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Sex Talk For Teens – Series (1 of 3)

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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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2 Comments

2 Comments

  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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48 Hours In...

48 Hours in Honolulu

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Why Go?

How about sparkling azure ocean, white sand beaches, surfers, hula dancers and swaying palm trees for starters? Throw in the opportunity to enjoy some world-class shopping/dining experiences and a laid-back aloha vibe. There’s no doubt where in the world you are when you hit the hedonistic streets of Waikiki. Before heading out to the other islands, make sure you take a couple of days to soak up the delights of this dynamic Hawaiian city.

Getting There

All flights arrive at Honolulu International Airport, from where you can take a taxi to Waikiki Beach about nine miles away. The other alternative is a shuttle bus. If you haven’t got too much luggage, you could take the airport bus, which is the cheapest option by far.

Most tourists stay in Waikiki. This is where the beach and most of the attractions are located. They are all within easy walking distance of one another. Honolulu’s downtown area is three miles from Waikiki.

Checking In

Although it is possible to seek out a bargain, hotels in Waikiki are on the expensive side. One of the most iconic places to stay is the romantic and luxurious Royal Hawaiian Hotel, located on the beachfront. Easily recognisable by its pink exterior, it has been used in many TV shows and movies. At the other end of the scale, check out the quirky Royal Grove Hotel, a great budget option and only a block away from the beach! http://www.royalgrovehotel.com

Day One

Before you head to the beach, enjoy a relaxed breakfast at Lulu’s http://www.luluswaikiki.com. While you tuck into local specialties Loco Moco or Longboard Benedict, check out the stunning views of Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach.

Waikiki is probably the most famous beach in the world, and deservedly so. Where better to learn to ride the waves than the birthplace of surfing? If you don’t bring your own board, you can rent one – the waves are perfect for beginners. As well as being incredibly warm, the ocean is the most sublime turquoise you will ever lay eyes on. If you prefer a more sedate experience, rent a sun lounger and simply chill in paradise.

Hit the waves! Many establishments hire out boards or give surf lessons

If you can tear yourself away from the beach, check out Waikiki Aquarium, which has a vibrant display of native fish, turtles and two Hawaiian monk seals. http://www.waikikiaquarium.org.

For the ultimate Hawaiian shopping experience, make tracks to Ala Moana Center https://www.alamoanacenter.com/en/events.html, a sprawling mall chock-a-block with stores and restaurants. There are regular Hawaiian music and dance events on the stage and lots of opportunities to buy souvenirs or sample local delicacies.

Make your way back to Waikiki Beach, with a pause at Moose’s (310 Lewers St. Honolulu) for Happy Hour and a bite to eat. The cocktails here are great value. You will soon be feeling the aloha spirit and  be ready to hit the beach again, this time to watch the sun sink over the ocean. The torch-lighting and hula show takes place on the beach most evenings, and crowds gather to watch the entertainment in the fading light. It’s a magical time of the day in Waikiki and the atmosphere is mellow as everyone enjoys the vibe and beautiful setting.

If you are in the mood to party, you can’t go wrong at Hula’s Bar & Lei Stand, Honolulu’s longest established LGBTQ venue. It’s a friendly spot, where both locals and tourists congregate. There are views over the ocean and live entertainment most nights of the week. The cocktails are potent and the staff welcoming https://www.hulas.com.

Day Two

Start the day energetically with a hike to the summit of Diamond Head, the dramatic volcanic crater which overlooks the city. Take some snacks and plenty of water. if you head out early, you will avoid the intense midday heat. The trail is steep and a little uneven, but the hour’s climb is worth it for the sweeping views of the ocean and city skyline.

After building up an appetite on the trail, enjoy a lunch buffet at the famous Duke’s www.dukeswaikiki.com. Duke’s Barefoot Bar is right on the beach and serves up a buffet featuring locally grown produce and an abundance of tempting accompaniments. Alternatively, try the fresh fish dishes or burgers. There is often live music, and a visit to Duke’s is a quintessential Hawaiian experience not to be missed.

The Barefoot Bar at Duke’s

After some more beach time, stroll along to the historical Royal Hawaiian Hotel https://www.royal-hawaiian.com and take in the traditional ambiance. Treat yourself to a delicious cocktail at the Mai Tai Bar, a mere few steps away from the sand.

The Royal Hawaiian

Next up, take the elevator to the Top of Waikiki https://topofwaikiki.com. The revolving restaurant offers spectacular views, especially at sunset. Appetizers and cocktails are available during Happy Hour, which goes from 5.00pm-9.30pm. The perfect ending to two blissful days in Honolulu!

View from Top of Waikiki

 

 

Originally posted 2017-08-24 18:54:31.

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Getting Lost the Right Way (and Avoiding the Wrong)

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Road trips are magical. The open road, the endless possibilities. But you know what isn’t so magical? Getting lost in the middle of nowhere (read: out in the boondocks where not even the coyotes know where the closest gas station is). That being said, there is a right way and a very, very wrong way to get lost on a trip.

If you want to get lost and enjoy yourself, it’s best to have a plan in place. Seems counterintuitive, yes. But getting lost on purpose is more organized than it sounds. To start, know the highways nearby and keep in mind that the point of getting lost on purpose is to see new things. When lost the right way, it’s certainly not about the destination, which is good to keep in mind. For one, make sure your tank is completely full. Nothing is scarier than getting lost in the countryside with only a quarter tank and no sign of civilization in sight.

