"…when we excuse homophobia as a matter of opinion instead of treating it as a destructive social illness, we invite fear to explode into violence…If we are ever to scrape the black rot of prejudice from the heart of our nation, we must stop excusing those who give it expression and even excuse. The next time someone dares to say, "Just because I don’t approve of homosexuality doesn’t make me a bigot," we must all answer back, "Yes, it does. Not only does it make you a bigot, it makes you a criminal, a danger to me, my family, my community, my city, and my country."’
—Harvey Fierstein for HuffPost
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* BANNED (!) or CHALLENGED (!) Books You Should Know
This week marks the 30th anniversary of the American Library Associations Banned Book Week Celebration (which celebrates and encourages you to read books which have been banned/challenged in local libraries and education, as well as educate yourself about censorship and printed media).
If you’d like more information, please check out ALA.org/bbooks
KNOWhomo & Keep On, Keeping On!
Dear hypothetically gay son,
You’re gay. Obviously you already know that, because you told us at the dinner table last night. I apologize for the awkward silence afterwards, but I was chewing. It was like when we’re at a restaurant and the waiter comes up mid-bite and asks how the meal is, only in this metaphor you are the waiter, and instead of asking me about my meal, you said you were gay. I don’t know why I needed to explain that. I think I needed to find a funny way to repeat the fact that you’re gay… because that is what it sounds like in my head right now: “My son is gay. My son is gay. My son is gay.”
Let me be perfectly clear: I love you. I will always love you. Since being gay is part of who you are, I love that you’re gay. I’m just trying to wrap my head around the idea. If you sensed any sadness in my silence last night, it was because I was surprised that I was surprised. Ideally, I would have already known. Since you were an embryo, my intent has always been to really know you for who you are and not who I expect you to be. And yet, I was taken by surprise at last night’s dinner. Have I said “surprise” enough in this paragraph? One more time: Surprise!
OK. Let’s get a few things straight about how things are going to be.
Our home is a place of safety and love. The world has dealt you a difficult card. While LGBT people are becoming more accepted, it is still a difficult path to walk. You’re going to experience hate and anger and misunderstandings about who you are out in the world. That will not happen here. You need to know with every fiber of who you are that when you walk in the front door of your home, you are safe, and you are loved. Your mother is in complete agreement with me on this.
I am still, as always, your biggest defender. Just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you’re any less capable of taking care of and defending yourself. That said, if you need me to stand next to you or in front of you, write letters, sign petitions, advocate, or anything else, I am here. I would go to war for you.
If you’re going to have boys over, you now need to leave your bedroom door open. Sorry, kiddo. Them’s the breaks. I couldn’t have girls in my room with the door shut, so you don’t get to have boys.
You and I are going to revisit that talk we had about safe sex. I know it’s going to be awkward for both of us, but it is important. I need to do some research first, so let’s give it a few weeks. If you have questions or concerns before then, let me know.
That’s enough for now. Feel free to view this letter as a contract. If I ever fail to meet any of the commitments made herein, pull it out and hold me to account. I’ll end with this: You are not broken. You are whole, and beautiful. You are capable and compassionate. You and your sister are the best things I have ever done with my life, and I couldn’t be prouder of the people you’ve become.
P.S. Thanks to a few key Supreme Court decisions and the Marriage Equality Act of 2020, you’re legally able to get married. When I was your age, that was just an idea. Pretty cool, huh?
(from John Kinnear)
- From Huffington’s Post’s “Dear Hypothetical Gay Son”
LGBTQ* Surveys and Polls
12 Least LGBT-Friendly Universities/Colleges in the USA (2012)
(information from Huffington Post)
LGBTQ* Stories of Acceptance and Being Who You Are
It Happened To Me: I Told My Boyfriend I Was Born A Boy
Janet Mock Writer, speaker, and trans advocate; Staff Editor, People.com
"This is my song," I remember saying frequently. It was that kind of night.
In the midst of my tipsiness, I felt someone looking at me. You know that feeling when you sense there’s a singular focus just on you? That’s what it was.
As I turned around, I saw the guy, this handsome, handsome man with skin the color of caramel popcorn and almond-shaped eyes. His beauty, to me, was right out of my mind’s own sketch pad.
He was a fantasy come true, and I wanted him to want me.
I found myself out on the cold streets, walking beside this beautiful stranger into a coffee shop on Houston. We had lattes and a cinnamon roll. He told me he was from North Dakota; I told him I was from Hawaii. He told me he took photos and trained dogs for a living; I told him I was an editor for a popular website. He told me he hoped to have horses someday; I told him I wanted to tell stories that matter for a living.
It’s the kind of exchange only two people who are willing to fully be seen can share. It was natural and life-shifting.
I could feel the mystery I had so tirelessly built around me fall, until I was just me.
He kissed me on the cheek and put me in a cab, where I received his very first text: “You’re a complete pleasure. -Aaron.”
"I have something to tell you," I remember saying.
Aaron stood at the foot of his bed, readying himself for disappointment, it seemed to me. Or at least that’s what I internalized.
How do I say this? I asked myself.
"OK, let me just say it: I was born a boy."
I didn’t look at his face while spouting off the details of my journey through genders as a kid: “I knew I was a girl from my very first thoughts… I began presenting as female from age 12… I took hormones in high school… I flew to Thailand to have surgery at 18.”
When I finally stopped talking, I exhaled. I’d finally told my whole story to someone I was falling for. And I was afraid that my biggest fear would come true: Aaron would look at me differently.
And it did come true.
I could no longer just be Aaron’s fantasy, a mixed girl with curly hair from Hawaii with a master’s degree and a job that “a million girls would kill for.” Our fantasies had ended, and now we were just two people bare in front of one another.
"Can I hug you?" Aaron asked.
And it was then that I went into the ugly cry. For the first time in my young life, I was being seen, fully seen, as the totality of my experiences.
Fast-forward a few years, and Aaron is now my guy, the man I order dinner with every night, the one who grudgingly sits beside me as I watch every Real Housewives franchise (except for Orange County), the one who questions my newfound love of neon-pink OCC lip tars.
He’s better because he’s real, because he exists, because he wants more than just the idea of me. He wants me.
Huffington Post — LGBTQ Rights/Advancement in Video Games
(click image to make larger or go to: http://i.huffpost.com/gen/165024/GAY-RIGHTS-VIDEO-GAMES.jpg )