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Sex Talk For Teens – Series (1 of 3)



This is the first installment of a three part series on Sex Talks For Teens. With the fallout over Teen Vogue’s article on anal sex, it’s clear that there needs to be some direct conversation around understanding the varied ways teens experiment with sex, risk factors for STD’s and STI’s, and just how to decode the ever changing language found across the sexual and gender spectrum.

Maneuvering While Queer

Parents should know that queer teens need a support system to deal with bullying, acute violence, and self-esteem issues. Even if it isn’t happening in your home, queer teens catch it at school, teen hangouts, spiritual communities, and in the media. Check the comments on social media on any given post dealing with anything remotely gay and you will be dismayed.

In many families, homophobia runs rampant from off-color jokes to hate speech. When the home isn’t a safe space, teens will look outside to find love and acceptance. The transitions that take place during the teen years are tumultuous enough on their own. Adding the stigma that comes with being queer proves too much for some and people can spend countless adult years trying to overcome bully filled childhood and teen memories.  

Sexual Minority Youth

Sexual Minority Youth,  are youth identifying as lesbian, gay, bi-attracted, and transgender need resources and information around healthy well-being which includes good sexual health can include anal sex.

This information may be hard for parents overall. No one wants to think about their child in sexual positions getting the most pleasure from their bodies and offering up the same to someone else. It’s T.M.I. For parents of queer teens resources aren’t always available from traditional channels. Keeping teens safe by arming them with “safer sex” resources, gives teens the means to make informed decisions.

While pregnancy may not be a concern for gay males and lesbians who only have sex with other lesbians, STD’s and STI’s can and do happen across the board.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reports findings from a 2015 study that documents 41% of high school students have had sex. The average age for losing one’s virginity is 16.9. Some teens start younger and some abstain until their 20’s.

HIV Remains 100% Preventable

Of HIV diagnoses for youth aged 13-24 in 2015, 81% were gay and bisexual males. Numbers don’t lie and they are way too high. This is evidence that avoiding the pink elephant in the living room is not working. Teens need access to sexual health information and someone to take concerns to who has knowledge.

Consider Getting Out Of Your Feelings

The Teen Vogue piece was informative and well written. What seems to have so many parents bent out of shape is the step-to-step guide for anal sex. Many parents and youth advocates felt the publication geared towards teens took things too far. They see the magazine as introducing specific sex acts too soon, and that it encourages “gay” sex.

What other types of sex would gay teens have? The article also includes information for teens who advocate for themselves. A good thing as a parent is not always available or open to discussions on sex. When a teen makes up their mind, (like most adults) they’re going for what they want.

Resources for Parents of Queer Youth

Checking homophobia at the door is needed to engage today’s youth in sex talks. If you’re a parent, an ally, or helping professional — get acquainted with queer identity and gender fluid language. There are books at the library and available through e-commerce and thousands of articles on the subjects available for free on the Internet. Telaina Eriksen, author of Unconditional lends insight for parents of queer youth. She wrote the book after seeking resources for her teen daughter who had come out as a lesbian. She allowed me to grace the pages with resources I have found helpful in my work.

Social media provides groups and pages where information and social interaction is available with others seeking information and a connection with others able to share insight.

What’s the Point of Burning Magazines and Books?

A video of a mom burning a copy of Teen Vogue to keep her impressionable teenage daughter away from such thoughts quickly went viral.  It was cheered for by those who felt Teen Vogue was doing way too much. Others cited they found the article provided solid information that would be beneficial to anyone interested in researching the topic.

Another mom took to television to speak about having Teen Vogue charged with indecency.  I think it is a  well-written article that helps teens use critical thinking in efforts to better understand their bodies and good sexual health. Totally. Radical.

Adults Can Guide, But Teens Have To Grow

Let’s give youth some respect. There are millions of teens of which some are queer. Str8 or queer, they’re human and therefore all are very likely to get the itch for sex at some point.  Many will take the time to research and really think about if they’re ready to take the leap.  Others will jump right in. “Netflix and Chill,” sounds cool, let’s get it.  For those who are uninitiated to sexing slang, it’s not watching a movie. It’s a movie followed by sex.The quickened heart and first hard crush feelings can be hard to ignore.

It’s Not An Alien, Your Kids Still In There!

