Sep 302010

Sexual predator Dharun Ravi and his pal Molly Wei really piss me off. I posted Student Who Was Secretly Filmed Having Sex Commits Suicide to Facebook. If you haven’t already joined our conversation, do it now. Reading about Tyler Clementi’s death, one of my readers asked a wider question: “How are we going to keep the cyber community a safe place for our children?” Rabidly online since coding my first website in 1995, I know we need to strengthen laws and get our courts up to speed with technology.

For a moment, pretend the internet doesn’t exist — because, quite frankly, that’s when most laws were written. I could be wrong, but I’d be hard pressed to believe Dharun would’ve placed an ad in his local newspaper, thus broadcasting his plan to create a secret porno of his unwitting roommate. Also, I don’t necessarily believe Dharun would’ve hid in the closet with an old fashion camcorder, filming his roommate so he could burn the tape to DVD, CD or VHS and distribute it. That’s not to say people haven’t done shit like that in the past. My point is this: Had Dharun Ravi done those things, people might more readily consider him a sociopathic sexual predator. Further, criminal punishment might be more stringent and the hard evidence against him would be stronger — that is, a copy of the paid, printed advertisement instead of a deleted Twitter confession. Judges and juries understand newspapers, camcorders and spying. They don’t always understand ustream, iChat and “the Twitter.”

When you strip away the bullshit, what we’re left with is this — Dharun Ravi sexually violated Tyler Clementi by forcing him to unwittingly star in gay pornography, then actively promoted and distributed the footage. I can only imagine Tyler felt raped and violated by the betrayal. Though they haven’t pulled the body from the water yet, his family and witnesses say Tyler Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge. Read Virtual Homicide, Real Suicide. Dr. Keith Ablow is both right and wrong. No, technology isn’t the problem — dehumanizing another human being is. However, he’s correct when he says, “If guilty, Wei and Ravi are killers, though they will never be charged with murder.”

GW Bridge

Let’s talk about Dan Savage’s latest project. While I appreciate what he’s done to push sex information out to the public, I disagree with his blame-black-people views on the very real problem of American homophobia. Having said that, I totally commend him for launching his deeply touching It Gets Better Project to combat LGBT teen suicides. LGBT youth are up to four to eight times more likely to consider suicide than their straight peers. In recent years, kids such as 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover and 13-year-old Ryan Halligan have hanged themselves simply because their schoolmates thought they were gay. I give a damn about Tyler Clementi and LGBT youth because I write about sex for straight, gay and otherwise-oriented people. Professional terrain aside, I’m saddened whenever any child or young person kills themselves. What decent fucking human being isn’t?

Image of GW Bridge by Mary. Excerpts of this post originally appeared as a Facebook conversation.
Shout out to Nicky for reminding me to post the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number 1-800-273-8255 as well as info about the Trevor Project for LGBTQ youth in crisis.

Sep 292010

“You don’t have anything on your walls.” During the photo shoot, the Brazilian woman with curly hair waves an index around 450 square feet of my Manhattan apartment’s sterile partitions. A photographer, her job is to scrutinize images — or the lack thereof. “Is that on purpose?”

She’s the first visitor I’ve hosted in nearly a month. Before moving to New York, I threw flamboyant dinner parties: slamming bottomless pitchers of homemade sangria on the kitchen table, pulling warm meals from the oven and scattering vases with fresh-cut tulips and gigantic potted plants named Rosie and Bubba throughout the house. Friends came over and we enjoyed long conversations dotted with laughter — usually sharing stories about sex, life and love. I miss the warmth, connection and gezelligheid of breaking bread in my home while surrounded by close friends.

In Manhattan, I eat restaurant food with an unknown list of ingredients prepared by cooks whose hands I never see.

Empty: Pavement View, Times Square

“My friends and I always go out for brunches and dinners,” I tell the photographer. “I’m never home. Honestly, my apartment has kind of turned in to a hotel room. I sleep here and that’s pretty much it.” Is the Brazilian’s silence is because she’s without words, or does she feel uncomfortable speaking her response? I want to tell her: My life isn’t as lonely as my apartment makes it appear. Cracking a joke, I point to framed photographs leaning against the baseboard with a thin layer of two-month-old dust. “I still haven’t decided where to hang these yet. I guess I’m really a commitmentphobe.” Her laughter puts me more at ease.

