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It Gets Better March 25, 2011

Posted by Dev in Musings, Reviews.
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Dan (left) and Terry (right) at the book launch in New York City

Back in September, I posted a link to a video that Dan Savage had made with his husband, Terry Miller, in which they reached out to LGBT youth with the message, “It gets better.” From that one video a movement has been born. More than 10,000 videos have been created and are now hosted on the dedicated It Gets Better website. Thousands of dollars have been raised for important causes, including GSLEN and The Trevor Project. The latest initiative in the campaign occurred on Tuesday, when the book, It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying and Creating a Life Worth Living was released.

I’ve pre-ordered a few books on my Kindle before, but this was the first one I was very excited about receiving. I stayed up until midnight, turned the Whispernet on, and watched it magically download onto my device. So fucking cool!

Here’s the description of the book from Amazon:

Every story can change a life.

Growing up isn’t easy. Many young people face daily tormenting and bullying, making them feel like they have nowhere to turn. This is especially true for LGBT kids and teens who often hide their sexuality for fear of bullying. Without other openly gay adults and mentors in their lives, they can’t imagine what their future may hold. In many instances, gay and lesbian adolescents are taunted – even tortured – simply for being themselves.

After a number of tragic suicides by LGBT students who were bullied in school, syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage uploaded a video to YouTube with his partner Terry Miller to inspire hope for LGBT youth facing harassment. Speaking openly about the bullying they suffered as teenagers, and how they both went on to lead rewarding adult lives, their video launched the It Gets Better Project YouTube channel and initiated a worldwide phenomenon. With over 6,000 videos posted and over 20 million views in the first three months alone, the world has embraced the opportunity to provide personal, honest and heartfelt support for LGBT youth everywhere.

It Gets Better is a collection of expanded essays and new material from celebrities, everyday people and teens who have posted videos of encouragement, as well as new contributors who have yet to post videos to the site. While many of these teens couldn’t see a positive future for themselves, we can. We can show LGBT youth the levels of happiness, potential and positivity their lives will reach if they can just get through their teen years. By sharing these stories, It Gets Better reminds teenagers in the LGBT community that they are not alone – and it WILL get better.

In the days since the book downloaded, I’ve been reading the essays off and on, whenever I have a spare moment. I’ve watched a lot of the videos over the past six months so I am familiar with the type of stories that are told—still they pack an emotional wallop and I find I can only read a few at a time before I need to take a break. But like a hummingbird to nectar, I keep going back for more.

I’m not gay (anyone who regularly reads this blog knows that!) but I was bullied in school—sixth grade was the year from hell. So I know the pain that these authors have experienced and appreciate their honesty and candor in reaching out to young people. As the parent of a bisexual teen, I did everything I could to advocate for her, both in school and out. Fortunately, she went to a high school that was inclusive and accepting. My heart breaks (daily) thinking of children who are scared, fearful, abused, teased—many right in the environment of their very own homes—and who have done nothing wrong except be themselves. I hope they are able to find this book or the videos or both and know that the message imparted is true: it gets better.

This book and the entire It Gets Better project are important. I fully support the work that Dan and Terry are doing and the goals they are trying to achieve. I highly recommend the book; it will remain in a place of pride on the home page of my Kindle (since I don’t put books on the bookshelf anymore!). Please consider a purchase—all proceeds go to LGBT youth projects—and if you can afford it, consider purchasing a second copy to give to a friend, young person, or library. I gifted a copy to my daughter’s high school library. Won’t you join me and do the same?

Chastity and Children November 17, 2010

Posted by Dev in Musings.
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I have to give a tip o’the hat to folks such as Shane, Atone, Jnuts and Belle, and Thumper who are incorporating chastity into their lives while still having kids at home. Although part of me wishes I had discovered chastity 15 or 20 years ago, another part tells me that it came along at just the right moment in our lives. And, it was serendipitous timing that we discovered chastity literally on the eve of becoming empty-nesters. Not having any children in the house certainly makes it easier to run around naked, take pictures of Ab in his device (usually in the kitchen because it has the best light) and lately, do Humbler prototype testing (more on that in another post!). I love my children, don’t get me wrong, but there is something to be said for being able to get your private lives back, too!

For the better part of a year, people were constantly asking me, “How do you think you’ll cope as an empty-nester?” My stock answer was, “I have no idea,” because truly, I didn’t have any idea! We have two children but once they each hit their teens, our home became known as an open and welcoming safe haven for friends of theirs who were experiencing challenges of whatever type. My son had a friend, J, who more or less moved in with us his senior year in high school. It was never really discussed, it just happened, but I knew J was dealing with a horrendous family situation. If I could provide a place of solace and peace and support him to graduate, then that seemed like the right thing to do. (The good news is, five years later, J is going to college in Boston, has a terrific internship that will likely turn into a job, and a lovely girlfriend. Yes, even for straight kids, “It gets better.”) Similarly, my daughter had two different friends who bunked with us off and on, for most of her senior year. Same idea—if they needed the support to get out of high school in one piece, then I was happy to provide it.

