RavenKaldera.org » Gender & Sexual Activism

100 things that you can do to keep sexual freedom alive

(This list is inspired by a similar one created by Patrick Califia, renowned sex radical and activist. I borrowed a few of his, and asked my friends for help in creating the rest of the list. I'm sure that you'll find something on here that you can do regularly.)

1. Talk about sex and sexuality with your partners. Make it a point to ask for what you want, talk about what you'd like, express your sexual values, and point out anything that makes you uncomfortable. Use your words -- often and honestly.

2. Get comfortable with saying sexual things straight-out, with no embarrassed or nervous giggles.

3. Come up with a mental list of witty put-downs for people who make homophobic, sexist, or generally nasty-to-sexual-minorities comments. Come up with a follow-up list of devastatingly witty reasons why you feel differently.

4. Quoting the study that shows homophobic straight men to be more likely to be repressed gays than nonhomophobic straight men is a wonderful place to start training people to better behavior.

5. Vote for the legalization of all pornography with actors who are consenting adults.

6. Push for legalization of therapeutic sexual surrogates, and for good certification for them. Write to your state legislator.

7. Push for health-care coverage of therapeutic sexual surrogates for people who are institution-bound or unable to find partners due to severe physical disabilities.

8. Vote, period. Think about who you are voting for, and what their stance is on sexual freedom. Help out campaigns that are willing to have a sex-positive platform, or at least ones that don't have a sex-negative platform.

9. Take a sex worker out to lunch, or buy him coffee, or give her a gift. Don't ask anything more of them. They are all priests and priestesses of the Love Goddess, and she will smile on you for helping them in small ways. Tell them that they are sacred embodiments of the Love Goddess. It doesn't matter if they laugh and don't believe it. If enough people say it to them, they might just begin to.

10. Love your own flesh. Work on loving even the unlovable parts of it. Do sensuous things for it, including putting aside several hours for masturbation and solo sex play, at least once a month.

11. Buy sex toys. If you don't use them, give them away as gifts.

12. If you live in a state where sex toys are illegal, lobby to change that.

13. Hire people who are out members of sexual and gender minorities. Encourage your co-workers to do likewise.

14. Find out if your business gives health insurance coverage to domestic partners. If not, work to change that.

15. If you run your own business, let long-term polyamorous employees have health insurance for their "unmarryable" full-time partners. Work out rules by which you can determine whose polyamorous domestic partner counts, and post those rules on the Net for other small business owners to see.

16. If you are running sex-play or BDSM parties and you don't see any queer people around, ask yourself why. Then ask them why, and see if something can be done.

17. If you are queer and avoid a party because you think you might be the only queer there, remember that nothing ever changed until one brave person stepped forward and changed it. (I challenge queer folks who don't feel comfortable at pansexual parties to go in packs, one pan party for every 4 queer parties.) The same goes for kinky people in queer groups, poly people in any group, and any sexual/gender/relationship minority in swinger's groups.

18. If you belong to a swinger's or other sex group, and someone talks about "kinky" or queer sexual activities as being unacceptable, challenge them. Try to educate them. See if you can find brave members of other sexual minorities to come and talk about them, give a workshop, or even demo them. Familiarity can combat fear and disgust. Make sure that everyone stays respectful throughout the demo.

19. Ask sexual and gender minorities who are members of your faith to come and speak at your place of worship about how it is to be queer/trans and X.

20. Buy books about alternative sexuality and relationships and donate them to libraries. Donate several copies, because they are often stolen and destroyed by people who disapprove of them. Make sure that the library actually puts them on the shelves.

21. If a convenience store or video rental place is being picketed for carrying adult magazines or videos, walk in and buy one. Get your friends to do it too. Tell the manager you support his or her decision to carry the materials that customers want. If the picketers are taking photos of people, show up with a camera and take pictures of them. Post them on the Internet on an unflattering page.

22. If someone at a sex party or workshop doesn't want to be touched, don't deride them as hung up. Learn that sexual boundaries are good, because you can't really say yes unless you're sure that you can say no with no repercussions, guilt, or ridicule. Understand that although sexual repression is bad, sexual boundaries are good, and the latter is not evidence of the former. Remember that the next time someone declines a hug at a sex workshop.

