predictions from the sex geek: checking in halfway through

More than six months ago, the lovely ladies on Montreal’s CKUT radio show AudioSmut asked me to write up a whole bunch of sex predictions for the year. I did so, with a general focus followed by some more Quebec- and Montreal-specific bits, and fired it off just before shutting down the ‘puter and packing it into a moving van to head to Toronto. I’d fully intended to post it here, but somehow I never got around to it. I just came across it in my records now, and it occurred to me that it might be fun to post it halfway through the year to see whether any of my predictions have come true. Fun times! Here it is, followed by a quick look at what’s actually happened. Enjoy!

***

2008 Predictions from the Sex Geek
by Andrea Zanin

When it comes to sex, 2008 will be a year of change. Bush will finally get booted out of office, so maybe our neighbours down south will regain some of that lost sanity around questions of sexual expression and education.

On this side of the border, I predict this year will be a big one when it comes to questions around sex workers’ rights – with rumblings about decriminalization starting to get louder, and new feminist groups forming to support those endeavours.

I also expect to see the ramifications start to play out from the groundbreaking case in Ontario in which a child now has three legal parents – two parents and a sperm donor. I can’t wait to see what this will do to shake up traditional definitions of family!

And I think we’ll start seeing interesting new discussions around safer sex, contraception, HIV/AIDS and teen STI rates – with shifts in provincial sex ed policy, increasingly comfortable and sex-positive condom advertising, growing complacency about AIDS as the third decade of the epidemic draws to a close, new STI vaccines available and more, shifts are bound to occur.

Last but not least, in terms of global predictions, I think 2008 will be the year of the tranny – transsexual and transgender rights are taking up an increasing amount of space and attention in the media and in community discourse, and it’s about time. I hope we’ll see positive developments that will increase access to medical services and decrease the hassles that most transfolk have to face in their everyday lives, whether we’re talking about school registration systems that won’t change someone’s name or general societal cluelessness about trans people’s needs and rights.

But to bring things down to the local, I expect to see intriguing developments and increasing sophistication in the world of alternative sexuality in Montreal.

Last summer’s Censored festival ushered in a new era of BDSM and kink in the city, bringing people together for workshops and parties in a surprisingly spicy blend of anglophones and francophones, straights and queers, players and partyers. I predict, and hope, that this year’s edition will capitalize on the successes of 2007 and learn from its failures… and that the professionalism and good energy of the organizers will have a ripple effect on Montreal’s BDSM world as a whole. Expect super-hot events from Isabeau at Le Fetiche Store among other things.

I predict that the two organizations making gay pride happen will continue to turn the cold shoulder to one another, and something ridiculous will occur. Couldn’t quite tell you what – media scandal, backstabbing, nasty competition, who knows. Factor in the radical queer underground’s own version of pride, and these are exciting times in the realm of the rainbow flag. Watch for it! The feather boas will fly.

On the downside, though, I predict a continued lull for the lesbians. The recent closing of Boutique Mad-Âme, lesbian clothing store extraordinaire, marks a major loss for the fashionable queers among us, but in no way do I feel that’s an indication of any failure in our sartorial skill – owner Amy is taking off for a great job opportunity in her chosen field, not because Montreal dykes stopped buying hot clothes. Nonetheless, it’s a damn shame to lose the store. Where am I gonna get my “I Love Vaginas” t-shirts now?

Also, if history is any indication, we’ve got about another year and a half to go before we can expect the next short-lived ladies’ bar to open up, and in the meantime we’ll bop around from place to place enjoying the occasional women’s night until someone decides to gamble yet again on our dyke drinking dollars. Will it ever work? Your guess is as good as mine, gals. Cross your fingers that at the very least, Le Boudoir will reappear this year… boy, did we ever miss it in 2007!

Now, despite all that despondency, put your ear to the ground… listen carefully… did you hear that? It’s the murmur of exciting things coming down the pipeline. Serge et Réal, the gay bookstore, may have closed, but somewhere in town, you’ll be able to find a wider selection of English-language queer books starting soon. Don’t hold your breath for a L’Androgyne revival, but do keep your eyes peeled for fuller shelves at an independent local bookseller. What else? Well, Come As You Are came and went, but you may start hearing of a new game in town in the queer-friendly sex-toy department. That’s all I can say for the moment! Oh, and if certain people slack off on their schoolwork a bit and devote some energy to a far sexier project, we may see Montreal’s first women-and-trans bathhouse… that might be a long shot, but a girl can hope, no?

As for me personally, as you hear this over the airwaves via the dulcet tones of the Audio Smut ladies, I’m in Toronto schlepping my furniture into my new apartment there. After 20 years of delightful debauchery in Montreal, I’m off to seek new adventures in Hogtown, starting by moving in with my sweetheart and entertaining a few lovers. I predict lots of good times! Of course I plan to spend a lot of time in Montreal – sort of like when you keep sleeping with your ex once you’ve broken up, I’m definitely intending to maintain good, ahem, relations.

