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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs/STDs) in the Lesbian Community

There appears to be a misconception among the lesbian community and their health care providers that lesbians have little or no risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STD) or what they are now calling Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI). But your sexual orientation does not make you immune to sexually transmitted infections. In fact, in a recent survey of 504 lesbian and bisexual respondents, 26% of women reported having been previously diagnosed with an STI (Reuters Health, 1/26). That's one in four women. The truth is, the risk of STI transmission between lesbians is very real. STI's such as Genital Herpes , Genital Herpes and Bacterial Vaginosis are easily transmitted between women during sex. HIV , Hepatitis B, Gonorrhea , and Chlamydia are less likely to be transmitted, although still possible.

An additional risk that tends to get overlooked is that many lesbians have had sex with men at some point in their lives. And since all STIs are easily transmitted from men to women during sex, the risks are higher then some may realize. Many STIs do not have symptoms, so it is possible that a woman could have been infected years ago and still carry the infection in their body without knowing it.

It is extremely important to share your sexual history with your health care provider who can advise you of the appropriate STI screening tests for you. All women, including lesbian, should be receiving Pap tests on a regular basis.

Safer Sex Safer sex and STI prevention are important practices for anyone who is sexually active. It is essential for partners to discuss their sexual and STI history prior to having sex. Safer sex means learning and practicing behaviors that decrease the chance of contracting or transmitting an STI. The best means for avoiding STIs is a barrier. Latex gloves and condoms can be used for genital and anal stimulation with the fingers or with sex toys (dildos, vibrators, etc.). A dental dam (flat, latex barrier), non microwavable plastic wrap, or a condom cut lengthwise and placed over the vagina is advisable for oral-genital sex. It is advisable to avoid sex when genital herpes or genital warts are active until all lesions have cleared up.

The following STIs can be transmitted during sex between women:

Bacterial Vaginosis
Researchers are especially interested in bacterial vaginosis (BV) in women who have sex with women both because it occurs frequently among lesbians and because the cause and transmission of BV is not clearly understood. In one study over half of the lesbians had BV and BV was diagnosed even in the absence of sexual activity with a man in the previous year. Additionally, there was a high likelihood that if one partner in a monogamous couple had BV her partner would as well

Candida vaginitis
Yeast infections cause vaginal itching, burning, and pain. A genital yeast infection generally is not considered to be a sexually transmitted disease, however transmission through sex is very common, especially between women.

Chlamydia is caused by bacteria that is transmitted to the vagina or rectum by contact with infected genital fluids. Chlamydia can infect the cervix, rectum or urethra (the passage through which urine exits the body) in women.

Genital Herpes
Genital herpes is transmitted when an active herpes lesion or its secretion comes into direct contact with a break in the skin or the moist membranes of the mouth, penis, vagina, urethra, anus, or cervix Genital herpes is highly contagious when sores are present. Patients can re-infect themselves by touching an active herpes sore and scratching or rubbing another area of broken skin on the body.

Genital Warts & HPV
Genital HPV infection is a sexually transmitted Infection that is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). Human papillomavirus is the name of a group of viruses that includes more than 100 different strains or types and is transmitted through vaginal, oral, and anal sex. More than 30 of these viruses are sexually transmitted, and they can infect the genital area women including the skin of the vulva (area outside the vagina), or anus, and the linings of the vagina, cervix, or rectum. Most people who become infected with HPV will not have any symptoms and will clear the infection on their own.

Gonorrhea, also known as "the clap", is caused by bacteria transmitted to the vagina, throat or rectum by exchanging infected genital fluids during sex. It is possible to spread this sexually transmitted infection from one part of the body to another via touch. Symptoms for women may include abnormal bleeding, irritability in outer portions of vagina, vaginal discharge, and burring during urination.

An inflammation of the liver with various causes, and symptoms including yellow skin and eyes, nausea, loss of appetite, tiredness and stomach pain. Hepatitis is considered a STI because it can be contracted and spread through intercourse, contact with genitals and the anus, semen, vaginal fluids, and saliva. It is over 100 times more infectious than HIV.

There are three main hepatitis viruses. Hepatitis A is found in fecal matter, such as contaminated food and oral-anal contact. Transmission between women has been known.

Hepatitis B is spread by an exchange of blood and other body fluids. This includes touching an open cut if you have broken skin and sharing toothbrushes, nail clippers or razors. It takes very little blood or fluid to transmit, but cannot be contracted through food, drink or casual contact.

Hepatitis C is spread mainly through contact with infected blood, and sexual transmission is relatively rare.

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS and is found in the blood, breast milk, vaginal fluid or semen of someone with HIV, so you are at risk if you get any of these fluids in your bloodstream.

Although the risk of sexually transmitting HIV between women is low, if one or more of your past partners have slept with men, then you can be at risk.

Syphilis is transmitted through direct contact with a sore. Syphilis is found in areas of the anus, genitals, rectum, vagina, cervix, and mouth. It is sometimes hard to detect because the sores that appear seem to clear up on their own; however it stays in the body damaging internal organs

Trichomoniasis “Trich”
Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite that can be passed from one person to another during sexual contact. It can also be picked up from contact with damp, moist objects such as towels or wet clothing. Trich is spread through sexual contact with an infected person. Signs include yellow, green, or gray vaginal discharge (often foamy) with a strong odor; discomfort during sex and when urinating; irritation and itching of the genital area; and lower abdominal pain in rare cases. To tell if you have trich, your doctor or nurse will do a pelvic exam and lab test. A pelvic exam can show small red sores, or ulcerations, on the wall of the vagina or on the cervix. Trich is treated with antibiotics.


