Tag: LGBT

Lesbian Fisting: Intensity and Intimacy

When a group of women friends get together over a meal, the conversation often turns to matters of sex. When those friends represent various numbers on the Kinsey scale (zero being entirely heterosexual and six referring to completely homosexual), those conversations take on a depth and complexity—and sometimes hilarity—not found in textbooks on female sexuality.

I was fortunate to be privy to one such exchange not long ago. We weren’t far into our discussion before I realized I was immersed in valuable information for my readers. I began to take mental notes.

When the topic of vaginal fisting arose, the lesbians at the table nodded knowingly while most of the straight women scratched their heads. We women, all with the same physiological anatomy, realized some fundamental differences in how we experience lovemaking. I found it all fascinating, as did they.

The heterosexual women wondered why the lesbian women were interested in fisting. They spent their energy trying to get their partners to focus on their clitoris and to pay perhaps less attention to their vagina. It seemed to them that sex was forever concentrated on something being put inside them and, though they enjoyed that aspect of their sexuality, more penetration felt, well, redundant.

They threw the question back to the lesbians.

The lesbians’ experience of lovemaking was quite different. The clitoris is queen between women, who understand and appreciate that the sole purpose of that glorious organ is to produce pleasure. Much time is spent tending to the clitoris. By the time penetration comes onstage, arousal is high and lubrication copious. Endorphins, the bonding chemicals, are surging. Both women are seeking and experiencing intimacy.

When the bottom, the receptive woman, opens her body to her lover’s fingers, she does so devoid of the stereotypical power imbalance inherent in male/female dynamics. No one needs to jostle for power as they are equal everywhere except in this delicious act of penetrator and receiver. The opening up is simultaneously erotic and boundary-breaking. The act of penetrating personal and powerful. What could be more intimate than holding your hand inside your lover’s body? Or containing your lover’s hand inside your own?

Fisting takes practice. It requires relaxation, muscle control and great trust in your partner. It is very intense, which is another part of its attraction. Sex that includes fisting is memorable sex, notable sex. It is the kind of sex that forms a bond between women, tells a story between them that they never forget.

One woman said she “finally felt close enough”. Another described fisting as “the epitome of intimacy”. Yet another defined it as “the quintessence of lovemaking”.

At this point some of the straight women shared that they, too, enjoyed fisting, and also enjoyed quite egalitarian relationships with their male lovers. Some of the women-identified women added that they weren’t into fisting at all.

We simply don’t fit into neat little boxes when it comes to sex. We are as individual as fingerprints. Still, we can learn from the stories we hear when we put our feet under our friends’ kitchen tables and share our experiences about what turns us on.

Intimate and intense. Has a lot going for it.

Am I Gay?

Whether we call it orientation, sexual preference (which assumes we have choice), or perversion (which assumes we have judgments), the topic of whom we love can cause great emotional turmoil. The following is a distillation of a common question.

Dear Dr Ren,

I am a 16-year-old male. Recently another boy in my class hugged me and told me that I am really a girl. I knew that was stupid, but I still became confused, tense, and depressed. Now I am not feeling excited thinking about women the way I did before this incident. Honestly, I liked it when he hugged me, but I certainly don’t feel like I’m a girl. I am really anxious about all of this. Please tell me, Doctor…. Am I gay?

Confused

Dear Confused,

I can’t tell you whether or not you are gay. I don’t have enough information, and neither do you. You are only sixteen and, though some of us are aware of our orientation earlier than that, most find it takes us a while in the dating scene to determine the sorts of people that attract us. This refers not only to their gender (male or female) but to their personalities, physical characteristics, and other qualities and attributes we can’t know until we get to know someone a bit.

Of course it felt good to have your friend hug you. His remark about your being a girl was his confusion that if he liked hugging you, you must be feminine (so he wouldn’t feel gay himself….we learn to fear alternative sexualities before we learn the facts). This is just his ignorance, and he will figure this out as he gets more experience. You may sometimes feel drawn to women and other times to men. Adolescence is a time for learning all sorts of things about yourself, including your sexual orientation. You may be gay; you may not. It doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that you learn to treat others with compassion, patience, and respect. This will help you to form meaningful, happy bonds with whomever you choose to love. The physical plumbing, when all’s said and done, is really pretty irrelevant.

