Tuesday, August 31, 2010

To Make Love is to Make Justice

Our Passion for Justice – Carter Heyward

Love, like truth and beauty, is concrete. Love is not fundamentally a sweet feeling, not, at heart, a matter of sentiment, attachment, or being “drawn toward”. Love is active, effective, a matter of making reciprocal and mutually beneficial relation with one’s friends and enemies. Love creates righteousness, or justice, here on earth. To make love is to make justice. As advocates and activists for justice know, loving involves struggles, resistance, risk. People working today on behalf of women, blacks, lesbians and gay men, the aging, the poor in this country and elsewhere know that making justice is not a warm fuzzy experience. I think also that sexual lovers and good friends know that the most compelling relationships demand hard work, patience, and a willingness to endure tensions and anxiety in creating mutually empowering bonds.

For this reason, loving involves commitment. We are not automatic lovers of self, others, world, or God. Love does not just happen. We are not love machines, puppets on the strings of a deity called “love”. Love is a choice - not simply, or necessarily, a rational choice, but rather a willingness to be present to others without pretense or guile. Love is a conversion to humanity - a willingness to participate with others in the healing of a broken world and broken lives. Love is a choice to experience life as a member of the human family, a partner in the dance of life, rather than as an alien in the world or a deity above the world, aloof and apart from human flesh.
(Thank you Kelly!)

As The Impropriety Society takes steps toward becoming a non-profit organization, I have been inspired with the thought that the mission and vision of The Society should include love. It is my perception that everything that we do is relationship building. Our service is facilitating safe, fun and beautiful spaces for relationships to unfold between people, whether that relationship is between volunteer staff and community member, voyeur and exhibitionist, new play partners, or long-term friends and lovers. How better to build relationships than on a basis of love?

When the Hostesses started the Society, our intent and desire was to throw fun and sexy parties. Little did we know what we were in for. While we could have focused entirely on throwing events without regard for the community we serve, we have discovered that it is our passion to build community through inclusiveness in all possible ways. We have also discovered that opening Pandora's Box of freedom in sex and relationship has the consequence of unleashing big emotions and fears in tandem with the pleasure and joy. We consciously acknowledge what arises and act from an intention to support each other in our processes of growth and healing when things get rough.

I believe that it is an act of love to embrace another human being who expresses something that challenges our own worldview. The Imps community commits these acts of love regularly. We embrace the person who has a kink we don't understand rather than reject them in judgment or fear. We embrace the person who creates a difficult situation in ignorance and practice forgiveness and education rather than exclusion. We even embrace ourselves when we discover we have desires that we've been conditioned to believe are disgusting or morally wrong. It is an act of love for self to come out of the closet and it is an act of love to support others when they come out of theirs.

The Impropriety Society believes in freedom of expression. But the space we create for freedom doesn't only require physical security, people require a sense of emotional safety in order to be vulnerable. People need permission to be open; they need to be boldly invited and encouraged to express themselves. We facilitate emotionally safe spaces and invite people to express the fullness of who they are, whether that means expressing themselves sexually or in other ways. Our parties aren't as much about the acts of sex as they are about a place where we can be integrated, where our sexuality isn't excluded from our experience like it is in the rest of life beyond our bedroom. Many who attend our events don't have sex, but express themselves openly through talk and dance and play.

What I am learning is that successfully creating emotional safety requires a loving intent. Emotional safety extends beyond having a Vibes Crew at our events, it includes facilitating an emotionally safe space for written expression on our Yahoo list and encouraging posters to communicate with compassion rather than hostility (especially when they disagree). Facilitating emotional safety includes radical honesty in interactions between staff in order to find understanding with each other when we experience conflicts. Facilitating emotional safety means finding compassion for those that hurt us and reaching out when it's hardest to do so. And it means choosing what is best for the collective over our own ego desires or reactions. All of these are acts of love.

The last few weeks I have met people who feel they are bound by cultural, professional, relationship or other limitations and cannot be free to be who they are. I met a 50 year old man who has an incredible new passion for sexual discovery but is married to a woman who has no desire for sexual adventure, so he is seeking covert relationships. I learned of a prominent political activist who can't attend play parties because it would tarnish his reputation. I know several people who are concerned that they will lose clients or suffer negative consequences in their workplace if they attend Imps events. I am heartbroken by these stories. Wonderful people who do good things in the world cannot participate in the bliss--the community friendship and love--that so many of us have experienced at our parties. Or if they can participate, they have to hide it rather than celebrate something that brings them great joy.

As a culture we are so frickin' mixed up. We demand good sex stays in the bedroom but we pull it out into the streets as often as possible in order to oppress or manipulate other people, especially those that oppose our worldview. We humiliate each other with sex. We use sex as a weapon. We broadcast headlines when people hurt each other through sex but we hide away all the loving sexual experiences that are happening all over the world every day.

Sex positive activism is seeking justice for everyone who varies from cultural norms around sexual expression. We are seeking justice for everyone who has been or will be oppressed and have their rights, their job or their children taken away because of their sexual expression. Just as we advocate for the rights of homosexuals to marry, we advocate for the right to be free with our sexuality (as long as we are consensual and don't cause harm to others). We are seeking to create a culture where no one has to worry about losing their job or their child or going to jail because they enjoy sex at a party or whipping someone with a flogger or have multiple relationships.

If we spent as much time and energy condemning those that are causing harm to others through sex crimes and sexual exploitation as we do condemning healthy sexual expression in good people, we could save the minds, lives and bodies of millions of men, women and children. If we spent as much time and energy celebrating our sexuality as we do hiding it, judging it, and hurting each other with it, we would all experience more freedom and happiness in our relationships to one another.

Becoming a non-profit organization and extending our services to expand the circle of emotional safety puts us on the frontline of the sex positive revolution. We are taking a bold step because we believe in justice and freedom. We are committing to a mission to better ourselves and the world because we love: we love community, we love freedom, we love sex, and we love what we have created together the last two and a half years. I am excited to see what unfolds for The Society and Humboldt County as we evolve and grow.


Image Source: Love One Another by Shiloh Sophia

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