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Bisexuality and Pansexuality

First video in a while! (Get ready for a bunch more this holiday season) This video features our friend Ayesha and Arlie talking about the difference between bisexuality and pansexuality. We have both identified as each over the years, so we have a bit of insight about the implications of the labels, from the perspective of young cis women. Our main points we tried to fit into the video are:

  • “bisexual” and “pansexual” are both ways of describing attraction to people of more than one gender
  • “pansexual” implies but does not mean attraction to all genders, and has undertones of attraction regardless of gender
  • “bisexual” does NOT mean attraction to both or two genders, but rather attraction to people of your own gender and different genders
    • the term “bisexual” is not binarist, gender essentialist, transphobic, or trans exclusive
    • a personal interpretation of bisexuality is that it implies differential attraction to different genders or gender presentations – this isn’t true of all bisexuals!
  • bisexuals and pansexuals are often subject to some misfortunes
    • invisibility
    • stereotype of promiscuity
    • rejection by monosexuals
  • keep in mind that:
    • sexual orientation is not the same as sexual behaviour!
    • sexual orientation is not always the same as romantic orientation
  • you don’t need to label your sexual orientation if you feel it’s not helpful
    • if you want, you can use a more encompassing term, like “queer”

Things I want to stress if you’re figuring out your sexuality:

  • It’s ok to be confused!
  • It’s ok if your preferences change!
  • It’s ok if you want to change your labels!
  • It’s ok to “experiment”
  • It’s ok to be promiscuous if you want to be
  • You can still be bi or pan if you’ve only ever been with people of one gender
  • None of these things make your sexuality invalid

This website deals with most of the stuff we talked about, and gets a little more in-depth.

If you have any questions about anything we mention, Google is your friend! Also feel free to comment, ask us stuff, add your experiences, we want to hear what people are thinking about this topic!

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1970s Dreaming

For those who don’t know this about me, I am a real life Drama Queen…well not really…but I am in the BFA program at the University of Victoria in the Phoenix Theatre apart of the Acting Specialization. Over the past six weeks I have been blessed to be apart of the fantastic company of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare. We open on Thursday at the Phoenix Theatre, apart of the University of Victoria (so for those of you reading this from places other then BC…get on a plane….Arlie I am looking at you!). So for this blog post I am going to shamelessly promote my show.

The director, Fran Gebhard, has placed the Bard’s “Dream” during the late 1970s in New York’s Central Park. The lovers (Hermia, Lysander, Demetrius, and Helena) are preppy Upper East Siders with wealthy parents. Theseus is a Donald Trump like character with his exotic trophy fiance from Italy, Hippolyta. Hermia’s mother, Egeus (played by yours truly), is Theseus’ ex-wife and constantly looks fabulous onstage in Chanel (typically Egeus is played by a man and has no connection to Theseus…but this is way more fun). The rustics work for Theseus as carpenters, painters, welders and Bottom is the limo driver. The world of the Upper East Side is pristine. However, a darker world is soon to unfold once the lovers find themselves in Central Park. There we find Titania’s Coven of flower power children which contrast Oberon’s gang of punk rockers.

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Overall, I believe the show is going to be a great success! But then again I am pretty biased. The show runs between November 6-22. More information can be found here. You can call the Phoenix box office for tickets at (250) 721-8000 or you can check out the box office website for more information here.

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Come out and see the show! You might even recognize the fantastic Levi Schneider (who plays Puck and pictured above in the poster) from I Can’t Keep A Straight Face.

– Alannah

Losing My Religion

Shana Tova! Happy New Year! It’s the year 5775 and once again I am going through the tradition of two days of celebration filled with apples and honey later followed by a day of fasting. If you haven’t guessed yet, I am Jewish. I was born into an interfaith family and my parents “converted “ me to Judaism at birth, as my mother is not Jewish. I grew up as a member of the Danforth Jewish Circle (DJC) in Toronto; a reform synagogue that hold services in Eastminister United Church. The ceremonies to ring out the New Year are always filled with love, celebration, and a lot of home cooking. Since moving to Victoria for university three years ago, I haven’t had the time to take part in the usual festivities. But it was more than a time issue; I simply did not want to try to find a new shul. However, this year I thought I would turn over a new leaf and actually go to High Holiday services. Yet for the first time in my twenty-one years I experienced culture shock in my own culture.

