Hall, 1984; Loulan, 1984; Nichols, 1987). These papers noted the existence of lesbian couples whose genital sexual contact had, over time, become non-existent. Lesbians began to be seen as prototypes of sensual-rather-than-sexual women. Loulan's large survey (1984) that found that 78% of her 1,500 lesbian respondents were currently celibate. Faderman (1981) documented the historical precedent for romantic non-genital female relationships, called 'romantic friendships' in the 1800s, and later, the book Boston Marriages (Rothblum & Brehony, 1993) chronicled contemporary lesbian relationships of this sort. By the beginning of the 1990s the term 'lesbian bed death' had become well known in the gay community as a source of jokes, consternation, and intense debate.

Two explanations for 'lesbian bed death' were commonly advanced (Nichols, 1988, 1990): first, inhibited sexual desire as a result of 'internalized homophobia,' i.e., the introjection of societal anti-gay values and concomitant shame and disgust; second, 'hyperfemale' behaviour as a function of the 'unmitigated female sexuality' of a lesbian couple. Peplau (2003) has summarized the large body of sex research indicating gender differences such as lower libido in women, lower rates of sexual activity in general, and less assertiveness around sexuality. Two women together were theorized to be less sexual than a heterosexual couple because of the absence of 'a male force' to drive sexual contact. Another version of this explanation was the idea of 'merging' or 'fusion' in lesbian couples (Burch, 1987). The 'urge to merge' concept posits that women are more intimacy-oriented than men, and that two women in a relationship together might result in an 'overly close' connection resembling incest thus resulting in an inhibition of sexual expression.

Hall (2001) has described and commented on this early work, most of which was published by lesbian health professionals:

Lesbians, went our refrain, hadn't escaped female conditioning. The result - a relentless focus on nurturing - would increase exponentially when two women coupled. This forfeiture of individuality... created a relational greenhouse effect which suffocated passion (p.164).

The interest in lesbian sexuality: sexual fluidity in women

Another aspect of lesbian sexuality that has been of interest to gender and sex researchers is that of sexual fluidity. By the end of the 1980s a new phenomenon had emerged in the gay and lesbian subculture: a bisexual movement led by women, often by women who had formerly identified as lesbian (Nichols, 1994; Weise, 1992). Bisexual women declared that they were not 'afraid to be gay,' not 'in transition,' and not 'confused about their sexuality.' Rather, they consistently maintained that their sexual orientation was less tied to gender than to characteristics of the person or relationship, and that there was no contradiction in moving between relationships with men, with women, or with both. Because there appeared to be no parallel in the experience of gay men, some sexologists began to speculate that women may have an inherently more fluid sexuality than men (Diamond, 2003; Peplau, 2003).

Challenges to paradigms of lesbian and female sexuality

Some observers have recently critiqued mainstream sex therapy and sexual theory as excessively pathology-oriented (Morin, 1995; Kleinplatz, 2001) phallocentric, and heterosexist (Kaschak & Tiefer, 2001). Attacks have come from some lesbian health professionals and are, in part, directed at the concept of 'lesbian bed death' described above. Hall, with irony, '...wondered if my colleagues and I, in our earnest attempts to write about lesbian bed death, were also authoring a new genre of lesbian self-doubt. In previous eras, lesbians had been sick when they were sexual. Now, compliments of lesbian affirmative therapists, they were sick when they weren't (p. 164).

Some of these criticisms focused on the definitions of healthy sexuality and the definitions of sex itself. Why, for example, did behaviour only 'count' as sexual when it included genital contact towards the goal of orgasm? Why did the definition of 'sex' not also include mutual, sensual physical contact that was directed at other aspects of a sexual encounter than those resulting in orgasm (Rothblum & Brehony, 1993)? Why was the concept-of a mutual sexual encounter not expanded to include such things as, for example, masturbating with a partner while watching pornography together? Rather than using sexual frequency as a measure of the sexual health of a relationship, some have shown that lesbians spend more time on the average sexual encounter than do heterosexuals. Using this criterion of sexual time spent together, lesbians may have lower sexual frequency but would appear 'healthier' than heterosexual couples (Iasenza, 2002).
Some lesbian feminist health professionals have questioned the very notion that sex is a necessary component of a healthy relationship. Cole (1993), in an essay titled 'Is sex a necessary function?' pointed out that 'sex therapy currently assumes that the goal is to be sexual (p.192) whereas in some situations it may be more appropriate for the therapist to simply validate a ''Boston marriage''.' Such an approach suggests that perhaps lesbian relationships may be so close and intimate in non-genital/sexual ways that sex would, in effect, be 'redundant', that is, not as necessary for connection as it might be in a less familiar relationship. From this point of view, sex therapy for such a couple might include encouraging them to question why they feel the need for genital sex and whether they might not be responding to a heterosexist 'should.' The 'fusion' and 'merging' concepts have been attacked as too pathology- oriented (Matthews et al., 2003; Pardie, 1997). One person's 'fusion' can be seen as another's intimacy, and judgments about what is 'too much' or 'not enough' closeness are fraught with personal bias.

Another view of 'lesbian bed death' is that it is a myth based on insufficient data, and that sexual frequency in lesbian couples is comparable to that of heterosexual couples (Iasenza, 2002). Matthews et al. (2003) found no differences in sexual frequency rates of heterosexual vs. lesbian women. In fact, Iasenza (1991) found lesbians as compared to heterosexual women to be more sexually arousable and more sexually assertive Moreover, she has argued that the concept of lesbians as hyper-socialized females is an inaccurate stereotype.

