Building Community

I’ve been trying to figure out what topic should follow Ethical Monogamy. One thing I’ve been hoping for is to find or build a community that is positive. The most positive messages I’ve heard have come from sex positive people so I was hoping to find or build something with that at its heart.

As I’ve been reading articles, and looking for information around the internet I’m running into some things lately that are kind of discouraging. Since I think most are aware of political situations I’ll use an example from that field, though my discouragement is coming from finding similar situations in faith communities, in sexual orientation communities, in sexual activity communities, etc. When I was first becoming aware of politics I found myself not agreeing with any party. That was fine at the time as most of us were voting for the person rather than the party.

I remember the story a state legislator told at the time of his retirement from office. He lived in the town just south of where I live now. He told of a group coming to him and asking him to run for office. They told him how they liked his attitudes on many local issues and knew he would be a dedicated public servant. He knew they were not just members of the Republican party but actively involved with making policy and choices in the local party. He told them he appreciated their support in suggesting he run but he was a Democrat and saw no reason to change. They told him that was fine with them and supported his candidacy as the Democrat in the race. He served for many years in that capacity. He helped solve many problems. Once the election was done those people set about working together. I remember a lady telling us at lunch at work some years later she was very upset as she was a Republican delegate to both the county and state conventions. Once she had the position the party put a policy in place that if she put up a yard sign in support of anyone other than a Republican she would loose her standing as a delegate. She had very strong feelings about one Republican candidate at the state level that had been giving us teachers a very bad time. The Democrat in the race was someone she knew and trusted. Sometime between those men recruiting that Democrat to run and her stepping up to try to make a difference our county had changed enough they had stopped looking for the best person and moved to the candidate with a certain letter by their name and no one else. That might work with a religion, it might make a party feel more united, but it doesn’t make for good governing.

Governing has an effect on all the communities in the region the particular government has jurisdiction over. I have seen this attitude take on a very strong influence clear to the Federal level. I don’t know if that has made me more aware of others behaving in a similar manner or it has made them feel more emboldened. I have definitely noticed far more “them and us” kinds of attitudes and actions. Instead of communities trying to include more and more and grow they are being more and more exclusive.

On some social media platforms your choice of sexual activities will determine if you can talk about the good concert you went to. Some online communities are becoming very exclusive.

About 3 and a half years ago the dominant religion in the area I live in came out with a very damaging policy to families with same sex parents. They have always been anti-LGBTQ but this policy was tearing some families apart and helped spur an increase in teen suicide among gay kids. As a high school teacher I lucked out that none of my students felt that poorly but at least one at our school did. The school I had been at before, that treated me very poorly just for having left that religion before getting the job there, had a huge increase. That school community is very judgmental. Well, that religion just amended that policy a little over a week ago. Some called it a reversal, I would call it a baby step back from the extreme policy from a few years ago.

I felt since I no longer belong to or follow that religion it wouldn’t really affect me as I’m no longer in the classroom day to day. Well an event from more than 3 years ago came back. Within a day of that first announcement my son ask my wife and I if we were aware one of his cousins is gay. That nephew had written a very moving article about how the original policy would affect him and his family. Well, with this recent small change my wife comes to me and tells me I should read an interview she happened across with that same nephew. So I read the interview and then a Reddit thread suggests that same interview and another he did. I listen to the other one and figure out he has hit what I need to find or build.

That nephew is now president of an organization that tries to help people touched by that religion, whether they have left it or remain part of it, and are either LGBTQ or have a family member that is. Basically they are trying to help people live authentic lives in spite of what a group of people in charge of a religious organization tell them. His organization is providing resources to help combat suicide. I took it from the interview that just because they became interested in suicide prevention due to the increase in teen suicides amongst LGBTQ they looked for resources to help with suicide prevention. Not prevention in a particular group they felt was being under served, but prevention in general.

In that interview my nephew outlined 4 points he wants in the community. The first is to be able to name what is hurting you. In the community he is building naming what is hurting could take the form of a young man saying it hurts that his family keeps trying to line him up with women though he is only attracted to men. In the community I would like to build it could also take the form of a young woman saying it hurts that her family won’t talk to her because she is living with a man and a woman as a triad. Just being able to voice that pain is the first step to healing the hurt.

