The creation of Lez Prom – the first event I ever produced

Lez Prom has a special place in my heart as it was the very first event I ever produced and remains one of my favorites to put on and attend every year.

The idea for Lez Prom came from the community via a post on the Austin Lesbians Unite FB group. From this post, I saw large interest in a formal dance specifically for the lesbian community. I loved the idea.

As an avid dancer (80s & 90s jams are my favs) I used to go downtown frequently and hit up Barbarellas for Friday 80s night. I’ve never been particularly shy and have no problem saying “no” or pushing people away that I am not interested in dancing with, in this case mostly men. However, they did not always respect my “no” and would often keep trying, again and again, to dance with me and rub up on me. And this made me feel very uncomfortable, targeted, and unsafe dancing here. So I stopped going.

When I saw the post on the ALU group I thought it was a great idea and could be a lot of fun, but I also thought it was unlikely that it would actually come to fruition as it would require a lot of organizing, planning, and research. But I’m kinda good at those things, and so with mostly unfounded confidence, I decided I was qualified and capable of making it happen.

The first dance originally called the Austin Lesbian Prom, you can thank Ali Martin for coining the name “Lez Prom” took 3 months of planning to produce. This being the first public event I ever produced there was a steep learning curve, from venues to vendors, to performers, DJs, sponsors, and marketing.

At the end of those three months when the event was finally here I was sooo excited and nervous. That day my partner and I (who I’d only been with 4 months at the time and probably thought I was crazy at this point) ran some last minute errands to pick up items for prom. We ran to the mall a few hours before the event was supposed to start to find her some formalwear. We parked outside the Dillard’s. When we finished shopping we went back to Dillard’s to exit, but were unable to locate our car. Then we remembered something. We had entered through sliding glass doors. So we just needed to find the sliding glass doors in the Dillard’s right? There was a problem though. We checked every single exit door in that Dillard’s and none of them were sliding glass. WTF. At this point it was around 3pm and my event was starting at 6pm, I had planned to get there around 5 to set up. I was freaking out.

We started asking employees and explaining to each that we had entered through sliding glass doors in a Dillard’s and that there were no sliding glass doors in this Dillard’s. They continuously pointed us to various exits saying it was over there. But it wasn’t over there, because I checked all of them. Eventually, there was one employee (after we spoke to about 6) who realized that we had parked at the OTHER Dillard’s store in that mall. That’s right, apparently, there were 2 stores and not one of the other employees thought to share this information with us. We eventually made it out of the store, vowing to never return to a Dillard’s again and headed to prom.

After spending the better part of three months bringing this event to life it was finally here. The big night. I was incredibly nervous, the dancing helped, being with my friends (gay, bi, and straight women) helped, and being surrounded by my community was AMAZING. Other couples in love, groups of friends and people dancing freely and shamelessly. It was so beyond wonderful. Such a high and so fulfilling and rewarding.

Thank you to everyone who has ever supported this event past or present. I really mean it when I say this is one of my favorite nights of the year. So liberating. So fun. So bouncy.

Possibly, the only thing that might have made the night better would be if I hadn’t accidentally thrown my car keys in the dumpster at the end of the night while being a good citizen and picking up trash. It was ok though, I made my partner dumpster dive to retrieve them. She’s still with me today, so I guess it all worked out in the end.

Thank you for supporting me, thank you for supporting your community, and please continue to be brave, to have the courage to be truly who you are, always.