As a parent, communication is everything. Teens shut down with their moody asses. It’s what they do. Parents are always amazed, “Where have my Lisa and Shawn gone? They’ve never acted like this before!” Okay. During the trying times, their conversations are reserved for BFF’s, the Bros, and Fam (The fam, in this case, relates to peers). As a parent, you may be left out all around until they feel like sharing. They need to know you’re open to talking anytime. Don’t pester though, it will push teens further away. Patience is key.

You Can Use Some New Information, Right?

Get it in when and while you can. There are always windows of opportunity for conversation. Use the waiting time to become educated on the real world of teens and sex so you come to the table with more than a set of preconceived beliefs. The following topics also bear discussion but may leave you feeling as bothered as some were about the anal sex piece. They include porn (a lot of which is free online), the adult entertainment industry, and getting lost and turned out.   

Talk About the Digital World

Broad categories, yes. These challenges can take teens way out of their lane and onto a path that has deeper consequences to sex. Each one presents a different set of issues. Porn is readily available. Even if your teen has a phone you programmed yourself, his/her bestie will have all access to theirs. If you haven’t checked lately, free porn is the devil. I don’t dare delve past the basic categories, I feel like I’ll be swallowed up by the black sinkhole of all the freak nasty going down.

Teach Teens to Be Discerning

Misogyny is an ongoing theme, whether it’s an amateur upload or a porn star with a huge following. The latest porn obsession seems to be ass licking. Some of which seems really forced. Porn is the first teacher for many seeking sexual knowledge. While porn can provide mechanical guidelines, as a rule, it should never be the primary source of information.  

We’ve established that anal sex is happening with queer youth. Parents have to make the choice in either supporting or leaving teens to fend on their own. I’m in no way suggesting that a tween or young teen become sexually active. Sex is a gigantic step. I am however advocating for open communication and a dose of reality.

Bottom Line

It’s imperative that teens know they always have the right to turn down sexual acts that make them uncomfortable or causes pain. Nothing under the sun is new, including sex. What’s different today from years past is the explosion of teens who know who they are early on.

Any parent who has taught their kid the hugeness of self-love, knowing one’s worth, and being willing to stand up for their beliefs has done a kick-ass job. That’s worth thinking about.

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  1. Ms. Vyk

    August 15, 2017 at 11:00 pm

    Excellent points and observations. I read the TEEN VOGUE article and although my eyebrows did raise up a few times it was a necessary piece. The bottom line Is teens and young adults ARE going to experiment and participate in sexual activities whether we (parents and/or “fuddy duddys} like it or not. Better to talk to your kids about this than have them sneaking around and possibly hurting themselves. The importance of protected sex is paramount and I find it dismaying that shows such as INSECURE portray sexual activity without the discussion or visible use of condoms (to her credit, the creator and writer Issa Rae has promised to address this issue in Season 3). And there be a LOT OF knockin’ boots going on!!! Young adults watching this and other shows, who are not knowledgeable and rely on media to get their sexual education, will be sorely misguided and are in danger of winding up with any number of STDs, STIs or getting pregnant.

    I applaud you, Imani, for addressing this serious issue and look forward to the next installment.

  2. Yacon Root

    October 21, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    I love to read this site. It’s an great read.

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How Moving to a New City is Different When You’re Queer



We all know what it’s like to move. You get a new job, or are accepted into college, and you start to plan. If you’re like most people, you worry about housing first. Where are you going to live? Will you need roommates to afford rent and food at the same time? Is it close to work and/or school? If you have a family, you have to consider your children and/or your spouse. After all of that, there’s the actual moving part. Renting the van, motivating yourself to pack boxes and somehow convincing yourself to throw away half of the junk you’ve collected over the years because you won’t miss a single piece of it. There are so many hundreds of factors that go into a move, all of which have to be carefully considered and carried out. It’s chaotic and exciting at the same time, and scares you more than anything.

Now imagine the same process, but as a queer person. I’m a queer woman, which puts me into two minority groups immediately. And as a queer woman, in order to even begin choosing a new place to live, I have to ask a few questions first:

  1. Where should I move? 

If you’re moving for a job, this is usually decided for you, and you’ve probably already done your research into what your new place of residence is like, as well as how the job is going to be. But say you’re going to college, and you’re picking places to apply. Some of what you have to consider includes things such as “do these schools have LGBT clubs,” “is the city around the school relatively gay-friendly?” When you’re queer, it’s almost never as simple as “Look, this school has the Philosophy program I’ve been wanting. I’ll pick that one.”