Relax and enjoy this exciting transition period as you grow from child into adult. The answers you are seeking will come to you. Moreover, whatever answers you learn about yourself, they’ll be just right for you.

Sincerely,

Dr Ren

Desire vs. Lifestyle

Coming out is a process as individual as fingerprints. Though there are surely commonalities in the experience, the process of coming to terms with one’s atypical orientation is dependent upon myriad determinants: Have you always known? Were you aware but content in a heterosexual relationship, and so divorced from the turmoil? Were you happily heterosexual until midlife, when you fell in love with a friend?

The age at which we first know we are gay frames our response to this knowledge. Family culture influences the development and acknowledgement of a gay identification. The young women in this month’s feature article (see sidebar) would and do tell a quite difference story about their adoption of sexual labels than do those children reared in restrictive and sex-negative homes. When we are young, our most important source of acceptance is our parents. We depend upon them less as we age; never does their opinion of us become irrelevant. It’s often difficult to talk with our parents about sex period, never mind our personal sexual activities, especially if our orientation meets with disapproval or worse.

Culture at large contributes other messages that confound determining exactly who we are sexually. Some find more support in urban communities than in their nuclear families. Friendship circles become extended family, in which new and different ‘family values’ develop. Some people remain closeted throughout their lives, made captive by their fear of censure.

Unfortunately, our culture still reminds us far too often of the threat to those defined as different. And when the difference involves the taboo subject of sex, reactions often get amplified. As the women at the Montreal Massacre were persecuted for their gender, so too is there a litany of names of those killed because they were homosexual.

School aged kids call each other “faggot” in derision, often not understanding the concept but knowing it is something very bad. Grown heterosexual men bristle at the suggestion that they might “swing for the other team.” Even in such open-minded forums as swingers’ parties and ‘pansexual’ play parties, it is rare to see men relating sexually to each other. The “grrlz” get a bit of a pass in those venues, but bear the full weight of their families’ disappointment and rejection. Nor is society past the sniggering dismissal of single, childless women.

In Kinsey’s sex history questionnaire, respondents are asked why they have not had more homosexual experiences than they have. Most report lack of interest, but a disturbing number reveal an unwillingness or inability to pay the toll such behaviour will cost. We need to stay aware that sharing a sexual experience with someone of the same gender does not ‘make’ us homosexual. There is no queer button that, once pushed, remains forever ‘on.’ Kinsey found that 37% of males had experienced a homosexual encounter to the point of orgasm by adulthood. Females rang in considerably less at about one in four. Clearly, not all those people adopt a homosexual label or lifestyle. Experimentation, whether sexual or not, is the basis of learning. We have all sorts of relationships with all sorts of people, and it is only natural that some of those will grow to include intimate and erotic behaviour. If we did not fear social condemnation, far more of us would expand our horizons to consider lovers of all genders. This freedom would permit us to make enduring lifestyle choices more accurately.

By releasing ourselves from the expectation that any encounter may define our sexuality, we can allow ourselves the freedom to experience and embrace or discard, based on our desires, not on family or social pressures.

Desire, especially sexual desire, is so thrilling that we are wise to welcome it in whatever form it appears to us. If we challenge our sex-negative beliefs and our homophobic anxieties, we open to life-enhancing possibilities. The more of those, I say, the better!

Same-Sex Marriage, Part I

“I Cannot Breed in Captivity” ~ Gloria Steinem

At the beginning of May, the British Columbia Supreme Court overturned a previous ruling by an appeals court regarding same sex marriage restrictions. The unanimous decision echoes those of the Supreme Courts of both Ontario and Quebec. Effectively, this means that all of us can choose to marry if we wish, regardless of gender or orientation. This victory for civil rights is not a fait a compli. The Supreme Court of Canada has a year to consider this decision and uphold or overturn it. Still, this third ‘yes’ vote signifies a powerful advance toward inclusion.