In the last two decades, the lesbian community itself actually seems to have experienced more sex and gender changes in both attitude and willingness to experiment - at least in urban areas (Nichols, 2000; Bolonik, 2004). While old-school lesbian feminists argued about whether pornography could ever be anything but degrading to women and considered it 'looksist' to care about a woman's physical attractiveness, 21st century lesbians view sex more apolitically. Lesbian-owned and oriented erotica magazines, toy stores, and erotic video companies abound. Lesbian clubs like Meow Mix in New York advertise 'Pussy Galore' and 'I Love Pussy' evenings and brag about the 'action' in the bathrooms. Gender-bending (including the deliberate mixing of male and female attire and physical appearance) has become erotic art in the gay women's community. 'Trannie boys' (women who take male hormones and often have double mastectomies called 'chest surgery' or 'top surgery,' but usually keep their female genitalia) have become a fixture in the lesbian community. So too have 'Bois,' that is, lesbians with completely female bodies but who dress and comport themselves like men and who often appear in public 'packing' - wearing a strap-on dildo under their pants (Levy, 2004). Transgender activists are springing up on college campuses, especially liberal women's colleges, and they are almost always bois or female to male transsexuals that have come from within the lesbian community (Bernstein, 2004). This observation is in sharp contrast to the professional literature on transvestitism and transexualism which usually cites vastly more males than females in these categories. Either the professionals have always been wrong, or lesbians are experimenting with the expression of more fluid gender identity. Lesbian/bisexual women's BDSM (an internet-generated acronym that stands for: bondage and discipline/dominance and submission/sadism and masochism) organizations and clubs exist in most major US cities, and polyamory (a lifestyle of multiple, concurrent, loving relationships that involve some degree of commitment) is beginning to thrive among lesbians (Munson & Stelbourn, 1999). Bisexual women have become better received in the lesbian community, and bisexual women themselves tend to be sexually adventurous. There is a substantial overlap between the bisexual, BDSM, and polyamory communities.

Evidence for more fluid sexuality in women
As bisexuality has become more acceptable in the lesbian community, fluidity of sexual orientation among women, especially those who are younger, has either increased or become more visible. The phenomenon has become common enough to be named on college campuses; such young women are jokingly called 'LUGS' (Lesbian Until Graduation).

The idea that women may have more changeable sexual orientations than men is not new. Kitzinger and Wilkinson (1995) have looked at women who describe themselves as lesbian after first portraying themselves as heterosexual, and noted the greater degree of fluidity of both sexual identity and sexual behaviour in women as compared to men. As they report, not only have the vast majority of lesbians had heterosexual experiences and prior heterosexual identities, but large numbers of lesbians--perhaps as high as 46%--maintain occasional sexual encounters with men even after 'coming out' as gay. Indeed, the very first survey of the behaviour of self-identified lesbians, done in 1959 by the Daughters of Bilitis (a lesbian homophile group), showed that 98% of their members had experienced heterosexual encounters in the past. Undoubtedly some of them did so in order to try to be straight or to 'pass' as heterosexual (Conrad, 2001).

What is novel is a back and forth movement between lesbian, bisexual, and heterosexual identities in multiple directions. Diamond (2003) studied college age women who described themselves as lesbian or bisexual over a five year period and found that one quarter moved away from those identities, with half referring to themselves as heterosexual and half refusing all labels. Interestingly, none of her sample described their lesbian/bisexual experiences as 'a phase;' all were open to the idea that their orientation might change again in the future. Contrary to our cultural model of sexual identity, these women were viewing this facet of their sexuality as an indicator of their current lifestyle rather than an essential biological component of their being.

Physiologically-based research has supported these epidemiological observations. Chivers et al. (2003) showed gender differences when looking at the sexual arousal patterns of gay men, heterosexual men, heterosexual women, and lesbians. Men were found to be specific in their arousal, that is, gay men were aroused by gay erotica and straight men by heterosexual videos. In contrast, women showed equal arousal to both lesbian and heterosexual erotica regardless of their sexual orientation.
Evidence from a variety of sources has led some health professionals (Peplau, 2000, 2001; Diamond, 2003) to theorize that sexual orientation has different meanings for men and women, and that for women, romantic love and sexual desire are both more distinct from each other and at the same time less linked to the gender of the partner. In other words, women are more bisexual but also can fall in love with people to whom they are not strongly sexually attracted.

Preliminary results of the institute for personal growth (IPG) female sexuality survey

IPG is a New Jersey-based private practice agency specializing in work with sexual minorities. In an effort to obtain data not based on a clinical sample, IPG recently began to collect both 'live' and internet-related anonymous survey information from lesbian, bisexual, and heterosexual women about their sexual feelings, problems, and behaviour. The first group of surveys compared 104 self-identified lesbians and 89 heterosexual women.

Sexual attractions and behaviour survey data accumulated by IPG support the idea that women's sexual attractions are frequently bisexual. Fifty-two percent of heterosexual women who were surveyed reported attractions to women, and 18% also described same-sex sexual encounters. Seventy-five per cent of self-identified lesbians reported attractions to men, and 80% had opposite-sex sexual experiences. (The fact that the incidence of sexual behaviour exceeded sexual attraction suggests that some lesbians had sexual encounters with men in order to bow to social pressure and 'pass' as heterosexual.)
The concept of 'lesbian bed death,' is not supported by IPG survey data on sexual frequency (although same-sex female couples do have slightly lower sexual frequency than mixed gender couples). Sexual frequency data were analysed in two ways : all respondents were asked about their sexual frequency in the last year, and the same was asked for those currently in sexual relationships. Data were grouped by the gender of the current partner rather than labelled self-identification. The total sample included about three-quarters of respondents in relationships and one-quarter who were single.