In addition to the “boarders,” there would be the random friends who would drop by at all hours of the day and night. In the morning, I’d count the shoes by the door and learned to recognize them. “Jason must be here,” I’d tell Ab. “And Andrew and Eric. I think the little sneakers belong to Will.” For Saturday night dinners we would routinely host six or seven guests. What was it going to be like to suddenly have just the two of us keeping ourselves company?

Ab and I actually went through a very rough time last winter—probably the most difficult few months for us in all our years together. It was a combination of everything: stress, kids, work, the lousy economy, my mom, worrying about money—nothing new on that list, right? But for some reason, we ended up taking it out on each other which was very unusual for us.

Unusual, and it didn’t make us happy.

The thing is, when you’ve been married for 30+ years you sort of figure you’ll be married forever. But suddenly, when you’re fighting tooth and nail over every stupid little thing, a small thought develops in the back of your mind, “Maybe it’s time for this marriage to be over. Maybe we’ve just been hanging on for the kids. Once our daughter heads to college, maybe it’s time for us to say sayonara.”

That thought, more than the idea of being an empty-nester, terrified me. I like being married. I like the institution of marriage and believe it confers huge benefits to the couple, their children and extended families, and society in general. This is the reason I identify as a straight ally and do everything I can to support same-sex marriage: I think everyone who wants to be married should be able to be married. But what if all this was empty talk and my own marriage was headed off the rails?

I knew that Ab was worried, too, and he’s more divorce-phobic than I am (which is kind of hard to imagine, but it’s true).

Our epiphany came after an incident which prompted a huge fight—really huge—and then Ab decided to build me a porch. I took that as the ultimate apology and I knew I had to forgive him. The forgiveness came slowly but then, one blistering hot summer day, as I watched him crawl around the roof installing the roofing shingles it suddenly hit me: this man loves me more than anything on earth and would do anything for me. If I asked him to crawl bare-kneed across broken glass, he’d do it. If I asked him to…

You get the picture.

It was just a few weeks after this that I read the story that gave me my chastity fantasy. Since I was still in the mindset that he’d do anything for me, chastity didn’t seem to be such a far-out and wacky idea. Even if it was, well, maybe it gave me an idea of just how far he’d go for me. Did he say yes because it appealed to his kinky side or because he was still working on forgiveness? Probably a little bit of both, to be honest.

The thing I didn’t expect, as I ordered up The Birdcage from Extreme Restraints, is that chastity would be the thing that would make us re-fall in love and to re-find that spark of passion and desire that had burning pretty low for quite a few years. I realized just how much our lives had been consumed by our children, both biological and “adopted.” As someone said to me recently, “You have kids and your life is wrecked for twenty years.” While I don’t regret a minute of all the time we spent as parents, I realize now that focusing on “us” had moved pretty far down on the list. Now it is back in the number one space, where it belongs.

Heath Ledger giving a hat tip.

Which is why I give my hat-tip to chaste couples with children at home. I hope that chastity gives you the gift that Ab and I have discovered—the wonderfulness of love with your spouse and the importance of focusing on the two of you as a couple. That love will certainly overflow to your children and they will see and experience firsthand what it means to have loving, committed parents. What greater gift could you possibly give to them?

As for us, I am sad about all the fighting that went on last winter and wish it didn’t occur. But, hopefully, when the kids come home now, they’ll see that Ab and I are in a very good place, deeply in love and having a very good time together. The children will probably attribute it to our being alone—the empty nest thing. I won’t tell them our chastity secret. 😉

Cuckolding: It’s Not For Me September 28, 2010

Posted by Dev in Musings.
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That should not come to as much of a surprise to regular readers since I commented on this fact in one of my very first posts. However, yesterday I got to surfing around the Internet and somehow landed on a bunch of sites that had cuckold scenarios, whether fantasies, (allegedly) real, or soon-to-be real. I read the blogs, looked at the pictures and when I was done was I turned on? Not at all. In fact, if anything, I was a little depressed.

Cuckolding, even as a fantasy does nothing for me. Absolutely nothing. Part of it is my practical mind. To make it happen, I’d have to meet a man, I’d have to be attracted to him, and somehow or another, we’d have to get to the point of having sex. It all sounds like a lot of work. LOL. But more importantly, I think it has to do a lot with energy, too.

Ab has been locked up for 6 weeks and 1 day. Although he manages to keep the feelings at a manageable level, I know he’s horny and experiencing a level of sexual frustration that is completely new to him. He takes that frustration and sexual energy and turns it on me and…I love it.  Love it! I feel like he is shining a spotlight on me—I am the star on his stage, the center of his universe. I know I am the most important thing in his life.

His energy in turn fuels my energy, which is also at higher levels than I have felt in years. So, I ask myself, why would I want to take that and give it to someone else? It doesn’t make sense to me. I know, fantasies don’t all have to be rooted in reality but many of mine are. Thus, taking my sexual energy and sharing it with a man who is not my husband? It’s not erotic, it’s just…dumb.