Love,
Faye

Subculture Spotted: The Kink Community & My first play party

This last Saturday I went to my first ever BDSM party. I went there with some fear and anxiety. I was afraid of seeing some acts that would make me uncomfortable and just be generally hard to watch. I was worried I would see abuse. It felt dangerous. I felt nervous. I was very afraid I would be approached to engage in play. I expected this to happen many times. What follows is a real story.
What I saw was beautiful, inspiring, and positive. My faith in people was restored and my fear relinquished.
I had been an honorary member of the BDSM fetish and kink communities for a few years now. As an honorary member I talked with my kinkster friends often and had expressed interest in going to their social meetups called “munches” and kink play parties. The first thing that struck me about these people was their raw honesty and apparent lack of fear. This is a very personal subject. Some would call it a dark secret. Most would include it in their “unmentionables” pile. But not Sadie. She’s an amazon.
In the BDSM and kink communities which from now on I will refer to simply as the community anonymity is important, but so is honesty. Everyone in the community has a kink name that is different from their given one. Or at least that’s how it should work. In practice I found that it is mostly the women who use pseudo names and the men keep their everyday names. I’m not sure why this is the case.
When Sadie first started telling me about her involvement with the kink community I was a bit shocked. Not by the types of activities she was describing but that she was telling me all these real things that happened. She was so honest, so open, so fearless. This was the first time in my life anyone had talked openly with me about their own sexual perversions. I soaked it in and asked for more…
Here’s some of what Sadie shared with me that I’d like to pass on…
  • structure within the community
  • sub/dom relationships
  • safety & consent
  • checking in with your partner
  • how to negotiate
  • how to be respectful
  • fire play
  • needle play
  • protocol parties
  • slave positions
  • munches
  • play parties
There is an order to things in the community. There is structure, protocols, safety words, and moderators. You are safer exploring your kinky side within the bounds of the community or at a play party than you are in your own home. Here’s why…
  • The community is serious about safety.
  • They look out for their own and guard against predators.
  • Your anonymity is valued, respected, and protected.
  • They are knowledgeable about their craft.
  • They negotiate everything.
  • They ask for permission.
  • They respect the bounds of your relationship.
  • Nothing is expected of you.
  • There is no pressure.
  • There are party moderators who job is to protect you and ensure the rules are followed.
  • Safe words are always used for slow down or complete stop.
  • After care is practiced to aid in the recovery of a sub after a scene is performed.
  • They are not judgmental.
They are not creeps.
They are just like you…and a lot like me.
Every community is different. If you are reading this and are involved with the kink community in your city please understand this is based on the community I am involved with. It can represent nothing else. This community in Austin is the only one I have known. Though I would like to know others. Just a disclaimer I do not presume to know or assume all communities are the same. Every community is independently operated.
Here’s what I know about the Austin kink community…
The Austin Kink community is a social one. They are out and proud. They gather in public and discuss their fetishes openly at weekly meetups called “Munches”. There’s a munch in South Austin and one in North Austin. Some people go to both but most go to the one closest to them. I have attended both groups.
The munch is a social gathering open to all. There you will find experts, amateurs, and wannabes. The munches are held at local bars and are well attended. There is no sexual play at a munch. You can talk to people about their experiences or about sports. You can meet other kinksters you might like to play with in the future. You can buy tickets for an upcoming play party (held monthly). You can negotiate scenes. And you can drink.
The first munch I went to was the South Austin munch. I went with a few friends. And I held on to that safety blanket for a while. Before this I had  attended a few private social events within the community so I already knew some people. Again, I was surprised at how friendly, social, and  open the people were. I truly felt welcomed and not just because I was fresh meat.
I talked to people about how they were first introduced to the community, their kinks and fetishes, and their experiences at recent parties. Then I saw Sierra…
She walked into the bar rather meekly, looked around for a minute, and then took up residence on a bench on the outskirts of our large group. I did not know her. I had never seen her before and I didn’t think she was part of the community. I asked my friends if they knew who she was. I was told “she’s interesting”. She was the most beautiful person in the bar, and by far the one I was most attracted to in the group. I had to talk to her. I wanted to at least try.
So I asked my friends to go over with me and make introductions. They kindly obliged.
“Hi, I’m Faye.”
     “I’m Sierra, it’s nice to meet you. Would you like to sit down?”
Yes, yes I would. We talked for hours. I let go of my safety blanket.
We talked about male sex entitlement, consent issues and gray areas, working in the adult industry, confidence, and how to guard yourself against verbal and physical abuse. She has been around the community for many years and would consider herself a bit of a veteran. She grew up in a liberal, sex positive household. From an early age she was familiar with or at least aware of alternative lifestyles such as polyamory, kink, fetish, and LGBT. Her parents raised her athiest/agnostic and so she had no religious influences.
I also met another girl that night. She already knew Sierra. The three of us spent a while discussing consent, rape, and the gray areas.
Sierra had a unique perspective on body and personal confidence. Sierra has been stripping professionally for the last two years.