Center for Disease Control
Sexual Health Channel
Lesbian STD website

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Buffy's Romp: Marketing Ploy or Part of the Plot?

By Emily Friedman, ABC News

Buffy Summers has now done it all.

After spending nearly a decade slaying vampires and demons and carefully juggling her schoolwork with her budding teen romances, Buffy of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" now also knows what it's like to have a one-night stand -- with a woman.

In the latest installment of the comic book series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight" -- which continues the saga that began in a 1993 film and then continued during seven seasons of a hit television series -- Buffy takes a break from her vampire duties to jump into bed with Satsu, a fellow slayer.

"Wow," says Buffy in the comic, hand on sweaty brow, naked body wrapped in tangled bed sheets. "That was ... that was ... Wow."

"'That was wow' pretty much covers it," responds Satsu, who, also dripping with sweat, clutches Buffy's 20-something body.

The comic's illustrators -- seemingly inspired by the sexy narrative -- litter the bedside with discarded bras and panties.

While the scene, which was first reported by The New York Times, may initially come across as a little too sexy and a little too soft porn, Joss Whedon, executive producer of the strip, told that the story line flowed naturally and is nothing to gape at.

"We had already established that there was this character, Satsu, was in love with Buffy and that Buffy was kind of lonesome," said Whedon. "[We decided] it would be fun if they just went ahead and did it, rather than have it be a 'will they won't they' situation."

Despite Whedon's assertion that Buffy's adventurous sexuality is nothing new -- after all, her best friend on the show, Willow, came out in Season 4 -- industry insiders still aren't convinced that the latest plot twist isn't anything more than a marketing ploy.

Buffy's Lesbian Encounter: Groundbreaking or Marketing Ploy?
Having gay characters in comic books is not a new concept, according to comic guru Matthew McAllister, but central characters who stray from heterosexuality may be.

"We've definitely seen gay characters in mainstream comics over the past 10 to 15 years," said McAllister, who co-edited the book "Film and Comics." "But usually those tend to be secondary characters, not leads."

Dark Horse Comics, the publisher of Buffy's comic strip, estimates that since the comic's inception in March 2007, more than 1 million issues have been sold, approximately 120,000 each month.

While according to the publisher the audience includes "lovers of television and comics of all ages," McAllister says that Dark Horse is known for aiming its material more toward older teens and readers in their mid-20s.

Because the comic was the spawn of a popular movie and television series, McAllister bears on the side of Whedon, who asserts that Buffy's gay romp was more about character development than revenue.

"It's not like Buffy hasn't explored these issues before, so in a way it goes with the basic sensibility of the characters and the universe of Buffy," McAllister said. "'Buffy' is a metaphor for teenage life, and one of the issues teenagers face is the questioning of sexuality. Now [Dark Horse] is trying to explore it a little bit more."

A representative from The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation familiar with the comic welcomed the plot twist, lauding it as yet another example of the "Buffy" enterprise including "multidimensional lesbian characters in the Buffy universe."

"'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' has always been an inclusive series, both on screen and now on the page," said Damon Romine, the entertainment media director for GLAAD, in a statement e-mailed to "We look forward to seeing how Buffy's emotional and physical connection with Satsu plays out, since the creators always take us in surprising and compelling directions."

"It made logical, emotional sense and it was an opportunity for drama and character exploration," said Whedon, who told that while Buffy has not "all of a sudden turned gay" she is not "completely cut off from that particular enjoyment."

But for Stephen Krensky, author of "Comic Book Century: The History of American Comic Books," it's not so clear that Buffy's gay romp was a true advancement of her character and not just a way to freshen up the comic and keep it from its demise.

"Comic books are competing now with video games, DVDs and 'Guitar Hero' for the attention of the audience that, let's face it, they had [during the 1960s]," said Krensky. "Now it's, 'how do we get attention' and 'how do we find a niche?'"

Buffy is not the first comic to stray from its original form, Krensky said, and he added that sometimes he wishes comic writers would let the story "run its course" rather than go off on endless tangents.

"Superman" writers, said Krensky, went as far as developing "Superpets" to extend the comic's story line.

"This is just the latest installment of [a comic] pushing the envelope," said Krensky, who was once a fan of the "Buffy" television show. "It disappoints me if the only reason they do it is because they're looking for new wrinkles to just have something to write about."

Whedon says that's just not the case -- and that he wouldn't continue writing storyboards for "Buffy" if he didn't think it was truly advancing the story.

"I don't need to push the envelope. The reason I'm [still writing it] is that we love it and we couldn't stop telling these stories," Whedon said.

He said he's confident fans won't stray from the comic and will understand Buffy's desire to experiment.

"We have a glut of ideas, but that doesn't mean everyone is going to like them," Whedon said. "But eventually, if the comic doesn't feel like it's artistically valid or if it's not selling, then we'll stop making it."

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Oregon Senator Gary George tells gays to Shut Up!

In Oregon, two lawmakers are planning a statewide ballot initiative to repeal the gay-rights law passed by the 2007 Legislature prohibiting discrimination in housing and employment based on sexual orientation.

Senator Gary George is one of the co-sponsor of this ballot initiative and was recently interviewed by Oregon's Gay Newspaper, Just Out. I was so blown away by the Senators statements in this interview that I had to share them.

