LGBTQ* Articles and Advice (You May Have Missed)
You’re a savvy queer who’s been eyeing a hot trans guy at the monthly dance parties, or the regular cutie you see at all the fundraising events, but how you make the approach? We here at Early to Bed have had many customers ask for our help in flirting and consummating their crush on an FTM. If you can’t make it to the shop in person, lucky you, here are seven tips to help you up your seduction game and keep you from inadvertently offending (or just turning off) your date.
1. Don’t use the word “tranny.”
RuPaul loves it, but you’re not on a date with RuPaul. The word is highly charged in the trans community because of its hurtful use in the past, and even if your date uses it to describe themselves or others, chances are when you say the word, you’ll sound awkward at best, or a like an insensitive jerk at worst.
2. If you mess up pronouns, apologize briefly and move on.
Everyone makes verbal gaffes. Quickly say you’re sorry and keep the conversation flowing. People mess up names and pronouns of non-trans folks, too; our brains are not perfect, so don’t make it a huge deal and draw more attention to it. Then, make a concerted effort to not mess up pronouns again. If you keep saying the wrong pronoun, though, consider that maybe you aren’t ready to be on the date.
3. Do your own research beforehand.
How do you take the hormones? What types of surgery are available? What’s this tight nylon shirt you’re wearing? What does “non-op transsexual” mean? All these questions can be answered by the Internet, so don’t treat your date like a private googling session (unless you’re supergeeks and that’s part of a fantasy scenario). Educating yourself on these topics will keep your curiosity from accidentally spilling all over your date, and it will also make conversation easier to follow on your end if he does mention things about his transition or past. However…
4. Don’t bring up trans stuff too much.
With all your newfound knowledge, you might now be tempted to flaunt it, but don’t. Play it cool. As a rule, think of it as a 3-to-1 ratio: you should only bring it up once for every three times your date does. Now, if your date is really, really into discussing social construction of gender, queer critical theory, trans politics, etc., then go for it; it’s good to talk excitedly about topics that your date likes to talk excitedly about. But if he’s not fixated on the topic, then you shouldn’t be, either.
5. Don’t tell anecdotes about other dates with trans men (or about your trans friends).
Some trans people like knowing that their date has been to the rodeo before, so to speak. Others think it’s an immediate red flag that you’re a fetishist. Mentioning it once casually in the proper context is OK, but don’t instigate the story out of nowhere. Going on and on about your trans friend(s) is meaningless, too; we want to see your behaviors in action, not get a list of your personal references.
6. Don’t ask us our birth names.
We went through a lot of trouble to train and educate our friends and families to switch to a new name, plus we probably paid court fees to do it legally. Your curiosity is normal, but the question itself puts us in an uncomfortable place of having to remember our past and talk about it with a near stranger who hasn’t properly taken the time to get to know us in the present. It’s also kind of a boner-killer to have someone gawking at how we don’t look like a Heather anymore.
7. Do give flirty compliments.
Unless you have X-ray vision, the majority of what makes someone attractive to you is not what’s between their legs or inside their pants. More likely it’s things like the way they move across the room, a grin, how they hold a glass, a look in their eyes, the way they tell a story — all characteristics that have no gender markers whatsoever. Talk about those things as turn-ons. Use gender-neutral adjectives (“sexy,” “smoldering,” “attractive,” “compelling,” “hot”) and maybe throw in “cute,” “adorable,” or “handsome.” Avoid adjectives that tend to be gendered in either direction — too feminine and it can feel uncomfortable, but too masculine and it can sound like you’re overcompensating. (The same goes for excessive dude-bro speak.)
Raymond is an instructor at Early to Bed, a feminist sex toy shop in Chicago. Women-owned and oriented, boy- and trans-friendly, the store has a relaxed atmosphere that is different from your average sex shop. Their brother site, Early to Rise, caters to men seeking sex toy advice and honest product reviews.
LGBTQ* Insight and Ideas
An Effective Ally…
• Respects confidentiality.
• Allows individuals to lead the direction of the conversation, lets them
make their own choices, and listens, listens, listens.
• Talks to LGBT family, friends, and coworkers.
• Avoids assumptions and stereotyping.
• Tries using gender-neutral terms when talking about significant others,
spouses, and partners.
• Expects to make some mistakes, but doesn’t use them as an excuse
for not acting.
• Acknowledges how homophobia, transphobia, and heterosexism have
operated in their life.