23. Find out what the sex education curriculum is like in your local schools. If it is inadequate or sex-negative, express your concerns to local school officials. Help arrange for sexual-minority speakers to speak in high schools. Make sure that the schools do not allow queer-bashing or sexual harassment in their halls, and that they have curriculum that speaks out against doing it anywhere else as well. Challenge and fight bizarre and draconian anti-sex policies, such as not allowing kids to see a condom unrolled onto an inanimate object for safe-sex demonstrations.

24. Find out if the local high school has sexual-minority student groups. Offer to be the advisor for one, or help find someone qualified.

25. Have sex with the lights on, and keep your eyes open the whole time.

26. Crossdress, in public, at least once. That goes for women too. If you're scared, do it in a group. Learn what it's like to be seen as another gender for once.

27. Learn to have many different permutations of safe sex, and teach this to other people. Try to learn to have fulfilling sex with absolutely no bodily fluids exchanged. If someone pressures you to have unsafe sex, don't give in.

28. Encourage safe sex workshops for every social group you belong to.

29. Think about how your sex life is sacred. Think about how to make it more so, if it doesn't feel that way. Think about how you could explain to your children how a sex life like yours could be sacred. Think about how you could explain to your children how someone else's very different sex life could be sacred.

30. Promise yourself that you will never again have any kind of sex that you hate just because you feel obligated, or because a partner pressures you into it. Keep that promise.

31. If you attend, or run, sex or relationship groups for "couples", ask the presenter what their policy is on triples, or people in polyamorous relationships. If they have none, refer them to some literature. If you're the one running the event, think hard about what your policy should be.

32. If you are a relationship counselor, educate yourself about polyamory. That would include actually talking to a lot of people in long-term poly relationships. Then you can publicly offer relationship counseling to poly folks, who need it just as often as couples.

33. If you are in therapy or counseling, encourage your therapist or counselor to become knowledgeable about polyamory and BDSM so that they can better counsel such folks, and get themselves listed in Kink-Aware Professionals or something similar. Offer to set up a workshop with real poly and kink people talking if they'll get a few colleagues together.

34. If you are a relationship counselor, educate yourself about consensual BDSM and consensual power-exchange relationships. That would include actually talking to several people involved in that lifestyle. After all, imagine that you are part of a four-person polyamorous pagan group marriage where everyone practices BDSM, one member is the full-time slave of two others, and one member is a 'boy' to another member's 'daddy', and you all need help dividing up financial and child-care responsibilities. Where are you going to go for objective, knowledgeable, non- judgmental counseling? If you're a counselor, imagine what it would take for you to be an effective advisor for those folks. Try to educate yourself into being that advisor.

35. Go to the local college that trains social workers. Arrange for a seminar on polyamorous and queer relationships, and how children fare in them, and how to work respectfully with such parents. Arrange for workshops on transgendered parents and transgendered children, and how to respectfully work with both of those as well.

36. If you see someone with an unusual piercing, tattoo, or other body modification, compliment them on it. If they'll let you, look at it up close. Compliment them again.

37. If you are pregnant, or plan to get pregnant, or know anyone who might get pregnant, go online and find the Intersex Flyer for Parents. Make a copy and give it to every breeder you know, so that if their baby is born with intersex genitalia, they will not be bullied by doctors into mutilating their child's genitals for cosmetic reasons. For that matter, make lots of copies and put a stack of them in the office of your local OB/GYN.

38. If you attend - and especially if you run - a sexuality group for only one of "two" genders, or a group that is "gender balanced", challenge yourself or the group's leader: what place do transgendered people, transsexuals, or intersexuals, or anyone with mixed anatomy, have in this group? Challenge them to rethink their ideas of gender, and where the lines of gender are drawn. If nothing else, be honest about who exactly you are limiting this group to, and why. If you're running a "gender balanced" group and don't know how to handle that, you might take the advice of my fellow presenter Jen Hunter: since we transfolk are already gender balanced individuals in and of ourselves, make it a policy to invite as many as possible of us! Seriously, ask yourself honestly how many of these policies exist so that homophobic heterosexual members, or transphobic homosexual members, never have to be made uncomfortable and be forced to actually question anything.

39. Bother to learn what transgendered people really look like and feel. Talk to a few if possible. Be respectful and don't ask about their genitalia; imagine how you'd feel if a stranger started grilling you about yours.

40. Transgendered people, in this country, are murdered at the rate of about two a month. Their murderers frequently get off because they tell the jury that they had to kill them, they were freaks...and the jury is often sympathetic. Ask your friends and relations what they would do on such a jury. If they sympathize with the murderer, educate them differently.

