Browsing Tag:

sexuality

  • Writing

    Yasmeen’s Not so Modern Life: The Series

    Yasmeens's Not so Modern Life: The Series

    Note From GirlSpring: This is the first part of a fictional series from our one of our contributors. GirlSpring empowers girls to be creative in different outlets, such as fiction writing (as this is). If you want to become a contributor, head over to www.girlspring.com/submit.

     

    Episode 1: “It’s Life”

    Hi, my name is Yasmeen Marie Pepei Lopez, I know I know a very very very long name but that’s what my abeula Roseleen named me. I am a sophomore and I go to James County High School but everyone just calls it J.C.

    “yasmeen! hurry up, you’re gonna be late!” my mom xiomara yelled.

    “coming!” I said as I put on my sneakers and head down the stairs.

    “well look who’s alive.” my papá roberto said as he picked up his bag.

    “I know, i know..” I said picking up some toast as I heard my brother xzaiver’s car horn beep indicating that he’s about to leave.

    “better hurry mija.” my mom said entering the kitchen.

    “I’m going, love you guys.” I said hurrying outside.

    “love you too, be safe!” my mom yelled as I approached the car and hopped in.

    “took you long enough.” xzaiver said pulling off.

    “yeah yeah, whatever.” I said.

    “what if I’m late?” my sister ava said.

    and here it goes, let me just give you a run down on my life.

    I have three siblings, xzaiver who’s 17, ava who’s 12, then joey who’s 7. we all have very different personalities, just like me and my best friends, but in the end we’re one big family.

    speaking of friends, let me introduce you to them.

    first, we have isiah, he’s very outspoken and a wild card you could say. he LOVES makeup, and you rarely see him without it he’ll probably start his own makeup company one day, he also happens to be gay but he’s open about it and we wouldn’t trade him for the world.

    next, we have kacey, she’s the artist of the group you will never ever see her without her pencils and her sketchbook. most people think she’s shy but when you get to know her..let’s just say not so shy..

    then there’s elijah, we just call him eli. he’s the star quaterback, the “hot jock” everyone loves. even through he plays football and seems like that “hottie” that’s too cool for school, he’s actually a huge geek. he loves astrology and star wars and anything that deals with the galaxy but not many people know that but us..

    and onto ivy, ivy is the mom of the group she’s also putting herself before us and also keeping us in shape and at times out of trouble. not at all times though, she loves to dance so she will occasionally drag her to a party or two and then.. a whole new ivy comes out.

    next is nova, nova is the more reserved and quite one, her parents hold certain standards over her that kind of makes her not that social, but when she’s around us she’s herself. she’s actually really funny and loves to collect cameras. she has a huge passion for the photographer world.

    after her, there’s isabella, but we call her izzy. she has a passion for music and playing instruments, you will never not hear her singing or making some type of music.

    last but not least, theodore, yes that his name but he goes by teddy. he loves nature and animals and he’s always dragging us on some type of adventure. he will not just stay in one place, he’s determined to travel the entire world and we most definitely can see that.

    and that’s our group, we’re not all perfect and we don’t always get along but hey, that’s natural.

    “see if one of your friends can take you home, I have baseball practice” xzaiver said as we hopped out.

    ‘thanks for the late heads up” I said sarcastically

    “you’re most definitely are welcome” he smirked walking away to his group of friends.

    “yass yasmeen!’ isiah yelled out walking up to me.

    ” you look fab-ou-lous honey!” he said causing me to laugh.

    “thanks siah, where is everyone else?” I asked as we intertwined arms heading into the school.

    “I think they-” is all he could get out before they all head towards our way.

    “right here.” he laughed.

    “morning chicas” isiah said hugging everyone as I do the same.

    “why are you always so happy in the morning?” kacey asked rolling her eyes.

    ‘because, who wouldnt be this happy when you look like this?” he said doing a vogue and walking down the hall as if it was a fashion show walk way.

    the bell ring sounds for homeroom.

    “and it starts, see you guys at lunch.” I say as we all part our ways.

    nova, teddy and I head to the same class.

    “so there’s this party this weekend at rebecca’s house, we should go” teddy said as we took our seats.

