busterrossI just got back from San Francisco, where I attended the US Journal’s Behavioral Health Conference and presented on the topic of “Sexual Health as an Ally” ­– more on that later.

My fathers flew in from Santa Fe for the weekend. The last time we’d seen each other was at their wedding last year in San Francisco. They’ve lived together since I was in junior high school.

During junior high and high school, I traveled back and forth between my home with my dads and my home with my mother, her husband, and my brother (some might call him my “stepbrother,” but I prefer not to arrange my family in a hierarchy). My dads attended my wedding before they could attend their own – it took that long for their loving relationship, the bond that helped support my growth and development (and, not coincidentally, taught me how to love and commit enough to form a relationship myself), to be recognized by the government.

Klein_Americas War on Sex.inddWhile we were there, the three of us sat down together in the StoryCorps booth to record some of our story for the #OutLoud campaign, an ambitious project to record an audio archive of GLBTQ people’s stories in their own voices.  Sitting down with my dads to tell our story gave me a great deal of perspective on all that we have lived through as a family, and a great deal of gratitude for the grace and love with which my dads raised me.

I realized that bad laws aren’t enough to keep good parents like mine from raising their kids with love, kindness, and constant support. All they do is keep parents like mine from accessing the basic rights that married parents take for granted.

How many inadequate, neglectful or even abusive couples have been granted those rights in spite of their manifest inability to nurture themselves or their children? How many loving, competent and supportive couples have been denied those rights simply because of the M’s or F’s on their birth certificates? It’s utterly insane.

Elton-John-US-Magazine1-290x386It wasn’t illegal for my dads to raise me (simply because one of them was my biological father – if they’d tried to adopt me, that might have been a different story), but they were denied the advantages other parents get. Theoretically, the government gives those advantages to parents out of concern for the welfare of their children. Why was my welfare discounted? Why don’t the children of same-sex couples receive the same protections? Does our parents’ relationship make us unworthy of the support other children receive?

New research shows that the children of same-sex parents are typically happier and more well-adjusted than the children of different-sex parents. One theory about why this is so holds that it is far less likely that a same-sex couple will conceive children “by accident,” helping to ensure that every child of a same-sex couple is a wanted child.

But is marriage the real problem here? It’s certainly part of the problem, but I think the issues we struggle with in a sex-negative culture are much, much bigger. Marriage is an infinitesimally small slice of the pie that is sexual rights: the right to control our own bodies, the right to have sex (or not) with other consenting adults no matter what kind of sex we want and what kind of people we want to have it with, the right not to have our lives or work impaired by our consensual sexual choices — All these and more are imperiled by today’s culture of rigidity and judgment.

marty 2012 photo11And that’s why we are bringing Dr. Marty Klein to Q Center for a free public talk on “America’s War on Sex: Why Every Orientation is At Risk.” The Religious Right uses the issue of sexual regulation to undermine secular democracy. They use phony categories, moral panics, junk science, and a broad Sexual Disaster Industry. They’re successfully re-branding private sexual expression into public behavior, which is therefore subject to public control. Consensual BDSM, sex education, pornography, sex research, swing clubs, chatrooms – they’re all subject to increasing regulation and a huge disinformation campaign, supported by cynical politicians and an ignorant, amoral mass media. It’s more than a war on women, or a war on liberals ­– it’s a War On Sex.

Marty Klein, PhD, has been a California marriage and family therapist and sex therapist for 34 years ­– that’s 37,000 sessions with men, women, and couples. He has written seven books on sexuality, including his latest, Sexual IntelligencePsychology Today simply says, “Read this book if you want to improve your sex life.” Each year, Klein trains thousands of physicians and therapists across America and internationally. Dan Savage says Klein’s work “makes me feel sane.” His popular website is www.SexEd.org.

I hope you’ll consider RSVPing for one of the seats, as we have limited space.

Saturday, September 20
America’s War on Sex: Why All Orientations Are at Risk
7:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m.
Event is free. Space limited to first 100 registrants.

Additionally, Dr. Klein will be doing a training on Sexual Intelligence for mental health, addiction, and sexuality professionals. Anyone who attends the training will also receive for CE’s for Dr. Klein’s evening presentation, mentioned above. This training is open to anyone wanting to learn more about the questions it will address, including:

  • Why sex has no meaning – and how to help patients understand, accept, and work with that
  • The role of shame and self-criticism in undermining sexual satisfaction – and how to reduce these feelings
  • How substance abuse is a way to deal with sexual anxiety or shame – and how to help people change that
  • How “better communication” can make things worse, and what people need instead
  • How society projects its toxic fears onto alternative sexualities – and how shame invites practitioners to internalize those distortions
  • How to help people find their authentic sexual self, and a voice with which to express it
  • How to help people identify their sexual narratives, evaluate the impact, and make changes that result in personal healing beyond sexuality

Saturday, September 20
Sexual Intelligence: A New View of Sexual Function and Satisfaction
9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
5 CEs available. Cost is $99.

Dan Savage & Marty Klein:

Queer Voices Logo