Just Out: Why are you sponsoring this repeal initiative?

State senator Gary George: I’ve had people approach me for special rights for homosexuals and I don’t believe anyone should have special rights. I’ve had members of the gay community come in and ask and I’ll say I’m sorry I don’t give anyone special rights.

Just Out: What sort of special rights do you feel that the Oregon Equality Act offers?

George: First off, I thought that was a fabrication of definition, in the sense that you gave special rights, it picks out another group, a lifestyle group, and says hmm, you have all these protections. The main thing that bothered us with the whole bill was the fact that here we go again, adding one more class of people that need to have special rights.

Just Out: Can you give an example?

George: If I discriminate in favor of you it automatically requires I discriminate against someone else. I was hoping with your generation we can stop calling each other ‘asian-american,' or 'latino-american...' There’s one talk show host, and he has really severe hard feelings against affirmative action. Because of the race that he is, I believe he’s Italian, he was discriminated against because he’s not black. I have dear dear friends in the legislature who are black but sometimes I really get tired of hearing about their color.

Just Out: What if an employee is fired because of his/her sexual orientation or gender identity? Isn't the Oregon Equality Act in place to guard against such discrimination?

George: As an employer, I don’t wanna hear about it. This workplace is for work purposes. My advice to the gay community is SHUT UP, just don’t talk about it. If you walk around talking about what you do in the bedroom, you should be on the pervert channel.

Just Out: What is your reaction to the recent murders of out gay youth in Florida and California?

George: Obviously murder is murder, there’s no excuse for that. Here’s what I’m saying, I think we’re seeing a backlash, in other words if you push me too hard don’t be surprised if I react. Gays will tend to react violently if people are oppressive toward them. If gays are oppressive toward straights, then you’ll see a violent backlash. You’re going to have a point where these groups develop and say I’m tired of these special privileges.

Just Out: Are you suggesting that gays, by virtue of being out and open, are inciting these types of violent reactions?

George: You have to recognize for every action there’s a reaction…we’re obviously not gonna tolerate anyone who beats up any other person.

If you do feel like you’ve been discriminated against as a gay, you have hard feelings. I remember when I was heavy and wore glasses as a child and I was picked on. We all know the gay person that nobody notices – I think that is where we need to head. Everybody knows where the line is, so when I see I’m offending someone, I have to back away from that. We have to adjust our behavior so as to not be offensive. If you push anyone too hard, they will react.

My plea to the gay community would be, hey, mature. We have brilliant, brilliant people within the gay community.

Just Out: Who are some of those brilliant gay people?

George: [Senator George laughs] We know a bunch of them, they’re some of the brightest and wealthiest people in the country.

But wait, there's more...

In an audio recording of Oregon State Senator Gary George (R - McMinnville) February 21, 2008 gathering of the Constitution Party of Oregon has emerged online in which the state senator vigorously agrees with an audience member that, with the state's new anti-discrimination law for sexual minorities in place, Oregon may be headed in the ideological direction of Nazi Germany.

About six minutes into the nearly hour-long speech, state senator Gary George says this:

"Do they [the legislature] have the ability to write a bill dealing with special rights for homosexuals? To say that if I should stand at a pulpit and reach back here and grab a bible and tell you that homosexuality is an abomination to God, and if you're a homosexual you need to stop doing that, okay. You need to stop that.

If I were to do that, under this bill, and we had the right people in the room, I could be brought up on charges - sound a little bit like Canada? Sound a little bit like Europe?"

Then a voice from the crowd yells out "Nazi Germany! Sieg Heil!"

"Nazi Germany, yeah that's right. And so, what happens is, what happens was, is they were able to get passed, and right now there's an effort out there by Marylin Shannon and a bunch of us that are actually going to challenge that. We're gonna say 'No, I'm sorry, you cannot provide special rights, you know, for homosexuals...' with the ability to sue you, and with the requirement that your children and your grandchildren be taught affirmatively that homosexuality is a great idea.

So that's the kind of thing that we're battling down there."

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Wanda Sykes on Gay Marriage

I found this clip on YOUTUBE this morning and thought everyone could use a good laugh.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Ellen DeGeneres Responds to Senator Kern

I am sure by now you have all heard about the leaked audio of a speech given by Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern to what she thought was a private group of Republicans...but did you actually hear the recording?

Well, Ellen DeGeneres heard it and in response, she decided to call Kern during a taping of her March 12th show. Kerns automated voice mail system indicated that her inbox was full. "I bet!" Ellen responds out loud, before deciding to leave a message for the legislator via television broadcast.

"Hi! It's Ellen DeGeneres," she opens. "The gay one." To hear the whole message, check out the clip below:

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Drug & Alcohol Abuse in the Gay and Lesbian Community

Alcoholism is a fatal chronic illness affecting the lives of 20-30% of the homosexual population. Studies have found that 35% of lesbians had a history of excessive drinking, compared to only 5% of the heterosexual women. In addition, further studies have shown that 30% of lesbians and gay men are addicted to drugs, suggesting that the gay and lesbian community constitutes a high-risk population with regard to alcoholism and drug abuse.

Why is Addiction Such a Problem?
It is important not to assume that homosexuality causes drug or alcohol abuse. When gay men and lesbians internalize society's homophobic attitudes and beliefs, the results can be devastating. Society’s hatred becomes self-hatred. As a minority group, gay men and lesbians are victims of systemic and ongoing oppression. It can lead to feelings of alienation, despair, low self-esteem, self-destructive behavior and substance abuse. Some gay men and resort to substance abuse as a means to numb the feelings of being different, to relieve emotional pain or to reduce inhibitions about their sexual feelings.