    “not really up for a party…you know how my parents are.” nova said.

    “just say you’re staying at my place to study.” I said.

    “I would but its too close to weekly exams and you know how my dad gets around this time” she said sadly.

    she’s right, you know how people makes jokes about how smart asians are and how their parents are super super strict well those are nova’s parents. they expect her to make all A’s and be the perfect daughter and go to church and be an innocent angel.

    “we’ll come up with something.” teddy said.

    “maybe..” nova replied.

    “okay, what’s really wrong? you seem more off them usual.” teddy said as the teacher told us to quiet down so he could take roll.

    “I’ll tell you later.” she said turning her attention onto the teacher.

    teddy and I gave each other a look, nova’s usually not like this but whatever it is hopefully it’s nothing too bad but in this group you honestly never know.

    but hey, everyone goes through all kinds of stuff especially at our age but that’s life.

  • Sexual Health

    A Teen’s Guide to Asexuality

    By G and C

    The word “asexual” is used in many different ways and can mean many things.

    If you’re looking for a general definition when it comes to orientation, an asexual person is a person who does not experience sexual attraction (according to www.asexuality.org). The intensity of a person’s asexuality can vary heavily. This can cause each asexual person to have different experiences. For example, just because someone is asexual doesn’t mean they do not seek romance or a partner. Someone who is asexual can have a romantic orientation (ex. heteroromantic, homoromantic, biromantic, etc.) or be aromantic. Asexuality in itself is a spectrum. There are a variety of ways asexuals may choose to label themselves. They also might not choose a label at all. Asexuality is about attraction, not action. One may still desire sex or engage in other sexual activities and be asexual.

    As the authors of this article, we want to share our personal experiences with asexuality. We also share where we feel we are on the spectrum. Asexuality can be a confusing sexuality for people to understand because it is so broad. We hope our experiences will give insight to other people who are curious about the orientation.

    Author G –

    I was fourteen when I first started to wonder if I might be asexual.

    Before then, I thought to be asexual meant you didn’t want to be in a relationship at all. Not, that you didn’t feel any kind of attraction besides platonic. I realized I was wrong when I started telling my friend about how sexual stuff and the thought of sex itself grossed me out. She asked if I had considered that I might be asexual and I thought that couldn’t be true. Then, she gave me the real definition: being asexual doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t want a relationship. It also doesn’t mean you can’t feel romantic attraction. It just means you don’t feel attracted to anyone in a sexual way, which actually fit the way I felt.

    Sexual stuff had always weirded me out. I thought everyone else felt the same way- until I realized less and less of my friends thought it was gross. I began to think that I might not just be a “late bloomer.” Some of my friends were already trying out things like masturbation and watching porn. Every time they mentioned it, I thought it sounded disgusting. I had no interest in any of it and this became another sign I might be asexual when I really started to consider that I was.

    For a while, I avoided giving myself the label because I still thought there might be the possibility I was late to the party.

    Technically, there still is a chance I could wake up one day and begin to feel sexual attraction. And that’s not a bad thing. But time went on, and I kept being uninterested in sexual stuff. Eventually, I decided to own the label and let people know I felt this way. I’m still not out to everyone. In a way, I admit I’m embarrassed that I don’t feel sexual attraction. Luckily I’m surrounded by accepting friends and I’ve learned to accept it myself. Not feeling attraction sexually doesn’t mean you’re late. It doesn’t mean you’re innocent. And it doesn’t mean you’re weird. It’s just the way you are and there are other people like you. Don’t be afraid to accept yourself!

    Author C –

    I have always known how I felt, but I never found a label for myself until the beginning of ninth grade.

    I began to notice the sexual experiences and feelings of my friends and peers in middle school. Constantly, I wondered when I would be able to relate to them. My friends enjoyed movies with sex scenes in them and they made out with their partners, things which I just did not feel the same way about. I would google questions like “What age are you supposed to want sex?” and “Is it ok to not like anyone in a sexual way?” It took me a few years to finally discover the word “asexual”, and it sounded like a perfect fit for me. I was worried at first that I might have hypoactive sexual desire disorder, another word I stumbled across on the internet.