The location of the party was remote. It was about 45 minutes outside of Austin proper. The roads we took to get there were really poorly maintained. It felt like I was on some kind of sex safari. I carpooled with my friends in the community. We were some of the first to arrive. Sadie wanted to make sure we got there in time for the hog tying tutorial at 8:30. The party would start afterwards.
When we first went inside the house the first thing I saw was a girl topless on the couch cuddling with another girl. I like this place already. Sadie gave me a tour of the house. It was a house, not a dungeon, a warehouse, or club. The main room you walk into when you enter the house was the designated social area and no play was allowed here. It included the living room, kitchen, and another room for recovery.
Everyone was smiling and friendly. Mostly they were catching up with friends and partners. It was a very social and pleasant atmosphere. We continued the tour and saw the different rooms available for play. The house was arranged in a U shape around a central room which I’ll refer to as the main play room. This central room was very large and had an open ceiling to the second floor where there was a convenient viewing deck overlooking the room.
The main play room had many tables some looked like massage tables, others were tables with benches meant for being bent over, there was a long solid wood table. The most interesting feature this room was a floor to ceiling spider web wheel made of wood and chain. A few of the girls were climbing it and sitting on the top. There was also a pulley system installed with a rope hanging from he ceiling that could be used for suspension. The main play room was very open and airy the rooms of the house were more isolated and much smaller. Many kind of play and scenes could occur simultaneously in the main play room.
The other rooms of the house were arranged around the main play room. There were two floors and an outside deck. The rooms were much the same. They all had massage and/or medical tables, large floor to ceiling wooden Xs, and various tie and suspension points. Oh and a mini-dungeon room, but it was more like a closet with a metal bars for a wall.
The party started with the hog tie tutorial in the main play room. There was an older couple there to teach although this particular play party was 35 and under. On the floor was laid out a yoga mat and many ropes or varying size. He started by binding the hands leaving a long piece of rope hanging to tighten. He then had the sub lay stomach down on the mat. He bound the feet leaving a loop available. He took the rope left over from the hands strung it through the available loop by the feet and cinched it up creating an impressive arch in the back. He explained at every step safety precautions including not making the rope too tight so as to avoid making the hands and feet go numb. He talked about how long a sub could safely stay bound before going numb in the limbs. He pointed out some major nerves to avoid wrapping or binding such as the radial nerve running along the outer bicep. After showing the basic hog tie he went on to a more advanced version including a chest strap. This more advanced version is safer for a sub to stay bound for longer periods of time. He showed how to create a chest strap so as to not choke the neck. There were many couples practicing the techniques.
After the tutorial session there was a race. It was a race to see who could hog tie their partner fastest but there was an added challenge. After being fully bound the sub had to pick up a plastic spoon in their mouth and put it in an empty solo cup without the cup tipping over. This is way harder than the picture happening in your head right now. The sub has zero range of motion, it was pretty amusing to watch.
Before the play could begin the moderators gathered everyone in the main room to go over rules of the party.
1. You need verbal l permission to play with another person, if they have a dom you need to request permission from the dom as well
2. Safety words for the party are RED means full immediate stop, and YELLOW means slow down and check in, a sub can use these safety words at anytime
3. If you here someone say RED and the scene is not stopping find your nearest moderator to report
4. Leave your area cleaner than when you came use sanitizer to clean after your scene
There were three moderators, 2 men and 1 woman. They were recognizable by the red armband they were wearing. All the moderators spent the evening walking around the house ensuring everyone was safe. I felt safe in this space.
I never heard RED being used at anytime during the night. I was never approached by anyone or creeped out by any of the party attendees.
Scenes I saw…
  • sub/dom flogging on X, later saw same couple having oral sex
  • one girl chained to ceiling and feet spread but locked together on floor, she was blindfolded, group of people playing with her, sensory experiences, many different textures, ice, feathers, fur, some flogging, pushing her back and forth, about 4-5 people playing with her
  • sub/dom spanking/flogging on medical table
  • needle play, stick design and making a flower
  • massage play, just massage
  • sub/dom girl/girl in mainly room, very sensual sub was on hands and knees on a table, dom started by kissing an touching her, then used a flog and spanking while intermittently touching her, dom was also spinning flog and kind of dancing
  • girl/girl/guy in a room with a medical table, girl was being play with by girl and guy, guy was giving her pleasure and fingering her, while girl was spanking
  • fire play on long wooden table in main play room, girl was chained to table, guy was playing with her, he had two candles, a butane tank with torch, and rubbing alcohol or some other accelerant, he also had a 2-tipped rod one tip was on fire and the other he used to rub the accelerant onto skin, he would make very swift motions of rubbing the accelerant on the skin lighting it then smothering it out with his hand. The skin was never on fire and the sensation was very brief. He also used hot wax to play. He also used chinese glass bulbs for suctioning to her back. This is called fire cupping. He would take the cup put the enflamed rod into it for a few seconds then immeditately turn the cup upside down and place it on the skin of the back. This was repeated until around 10-12 cups were on her back. The cups were clear and you could see the reddened skin being sucked up quite a lot into the cup, the skin looked rather swollen. He left the cups on for a while and then removed the one by one. They all left round red marks, one cup left a large purple mark. It looked bit like she had been attacked by a horny octopus.
  • free style wrestling/fighting sub/dom girl/guy on the floor of the main play room
  • full body suspension by pulley system in main play room
  • punishment in the mini-cage
  • saw lots of comforting in the recovery and living rooms, the subs were in cozy pajamas and wrapped in blankets while their doms and lovers gently petted and massaged them, lots of cuddling
  • group hug to finish off the night
They provided food and water/soda at the party. This party was dry meaning no alcohol was allowed. The food consisted mostly of a variety of weird oreos, I think someone went to the store and just said give me all the oreos you have. ALL THE OREOS YOU HAVE.