There were no differences in sexual frequency between lesbians and heterosexual women (although single women in general did have slightly fewer sexual encounters than those in relationships). Among those currently in relationships (and controlling for the duration of the connection), there was a small but significant difference (p 5 0.05) in sexual frequency between women in relationships with other women (WWs) compared to those in relationships with men (WMs). WWs were slightly less sexually active than WMs, although both groups had sexual experiences on average about once-per-week--hardly sexually abstinent! It is worth noting that while it may be accurate that lesbian couples have slightly fewer sexual experiences than those who are heterosexual, only 17% of WWs and 12% of WMs in our sample report sexual frequency of once a month or less.

Other IPG data suggest sexual robustness on the part of lesbians and/or women in current relationships with women. Lesbians reported significantly fewer sexual problems than heterosexual women (p 5 0.02), including fewer orgasm problems (p 5 0.03), less trouble lubricating (p 5 0.003), less pain with vaginal entry (p 5 0.005) and, interestingly, less sexual guilt (p 5 0.03) despite the stigma attached to lesbianism.

Looking more closely at women in current relationships, and again controlling for relationship duration, 90% of the WWs reported that they 'usually orgasm', as compared to 73% of the WMs (p 5 0.005). WWs also spent more time on a typical sexual encounter (30 ­ 60 minutes compared to more than 10 ­ 30 minutes for WMs (p 4 0.000).In addition, WWs incorporated more non-penis oriented sexual activities into a typical encounter than did WMs (p 5 0.000). Women with other women kissed more (p 5 0.000), experienced more non-genital touching (p 5 0.007), more digital/ vaginal entry (0.001) and used sex toys to a greater extent(p 5 0.000). When considering women who usually orgasm vs. those who do not, regardless of gender of partner, experiencing regular orgasms was significantly associated with the duration of sexual encounters and the number of non-penis oriented activities. Not surprisingly, it was also significantly linked to being satisfied with the sexual, emotional, and affectionate aspects of the relationship.

Discussion and conjectures
What does more recent data on lesbian sexuality mean, and what are the implications both of this data and emerging trends in the lesbian community for female sexuality in general? How does the newer information relate to earlier theories, especially ideas about 'fusion' and 'lesbian bed death?'

Certainly the data reviewed and presented here argue for viewing female sexual orientation differently than male sexual orientation--more fluid, more changeable over the life cycle, probably less tied to gender, and therefore, more de facto bisexual. But it also suggests that even a uni-dimensional continuum of sexual orientation, such as the widely used Kinsey Scale, is not complex enough to explain female orientation. If women change sexual self-identification as Diamond's work suggests, and while at the same time neither negating the way they saw themselves earlier nor ruling out future identity change, then we must re-think the essentialist position suggested by the very word 'identity.' Diamond's model proposes that orientation in women is an interaction between sexual desire and romantic love which she conceptualizes as independent of each other but bisexual. Women tend to define their sexual identity based on the gender of their current romantic partner, regardless of their lifetime sexual experience.

In addition, the burgeoning gender experimentation in the lesbian community forces a reconsideration of the interaction between gender and orientation. A well-known and brilliant activist and author in the 'queer' community has gone from being a self-identified butch S/M lesbian, to a butch who defined herself by her 'kinky' identity more than by her sexual orientation, to an FTM (female to male transsexual, with or without surgeries) coupled with another former lesbian who is now FTM in what is technically a gay male relationship. Examples like this expose our current models of sexual identity/orientation as simplistic, as merely crude beginning sketches of what we will one day see as a complexly nuanced and ever-evolving interplay of social, personal, and biological forces.The new discourse on frequency and passion in lesbians and lesbian relationships is intriguing from a number of different points of view. Earlier clinical and research portrayals of lesbians emphasized a kind of passionless, cuddly and warm but not very hot sexuality. Despite the fact that even IPG data throws question on how often 'lesbian bed death' actually occurs, it is still unquestionably true that those in clinical practice in the lesbian community have seen many lesbian couples who are not sexually active. But what does this mean? The author used to cynically joke that 'lesbians have sex about as often as straight women would if they thought they could get away with it.' The reality under this quip is the assumption that sexual frequency is a measure of quality.

Future research may indeed show that sexless relationships are more common among women and what that means, or that no frequency differences exist, or that lesbians have slightly fewer sexual experiences than heterosexual women. The past focus on lesbian bed death has seemingly distorted the bigger picture of sex between women. Lesbian sexual activity may exemplify sex that is more tailored to women's sexual needs--longer in duration, including non-genital as well as genitally-focused acts, more varied sexual acts, and more reliably resulting in orgasm. If this is true then one might reconceptualize the female sexual response as slower out of the gate, so to speak, requiring more time, variety, and imagination--but ultimately full of passion.