    However, people with this disorder tended to experience distress, but I was personally content with my lack of sexual attraction or desire.

    The only confusion I felt was why I was so different from everyone else and the sexual culture around me. Although I had finally found a label I was happy with, I felt cut off from the world. The website AVEN (The Asexual Visibility and Education Network) provided an online community which validated my experiences and helped answer any questions I had.

    I had not realized that I knew another person who also identified as asexual until this year.

    I have been friends with G for a long time but did not realize she was asexual until recently. It was incredibly validating to find a friend who I could relate to and we decided to write this article for Girlspring readers. “Asexual” is still a widely unknown term, which is part of why the community seems so small right now. My hope is that our article will help other asexuals figure out who they are in a society that may struggle to understand them.

    There is a culture surrounding teenagers that demands that they must constantly want sex and that no teenage relationship goes without it.

    This is specifically harmful to teenagers that identify as asexual or feel like they might be asexual. Society portrays all teenage relationships as filled with sex. Media says in order to have a healthy relationship, you must have sex regularly. This is scary to asexual people. It makes us feel separated from everyone else. It makes other teenagers think that we are innocent or “lame” for not wanting sex. There is also pressure to feel like we must be willing to have sex to keep our partner happy.

    Some asexual people are sex-positive (okay with having sex out of curiosity or for the sake of their partner’s pleasure), so this may not be as much of a problem for them.

    For asexual people who are uncomfortable with having sex at all, the culture surrounding sex can make it scary for us to tell a partner that we don’t want to do sexual things for the fear that they might break up with us because of that. It is not right that sex and sexual activities are forced down the throats of teenagers in general. It gives asexual teenagers a much harder experience coming out and trying to seek romance if they fall under a romantic orientation in particular. Asexuals already only making up a small minority of the population. The sex culture in the media can make it worse for us to accept ourselves and get others to accept us. This is part of the reason we wrote this article: to bring more awareness to those on the asexual spectrum and make asexuals feel less out of place.

     

    Do you think you might be asexual? The one similarity between all asexuals is that they do not feel sexual attraction (sexual attraction is the desire for sexual contact with someone). Here are some other possible signs you could be an “ace”:

    • Not understanding when other people describe someone as “hot” or “sexy”.
    • Feeling uncomfortable when people ask questions about sexual behaviors and preferences.
    • Feeling out of place at sleepovers, school, or anywhere that sex may become a topic of conversation or interest of those around you.
    • Having trouble defining or differentiating between different types of attraction (romantic, sexual, sensual, aesthetic, platonic, etc.)
    • No desire to engage in any kind of sexual activities.
    • Not understanding the difficulty some people have with celibacy or abstinence because you would be generally content without engaging in sexual activities.

     

    Do you know someone who identifies as asexual? Here are some good rules of thumb on what is or is not appropriate to do or say to an asexual person:

    APPROPRIATE

    • Not revealing or pressuring them to reveal their orientation to anyone without their permission.
    • Doing research to better understand their identity and to be more respectful
    • Being a supportive friend regarding their asexuality

     

    INAPPROPRIATE

    • Asking questions like “Are you a plant?”, “Are you sure you just haven’t found the right person yet?”, or “Isn’t asexuality fake?”
    • Labeling them as “innocent”, “odd”, or “prude”
    • Making jokes about their orientation, especially in public, that might cause them to feel uncomfortable

     

    Click here for more information.

  • Photography

    Being Comfortable in Your Own Skin

    Being Comfortable in Your Own Skin

    by Sarah Vice

    It has become so easy to tell people to stand up for themselves and to take the criticism surrounding their circumstances, but when it comes to your livelihood as a teenager, “coming out” may not be possible. If you live in a heavily religious home, or just a morally “traditional” homestead, then you have limited options to what sexual opportunities there are. I remember a friend of mine telling me that he was so scared to be homosexual that he quit school to be homeschooled to be away from other boys. A girl I knew in high school started hurting herself because she felt unable to love who she wanted to love, due to the fear of being kicked out of her home.

