Fashion Friday on Saturday: Deena and Gunner’s Wedding

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Fashion Friday post, and this one seemed especially pertinent right now, what with it being LGBT Pride Weekend and the same-sex marriage and all.

Ingrid and I went to a wedding a few weeks ago that was a fashion extravaganza. Our friend and hairdresser Deena married her sweetie Gunner at Lake Merritt in Oakland… and the guests turned out in splendid form. The fashion struck this note that resonates strongly with me: a blend/ balance of dressiness and formality with joyous, giddy, non-conformist exuberance. It’s a hard balance to strike — dressiness and formality pretty much by definition mean “conformity to certain social norms.” But they managed it… and then some. These are theater people, and hairdressing people, and long-time participants in the queer community, and they totally get it about using fashion and style to celebrate, to communicate, and to express both yourself and your awareness of the occasion. I think the guests wanted to recognize the specialness of the occasion with the dressiness… and also wanted to recognize the specialness and uniqueness of this couple and their vivid, vibrant, outrageous styles and lives.

So without further ado — Deena and Gunner’s wedding!

Deena and Gunnar wedding 18

Jordan and his husband. Lots of amazing menswear at this wedding. As I’ve written before, menswear is really hard to be exuberant and joyful in. It’s especially hard to be be exuberant and joyful and at the same time dressy and formal in. But lots of guys at this wedding hit it out of the park. I think the whole “being openly queer, and therefore not being worried about people thinking you’re queer” thing helps.

Deena and Gunnar wedding 30

Color-coordinated butch-femme realness!

Deena and Gunnar wedding 29

Pink hair and leopard print jacket. Always appropriate. [Read more...]

Celebrate Same-Sex Marriage… and Demand a New Voting Right Act

Yesterday was a happy, happy day. The Supreme Court struck two powerful blows for equality: forcing the Federal government to recognize same-sex marriages, and effectively overturning Prop 8 and alloweing same-sex marriage in California. Yay!

But the day before yesterday was a fucking travesty. The Supreme Court struck down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, effectively gutting the act. The tl;dr: The Voting Rights Act recognized that some states have a lousy track record of actively and systematically stopping some people — most notably black people — from voting… and it required those states to get federal approval when they changed their voting laws.

That’s now gone.

So now these states (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia) can enact restrictive voter ID laws that placee a disproportionate burden on poor people, young people, and racial minorities… without any federal oversight. They can gerrymander their voting districts to disenfranchise poor people, young people, and racial minorities… without any federal oversight. They can set up different voting rules and regulations in different districts, making it easier to vote in rich, white, conservative districts, and harder to vote in poor, non-white, progressive districts… without any federal oversight.

And they’re going to. They’re already doing it. Within two hours of the Supreme Court decision, Texas passed a voter ID law that the Federal government had quashed after VRA mandated review.

Think this doesn’t affect you? Think again. To give just one example: You know Wendy Davis, the amazing Texas state senator whose filibuster stopped a draconian anti-abortion bill from passing? Republicans have already tried to gerrymander her out of her district. Now that the Voting Rights Act has been gutted, that’s suddenly going to be a whole lot easier for them.

This affects all of us. If you give a damn about citizens in this country being able to vote… this affects you. If you give a damn about the fundamental moral principle that citizens being able to vote, without pointless roadblocks being thrown in their way because they won’t vote the way the entrenched power interests want them to… this affects you. If you give a damn about the way that the principle of democracy in this country is gradually being chipped away at, bit by bit… this affects you.

We can’t let the happy news about same-sex marriage lull us into complacency. There is hard work ahead.

The NAACP has a petition in place already, pressing Congress to enact a new Voting Rights Act, one that the Supreme Court can’t gut on the specious grounds that the old one is out of date. Sign it. And then throw some money their way — every penny helps. And spread the word about it: tell your friends, spread the word on Facebook and Twitter, do whatever you can to raise the alarm. And get onto other ways to support them and take action.

And if you have other suggestions about hard action that we can take on this, or other organizations that are working on this, please speak up in the comments.

If you’re at all into this social justice/ intersectionality thing… put your money, or your time, or your voice, where your mouth is. Thanks.

5 Things That Piss Off This Godless Pervert

So for your dining pleasure today, I bring you: 5 Things That Piss Off This Godless Pervert.