Substance abuse often begins in early adolescence when youth first begin to struggle with their sexual orientation. When surrounded by messages telling you that you are wrong and sick for who you are, eventually you may begin to believe it. Having to hide your identity and deal with homophobic comments and attitudes — often made by unknowing family and friends — can have a profound effect on you. Lesbians and gay men are also 7 times more likely to be the victims of crimes than the average citizen. In response to this overwhelming oppression and homophobia, many lesbian, gays and bisexuals use and alcohol and drugs to cope.

There is also a lack of alternative alcohol-free places and occasions to
socialize within the gay and lesbian community. This only intensifies the implied connection between drinking and socializing in gay and lesbian social circles.

The first step toward getting help is recognizing that your substance abuse is a problem. This is rarely easy.

The following is a list of questions, though not inclusive, that you should ask yourself:

  1. Do you feel irritated when other people comment on how much you drink/use drugs?

  2. Do you ever think or use drugs when you are alone?

  3. Have you had periods of time while you were drinking or using drugs that you could not remember later?

  4. Have you ever had problems with friends, school or work, or arrested as a result of drinking or using drugs?

  5. Have you ever wondered whether you have a drinking or drug problem?

The process of recovery allows you to heal by working through those
feelings you have pushed down with alcohol and/or drugs. It is often said that when you have a substance abuse problem, your emotional development stops when you start abuse.

When you medicate your feelings, you numb yourself from conflicts and reality. Once you decide to no longer abuse, those feelings and emotions will surface and may be overwhelming.

Alcohol abuse is a serious, chronic disease that gradually gets in the way of your daily life activities. It can tear apart relationships, deplete finances and seriously affect your physical and mental well being.

If you or someone you know is in need of help, The National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service provides a toll-free telephone number, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), offering various resources and information.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Psychoanalysts' Organization Backs Same-Sex Marriage

NEW YORK, March 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --
The American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA) has issued a position statement supporting the legal recognition of same-sex civil marriage while opposing discrimination against same-sex couples. In recognition that gay and lesbian couples are raising children and possess the same potential and desire for life-long relationships as their heterosexual counterparts, the APsaA seeks to assist in ending the government-sanctioned discrimination against homosexual couples that denies them over 1,000 federal rights and benefits. For full text of the APsaA Marriage Resolution, please visit:

We want people to think about the broad impact the denial of same-sex marriage has on Americans today, says Ethan Grumbach, Ph.D., chair of APsaA's Committee on Gay and Lesbian Issues. Families exist in many different ways and it is important for same-sex couples to have legal and societal recognition of their unions for themselves, their children, and their extended families.

APsaAs Committee on Gay and Lesbian Issues reviewed extensive research on homosexual relationships and gay and lesbian parents and their children prior to issuing this statement in January 2008. Some relevant statistics and research results are:

-- The Kaiser Family Foundation Survey of 2001 found that 68 percent of lesbians and gays considered lesbian and gay marriage to be very important and 25 percent considered it to be somewhat important.

-- According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 34 percent of cohabitating female couples and 22 percent of male couples were raising children under the age of 18.

-- In a 2006 paper, Charlotte Patterson concluded, Results of the research (of various population samples of lesbian and gay families) suggest that qualities of family relationships are more tightly linked with child (development) outcomes than is parental sexual orientation.

Gay and lesbian couples are being denied the right to marry in this country on the basis of false scientific testimony, says Gary Grossman, Ph.D., member and former chair of APsaAs Committee on Gay and Lesbian Issues. As experts on emotional experience, the membership of the American Psychoanalytic Association has an obligation to clarify its position that same-sex marriage offers substantial mental health benefits for the nations gays and lesbians and their loved ones, and the denial of marriage has psychologically detrimental consequences.

In addition, APsaAs Committee on Gay and Lesbian Issues is currently developing a proposed position statement on the United States military policy of Dont Ask, Dont Tell.

The American Psychoanalytic Association is a professional organization of psychoanalysts throughout the United States and is comprised of approximately 3,500 members. Visit for more information.

SOURCE American Psychoanalytic Association

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Monogamy, Nonmonogamy, Polyamory: What’s the Big Deal?

by Felice Newman, Somatic Coach and Sex Educator.

News flash: Not all lesbians are monogamous. Monogamy isn’t necessarily the hallmark of a mature, committed relationship. Contrary to what you might see on The L Word, it’s not even the cure for Lesbian Drama.

Likewise, monogamy won’t necessarily send you down the lonely path to Lesbian Bed Death, and nonmonogamy won’t necessarily supercharge your libido. Declaring polyamory doesn’t guarantee a stream of hotties through your bedroom.

Monogamy isn’t a foolproof safer-sex strategy. Some STDs can lie dormant for months or even years after exposure, which may be longer than your previous relationship. You could easily transmit an STD you didn’t know you had. And, of course, many women have sex outside of their relationships without telling their partners.

Monogamy vs. nonmonogamy (or polyamory, which is having more than one sexual relationship at a time) is a construct—that is, something we have created. As with other polarities (children vs. no children, city vs. country), it oversimplifies our real needs and goes nowhere toward creating mutual satisfaction.

Be specific about what these words mean to you. What is it about monogamy that you require? Is it security and commitment? Do you need exclusivity in order to risk intimacy? Monogamy is not a remedy for jealousy, nor is it insurance against loss.