Three days earlier, on invitation from Indieflix, I attended singles event Love In Times Square. The jumbotron illuminated our faces as my date — Billy, a friend visiting from Los Angeles — and I stood with mouths slightly open, tilting our heads up toward the screen. Romantic comedies, the theme was singletons finding love in unexpected places. Beaches. Laundromats. Office spaces. After watching four short films, Billy and I went to the W for Indieflix’s private afterparty where we ran into the cutest couple. Sipping a pear martini, I asked the pair how they met. “BYU,” said the Stu Holden lookalike. I wondered out loud, “Wow! So, are you guys Mormon? Rumspringa and everything?” They laughed and explained — while, yes, they were Mormon — it was Amish adolescents who do the whole “run around” thing to find themselves. Symbolically replacing the foot in my mouth with a martini glass, I took another sip and changed the subject.

“When you met, who picked up who? How did you connect?”

They said they were married, and I noticed both their smiles and tinted blond hair matched. As they jokingly sparred about who hit on who first, they stood in close proximity flashing knowing glances at each other. They looked happy. After the event, singletons Billy and I grabbed dinner at a restaurant. Then, we retired to our respective hotels. He crashed at a different friend’s place, and I went to my apartment.

Loneliness isn’t that act of living by oneself, it’s what happens when you feel like your needs aren’t being met. Afterall, in the past, I felt most alone and abandoned when I dated a guy who was incapable of meeting my needs. So, the trick seems to be: Figure out what makes you feel lonely and do something about it. Me? I’m satisfied with my life and it’s very full, but being in my apartment sometimes feels lonely. I should throw dinner parties there more often. I love hanging out with my friends in public spaces, but I really miss sharing intimate moments with them in my home.

Below is Australian director Patrick Hughes‘ short film SIGNS. Screened at Love In Times Square, it’s the story of an Aussie guy living the single life in London. Opening scene? His sterile apartment. It’s easy to forget I’m not the only person who feels lonely at times.

NOTE: YOU HAVE TO WATCH THE WHOLE FILM. It’s only depressing in the beginning.

Times Square image credit: Mo Riza

Sep 232010

Lovers, if it’s sexy Asian men you want, it’s sexy Asian men you shall have. Here’s my girl Jen Kwok, and she’ll tell you why dating Asian men “rocks.” You’ll recognize her from FOURPLAY, and the white dude in the video is SOCE, The Elemental Wizard.

If it doesn’t load above, here’s a direct link to video:

Sep 222010

As I mentioned on my Facebook, yesterday at different events, I met two FUNKY BROWN CHICK® readers. Ruth says she reads on a regular basis, but she never comments; Jocelyn commented for the first time that morning and we randomly bumped into each other that night. I usually average 2,000 – 3,000 unique visitors per day. Not to go all stalkery on your asses, but I know you’re here because I can “see” how many people are on my site via analytics. I love love LOVE: my regular commenters, those of you who only speak up occasionally, and the folks who drop by regularly but never say a word. Who are you?!?! :) And — more importantly — why are you so shy, my darlings?

Periodically, I like to shake tree branches and kick bushes to see who’s lurking in the background. Can you do me a favor? Whether this is your first time visiting here or your 100th, leave a comment. Say hello, and tell me where you are at this very moment. Here, I’ll start. “Hi, cuties! Greetings from New York.” Seeee, that wasn’t so bad, was it? ;) Now, it’s your turn. We’re waiting.

Its Future is in our Hands - Live Earth

Sep 212010

So, I’m reading the New York Times article Facing Social Pressures, Families Disguise Girls as Boys in Afghanistan. (Stick with me. I’ll get to arranged marriages in a bit.) We call it crossdressing, and men who do it raise more eyebrows than women do. In Afghanistan, it’s called bacha posh — or, literally, “dressed up as a boy.” I really liked one woman mentioned in the piece, Shukria Siddiqui. She was raised as a dude from childhood through college. The Times says, “She took on her future and professional life with certainty and confidence, presuming she would never be constricted by any of the rules that applied to women in Afghanistan.” I was rooting for her, Rock on with your bad self! Then, I read the rest of the piece.