Functionalist at Heart

I am a functionalist at heart. When I read a book it is because I perceive it will be useful or necessary to me in some way, not because I anticipate enjoyment from the act of reading. This is also the reason the I read 90% non-fiction. Keep reading and maybe I’ll tell you what the other 10% is.
Most of the time, the reason I stop reading a book is not because I don’t enjoy it but because I am paralyzed by my inaction after reading a particular section. This is most severe when reading entrepreneur-ish, business-y, and other possible self help books. The books that should be the most life changing and action inducing tend to be the ones I am forced to quit prematurely because I feel unprepared, unwilling, or unmotivated to take the action they suggest despite how fired I become while reading.
Two examples come to mind. I was gifted a book by a close friend and sort of business mentor, also an ex, but that’s another story. It was a random gift. There was no occasion. No birthday. No holiday. No thanks to be given for. No reason at all. It was purely and completely an act of altruism. It shook me. To receive it. I was genuinely surprised in his desire to give me a present for no reason. And this I find very sad. Perhaps the saddest thing ever. Perhaps.
The book is called Designing Your Life and it’s intended to do just that. The friend that gifted it said he had recently taken an online course from the authors and found it really useful and profound, although he had not actually read their book. He assumed it would be a similar experience. Apparently I had complained at him enough about not knowing what direction to take my life, my business, how to grow, should I grow, etc. Yes. Even Faye Fearless is not immune to self doubt, quite the opposite actually. I like to think of Faye as me, but also as standard to rise to, something to reach towards.
This book recommended a number of life assessment exercises and writing assignments and actually said at one point, as many self help books do, to stop and read no further until you complete the exercise, advice I ignored.
Take action when the thought comes to you, always, if possible. If possible, as in if there is any way you can, DO IT. Not if you want to. Not if it is convenient to. If it is POSSIBLE. Think about the meaning of the word for a minute before proceeding.
Write when you have an idea. Then. Do it then. Even if you write the idea down, it will not be the same to write on it at a later date. The muse is fleeting. And she will have gone long before you put touch to keys. Do not wait. I have struggled with this a lot. I get ideas when I read. It’s one of the reasons I do it at all. Because there are few other places I can almost guarantee inspiration. An environment for think tanking.
I’ve gotten a lot of good ideas lately, at least I presume them to be. Books I’ve been reading include a lifestyle design book, a book about internet marketing, and a book linking  and relating the figures of the witch, slut, and feminist, fascinating. Very different ideas have been spurned.
From the witches book I have come up with articles about consent, slut shaming, sexual assault/predator shaming (can you ever be forgiven for these kinds of mistakes?), gray areas, and first impressions. I have had ideas for articles, workshops, and discussion panels. I wrote these ideas down as I do. And I had a lot to write at the time. I was very excited about all the neurons I was firing, then I stopped reading, I never wrote about any of it, and that was it. Another muse lost to neverland.
My partner could tell you I have said “I really think I should write more” at least once a week for the last 2 years. My whole brand, the whole concept and character of Faye Fearless started, as very few know, with a flirting workshop for women who want to learn how to flirt with other women, because as one friend told me, “I got game”. An idea that never came to fruition <<what up with that word. From the flirting workshop, Faye Fearless was to be a strong female figure, unafraid, unashamed to talk about herself, sexuality, anything and everything uncomfortably interesting. From this concept sprouted the blog, a female empowerment space for me to write about subjects that interested me, inspired me, or that I found important and relevant. I failed at consistency. And SEO.
I’m currently blogging in the style my brain works, constantly interrupting itself with commentary, meta-analysis, and critiquing what I am doing in real time. What you’re experiencing right now is my thoughts as they arrive, unfiltered, and mostly unedited.
I’m sorry.

