Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday Night Common Sense

Today's quote comes directly from the source. If you were not able to attend the Race, Sex and Power: New Movements in Black and Latina/o Sexualities conference in 2008, there are select recordings available to hear online here.

I've selected a quote from the Race, Sex, and Power: Sexual Health and Pleasure with Sonia Baez Hernandez, Charles Nelson, Gloria Gonzalez-Lopez, and Coya Paz.

Gloria Gonzalez-Lopez is the author of Erotic Journeys: Mexican Immigrants and Their Sex Lives, this book is amazing and I adore it on so many levels!

the women who have been able to explore pleasure, to embrace pleasure, the idea is that a woman who is empowered sexually is a woman who wants to embrace the norm with freedom.


RIP Dr. George Tiller

This news devastates me. I used to work at the National Abortion Federation, a pro-choice organization which means you are given ALL the information you need regarding ALL your choices if you find yourself pregnant and do not know what to do. I was one of two bilingual counselors. We helped women find funding, transportation to providers, resources and referrals for adoption, prenatal care, medicaid access, and abortion providers.

There were only a handful of doctors (two come to mind) that performed late term abortions (incorrectly termed "partial birth abortions" by some media and right wing conservative anti-choice folks). What people do not know is that for many women who choose late term abortions, almost all of them:

1. wanted to carry the pregnancy to term and parent
2. had planned their pregnancy
3. had prepared their home and life for the new member of their family
4. are heartbroked to make such a choice
5. child are in pain because of an illness, malformation that may also kill the woman
6. wanted to be called a mother
7. have health insurance, a job, a life that in the US we call the "American Dream"

You see the services provided to women and their families in such situations is extensive. Many times providers are in connection with airlines, hotels, mortuary staff to help family members cope with the procedure and loss. Often there are leaders from various different religious communities available to provide spiritual guidance and help with burial rituals and needs.

This challenges your ideas of young women getting pregnant, being scared, waiting until it is very late to terminate a pregnancy doesn't it? Well that's the truth of the matter, the women who needed and received services from Dr. Tiller did not want to go to him, they expected their life would be one of a happy parent. Women from all over the world have come to seek out Dr. Tiller's assistance, now we are all at a loss.

The murder of Dr. George Tiller is a loss for us all. Thank you Dr. Tiller for all of your activism, dedication, and devotion to women's sexual health. You are a feminist that makes me proud.

If you are interested in ways to show support for Dr. Tiller's family click here.

This video from my homeboy Brad is perfect for libations this sad day: Holly Near and Emma's Revolution sing "I'm Not Afraid"

Friday, May 29, 2009

16 & Pregnant

It's Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month for a few more days, but in June MTV will premiere it's latest addition for young viewers, a series called 16 & Pregnant. It is in the reality television genre and follows six young people, their parents, family and some partners as they cope with continuing with their pregnancy and choosing to parent or choosing to adopt.

I wonder why MTV chose not to have a series called Its My Choice & Constitutional Right (or something similar) about young women of all racial and ethnic backgrounds who choose to terminate their pregnancy. How amazing would it be for people to understand the challenges of coming to such a decision, the resources needed, how they are accessed, waiting periods, parental notification and/or consent laws, anti-choice protesters, pre-abortion counseling, vacuum aspiration, medical abortion, and post-abortion experiences? It won't be an easy show to watch, but THAT will be groundbreaking. Depicting the reality for so many women, and what the experience is like when a young person exercises their constitutional rights (beyond simply voting) without being judged.

In the meantime, below is the trailer. I'd encourage parents and those of us with young people in our lives of any age to check it out and decide if this could be the series that helps you begin a conversation with the young person in your life about sexuality, parenting, pregnancy, and sex.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

What Happens At The Sex Conference Doesn't STAY At The Sex Conference

It’s been a few weeks since I came back from the “Sex Conference” I went to and wanted to share some of my experiences. I’ve broken it into pieces so this is easier to read. I’ll start with the flight, hotel, and SAR in this piece. The next pieces will be the conference experience and third introspective analysis.