There are many who endorse Ms. Steinem’s sentiments regarding the institution of marriage and scratch their heads at why this is an issue at all. After all, marriage is a relatively new concept, only a few hundred years old, and designed to protect the inheritance trail of wealthy landowners; romance and love had little to do with it. The original reasons for marriage have long since deteriorated and been transformed into a social statement of love and commitment. Our government offers tax incentives to those who choose to sign on, and community property legislations offer some protection for wives and children. Even so, marriage is now a business (a multi-million dollar business!) and a social tradition that endures despite the objections raised by feminists during the sexual revolution of the sixties and an ever-growing acceptance of living together without benefit of legal approval.

For those who long to make public their mutual dreams of life together, this legislation validates their wishes. No longer denied the rights of others, gays and lesbians can soon choose whether to marry. This marks another important step away from the shame and fear associated with being inside the closet and outside the realm of acceptability. Surely, this is reason to celebrate!

Love is difficult to find and even more so to sustain and nurture. Lesbians and gays know full well the lack of social supports others enjoy in enduring the inevitable strains of living together. This legislation will provide an important link to community backing. It will, as well, protect children and guarantee the rights and responsibilities heretofore taken for granted by heterosexuals. No longer must couples fear losing property to obscure blood relatives, or worry about how medical staff will respond to a mate’s directives about life-threatening crises. In other words, lesbians and gays will be treated pretty much like everyone else.

Religious adherents and other conservative thinkers will object to this legislation. We must weigh their arguments about the perceived threat to the family, and eventually we will need to redefine the term. ‘Family’ will come to mean those who love and protect one another, who support and nourish their bond, and who identify as a small group within a larger community. Come to think of it, isn’t that already a working definition? Let’s embrace all those who come together in love and kindness, companionship and care, and welcome everyone who chooses to celebrate publicly such society-sustaining values.

Kudos to our courts! The law often lags much farther behind in reflecting society’s values. Truly, this decision signals a reason for all of us to be proud, regardless of the gender of the people we love.

Same-Sex Marriage, Part II

May’s newsletter column dealt with Canada’s Supreme Court ruling that prohibiting same-sex marriages contravened our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Although I try to address different subjects each month, I believe this issue warrants further discussion. The new ruling has been effected in practical terms, and lesbians and gays are marrying legally. Let’s contemplate some of the possible spin-off effects of these changes.

For instance, when a heterosexual couple argues and the woman turns to her friends and family for solace and support, she is typically advised to cool off, pick her battles, and figure out how best to resolve the problem. Her community’s expectation is that the marriage will survive and endure, and this in turn supports the couple in resolving their conflict. Men, likewise, are often reminded of their commitment and responsibility and after a conversation with their buddies, they return home to smooth out the wrinkle. The expectation of continuity is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

On the other hand, when gay and lesbian couples experience discord, they hear quite different messages. Gay couples are ‘expected’ to dissolve, often attributed to their ‘promiscuous’ lifestyles (another false stereotype, but nonetheless a powerful influence). Lesbian jokes abound about the ‘standard’ two and a half year relationship (one year of honeymoon, another of domestic stability followed by six months of unravelling prior to separation). These messages are subtle yet influential, and undermine the longevity of same-sex unions.

How might Canada’s inclusive marriage laws affect the community? I suspect that those who decried same-sex relationships as a threat to the family may now view those couples who opt to legalize their unions as supporting the same values. I’m hopeful that this may narrow the gap between homophobes and homosexuals. Socially, we view a spouse as more ‘valid’ than a boy- or girl-friend. As the definition of marriage expands, so too will that of ‘family.’ All married couples will have the same legal rights and responsibilities. Corollary laws (legal, medical, and educational concerns) will necessarily change to adapt to the laws governing marriage. The prophecy of serious, long-term commitment for same-sex couples may become, as for heterosexuals, self-fulfilling.

Perhaps I am being overly optimistic about the repercussions of our changing laws, and the social impact they may have. However, Canada is proving itself a leader in promoting such values as peace, inclusivity, and rationality. When I asked Silva Tenenbein, a seasoned activist, how she felt about Canada’s progressive politics and our new marriage laws, she replied, “I’m proud of being Canadian the same way I’m proud of being queer.” We’ve come a long way.