  1. Is this city gay-friendly?

Let’s face it, we all have a few straight friends. But contrary to what sitcoms and romcoms portray, no LGBT person ever wants to hang out exclusively with straight people all day, every day. That’s just not how it works, especially if you want to, I don’t know, date someone at some point. Finding a community is important, as it’s not only about social interaction with similar people, but also a sense of security and comfort.

  1. Is it woman-friendly?

As I mentioned above, security and comfort are a huge deal. Being a woman isn’t always safe, so choosing your housing is vital to your well-being. Is the house/apartment you’re looking at in a safe neighborhood? What are the crime rates (murder, sexual assault, theft, etc.)? Is the demographic similar to what you’re used to?

When I moved into my first apartment at university, I didn’t consider any of these things. I found the cheapest place close to campus and moved in my stuff, no questions asked. It was a nightmare. Our neighbors were loud, creepy, and had parties every other weekend that left me hiding in my bedroom with the doors locked, hoping they wouldn’t get drunk enough to bust open the door to “talk” to me and my female roommates. The neighborhood was relatively quiet, but not somewhere you might walk a dog alone at night, and certainly not somewhere I felt safe enough to hold my girlfriend’s hand in public.

My second place was a vast improvement and if that first little hole-in-the-wall taught me anything, it was that there’s a lot to consider when moving somewhere new. But be aware, for the hundreds of factors you have to consider while moving, if you’re queer expect to ask a couple dozen more in the process.

Despite the stress, moving is still an exciting time. If you keep your wits about you when coming to a new city, you’ll be just fine and can then look forward to the new friends you’ll make along the way. Cue the packing montage in which you sob amid a pile of high school yearbooks and memorabilia.

Originally posted 2017-06-30 19:02:56.

Also published on Medium.

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The Overlooked Impact of Homophobia on LGBTQ Youths



Despite the great accomplishments within the LGBTQ+ community, from the Stonewall Riots in 1969 that fought against discriminatory police raids to Obergefell v. Hodges that challenged the constitutionality of the ban on same-sex marriage, there are still significant hurdles that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth must overcome. One vastly overlooked problem is the number of homeless LGBTQ youths fending for themselves on the streets.  According to True Colors Fund, 1.6 million young Americans experience homelessness. While this number is truly shocking, the disparity between LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ youths is staggering; approximately 40% of homeless youth in America identify as being in the LGBTQ+ spectrum.

We hear about the homeless all the time; they are thugs, drug dealers, and the like. We do not, however, hear much about the LGBTQ homeless youths. Every year, many LGBTQ individuals choose to leave or are removed or from their homes by their parents because being in LGBTQ spectrum does not align with their family’s set of virtues and values, be it spiritual or out of sheer ignorance. Simply put, the number of LGBTQ homeless youths correlates to discriminatory beliefs and practices. Of course, being homeless comes with its own unique set of challenges, but homeless LGBTQ  youths face much more difficult problems. In conjunction with struggling to find food and decent shelter, homeless youths must also deal with such problems as increased risk of physical and sexual violence, alcohol and drug abuse, homophobic or transphobic attacks, and an increased risk of contracting STIs such as HIV/AIDS. This harsh statistic is an unfortunate reality for thousands of LGBTQ youths and will continue to be a problem if actions are not taken to prevent or at least decrease the numbers of LGBTQ homeless youths.

So, what can one do to help the LGBTQ homeless population? The simplest and easiest way to help LGBTQ homeless youths is to accept their sexuality and/or gender identity. Fight against homophobia, transphobia, and hateful speech and stand up to people who believe that one’s sexual identity is a choice. It is also helpful to educate people about LGBTQ individuals by showing that they are just like everyone else. Tell them that LGBT individuals such as Leonardo da Vinci, a famous Italian painter and inventor, Alan Turing, the father of the modern computer, Barbara Gittings, a lesbian and LGBTQ rights activist, and Christine Jorgensen, the first actor to have gone through sex-reassignment surgery, helped shape the world as we know it. Educating people on LGBTQ issues is the first step in helping get rid of prejudice and discriminatory thoughts and actions, which will make the world a more egalitarian planet to live on,which will help decrease the number of cases of LGBTQ individuals being removed from their homes.