What about the ubiquitous reports of 'lesbian bed death,'? Why did this phenomenon (at least 20 years ago) appear to be one of the most prominent aspects of lesbian sexuality? Several explanations are possible. First, it may be that younger lesbians are freer of sexual inhibitions and less restrained by shame about their sexuality. In other words, lesbian bed death may be an historically dated phenomenon. To the extent that female couples are examples of 'hyper-female' socialization--maybe women in general are feeling unimpeded in their sexual behaviour. Second, it is possible that asexual relationships are, indeed, particularly frequent in the lesbian community but not necessarily typical of the overall picture. Perhaps future epidemiological research will discover a subgroup of sexless lesbian relationships that is larger than the number of sexless heterosexual relationships. Finally, it may be that in the past, clinicians saw more patients/clients who described an asexual lesbian relationship than other kinds of asexual relationships simply because lesbians are such huge utilizers of psychotherapy (Ryan & Bradford, 1993).

What other things might be learned from lesbian/queer women? Some of the questions future IPG surveys hope to look at include women who refer to themselves as bisexual, self-labelling on a 'butch/femme' continuum, looking at possible differences among women with somewhat different gender identifications, consider- ing 'leatherwomen' sexuality, investigating transgendered women at all points on the gender continuum, examining the sexual repertoires of lesbians, bisexual, and heterosexual women (which might show us something about women's personal sexual behaviour preferences) and acquiring information about sexual vs. romantic partners and about attraction and behaviour in order to shed more light on the elements that constitute women's sexual identities. In short, 'queer' women's sexuality has the potential to richly inform our general understanding of female sexuality.

Acknowledgment:

The IPG research described in this report was done in collaboration with Susan Menahem, Deborah Williamson, and Cheryl Langfeld.

MARGARET NICHOLS, PH.D
Institute for Personal Growth, 8 South Third Avenue, Highland Park, New Jersey 08904, USA


References

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BLUMSTEIN, P. & SCHWARTZ, P. (1983). American couples: money, work, and sex. New York: Morrow.

BOLONIK, K. (2004). Girls gone wild. New York Magazine, 1/12/2004, p. 18 ­ 23.

BURCH, B. (1982). Psychological merger in lesbian couples: a joint ego psychological and systems approach. Family Therapy, 9, 201 ­ 208.

CHIVERS, M., RIEGER, G., LATTY, E. & BAILEY, J. (2003). A sex difference in the specificity of sexual arousal. In press, Psychological Science.

COLE, E. (1993). Is sex a natural function: implications for sex therapy. In E. Rothblum & K. Brehony, (Eds), Boston marriages: romantic but asexual relationships among contemporary lesbians (pp.188 ­ 193). Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

CONRAD, F. (2001). The Ladder 1959: DOB questionnaire reveals some facts about lesbians. Journal of lesbian studies, 5(4), 1 ­ 24.

DIAMOND, L. (2003a). What does sexual orientation orient? A biobehavioral model distinguishing romantic love and sexual desire. Psychological review, 110(1), 173 ­ 192.

DIAMOND, L. (2003b). Was it a phase? Young women's relinquishment of lesbian/bisexual identities over a 5-year period. Psychological review, 84(2), 352 ­ 364.

FADERMAN, L. (1981). Surpassing the love of men: romantic friendship and love between women from the Renaissance to the present. New York: Morrow.

HALL, M. (2001). Not tonight, dear, I'm deconstructing a headache--confessions of a lesbian sex therapist. In E. Kaschak & L. Tiefer, (Eds), A new view of women's sexual problems (pp. 161 ­ 172). New York: Haworth Press.

HALL, M. (1984). Lesbians, limerance, and long-term relationships. In J. Loulan, (Ed.), Lesbian Sex, pp. 141 ­ 150. San Francisco: Spinsters Ink.

IASENZA, S. (2002). Beyond 'lesbian bed death': the passion and play in lesbian relationships. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 6(1), 111 ­ 120.

IASENZA, S. (1991) The relations among selected aspects of sexual orientation and sexual functioning in females. Dissertation Abstracts International. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International (No. 9134752).

KASCHAK, E. & TIEFER, L. (2001). A new view of women's sexual problems. New York: Haworth Press.

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KLEINPLATZ, P. (2001). New directions in sex therapy: innovations and alternatives. Philadelphia: Brunner Routledge.

LEVY, A. (2004). Where the bois are. New York Magazine, 1/12/2004, 23 ­ 27.

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MATTHEWS, A., TARTARO, J. & HUGHES, T. (2003). A comparative study of lesbian and heterosexual women in committed relationships. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 7(1), 101 ­ 114.

MORIN, J. (1995). The erotic mind. New York: Harper Collins.

NICHOLS, M. (2002). Sex therapy with sexual minorities. In S. Leiblum & R. Rosen, (Eds), Principles and practices of sex therapy, 3rd edn. (pp. 335 ­ 367) New York: Guilford Press.

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NICHOLS, M. (1994). Therapy with bisexual women: working on the edge of emerging cultural and personal identities. In M. Mirkin, (Ed), Women in context: toward a feminist reconstruction of psychotherapy (pp. 149 ­ 169) New York: Guilford Press.

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Monday, November 1, 2010

I am Visible Bisexual campaigns begins .....

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About ‘I am Visible’

'I am Visible' Logo

The ‘I am Visible’ campaign is about making a difference in the lives of the bisexual community.

Though, we feel we are part of the gay, lesbian, transgender, and straight communities, we also know that there has been a high level of intolerance of late—particularly in our gay and lesbian communities in print, Web, entertainment, politics, and social media. We have become invisible regarding all forms of media, (straight or gay).