If monogamy is your goal, how do you define it? Is it monogamy if you have sex with only one partner in real time, but have online play partners? Or flirt in chatrooms? Does an occasional romp at a play party count? What about a lap dance at a charity strip show? Or when you’re out of town on business? And is this arrangement explicit—something you’ve discussed with your partner—or something you think she knows but doesn’t want to know? Does your relationship leave room for you to fantasize freely, even when your partner is not in the starring role—or do you rein in your imagination? How much head space does your relationship allow you?

Do you masturbate regularly? Does it feel like cheating if you steal a quick wank while your girlfriend’s in the shower? I think masturbation is a fundamental health practice - like eating your green vegetables, only way more fun. If you don’t feel free to give yourself sexual pleasure without hiding the fact, what else do you forgo in the name of loyalty? When was the last time you watched a sexy DVD all by yourself? Read a dirty book? Enjoyed an innocent flirtation at the grocery store?

If you prefer nonmonogamy or polyamory, what about them is important to you? Is it the idea of sexual freedom—or the practice of it? Nonmonogamy is not a guarantee of sexual satisfaction, nor does it prevent loss of sexual interest. Do you need to know that you can act on the erotic sparks that fuel your days? Do you need more sex than your partner? Do you want to have sexual relationships, or is it sexual variety and adventure that appeal to you? Would a birthday visit from a stripper offering more than a show satisfy your itch? A recreational play date?

What mutually satisfying possibilities might you imagine together? Would either of you feel differently if extramarital forays were negotiated and staged to involve both of you? While the idea of having sex with someone other than your lover may leave you cold, might you participate as co-conspirator and witness? What about spinning fantastic tales of made-up sexual adventure while you have sex? Would attending a sex party as voyeurs (and having sex afterward) satisfy your need for outside sexual stimulation?

As one woman said to me, “Both of us enjoy our freedom of sexual expression, and face it—playing with a woman that you will never have to see again is really fun.” Amen.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Equality Quotes

Sometimes I have to remind myself that we are not alone in this struggle for Equal rights. History has shown us that there have been many brave men and women who have helped pave the way for equality.

Below are just a few quotes that lift my spirits and remind me that mankind does have the capacity to understand equality for EVERYONE, even if it is taking longer than we had hoped.

Yet, there is always hope...

"We must scrupulously guard the civil rights and civil liberties of all our citizens, whatever their background. We must remember that any oppression, any injustice, any hatred, is a wedge designed to attack our civilization."
--Franklin Delano Roosevelt's greeting to the American Committee for the Protection of the Foreign-born, January 9, 1940

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."
The opening of the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson in 1776

"We need to guarantee equal rights and civil rights and say that, here in America, workers have the right to organize - women have the right to choose - and justice belongs to everyone regardless of race or gender or sexual orientation.”
-Senator John Kerry quotes

“Never may an act of possession be exercised upon a free being; the exclusive possession of a woman is no less unjust than the possession of slaves; all men are born free, all have equal rights: never should we lose sight of those principles; according to which never may there be granted to one sex the legitimate right to lay monopolizing hands upon the other, and never may one of the sexes, or classes, arbitrarily possess the other.”
-Marquis De Sade quotes

“All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate would be oppression.”
- Thomas Jefferson quotes

"I'm a supporter of gay rights. And not a closet supporter either. From the time I was a kid, I have never been able to understand attacks upon the gay community. There are so many qualities that make up a human being... by the time I get through with all the things that I really admire about people, what they do with their private parts is probably so low on the list that it is irrelevant."
-Paul Newman
And just a few more that make me smile:

"The Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and 362 admonishments to heterosexuals. That doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals. It's just that they need more supervision."
-Lynn Lavner

"If homosexuality is a disease, let's all call in queer to work: "Hello. Can't work today, still queer."
-Robin Tyler

"Everybody's journey is individual. If you fall in love with a boy, you fall in love with a boy. The fact that many Americans consider it a disease says more about them than it does about homosexuality."
-James Baldwin

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Jane's World Volume 8 is now Available!!!

Cartoonist Paige Braddock has just released her highly-anticipated graphic novel, Jane's World Volume 8.

To give you a glimpse of her book, without giving too much away, here is the blurb from the back of Volume 8:

"Like accidentally stumbling into heavy metal karaoke night, Jane knew this vacation was a disaster before it even started. Her first clue could have been the plane crash, but the spiral actually began hours before that, when it was decided they'd all travel together in a very small plane that Jill would pilot. Jane was immediately demoted in this cast to the role of plucky, comic relief. So here we find our small group marooned in a tropical paradise, set upon by orange soda deprivation, amorous native girls and scheming alligators. Can these four castaways survive all the lesbian drama and actually make it to gay Key West? Pick up a copy of this newest installment of JW and find out!"

If your not familiar with Jane's world, here is an overview by Sean Carroll of

"Jane's World stars the loveable misfit, Jane Wyatt. It's a comic full of "girl-on-girl action, chicks with guns, a vegan menace, vintage Winnebagos, drag queens and downward career spirals. You know, the usual-for stability-challenged Jane.

Whether it's friends who see her as one of the guys (her roommate Ethan), women who see her as a fixer-upper (vegan surfer Skye), or figures of mystery who find themselves attracted to her in spite of themselves (badass ex-cop Chelle), or just nice, normal women (Jane's on-again, off-again girlfriend Dorothy), everyone around her finds themselves being sucked into the maelstrom of drama, coincidences, and serious enmeshment issues that surround Jane. The results are funny, sexy, silly, and sometimes dramatic-the last thanks mostly to the flashbacks of Chelle and her current (romantic and otherwise) ex-partner Jill's days as cops and the resultant side plots that continue to unfold in the storyline's present day.