As well as enjoying my new city and visiting my old one, I’ll be travelling all over North America to teach and speak about alternative sexuality, writing my first book, co-organizing the second edition of the women and trans BDSM event An Unholy Harvest in October, and blogging as usual at sexgeek.wordpress.com. Come visit me there anytime!

2008 is a leap year, folks – that means you have a whole extra 24 hours to get yourself into all kinds of trouble. Don’t waste a minute of it!

***

So, point by point.

Bush’s departure and renewed sanity in the US around questions of sexual expression and education

Too early to say. Besides, I quickly became very tired of the reductive and repetitive media attention to the race and gender politics of the current elections run, and have pretty much opted out of keeping track of what’s going on down there until we get the final results. American politics are such a frickin’ circus. Yick.

Sex workers’ rights, rumblings about decriminalization, new pro-sex-worker feminist groups

Yes, but for the moment they’re still at the “rumbling” and “new” stages. Perhaps by the end of the year we’ll see more interesting things take place.

Ramifications from the Ontario three-legal-parents case

Well, there’s been discussion here and there, but nobody’s pushing through any new cases that I’ve heard of. The potential effect of the Ontario case on poly family has definitely not been felt yet. This is not surprising, given that poly folks are generally slow to bring anything into the realm of courts-based activism. Non-monogamy is also fairly unpopular in the media eye these days because of the current big stink centred on non-consensual religious polygamy, with some of the discussion relentlessly anti-multiple-partner, some if it looking at child abuse, and the rare article considering the question of whether religious polygamy is actually non-consensual and abusive or just retrograde in its gender politics. None of this is exactly what I’d call conducive to a nuanced understanding of the potentials for healthy, happy, consensual non-monogamy, especially when kids are involved.

However, on a different but definitely related note, I’m definitely seeing a swelling of cultural interest in the queering of the queer family. In the last few weeks I’ve received at least three calls for submissions for anthologies both academic and popular, as well as notices about spoken word events, documentary films and other cultural productions on the topic of queer family outside the “gay men or lesbians having kids” box. I’m in the process of co-authoring a submission to an anthology (I’ve posted the CFS below) to be put out by a Canadian small press about the experience of creating queer family with my ex, T (now known as the Spuncle), the Lesbian Moms to whom he donated sperm, and the mutual friend/ex who introduced everyone, among others. This in addition to the Xtra article of this past spring where the Moms and I were interviewed on the topic of Ontario’s new Family Day.

New discussions around safer sex, contraception, HIV/AIDS and teen STI rates

Meh. Nothing much so far, but you never know. The HPV vaccine discussion is still around, but it’s getting a bit old; I haven’t heard much else recently that’s gotten me all excited, but I’ll keep ya posted if I do.

Positive developments in transsexual and transgender rights, including increased access to medical services

Yes! Well, in Ontario at least. Sex reassignment surgery has recently been re-listed, although activists are still facing a lot of work when it comes to pushing the government to update the standards it uses to judge people’s eligibility for the surgery, among other things. As for other Canadian initiatives, I’ll tell you more after the CPATH conference next week.

A new and better Censored festival in Montreal, plus hot kink events from Isabeau at Le Fetiche Store

Yup. The festival is on its way and has a partly-new management team and a new name: Le Festival Kinky de Montréal. It takes place August 7-10 and I’ll be teaching at it twice. Fun! And Isabeau is definitely doing cool events these days.

The two organizations making gay pride happen in Montreal will continue to turn the cold shoulder to one another, and something ridiculous will occur

Well, I don’t know if it counts as ridiculous, but the Fierté LGBTQ folks have moved the date of Pride to mid-August. When Divers/Cité ran Pride, Community Day and parade were held on the culminating weekend of the festival. Last year, the first that Divers/Cité dropped the organization of Pride, there was a bit of a fumble between several organizations to take it up; Fierté Montréal was born and quickly died, but Célébrations LGBTQ grew up in its place and took on the task of creating Community Day and the parade. They held it on the weekend just prior to Divers/Cité, which meant that we had a Saturday of tabling, a Sunday of marching, a couple days’ rest, and then D/C hit. Really, from a scheduling point of view, it wasn’t too bad.

This year, Divers/Cité will still be held on its usual dates – July 29 to August 3 – but Pride leaps back a full two weeks. Specifically, the renamed Célébrations de la Fierté is holding Community Day on Saturday, August 16, and the Pride parade on Sunday, August 17. For locals that may or may not have a serious effect on things, except maybe that people may have a harder time arranging their vacations so they don’t have to miss one or the other celebration. But this difference in dates means that out-of-towners who want to do both will need to travel twice. I can’t help but wonder how long the situation can sustain itself – what will the split do to the influx of tourist dollars? Will queer businesses suffer? Will they reap the benefits of twice the tourism? Will Montrealers get bored of the catfighting and opt out of celebrating gayness in big public ways altogether? Really, I’m not sure what to expect. I will definitely continue to report on further politics as I hear about them!