The Flight

I have a crush on Lenny the flight attendant. He’s probably 50 or older, he’s about 6’2, has a goatee, salt and pepper hair, nice frame, silver wire glasses, light brown skin, a NYC accent, and a wedding band. I want to be his luva. I’ll rub a few out for masturbation month to him. If only he knew! I need to make a series of cards called “cat daddy” cards that I’ll hand out to attractive older men. Kind of like a membership badge or something. Maybe Erika Lopez will be into this idea and help out! Lenny is what Erika would call a “meat dog” which she defines as “guys who reek of sex and just broadcast their "meat dogness.” It’s a compliment. They never apologize for their testosterone.” I also had a crush on the security broad who took my luggage to check. She opened it and was greeted by my bra, panties and silky draws. She then told me my tattoo was “interesting” we were scoping one another out. The airport is always a hard sell for me when flirting cause, I mean it’s hit or miss.

I didn’t have anybody sitting next to me on the plane, but then some buster got on the plane at the last minute and took the seat next to me. It was this famous broad Rev. Debra Haffner. She runs the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Healing, and Justice. She doesn’t know who I am but I know who she is as I first saw/met her in Cuba at the World Association of Sexual Health (formerly World Association of Sexology) conference (where I presented in Spanish I might add). Her hair was curly and I instantly liked her more as when I’ve seen her she straightens her hair. She was on the Cuba flight too and I remember her telling my homeboy Brad and I to “go to the AASECT conference because it’s 10x better than WAS.” I’ll share my comparison to that when I’m done sharing my experience. She left when Lenny suggested she move to another seat so that, as Lenny said “we all have more elbow room” which I think is code for the fact that I’m fat. Yet it was true because my elbow would have stabbed her in her left ear over and over for 5 hours straight. That would not have made me comfortable, not cause she’s a reverend, fellow sexologist, or older than me; but because not everybody’s curls are the same and I honor the “don’t touch my hair” stance.

Hot & Arid-Zona

My homegirl Elena picked me up from the airport and we went to Target and ate at a spot whose name I can’t remember but I know it’s not on the East Coast. I had to purchase some toiletries since the security in NYC made me toss stuff, plus I got some grub so I wouldn’t have to spend too much money during the conference. We headed to the hotel and Elena dropped me off. It was Tuesday and I wouldn’t see her again until after work on Friday. After I checked in the first thing I did was take my clothes off. It was HOT in AZ, I’m talking 100 degrees hot even with air conditioning. I called a high school friend to see when we could meet up, as I haven’t seen her since 1996! I then cooled off and went straight to the pool. It was all good for 2 hours until some frat boys came to do cannon balls in the shallow part of the pool. I slept well that night and the wine I drank with my high school homegirl sure helped!

Day 1 & 2: SAR

To get certification you are expected to attend a SAR, which stands for Sexual Attitudes Reassessment. It’s usually a 10-hour session with a group of people where you explore and discuss various topics on sexuality and sexual health. I couldn’t find anyone who was offering this in NYC and decided to do it in AZ. They are not cheap at $450, so I had to decide to use some emergency funds/health care money/birthday money to pay to attend this event. When I went to the registration desk, I was the first person to register and folks were excited I got the ball rolling. In order to get my packet they had to find my name on a list of folks who paid and they did, but they did not find a packet had been made for me. This frustrated me because I paid $650 total just for the SAR and conference not including hotel, travel and food. It’s a lot of money, shoot that’s rent! I had to come back to get a packet. Unfortunately, when I came back they still didn’t have one ready for me. They told me that I would have it before the SAR began that evening.

I can’t express how imperative it is that folks who spend so much money are treated with dignity and respect. The two White women who were attempting to help me could not have been more opposite. One was extremely helpful the other extremely dismissive.

I have to admit; this registration experience left me feeling invisible.