• Educates themself about issues facing LGBT people.
• Has a sense of humor.
• Knows when and how to refer somebody to outside help, and to get
professional adult intervention when necessary.
An Effective Ally Doesn’t …
• Have all the answers.
• Try to “fix” problems
• Proceed with an interaction if boundaries or personal safety have been
Photo from: NYU’s Ally Week. Copied from: Toronto District School Board’s website
LGBTQ* Coming Out
Edited byBen Rubenstein (following from WIkiHow)
In this guide, the term gay has been used to include all forms of homosexuality and bisexuality, whether that be people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or pansexual.
LGBTQ* Coming Out
(tips and writing below from Gay and Lesbian Resource’s PyschPage)
Give them time to get used to it before you introduce them to your boyfriend or girlfriend. They may be willing to accept your “friend” more readily and more easily if the sexual nature of your relationship is not so quickly and constantly apparent. Let them see that your “friend” cares about you, knows you well, treats you well, and wants you to be happy just like your parents do. That is what you ultimately want them to know about your partner, not that they are sexually active.
Consider having a “family contact” person. Sometimes a parent will be hurt that they were not the first to know. However, both you and your parents may benefit from having someone in the family to talk to about the issue, how the “Coming Out” went, and how things are going after. An aunt or uncle, sibling, or grandparent may help out tremendously.
Consider how the “Worst Case Scenario” might go. Coming Out is hard enough as is; if you need your parents’ financial and emotional support and are really scared they would “cut you off” if you came out, then wait until you can tell them with less fear and anxiety. This may sound like “hiding,” but it’s not.
There’s no reason why you can’t build up a network of friends and other family who will be supportive of you and provide some “emotional backup” to get ready for and recover from a difficult Coming Out to family.
Some parents suggest therapy. There are many who claim to do “reparative therapy,” and even some crackpots in the media, like the infamous “Dr. Laura,” who claim that such therapy is effective and necessary for happiness. It is not effective, and no sound scientific data has ever been gathered and confirmed to support this kind of “treatment.” The American Psychological Association has published a statement indicating that offering therapy to “correct” someone’s sexual orientation against their will is unethical. Often these groups of “recovered” gays and lesbians are simply made to feel very, very guilty about their sexual and intimacy needs. They simply focus on trying to deny all sexual aspects of their being, try to conform to heterosexual lifestyles and expectations, and avoid “relapse” through weekly religious “support groups” where a lot of hush-hush sexual activity goes on after hours.
When your parents read about how to talk to you about difficult issues, including potty training, sex, and marriage, they were told to use the same language they wanted you to use. Be patient as your parents learn to use the language you teach them. Explain the terms “gay” and “lesbian” as opposed to “homosexual” and “queer.” Allow them to refer to your partner as a “friend” for a while until they grow comfortable with “boyfriend” or “girlfriend.”
Be ready to talk about AIDS. While your parents may not be ready for any real details, and they may not ask for fear of finding out information they don’t think they can handle, they do need to be assured that you are safe and have tested negative. Of course, if you are positive, lying to your family at the outset may not be recommended. Be ready to discuss the issue as much or as little as your family wants.
Some people have a book or something for reading materials ready to give parents. It’s a nice way for them to be reminded gently about something they must learn about, and allow them to read and think about it at their convenience.
Sometimes helping parents understand the burden of being closeted, the stress it creates, and the ultimate separation from family that many gays and lesbians accept or suffer with helps. Urvashi Vaid, a spokeswoman for gay and lesbian rights, once said that her mother asked her why she had to be so open about her sexuality, and why it couldn’t just be a private thing. She explained that Coming Out was as much a political act as a personal one.
Coming Out lets others know that gays and lesbians exist around them; we are to a large extent an “invisible minority.” Coming Out makes us visible, and gives others the chance to be aware of and work through their own biases, to see the discrimination in the world, and to consider these issues on their own before being confronted with them somewhere else by someone else in a less understanding fashion.
LGBTQ* Website, Tumblr, Advice, Insight, Comedy, Lip-Sync,
(ALL OF THE THINGS) You Should Know
Kristin and Dannielle give advice to those who are confused about sexuality, gender-identity, dating, falling in love, or even dressing up like Super Woman. They also visit high schools and college campuses nationwide to help bring change and awareness while keeping everyone laughing. (from website)
Also, Kristin and Dannielle are currently touring. If you can make an event, I highly recommend doing so. (Personal Note: If you are around the western Virginia area, I will be attending the Hollins evening. Come say hey and we can laugh and listen together.)