In short, Jane is a magnet for the kind of drama that makes for good comedy."

Paige Braddock created Jane's World so that women, particularly lesbians, would have a comic strip character that they could relate to.
As Paige says, "In case you don't know, it's hard to be a female cartoon character. If you're a female cartoon character, you are expected to make jokes about dating, raising children, dieting and anything else that relates to poor body image. But what if you are a female cartoon character who feels that life is too short for caloric concerns? What if you are a cartoon character who chases vampires, needs sensitivity training, requires career counseling and basically needs to get a life? Well, then you'd be Jane.

Welcome to Jane's World. Where female cartoon characters are free to be goofy, flat-chested and self-absorbed.

Jane's World, a strip for all those gals out there who are just trying to figure life out."

You can find Jane's World Volume 1-8 online at Jane's Mart.

The Importance of Creating a Life Plan for Lesbian Couples

Everyone should be thinking about a Life Plan. A Life Plan should include the management of your property for today, as well as the future. If you do not make your choices known in advance, the legal system will make them for you. If you do not create a will, your property will go to those whom the state feels are your heirs. If you become ill or incapacitated, the state will decide who your guardian will be, unless you have specifically named a someone in advance.

When dealing with the US legal system, health care, property distribution and personal medical decisions are all based on heterosexual presumptions, leaving committed lesbian couples in a dangerous position if they face a medical crisis or death.

So what happens if you die or become incapacitated and you do not have legal documents to declare your wishes?
If you are legally married, a spouse would be the closest legal family member and the state would appoint him or her to make all decisions for you if you should become incapacitated. In the event of your death, your spouse would inherit your estate. For lesbian couples in a committed relationship, there is no protection as it stands now for a life partner. Because lesbians and gay men cannot legally marry in most states, you and your partner are considered single adults, regardless of the amount of time that you have been with your partner. And as single adults, the law turns to your parents or adult children to make legal, financial or medical decisions or to distribute your property to in the event of your death. If you survived your parents, then a sibling will retain the rights.

Make Your Choices Known!
Whether you are single, or in a long-term relationship, you can protect yourself from the states hetero-centric laws by creating legal documents that declare your own personal choices. While many of us only begin to look into life planning when we are settled into a long-term relationship, have children or face a life-threatening illness, legal documents such as wills and powers of attorney are important for everyone, TODAY! Drafting a will or durable power of attorney for health care or financial decisions is advisable for everyone who wants to make his or her own choices about medical decisions and property distribution, rather than have the law decide or have their wishes challenged by a family member.

You should never take anything for granted when it comes to families, medical emergencies, employment benefits and death. People sometimes do unexpected things around death, and opposition can arise within a family where and when you least expect it. So be sure to create documents while you're healthy, so there is never any question about your decisions.

Here are some important documents that you should consider:

A will is used to distribute your estate, or your belongings, following your death. Although probate laws vary by state, having a will in place makes it easier to distribute your property according to your wishes, and can avoid a lengthy and costly court process.

If you are in a committed relationship, never assume that your estate will simply be given to your life partner when you die. Without a will, your estate becomes the property of whomever the state assigns according to the law. Because gay relationships are not legally recognized, the state will not automatically assign your estate to your life partner unless you have a will.

Power of Attorney and Durable Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a written document that allows another person to act on your behalf during your lifetime. There are many situations in which you would want someone to act on your behalf. For example, if you are out of town and you want your partner to cash your bonus check, can she or he do that? Or let's say that your partner is not listed on the deed to the house and you are in Paris on a business trip. The bank calls with a question about your last mortgage check. Can your partner handle the problem? With the right paperwork in place, he or she is able to settle what you may have thought was a "no big deal" problem.

Typically, the power of attorney is valid only for acts performed on your behalf when you have legal capacity, that is, when you are not disabled, mentally incompetent, under some other incapacity or dead. If you want the power of attorney to continue in the event that you become ill or incapacitated, it must be written as a durable power of attorney. Under the law, the power of attorney is "durable" if it contains the following or similar words: "This Power of Attorney shall not be affected by subsequent disability or incapacity of the principal or lapse of time." All states have some form of the durable power of attorney. By executing a durable power of attorney, you avoid the need for any expensive court proceedings for guardianship or conservator ship, and you protect your partner from losing control over your assets. If you are in a committed relationship, your partner should also have these documents so that you can act on his or her behalf.

One additional note - There is a risk of abuse when using a general power of attorney. If you do not put time limitations or activity restrictions into this document, then your partner or whomever you name as your attorney-in-fact could clean you out... Yes, this does really happen. Without limitations or restrictions built into this document, you are giving your agent full legal power to make decisions on your behalf. One strategy is to draft the durable power of attorney so that it only takes effect when you are disabled and states what powers the attorney-in-fact has.

Power of Attorney for Health Care
A power of attorney for health care allows your life partner, or whomever you designate, to make any and all medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. Because nontraditional, long-term relationships have no legal status, disastrous consequences can result when one partner becomes incapacitated or disabled. It is important to note that hospitals, nursing homes, hospice facilities and similar health care facilities might be forced by a law to exclude your life partner from visitation if you do not have the proper documents in place.