Lesbian Fisting: Intensity and Intimacy

When a group of women friends get together over a meal, the conversation often turns to matters of sex. When those friends represent various numbers on the Kinsey scale (zero being entirely heterosexual and six referring to completely homosexual), those conversations take on a depth and complexity—and sometimes hilarity—not found in textbooks on female sexuality.

I was fortunate to be privy to one such exchange not long ago. We weren’t far into our discussion before I realized I was immersed in valuable information for my readers. I began to take mental notes.

When the topic of vaginal fisting arose, the lesbians at the table nodded knowingly while most of the straight women scratched their heads. We women, all with the same physiological anatomy, realized some fundamental differences in how we experience lovemaking. I found it all fascinating, as did they.

The heterosexual women wondered why the lesbian women were interested in fisting. They spent their energy trying to get their partners to focus on their clitoris and to pay perhaps less attention to their vagina. It seemed to them that sex was forever concentrated on something being put inside them and, though they enjoyed that aspect of their sexuality, more penetration felt, well, redundant.

They threw the question back to the lesbians.

The lesbians’ experience of lovemaking was quite different. The clitoris is queen between women, who understand and appreciate that the sole purpose of that glorious organ is to produce pleasure. Much time is spent tending to the clitoris. By the time penetration comes onstage, arousal is high and lubrication copious. Endorphins, the bonding chemicals, are surging. Both women are seeking and experiencing intimacy.

When the bottom, the receptive woman, opens her body to her lover’s fingers, she does so devoid of the stereotypical power imbalance inherent in male/female dynamics. No one needs to jostle for power as they are equal everywhere except in this delicious act of penetrator and receiver. The opening up is simultaneously erotic and boundary-breaking. The act of penetrating personal and powerful. What could be more intimate than holding your hand inside your lover’s body? Or containing your lover’s hand inside your own?

Fisting takes practice. It requires relaxation, muscle control and great trust in your partner. It is very intense, which is another part of its attraction. Sex that includes fisting is memorable sex, notable sex. It is the kind of sex that forms a bond between women, tells a story between them that they never forget.

One woman said she “finally felt close enough”. Another described fisting as “the epitome of intimacy”. Yet another defined it as “the quintessence of lovemaking”.

At this point some of the straight women shared that they, too, enjoyed fisting, and also enjoyed quite egalitarian relationships with their male lovers. Some of the women-identified women added that they weren’t into fisting at all.

We simply don’t fit into neat little boxes when it comes to sex. We are as individual as fingerprints. Still, we can learn from the stories we hear when we put our feet under our friends’ kitchen tables and share our experiences about what turns us on.

Intimate and intense. Has a lot going for it.

The Cost of Knowledge… and Hubris

This article is dedicated to the memory of David Reimer, aka Bruce (and later Brenda), aka John/Joan/John, an unwitting and unwilling hero/victim in a grand experiment that showed great promise but went terribly, terribly wrong.

It began in 1966 when the eight month old twin boys born to rural Manitoba parents Ron and Janet Reimer were taken to Winnipeg to undergo what was thought would be routine circumcisions. (It is ironic that the book later written about this case would be entitled As Nature Made Him, for had baby Bruce been left as nature made him, he would never have become the subject of such interest). The procedure was horribly botched, reducing Bruce’s penis to a charred remnant. In 1966, phalloplasty was unknown.

What transpired next can be explored by listening to the audio posted at the NPR web site. Click here. Suffice it to say that the distraught parents made their way to Dr. John Money at Johns Hopkins in the States. There they learned that nurture, and not nature, determined gender identification, and the family, steered by Money, embarked on a course of action that ended thirty-eight years later with the little boy’s despondent suicide.

I believe Dr. Money meant well. I believe he believed he was correct when he stated that gender was malleable before the age of two or three. I believe he thought he was doing the youngster, and the world, an important favour.