    In situations like these, we come back to the realization that sexual preference is not something everyone has access to. If you are stressed because of your home life, then reach out for help. Please do not consider harming yourself or others, when professionals are willing to spend time talking with you and helping you figure out a better way to express yourself.

    Here are some tips from me on what to do when you are feeling like a part of you is missing:

    1. Keep a journal. I know it sounds silly and may be difficult for some, but write down everything. If you find someone, you like, but do not have the courage or ability to reach out to them, write about it. Write a heavily detailed letter to your guardians about how what they’re doing is hurting you (you do not have to give this to them). This works just as well with art, or wood carving, or any other form of creativeness. Take your stress out on something that makes you happy.
    2. Keep close friends that understand who you truly are. This way you feel less like your hiding it from the world but are still able to keep it from your parents or guardians.
    3. Read books. There are a lot of authors who have probably experienced similar situations to yours. All you have to do is find them. (This works for television as well).
    4. Get an animal or thing that you can use as something to talk to. Animals relieve stress and are always there to listen. If owning a pet is something you don’t have access to, then have a stuffed animal or important relic to talk to.

    Before hiding who you are, always be sure to have conversations with your parents or guardians if you do not already know where they stand on the subject. Sometimes people can surprise you.

    If you ever feel alone in your struggle or would just like some company, you can check out the Magic City Acceptance Center at the following link:

    http://www.magiccityacceptancecenter.org/

  • Sexual Health

    Understanding Sexual Health

    Coming up with a definition of sexual health is a difficult task, as each culture, sub-culture, and individual has different standards of sexual health. ASHA believes that sexual health includes far more than avoiding disease or unplanned pregnancy. We also believe that having a sexually transmitted infection or unwanted pregnancy does not prevent someone from being or becoming sexually healthy.

    Here is ASHA’s definition of sexual health:

    Sexual health is the ability to embrace and enjoy our sexuality throughout our lives. It is an important part of our physical and emotional health. Being sexually healthy means:

    • Understanding that sexuality is a natural part of life and involves more than sexual behavior.
    • Recognizing and respecting the sexual rights we all share.
    • Having access to sexual health information, education, and care.
    • Making an effort to prevent unintended pregnancies and STDs and seek care and treatment when needed.
    • Being able to experience sexual pleasure, satisfaction, and intimacy when desired.
    • Being able to communicate about sexual health with others including sexual partners and healthcare providers.

     

    Defining Sexual Health

    ASHA Board member and professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine J. Dennis Fortenberry, MD, considers the term sexual health, how it is used, and how it can be defined.

    The phrase “sexual health” encompasses a range of public health and clinical issues related to prevention of sexually transmitted infections. I use the phrase a lot in my own work and its widening currency is a welcome new paradigm in our field. In fact, the concept of sexual health seems to me of fundamental relevance to all aspects of prevention of sexually transmitted infections.

    To be honest, though, all of the talk about sexual health doesn’t seem to have influenced the day-to-day particulars of our work. Sex still is primarily seen as a set of risk factors that we counsel against. I am convinced that this perspective on sex and sexuality as “risk” legitimates the stigma associated with sexually transmitted infections and contributes to our society’s poisonous intolerance of sexual diversity. A sexual health perspective incorporates the concept of personal and epidemiologic risks of sex, but recognizes the pervasive importance of sex in our lives.

    However, I’ve begun to wonder if I know what sexual health means in the first place. It’s a big concept, and maybe it’s natural that definitions seem idealistic, overwrought, and self-righteous. Consider the well-known working definition of the World Health Organization:

    “Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.”

    There is a lot to agree with in this definition, especially in its recognition of the complex physical, emotional, mental and social attributes of sexual health, and the anchoring of sexual health in universal sexual rights. But, I find this definition to be quaintly admonishing and parental (“…the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences…”). More importantly, however, the definition is sexually vague. No matter how many times I’ve read, used, and cited this definition, I can’t derive from it even a rudimentary vision of how sexual health operates in people’s daily lives. I feel the same about the more recently wrought definition of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, particularly because sexual rights and of sexual pleasure are absent from that sexual health definition.