I dated a psychopath! – Recognizing unhealthy relationships & How to guard yourself

Learn how to recognize a psychopath, their characteristics and actions. See if you are at risk for being targeted and how to guard yourself against becoming a victim. Learn what happens when you are in a relationship with a psychopath, what it looks and feels like from the inside and outside. Notes from an interview with mental health professional and psychopath victim, Sara Elizabeth Brown. 

Characteristics of Psychopaths

  • they have a lot more energy than other people
  • they speak in monologue, interesting stories about themselves, people feel intrigued by them, they seem very interesting
  • they are addictive
  • smart
  • charming
  • charismatic
  • love predators
  • attack emotions, they start to manufacture emotions in you
  • they are excellent at reading people and will morph into exactly what they perceive you need and want, they will appear to be your perfect soul mate
  • progressing the relationship very quickly
  • jealous
  • extroverted
  • dominant
  • strong
  • status oriented
  • manipulative
  • doctors/lawyers

 

Are you at risk for being targeted by a psychopath? Characteristics of victims/targets.

  • they target people who could easily morph into what the psychopath wants them to be, people who are not strongly attached to their own identity, people who are unguarded
  • open, generous people
  • have a high moral standard, would not do to others what was done to them
  • someone who would not retaliate
  • nice, sweet
  • tend to take responsibility or take blame for things that happen even if its not their fault
  • highly empathic
  • disorganized
  • extroverted, strong
  • adventure seeking
  • did not necessarily come from an abused background, they’re are not re-enacting trauma
 Women Who Love Psychopaths by Sandra Brown

I felt like he was the one person who believed in me” -Sara Elizabeth Brown

 

On describing/depicting relationships with psychopaths

  • His Girl Friday (1940) really depicts what a relationship with a psychopath is really like
  • its not co-dependence and its not sex addiction
  • it actually looks like 2 strong people together, it doesn’t look like someone is a doormat
  • you will experience longing and obsession
  • you will feel repulsed and excited the entire time
  • the psychopath will positively reinforce your submission

 

Actions of Psychopaths in a relationship

  • The beginning (Idealization Stage)
    • love bombing
    • constant communication
    • they want to be with you all the time
    • constant and abundant affection, love, and sex
    • usually you feel like you’ve met the love of your life
    • mirroring (everything you are into they appear to be into as well)
    • everything about you is right, you feel like its too good to be true
    • you feel addicted to them, if you feel high around them, or feel like you’re on drugs around them
    • gets very sexual very fast
    • the will test and push your boundaries to see how far you will allow it, they are testing you to see if you’ll play
  • Middle (Devalue Stage)
    • their mask starts to fade
    • the psychopath will start making devaluing comments, that you will laugh off at first
    • after a while they disappear, silent treatment (the beginning of the devalue)
    • on the psychological abuse you endure whine a relationship with a psychopath
      “You don’t realize it’s happening, you don’t take it seriously”
    • you start to blame yourself for everything, you take responsibility for everything
    • negative conditioning, “they hook you into always wanting to please them, you get addicted to pleasing them”
    • they make you feel like you’re the crazy one
    • they want you to merge with them and lose your identity “That is the risk we are talking about, is you losing yourself. Its a serious risk, its a very serious risk.”
    • verbal abuse
      • ignoring you
      • gas lighting- “I think you’re imagining things, you’re blowing it up, you’re exaggerating”, it causes the victim to feel crazy, “you start to doubt your reality…which makes you more dependent on their reality”
      • triangulation- psychopath will compare you to the other women in your life
      • over talking- psychopath will wear you down by exhausting your attention, until you give up
      • they do something to provoke a reaction and then when you react they act like you’re crazy and tell you you’re being jealous, crazy, possessive
    • silent treatment
    • psychological torture
  • Final (Discard Stage)
    • the relationship ends