41. Buy and read good erotica about real transgendered people - something other than the usual bad forced-feminization transvestite porn. See if you can imagine being with someone like that. Run the idea past your crotch and see if you can beat off to it. If you can't find any, complain. Tell erotica publishers that there needs to be more.

42. Buy and read good, intelligent erotica, period. Support people who are trying to make erotic publishing less stupid and sleazy, while still being brave enough to affirm many kinds of alternative sexualities.

43. Support small presses and small writer's cooperatives, especially ones that offer sexual or alternative relationship topics. Small presses are where these ideas first hit the public. Go into bookstores and order their books, and also well-written self-published books on alternative sexuality. Order an extra copy of the latter and donate it to a library. Someday it might be out of print except for that copy.

44. At least once a year, buy a piece of erotica about a sexual practice that is different from your normal shtick, and see if you can get turned on by it. Make it a yearly brain-stretching activity. If you can't make it work, make a gift of it to someone who can.

45. Do the activities represented in pornographic films resemble your bodies, your practices, and/or your fantasies? If not, ask the rental agency for what you want to see. Then write to the film companies and ask for it.

46. Do the supposed "decency guidelines" of what can and cannot be shown in porn make sense to you? If not, write to the film companies and complain! Have your friends do the same. Everything that is out there is there because of customer demand.

47. Make erotic films, or fund some friends to do it for you, that show activities you'd like to see in films that aren't "ordinary". Make porn with people who don't have socially acceptable bodies - people who are fat, or older, or disabled, or transgendered. Don't turn it into a freak show; film them being beautiful and sexual. Don't worry about selling it; stick it on the Net and someone will find it. This is about changing people's heads, not making tons of money.

48. Support small porn sites that are making unusual erotica, especially if they are doing it with people who are not conventionally attractive.

49. If you live in an area where porn is restricted due to local laws, find out what local authorities pushed those laws through. Find out who their political cohorts are. Circulate a list of their names. When local elections come, vote them out of office. While you're at it, let the people you're voting for know that they have your vote because they value freedom of speech and expression.

50. If you have a sexual fantasy you're ashamed of, go onto the Internet and find a list of people who are also into it. I guarantee you that one will be there. Talk to them and ask for help in getting over your shame.

51. If someone else's sexual kink makes you uncomfortable, don't just run away. Ask them why they do it, what makes it beautiful and desirable to them. You don't have to have those desires yourself in order to understand someone else's needs, and appreciate them.

52. Tell someone who is fat how beautiful and desirable they are. If you are fat, tell yourself this, and go out dancing.

53. Support sex-positive activist groups who do work that you approve of. Donate money to sex-positive causes, such as the list at the bottom of this document.

54. If you have money and you'd like to donate it in a more hands-on way, find a sex-radical activist who is dead broke and slaving for the cause and offer to pay for their health insurance.

55. Ask your primary care physician (or other doctor) if he or she would be comfortable treating transgendered people and intersexuals with unusual anatomy and special needs, or people with multiple genital piercings or strange body modifications, or people who practice consensual BDSM and might have interesting bruises, or people who come in triples or foursomes. If the answer is yes, ask if he or she would be willing to be listed on a website for sympathetic physicians. If not, think about changing doctors, and telling them why.

56. Teach your children about sexual and gender minorities, and not in a way that implies discomfort or disapproval. Try to make yourself believe that these are perfectly legitimate human variations, and try to communicate that to them. If they learn differently at school, tell them the other kids are wrong. Have them meet members of sexual minorities socially, especially ones who will candidly answer questions. Remind them that at least one in ten of their classmates, and maybe more, will grow up to be members of some sexual minority. Teach them that this is just fine.

57. Talk to your local school system and arrange for queer, trans, and poly people to come in as speakers. Remind them that queer and trans teens have a high suicide rate. Work to stop this.

58. Teach your children that masturbation is fine and healthy. If they are teens, and they want access to sex toys and erotica for their masturbatory lives, be OK with this. Help them if you and they can deal with it, or find them a trusted friend who can do so respectfully and with good judgment. Teach them about safe sex as young as possible.

59. If your child is queer or trans or kinky or poly, get them resources to help them cope with the world. Don't try to change them. If they're small, start thinking now about what you'll do if their dating habits are not the usual thing, just in case.