We have been invisible in entertainment regarding key bisexuals coming out or celebrities and politicians, that have opted to come out, and the response within the community on a whole—non belief, biases regarding bisexuals which are seen to be lying and will soon move over to being gay or lesbian, or they are just seeking attention using the “B” card.

BIPHOBIA

The ‘I am Visible’ campaign is for anyone who have been misrepresented, miscounted and ignored, when there have been clear signs of being bisexual or pansexual have been shown.

The ‘I am Visible’ campaign is for many that has been bullied, called out for not being real, or hated against for speaking on bisexual rights regarding key issues on equality—causes such as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” marriage rights, bullying for being bisexual and all causes that our allies in all communities seek justice for.

These in fact are the causes that bisexuals feel strongly in representing and yet are called out as not being apart of the cause, because of opposite-sex bisexuals who are dating or marriage.

BI-ERASURE

The ‘I am Visible’ is for bisexuals to be able or to be allowed to speak out in national campaigns where gay and lesbians are offered asked to attend as guest speakers and yet there in no representation of any important leader of the bisexual and pansexual communities; and not be called into question should they be there—or not even approached to be present because of bias and misunderstanding of who bisexuals really are.

The ‘I am Visible’ campaign is for all who have become invisible because of bisexual misunderstanding or not wanting to understand or just blatant denial that bisexuals even exist. Or if we should be apart of the gay and lesbian community.

The ‘I am Visible’ campaign is for all those regardless of age, race, group, sexuality, same-sex or opposite sex individuals who feel bisexuals have a place to debate, share their lives, participate, be seen in all things of straight and gay media, entertainment, (movies, books, television, radio, internet), politics, social lives and the every day—this movement for you. Join us!

Transgender man playing NCAA women's basketball

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Kye Allums, the NCAA’s first Div. 1 publicly transgender basketball player, is starting conversations never before held in the sport.

By Cyd Zeigler

Not many people noticed a slight change on the George Washington University website earlier this year. It concerned a player on the school’s women’s basketball team named Kay-Kay Allums. Just a couple letters were taken away, a Y was moved and an E was added to form the player’s new name: Kye Allums. To most people it was meaningless, but to Allums the change was the most significant of his lifetime.

“A name is just a bunch of letters, but the letters make up a word and the words that make up my name have so many more emotions behind them,” Allums said. "My old name, that’s just not me. When I hear Kye, everything feels okay, everything is right.”

For the last 20 years, Kay-Kay Allums had appeared to the world as female. She was born with the anatomy that other women have. Her mom tried to dress her in only the most feminine clothes. But inside was a man waiting to burst out of the female body he was born in.

On Nov. 13, Kye Allums will introduce himself to the NCAA basketball world at the Best Buy Classic in Minneapolis in a game against the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. When he steps foot on the court, Allums will be the first publicly transgender person to play NCAA Div. 1 college basketball.
Allums grew up in the small town of Hugo, Minn., a half hour north of Minneapolis. Head coach Mike Bozeman scheduled the tournament appearance as a homecoming for him, long before he transitioned to male. The junior guard’s inaugural game identifying as a man will also be the first time he has played in front of his hometown crowd. While Allums is making a change now, most of his family and friends will recognize him as the same old Kye.

Growing up, Allums was a tomboy. The oldest of four kids, he would often say he was a boy despite being born a biological girl. Around age 12, he realized that no other girls behaved or dressed the way he did, so he adopted some of the trappings of other girls his age: Putting on make-up, wearing skirts and dresses. After just a year of putting up a feminine front, it was back to the tomboy clothes and wondering why he just didn’t fit in.

“I’ve always felt most comfortable dressing like a boy, but my mom would take all of my clothes from me and she’d force me to wear girl clothes,” Allums said. “I’d bring sweats and basketball shorts and put them in my backpack. I’d just change every day when I got to school, and I had to change back before I went home. It was annoying, but it was the only way I could go to school.”

In high school, Allums met other people who acted and dressed like him: They were lesbians. For the next few years Allums identified as lesbian, finally fitting into a group that he could define. As he progressed deep into his teens, despite their similar dress and manner, he realized he just didn’t fit with the lesbians at his school either.

It was a text message from his mother during his freshman year at George Washington that flipped the switch. They were in
a fierce texting battle when his mother wrote, “Who do you think you are, young lady?” The answer was suddenly crystal clear to h
im: He wasn’t a young lady at all.

“I used to feel like trans anything was really weird and those people were crazy, and I wondered, ‘How can you feel like that?’” Allums said. “But I looked it up on the Internet and I thought, ‘Oh my god, I’m one of those weird people.’ And I realized they’re not weird. It’s all in your mindset and how you think.”

Early in his sophomore year, Kye began to emerge. When people referred to Allums as “she” or “girl,” he was quick to correct them. He distanced himself from the name Kay-Kay.

“When people refer to me as ‘girl’ or ‘she,’ it doesn’t sit well with me,” Allums said. “That feeling you get when someone pisses you off, that feeling you get when your stomach gets hot and it aches, that’s what it feels like. And that’s how I know I’m not supposed to be a girl. If I was, I’d be walking around like everybody else, getting make-up and doing my nails. But it doesn’t sit well with me.”

It was during his sophomore year that Allums told some teammates he was a man inside a woman’s body. At first, they didn’t believe him. They joked with him about it. But Allums was serious, and when he is on a mission everyone takes notice.