The first evening of the SAR there were about 50 people in the room not including the facilitator, Dr. Eli Coleman. I got there a bit late since the registration desk staff did not give me adequate directions to find the room. I took a seat in the back. There was a film playing of people dancing. I read the bodies of those dancing as racially White. I looked around the room and counted 5 other women of Color. This made me feel relief. There were no men of Color, and less than 10 men in total in the group. It was difficult to assess the age of members in the group, but I came to the understanding that I was part of the “younger” crowd of 30-somethings.

I don’t want to tease out the entire SAR, but I do want to mention a few things that stood out for me. First, this space allowed for a lot of group work and one-on-one work as well. You get to know almost everyone in the group over the 10 hours fairly quickly. Here’s what I experienced:

1. When I shared my age with two women over 50 in an activity, I was told: “you have a baby face” when I said part of the reason I eroticize getting older is because I believe I can find acceptance as a sexologist among my older peers.

2. When I shared that I received more messages about my body not because I was fat, but because I was brown, two of the three White women in my group said: “that’s fascinating.” Really? It’s called racism. It’s not that fascinating.

3. When talking about kink in a group of five people, all White, with one man who is active in the community, I mentioned how race play is rarely ever discussed within the community and that challenges the ideas that kink communities are so inclusive, they have their isms too. The man in the group started to look around the room and exhale loudly as I began to speak (not after, WHILE I was speaking).

4. When my group of 5 all White members agreed that I would be the “lead” on a condom demonstration, one of the White women completely ignored what I was saying by leaving the group, checking her telephone, and when she returned she was loudly saying what was wrong with her condoms over others who were speaking. When I mentioned the expired condoms she had in her box (over 1 year old) may not be nice to the touch if opened, she said: “Really, is that right?” and proceeded to open the package. Ten minutes later she had to go wash her hands cause they were so skuzzy.

5. I ate lunch alone.

It was a less than exceptional yet expensive experience. There was an attempt to include communities of Color in the images and media presented, but they were so few and far between (and very Black/White). There was absolutely no Asian, Southeast Asians, Native American Indians. There were a handful of people (read no more than 2) with disabilities, who were fat and who were Latinos. There was an abundance of parents, White people, White children, and specific videos/images of transgender people, LGBTQI people, older White adults, and men in wheelchairs. I wrote this as something to improve the SAR. I also suggesting updating the data provided, as there were citations from almost 20 years ago! I wonder if once you become someone who is so “popular” and well known in the movement if things like quoting old data is a pass you get. Perhaps it’s age, as I’ve heard many older White sexologists say their age allows them a pass to act like a fooligan and they use that pass all.the.time.

As someone who is working-class, an activist, a person of Color, a woman, a person with a disability, a fat person, someone committed to media and social justice, this experience was very “tip of the iceberg.” Think of cultural competence training but with a focus on sexuality. All of the discussions on “culture” were focused outside the US as if we don’t have enough culture to discuss here. Images of people in Thailand, Mexico, and from the Pacific Islands were presented. It was very “othering” of communities of Color by older White men or more specifically from a White gaze. Perhaps if I experienced this 10 years ago when I was just starting out in the field would this have had more of an impact, then again I had a tons of consciousness-raising experiences growing up and at home.

What I did appreciate about this space was that I had folks to say “hi” to during the conference the next day. They also fed us breakfast, lunch and snacks, which cut down on my expenses. I also realized that a SAR especially for people of Color and sexologists of Color is imperative. I also realized SARs do not have to be so expensive. There can be ways to make the SAR a collective and affordable experience. However, making connections with folks was difficult as many people already knew others there or had come with a group. I was among my peers but I was still alone. I ate dinner alone and went to my room and began to write.

My next post will focus on my experience at the actual conference. Boy did things take a 360 turn for the better!

Winners of Free Books!

Hopefully you all ready about my May giveaway for Latino Book Month and Asian Heritage Month. I've got some lucky winners and here they are (just first name and location!) Those who won the Asian Heritage Month books have received the book Strangers from a Different Shore by the activist scholar Ron Takaki who died this week.