60. Be a safe place and a safe mentor for a sexual-minority teen or young adult whose family has rejected them.

61. Donate money or time to groups that help queer/trans teens and young adults who must leave home due to intolerable circumstances. If there are none, talk to local interest groups who could lobby the state to fund something.

62. Donate money or time to organizations that do sexual education for street youth.

63. Be willing to hire members of sexual minorities who can't have children to babysit your own.

64. If you run sex-oriented events, conferences, gatherings, classes, etc., make them as accessible as possible to poor people. Have a sliding scale, work-study program, or encourage people with money to donate scholarships for people without money. Question classist rules around dress codes, high fees, "professional" attire, and public-transport access. Good sex lives should not be limited to those with disposable incomes. Ask yourself hard questions about why you don't want poor, welfare, working-class, or low-income sexual minority people at these events. Start with this conference.

65. If you see TV programs that treat members of alternative sexualities disrespectfully, write them and complain. Get your friends to do it too. Watch especially for the stories where the sexual-minority person never makes it to the end of the segment alive.

66. If you're a writer, include people who are sexual minorities in your stories, in a normal and natural way. Don't necessarily make them the ones that get killed off, either.

67. Look into educational films that give good information about alternative sexuality groups. Encourage your local interest, religious, or other group to have a monthly "movie night". Show them to your kids.

68. Put a rainbow flag bumper sticker on your car, with the word "Ally" next to it if you aren't queer.

69. Support PFLAG groups. Distribute their literature.

70. Keep tasteful, beautiful erotic books of art on your coffee table. Act like it's perfectly normal.

71. Support erotic art -- buy it in galleries, buy books of erotic art that appeals to you, give them as gifts. Support artists who are brave enough to glorify the human body in all its forms.

72. Support scientific exhibits -- such as the Body Worlds exhibit -- that show the human body in a matter-of-fact way, including genitals. Lobby against the practice of hiding all representations of genitals from children, including nonsexual educational ones.

73. Support your local nude beach or "naturist" resort. If you aren't into that, buy tickets or memberships for friends who are.

74. If you are a member of a "naturist" club, lobby against practices that some clubs have that ban body piercings and queer or transgendered folks.

75. Have a bowl of condoms on your desk at your job, with a sign that says, "Help yourself." If people ask, say that you're a safe sex educator.

76. Let your children hear you say that someone whose beauty is not socially acceptable, is beautiful. Let them hear you explain why you think this.

77. If a fat or physically ugly person pisses you off, don't add fatness or ugliness to the list of things wrong with them. Just insult the things that need insulting. Encourage your friends to do the same.

78. Don't assume that the next person you see whose body is socially unacceptable is alone and has no friends or lovers. Try assuming that they actually have more lovers and a better sex life than you. See how that changes the way you treat them.

79. Lobby for unisex bathrooms, wherever you go. If you run a small business, have a unisex bathroom. Make it the best bathroom in the most convenient place.

80. Do what Sister-Brother Raphael does, a gender terrorism act: At a conference or gathering, cover up the "Men's" and "Women's" signs with temporary signs that say things like Carbon/Silicon or Oxygen/Methane -- or "People Who Divide The World Into Two Genders" and "People Who Don't".

81. If you see two people (not dressed in a fetishy way) in public, with one obviously treating the other as a subordinate, but not in an abusive way, assume that they are in a consensual negotiated D/s relationship, and compliment them for being able to do that in public. If they are, they'll smile and feel good. If they're not, it might just spur them on to look into such things, which can bring better communication into their lives.

82. If friends and co-workers snicker and make comments about folks who do BDSM, calmly tell them that you have perfectly sane friends who are into that. If you don't have any, make some.

83. If you have a D/s relationship, make an effort to talk about it in public to some group who doesn't understand and thinks it's abuse. It's especially effective if the submissive talks about it. Especially to feminist groups. Emphasize consent and sexual choices.

84. If you are squeamish about the idea of a full-time D/s relationship and are afraid that they might be abusive, find and talk to intelligent people who are doing it properly. Educate yourself as to the difference between a healthy one and an abusive one.

85. Teach your kids about the concept of a safeword, from a very young age. Kids wrestle and need such things, and what you teach them now will carry them through.

86. Let your kids see you argue, and see you resolve the arguments. Teach them relationship conflict resolution at a young age. Let them see you set boundaries, and hold them.

