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Home | Tag Archives: borderland rainbow center

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Guest post: You Aren’t Broken! A Few Myths About Asexuality

Being an Asexual in a hypersexualized world can make a person feel like they are broken from an early age.

While other teenagers are discussing their first sexual encounters, the Asexual can easily say they haven’t found “the one” yet; that person who will make them want to have sex as much as their friends.  The person that will “ignite the flame” and make them become a sexual person like the rest of the world, the person who will make them “normal” and understand what it means to want to be sexual with someone else.

The truth is 1% of the world’s population is Asexual (AVEN, 2020), and that means there may never be “the one” who “fixes” the lack of sexual attraction or fixes the lack of desire for sex because there is nothing to fix.

As Morticia Addams says, “Normal is an illusion.  What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.”  In this world, being sexual is considered the normal but that throws the Asexual into a world of chaos as they question themselves and are questioned by the world around them.

MYTH #1 – Asexuals do not need to be fixed because they are not broken.

There are often well-meaning people, even health-care professionals, who will tell the Asexual they just need to find “the right one”, that person who will make them “change their mind about sex” but someone who is Asexual may very well find “the one”, the person who makes them happy and they want to spend the rest of their life with but this does not mean they want to have sex with them.  We often mix love with sex because to be in love automatically means we have to want to have sex with that person, right?  Not so.

This idea of being in love means wanting sex can lead to a dangerous practice within the queer community; corrective sexual assault.  Corrective sexual assault does not just happen to Asexuals but queer individuals from all walks of life. The assailant believes that the person just needs a good experience with someone and suddenly they will be “fixed”.  For example, for homosexual individuals, the flawed thinking is that a sexual assault from the opposite sex will make them straight.  For bisexual they face it from same-sex and opposite-sex partners, trying to “fix” them to be gay or straight, depending on their end goal.  For the Asexual, the assault is to make them want physical/sexual attention.

MYTH #2 – Asexuals must have a problem somewhere that needs fixing in order to become sexually active.

There are horror stories from Asexuals about professionals asking if they have ever been the victim of sexual assault, as if all Asexuals only abhor sex because they have a history that has left them with PTSD and sexual contact triggers it.  That is not true, some people just do not want sex or find other people “sexy”.

Another question professionals pose to Asexuals is if they have their hormones checked because magically if their hormones are fixed they will want to have sex.  While some people do have low-sex drives due to hormone levels or because of medication affecting them, that is a difference in libido not in sexuality.  Some people just have low libidos and it is not due to lack of sexual attraction – their bodies are content with fewer sexual encounters.

MYTH #3 – Asexuality means she’s just a “frigid b**ch.”

There is a difference between someone with a low sex drive and an Asexual.  Someone with a low sex drive still looks at people who they are sexually attracted to and feels sexual attraction, they just don’t need frequent sexual encounters.  An Asexual sees someone and thinks, “That is aesthetically pleasing” or “DAMN!  They are pretty!” They can appreciate the beauty of other people but that does not mean they want to be physically intimate with them.

MYTH #4 – All Asexuals are repulsed by sex.

Thanks to Alfred Kinsley, we know almost everyone is a little gay because he introduced the Kinsley scale to human sexuality.  But Kinsley focused on heterosexual and homosexual, where people change how much they are straight or gay throughout their life, because sexuality (like so many things) is a spectrum, not an either-or decision.

The same idea can be applied to anything human, including asexuality.  On one side of the spectrum are sex-repulsed Asexuals who want no intimate contact and find sex “icky” and on the other end are Asexuals who, while they do not have a sexual drive or sexual desire they are partnered with someone who likes sex, so the Asexual has sex because their pleasure comes from making their partner happy and fulfilled.  In all sexual and non-sexual relationships it is important to know what boundaries people have and to respect those boundaries.  So, as in all relationships, in an Asexual relationship, communication is key.

MYTH #5 – Asexuals don’t want relationships with other people.