But despite young Brenda’s (as she was renamed) protestations and copius evidence that the experiement had failed, Money held fast to his beliefs, his hubris overtaking his scientific responsibility to searching always for the truth. Brenda eventually refused any more visits to the doctor, refused any more hormones, refused to conform to the expectations of her parents and her culture. She led a tortured childhood until a day in her teens when her father, who could witness his child’s despair no longer, took her out for ice cream and told her the truth. Brenda, heartbroken and relieved, reverted to maleness and renamed herself David.

John Colopinto, a journalist, happened upon this story in the late 1990s and, following exemplary research and innumerable interviews, penned the story of this sad little child. As Nature Made Him kicked open all of David’s doors. He became, overnight, a media sensation. Dr. Money, on the other hand, retreated behind his academic walls and refused to make comment.

After his return to his proper gender, David set about making a life for himself. He eventually received some much-delayed phalloplasty and married a woman with three children. It began to look like this tragic story might have a happy ending after all. But earlier this month we learned that David Reimer took his own life. Despondent after losing his wife and children to divorce, his schizophrenic twin brother to suicide, and his fortune to a swindle, he quit fighting and overdosed.

And so we lost a reluctant hero who showed us that gender cannot be decided by anyone but ourselves. We come with gender, and temperament, and eye colour preordained. They are not for us to manipulate.

We need more compassion in how we greet those different from mainstream expectations. We need to listen to our children when they insist a mistake has been made in assigning them to the blue or pink lines. We’ve no right to make one more child suffer needlessly after poor David taught us so well that each of us is the expert on ourselves.

So here’s to you brave baby boy Bruce. We did you wrong, and you paid the extreme sacrifice for our devotion to seeing what we wanted to see. May you be the last that suffers such consequence.

__

David Reimer’s Obituary as posted on the CBC web site

Man raised as girl dies

WINNIPEG – A Winnipeg man who was the subject of a ground-breaking gender experiment has committed suicide.

David Reimer’s parents were advised to raise their baby boy as a girl after a failed circumcision in 1966. Reimer was castrated and subject to mental, social and hormonal conditioning to help him live his early life as a girl named Brenda.

Medical experts followed his development and socialization closely, comparing him with his twin brother in an experiment that came to be known as the Joan-John case during the 1960s and ’70s.

Reimer was a social outcast as a child and battled depression. He discovered the truth about himself when he was a teenager and decided to live as a male. He underwent testosterone injections, a double mastectomy and a phalloplasty and started a new life as a man.

Reimer eventually married and raised three stepchildren in Winnipeg.

The flawed experiment received worldwide publicity, and Reimer stepped out of anonymity in 2000 to reveal his story in the book As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised As A Girl by John Colapinto.

Reimer took his own life last Tuesday. He was 38 years old.

Transsexual Teacher in Vancouver, BC, Canada

In mid-December a news story broke about an elementary school teacher who had been teaching successfully in the Vancouver, BC school system for a decade. The popular teacher had taken the Fall semester off on leave and is returning in January. Why is this newsworthy, you ask? This particular educator left at the end of the school year as a man, and is returning as a woman.

I watched with interest to see how the media would handle this hot potato. And I was pleasantly surprised. The school district had prepared the students and staff about the issue of transsexualism in an accurate and dispassionate manner. The children interviewed seemed a little confused about why anyone was paying such close attention to what they had come to see as a corrected medical condition (which, of course, it is). The school staff was supportive as well.

It was only a few of the students’ parents who were upset, some even removing their children from the ‘offending’ teacher’s classroom. Fathers voiced flimsily-veiled homophobic concerns while the mothers cautioned that children of this age (grade five) were curious about sex and bodies and school was no place for them to learn this sort of information. They were concerned about protecting their children from any sexual information. They seemed to fear that transsexualism was contagious, and knowledge would make the tots susceptible to the disease. How sad.

Like all news, though, this issue got old fast, and the overall impression I got was that the students, the staff, and the school district were all squarely behind this popular and effective teacher, whatever the presentation. The TV stations and newspapers reported from many viewpoints and refused to vilify the transsexual condition. I’m proud of my city. This may well foretell a welcome adoption of flexible and inclusive values and attitudes. I’m hoping so.

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