Her family, however, had made their decision: she was to marry the owner of a small construction company. She never considered going against them, or running away. “It was my family’s desire, and we obey our families,” she said. “It’s our culture.”

Arranged marriages. For a funny “judge-not-others’-cultures-before-examining-flaws-in-own” video, see Hari Kondabolu‘s Will Your Marriage Be Arranged? I would marry Hari. ;) He’s hot. I once saw him and Baron Vaughn perform together at Comix. Waaaay too much sexy for one stage. I like men who make me laugh.

More than once, I’ve heard people make the case for it because of lower divorce rates. I haven’t seen any real, hard statistics on that. But, for what it’s worth, divorce rates don’t tell us who’s happy and who’s not — they just tell us who calls it quits. I’ve changed careers, moved to different cities, lived & worked abroad, ended toxic friendships and broken up with former boyfriends. None of that shit was easy. Loyalty it important. But, I think it’s equally important to move away from things — and people — that aren’t working out rather than sticking with the status quo simply for the sake of doing so. That said, each life and love relationships is an individual’s choosing. Besides, who knows? There’s something to be said about letting the people who know you best take part in choosing a life partner — especially if that’s what the heart desires. Are arranged marriages better? Maybe. Maybe not. What say you?

Sep 202010

I’m standing in lower Manhattan on the corner of Avenue A between 5th and 6th Streets. It’s just after 3 a.m. Dressed in white, my friends and I polished off one event and we’re hailing a cab to Brooklyn for the annual White Party. Scratch that. My friends are hailing a cab. I’m flirting with the handsome stranger standing next to me.

If you’ve read this site for a while, you know I have a type. Hair. Eyes. Skin. At least two out of three should be dark. Bonus points for accents. I’ve dated tons of Dudes of Different Ethnicities, but that 2 out of 3 attraction remains. Dark skin, dark hair, and light eyes like Michael Ealy? Fucking awesome. Dark eyes, dark hair, and light(ish) skin like the newly-legal Taylor Lautner? Delish. So, the dude on Avenue A? He’s a white guy from Brooklyn with pale skin, blondish hair and green eyes. But, oddly, the orgy of recessive traits actually works for this particular guy. He’s cute. He and I are standing next to each other chatting for a while when he starts brushing his fingers against mine, then he holds my hand while talking. I flirtatiously lift my long flowing skirt to reveal a bare leg toward the street. “No fair,” he says, “unfair advantage.” But, I’ve forgotten about hailing a cab. My friends have that covered anyway, and I’m singularly focused on this guy. The cutie. Then — I swear to god I can’t make this up — ANOTHER guy who’s equally cute and looks EXACTLY like the guy I’m flirting with walks up.

“Wow? Are you guys twins?” I ask.

“Yes,” they answer in unison.

I’ve never seen real, live, hot twin men. I’ve been partying / drinking for many many hours, so my next question is admittedly inappropriate, but it tumbles from my mouth anyway. “That’s amazing! Have you guys ever had a threesome?” They look a little stunned that I’ve asked, and they laugh. Seconds later, friends call out, “Twanna. Come on. We got one. Get in the cab.”

“But, you guuuuuuys.” I point to the duo. “They’re twiiiiins.”

Figuring it’s probably a bad idea to drunkenly abandon friends for two dudes I met only 10 minutes ago, I get in the cab with my pals. One of the twin boys — the one I originally flirted with and found incredibly adorable — runs up along the cab. He wants to come with us, so he asks if there’s room in the car. There isn’t. Cabbie says he’ll only take four. With that, we drive off. I never see him again.

Sweater Twins

For a week — A WHOLE FUCKING WEEK — I beat myself up like, “I should’ve just remained behind, talking to the twins.” Of course I didn’t feel any better when a guy friend who was out with us that night recently told me, “I saw that guy after you left! He was really into you. After you got in the cab, we were standing on the corner figuring out what to do next. I heard the twin boy really beating himself up saying, ‘Damn it! I should’ve asked for her number.’”