Another way to help is to donate to organizations such as the Ali Forney Center. The Ali Forney center was founded in 2002 by Carl Siciliano in memory of Ali Forney, a gender non-conforming teen who fled his home at the age thirteen in 1995 and was subsequently thrown around many different foster homes in which he was abused, both physically and mentally. Ultimately Ali Forney was murdered Harlem. The Ali Forney Center’s mission is, understandably, to help out and protect LGBTQ homeless youths and supply them with the necessary tools for them to become successful in life. Donating opportunities for the Ali Forney Center include clothing donations or a monetary donations. Volunteering opportunities are also available, such as preparing meals, working as a youth counsellor, working as a Learning, Employment, Advancement and Placement (LEAP) mentor, and many more.

LGBTQ homelessness is a very serious problem that has no easy solution. However, by simply speaking against homophobia, transphobia, and hateful speech, one can begin to rid the world of prejudice and discriminatory behavior. Educating others about the accomplishments of people in the LGBTQ spectrum that have helped change the world for the better is also an extremely effective way to steer people’s thoughts towards thoughts of acceptance and equality. Volunteering and donating to organizations that are designed to help LGBTQ youths, whether it be a few socks or hundreds of dollars to helping prepare meals, can vastly improve the lives of the LGBTQ homeless youths. By taking action and spreading  of equality, we can all make this world a more habitable place to live and help the homeless LGBTQ youths from living on the streets.

Originally posted 2017-06-30 17:06:57.

Also published on Medium.

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Hidden Secrets of the Middle East: Israel’s Progressive Stance on LGBTQ Culture



Israel is known for many things: It’s the origin of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, housing biblical soils filled with historical artifacts, and it’s friendly, bilateral relationship with the United States.

Despite making daily political headlines, what is seldom known about the tiny country in the MIddle East is its support of the LGBTQ community.

The country’s capital city and financial hub, Tel Aviv, hosts the largest Pride Parade of Asia every year, with over 200,000 attendees in 2017.

The country also offers a unique LGBTQ experience for the gay community. The “Rainbow” Trip is considered the “ Greatest Pride Parade of the Middle East .” The trip lasts 10 days long, and starts off in the holy city of Jerusalem. By day 6, members will have explored the ancient city of Nazareth and engaged in the pride parade overtakes the streets of Tel Aviv. You can book your tickets now for next year’s June, 2018, Tel Aviv Pride Group Trip.

Within its abundance of attractions in the main city, you have the option purchasing a Pride Week Bracelet , which gives you access to the exclusive parties that are happening.

“Tomorrow is the main event – the annual Tel Aviv Pride Parade! As usual, it starts in Gan Meir at around noon, runs through Bograshov street, Ben Yehuda street, and Ben Gurion Avenue, and ends up at the Gordon Beach, where you can expect a big, wild party,” writes Ashley for Pride one year, “If you find lots of skin on display, cross dressing and the waving in the air of various sex toys offensive, steer clear of these areas.”

The Aguda, or the National Association of LGBT in Israel, founded 42 years ago, has remained persistent in its standing. Since then, the organization has been involved in numerous accounts of social work, community building, and political advocacy.

Through the support of the country’s population and LGBTQ campaigns, there has been growth in Tel Aviv’s gay nightlife scene. From night clubs, community centers, and even gay beaches, the ever-growing population of LGBTQ entertainment sectors doesn’t on these who are looking to travel to Israel for a good time.

In 2015, the Israel was considered the seventh happiest place for gay men to live. This year, the country’s citizens shared on their thoughts on homosexual engagements. As of 2017, 79% of Jewish residents supported the belief of equal rights for gay marriage.

Dance clubs like Shpagat gives you the best of both worlds: A taste of Middle Eastern culture and relaxed vibes that allow you to mingle with and meet people. The Breakfast Club offers gay Thursdays and eclectic, underground nightlife.

There are plenty of gay cruises, dance parties, and even hotels to choose from. Before planning your trip, be sure to do some deep research on the hidden gems found in and around the capital.
If you are planning on heading to Israel for a vacation this summer, be sure to check out the Gay Tel Aviv Guide offered online. This provides you with a diverse list of attractions and activities found within the country’s parameters.

Originally posted 2017-06-29 21:04:35.

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