Tag Archives: sexuality

Proud to be Bisexual

I wrote this after a call out for the Cork Pride Booklet asking for a piece from a Bi person, but due to some confusion over deadlines it won’t be included so I am publishing it here with additions.

 

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I am Proud To Be living in Ireland in the 21 Century, not just the passing of the Marriage Equality referendum but the many more changes I have seen in the last 20 years.

I have very proud of the group of people who have come together as the Bi+ Network and the work which has been done over the last year to bring together, support and increase the visibility of non monosexual people in Ireland. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there are so many of us who are Bisexual, pansexual and bi romantic in Ireland and from all 4 corners of the country.

I am proud of the work I have done as an out Bisexual person, in giving interviews on TV and Radio and of the raising the issue that Marriage Equality effects Bisexual people too on various social media platforms.

I am proud to see a generation of young people who have grown up attending the workshops and groups which BelongTo run all over the countryside being so open about being Bisexual and being so accepting of their peers being Bisexual.

I am proud that so many of our secondary schools have the Stand Up program running in them. That there are positive messages about being LGBT are being heard in many of our schools. That so many rainbow flags were raised on college campuses across the country.

That my own kids have grown up secure knowing that if they turned out to be LGBTQI that they were never have to fear being kicked out of the family or out of home and I hope that this will be the same one day for all teens.

Yes we still have to wait for the the marriage equality legislation to pass through the houses of the Oireacthas, yes there is still work needed on the Gender Identity bill, yes the health care services need to do better when dealing with LGBT clients. But what has been accomplished in the last 20 years makes me so very hopeful.

I was a teenager when homosexuality was decriminalized in Ireland, someone being ‘gay’ was a term mentioned in hushed tones or else there were unkinder words slung at people. Even after the change in the law it has taken a long time for the level of acceptance LGBTQI have to come about but it’s not finished yet.
Bisexual people still have to deal with having our identifies defined by our partners, which is absurd and more often then not we don’t hear the term Bisexual at all in the discourse we see in our media, from print, broadcast and even online media. Which is why the T shirt I wore at the Dublin Pride has the Bisexu Whale on it, if you are unsure how to say the word Bisexual, try pronouncing Bi Sex U Whale first.

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We had just under 50 people walking with the Bi+ Ireland Group at Dublin Pride. It was the 1st time there had been a BI group with a banner, hopefully we will register earlier next year and so not be so far to the back of the parade. The feeling of solidarity was wonderful and so was having people cheer us. Unfortunately I did hear remarks from people as I was the lead steward for our group and walking slightly ahead of the block.

All of the comments came from white men, most of whom given what t shirts they were wearing I am going to assume were also gay men. 4 times I heard the phrase “Bi now Gay later!” also heard  “who let the breeders march” “bisexuals are real?!” and a few more which I won’t repeat. It seems We have a long way to go to combat Biphobia yet.

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These two lovely members ordered Bi Pride flags and wore them, they had people tell them they were wearing the wrong flag, or just be utterly confused about the flag. But we did a huge amount for BiVisiblity by just taking part in the Parade.

So out of all the things I am Proud to be, I am Proud To Be Hopeful that we will as a Society keep moving forward with the acceptance and support for all LGBTQI people.

The Myth about Teenagers and Abortion

The Minister for Justice on a recent interview on Newstalk, was asked about the UN’s Economic & Social Council’s recommendation to have a referendum on abortion.

 

http://www.newstalk.com/Justice-Minister-says-her-priority-is-not-on-holding-an-abortion-referendum

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights report states that Ireland must reform it’s abortion laws, including having a referendum however the Minster stated that she thinks the focus should be on crisis pregnancies and lowering the number of teenage crises pregnancies.

The Minster said that doing so would take education on the matter, however it is Minster Frances Fitzgerald who needs to be educated, on how teenagers from Ireland who access abortion in the UK are the minority of the women who travel. These statistics are easily available, the Irish Family Planning Association has them up on their website. https://www.ifpa.ie/Hot-Topics/Abortion/Statistics

UK Department of Health Stastics 2014UK Department of Health Stastics 2014 Teenagers - 20 and over

Graphics by @jamesfbrophy

 

Teenagers made up less than 8% of women that travelled last year, and the numbers for the last 12 years show that teenagers have not been the majority.