Tradition is a very important aspect to Judaism. It is perfectly represented in the opening number of “Fiddler on the Roof”—the tradition of going to shul and seeing your family and friends gather, the tradition of eating together, and the tradition of celebration and reflection. With that said, I also experience certain traditions that I looked forward to every year growing up. Like the tradition of sitting in the balcony with my best friend, Sophie, and texting to each other in our prayer books, the tradition of working in child care to “get out of” fasting, the tradition of listening to the choir sing but missing the rest of the services, the tradition of hearing the first cry of the shofar. All these activities intermingled to make the New Year so important to me. And these traditions are also intertwined with memories. The memory of seeing my proud father’s face the first year I stayed through all the High Holiday services and even fasted (this was the year after my Bat Mitzvah). The memory of drinking my first glass of Kosher wine. And the memory of my last High Holiday at the DJC when I was in grade 12.

I don’t know if it was the feeling of guilt for not partaking in my religion for the past three years, or the need to find new love and experiences in a city that I have felt so much rejection from in the past year, or the need to go to Musaf services to honor the memory of my Bubbie (who passed away in February) that fed my need to partake in High Holiday services this year. But something happened within me, and I had to honor the traditions of my religion.

So here I was on the evening of September 25. I found a shul online in Victoria that looked promising. A community centre encouraging anyone to come and celebrate the New Year. So I went to their evening Rosh Hashanah services with my “goyishe” friend Lindsay in tow: after all, holidays are also about sharing with friends! But I found myself at the most orthodox shul on Vancouver Island. For a girl who grew in a reform temple this was a very different experience—filled with traditions that I had never experienced before. The whole service was in Hebrew, the Rabbi spoke with a thick accent; he seemed the cookie cutter cutout of the perfect traditional orthodox Jewish Rabbi from central casting. Hearing the services through a language that I didn’t understand was a jarring experience. I had to rely on sheer muscle memory in order to follow along (thank goodness I have an actor’s memory!). I kept nervously glancing at my friend to gauge her her experience, and by the end of the night (the evening service for Rosh Hashana is only one hour long) I felt a strong mix of emotions. Firstly, I felt incredibly homesick. It was as if I understood how the Jews felt long ago. Those celebrating away from their home country for the first time. Or how my own family must have felt during their first High Holiday services in upstate New York after fleeing Europe during the Second World War. I felt a longing for home and all of its traditions that I haven’t felt before. Secondly, I was amazed by the differences in Judaism. This orthodox shul utilized a mechitza (a divider that segregated the sexes). It was something archaic that shocked me: I believe in men and women being equal in all respects, and certainly able to reflect and pray standing beside each other. But at the end of the day, the honey cake was made with love and care, the apple and honey tasted as sweet as always, and the sense of celebration hung in the air as people mingled during the Kaddish. The energy was the same although the traditions slightly different.

For Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur services I went to a different shul, one closer to where I live and one where I could sit where I wanted. This time I went to a Conservative Egalitarian shul. Still filled with different traditions from what I have been used to, but some traditions felt closer to home. Another “goyishe” friend Tyler joined me and we both had a really great time. I think my first mistake a week previously was going into shul expecting to experience my usual traditions, only to find out that the shul was different and believed and carried out different traditions.

In the end, I am really happy that I was able to partake in High Holiday services in Victoria. However, I am making a pact with myself that from now on that I will try to go home for a portion of the holidays. Just like coming home for Christmas is so important to some people, I discovered this week that coming home for the High Holidays is really important to me. But most importantly this weekend I was able to honour the memory of my Bubbie so not only the DJC congregation remembered her this year, but so did a shul in Victoria.

I know this is an “unorthodox” (pun intended) piece for this kind of blog. But I felt the need to write this down somewhere. I need people to understand the significance of the High Holidays, a lesson that I needed to learn myself this year. Traditions are important. But sometimes you need a little change in your life in order to understand what is truly important to you. The year 5775 has barely begun and I have already learned a lot about myself through this experience.

– Alannah

Puppy Love and Pee Pads

Hello everyone, Alannah here! So if you haven’t seen my bazillion posts on social media then this might be news to you. Anyway, I got a puppy! This is not my first pet however, when I was seven I brought home my dog, Marshmallow. She was a Bichon Frise and my sister in dog form growing up. Sadly, at the age of nine she was diagnosed with kidney and gasto-intestinal disease. She miraculously lived another three years before we had to put her down. Two years since, and I have brought home a brand new puppy! Her name is Hermia. The name comes from the Shakespeare play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” specifically from a line said about Hermia “though she be but little she is fierce!” The name is fitting for this little dog. She is a Chihuahua/Poodle mix and both her parents are toy sized. She is only six weeks old and I am so in love with her.