1. The “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” religious hypocrisy that tells gay people to suppress and deny the sexuality they were undeniably born with… but that tells trans people that they have to accept the genitals and gender they were born with, and that they mustn’t tinker with God’s handiwork. You don’t get to have it both ways, people! Either God created us exactly the way he wants us, and wants us to accept it and submit to it… or he created us as a sort of guessing game, and wants us to shape ourselves into the people he intended us to be, giving us only a vague and self-contradictory set of arcane clues as a road map. (Of course, there is a third and far more plausible option… which is that God doesn’t exist, and our sexualities and genders come from a complex set of biological and social factors, and that as long as they don’t harm anyone, they’re nobody else’s freaking business. Sort of comforting when you think about it. And it has the added virtue of almost certainly being true.)

*****

Bending coverTo read the rest of my rant, go to 5 Things That Piss Off This Godless Pervert, my guest post on Maggie Mayhem’s blog.

Here’s the deal: I’m doing a blog tour for my new erotic fiction collection, “Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.” Today’s installment in the tour is a guest post I wrote for Maggie Mayhem’s blog, 5 Things That Piss Off This Godless Pervert, a ranty rant on how religion stomps on sexuality in general and perverted sexuality in particular. Maggie is an extraordinary sex educator, writer, activist, and porn performer, as well as one of the performers in the very first Godless Perverts Story Hour, and if you don’t know about her already, you totally should.

And remember — the book is currently available as an ebook on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords. Audiobook and paperback are coming soon!

Previous stops on this blog tour:

6/3:
Ozy Frantz’s Blog: Is Erotic Shame Real Shame? (guest post by me)
Ozy Frantz’s Blog: Christian Domestic Discipline (extended excerpt)

Ozy Frantz has taken down their blog. These posts have now been reprinted on my own blog:
Is Erotic Shame “Real” Shame? (essay)
Excerpt from Christian Domestic Discipline (extended excerpt)

6/4:
Brute Reason: Greta Christina on Writing Dirty Stories (interview with Miri)

6/5:
Lusty Lady, Rachel Kramer Bussell: Excerpt from Craig’s List (extended excerpt)

6/7:
Charlie Glickman’s Blog: “Discover just how far sexy goes” (brief review/ blurb)

6/10:
WWJTD? JT Eberhard: On Being an Atheist Writing Religious Porn, plus Excerpt from Penitence as a Perpetual Motion Machine (guest post by me, plus extended excerpt)

6/12:
Passions and Provocations, Pam Rosenthal (a.k.a. Molly Weatherfield): How to Read a Remarkable Work of Erotica (review/ essay)

6/13:
Curvacious Dee’s Blog: Bent Fiction, plus Excerpt from Doing It Over (review, plus extended excerpt)

6/13:
Susie Bright’s Journal: Pain, Kink, Shame — and a Unicorn Chaser. Greta Christina’s New Erotic Epic! (brief review and extended excerpt from The Shame Photos

6/14:
En Tequila Es Verdad, Dana Hunter’s blog: Why Is Kink Fun? (guest post by me)

6/18:
Under His Hand, Kaya’s blog: Excerpt from This Week (extended excerpts)

6/19:
Heina, Skepchick: Why Atheists Say “God” When They Have Sex (essay)

6/21:
Girl on the Net: Someone else’s story (essay/review)

6/23:
Trollop Salon, Alison Tyler’s interview blog: Greta Christina is in the Salon! (interview plus excerpt)

6/25:
io9: How to Write a Sex Scene Between a Unicorn and a Rainbow (guest post)

SCOTUS, Same-Sex Marriage, and Admitting When I’m Wrong

Since I’m a big proponent of admitting when you’re wrong, I feel that I should say this today:

I was one of the people objecting to bringing same-sex marriage to SCOTUS. I was one of the people saying, “It’s too soon, this court sucks, we have to wait until we have a better court, this will set a bad precedent that we’ll have to live with for years.”

I was wrong.

And I have rarely been more happy to be wrong.

What the SCOTUS Ruling on DOMA and Prop 8 Means

Such good news to wake up to! DOMA has been (basically) overturned, Prop 8 has been (effectively) overturned! Same-sex marriage now recognized by the United States Federal government, and legal in California!

So what does this mean? It’s a somewhat legally complicated decision in some ways, and the “standing” issue is particularly tricky to parse. So here is my complex, nuanced, detailed analysis of the Supreme Court’s decisions today.

Here’s how this translates:

“Fuck you, religious right.

“Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you.