    So, maybe I need to get clearer with myself about what sexual health is. And, sexual health should be more than just the negatives: not coerced; not discriminated; not violent. The prevalence of these negatives in many people’s lives tells us how far we are from achieving a just and equitable society. But I think that sexual health ultimately requires much more active involvement from all of us, and it seems quite insufficient to hope that sexual health will arise on its own if coercion, discrimination, and violence are finally conquered.

    From: ASHA

  • Sexual Health

    Are You Ready for Sex?

    Sexual expression is an amazing gift. Sex, in its many different forms, can provide a way to express love, and learn about yourself and the ways in which you communicate with other people. With that said, sex is also deeply personal, and can result in feeling vulnerable to another person. Your reaction to sexual expression is uniquely yours, and only you can determine, in any relationship, when you’re ready to have sex.

    Even more importantly, no one ever has the right to pressure you into having sex. If you’re not ready–even if you and that person have had sex before–you always have the right to say no. It can be hard to say “no,” even if you want to; you might feel badly about hurting someone else’s feelings, or feel that there are expectations about what is supposed to happen. But you are the only person who should have control over your body.

    MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR YOU

    Are you ready for sex?

    The best way to prepare for the decision to have sex is to become comfortable with communicating about your needs. Choosing to take part in one kind of sexual activity doesn’t automatically mean that you’re up for anything. The best way to make sure that your limits are understood and respected is to have sex with a partner who not only respects you and your body, but who will talk with you before you have sex about your concerns and boundaries.

    Communicating these things before you’re actually in a sexual situation can be very helpful in making sure that you are both on the same page. If you don’t feel right about something, say so! Anyone who challenges your choices about whether or not to have sex is not giving you the respect that you deserve. Pay attention to your feelings, and don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for making decisions that are right for you.
    Your Feelings Are Your Own

    Because sex can bring about new feelings, it is helpful to think about your reactions, emotions and possible risks associated with sex. Make sure you take time to think about how to prepare yourself for an experience that could be wonderful, but can also be hard emotionally. These questions can be helpful:

    • How will you feel about yourself after you have sex?
    • Why is it a good idea to have sex now, with this person?
    • How will you feel about your partner after you have sex?
    • Can you talk to that person about how you’re protecting yourself against pregnancy and STD/STIs?

    If you’re new to sexual activity, have you spoken with someone you trust about how to find and use that protection (i.e. birth control methods, condoms, etc.) correctly?

     

    Abstinence

    Choosing abstinence, or making the decision not to have sex at all, is your option at any time. Even if you’ve had sex before, it’s still totally your right to decide that it’s not something that you want to do. You might choose not to have sex at all for a long time; you might decide not to do so after you’ve been sexually active for several years. Remember: it’s your body! Pay attention to your feelings, and give yourself time and space to make the best choice for you.

    Asexuality

    Asexuality is another thing that might come into play in your life. Being asexual means that you don’t feel sexual attraction to anyone. Remember that it is absolutely normal to experience phases in your life that don’t include sex. However, if you want to learn more about your own feelings of asexuality or feel uncomfortable about them – especially if they come about abruptly – don’t hesitate to talk to a doctor or therapist.

    From: ASHA

  • Articles, TRENDING

    All About Pride: An Interview with Marisa Sitz

    What does Pride mean to you?

    Pride” to me is an open declaration that I refuse to be shamed or to feel ashamed about whom and how I love. Unfortunately, the dominant culture and social structures of America (and largely, elsewhere also) is a heterosexual and cisgendered one. This disallows people whose sexuality and gender do not fit along these presets to live their lives comfortably and fully. “Pride” is a personal statement (I am unashamed) and an encouragement and act of solidarity (You should not feel ashamed either – we support you).

    Pride month and Pride parades in the us come from a history of protest and physical action against police and our government. The Pride movement (as with many other movements seeking civil equality and equity) was started by queer women of color, and these women inspire me today.

     

     

    What was your reaction to the legalization of gay marriage two years ago?