Don’t trust that GPS will always be there for you. Like that one friend, it probably won’t be (Totally not something that happened to me recently in rural south Georgia, not at all). Depending on your carrier, data connection and location services can be spotty at best and nonexistent at worst. Don’t be like me, who learned this the hard way.

Use GPS even if you think you remember the way back. The last drive I went on, I followed directions very carefully getting there and believed that I would be able to remember the turns in reverse going home.This resulted in what I like to call: a disaster. What I didn’t consider was the fact that rural Georgia looks completely different at night, when every tree looks the same and you have the added hazard of deer all over the roads. I knew I was lost after twenty minutes, but I kept driving, foolishly positive I’d eventually find the right road again.

Maps are your friends. Remember how your parents always told you to keep a map or atlas in your glove box? They weren’t just being old-fashioned. When GPS has failed and you longer recognize any landmarks, a map is your only hope (barring meeting a friendly stranger or an extra cell tower magically constructing itself in the next open field).

Print out directions beforehand. I know, I know. Printing out directions Google Maps is almost as dated as paper maps. But believe me, it can’t hurt. Even if you don’t print them, the screenshot feature on smart phones exists for a reason. Before you hit the road, coffee and snacks stocked and ready to go, pull up GPS while you have bars or Wi-Fi, and find the turn-by-turn directions. Screenshot them. And then, when you inevitably lose service at some point in your voyage, you still have access to your route. I didn’t do this, and by the time I had service again, I was two and a half hours away from home, when the drive should’ve taken an hour. (Do as I say, not as I do, my friends).

If you realize you’re lost and know where you took the wrong turn, GO BACK ASAP.

There comes a moment when you’re lost when you can usually pinpoint where you went wrong. When that happens, turn around as soon as you realize, despite the hope that maybe you’ll find a familiar street. Realizing you took a wrong turn is a sign from the universe that you need to go back, rather than trusting your foolish instincts. It’s a losing battle, and you will get more lost. It’s practically the law of the universe.

Just ask for directions, no matter how much you hate doing it.

This applies to everyone, and I’m ignoring the stereotype because it really isn’t just men. If you see a gas station or a small business, just stop. It’s almost guaranteed that someone will know how to get back to where you were headed, and you might stumble upon a cool store or attraction or monument that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

The moral of the story, friends, is that getting lost can be an adventure. You learn things about the area, about yourself as a navigator (this could be good or bad) and best of all, you have a story to tell at the end of it. Just remember that if you’re gonna get lost, try to do it on purpose.

 

Originally posted 2017-08-24 17:57:03.


Also published on Medium.

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Metalhead Transgender Woman is Making Political History

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As a long-time fan of metal music and an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, I am ecstatic that Danica Roem, band member of her band Cab Ride Home and transgender woman won a four-way Democratic primary on June 13th. In addition to being a musician in a metal band, she was also an experienced journalist in Prince William County, which is the county she wishes to represent if she wins the position a seat in the House of Delegates in Virginia.

However, while Roem has won the battle, she’s still fighting a war. In order to gain a seat in the House of Delegates, she will have to defeat Republican Bob Marshall who is currently serving his eleventh term. Bob Marshall supports one-man, one-woman marriage, believes that same-sex marriage has a negative effect on heterosexual marriage, introduced the Physical Privacy Act which would have prevented transgender individuals from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity (luckily this bill failed), supports the idea that employers can fire someone based on sexual orientation and gender identity, has a weak idea of what equality means and twists around words to fit his agenda,

“There never were ‘heterosexual’ only water fountains in Virginia or other Southern states.  Separate elementary or secondary schools were not built for GLBTQ children.  Homosexuals and lesbians could sit anywhere they wanted on buses, trains and other public transportation.  Homosexuals were never enslaved as a class or brought to America in chains.  Homosexuals never were forbidden from ‘marrying’ heterosexuals.  Homosexuals did not have to engage in nationwide ‘sit ins’ at restaurant lunch counters to be served a meal.  Lesbians did not have to take “Literacy” tests as a condition for voting.” 

and many more discriminatory ideas. In comparison, Roem supports adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the Prince William School system’s nondiscrimination policy, protecting transgender students, and values people individually, not by what religion they belong to or what sexual orientation they may have.

With the current presidency comes a resurgence of ultra-conservative ideas and, because of that, it is a possibility that Bob Marshall will serve a twelfth term. However, Roem is off to a good start. By winning the Democratic primary, she is showing the US that even the most conservatives of states can switch courses and realize that members of the LGBT community deserve the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.

Since 1991, when Marshall was elected, Prince William County has become more left-leaning as the population grows. It was one of the Republican-controlled counties that voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump which shows that the district leans more toward to progressive side, which is definitely good news for Danica Roem. Because of this, Roem has a real chance of winning a seat in the House of Delegates. Even if she does not earn the position, by running and winning the Democratic primary, Roem set the stage for future transgender individuals to run for a position in the government.

Originally posted 2017-08-24 11:48:44.


Also published on Medium.

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