 

2014

This is a myth which we must bust, that it is irresponsible young women who have abortions. When the facts are that no contraceptive method is 100% effective and the most recent statics from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service show that more than half of women (54%) who use their services (including women travelling from Ireland) have already given birth.

Even if we did have contraception which was 100% effective there would still be unintended pregnancies, as those who perpetuate sexual abuse do not check to make sure their victims are using contraception and no woman should have to be on contraception just encase they become a victim of sexual abuse.

Even if we could wave a magic wand and every pregnancy would be an intended pregnancy, there are still reasons why abortion maybe needed, due to the risks to a woman’s health not just her life and in cases of Fatal Fetal Abnormalities when a woman does not wish to continue the pregnancy.

We do need a referendum to Repeal the 8th amendment before we can bring in any Abortion Rights, so that women no longer have to travel to the UK, often being separated from family when they need support.

We do need education about all of the many reason’s why abortion is part of health care.

We do need education about how early access to abortion is best for women and the majority of abortions carried out in the UK are before 10 weeks, with the abortion pills which women should be able to access here via their GP.

We do need education to stop the spread of the absurd myth that it is mostly teenagers who access abortion services, esp by our Ministers.

 

 

Ladies who lunch? Part 2

So I found myself wondering who is it I would like to hang out with and have a long leisurely lunch.
The type of ladies with whom, I could talk life, the universe, sex and sexuality and not have them bat an eye lid at anything I might say. Laugh their heads of yes, but not be made uncomfortable.

As ever when one starts along such a train of thought, it is wishful thinking, so why not pick anyone.
So I guess Amanda Palmer, Margaret Cho, Joan Jett, Betty Dobson. Laurie Penny.
Each of which are amazing women, who have broken new ground in their professions spending a couple of hours in their collective company would be so invigorating.

But thinking about it I am lucky to have such women in my life who are just as kick ass and I think I am going to have to organize a get together.

Lora O’Brien is a writer, manager of Rathcroghan Heritage center in Roscommon, how she manages to get so much done in a week still baffles me.

Coral Mallow
whom I meet when she was over doing a series of workshop, she had a boundless sense of fun and what makes people tick. She also makes amazing jewelry and will be returning to Ireland to continue her work with 4elements theater company.

Bon who is also know as deannawol and under that name has write some wonderful RPG games, which I have been lucky enough to play at conventions, and her work ethic when it comes to her writing is something I am frankly jealous of.

Ailish Farragher who’s tribal belly dance workshops are a delight to take part in and who runs a Tantra salon in Dublin and is one of the Organizers of the Bliss festivals and circles/

Tara also know as @MsFrugalone who had organised so many wonderful meet ups, is caring compassionate, has such a wry sense of humor and always ready to burst out laughing and even when she’s admonishing me I know it coming from the best of places.

But a handful of wonderful women there are more the ladies I have meet at pro choice events and so I guess it’s not that I don’t fit in with women, it’s finding women I fit in with.

“Feminism is nonnegotiable.” Margaret Cho

Twitter is something I use just about every day, I enjoy the engagement, the information streams and the sharing of things which I think are important and need changing. I usually ignore the number of followers, cos frankly if I think about it, I get self conscious. Often blogging and being on twitter for me, is something I do in the ‘dance like no one is watching’ mindset. Now and then things happen which make me go, woah! one of those things was happened last night and this was it.

Capture

But I don’t know if many people here in Ireland are aware of Margaret Cho, her work, her comedy, music, writing and activism. For me she is a like minded soul and someone who has made me feel less alone in the world. On the surface it would appear we have very little in common, she is after all Korean American but it was her bawdy sense of humor as a comedian, brought her to my notice, and the shared narrative of being a fat, feminist, sex positive, queer outspoken woman has me me revere her. She is the first person I think of when people (usually guys) say women aren’t funny or good as comedians.