Directives to Physicians or Living Will
Sometimes known as a living will, a directive to physicians is a statement of preference for the types of health care that may become necessary to sustain your life. This form is to be used at a time when you are unable to make your own wishes known. The living will is an essential because it gives specific instructions to your health care providers about the health care treatments and procedures you do or do not want if you cannot speak for yourself.

Appointing Guardianship
In addition giving your life partner or someone you choose power of attorney for medical and financial decisions while you are incapacitated, you also need to appoint someone as your guardian.

Designation of Beneficiaries
It is important that you designate your life partner or someone you choose as a beneficiary for non-probate assets such as life insurance and 401k holdings. Although most insurance and financial institutes provide beneficiary forms at the time that you purchase or establish these assets, it is surprising how many fail to complete these essential forms.

Disposition of Remains
Most people think that they can make their wishes known about how they wish to be buried in their will. Unfortunately, the will is not read until long after you are buried. Therefore, if you have specific wishes as to the type of burial that you prefer, you need to make them known in a disposition of remains document. This is most important if you are single or in a committed relationship. Without proper documents in place, the state will appoint someone to handle your funeral arrangements. If, for example, you and your partner wish to be buried together, you need to make those wishes known now.

Protecting the Relationship During Life
Regardless of the legislators presumptions about "family" and "guardianship," all people have the absolute right to plan in advance, and to appoint a specific person to handle their affairs in the event they become disabled.

If you don’t plan, it is certain that you and your partner will be at the mercy of your families. So, make a plan, write it down in the proper form and know, in advance, that if (or when) something terrible happens, you are prepared. The last months, weeks, days and hours are a time when love, dreams, grief and hope can be shared. Life has a way of getting between you and your desire to plan for life-altering events. This is too important to hold off. Do not let life get in the way.

How Do You Get Started?
First and foremost, contact an attorney in your area that is familiar with estate and life planning and family law. You will want to use an attorney to ensure that your documents are properly prepared per local laws and that they are properly recorded. An attorney can also answer any questions that you may have and provide you with the necessary legal advice. Gay and lesbian couples should work with an attorney that is familiar with gay issues. You can locate an attorney by using your Yellow Pages or the Web. Gay couples may want to contact a local GLBT Community Center for a recommendation. If you are uncertain about any attorney, contact your local Bar Association for assistance.

Gay and Lesbian Couples with Children
Families with children must deal with all sorts of legal issues to ensure that your families are protected in the event that you or your life partner dies or becomes incapacitated. If you have not already done so, we highly recommend that you contact an attorney who is well-versed in GLBT family law to ensure that your rights as a parents are protected.

This information was gathered from various articles and law sources including: GLEAM, Lambda legal, Rainbow Law

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

California State Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Update

The California Supreme Court appeared divided today over the constitutionality of the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

The courtroom was packed for the long-awaited hearing, with lawyers for various sides taking turns at the podium. Attorneys for same-sex couples and for San Francisco argued that the state marriage law violated equal protection rights and anti-discrimination laws, while lawyers for the attorney general's and governor's offices, and for pro-family and religious groups, insisted that cultural tradition justified a ban on gay weddings.

During the three hours of arguments by lawyers for and against gay marriage, Justice Joyce L. Kennard questioned whether "the state has effectively conceded there is no valid grounds for distinction" between domestic partnership and marriage.

Three of the seven justices repeatedly mentioned that California voters have defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman, (Proposition 22) and that the public might not be ready to embrace same-sex marriage.

Justice Carol A. Corrigan said that it might be best to leave the question to the public, whose perception of gay marriage, she said, is in the process of "evolving." She also asked lawyers to show her where the state constitution addressed same-sex marriage.

Justice Carlos R. Moreno's questions did not make clear which way he was leaning, but he asked a lawyer for the city of San Francisco if the state's domestic partnerships gave same-sex couples rights equal to those extended to married couples.

"It's not equal, your honor," said Deputy City AttorneyTherese M. Stewart.

Moreno asked, "Doesn't this just boil down to the use of the "m" word, marriage?"

"Words matter, names matter," Stewart said. "It violates equal protection.”

Chief Justice Ronald M. George suggested that the state might want to give same-sex unions a different name since the federal government does not recognize gay marriage.

Other opponents of California's voter-approved same-sex marriage ban told the justices that the ban on gay marriage is as unconstitutional as was a 1940s ban on interracial marriage. The 1948 ruling that lifted the ban on interracial marriage recognized a "right to join in marriage with the person of one's choice."

The seven-member court is made up of six Republicans and one Democrat who are considered cautious and moderately conservative. They have 90 days to reach a decision.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Coming Out in Midlife - Your First Lesbian Date

You're 38 years old, give or take a few, you have just gone through the shock of figuring out you are a what? If you are in a position to meet other like-minded women and seek out a relationship, you will most certainly be thinking about dating. And you have to start somewhere--your first lesbian date.

The concept is the same as any date: two people meeting to learn more about each other in order to determine if there will be a second date. Remember this principle! You are deciding on a second date, not on a lifetime commitment. In my experience, many lesbians who do not experience instant sparks on the first date don't ask for a second date. Don't put that kind of pressure on yourself or your date. While attraction may be instant, most times love needs time and nurturing to grow. If you are on a date, having a nice time together and seem reasonably compatible, go on a second date. Enjoy yourself.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you do feel an instant attraction on the first date, take it slow. There is an ongoing lesbian joke involving U-Haul rentals following first dates--if you haven't heard about that yet, you will. Most times these flash--in--the-pan attractions result in short lived and stormy affairs. Having an attraction doesn't insure compatibility over the long haul--that just takes time. Be patient.