I hope you all enjoy your books and I look forward to hosting future giveaways!

Week 1 Yadira, NY-Latino Book Month
Week 2 Crystal, DC-Asian Heritage Month
Week 3 Rosa, MD-Latino Book Month
Week 4 Jillian, NJ-Asian Heritage Month

RIP Ron Takaki

If you were reading earlier this month, you know that May is Asian Heritage Month and part of the book giveaway I hosted had a book by Ron Takaki: Strangers from a Different Shore.

Asian Week has published the first obituary for Ron Takaki that I've found. Below is a quote from this obituary:

Ron Takaki was one of the most preeminent scholars of our nation’s diversity, and considered “the father” of multicultural studies. As an academic, historian, ethnographer and author, his work helped dispel stereotypes of Asian Americans. In his study of multicultural people’s history in America, Takaki seeked to unite Americans, today and in the future, with each other and with the rest of the world.

Paz, luz, y amor.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Unlock the Condoms!

Condoms save lives. Quote me on that. It also helps you plan when you want to create a life you are for. So condoms are good for everyone (yes even those of you who identify as female and love other females, they can cover sex toys and make for easy clean up!)

Join me in signing the CHAMP (Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project) letter to CVS CEO Tom Ryan who has locked condoms up, especially in working class communities and communities of Color. Visit the website to send the form letter. Below I have cut and pasted what the CHAMP letter says in case you want to cut and paste into a formal letter.

Mr. Tom Ryan

C.E.O., CVS Caremark Corporation
One CVS Drive
Woonsocket, RI 02895

Dear Mr. Ryan,

Our organization is part of a national coalition of community organizations, health care educators and advocates. We believe CVS Caremark Corporation’s practice of locking up condoms, especially in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, is both short-sighted and dangerous.

Health and consumer advocates coast to coast are demonstrating against CVS’s practices that stigmatize condoms and condom users and calling on CVS to unlock condoms in all communities. Coverage of our actions in the New York Daily News, Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Daily News, Boston Globe, Miami Herald and other newspapers as well as from National Public Radio and dozens of television news broadcasts has elevated awareness of CVS’s disrespect for communities of color and fueled a growing demand for corporate reform.

We are encouraged that your corporation has taken a positive first step by unlocking condoms in its Philadelphia and Boston stores, after community demonstrations in those cities. However, it is crucial that this same access be provided to consumers in all cities and in all communities.

We urge CVS to put the health of our communities first and adopt a written policy that ensures all condoms are permanently unlocked in all communities across the country, regardless of race.

Please consider the following staggering statistics, evidence of the public health crisis our communities face:

* Nationwide, HIV/AIDS is the No. 1 killer of black American women between 25 and 34. And rates (of infection) for Hispanic women nationally are four times those of white women, while rates for black women are 15 times those of white women.
* Over the past decade, gay men and other men who have sex with men face rising rates of HIV infection, with the highest rates in young black gay and bisexual men. Nearly half - 46% - of black gay and bisexual men are believed to already be infected.
* A sexually active teenager who doesn't use contraceptives has a 90% chance of becoming pregnant within one year, and approximately 750,000 teens become pregnant each year.
* Every year 3 million teens acquire an STD.

Clearly we cannot afford to stigmatize or limit access to condoms, creating unnecessary barriers to safe-sex practices. Your closest competitor, Walgreens, has a policy against locking up condoms in any of its stores. We hope that you will follow Walgreens’ lead in promoting better health practices in all communities.

We stand with communities across the country in saying “Cure CVS Now!” We will continue to keep a watchful eye on CVS and its role in providing care to our communities.

Common Sense EVERY Day

I can't wait until Sunday to share this with you all. This is our newest Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor (yes, I do believe she will get confirmed!):

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

Ever have that feeling of love and connection when someone finally gets "it"? Add to that person having POWER and looking just like you! (And yes she did do one of my pet peeves: say "Latina woman" it's a double positive, but at this moment and time we deserve a double positive!)

citation NY Times

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Links I'm Loving: Latina Sexuality!