“Other people’s love lives are none of your business. Other people’s sex lives are none of your business. You have your collective head entirely up your collective ass. The fact that you think other people’s loves lives and sex lives are any of your business, the fact that you think they hurt you in any way, is just pathetic and sad. It has nothing to do with you. And it’s a sign of just how twisted and small your lives are that you want to squelch other people’s lives and loves in order to preserve your own rigid, backwards ideas about gender. It’s a sign of just how twisted and small your lives are that you want to force your ideas of a petty, vengeful god obsessed with the details of people’s sex lives onto everyone around you. So try minding your own beeswax for a change. History is going to look back and see you for the short-sighted, cold-hearted, narrow-minded bigots that you are. This country is moving forward — this world is moving forward — and you are being left in the sad, sad dust. To choke.

And queer people — go party! Have an awesome Pride Day!”

Godless Perverts Social Club — Tuesday July 2!

Godless Perverts Banner

The next Godless Perverts Social Club is coming up soon — Tuesday, July 2!

Community is one of the reasons we started Godless Perverts. There are few enough places to land when you decide that you’re an atheist; far fewer if you’re also LGBT, queer, kinky, poly, trans, or are just interested in sexuality. And the alt-sex/ sex-positive/ whatever-you-want-to-call-it community isn’t always the most welcoming place for non-believers. So please join us at Wicked Grounds on the first Tuesday of every month, for an evening of conversation and socializing. All orientations, genders, and kinks (or lack thereof) are welcome. There’s no admission, but we do ask that you buy food and drink at the counter, or make a donation to the venue. Wicked Grounds, San Francisco’s renowned BDSM-themed coffee house, is at 289 8th St, between Folsom and Howard in San Francisco, close to the Civic Center BART. If you think you’re coming, please RSVP on the Meetup group. But even if you haven’t RSVP’d, you’re more than welcome to drop in and join us!

And save the date for the next Godless Perverts Story Hour performance event! It’ll be on Saturday, August 31, at the Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission Street in San Francisco, at 7:00 pm. The Godless Perverts Story Hour is an evening about how to have good sex without having any gods, goddesses, spirits, or their earthly representatives hanging over your shoulder and telling you that you’re doing it wrong. We’ll be bringing you depictions, explorations, and celebrations of godless sexualities, as well as critical, mocking, and blasphemous views of sex and religion. The evening’s entertainment will have a range of voices — sexy and serious, passionate and funny, and all of the above — talking about how our sexualities can not only exist, but even thrive, without the supernatural. Our lineup for August 31 currently includes Molly Weatherfield (aka Pam Rosenthal), Victor Harris, Kate Sirls, M. Christian, Simon Sheppard — plus your charming hosts Greta Christina, David Fitzgerald, and Chris Hall, and other readers/ performers yet to be announced! A splendid time is guaranteed for all. So save the date now!

Atheists In SF Pride Parade, Sunday June 30!

Join the Atheist/Humanist Contingent in Gay Pride Parade on Sunday, June 30th! I’ll be there, and I hope you can be there, too! This is open to folks of all sexual orientations, and straight supporters are welcomed and encouraged to participate.

Again this year, local atheist groups from around the Bay Area will be forming an Atheist/Humanist Contingent in the Pride Parade. Last year we had over 60 people, and it was oodles of fun. Lots of love from the crowd. And it’s a great opportunity to show that we can be good without God… and to show how much this community cares about homophobia. Remember that the arguments against LGBT rights are rooted in religion, just like the attacks on women’s rights. Let’s support our natural allies.

We’re expected to assemble at 11:30 on Beale between Howard & Folsom in downtown SF. Although we know we will wait quite awhile, please be there by 12:00. Our lineup number is 235. If you have trouble finding us, ask for our lineup number and name.

Here are some pictures from previous years. If you think you’re going to come, RSVP on the Meetup event.

atheists in pride parade 1

atheists in pride parade 7

atheists in pride parade 2

atheists in pride parade 3

atheists in pride parade 4

atheists in pride parade 6

atheists in pride parade 5

Hope to see you there!

How to Write a Sex Scene Between a Unicorn and a Rainbow

The first thing you need to know is this: I wrote “The Unicorn and the Rainbow” on a dare. Which, given that this is the one story in my new erotica collection that everyone remembers and everyone talks about, is a weird beginning. But it’s a true story.

Here’s the story. I’m a regular reader at Perverts Put Out, a reading series of sex writers in the San Francisco Bay Area. A couple of years ago, I read a smutty fiction piece, which I prefaced with a warning to the audience. “This is kind of a disturbing story,” I said. “This story has elements of non-consent, borderline consent, some other stuff that some people may find disturbing.” And then I added, “But when do I ever come to Perverts Put Out with a smutty fiction piece and not say that? When do I ever come to Perverts Put Out with a fiction piece and say, ‘This is a really sweet story; this is a nice, gentle, happy story about unicorns fucking rainbows’?”