APR 16 The Berkshire School: Sheffield, MA 9:00am, Private Event
APR 16 Endicott College: Beverly, MA 7:00pm, Free Public Event
APR 24 James Madison University: Harrisonburg, VA 7:00pm, Free Public Event
APR 25 Hollins University: Roanoke, VA 7:00pm, Free Public Event
MAY 4 SUNY Oswego: Oswego, NY Private Event
JUNE 10 Capital Pride: Washington, DC Check
JUNE 24 NYC Pride: New York, NY
LGBTQ* Polls In Print
1992 - Advice columnist Ann Landers asked her daily column for gay people to write in and let her know if they were happy with their orientation.
75,875 lesbians and gays responded!
What’d they answer?
30 to 1 wrote that they were HAPPY being gay.
(source: Out in All Directions - Myths and Facts)
LGBTQ* Insight and Advice
10 Tips For Parents Of A Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans* or Queer Child
(from Advocates for Youth)
By Lisa Maurer, MS, CFLE, ACSE, Coordinator, The Center for LGBT Education, Outreach and Services, Ithaca College * Please note: These tips can also be useful for other trusted adults in the GLBT young person’s life, explaining how a caring adult can be there for GLBT youth. Educate yourself on local, state and national laws and polices regarding GLBT people. On the national level, GLBT people are still second-class citizens in regard to some national policies and their rights are not guaranteed by law. Consider educating yourself about this and finding out what you can do to work toward extending equal rights to GLBT people in the United States. A good place to start is the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
Here’s a quick lesson on two frequently misunderstood terms:
Sexual orientation—Describes to whom a person feels attraction: people of the opposite gender, the same gender, or both genders.
Gender identity—A person’s inner sense of gender—male, female, some of each, neither. Transgender people have a gender identity that is different from the gender to which they were born or assigned at birth.
Some people ask, “Isn’t transgender just like being gay?” No. Transgender describes a person’s internal sense of gender identity. Sexual orientation describes a person’s feelings of attraction toward other people. Transgender people have some issues in common with gay, lesbian, and bisexual communities, but gender identity is not the same as sexual orientation.
By Lisa Maurer, MS, CFLE, ACSE, Coordinator, The Center for LGBT Education, Outreach and Services, Ithaca College
* Please note: These tips can also be useful for other trusted adults in the GLBT young person’s life, explaining how a caring adult can be there for GLBT youth.
Educate yourself on local, state and national laws and polices regarding GLBT people. On the national level, GLBT people are still second-class citizens in regard to some national policies and their rights are not guaranteed by law. Consider educating yourself about this and finding out what you can do to work toward extending equal rights to GLBT people in the United States. A good place to start is the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
LGBTQ* Insight, Advice and Icebreakers
(following from Engrade: Jump Start GSA Lesson Plan)
Across the country, hundreds of students have started gay-straight alliances (GSAs) and similar clubs dedicated to making schools safer and more inclusive for all students. The 10 easy-to-understand steps below are commonly used in public secondary schools where other non-curricular clubs already exist and are allowed. Keep in mind that these are starting points; because situations and schools vary, no single process is applicable to every school.
1. Follow Guidelines
Establish a GSA the same way you would start any other group or club. Look in your Student Handbook for your school’s rules regarding clubs. Some schools require students to go through a process for establishing a club; this could include writing a constitution or showing student interest.
2. Find a Faculty/Teacher Advisor
Find teachers or staff members who you think would be supportive or who have already shown themselves to be allies around sexual orientation and gender-identity issues. Consult your school rules for more information on who can serve as a club advisor.
3. Find Other Students
Work with a diverse range of students who are interested in such a group. Check with existing clubs for students who might have an interest.
4. Inform Administration
Let administrators know right away what you are doing. It can be very helpful to have them on your side. They can work as liaisons to teachers, parents, community members and the school board. If an administrator opposes the GSA, provide them information about the Federal Equal Access Act (EAA).
5. Pick a Meeting Place
You may want to find a meeting place within the school that offers some level of privacy, yet is still easily accessible.