I've got so many blog posts on my mind, but grading student papers and turning in grades is priority, so bare with me! The semester will be over this week!

As I get it together, my homegirls are taking care of business! Check out these dope links on Latinas that all have to do with our sexuality!

If you want to see me live and in person I'm going to Hispanic Panic! this Wednesday to see my favorite Puerto Rican Mami Meagan "La Mamita Mala" Oritz as well as other fantastic LGBT/Feminist/all around dope artists! Cover is FREE, that's right in my budget. Visit here for details!

My homegirl GoddessJaz sent this link to me entitled What I Learned From Watching 500 Adult Films.

Homegirl Liza from sent this link to the White House Montage of the newest Supreme Court Justice, a Puerto Rican from the boogie-down, Judge Sonia Sotomayer

2009 DC Caribbean Film Festival is coming up next week! If you are in the area definitely go!

Finally, my homegirl and fellow sex worker, dopegirlfresh, has posted an amazing muse about her experience and privilege being a sex worker. It's good reading, required if you take my class!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday Night Common Sense

I've been talking a lot with my homegirl Erika Lopez, and not just via emails, twitter, but on the telephone as well! We've reconnected in real life. That reconnection sends me to her early texts to reread them. Today's Common Sense comes from her Lap Dancing for Mommy: Tender Stories of Disgust, Blame, and Inspiration where she writes:

"What happened to all that CUNT positive thinking?"
pg. 1

Any answers?

Fighting Cholitas

I found this video as it is a part of a documentary about female Bolivian wrestlers. I wonder what this will do about the ideas of gender, performance, bodies as commodities, brown indigenous Latina bodies being viewed, if questions of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression will be projected onto them, and how/if women are finding new ways to work within a particular setting. What do you think? Here's what is rumored to be the trailer.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

LOVE this video

I've got tons of ideas for future posts, so stay tuned! In the meantime, I LOVE this video of Ana Ortiz, Hilda from Ugly Betty, at a same-gender marriage rally this past weekend. Thanks to Blabbeando for posting this video (there's more, so check them out!).

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday Night Common Sense

I decided that after a week at a Sex Conference, being with an amazing homegirl, and just being in the desert, I wanted to quote a film where I saw my first sexologist of Color. That was in the Spike Lee film She's Gotta Have It. If you don't know the film you must see it to then understand what amazing female actor was cast in that film and who is now a strong Black woman on prime time television!

The main character Nola Darling states:

It's really about control, my body, my mind. Who was going to own it? Them? Or me? I'm not a one-man woman. Bottom line.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sex Conference

I'm in the southwest, Arizona to be exact, for the AASECT Conference. This is the annual conference for sexuality educators, counselors and therapists. I'm seeing a homegirl from high school I have not seen since graduation, that's over a decade!

Then I'm at the pool everyday that I'm at the hotel, get a manicure, pedicure and facial. I've earned it after these several months of working! Plus my dogs are barking!

Then I'm going to this event at the Heard Museum

I'll write more as things progress. I'm crossing my fingers this conference will be surprising and filled with experiences that I appreciate and can learn and grow from professionally. That was part of what I had wanted for this year when I did my ritual with my homegirls the last time I came to AZ in February. If you want up to the minute information on what I'm doing, go follow me on twitter!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sunday Night Common Sense

In the US, today is considered Mother's Day. I've found a great quote, but regardless of this being Mother's Day, I would have posted this. I started to reread the book David's Story by Zoe Wicomb, a Black South African woman writer. It is through this book that I am reminded of this quote:

This was the decade of brave baby girls with tightly bound guerrilla heads, which goes some way towards explaining the little-known fact that the Movement managed to recruit so many coloured women.

p. 9

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Sex Work IS Work

If you've ever doubted that people who are sex workers actually do WORK, I want you to look at this video and try to tell me that there is not a level of discipline, athleticism, grace, organization, creativity, stamina, strength, and beauty in this work:

That's Felix Crane from Australia who is the 2009 Miss Pole Dance World held by the Miss Pole Dance UK and World Pole Dancing Competition. Read more about the 2009 World Pole Dance Winners.