87. If your teens experiment sexually, be intelligent about it. Find them a mentor that you trust to have them talk about it with. Have safe sex implements available. Allow them to have sex in your house -- better there than in the bushes somewhere. Give them privacy, and tell them that you expect them to be smart about things.

88. Learn useful tricks for dealing with someone whose gender is not apparent. Learn ways to evade referring to them in gendered terms -- "them" works well as a pronoun , or "the redhead", or "the one in the blue shirt". Do it gracefully, in a way that doesn't call attention to it. Instruct your friends in these tricks. Everyone would rather look slick than dorky. Use this.

89. Support groups that legalize prostitution. Lobby for such legislation. Countries who have done this are not having the problems that anti-prostitution folks are afraid of. Do the research and tell your friends.

90. Learn to think of sex work as just another job, with a fine purpose. Teach your children this.

91. Pay for a sex worker's health care and insurance.

92. Lobby police academies to give fair, balanced workshops on sex work and sex workers. Police protesting are one of the main reasons that sex work legalization is held up.

93. Support rape crisis hotlines, rape crisis counseling, and domestic violence shelters.

94. Lobby local colleges to have Model Mugging courses, rape avoidance courses, date negotiation classes, and escort systems that help get people safely across campus at night.

95. Lobby shelters for battered spouses to have a place for men and transgendered women.

96. Lobby high schools to have classes about date rape and dating negotiation. Start teaching them as young as possible that no means no.

97. Pay for someone's sex reassignment surgery, or at least loan them the money if they're good for it.

98. Make having a good, fulfilling sex life a high priority in your life. People who complain about the sex lives of other people usually aren't getting their own needs met. Value those needs and make them a priority.

99. Have love in your life - lots of it, sexual and otherwise. Try to make yourself worth loving. It's not that hard.

100. BE OUT. Someone, somewhere, will refrain from putting a bullet through their head because they see you living a reasonably happy life with the kink that they think makes them worthless.

Raven Kaldera

[Back to Raven's Activist Writing]

Organizations for Sexual Freedom

American Civil Liberties Union
The ACLU works to protect a wide range of civil liberties, including the individual's right to privacy and equal protection to those who have been traditionally denied their rights, as well as issues of free speech, association, and assembly.

125 Broad Street, 18th Floor
New York, NY 10004

The Society for Human Sexuality
Promotes understanding and appreciation for the many forms of adult intimate relationships and consensual sexual expression, through a large library of online information, as well as events in the Seattle area.

Society for Human Sexuality
PMB 1276
1122 East Pike Street
Seattle, WA 98122-3934

National Coalition for Sexual Freedom
A nationwide advocacy coalition working for the decriminalization of consensual alternative sexual expression, emphasizing SM, leather, and fetish activities.

National Coalition for Sexual Freedom
822 Guilford Avenue, Box 127
Baltimore, MD 21202-3707
e-mail: ncsfreedom@ncsfreedom.org
phone: 410-539-4824

National Coalition Against Censorship
A coalition of literary, artistic, religious, educational, professional, labor, civil liberties and other groups working to protect and defend First Amendment values of freedom of thought, inquiry and expression.

275 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10001
Phone: (212) 807-6222
Fax: (212) 807-6245

National Leather Association
Education, political activism and community building for the Leather/BDSM/Fetish community, with local chapters throughout the US.

National Leather Association International
P.O. Box 423
Blacklick, OH 43004-0423
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Providing nondiscriminatory access to confidential reproductive health care services and sexual health education

Planned Parenthood Federation of America
434 West 33rd St.
New York, NY 10001
FAX: 212/245-1845
To find the nearest Planned Parenthood center, call 1-800-230-PLAN.

Kink Aware Professionals
An online resource for people who are seeking psychotherapeutic, medical, and legal professionals who are informed about the diversity of consensual, adult sexuality.


Feminists For Free Expression:
"a group of diverse feminists working to preserve the individual's right to see, hear and produce materials of her choice without the intervention of the state 'for her own good.'"
2525 Times Square Station
New York, NY 10108-2525
Phone: 718.651.1232
Fax: 212.702.6277

COYOTE - "Call off Your Old Tired Ethics"
A west-coast organization working for the rights of a wide range of sex workers.

COYOTE, San Francisco
Box 210256
San Francisco CA 94121

Los Angeles CA

Leather Leadership Conference
Fostering leadership and community building skills in the SM/Leather/Fetish community.

A website providing young people with honest, positive sex education.