“We were all just talking, a bunch of teammates, and he said that he’s a guy,” said teammate Brooke Wilson, one of Allums’ closest friends on the team. “At first I didn’t understand, and then he explained that sex is how you’re born and gender is how you identify yourself. Then I started to understand.”

Allums began to correct everyone who referred to him with female pronouns; everyone, that is, except his head coach. The person Allums feared telling the most was Bozeman. Comments from the coach about religion had made Allums feel a little uneasy. He didn’t think his head coach would ever be able to wrap his head around the idea that he was coaching a man on a women’s team. Eventually, the internal pressure to be himself became too great for even Allums’ stubborn strength to repress.
“I was gonna have to hide a piece of me that was really important,” Allums said. “All my teammates knew. I don’t like keeping things from coach; I’m a very open person. It got to the point where I decided I wasn’t going to go through a whole season with my coach not really knowing me, even though I knew it would probably make him feel uncomfortable.”

The moment of truth came one day in June when Bozeman tracked down Allums in his dorm room to talk about another issue. When Allums eventually turned the topic to his transition, it became a difficult conversation. Allums explained, as best he could, that he was a man and had always been a man. When Bozeman asked Allums if God made a mistake, he didn’t know how to respond. It wasn’t going well. But at some point in the conversation, the tone changed.

“Why would you think I wouldn’t have your back?” Allums remembered Bozeman asking. “I’ve had your back through everything. Our relationship has grown from nothing to this, and now you think I’d just turn my back on you because you told me this? No. I love you and I’ll always be here for you.”

A request made through the university to speak to Bozeman was denied. Instead, Bozeman released this statement: “The George Washington University women’s basketball program, including myself, support Kye’s right to make this decision.”

Allums realizes now he should have known better than to assume the worst from his coach.

“Everybody’s pretty much accepting of everyone on the team. Everybody is different,” said Wilson. “We’re teammates, we’re like family. It’s a bunch of brothers and sisters. Everybody brings their life and issues to the family.”
In this basketball family, Allums has become the eccentric big brother. He’s the only player whose major, Interior Design, is artistic in nature. And when teammates get new boyfriends, they have to run them by Allums for approval. Having grown up taking care of his younger siblings, it’s a role that comes naturally.

“If you mess with one of my teammates,” Allums said, “you’re going to have to deal with me.”

Approaching his first women’s basketball season as a man has its potential dilemmas. At the top of the list is the use of locker rooms. While women’s teams have traditionally used the women’s locker room, Washington, D.C., law ensures individuals “the right to use gender-specific restrooms and other gender-specific facilities such as dressing rooms… that are consistent with their gender identity or expression.”

Candace Smith, spokesperson for George Washington University, said, "The university will work with Kye and Kye’s teammates on these issues."

Some opposing fans will be licking their chops to hurl other names at Allums. He has already heard taunts from fans for years: With a masculine build, opposing fans regularly try to insult him, calling him a “man.” What those fans don’t know is that Allums relishes it.

“I love it,” Allums said. “I say, ‘Yeah, you’re right.’ It makes me feel better about myself to hear them call me a man.”

As Allums’ teammate, Wilson doesn’t expect to hear anything the team hasn’t already had to handle.

“They say things about me, they say things about coach, they say things about everybody,” Wilson said. “We’ve been through it all.”

Allums, who started 20 of his team’s 28 games last year, said it’s rare that he hears smack talk from opposing players. According to NCAA spokesperson Jennifer Royer, players are expected to adhere to the NCAA’s code of conduct on the court, and transphobic language falls under that code.

“In addition to educational sessions at the NCAA Convention, Gender Equity and Issues Forum, and other conferences and seminars, [the NCAA] Constitution addresses the principle of sportsmanship and ethical conduct, which outlines the NCAA’s expectation that student-athletes and others associated with athletics programs will adhere to values such as respect and civility,” Royer said.

At some point, questions will come as to whether Allums should be allowed to play on the women’s team. Losing his scholarship was a real concern for Allums just six months ago as the task of fully expressing himself while still playing basketball seemed overwhelming. As he’s educated himself, that fear has dissipated.

In October, the National Center for Lesbian Rights released a report called, “On The Team: Equal Opportunity for Transgender Student Athletes,” in conjunction with It Takes A Team. The report was developed with the help of many subject-matter experts, including the NCAA. One recommendation of the report is for schools to adopt polices that “focus on maximizing inclusiveness, rather than restricting students’ opportunities to participate based on their gender identity or expression.”

According to Royer, as long as Allums does not accept hormone treatments, he is eligible to participate in NCAA women’s sports.

“As the NCAA continues to examine best practices for transgender student-athlete participation,” Royer said, “the member schools are advised to consider the gender classification of student-athletes’ state identification documents, such as driver’s licenses and voter registration, to determine appropriate participation.”

Allums is further protected by Washington, D.C., law, which prohibits discrimination based on gender identity.

The issue remains a complicated one for many to grasp. One coach who asked to remain anonymous said he might have a problem if a team in his conference had a player who identified themselves as a man. The reasoning: Because Allums identifies as a man, everyone should treat him as such and he should be playing men’s sports. Still, Allums’ education is on the line, and he has a scholarship to play on the women’s basketball team. No such scholarship has been extended for him to play on the men’s team.

“There’s not just a one-sentence answer,” said former NCAA basketball head coach Helen Carroll, who co-authored NCLR’s trans-athlete report. “It’s much more complicated than him being a man so he should play men’s sports. Kye as an athlete should have an opportunity to play sports. Period. What that looks like gets complicated because Kye is a transgender athlete.”