I don't know about ya'll but I was mesmerized! It's almost like a clip from Cirque de Soleil .

via dlisted.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday Juicy Goodness

This morning I woke up to so much good stuff in my inbox and on the television. The first good thing I came to was a story about a young 17 year-old woman of Color, Fallon Smith, who created a 11 minute documentary in her school in Upper Marlboro, MD on sexuality and unprotected sex. She then worked with the students interviewed, had them trained to be sexual health advocates, then worked with her school to host an event where her documentary was shown to students and conversations were led on sexuality. I'm begging someone, anyone to give her a scholarship! If I had some money or access to resources that could help her I would send them her way. She's an amazing example for young activists!

Next, I got this email asking for urgent action to be taken by us to stand in support of President Obama's efforts to cut spending on abstinence-only education. Advocates for Youth have sent out this note and have helped generate letters so you can send to your congressional representatives.

In a more gender-equal-but-canceled-out-cause-of-gender-stereotyping news, Depends adult support has created new ads targeting both men and women. Historically I've only seen ads geared towards women and incontinence. Now they are including men as they have made Depends for men. Yet, these ads are a bit troubling in a gender stereotyping way. Take a look:

This one is with people of Color called "Driver"

This one is called "Rules the World"and has hints of heterosexism

FYI, to everyone with a vulva, if you are not yet at a place where you need Depends products, you can work on strengthening your PC muscles, which if they are weak, when we sneeze or cough, we may have a bit of urine that escapes from the urethra. You may have heard of Kegel exercises, but they do work and are helpful for childbirth and recovering from childbirth. You must do them right first! I learned this just a few years ago. When I do them right I feel pressure (and pleasure sometimes) near my clitoris and my tension extends all the way back to my bum, but that's how I know I'm doing them correctly!

Just like Depends, PC muscle exercises are not just for people with vulvas, people with penis can also work on their PC muscles to help with any "dribble" after ejaculation, help with pre-mature ejaculation (early ejaculation), and helping with your orgasms. You can do PC exercises without anyone knowing you are doing them!

Then, my homegirl Erika Lopez, announced she would share some of her works in progress live this weekend. So if you are in California, the Mission/San Francisco area, check her out at Make Out Room, 3225 22nd street, 7:30, San Francisco, CA. Also, follow her on twitter for other engagements & rants.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Walk To Beat The Clock

An organization close to my heart is one that I helped to co-found with an amazing group of women in the DC area: Tamika & Friends, Inc. The goal of Tamika & Friends, Inc is to end cervical cancer through prevention and education. I was the Director of Sexual Health until I moved back to NYC. One of the main events Tamika & Friends, Inc. sponsors are walks for cervical cancer. The DC Walk is May 16, 2009 and if you are in the MD, DC, VA area or anywhere close by (PA, DE, etc.) please consider attending.

Read more about the Walk and Register. If you are in NYC there is a walk that is being planned for the future. Also, look out for their new updated website coming soon with an article on coping and accepting your scars by yours truly!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

On my mind: Harm Reduction

I've been thinking about harm reduction lately. I had a training with an organization I work for last weekend and we were asked how to facilitate a discussion on HIV prevention and education with youth who buy into an oppressive and stereotypical patriarchal ideology where men are more powerful and women less powerful. There was a lot of silence, and a lot of questions.

I started to think about harm reduction. We know harm reduction as "meeting people where they are at" and realizing that each person makes the best decision for them at that time in their life. Self-determination; agency as the feminists like to say. As an educator and activist, I choose to respect where people are as I hope others respect where I am at as we move through a situation or seek assistance or community.