OK, so back to first date basics. Who asks for the date? In straight relationships, most times the guy takes the initiative. No more! It-s up to one of you to do it. My advice is to jump in. The sooner you ask, the less anxiety you will have agonizing over the anticipation. You will also develop confidence and it will be easier the next time. Make your invitation to date as personal as possible. In person or on the phone are preferable to e-mail or IM'ing.

You can either offer to pick up your date or meet up with each other. There are no rules. You may want to consider this, however. Picking up at the home will also mean dropping off at the home later, presenting the possibility of being asked in for a nightcap. This may or may not be desirable, depending on your comfort level after the date.

As in the straight world, expectations of sexual activity following a first date vary widely among lesbians. You should never do more than you are comfortable with. You should clearly state what your limits are if you are feeling pressured. Likewise, don't pressure your date. That's just bad manners. It is a good idea to think about your personal limits and desires ahead of time. Kissing is common and if this is your first time kissing a woman and you are nervous, that's normal. Relax, you'll be fine! (really fine!)

Paying for the date is the next sticky wicket. Again, no rules. If you have been the one to initiate the date, you may want to pay. Or your date may offer and insist. Or you can split the bill. The only caution here concerns obligation. If you go on additional dates and she continues to insist on paying, she may be really nice, rich and can afford it or she may be trying to set up a controlling relationship. Beware.

There is one really disconcerting thing that I had not foreseen on my first lesbian date: the trip to the rest room. When I told my date I needed the facilities, she said, "Oh, me too," and followed me in. It was just a little strange relieving myself, knowing my date was in the next stall!

Remember, the goal of your first date is to learn more about each other, test your compatibility and decide if you want to go on a second date. Keep these points in mind and have a fabulous time! Happy hunting!

This article was wriiten by Pat Cheney, MBA, a life coach specializing in mixed orientation marriage issues.

Article Source:

Saturday, March 1, 2008

What’s Your Fetish?

Here is another fun and insightful article by Felice Newman, Somatic Coach and Sex Educator.

Are you turned on by six-inch stilettos? What about engineer’s boots polished to gleaming obsidian? Does an exquisite Victorian corset make your blood pound? Perhaps you work up a sweat over leather, lace, latex, rubber, or fur? A fetish is an erotic attachment to an ordinarily nonsexual activity, inanimate object, or body part. What qualifies as a fetish is a matter of opinion.

According to Sigmund Freud, a fetish “bears some relation to the normal sexual object but is entirely unsuited to serve the normal sexual aim,” by which he meant heterosexual procreative sex. Using that definition, you could argue that all lesbian, bisexual, and queer women are fetishists, since we share an interest in erotic practices outside Freud’s “normal sexual aim.”

What may have seemed fetishistic to Freud may be a staple of your erotic fare, and what seems exotic to you may be someone else’s sexual routine. Many people think of unusual sexual activities as “kinky” or fetishistic simply because they’re unfamiliar. (Conversely, Patrick Califia quips that much truly fetishistic behavior passes as normal because it has become so widespread that no one notices it anymore. The heterosexual American male attachment to big breasts comes to mind.)

Originally, a fetish was an object believed to have magical powers—for example, a small, carved figure of an animal thought to heal or protect its owner.

Thus, a strap-on dildo can be viewed as a fetish, in the classic sense of an object invested with erotic desire and power. Butches and FTMs would disagree with that label, however. It’s not the dildo sitting on the shelf that exudes masculine erotic power; it’s who’s driving it that counts.

Fetishes can develop ritualistically around necessities like safer-sex practices. Snap on a latex glove in certain lesbian circles and watch the heads turn. Clothing reserved for erotic use is seen as fetishistic. Often fetish gear is too revealing to wear on the street—for instance, a body suit with a cut-out crotch. But not always—sometimes context creates the eroticism. A man who walks into a sex club attired in a business suit will seem out of place, and he may be asked to leave. A dyke in a suit and tie can breeze past the “Fetish Gear Required” sign, knowing she’ll be viewed as delightfully kinky. That same cross-dressing dyke may pass so well on the street that no one blinks an eye. Likewise, patent leather Mary Janes worn with little lacy anklets and a Catholic schoolgirl plaid skirt won’t raise an eyebrow—until donned by an adult woman whose tight blouse reveals abundant cleavage.

Fetishes involving costume are perhaps the most widely known and practiced. Leather chaps, revealing lingerie, severe corsets, latex dresses, rubber hoods, and chain-mail chest harnesses are popular items of fetish gear. Many women have uniform fetishes and go to considerable effort to acquire authentic dress of soldiers, sailors, and cops—right down to the billy club.

Body modifications—such as tattoos, piercings, cuttings, branding, and scarification—hold deep significance for many. Some eroticize the experience of getting (or giving) a body modification; others are more interested in the result. You can think of genital shaving as a temporary body modification. The ritual of shaving one’s own genital area can heighten the anticipation of a hot date. Shaving a partner’s genitals can make for an exciting encounter.

Some sexual practices, such as spanking, bondage, and piss play are considered fetishistic. Whether you call your erotic interest a fetish or simply a turn-on is up to you.

Felice Newman is a founding publisher of Cleis Press and the author of The Whole Lesbian Sex Book: A Passionate Guide for All of Us.” She coaches individuals and couples.


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