"Sex in The Public Square"

Finding Courage in The Pink Ghetto to "Come Out"

In 2007, I did something that I had never done before - I met sex bloggers. I went to the launch party of Sex In The Public Square founded by Elizabeth Wood and Chris Hall. They had a vision for a new out in the open blogging community. It was there that I met people whom I have had only known through the Internet- through their blogs. It was there that I first heard the term "The Pink Ghetto". I remember listening to a woman who called herself Lux Nightmare read from her writings about working in the Pink Ghetto and how she could not use her real name in her writings even though she was a sex educator by day.

I listened to and heard for the first time the wonderful Susie Bright. There was this entire world out there in the Pink Ghetto that I knew nothing about and I found sisters and brothers there in many ways - especially in the struggle for identity and acceptance. For many people who write about sex, and for many sex educators -  there is fear that by speaking out and being identified that they will lose the rest of their lives such as their traditional employment. It is a very real fear - and I know all about it.

Before I decided to take the plunge and tell my story through the pages of Shameless - I sat there and watched these women who were for the most part living their lives courageously and out loud. I felt a jealousy....about how wonderful it must be to be able to stand up and be photographed as a whole person. To be able to read your writings out loud to a group and not to be hiding completely behind a stage name.

To be able to - as many of these people were - working publicly and yet privately in the Pink Ghetto. It made my blood flow and it helped show me the possibilities of my life - the potential of me. Listening to them, it fed my desire to continue to move forward and create my life...and hope for safety.

And here is another cool thing - so many of the bloggers were "real" people. What I mean by that is - there was not an abundance of over exercised bodies, boob jobs, or plastic faces. In fact, those kinds of people were visibly absent. This group of sex positive activists ran across all age lines - all sex preferences - all racial lines and all body weight ranges. They were quite the every day looking NYC kind of people. And yet - here they were - out in the open embracing their lives - their sexuality....and not waiting until some day when they had the perfect whatever to have a life. They were creating and re creating themselves now.....as is!!!! And that gave me courage too! I could show up just the way I was.

I was mesmerized by Rachel Kramer Bussel who looked like a young college kid with long unselfconscious hair, glasses and a simple frock - read to us from one of her then newest pieces of erotica. It was so surreal as she was not some overdone bimbo. Rachel was this real woman - writing and talking about real sex......or imaged real sex! And the funny thing was that I had just bought a book edited by her the day before called "He's on Top"! I had never really heard of her before....such a newbie!

It's hard to believe that this event took place four years ago - maybe five. It's hard to remember exactly - but that night changed my life. That event created an opening in my life - because these women had courage. And they passed that courage onto me simply by showing up and being who they were - out loud and without shame.

That was the night that I decided that I was not hiding anymore. That was the night that I decided that I was going to tell my story too - and on January 18th 2011 - everyone will be able to read my story. For better or for worse - I am stepping into and out of the Pink Ghetto. I am going to be a whole person - all the time - who refuses to hide. I will not be shamed any longer for being  a sexual being. And I am hoping that by sharing my story with you - that I will pass this gift of courage on. No one should have to live in shame simply for being human.

It's hard to believe that on Feb 1st 2011 - I will be reading from the pages of Shameless with Rachel at Coco de Mer in LA, California.  It's amazing what the actions of one can do for another.

Visiting "The Pink Ghetto"

Several years ago - before I wrote my memoir "Shameless" I did something that I had never done before - I met a group of  "sex bloggers". I went to the launch party of a website called "Sex In The Public Square" founded by Elizabeth Wood and Chris Hall. They had this vision for a new out in the open blogging community - and I met people who I had known through the Internet ether for quite some time. I couldn't believe that I was there - and that these people were actually real and showing up at a public gathering as themselves! How incredibly brave and shameless.

I met many new people that night who were working in what was coined "The Pink Ghetto". I listened to Lux Nightmare read her writings about working in the Pink Ghetto and how she could not use her real name in her writings even though she was a sex educator by day. I listened to and heard for the first time. - Susie Bright.

There is this entire world out there in Pink Ghetto that I knew nothing about.....and I found sisters and brothers there in many ways - especially in the struggle for identity and acceptance.  For so many people there  is fear in being able to speak about their lives freely.  So few of us who tell our stories (if it involves sex in anyway)  use our real names because jobs, family and friendships could be threatened.

I remember sitting there - feeling that feeling again - that I needed to tell my story like some weird survivor of a war that has come back to retell their tale. I kept feeling my outrage bubbling over the surface - how I once too felt such shame - and so threatened.

I felt a jealousy....about how wonderful it must be to be able to stand up and be photographed as a whole person. To be able to read your writings out loud to a group and not to be hiding behind a stage name because you feared for your existence.  It made my blood flow and brought out the advocate in me.

It helped show me the possibilities for my life. What it might be like to live into the full  potential of me and that night it fed my desire to continue to move forward and create my life.

And here is another cool thing.....so many of these bloggers were "real" people.  What I mean by that - is that they certainly were not ordinary people.....but they were real in every sense of the word.

There was not an abundance of over exercised bodies, boob jobs or plastic faces. In fact those kinds of people were visibly absent.  This group of sex positive activists ran across all age lines, sex preferences, racial lines and  body weight ranges. I might as well have been at an art galley opening.  These folks were quite the every day looking NYC kind of people.  Yet - here they were - out in the open embracing their lives - and their sexuality.  They were not waiting  until "some day"when they had the perfect whatever to have a life. They were creating and re creating themselves now.....as is!

I think in many ways  that night inspired me to take the next steps towards writing and telling my story.  There would be no more waiting for my own "One Day".

Yep - that's me - holding the first galley of Shameless, in my hot little hands sitting in the offices of Rodale!