I said that in such a situation where young people think, for example, that women should not have condoms because that's a man's responsibility, that harm reduction may not just be so far to the "left," that being progressive also can be meeting people where they are even if they are at the other/opposite end of the "left." You know, a similar argument that there are multiple forms of feminisms not just one form. Can there can be multiple forms of harm reduction not just one?

Now, I'm not one to do this often in my other forms of activism, but I do recognize that work within the HIV community and field, there are spaces that I am an outsider and the message will not be received by me in ways by insiders. I also realize that it may be possible to implement a harm reduction approach for someone who believes a male dominated society is the "right" society. If I am in front of a group that values that perspective, I think I may be able to meet them there and break down ideas of masculinity, what does it mean to be a provider, what kind of stress that puts on young boys and men? How does this intersect with HIV risk and decreasing such risks?

Can harm reduction work in that way too? Or are we keeping harm reduction as one specific form of activism and work? I really want to know what others think.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sunday Night Common Sense

When I was not working I subscribed to get a ton of magazines for free. I had lots of big plans for art projects, I still do. But right now as I'm working the magazines are in my bathroom or taking up space in a corner. In the bathroom this week is May 2009 issue of Interview Magazine. The first full interview I read was with Yusuf Islam "the artist formally known as Cat Stevens" reads the first sentence in the headline.

Interview asked Islam:

"Why are spirituality and sexuality so often at odds with each other? It seems that most spiritual belief systems have a difficult time integrating those two energies."

Islam's response is this evening's Common Sense. He says:

"The sexual act--separating that from love itself--is centered solely in the body, whereas spirituality is connected to the whole self. Whether it's a female, a taste, or a sound, all these beautiful things affect our self. We are the perceivers of beauty, and that's why sex doesn't quite go far enough. You can go much further with the spiritual."

This is one of the best arguments for masturbation if I've ever heard one. I interpret this as an attempt to share with us how we separate the love from the act of sex. We can practice how to not seperate those two right now! You can merge the body, love, and the spirit and have an amazing orgasm. Get to work! May is Masturbation Month!

May: Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month

I gave you 3 other events that are celebrated in May, and Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month is another. It deserves its own post, and I think goes hand in hand with Masturbation Month. There is even a Latino Initiative with a list of resources.

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
always has free items for organizations and communities who want to spread the word on the issue (like the banners I found for this site). Here are a few highlights from their website:

If you are a parent, mentor, adult in a young person's life, they also have a Quiz you can take together, or that the young person in your life can take on their own. They offer scenarios for each question and the young people get to choose which way they would respond.

Watch the documentary Too Young which follows young mothers of different races and ethnicity discuss their experiences being a young parent, conversations with their parents that did/not help, and challenges they encounter. You also hear from a young father and the struggles he has with providing for his child.

Look at the Numbers:

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy's DCR Report (Data, Charts, Research), states that:

More than two-thirds of all pregnancies to African American women are unplanned (69%).

More than half of all pregnancies to Latina women are unplanned (54%).

Four in ten pregnancies to non-Hispanic white women are unplanned (40%).

SIDEBAR: "Latina women" is a double positive, and therefore grammatically incorrect. If you are saying LatinA you are already saying woman, it's a gendered term. If you say "Latino women" well then it's ok, but why when you can say "Latina"? This is an error many organizations make, so if you are attempting to reach us and our young Latinas, get the terminology together first. Also, what's the deal with using "Latina women" and then "non-Hispanic" terminology? Consistency would be nice, but I'd prefer "non-Latino" to replace "non-Hispanic" personally.

The Guttmacher Institute, which I have mentioned before, reports on pregnancy rates, birth rates, and abortion rates:

In 2002 (when the most recent data is available) 84% of Latinas who became pregnant gave birth.

In Puerto Rico alone, 60% of teens gave birth.

Of pregnant Latinas, 28.5% terminated their pregnancy

Not in their data, but I did find a CDC round up that shows Native youth have a birth rate of 55% and among Asian American youth the birth rate is 17%. All rates are for youth living in the US.