I bring this up in case I have any reluctant wives among my readers. (Ladies, you never comment and that’s okay, but I hope you are reading and taking notes!). You don’t have Google very hard before you find that chastity discussions veer into the cuckolding issue. Even Sarah Jameson admits it is a major fantasy of hers and writes about it in her book and blog. (Sarah is very careful to say, however, that it is just that—a fantasy—and will remain that way.) But…maybe you’re like me. The idea of cuckolding makes your skin crawl and is a major turn-off. So when you read about it, especially from those who make it sound like an inevitable outcome of chastity, then it stands to reason that the whole idea of chastity becomes less enticing to you. This makes perfect sense.

But I am here to say: take it from one wife who is bucking the dominant paradigm. No cuckolding for us, no cuckolding fantasies. No third parties in our bedroom. If I want a cock in my vagina and the strap-on isn’t doing it for me, all I have to do is take out the key, unlock him, and say, “Let’s get to work, big boy.”

If you are considering chastity and if you’re nervous or uncomfortable about the cuckolding scenario, then set it as a ground rule. Make it clear that it is not something that interests or entices you and you don’t want it as part of the game. Ab will read this sometime in the next day or two, so now he knows how I feel. We’ve haven’t really talked about it (because the issue wasn’t clear in my mind) but now that I have sorted this out, I can say: no cuckold fantasies for us. Okay, sweetie? Thanks!

* * * * *

Update on the It Gets Better Project: Dan Savage is getting some good publicity and response to his project to reach out to LGBTQ youth through videos that say, “It Gets Better.” Time Magazine has a good article that you can read here. There is an interesting quote from the American Association on Suicidology:

overall figures on teen suicide rates are likely underestimated, since many premeditated deaths involving car crashes or drugs end up being ruled as accidental.

Further on in the article is a comment on the issue that concerns me:

“One of the really frustrating things to me after his death was that it wasn’t in the media. No one was outraged that this boy had basically been harassed until he couldn’t take it anymore. … It felt like no one really cared.”

So very true.

Take a few minutes to watch some of the videos. They really are very powerful. Once again, kudos to Dan and his husband Terry for spearheading this project.

Re: the graphic today. I couldn’t find anything that looked like “cuckholding” and on top of that, I didn’t really want to. LOL. So I used the nice picture of Dan and Terry from the Time article instead. Works for me!

This Post Has Nothing To Do With Chastity September 23, 2010

Posted by Dev in Musings, Opinions.
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I just needed to get that out there. If you read this blog only for the chastity stuff, you might want to pass this post by. On the other hand, I know that many of my readers are married couples with children, so I hope you’ll give me five minutes of your time.

Youth suicide is a major problem in the US. It is the third leading cause of death among young people ages 10-24. The trouble is, many adults don’t realize the extent of the problem because the media have taken the position of not publicizing suicides as news, because by doing so, they may encourage other young people to take their lives. Whether or not this is true is a debatable point but the unfortunate outcome is that youth suicide has become a hidden problem—and by being hidden, many people are able to pretend it doesn’t exist (or are oblivious to its existence).

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Deaths from youth suicide are only part of the problem. More young people survive suicide attempts than actually die. A nationwide survey of youth in grades 9-12 in public and private schools in the United States (US) found that 15% of students reported seriously considering suicide, 11% reported creating a plan, and 7% reporting trying to take their own life in the 12 months preceding the survey. Each year, approximately 149,000 youth between the ages of 10 and 24 receive medical care for self-inflicted injuries at Emergency Departments across the US.

Suicide affects LGBTQ youth disproportionately and gay teens are more than four times more likely to attempt suicide than straight teens. Nine out of ten gay kids experience bullying and harassment at school. This is a particularly personal issue for me. My daughter came out to Ab and me as bisexual when she was 15. She has had many challenging years dealing with suicidal thoughts, depression, and self-harm behaviors (she was a cutter). Fortunately, with a lot of love, support, and therapy, she made it out of high school in one piece. She’s in college now—happy and loving every minute. She hasn’t had a depressive episode in over a year.

High school is a particular kind of hell that young people are forced to go through. Unfortunately, not all children are as lucky as my daughter.

Recognizing this, Dan Savage, the sex advice columnist, has launched a video project called “It Gets Better.” The purpose is to reach out to LGBTQ youth and let them know that there is a life after high school—there is a world where you won’t be bullied or harassed. When you are living in the moment, it’s hard to believe there is another kind of life; the purpose of this project is to illustrate that yes, that other life is out there waiting for you—it’s just around the corner and my daughter exists as living proof that this is true.

While is project is directed towards LGBTQ youth, I think that all kids (and parents) can benefit from watching the video and becoming aware. Like I said at the beginning, suicide is a problem for all young people as well as their parents and the other adults in their lives. While I definitely want my bisexual daughter to grow up and have a happy life with the partner of her choice, I want the same for my decidedly heterosexual son, too.

This is the video that Dan and his husband Terry, have made. You can learn more about the It Gets Better Project here.

And now we’ll return to our regularly scheduled chastity programming. 🙂

Thanks for reading,