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Since arriving back on the West Coast for school I have devoted the majority of my time to either getting ready to pick her up or being with her and trying to train her. House training has been a trial! Hermia REFUSES to pee on her pad. I have tried everything. So far, I spend most of my time running around my apartment with cleaning tools and cleaning up her messes. Yesterday was the worst. Hermia yet again pooed on the floor (once a dog mom, terminology about body functions is just normal). Afterward, she backed into it. Trying to stop her from walking all over the apartment with poop in her paws I tried to pick her up but in the process ended up stepping in her poo myself. It was hilarious, but rather annoying at the time.

I am not going to lie, having a new puppy is a big responsibility. I forgot how much work they can be. But the unconditional love they provide is so rewarding. I am an actor, my profession involves endless rejection and having a puppy makes it a little bit easier to handle. Also August was a hard month for me and I learned a big lesson in the process. I have too much love to give and I need to share that with someone who will love me unconditionally in return (queue the Katy Perry!).

With all that said, I am hoping to include some Hermia stories and dog DIY’s in future blog posts to come. One that has been helpful and very easy is taking canned pumpkin and putting it into ice cube tray and freezing it. Hermia LOVES it and it is totally helping with her diarrhea (yes…I just said that word on the internet…I am obviously a pet parent). There is also a lot that I am learning in this process and hope to share here. Raising a dog in the twenty-first century is a totally different experience then it was even ten years ago. There is so much to offer and so much research with respect to various kinds of dog diets (raw, kibble, homemade, baby food, wet, etc) to different kinds of medical approaches (on the West Coast there are alternative pet clinics. Imagine getting acupuncture for your dog!).

Anyway, Hermia is the new love in my life. She is so precious and cuddly and loving. I personally CANNOT WAIT for Auntie Arlie to meet her little niece.

 

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I Can’t Keep a Straight* Face

…while Alannah says cheesy things about love. Hence the jumpcuts. Damn her and her cute relationship. Spot her boyfriend in the video. World Pride 2014 was a really fun time. We spent most of the weekend out* on Church Street (Toronto’s gaybourhood), watching the free shows, catching up with old friends and making new ones. I’m so happy that so many of my friends came to support me. And I’m very happy to have seen Tegan and Sara live. We were pretty close to the stage but I would’ve loved to get a little bit closer*. The one thing I am not pleased with is the fact that I was hit on by men several times throughout the weekend. Seriously, don’t do that. I don’t care if it means missing out on a few of the thousands of straight girls who come to celebrate pride, if there’s one place queer girls should be able to avoid being hit on by dudes, it’s at Pride. Anyway, check out this cute video that points out that love is the same for gay people, straight people, and all the rest of us. – Arlie *heh geddit

The World is Not My Dancing Oyster

This video is pretty different from our last two, and because of that I’d like to make the post a little different (longer) as well.

Thirty years ago (and far before that), queer folks created their own spaces because they simply were not safe or accepted in mainstream spaces. The spaces were created out of necessity. If queer people had been allowed to be themselves in mainstream spaces, queer spaces would not have been necessary. With this segregation, a distinct culture emerged and these spaces became not only safe but also vibrant and positive spaces where people could revel in a common identity and be sure that the people around them shared certain experiences.

Nowadays, especially in Canada, queer people, especially gender-conforming gay and lesbian people, are usually relatively (physically) safe in mainstream spaces, although they are still subject to quite a bit of stigma and aggression. So queer spaces are not strictly necessary for safety reasons for those people. (Though I would point out that they are still necessary for a lot of queer folks who do experience a disproportionate amount of aggression, especially trans people.) But these spaces ARE necessary for social reasons – practical ones, like the fact that we’re a minority, so to find someone whose sexual orientation matches yours, it’s much easier if you concentrate yourselves in one area – and more abstract reasons. It’s extremely comforting knowing that the people around you share the same minority experiences as you. I feel perfectly safe around straight allies, but I do not have those shared experiences with them.

Please watch the video for our main points, but I wanted to give a bit of context and explanation to the video here. For a quick overview of the video, basically we say:

  • WORLDPRIDE TORONTO WOOOO
  • please go out to your local Pride Parade and support your LGBTQ+ friends!!!
  • but if you are straight please don’t take up too much space (physical, or in conversation) when in queer spaces, including at Pride!
  • tip: are you talking way more about your experiences than the queer people in your group are? Don’t!
  • tip: are you performing hetero PDA at a Pride event? Don’t….you can do that literally anywhere and we cannot.
  • if you’re going to a gay bar and you’re not accompanying an LGBTQ+ friend, please rethink it – don’t be a cultural tourist

Also, here is a nice list of guidelines from xojane.

– Arlie