The stages of the psychopath relationship: Idealization, Devalue, Discard

 

How to guard yourself against psychopaths

  • don’t change your routine for them, anyone who tries to push you off your routine
  • your routine is your guard
  • don’t change your values
  • don’t give up on relationships with others (family and friends)
  • if someone makes funny degrading comments
  • if someone starts to make you feel crazy, they’re out
  • if someone starts giving you the silent treatment or disappears for periods of time
  • if its a maybe, its a no
  • if someone is oversharing too much
  • they’ll try to isolate you from friends and family “they’re not good enough for you, you’re so much better than them”
  • they’ll try to isolate you from everything that’s important to you
  • have a more fixed or guarded personality
  • know who you are
  • have hard rules for yourself, things you are unchanging on, “You don’t mess with my money and you don’t mess with my creative work.”
They can’t keep the mask up very long”- Sara Elizabeth Brown
Most people think of serial killers when you mention the word psychopath. It is true that most serial killers are psychopaths, but most psychopaths are not serial killers. Many are highly successful in life and business with no criminal record.

Personal biases on submissiveness & Why you should complain more

Don’t oblige anyone. Out of respect or subservience. 

Question everything. Why am I doing this? Is this good for me?

I’d like to start by talking a little about myself, about my own biases, and how I view this topic. The importance of recognizing bias especially as an author, to me, is under considered. I know my own history, but you don’t. I would like to share my history with you over the course of this blog so each article can be more objective or at least more understood.

I am a dominant woman. I’ve always been this way, I think. It is not necessarily related to confidence, it is more so how I think and act. I speak my mind with ease. I let people know how I feel, what I want, and when I want it. If something is making me unhappy you will know. I do complain, but I don’t see it as a bad thing. I don’t expect everyone or everything to cater to me. But I do think it is better that they are known rather than not. When my needs are vocalized I am leaving it up to other people to decide if they are willing and happy to cater to them. If I keep it to myself, I have taken power away from the ones I care about. I am devaluing my own needs by not expressing them.

If my needs are not expressed they are non-existent in the eyes of others. I am not giving those who care about me the benefit of knowing my needs. Some may see this as complaining. The act of complaining is often viewed as negative. It is discouraged. A person who complains is looked down upon, viewed as weak, as not being capable of dealing with hardship or pain. Why?

I think the reason lies in our inability to empathize with the person complaining. We cannot understand their pain. We cannot see why it is affecting them so much. We cannot understand why they would need to vocalize it, especially if it is not a pain we ourselves would disclose. If their pain tolerance is different than yours they will be judged. Even though I can’t see their reasons this does not mean the reasons are not there.

If I were someone else, if I grew up in their childhood home, with their family telling me stories, bringing me to church, being part of their community I would be them. If I went to their school, was bullied by their bullies, experienced their loss and hardship I would be them. Why would you set a standard for someone else based on your own life experiences? Just think a minute about this.

No one view of the world is objective. No one’s view of the world is objective.
Have you ever questioned someone else’s voting decisions? How they raise their kid? The kinds of jobs they will take to get by? Why they would pierce, slice, or color their body? I have. You have. I project my own completely arbitrary and randomly selected values onto them and feel they should understand and comply.
There is no universal standard of ethics, values, beliefs, or morals. So don’t pretend like yours is the shit. It’s not. It’s just yours.

Your standard is not mine. So stop judging me by yours.