There are many ways to advertise; think about how you’ve seen other clubs advertise. Use a combination of your school bulletin, announcements, flyers or word-of-mouth. If your flyers are defaced or torn down, don’t be discouraged. Plan to check on them throughout the day and replace them if necessary. Eventually, whoever is tearing them down will give up or be reprimanded by the school. Besides, advertising your group and having words up such as “gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender” or “end homophobia” can be part of educating the school and can actually make other students feel safer—even if they never attend a single meeting.
7. Plan Your Meeting
Of course you want to have a good meeting, so plan ahead of time. There are tons of things you can do, from discussions to inviting speakers, holding workshops and playing games. Dozens of possible activities are described within The GLSEN Jump-Start Guide.
8. Hold Your Meeting!
You may want to start with a discussion about why people feel the group is needed or important. You can also brainstorm projects that your club could do this year.
9. Establish Ground Rules
Creating ground rules helps ensure that group discussions are safe, confidential and respectful. Many groups have a ground rule that no assumptions or labels are used about a group member’s sexual orientation.
10. Plan for the Future
Develop an action plan. Brainstorm projects. Set goals for what you want to work toward. (All of these steps are covered in The GLSEN Jump-Start Guide.) If you haven’t already done so, contact GLSEN’s Student Organizing Department so that you may share ideas, resources and information. Also look into local GSA networks in your town or city.
LGBTQ* Health and Wellness Advice
Coming Out To Your Doctor
Following text from About.com (text caters towards men)
Why you should come out to your doctor.
You may not feel comfortable coming out to your doctor, but there are specific gay health concerns (beyond HIV) that need to be addressed, such as HPV and anal cancer, hepatitisand syphilis. Coming out to your doctor gives you an opportunity to be more open about your life as it relates to your health and better discuss a plan to stay healthy. Doctors have an obligation to maintain patient confidentiality, so arm them with the information they need to better manage your care.
What to do if your doctor is not gay friendly.
Coming out to your doctor is about taking better care of your health. Know that some medical professionals are less gay-affirmative than others and may not provide advice (or a bedside manner) suitable for LGBT people. A friend recently came down with a severe flu. He went to his general doctor (of years) expecting a routine diagnosis. She callously asked if he was gay and (without diagnosing him) recommended he visit the nearest HIV clinic. He left the office in a panic—an unnecessary one. A second opinion confirmed that his illness was in fact the flu and not HIV.
Not all medical professionals are this callous when it comes to gay patients. Most are aware that being gay is not synonymous with HIV. By coming out to your doctor early, you can assess how receptive (and sensitive) they are to gay health concerns before you need them in an emergency.
Finding a gay-affirmative doctor.
These quick steps can help you find a gay-friendly doctor in your area.
Coming Out At School
(something to think about over the summer)
By Ramon Johnson, About.com Guide
Another summer down and you’re back in school. It’s time to meet up with old friends and make new ones. For the most part, the summer gives you the freedom to be who you want and hang out with the people you like most. But when classes start, things change.
Back to school for me was always a mix of excitement and anxiety. I didn’t come out until college, but I thought about coming out in high school every year. Why didn’t I? Fear, mostly. I wasn’t sure how my friends and parents would take it. Sure, I’d feel better about being open, but what would I be left with if things didn’t go my way? After all, when the bell rang, I was stuck with the same group of kids whether I liked them or not.
College allows you the freedom to schedule your way to comfort, but most of high school is dictated for you. Still, the choice to come out is yours. Is this the year? Here are a few tips to consider before taking the plunge:\
When it’s time, it’s time.
The desire to come out is like a burning sensation in your chest that gets warmer as you grow tired of keeping it inside. Sometimes it get so hot you want to scream the fiery words to everybody you know. And then something holds you back and the sensation cools for only a short time. How do you know when it’s time to put out the fire? When all you can think about is coming out. When you’re fed up with hiding something from those you care about. When you stop caring about what others think. When the need to be yourself is greater than the any consequence you can think of.
Who’s out, who’s not.
You’ll hear most older gays say that there were less than a handful (if any) kids out when they were in school. People are more open about sexuality now, so more students are out in school. Who’s who in your class? Support is the best thing to have while coming out. Just because a kid is gay doesn’t mean you’ll vibe with him or her, but consider getting to know them and asking about their experiences.
Get experience where you can.
Sometimes we find support in the most unlikely of places. Give your straight friends a try. Come out to your most trusted friend first. Then spread the word to others. The key is to stick with those that are cool with you being gay and ditch those that are shady about your sexuality.