A continued lull for Montreal lesbians

Yep. Bang on. No more clothing store, no bar, a few scattered events (though doubtless fun ones), and no more Boudoir, probably ever. We will just have to find other places to wear our fedoras and fishnets. Miriam Ginestier is organizing a dyke bicycle rally event for later this summer, the details of which I haven’t yet heard, and because it’s Miriam it will doubtless be a good time. But beyond that – nada.

All in Montreal: queer books, sex shops and maybe even a bathhouse!

Sorry, folks. The possibilities I’d heard about at the time I wrote my predictions have one by one fallen through. As soon as I hear about any cool stuff in this realm for the Montrealers, I promise I’ll let you know. At the moment I see nothing on the horizon.

And there you have it. The half-point check-in. I’ll provide an update at the end of the year, which is now less than six months away! Jeebus. Time flies when you’re having fun.

***

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: PLEASE FORWARD WIDELY

Dyke Moms, Donor Dads, and Reconceiving the Queer Family: An Anthology

You’re an out dyke about town. You meet someone, shack up, get a cat. You survive the non-monogamy negotiations and a renovation, get jobs in your fields, do lots of therapy, and decide it’s time to expand beyond your twosome into the world of parenthood. Being enterprising women with a solid do-it-yourself streak, you decide to forgo the impersonality and expense of a sperm bank and ask Tony, your gay friend from college, to donate some sperm to the cause. What could be simpler? A few months, a few syringes, some egg white and folic acid, a bit of awkwardness, and baby will make three.

Uh, make that four. Or five. Or maybe six. Because Tony (who, oddly, didn’t just miraculously vaporize as soon as the child was conceived) has a mother and a partner, both of whom want a relationship to the child. Like it or not, baby’s made something a lot more than what you bargained for. But what?

This anthology, to be published in Spring 2009 by Toronto’s Insomniac Press, will explore, through personal essays and first-person accounts, the phenomenon of lesbian couples (and the occasional single dyke) who choose a male friend or acquaintance, rather than an anonymous sperm donor, to father their children.

Submit!

With no clear models to follow, this new version of the queer family is creating its own. That’s where this anthology comes in. We are seeking stories that are funny, touching, heartbreaking, provocative, thoughtful… and very, very relevant to the new queer (and queer-positive) family.

We are looking for creative non-fiction and first-person accounts by

* lesbian mothers who have chosen known sperm donors in order to conceive;
* gay and straight men who have become sperm donors to lesbian mothers;
* their partners, their children, and other invested parties.

Submissions might explore (but should not be limited to) the following issues and themes:

* When baby-making doesn’t take or takes too long; dealing with infertility, miscarriage, or even routine insemination is difficult enough for the average couple, so what happens when the donor also becomes emotionally involved? What happens when negotiations break down?
* Can his parents come to visit? Is it rude to insist they stay in a hotel? With new family configurations come new questions of etiquette. How to deal gracefully (or at least sanely) with an often unexpected extended family.
* The other mother: What happens to the experience of non-biological mothers when a biological “Dad” is also part of the picture? Non-biological mothers in lesbian partnerships have long had to deal with issues of belonging and recognition in a society that is slow to recognize them as parents. Non-biological moms talk about the processes and challenges of claiming their roles as primary parents.
* “Daddy” doesn’t mean what it used to … How does the choice to become a donor redefine circles of gay male friends and the identities of gay men? From sperm count and motility to number of children fathered, the “donor” phenomenon has sparked new concerns and conversations among gay men.
* My husband is sleeping with lesbians! What does it mean when your partner is the father of the new baby… but the baby isn’t yours? From straight women who never thought they wanted kids to gay men who must put up with their boyfriends’ new “focus,” the new “donor” family has far-reaching implications.
* What if the birth changes everything? The donor who didn’t want to be overly involved is smitten with “his” new son or daughter. On top of figuring out how to live with a newborn, the new moms must find a way to negotiate the demands of a relationship they didn’t realize they were entering into.
* Gay divorce: What happens to the donor if the moms split up? What happens when the relationship between moms and donor deteriorates?

To submit, send two double-spaced hard copies and an electronic copy on disc (in .rtf format) to the address below. Submissions should not exceed 15 pages or 7,500 words. Please left-justify your submission and use a serif font (e.g., Times New Roman) in 12-point size.

Please include your name, address, telephone number, email address, and a brief bio (100 words). Submissions will not be returned. Emailed submissions will not be considered.

Deadline for Submissions:  September 15, 2008

Contact us
Chloe Brushwood Rose & Susan Goldberg, Editors
Reconceiving Anthology
c/o Dr. Chloe Brushwood Rose
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education
York University
4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario  M3J 1P3
Canada
reconceivinganthology@gmail.com


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