LGBT Vocab 101 – How not to sound like a naive quidiot

I’m fairly new to the LGBTQ-mmunity having only found myself as a gay women in spring 2015. When I first started to identify as gay or lesbian I knew nothing, but more so than just not knowing how to be gay, I didn’t know how to speak gay or how to interact with people in the community. I heard many words I didn’t understand. I heard about many orientations, identities, and sexualities that were confusing to me. So I tried to educate myself with media, tv, movies, and educational websites.

I have learned a few things since then and to save you the embarrassment, and because we all need to start somewhere, here’s a vocab lesson for you. I can’t tell you what it means to be gay, bisexual, or lesbian. What I will try to do is de-shroud some terms that utterly confused me upon coming into this community.

Something I realized recently is that LGBT is no longer a complete acronym to represent this community. You have probably seen it represented in many ways LGBT, LGBTQ,  or LGBT+. The last one I’m convinced was created by someone like me who couldn’t follow the ever changing acronym.

Most recently at Haven Con, an LGBT and kink friendly home grown comic con based out of Austin TX, I learned that the LGBT community has started to merge with the kink community to form the biggest umbrella the world has seen.

So if you’re still following here’s the most complete and updated acronym I have found: LGBTQIAPK+ I added the + for good measure and to keep this article relevant.

Lesbian
Gay
Bisexual
Transexual
Queer
Intersex
Asexual
Pansexual
Kink
+ (any additional identities or sexualities)

The most common blanket term heard to refer to the whole community is queer. Queer is anyone who is not heterosexual and/or cisgendered.

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Cisgender 

Identifying by the same gender you were born with, such as you were born a female and identify as a female/woman as opposed to someone who was born a woman and does not identify with that gender. For example someone who was born a female but identifies as male in their everyday life (these individuals are not necessarily trans).

Queer 

An umbrella term encompassing all individuals that do not fit under the heterosexual or cisgender models. Most all LGTB+ individuals would also consider themselves queer.

2000px-Pansexuality_flag.svgPansexual
The difference between bisexual and pansexual can be confusing and unclear, some argue that these 2 labels are the same, but most all pansexuals will say it’s a completely different identity. Pansexuals often consider themselves gender blind. Bisexuals are attracted to women and men. Pansexuals may be attracted to people who do not exist on the gender binary of women and men. For example their lovers could include transexuals, gender non-binary, gender fluid, two spirits, or androgynous folks. Pansexual does not does not mean you are attracted to anything including animals and children.

Asexual 
AceFlagNot being sexually attracted or aroused by others. Asexuality is very complex and little understood. Not all asexuals are abstinent. Some engage in sexual activities with their romantic partners for a variety of reasons even if they are not sexually motivated or inclined. Asexuals may also have a romantic identity such as aromantic or demi-romantic meaning even if they do not desire sex they may still be interested in a romantic relationship which ca include cuddling and closeness. Asexuals can be in relationships just like anyone else. Asexuals are not necessarily without a sex drive meaning they may still have a physical desire to have sex but not act on it due to not feeling sexual attraction. Asexuals may engage in masturbation to satisfy their sex drive.

Intersex
Can include anyone with an abnormal chromosomes, hormones, or genitals that do not fit within the binary of male and female. Does not necessarily have to do with genitalia or existence of both penis and vagina. This can include transexual individuals who have chosen to change their sex but it also includes people born with a natural variance in their chromosomal pattern or genitalia. Intersex is not the same as gender fluid or gender non-binary. Intersex individuals have a physical difference whereas gender fluid or non-binary individuals do not necessarily have this.

Non-binary
An individual who does not identify within the gender binary of male/female or man/woman. They may identify as somewhere in-between, both male and female, or as neither. They do not feel the gender binary accurately represents them. They may have a combination of masculine ad feminine traits, features, or identify with both male and female genders depending on how they see themselves that day.

Gender fluid
Similar to gender non binary. It is someone who feels they are on a spectrum between feminine and masculine identities of woman and man. Their identity can fluctuate frequently depending on how they feel, what they are wearing, a role they are undertaking, or the relationship they are engaged in. These individuals may identify also as non-binary. The main difference between gender fluid and gender non-binary is a non-binary person may always identify in one way versus a gender fluid person’s identity is constantly in flux.

