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My turning point with safer sex happened in a cheese warehouse.

At the time, I was sleeping with a trans guy, Ben, and I was having a miserable time trying to make safer sex happen between us. Ben was in the beginning of his transition and had just started testosterone.

In the beginning of our relationship Ben had been open to using barriers. I’d brought it up before we had sex, but when it actually came time to use a dam I panicked because I’d never gone down on someone with one before. I said we didn’t have to and he seemed relieved. At the time I was mostly okay with going without barriers because we’d both been tested recently and were only having sex with each other.

As time went on, though, and Ben started sleeping with other people (we’re poly), I wanted both of us to start using barriers for real. Ben had been initiating condom use with strap-on sex all along, but now felt strongly that he didn’t want to use dams or nitrile gloves. He said they reminded him too much of being a lesbian. Dental dams and gloves were “what lesbians used,” and he said they made him feel dysphoric.

I roll my eyes at that now, and feel angry about the STI risks he exposed me and others to. But at the time, I was flummoxed. I wanted to be sensitive to his gender issues, and so instead of just taking sex off the table, we continued to have sex, with me feeling increasingly uncomfortable. Occasionally I’d bring up wanting to use barriers and it wouldn’t go anywhere.

Anyway, in the midst of a round of tension with Ben about safer sex, I got a temp job in a cheese warehouse. It was weird that I was working there because I was a vegan, plus I’ve always wanted to avoid food jobs. But the temp agency sent me over with only the warehouse address and the information that I’d be performing “shipping duties.”
The manager led me into a room that can only be described as a very large bunker. It had more cheese than you can possibly imagine. Like Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory levels of cheese. There was a room with row after row of large wheels of cheese stacked to the ceiling. Then there was a divider and another room with metal tables and tired-looking employees dressed like surgeons. I was soon to become one of these people.

The leader of the group introduced me to the procedures. Keeping the room sterile for the cheese was paramount, so in addition to the stylish outfit I’d have to wear, every few hours we’d completely sanitize the room. This involved washing all the cheese-cutting implements, taking an industrial hose out to blast the floors, and thoroughly scrubbing down every imaginable surface. If you touched your nose or mouth or left the room, you had to put on a whole new protective outfit. This included: a pair of white stretchy booties over your shoes, an apron, a second apron, these weird elastic trash bag things that went over your forearms like leg warmers, latex gloves, and a hairnet.

The third time I had to put on a whole new suit in two hours - I kept touching my nose; it’s hard not to - I had an epiphany.

Safer sex really isn’t that hard.

Read the whole (and so, so awesome!) piece at Scarleteen here.

Florida’s Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll has been accused by Carletha Cole, a former administrative assistant to Carroll, of being involved in an inappropriate sexual encounter with a female subordinate. Cole is a grandmother and a minister, who took a lie detector test regarding the accusations and passed.

When Carroll decided that she was going to defend this matter publicly, she stated that her accuser is not only attacking one person but is attacking her entire family. Her actions that followed demonstrated that she needed to transfer her pain.

In an attempt to seek public sympathy for her personal and professional matter, Carroll decided to insult every black woman who is a lesbian, bisexual and/or single. She decided that her personal status as a wife and mother with a long-lasting marriage to her husband was somehow superior and above reproach for inappropriate, extramarital relations. She further decided to insult my beautiful black sisters by comparing her life situation to those of longtime single women, and imply that women who engage in sexual relations with other women could not possibly look like her.

I am so furious and frustrated by a black woman of power trying to bring other black women down to save face. Jennifer Carroll, the core of your character is at stake, and you are showing your true colors. Leadership requires grace and dignity under fire, and you are showing that your character includes misguided superiority and poor judgment.

Read the rest at HuffPo Gay Voices here.

My girlfriend and I (I’m a chick) are both virgins. Is there any point in us using a dental dam when/if we have oral sex?
Read the answer, from volunteer-extraordinaire Robin, here.

After five years together, lesbian partners Zehorit and Limor Sorek decided it was time to have a commitment ceremony.

However, when Zehorit asked a few years ago to make a kiddush—a Jewish blessing with wine or grape juice—in her synagogue on Sabbath to honor their marriage, she encountered opposition. First, the rabbi hesitated, and then refused. Then, two days before they were planning the kiddush, they were told that, if they proceeded with their plans, they would no longer be welcome to pray at that synagogue.

Still, they went ahead with the ceremony, thanks to the support of some straight allies and many LGBT friends.

"The following Shabbat, when I went to [the synagogue for] services, I got cold stares from people and felt very bad about this," Zehorit said. "I no longer had a place to pray."

The Jewish High Holy Days—Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur—were approaching and the two had no place to pray. So Zehorit talked to a local gay about their dilemma.

His suggestion was to make their own prayer area—and that’s what they did.

"I called my religious gay friends and asked for their help, [and about] 30 people volunteered," Zehorit said. "I [then] approached the manager of the Gay Community Center in Tel Aviv and said that we needed a hall for our [service]. He asked for how many people [likely would attend]. I told him the core group would [be] about 30 people, and that if we actually had 100, [it] would be a big success."

Well, on Yom Kippur—the holiest day of the year for Jews—300 people came to pray with Zehorit and Limor.

"I then understood that, through the need to [build a] bridge between my religious identity and [being] lesbian, we [actually] were answering the same need of many other people," Zehorit said.

So was born The Pride Minyan, still going strong today, offering a place to connect LGBT and strong Jewish identities.

Read the (so very awesome) rest here.


These are straightforward and modest portraits of couples and families.
The subjects are parents, children, partners, lovers and friends. Some face the camera with frank and smiling faces. Others are paired in simple embraces, linking hands, touching shoulders, circling waists, lightly hugging. Still others are pictured with their backs to the camera, shielding their identities from view. Caution feels necessary to some of the women, as they are part of a groundbreaking exhibit, “Living in Limbo: Lesbian Families in the Deep South.” The 40 images in the show, all large-scale color photographs, have been created by Carolyn Sherer, a longtime Birmingham resident and member of the city’s lesbian community.

More here.

These are straightforward and modest portraits of couples and families.

The subjects are parents, children, partners, lovers and friends. Some face the camera with frank and smiling faces. Others are paired in simple embraces, linking hands, touching shoulders, circling waists, lightly hugging. Still others are pictured with their backs to the camera, shielding their identities from view. Caution feels necessary to some of the women, as they are part of a groundbreaking exhibit, “Living in Limbo: Lesbian Families in the Deep South.” The 40 images in the show, all large-scale color photographs, have been created by Carolyn Sherer, a longtime Birmingham resident and member of the city’s lesbian community.

More here.