And at the break, about a dozen people came up to me and said that they dearly wanted me to write the story of the unicorn and the rainbow.

Challenge accepted!

I knew the story had to be disturbing. Dark. Noir, even. Oooo… noir. That could work. The first paragraph tumbled into my head:

Frank the unicorn walked into the bar. Midnight, pissing rain, and the grime on the neon-garish windows streaked down the glass like a whore’s mascara. The unicorn staggered across the floor and slammed his hoof on the bar. “Jack. Double shot.”

But after that, I was stumped for a bit. How do you write a sex scene between a mythical entity and an entity with no physical substance?

*****

Bending coverTo read the rest of my essay on the writing of unicorn/ rainbow porn, go to How to Write a Sex Scene Between a Unicorn and a Rainbow — my guest post on io9, the celebrated online magazine about science, science fiction, and the future.

Here’s the deal: I’m doing a blog tour for my new erotic fiction collection, “Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.” Today’s installment in the tour is a guest post I wrote for io9, detailing the creative process behind what is quickly becoming the most infamous story in the collection, The Unicorn and the Rainbow.

I’m going to say that one more time, since I’m so ridiculously proud of it: My guest post on io9. io9, people. So very proud! Yippee!

And remember — the book is currently available as an ebook on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords. Audiobook and paperback are coming soon!

Previous stops on this blog tour:

6/3:
Ozy Frantz’s Blog: Is Erotic Shame Real Shame? (guest post by me)
Ozy Frantz’s Blog: Christian Domestic Discipline (extended excerpt)

Ozy Frantz has taken down their blog. These posts have now been reprinted on my own blog:
Is Erotic Shame “Real” Shame? (essay)
Excerpt from Christian Domestic Discipline (extended excerpt)

6/4:
Brute Reason: Greta Christina on Writing Dirty Stories (interview with Miri)

6/5:
Lusty Lady, Rachel Kramer Bussell: Excerpt from Craig’s List (extended excerpt)

6/7:
Charlie Glickman’s Blog: “Discover just how far sexy goes” (brief review/ blurb)

6/10:
WWJTD? JT Eberhard: On Being an Atheist Writing Religious Porn, plus Excerpt from Penitence as a Perpetual Motion Machine (guest post by me, plus extended excerpt)

6/12:
Passions and Provocations, Pam Rosenthal (a.k.a. Molly Weatherfield): How to Read a Remarkable Work of Erotica (review/ essay)

6/13:
Curvacious Dee’s Blog: Bent Fiction, plus Excerpt from Doing It Over (review, plus extended excerpt)

6/13:
Susie Bright’s Journal: Pain, Kink, Shame — and a Unicorn Chaser. Greta Christina’s New Erotic Epic! (brief review and extended excerpt from The Shame Photos

6/14:
En Tequila Es Verdad, Dana Hunter’s blog: Why Is Kink Fun? (guest post by me)

6/18:
Under His Hand, Kaya’s blog: Excerpt from This Week (extended excerpts)

6/19:
Heina, Skepchick: Why Atheists Say “God” When They Have Sex (essay)

6/21:
Girl on the Net: Someone else’s story (essay/review)

6/23:
Trollop Salon, Alison Tyler’s interview blog: Greta Christina is in the Salon! (interview plus excerpt)

Accepting Ron Lindsay’s Apology

I want to thank Ron Lindsay for his apology. I am accepting his apology. And I am now willing to move forward, and to work with CFI in the future.

A bit of background, for those who haven’t been following this: At the recent Women in Secularism 2 conference hosted by the Center For Inquiry, CFI’s CEO Ron Lindsay opened the conference with a talk that many people — myself included — found deeply insulting and contemptuous to women and to feminists, both in its content and its context. This talk, as well as Lindsay’s follow-up blog posts, sparked a major controversy in the atheist/ skeptical community, and caused some people to withdraw support from CFI. Several weeks later, the CFI Board of Directors issued a response to the controversy, which many people — myself included — found bland, equivocating, obfuscating, and entirely non-responsive to the actual issue. Many people and organizations who had been angered by Lindsay’s talk, but who had been waiting to see what the CFI Board was going to say and do in response, decided at this point to withdraw their support from the organization, and to cut off ties with it. Again, myself included. And also including the free student-run conference, Skepticon, which decided to stop accepting sponsorship and financial support from CFI.