Her comedy breaks down barriers, it is kick ass, sex positive, feminist, taboo breaking, queer, irreverent. Every tour is about what is going on in her life, as she strives to be who she is, not who the world, or her cultures or media says she should be. Her last tour in Dublin was 2003 it was the Revolution tour. Her current tour is Mother but there doesn’t seem to be plans for her to come and play here unfortunately.

There are feminist comedians which I think are wonderful like Joan Rivers and Lily Tomlin but I would not consider them to be of a same generation as me but Margaret Cho is. She also grew up in a Gay bookshop in San Francisco so the fact she is openly bisexual (and will make the point of saying so esp due to the fact she has a husband) and is a LGBT activist/advocate is not surprising.

There is a wonderful series of short interviews with here here:
http://on.aol.com/video/margaret-cho–sexism-still-exists-518011313

I know she is not everyone’s cup of tea, there are people who don’t understand why she would do a burlesque act tour or that would not be comfortable about how explicitly she talks about certain topics, but there is no way for me not to adore her, esp as she wrote my favorite song about oral sex called “Eat me out” which she preforms unabashedly.

 

http://margaretcho.com/
https://twitter.com/margaretcho
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Margaret_Cho

May is the month of M…….

May is the month of Mental health awareness and Masturbation*.

NationalMasturbationMonth2 Mental-Health-Ribbon-148x150
The fact that both these causes are being celebrated in May makes me happy as I do believe that they are very much intertwined. Our brains are the biggest sex organs we have, it is not surprising then, that our mental health impacts on our sexual health and our sexual well being impacts on our mental and emotional well being.

I do believe that you the best way to learn to be a good lover is to start with yourself. That masturbation should be mentioned as part of sex and sexuality education. Often people’s sexual hang ups can start with themselves and how masturbation is spoken about or more often not spoken about.

The right to sex and sexuality eduction, contraception, information about safer sex and to not be stigmatized for our sexuality, are important and when we don’t have access to these or when our choices are not respected it has a negative impact.

Today also sees the a launch of the International Planned Parenthood Federation campaign to have such rights placed in part of the goals for 2020.

“We want a world where all women, men and young people have access to the sexual and reproductive health information and services they need; a world in which sexuality is recognised both as a natural and precious aspect of life and as a fundamental right; a world in which choices are fully respected, and where stigma and discrimination have no place. This vision must be realised within a context of sustainable development that seeks to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” said the IPPF, a global network of 152 member associations working in more than 170 countries.

This is also a big issue for those of us who are Queer, LGBT and those who are asexual. When people expect others to live in a certain way or conform and the mainstream narrative and services do not include us it causes stress. Finding counselors, drs, therapists who are alt/queer friendly with whom you can go see and not have to educate them is difficult.

Loving yourself means accepting yourself and finding joy in who you are, be it in self pleasure or sexual expression. I honestly do think that if more people were having daily orgasms they and the world would be in better shape.

Knowledge is power, and we dis empower people when we deny who they are and deny them information, education and access to the services they need.

The Slogan the IPPF are using the slogan “I Decide” which is all about empowerment, to call for sexual and reproductive health and rights to be adopted by the UN and are asking for us all to sign their petition to make it happen. http://www.ippf.org/vision2020 I have signed it I hope you will too.

Wether you do it before or after some stress relieving self loving is up to yourself.

*Yes the title of the blog post was totally intentional, how many of ye ended up with that hymn in your head? “May is the month of Mary, month we all love so well….” how to spot those of a a certain generation who had an irish catholic education. You may confess in the comments 🙂

3somes and Blowjobs and Liveline, Oh my!

This week flew in with the kids being on Easter break so I’ve not written about this yet, but sure hear goes.

Yes I was on national radio this week for the first time, such was my ire at at the attitude on Liveline that I emailed the show. The segment was about the fuss Michelle “Fornication” Mulherin TD raised over one of the many articles on http://spunout.ie/.