Allums has been aware of NCAA regulations for years, and he’s made plans around them. Circled on his calendar is the last possible date he could play in an NCAA game, in April 2012: That’s the date he can begin hormone treatment. Between now and then, he does plan to have sex-reassignment surgery next summer before he plays out his senior season.

“The only thing I can’t do is take testosterone,” Allums said. “And I don’t need that anyway. I probably naturally have more than some of the guys on the guys’ team. If I get surgery, it doesn’t affect my play, it doesn’t enhance anything, I’m just taking something off my body, like if I lost a finger.”

Through all of this, Allums continues to struggle with the “trans” identity. He doesn’t understand why he has to be labeled by some people as “transgender” or “transsexual.” He sees nothing wrong with the label, and his days of viewing trans people as “weird” are long behind him. But at this point in his life, he sees himself as a guy, not “female-to-male.”

Allums does have a regret on his journey. It came when his head coach asked him if he thought God had made a mistake. He’s given that question a lot of thought, and he wishes he could have given a better answer.

“God didn’t make a mistake,” Allums said. “I was meant to be like this for a reason. Clearly my life is going to be different from anyone who was born a biological male, because of what I’ve been through. And I was meant to go through all of this.”

Longer Hep C Treatment Improves Response in People Coinfected With HIV

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People coinfected with both HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) who fail to respond rapidly to HCV treatment are more likely to achieve a cure for their HCV if they extend their treatment by at least six months. These data were presented at the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases being held October 29 to November 2 in Boston.
Treatment for hepatitis C has both benefits and disadvantages. When it works well—called a sustained virological response (SVR) and defined as achieving and maintaining undetectable HCV levels for at least six months after completing a course of treatment—it cures people of their infection. The treatments can be quite toxic, however, and they must be taken for at least six months. Moreover, they frequently fail to work for people infected with genotypes 1 and 4, especially in people infected with both HIV and HCV.

The current recommended course of HCV treatment in coinfected individuals, which consists of pegylated interferon combined with ribavirin, is 48 weeks. Generally, about 40 to 50 percent of people with genotypes 2 or 3, and about 25 to 30 percent of people with genotypes 1 and 4, achieve an SVR. Recent research has found that people who have a rapid virological response (RVR), which is an undetectable HCV level four weeks after starting treatment, are far more likely to have an SVR after completing treatment.

To determine the likelihood of achieving an SVR, based on a person’s rapid response, and to determine whether adding an additional three or more months of HCV treatment would help boost treatment responses in people who failed to control their HCV well in the first few weeks of therapy, Pablo Barreiro and his colleagues enrolled 185 HIV and HCV coinfected people into the EXTENT study. Six possible courses of treatment were available to participants, depending on their genotype, their RVR and their virological response at 12 weeks.

In people who achieved an RVR, those with genotypes 2 or 3 continued HCV treatment for a total of six months, while those with genotypes 1 or 4 continued treatment for one year.

People who failed to achieve an RVR, and who had less than a 2 log drop in HCV levels by week 12, stopped treatment regardless of their HCV genotype.

People who failed to achieve an RVR, but who did see a 2 log or greater drop at week 12 continued on until the six month point, when their HCV levels were tested again. Those who still had measurable HCV levels stopped treatment. Those who had undetectable HCV levels either remained on therapy for a total of 48 weeks (genotypes 2 or 3) or 72 weeks (genotypes 1 or 4).

The EXTENT study had several notable findings. First, a rapid virological response significantly predicted the likelihood of curing a person’s hepatitis. In those with genotypes 2 or 3, a full 66 percent achieved an SVR after just six months of treatment, and 65 percent of those with genotypes 1 or 4 achieved an SVR after 12 months of treatment. In the genotype 1 or 4 group, this represents a nearly 250 percent increase in efficacy over standard cure rates for such individuals.

Second, an additional length of treatment helped improve cure rates in people who initially failed to achieve an RVR. Seventy-seven percent of those with genotypes 2 or 3 achieved an SVR with the longer 48-week duration of treatment, while 62 percent of those with genotypes 1 or 4 achieved an SVR after 72 weeks of treatment.

In contrast, the standard treatment duration worked miserably in people who initially failed to control virus at four weeks. Just 17 percent of those with genotypes 2 or 3 achieved an SVR after six months of treatment, and only 9 percent of those with genotypes 1 or 4 had an SVR after the standard 12 months of therapy.

These data offer hope and guidance to people coinfected with HIV and HCV who cannot wait for newer HCV therapies to become available and who must decide whether to start HCV treatment and how long to take it.

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Urgent Need to discuss sex & sexuality II

Following a cowardly decision by the Minister(try) of Education to withdraw an all important Health Family Life, HFLE Manual on sex and sexuality I examine the possible reasons why we have the homo-negative challenges on the backdrop of a missing multi-generational understanding of sexuality and the focus on sexual reproductive activity in the curriculum.

Newstalk 93FM's Issues On Fire: Polygamy Should Be Legalized In Jamaica 08.04.14



debate by hosts and UWI students on the weekly program Issues on Fire on legalizing polygamy with Jamaica's multiple partner cultural norms this debate is timely.

Also with recent public discourse on polyamorous relationships, threesomes (FAME FM Uncensored) and on social.