MTF 
2000px-Transgender_Pride_flag.svgMale to female transexual, an individual who was born male but identifies and chooses to live as a female, they may or may not decide to modify their bodies through hormones and surgeries

FTM
Female to male transexual, an individual who was born female but identifies and chooses to live as a male, they may or may not decide to modify their bodies through hormones and surgeries

Kinsey scale
A sexuality spectrum scale used to assess individuals sexual preferences. Sexuality is a spectrum and most individuals are not 100% gay or straight but somewhere on the spectrum.

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Why you should cuddle with strangers… For your health

I have been hosting Cuddle Up! events in Austin since February 2016. These events bring a group of people together for a consent, boundaries, and empowerment workshop followed by a guided, freestyle cuddling session.

I learned you can say ‘no’ to someone for no reason, you don’t owe anyone anything” – Sara Elizabeth Brown

It’s as much a process of self discovery as it is self care. You will get rejected by someone or many someones at Cuddle Up! because we actively encourage it in this space. It is meant to be a safe space to experience rejection. A space where you are not the only one experiencing it.

I strongly believe the longer and more frequently you expose yourself to something, the less painful or scary it is. This is my view on rejection and other uncomfortable situations. What makes them uncomfortable is that we don’t know how to deal with them and we take them to mean something personal about ourselves. Any rejection we experience is a personal failure. This is almost never true of rejection at a cuddling event.

I sat down with varsity cuddler Sara Elizabeth Brown, who has attended more than 100 cuddling events. Here’s what she had to say about the cuddle party atmosphere: “It can feel like a popularity contest sometimes but there might be real reasons why someone might not feel comfortable with you.” You cannot know the reasons someone has for rejecting you. And at Cuddle Up! no one can ask you “why” you rejected them, its part of the experience and makes saying “no” easier.

Here’s what I teach at Cuddle Up!
  • how to say and feel comfortable saying “no” to what you don’t want
  • empowering yourself to ask for what you want
  • how to approach and talk to strangers
  • how to feel comfortable around people you don’t know
  • how to be fearless and brave
  • feeling more comfortable with rejection
  • dealing with uncomfortable situations
  • how to effectively give consent
  • understanding what consent is and what it sounds like
  • the difference between “no”, “yes”, and “maybe”, and why you should always say “no” if you’re a “maybe”
  • getting used and respecting “no”
  • how to respect the boundaries of others

Men and women experience this event differently depending on their past experience. Many women who come into this space struggle with saying “no.” They often feel the need to accommodate especially their lovers or partners.

You may come here and feel compelled to say “yes” to someone who asks you to cuddle maybe you feel bad for them or just want to be nice. You must say “no.” This is so important. At this event you will learn to put your needs and wants first. Your needs are important and just as important as someone else’s.

Sara comments on the experience for men at cuddle events, “I feel like there’s a lot of learning and growth for particularly women in that environment and men too its just different. Men have to give up their entitlement… a lot of men get in touch with how great it is just to hold someone and not have take it to a sexual place, a lot of times they’re really trained through the culture to get their touch needs through sex.”

What actually happens at Faye Fearless’s Cuddle Up! events:

  • workshop on consent, boundaries, and how to empower yourself to say “no”
  • cuddle positions 101, yes there are different ways to cuddle!
  • freestyle cuddling session, cuddlers move around freely, cuddle with whom they choose for however long they like (multiple partners encouraged)
  • cuddling, massage, hair petting, and hugs

Cuddle Up! events are fully clothed, non-sexual events. Cuddle Up! is for everyone, all ages, all professions, all backgrounds, all relationships! I’ve had married couples attend together or one member of a couple come alone. I’ve had groups of friends, poly people, singles, asexuals, and kinksters. This is an inclusive and welcoming space.

If you don’t feel comfortable in a co-ed space I also host women’s only events (anyone who identifies as a woman is welcome.)

“What actually happens after all that boundary stuff, what actually happens at cuddle parties normally, is it becomes this blissful, oxytocin filed, mellow event, where people just meld into each other and they get very high from this oxytocin high. It is a high. Your body releases this love hormone.”

Live your life having only what you want ever, and know you can change your mind at any time, just because you start something doesn’t mean you have to finish it.

Come for a hug and a cuddle, and leave with an empowered sense of self.

You are in full control of your life, you just need to take charge and tap in to your power.

You will learn to recognize your needs and wants and you will leave feeling more comfortable, more brave, and more loved.