For those of ye who don’t know what spunout.ie is, it is a website aimed at 16 to 25 year olds.

SpunOut.ie is a website dedicated to helping you make informed decisions about things which may be happening in your life. It is also a place to have your voice heard about things which are bothering you or to provide solutions to some of the big, or small, problems facing Irish society.

SpunOut.ie provides young people between the ages of 16 and 25 with the information and skills to deal with the difficult things life throws at us and lends a megaphone for our voices to be heard to change our own lives and the world.

An important part of SpunOut.ie is to give a voice to those who wish to tell their story in order to demonstrate to others that they are not alone, and that we all experience similar difficulties through the course of our lives.

We publish articles on sex, mental health, alcohol + drugs, education, employment and much more.

They are a registered charity and get a funding grant from the HSE which contributes to covering some of their over all costs.One of the many articles on the site was about 3somes, the pros and cons and addressing the facts. The notion that any tax payers money was being used to ‘promote’ 3somes to teenagers had Mulherin outraged.

It seems to have outraged some of the listeners and callers to Liveline also. I had been following the story about Spunout.ie from the night before and while I am not a regular live line listener I did tune in and got so cross that I emailed the show stating I am a stay at home Mam in my late 30s, with two teenage kids and I support the work Spunout.ie do.

They emailed me back asking for my phone number and then one of the production staff rang me and I was asked would I go on the show. Here is the podcast, I am on the last 10 minutes.

http://podcast.rasset.ie/podcasts/audio/2013/0325/20130325_rteradio1-liveline-controvers_c20177046_20177056_232_.mp3

Yes I did say, anal sex, oral sex, 3some and the phrase ‘promoting blowjobs’ live on national radio to Joe Duffy, who doesn’t intimidate me at all, sure he grew up in the same part of Dublin as my Dad and is about the same age and all. I did ring and tell my parents afterwards, as a polite heads up and they laughed and said they were proud of me.

You see back in the mid 80s they ran parenting courses in primary schools for other parents, including the sex educational model and they have always been advocates of sex education, so I didn’t lick it off a stone.

When I listened to the podcast when it went up I was happy to have been able to plug some more helpful sites where people can get information. I mentioned the sex ed program the HSE put together but has a difficult time distrubting to parents the first section of it is Busy Bodies
aim at parents and children before puberty and I also mentioned The Facts and the other programs which can be gotten for free, which the HSE have spent money on.

I also mentioned that the NHS in the UK spends money on Sex Education websites http://www.respectyourself.info/ and I mentioned http://www.scarleteen.com/ as good resources for young people, so much better at them learning about sex and sexuality then just by looking at porn.

Looking back I am glad I took part on the program, as Amanda Palmer has said “We are the Media” and we do have to challenge the the notion that Ireland is still a very conservative catholic country and part of that is having our voices heard, even on Liveline.

And having had Joe Duffy say “That if you are asked to be in a 3some, just say no.” still makes me laugh.

Well it only took 20 years, public advertising for condoms.

It has been 20 years from when condoms were made legal for sale which did not require a prescription. But there has been still so much taboo and stigma surrounding sex and sexuality in this country that we haven’t had the same sort of advertising which you see in other countries.

This weekend I saw my first bus shelter advertisement for condoms,
here in Dublin.

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Couldn’t believe it, but there it was an ad for Durex, the ad it’s self it eye catching and smart.
The text reads “The closer we get, the more our hearts race.”
With a small image of the branded box in the corner.

I think it’s classy and well done, and not a poster I would have an issue standing beside late at night in the city center, while waiting for a bus home. Well done TMW and this is the film ad for the campaign.

Virgin selling condoms in Ireland.

http://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/blog/the-day-we-were-arrested-for-selling-condoms-in-dublin

The day we were arrested for selling condoms in Dublin

By Richard Branson –
Nov 19, 2012

When we were asked by the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) if we would let them sell condoms in our Dublin Virgin Megastore, we were happy to oblige. In May 1990 the IFPA were convicted for selling condoms in the Megastore and fined £400.