I’ve always had a twin fantasy. Two boys. Identically hot. Twice the attention. Who DOESN’T want that?? Not sure if I could actually go through with it, though. I’ve told a few people about the other week’s chance twin encounter, and they’re either like: “Twins!!!! That’s hot.” OR “Gross!!!! They’re brothers. That’s incest.” Honestly, if I was sober that night, I probably would’ve stayed behind with the twin boy. The first one; I really enjoyed flirting with him. Le sigh. Maybe the opportunity will present itself again under different circumstances. Curious to hear your thoughts. Do any of you have twin fantasies? Anyone out there ever hooked up with twins?

Image credit: “Twins” photo is by Danny Dickman. Yes, his last name is Dickman.

Sep 172010

As you may have heard, weather service issued tornado warnings for New York. When the news broke, I was like: “Um, whatever. These NY city slickers are just afraid of wind. I can handle this. I’m from Illinois. Bring out the kites, bitches!”

70 kites on a single line!

Then, at last night’s SnapGoods Block Party, friends showed me pictures of trees and debris smashed through cars; a guy said he was afraid to return home because his neighbor alerted winds flattened a house on their street; and, later, I watched Nick McGlynn’s “This Is Literally a Tornado. Jesus Christ” video. Scary shit. Thus far, everyone I know is okay. Most of the damage was in Queens and Brooklyn; Manhattan was pretty much unscathed. I native Illinoisan, I explained: “It’s the skyscrapers. They block winds, and gusts can’t get enough speed to do damage here.” It’s kind of like how tornadoes rip through rural Illinois, not downtown Chicago. I figured this was a logical explanation, but I checked in with the The Tornado Project to be sure. They concur. “The probability of a violent tornado in the downtown area of any large city is about once in a thousand years.”

If you’re interested in learning more about tornadoes, here’s How Tornadoes Work as well as a video of one of the Midwest’s worst (an 8-mile high funnel in Wichita/Andover, Kansas). Here’s a more “newsy” explanation.

Direct video link: Or, if you’ve ever wondered, Can someone explain tornadoes to me plain and simple, like I’m a kid? PBS Kids has you covered.

Kites image by Rona Proudfoot

Sep 152010

I’m religiously promiscuous. I like to nibble on the best of what each religion contributes to the world. Last Sunday, I went to the Park51‘s interfaith event because I see no reason why Muslims — simply on account of their religious beliefs — should be singled out for unfair treatment, bias or hatred. Some of you may be wondering: Who is this jihadist sex writer?!?! True, I’m a sex writer. No, I don’t support terrorism.

Raised Christian, I currently identify as a “spiritual” person and I attend services at Marble Collegiate Church. It’s the kind of place where, on the third anniversary of the Iraq War’s commencement, we hung peace ribbons along the iron gate surrounding our building. “Gold ribbons, displaying names, ranks, and ages of the thousands of American service people who have lost their lives, represent prayers for the surviving families and friends,” says Marble’s website. “Each Sunday morning during worship, the names of service people who have died in the war in Iraq are read aloud [...] Marble Church congregants and friends continue to pray daily for the wounded and the day that war is no longer an option.”

Finding Park51 proved difficult. Below 14th Street, Manhattan streets resemble a spaghetti blob. Park Row. Park Place. Place Street? I got lost. If I were to give someone travel directions to find Park51 — as I did with a friend who was meeting me there — I’d say, “It’s actually further up, much closer to City Hall.” In any case, if you want to know what happened and see pictures of the inside, voila!

Park51 staff shared food and broke pita with attendees.

2010-09-12 20.50.30

We gathered in small circles to discuss our views on Islam. My group included a male rabbi, a Lutheran woman, an Irish-American gentleman in his 60s who was pretty quirky, a 32-year-old atheist woman, a 20-something Christian woman, a Jewish dude who facilitated much of the discussion and me:

2010-09-12 20.50.40

A Lutheran woman made cranes (makeshift peace doves) for everyone.

2010-09-12 20.44.11

A gentleman with a lovely voice led the Call to Prayer, and those who wished to pray excused themselves to do so. Then, we watched the film Talking Through Walls.

Sometimes, I really love this city. I wanted to write about my Park51 visit sooner, but so much random stuff happens between FUNKY BROWN CHICK® posts. (Psst! In other fun unexpectedness, I recently hailed the Cash Cab.) If you’d like up-to-the-minute funky brown updates, follow me on Twitter. And, for current info about sex & relationships news and events, friend me on Facebook.