    I felt relieved and frustrated after the legalization of gay marriage in the US in 2015. This issue shouldn’t have taken us so long, and Ireland did it before us!! (Taiwan has since followed!) Also, as the LGBTQ+ community is wide and varied, and we all have individual experiences, identities, and goals. Gay Marriage is one of the many goals that the community is seeking, but arguably not the most pressing or dire. Marriage equality was a highly politicized topic that got a lot of traction and discussion in the US. Lots of people not in the LGBTQ+ community were eager to argue against it or could pretty easily see how it was a good idea. The issue got a lot of political traction and the fear was that people would see its passing as the resolution of every civil injustice against the community. Now that marriage equality is a reality, us gays could be free and happy and shouldn’t complain anymore.
    This is worrisome because there are other issues that need addressing also. We need to figure out how to resolve issues with civil treatment of transgender people (in general but also) specifically in incarceration facilities. Medical accessibility and affordability is an issue for all working class Americans, but especially LGBTQ+ ones, whose needs might not be met because of social prejudice and a lack of educated professionals. Violence against LGBTQ+ people is still prevalent and largely ignored. 30 trans people were killed in the US in 2016 and so far in 2017. Employers still discriminate, poverty still particularly affects LGBTQ+ people…we have a long way to go for LGBTQ+ rights, and we don’t want momentum to stop even though these issues are less interesting and more complicated than marriage equality.
    How would you define a “good ally”?
    A good ally is someone who takes the space they are already in and makes it feminist or queer or not monoethnic. If people want to be feminist or queer allies they should listen to others and use their platforms to draw attention to queer issues! These are true allies. Allies don’t need to belong in queer spaces!
    Have you had the chance to go to a pride parade? If so, which one(s) and what was it like?
    I have participated in three or so pride parades. I marched with the Glide Foundation in the 2014 San Francisco Pride Parade, and in fall of 2012 and 2013 marched with my university in the Atlanta pride parades. My first parade was the most extraordinary. Marching with friends and experiencing such a wild performance of love and celebration was so uplifting. I would joke that I went to pride to soak up energy and recharge so I could make it through the rest of the year. My favorite parts are seeing other queer youth (and older queer people!) marching happily together, and always the counter protest supporters like the Atlanta Angels and the Pansy Patrol. These groups stand between any protesters and the pride participants and block their signs with angel wings or large flower cut-out to help the LGBTQ+ community feel safe and supported during the festivities. These groups always make me emotional, and I love seeing them. I tell them thank you whenever I can.
    I was pleased to see that many parades so far this month have called out the corporate over-involvement in pride events. Businesses will march in parades to show their support–which is awesome!–but when you’re watching a parade and you’ve seen a number of corporations in a row wearing rainbows and throwing advertisements to the crowds, you can’t avoid the fact that these companies are benefiting off of their good press as lgbtq+ supportive organizations. Most of these companies prove that they don’t really care about LGBTQ+ people in their policies and workplace practices, but wear rainbows during pride month to get our business. I’d rather see the local boy scouts chapter or the local churches marching in support in a parade, and positions in the parade get sold to companies and businesses instead. Last year’s Atlanta parade was no fun because of this reason. Let us march in our own parades!
    Do you have any advice to give young girls who are either questioning or afraid to come out to their loved ones?
    My advice to young people questioning is to not let anyone dissuade you from your own questioning. Don’t let others tell you how to identify or how you feel–spend time with yourself and with good people you trust figuring out how you experience (or don’t experience ) love and attraction and your gender. Be kind to yourself on your journey–you have time to grow and change and explore. There’s no rush to figure everything out perfectly or even completely.
    My advice to people worried about coming out to your loved ones: it doesn’t get any less scary, I’m afraid. (If you aren’t scared: I’m so so so glad. That makes me hopeful for the future! Be unafraid!!) Every moment is an act of coming out. You have the right to control your own story and your coming out–whether it happens or not. I hope that we eventually get to a place where the “coming out” experience doesn’t happen anymore–where we can all stop making assumptions about each other and feel comfortable being ourselves without justification or reservation. But until then, always be safe. You are lovingly and wonderfully formed and be unashamed of that. Don’t let others dismiss you, but try and be patient with those who might have trouble. You’ve had time to think about your own identities, give them time too. Talk with them and invite them to ask questions. I’m so inspired by young queer people. You are all so brave and so beautiful and I’m so happy to watch you all share your brightness and queerness with the world.