The IFPA appealed the conviction on Valentine’s Day 1991 and I testified on their behalf. On arriving late in Dublin, a policeman offered me an escort – and was shocked when I directed him straight to court! The judge increased the fine to £500 and warned future infringement could result in imprisonment. A certain rock band known as U2 stepped in to pay the fine.

It wasn’t until 1993 that laws restricting the sale of condoms in Ireland were overruled, while laws banning abortion are still in place. There are lots of groups, including the IFPA, still campaigning inside and outside of Ireland for sensible abortion laws.

I remember this, I also bought condoms in there, for myself and for friends. Chemists didn’t sell them unless you had a prescription from a dr. Condom vending machines were illegal, HIV/AIDS were a fact of life and still condoms were illegal here in except under very limited guidelines.

I remember when it became possible to by them and they had to sell them to anyone over the age of legal consent, but it was still a case of running the gauntlet and getting a very unwelcome reception in the chemist. Picking one in the city center or one which family and neighbors would not use and even then you could be left standing, for years condoms were strictly behind the counter and you had to ask for them.

And even then the assistant could say they had to check with the dispensing chemist I and certainly was a few times left standing, for anything from 20mins to a half hour, as it was clear they didn’t want to sell them to me and were hoping I would just leave.

Boots chemist changed that, condoms were on the floor of the shop, you could go and read the boxes and pick out what you wanted and mix them in with other purchases, for those reason alone they quickly became the place to go buy them where ever they opened up all over the country.

These days most pubs have condom machines in them, they are more available in a range of places all over the country. Attitudes have changed as well.
It’s seen a sensible to have them and not as immoral for women have have them.

These days I know I can go an buy a 2 for 3 offer on condoms and get 3 boxes of what I fancy with no one blinking an eye lid, compared to being treated like I had just asked for the head of the baby jesus and if I hung around long enough, I would eventually get them only when exiting the chemist to hear someone declare that I must be a Whore.

It was 19 years ago, in 1993 the laws changed, took longer for attitudes to change, but I am for ever thankful for the work the IFPA have done over the years and for people like Richard Branson and those who ran the stall in the Dublin Virgin Megastore for being so brave and bold.

Third of pupils got no sex education | Irish Examiner

Third of pupils got no sex education | Irish Examiner.

This needs to change.
One of the infuriating things about it is that there is a comprehensive sex & sexuality education program which was developed to tackle this, but due to it clashing with the christian ethos of the overwhelming majority of school in the country it has not been rolled out by them or distributed to parents via the schools.

Those resources can be found here.
http://www.crisispregnancy.ie/publication/sex-education-resources/

First Irish Fetish Flea Market.

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Time: 29 January · 14:00 – 18:00
Location: Outhouse, 105 Capel St, Dublin 1.

Welcome to the First Irish Fetish Flea Market.
A Place to sell leather, rubber, uniforms, boots, toys (except dildos, or the like, for health reasons… even if they are new and still in original wrappers), books, DVDs, bondage gear… etc.

There are two aspects to the Flea Market. The first if it gives anyone with old, unused or unwanted fetish gear an opportunity to sell it for a bit of cash. Second, it gives people a chance to …buy gear, especially anyone new to the Fetish scene wanting to start their collection.

We will take anything related to fetish… leather, rubber, uniforms, boots, toys (except dildos, or the like, for health reasons… even if they are new and still in original wrappers), books, DVDs, bondage gear… etc.

Sellers have two options. If they have a lot to sell they can take a table at €10 (to cover cost of hiring the venue). Sellers wishing to take a table should register before the day of the Flea Market (khayden@iol.ie). Or if they only have a small number of items to sell they can leave them with us to sell on their behalf. The fee is €2 per item and they can bring them along on the day, preferably before the Flea Market starts at 2pm.

Many people order things of the internet and when it arrives find it’s not really what they wanted or that they never get around to using it or find that it’s not really what they are into after all. So this is a change to have a bring and buy sale and is also a way to support Outhouse.