Ron Lindsay has now apologized. Here is his statement:

It has been a few weeks since I have said anything in public about the controversy over my remarks at the Women in Secularism 2 conference. As CFI announced via Twitter, this pause was to enable the board to have time to consider the matter. The board has issued its statement. It is now an appropriate time for me to make some remarks.

I am sorry that I caused offense with my talk. I am also sorry I made some people feel unwelcome as a result of my talk. From the letters sent to me and the board, I have a better understanding of the objections to the talk.

I am also sorry that my talk and my actions subjected my colleagues and the organization to which I am devoted to criticism.

Please accept my apologies.

So, to repeat: I want to thank Ron Lindsay for his apology. I am accepting his apology. And I am now willing to move forward, and to work with CFI in the future.

Some people have been saying that Lindsay’s apology was a not-pology. I don’t think that’s accurate or fair. It may have been more terse than some people would have liked; it may not have gone into as much detail about what Lindsay did wrong than some people would have liked; it may not have had as much in the way of concrete promises for future change as some people would have liked. I share some of these sentiments. But it was not a not-pology. It was a real apology. Lindsay did not say, “I’m sorry you were offended.” He said, exact quote, “I am sorry that I caused offense.” He said, exact quote, “I am also sorry I made some people feel unwelcome.” And he said, exact quote, “I am also sorry that my talk and my actions subjected my colleagues and the organization to which I am devoted to criticism.”

He did not say, “I am sorry people were hurt.” He said, “I am sorry I hurt people.”

This is a community that places a high value on people acknowledging when they’re wrong. [Read more...]

7 Things Atheists Turn to When They Have Problems Without Resorting to God

“But people need religion for community! For social support! People get so much from religion—counseling, emotional help during hard times, financial help during hard times, rituals and rites of passage, day care, even job networking. Why do atheists want to take that away?”

There are a lot of arguments people make for religion. But this one gets atheists’ attention. Not because it’s a good argument for religion—it’s not. People don’t need religion to help each other out, or even to form organized groups to help each other out. We form communities and support networks around all sorts of ideas and identities: philosophies, political views, sexual orientations, gender identities or lack thereof, hobbies, geographical accidents, food preferences, and much, much more. And the communities people build around religion are hardly evidence that God exists… any more than Dickens re-creation societies are evidence that Oliver Twist exists.

helping handsThis argument gets atheists’ attention, not because it’s a good argument for religion, but because we recognize that there is a real need here. In many parts of the world, religion is deeply intertwined with the social and economic and political system — and when atheists leave religion and come out as atheists, they often find themselves isolated, cut off from the support they’ve relied on all their lives, in some cases cut off from their families and closest friends. And even when religion isn’t an overpowering behemoth dominating the social landscape, support systems can have religion woven into them in ways that people aren’t even aware of — but that can make these support networks alienating to many atheists. Atheists often have distinct needs — when you don’t believe in any gods or any afterlife, you often handle things like grief, illness, rites of passage, bringing up children, very differently from people who do believe in a god or an afterlife. And support services often don’t meet these needs: even when they intend to be inclusive, they often aren’t.

So in the last few years, secular support systems have been flowering like… well, like flowers. Like flowers in a movie about mutant radioactive flowers, growing at astonishing rates and to colossal size. And like mutant radioactive flowers, they’re spreading their seeds profusely, and are sprouting brand new shoots every year. The very existence of these support systems is making more and more atheists aware of needs in our community that aren’t being filled… and they’re inspiring people to create new systems to fill them. (Of course, when atheists do create communities and support services, plenty of believers will respond by saying, “But that’s ridiculous! How can you create communities around something you don’t believe in?” Yet another way that atheists can’t win: we’re heartless and uncaring if we don’t create community, laughable and incomprehensible if we do. But I digress.)

Here are just seven atheist support systems — or eight, depending on how you’re counting — that you might not have heard of, focusing on particular issues or demographics that you might not have known existed. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and more are being created all the time. And most of these organizations know about most of the others, and can point you in their direction. If you’re an atheist, I encourage you to bookmark this page: you never know when you or one of your atheist friends might need one of these services. And if you’re not an atheist, but you have atheist friends or colleagues or family, you’d be doing them a kindness to let them know that these support systems exist. Your atheist friends and colleagues and family members may have needs that you aren’t aware of, needs they’ve never said anything about… because it never occurred to them that these forms of help could even exist.

*****

This begins my latest piece for AlterNet, 7 Things Atheists Turn to When They Have Problems Without Resorting to God. To find out more about where atheists can turn to for help and support without relying on religion, read the rest of the piece. Enjoy!