The next point is a member of the community would be safe to name a belief or lack of belief. Since his community deals with those that still have connection to a particular belief but others have distanced themselves from that same system I understand where he is coming from with this point. In a larger community it could affect things like what I’ve seen earlier today. Someone has gotten hold of a picture of the alter and cross after the fire at Notre Dame of Paris. There are people saying the cross was saved by a miracle. What saved it was the fire didn’t get close enough to damage things around there. Some are making fun of these people’s belief instead of pointing out the heat from the fire didn’t get to that part. That would let the believers state it was a miracle the fire didn’t get close to those things which couldn’t be removed and the non-believers praise the heroism of the fire fighters to keep the flames from going that far. No need to look down on the non-believers for not having faith and no need to make fun of the believers. Accept the fact that part wasn’t damaged and agree to disagree on why the flames didn’t get there.

The third point my nephew mentioned is be supportive and civil. I think this might be more about community disagreements for my nephew. Since I’ve started this journey into the idea of sex positive I’ve seen many good examples and many poor examples. I saw several mentions of bi people being made to feel they didn’t fit with straight people even though those straight people were engaged in alternative forms of sexual expression. The one that really gets to me is the swinger community accepting bi women but shunning bi men. For an individual couple this may not be out of line as the man may not be interested, but should those couples dictate the community standard. I watched an exchange on social media by a person trying to point out a similar double standard with consent only to be badly burnt by the community. Even if you don’t want to participate in an activity you should be supportive of those that do and civil in addressing concerns that activity brings to your point of view. The flames sent about consent basically were saying simply by being at the event was giving consent even though the organizer specifically said consent should be obtained before touching. I think the more alternative expressions of sexuality incorporate ethical behavior (consent and safety) the more readily they can be accepted as normal behaviors. I also think if they include ethical expressions they will influence the larger community to become more ethical rather than just being normal as that is what everyone knows about. There are some very unethical practices out there, even in marriages.

The last point made in the interview was the community needs to support your happiness right now. I’m not so naive to think any change can happen right now. I don’t believe my nephew is either. I think this means the goal has to be to help now and start the improvement now. The achievement of that goal could be a ways off. Too many want us to sacrifice now for something that may come after death. He obviously feels this as he is dealing with people’s feelings caused by a religious body. I see this in many other things though. Political leaders keep themselves in power promising improvement down the road. If there are policies and programs in place that need that time to show improvement I can understand. It is when they say we will come up with the program next year, or some other point down the road. I see people say, “pay us your money and you will see this improvement.” Maybe I spent too much time involved with construction but usually the final payment came once the improvement was final. So even though the realization of happiness may be down the road a bit, the support is happening now, the improvement begins now. That support should continue from the community and you should be giving support into that community as you all try to find happiness.

So this is the kind of community I would like to find or build. If you know of this community based on sex positive in general then please tell me about it. If you don’t know of one but would be interested in finding a path to build this kind of community, let’s find ways to start the improvement now.

I don’t try to join my nephew’s group, I have donated some small amounts to it, because it is more narrow in focus. I know that is needed for many goals but I look to the history of labor unions. There were all sorts of separate unions and they were not having as much influence as they could have. Some one started getting them to work together on common goals and they started having a large influence. As with many organizations unethical people rose to power and caused some real problems to where they no longer have the influence they did. I think in our work a day world some good ones could be of importance but they have lost much of the good influence they once had. We need a broader group. Whether it is a group to help coordinate goals to promote those four traits of a supportive community I outlined, or just a group that isn’t so narrowly focused on one particular group of people is a question that still needs to be answered.

It was many months after I started looking for ways to help promote a sex positive attitude, especially for seniors, until I found someone else supporting that. She had been at it for years yet my searches weren’t bringing her writings and web sites up. It might be there are communities already in existence that meet this desire of mine. I’m not so egotistical to think I’m the only one thinking this way. Please, if you know of some let me know too. I will be glad to promote a group that has those four traits. If you don’t know of a community and want to start building one, contact me. We may spend some time as a community of two, or three, but it has to start somewhere.

©2018 Michael Yocom 

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