This is important data, because there is a lot of stereotypes about Latinas and their ideas and practices surrounding the option of abortion. This data challenges those stereotypes and shows that we are more complicated than they thought we were!

If you are looking for more information on the reproductive health of Native youth keep a look out for Native Youth Sexual Health it's coming soon!

Friday, May 1, 2009

FREE Giveaway

Free? Giveaway? That's a double positive right? Well that's because it is a double dose of juicy book goodness! If you did not know: May is not only Masturbation Month, but also Latino Book Month and Asian Heritage Month! (If you think books about Asian heritage seems odd on a Latino Sexuality blog, you NEED to sign up for the books to read how our histories intersect! You can't understand Latino history without understanding Asian history too!). Our supportive friends at Hachette Book Group will be giving away 5 FREE books for Latino Book Month AND Asian Heritage Month!

All YOU have to do to get FREE books is leave a comment on this blog and I'll select a winner each week in the Month of May! That's up to 5 winners this month! The best part is: if you are a winner you win all 5 books of that genre!

Here's what to do:

Leave a comment that has a link to how to reach you (personal blog, email address, etc.)

It's that easy!

Here are some rules:

1. You can leave as many comments as you want for May, but ONLY for this posting

2. I can only offer this giveaway to US and Canadian residents (sorry !if you have a friend in these places and win send me their info and we can ship it to them and they can ship it to you! (on their dime of course))

3. No PO Boxes please

Want to know what the books are? Check them out:

1. B as in Beauty By Alberto Ferreras ISBN: 0446697893

2. Into the Beautiful North By Luis Urrea ISBN: 0316025275

3. Hungry Woman in Paris By Josefina Lopez ISBN: 0446699411

4. The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos By Margaret Mascarenhas ISBN: 0446541109

5. Houston, We Have a Problema By Gwendolyn Zepeda ISBN: 0446698520

1. Free Food for Millionaires By Min Jin Lee ISBN: 0446699853

2. Trail of Crumbs By Kim Sunée ISBN: 0446697907

3. The Fortune Cookie Chronicles By Jennifer Lee ISBN: 0446698970

4. Transparency By Frances Hwang ISBN: 0316166936

5. Strangers from a Different Shore By Ronald Takaki ISBN: 0316831301

Long Live QUEEN!

I saw an early screening of the latest on-screen collaboration with Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna, Rudo y Cursi. I'll post a link to my review when my editor publishes it next week. In short, if there were ever a film to spend $10 it would be this one! If you didn't know who is behind this film here's a rundown:

writer & director: Carlos Cuarón (Y Tu Mamá También)
Producers: Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men)
Alejandro González Iñárritu (Amores Perros, 21 Grams)
Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth)

You MUST go see this film!

But this is not a post about the film, it's more so a post about how shocked and eerie it was to see Diego Luna with a mustache. My shock and nostalgia was because Luna looks just like a young Freddie Mercury! Check these photos out!

Here is Diego Luna, photo credit to Sony Pictures and Not convinced? Check this photo out of Luna.

Here is Freddie Mercury, musician and co-founder of the band Queen, photo credit MuchMusic &

Some may wonder why this is so eerie and nostalgic, well perhaps it's because you are not familiar with Queen or Freddie Mercury. They were amazing! Some of the most fantastic performances, lyrics, entertainment was created by the band. Part of this performance was playing with the idea of gender, masculinity, and blurring what one must look like to be a man. Plus, Mercury, as a man of Color, gay, out, and HIV positive (although not out about his status until the day before his death).

I caught a documentary of Freddie Mercury on the Logo Channel earlier in April while visiting my family. Mercury leaves us with an amazing legacy of his work and how he has uses his craft as a form of activism.

Rumors have it that a new film about Mercury is in the works and that Johnny Depp is said to play him. I'd argue for Luna to play him, although I wouldn't mind either of the two, and chances are Depp draws a larger audience than Luna. Nonetheless, seeing Luna in the film took me back to the days when music was like this where the call-and-response gives me chills!: