Kin Aesthetics // Thinking Beyond Marriage

Kin Aesthetics // Thinking Beyond Marriage

By making what felt like my first adult decision, I had hopped on an escalator and couldn’t get off. We grew to love each other, and I wasn’t miserable. Yet I increasingly wondered, is this it?

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Real Couples // A Lake Michigan Beach Engagement: Emily + Ang

Real Couples // A Lake Michigan Beach Engagement: Emily + Ang

Emily's engagement ring is gold with a small diamond and was made for my great-grandmother in the 1940s by my great-uncle in Melbourne. My great-grandmother was a rabble-rousing Anglican woman who loved me dearly and was always kind. It seemed appropriate to give it to a rabble-rousing Episcopalian woman who loves me dearly and is always kind.

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Queer + Christian // Love, Marriage and Half Year Celebrations!

Queer + Christian // Love, Marriage and Half Year Celebrations!

Being the kid at heart that I am, in addition to celebrations marking a full year of things, I also love celebrating halfs, and last month was the half anniversary of our wedding — one and a half years married ya’ll!!!  Throw confetti, release the unicorns, and let Kool & The Gang in to “Celebrate good times, come on!”

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Queer + Christian // National Coming Out Day

Queer + Christian // National Coming Out Day

Cue the rainbow colored lights, cue the glitter, cue the legend herself Ms. Diana Ross with all that fabulous hair, wearing the neon purple sparkling bodysuit, singing "I’m coming out, I want the world to know, got to let it show!" Cue all my friends and family together in one room clapping wildly and waving pride flags and holding signs that say things about Jesus being over the moon about me, as I stand on the stage making my announcement in the most dramatic way I can dream, that “I am here and indeed queer!” Tears of joy stream down my face, and I feel free and celebrated and embraced. Ms. Ross puts her arm around my waist and holds the microphone in front of my mouth. The wind swings her hair in my direction, covering my face, and she tosses it back with her hand as iconically as she always does. We sway side to side laughing, and then we sing, "Reach out and touch, somebody’s hand, make this world a better place, if you can,” and it is everything….

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Real Couples // A Queer Appalachian Wedding: Peter + Hannah

Real Couples // A Queer Appalachian Wedding: Peter + Hannah

"Appalachia is our homeland. It’s where we first met, it’s where I began my transgender journey, it’s where we found a queer community that taught us how to radically love and be loved, it’s the smell of the mountain air, the clean crystal creeks, and the raw beauty of the fall foliage, so it was very easy for us to choose that location for our wedding. Asheville, being a world renowned wedding destination, was a little outside of our budget, but after a lot of internet sleuthing we came across a perfect venue just a hop over the border in Trade, Tennessee. White Fence Farm was the whole package: beautiful outdoor space for the ceremony, covered barn and kitchen for catering and reception, covered stage for DJ and dancing, a large fire pit, and even a farmhouse and a couple airstreams on the property that slept nearly all of our wedding party, and the price was unbeatable. But the real showstopper was the view. Located in a small valley right in the middle of the Appalachian mountains, the rolling hills loomed on all sides, and we planned it just right so that our wedding weekend coincided with peak leaf colors throughout the region. We were planning a Tennessee wedding from our couch in Austin, Texas, so putting the deposit down on the farm without having seen it was a huge risk. Turns out, we couldn’t have dreamed a more perfect setting.

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Queer + Christian // How A Christian-First Identity Causes Further Oppression

Queer + Christian // How A Christian-First Identity Causes Further Oppression

When I enter church, I don’t get to take off my womanness or my blackness or my queerness and just enter as Christian. I enter as all of me, which includes the parts of my identity that our society privileges and the parts of my identity that our society oppresses. Shout out to Mother Lorde who preached to us all that, There is no thing as a single-issue struggle, because we do not live single-issue lives.

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Real Couples // A Stylish, Woodsy LGBTQ+ Wedding: Mack + Jeanne

Real Couples // A Stylish, Woodsy LGBTQ+ Wedding: Mack + Jeanne

After meeting and falling in love in D.C. while on deployment, Mack brought Jeanne back to Cincinnati to continue their love story. And so, on a warm, spring day, adoring family and friends near and far traveled to witness Mack and Jeanne wed in an intimate ceremony nestled in the woods. Light poured in through the trees, shined onto the couple, and illuminated their faces during this mystical moment. Jeanne’s mother performed a chant ritual bringing goodness, gratitude, and love into the space. The ceremony concluded with handwritten vows and a joyful exit. Back at the barn, Jeanne’s sister presented a slideshow of the story of Mack and Jeanne, filling the reception with laughter and the happiest tears. The evening ended with a gorgeous golden sunset, and a dancing celebration.

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On LGBTQ Acceptance in the African American Community

On LGBTQ Acceptance in the African American Community

As I was driving home, my head swirled with thoughts of "the Truth" and how "Christians" can sometimes be the least likely to draw people to Christ. I began to ponder why is it that the African American community (most of it) has not embraced and affirmed LGBTQ individuals? Truth be told, there are those family members that we always knew preferred the same sex, but it was never discussed. Not only was it not discussed, they just never seemed to bring anyone to the family dinners or get-togethers.

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Woke Wednesday // Meet Cindy Savage of Aisle Less Traveled

Woke Wednesday // Meet Cindy Savage of Aisle Less Traveled

Liz: Would you tell us a bit about what the coming out process was like for you?

Cindy: Yeah. It was horrible from one side and totally great from the other. So: good stuff first. During that first relationship, my best friend had come to visit and totally called me out on what was going on. So she was the first person who knew. And honestly, she knew before that, I'm sure, as I know we'd had some theoretical conversations about it, in which I'd said I could easily imagine being with a woman. I wasn't really worried about acceptance among her, or really any of my friends; it was more that I'd been keeping this secret at the behest of my ex, and now a year and a half in, it felt shitty to have waited so long to tell anyone. I told her, and two or three other people in our tiny theatre department also knew, since I'd needed an occasional confidant. But I started making a concerted effort (mostly via AIM, laughs) to tell my other friends, and every single one of them was instantly supportive. Which was awesome.

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Woke Wednesday // Meet Colorado Photographer Cassie Rosch

Woke Wednesday // Meet Colorado Photographer Cassie Rosch

For Woke Wednesday, we spoke with Cassie Rosch, a destination photographer based in Colorado, about her journey from small town USA to coming out as queer and traveling the world to photograph love.

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Woke Wednesday // Meet Cassandra Zetta, an LGBTQ+ Wedding Photographer in Cincinnati

Woke Wednesday // Meet Cassandra Zetta, an LGBTQ+ Wedding Photographer in Cincinnati

Cassandra: June 2012 was momentous for me personally, as I got married and officially started my business in that same month. Planning a same-sex wedding prior to marriage equality, while it was mostly wonderful for us, still stirred up emotions that should never be associated with such an exciting experience. We dealt with anxiety, nervousness, and worry about how vendors would treat us. With every email sent, the question "Are you comfortable working with a same-sex couple?" was included so that there weren't any uncomfortable surprises later. A bit of our joy was stolen from us simple because of who we were. For these reasons, I realized it was imperative to effect change in the wedding industry, and I knew I could make a difference with photography. And so, I overhauled my business in the fall of 2013 to refocus on LGBTQ+ weddings and elopements. The work I am doing now fills my heart and soul in a way I never could have imagined possible. Being able to share my passion and mission, while having life experiences that allow for a true understanding of those in the community, while inviting them to love openly and honestly, is a gift that I am honored and privileged to give.

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Real Couples // Austin Engagement: Kristin + Delilah

Real Couples // Austin Engagement: Kristin + Delilah

We met at a bar in Austin, where we found ourselves sitting at a red picnic table with a mutual friend, drinking Lone Star Tallboys. Kristin cried over her beer because she didn’t know how to tell her conservative family that she was questioning her sexuality. Delilah listened and shared her own coming out story, trying to comfort Kristin by divulging vulnerable details about her journey. That night was the first of many that we would spend talking for hours. We started dating a couple of months later. It was the first time either of us had been in a serious relationship with another woman. We faced several challenges during our first few years together as we both became more comfortable being ourselves and living more authentically. We created a home where we are fully loved, respected, and accepted. We’re passionate about being social workers and love our quirky Chiweenie, Noodle. We plan to get married this October, exactly five years after meeting at that red picnic table.