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Are you ready to fight for gay rights and freedoms?? (multiple answers are allowed)

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What do you think is the most important area of HIV treatment research today?

Do you think Lesbians could use their tolerance advantage to help push for gay rights in Jamaica??

Violence and venom force gay Jamaicans to hide

Violence and venom force gay Jamaicans to hide a 2009 Word focus report where the history of the major explosion of homeless MSM occurred and references to the party DVD that was leaked to the bootleg market which exposed many unsuspecting patrons to the public (3:59), also the caustic remarks made by former member of Parliament in the then JLP administration. The agencies at the time were also highlighted and the homo negative and homophobic violence met by ordinary Jamaican same gender loving men. The late founder of the CVC, former ED of JASL and JFLAG Dr. Robert Carr was also interviewed. At 4:42 that MSM was still homeless to 2012 but has managed to eek out a living but being ever so cautious as his face is recognizable from the exposed party DVD, he has been slowly making his way to recovery despite the very slow pace

Thanks for your Donations

Hello readers,

thank you for your donations via Paypal in helping to keep this blog going, my limited frontline community work, temporary shelter assistance at my home and related costs. Please continue to support me and my allies in this venture that has now become a full time activity. When I first started blogging in late 2007 it was just as a pass time to highlight GLBTQ issues in Jamaica under then JFLAG's blogspot page but now clearly there is a need for more forumatic activity which I want to continue to play my part while raising more real life issues pertinent to us.

Donations presently are accepted via Paypal where buttons are placed at points on this blog(immediately below, GLBTQJA (Blogspot), GLBTQJA (Wordpress) and the Gay Jamaica Watch's blog as well. If you wish to send donations otherwise please contact: glbtqjamaica@live.com




Activities & Plans: ongoing and future

  • To continue this venture towards website development with an E-zine focus

  • Work with other Non Governmental organizations old and new towards similar focus and objectives

  • To find common ground on issues affecting GLBTQ and straight friendly persons in Jamaica towards tolerance and harmony

  • Exposing homophobic activities and suggesting corrective solutions

  • To formalise GLBTQ Jamaica's activities in the long term

  • Continuing discussion on issues affecting GLBTQ people in Jamaica and elsewhere

  • Welcoming, examining and implemeting suggestions and ideas from you the viewing public

  • Present issues on HIV/AIDS related matters in a timely and accurate manner

  • Assist where possible victims of homophobic violence and abuse financially, temporary shelter(my home) and otherwise

  • Track human rights issues in general with a view to support for ALL

Thanks again
Mr. H

Tel: 1-876-8134942
lgbtevent@gmail.com








Peace

Information & Disclaimer

lgbtevent@gmail.com

Individuals who are mentioned or whose photographs appear on this site are not necessarily Homosexual, HIV positive or have AIDS.

This blog contains pictures that may be disturbing. We have taken the liberty to present these images as evidence of the numerous accounts of homophobic violence meted out to alledged gays in Jamaica.

Faces and names witheld for the victims' protection.

This blog not only watches and covers LGBTQ issues in Jamaica and elsewhere but also general human rights and current affairs where applicable.

This blog contains HIV prevention messages that may not be appropriate for all audiences.

If you are not seeking such information or may be offended by such materials, please view labels, post list or exit.

Since HIV infection is spread primarily through sexual practices or by sharing needles, prevention messages and programs may address these topics.

This blog is not designed to provide medical care, if you are ill, please seek medical advice from a licensed practioner

Thanks so much for your kind donations and thoughts.

As for some posts, they contain enclosure links to articles, blogs and or sites for your perusal, use the snapshot feature to preview by pointing the cursor at the item(s) of interest. Such item(s) have a small white dialogue box icon appearing to their top right hand side.


Recent Homophobic Incidents
CLICK HERE for related posts/labels and HERE from the gayjamaicawatch's BLOG containing information I am aware of. If you know of any such reports or incidents please contact lgbtevent@gmail.com

Peace to you and be safe out there.

Love.

What to do if you are attacked (News You Can Use)

First, be calm: Do not panic; it may be very difficult to maintain composure if attacked but this is important.

Try to reason with the attacker: Establish communication with the person. This takes a lot of courage. However, a conversation may change the intention of an attacker.

Do not try anything foolish: If you know outmanoeuvring the attacker is impossible, do not try it.

Do not appear to be afraid: Look the attacker in the eye and demonstrate that you are not fearful.

This may have a psychological effect on the individual.

Emergency numbers
The police 119

Kingfish 811

Crime Stop 311


Steps to Take When Contronted or Arrested by Police

a) Ask to see a lawyer or Duty Council

b) Only give name and address and no other information until a lawyer is present to assist

c) Try to be polite even if the scenario is tensed) Don’t do anything to aggravate the situation

e) Every complaint lodged at a police station should be filed and a receipt produced, this is not a legal requirement but an administrative one for the police to track reports

f) Never sign to a statement other than the one produced by you in the presence of the officer(s)

g) Try to capture a recording of the exchange or incident or call someone so they can hear what occurs, place on speed dial important numbers or text someone as soon as possible

h) File a civil suit if you feel your rights have been violatedi) When making a statement to the police have all or most of the facts and details together for e.g. "a car" vs. "the car" represents two different descriptions

j) Avoid having the police writing the statement on your behalf except incases of injuries, make sure what you want to say is recorded carefully, ask for a copy if it means that you have to return for it

Sexual Health / STDs News From Medical News Today

This Day in History