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Autostraddle Stories // Love and Mental Heath

Autostraddle Stories // Love and Mental Heath

When I was 16 I explained to my partner how emotions feel to me. Physical, like warm sun on cold skin or kissing someone for the first time and smiling the whole way through. Overwhelming, like drowning in a shallow pool and forgetting how to walk, let alone swim. Beautiful, like seeing the ocean for the first time and knowing you’ll never forget the look of the sunset against the waves. Being bipolar means falling in love with everything and, just as easily, resenting it. Falling out of love.

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Real Couples // Love and Activism: Bianca + Christina

Real Couples // Love and Activism: Bianca + Christina

Going to a protest as a first date was fitting for these two Chicago land activists who are planting seeds of change all around their community. Bianca and Christina are passionate about making this world we live in a better and equal place for all. Love just happened naturally and sprouted fast for these two. They may even admit that it was L-O-V-E at first sight for the both of them. As they approach two years of being together, it still feels like fireworks and butterflies to them.

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Autostraddle Stories // Is Love Enough?

Autostraddle Stories // Is Love Enough?

One of the downfalls, I think, is how few cultural representations we had to measure our relationship against, no bar with which to size up our own emotional truths and figure out what was left wanting. All around me, and inside our little cocoon, was suffering. Every queer or LGBTQ+ identified person I knew was pursued by the shadow of mental illness, a harsh result of the culture than denies our existence in one breath and villainizes it in the next. And we were not excluded, our soft holding cocoon became an echo chamber, our issues and unhappinesses playing out over each other, a battle for breath in a finite space. My love for them began to wane and lose its voice under the onslaught. (Lesbian Bed Death seems funny until you experience it yourself. It starts to unravel at the thread of the bedsheets. Why doesn’t she want me? Doesn’t she love me enough to try?)

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Ask A Pleasure Professional by O.School

Ask A Pleasure Professional by O.School

Send over your anonymous questions about sex and pleasure, and every month, a Pleasure Professional will respond to your questions via video.

Maybe you have questions about….a decreasing sex drive after the wedding, and what you can do to keep your sex life exciting. Or how to keep the passion alive in a long-distance relationship. Maybe you want to know about sex toys beyond vibrators. Or gaining weight and struggling to get aroused. How about masturbation—like, how do you do it?

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Autostraddle Stories // Digging Up the Truth Through Fiction Writing in Trump's America

Autostraddle Stories // Digging Up the Truth Through Fiction Writing in Trump's America

Fiction is about truth, in a deeper sense. And in the political times we’ve brought ourselves into, in this age of Trump and fake news and alternative facts, we are in dire need of the truth. Now, it could be said that “alternative facts” and fiction are technically synonymous — both are factually inaccurate or completely invented versions of events. But the important distinction is in the intention. The intention of spreading alternative facts is to obscure the truth. The intention of writing fiction is to reveal it. Fiction is about radical honesty.

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Autostraddle Stories // The In-Between Spaces of Being Queer and Biracial

Autostraddle Stories // The In-Between Spaces of Being Queer and Biracial

Being a lesbian in the South sometimes feels like being invisible.

Or at least, it’s not the first thing people notice about me, if they notice at all.

I get the question, “Where are you from?” a lot, and by now, I know the shorthand. If I feel like being a smart-ass, which is always, I’ll answer, “Memphis,” but then I usually get a sigh and a follow-up, “No, where are you from?” with a knowing glance. If I feel like diving into actual asshole territory I’ll say, “Oh, you mean why am I brown? My dad’s from Iran.”

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Autostraddle Stories // Coming Out and Coming Up Short

Autostraddle Stories // Coming Out and Coming Up Short

When I was 14, I stayed up late watching chick flicks, crying, and desperately hoping I could have a love that would set me free. Yes, I know, this is an unfortunately stereotypical story of a pubescent teenage girl pining for a relationship. I believed the best way to achieve happiness was through a happy monogamous relationship. Unfortunately, I had no idea (and still don’t know) what that looked like. After much trial and error, I later discovered being in a relationship and feeling free, without a healthy foundation, isn’t that simple.

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Real Couples // A Day in the Life of Lovers: Bonnie + Vince

Real Couples // A Day in the Life of Lovers: Bonnie + Vince

This session melts my heart for a few reasons. First of all, I had the opportunity to really get to know a friend from school and meet her boyfriend—something that wouldn’t have happened otherwise if we didn’t all share a passion for photography. At our initial meeting, they began to explain how different they both are but how great their relationship works. They both agreed that once I saw their apartment, everything would make sense. And it did.

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