Being asexual does not mean “aromantic”, a person who does not feel attraction or affection towards others.  Asexuals can and do have long-term loving and healthy relationships.  An Asexual person may want hugs, kisses, cuddles and all types of other forms of the love languages – they just do not want sex.  Or they could be willing to have sex if they are with an Allosexual partner.  Allosexual just means someone who does have sex and does feel sexual attraction.  As mentioned above, our world mixes the feelings of love with wanting to have sex but there is more to attraction and affection than what bodies can do in the bedroom (or the kitchen, whose to tell anyone where they can and can’t have some fun…!)

What Asexuals want people to know is they are not broken, and no one needs to fix them with force or pressure them into situations they do not want.

If one partner is not interested in sex and the other is, then it may be a relationship that does not work or it means the relationship needs a different dynamic (open relationships or polyamorous) so that the Allosexual can have their needs met while the Asexual has their boundaries respected.

Author: Jennifer Cornell, MSW intern at Borderland Rainbow Center

References

Ginicola, M. M., & Ruggiero, A. (2017). Counseling Asexual Clients. In M. M. Ginicola, C. Smith, & J. M. Filmore, Affirmative Counseling with LGBTQI+ People (pp. 251-258). Alexandria: American Counseling Association.

The Asexual Visibility and Education Network. (2020). The Asexual Visibility & Education Network. Retrieved from Overview: https://www.asexuality.org/?q=overview.html

***

El Paso Herald-Post welcomes all views and viewpoints.  To have your opinion heard, review the guidelines here and the submit your letter to news@epheraldpost.com

Op-Ed: The Healing Power of Virtual Support Groups

April Fools’ Day 2020 did not have the laughter, pranks and jokes that we’ve come to expect or anticipate. As a culture, we’ve been cut off from social gatherings to protect the larger public health and safety concerns brought on by COVID-19.

But as humans, we still need laughter, the chance to share, the space to vent, and the opportunity to grow with others. We need to connect.

Social Isolation has been shown to have major negative health consequences including “depression, poor sleep quality, impaired executive function, accelerated cognitive decline, poor cardiovascular function and impaired immunity at every stage of life” (Novotney, 2019).

When the 1918 Influenza Pandemic hit, less than 30% of American households had telephones; for middle to lower income families it was closer to 20% with in home phones (Fischer, 1992, p.116-118), leaving close to 70% of households in real-time communication isolation.

One hundred years later, 96% of Americans own a cellphone, 81% own a smartphone, and nearly 75% have broadband Internet service at home (Pew Research Center, 2019).

Combine the very real human need for connection with increased quality and ability for communication and Shazam! the Borderland Rainbow Center (BRC) now offers Counseling via phone or video and Online Support Groups in order to cooperate with the safety practices of the state of Texas.

Virtual support groups can reduce isolation and loneliness, and you can connect from the comfort of your home.

If you’ve been curious about attending a support group before but were unsure if it was for you this is a great time to check it out, and there is the option to call in via phone or log in with the webcam off.

Here’s what the BRC offers for weekly support groups:

Tuesdays 6:30-8pm Stonewall Addictions Anonymous

Wednesdays 6:00-8:00pm True Colors LGBT Youth Support Group

Thursdays 6:30-8:00pm Weekly Family Transgender Support Group

Thursdays 6:30-8:00pm Transgender Youth Support Group

Sundays 4:00-5:30pm Transgender Adult Support Group

The web links for the each group can be found on Borderland Rainbow Center’s website, Facebook, BorderlandRainbow on Instagram, or by calling 915-263-4623 to get the telephone call-in access codes.

Author: Max Bellman-Seeskin – Borderland Rainbow Center

**

El Paso Herald-Post welcomes all views and viewpoints.  To have your opinion heard, review the guidelines here and the submit your letter to news@epheraldpost.com

Border AIDS Partnership grants $50k to local HIV organizations

On Friday, officials with the Border AIDS Partnership announced that four organizations from  Juárez and El Paso would receive $50,000 in grants from the organization next week.

The official presentation of funds from Border AIDS Partnership to the organizations will take place at 10 a.m. Friday, February 21 in the El Paso Community Foundation Room, 333 North Oregon.

The organizations and the programs receiving funding this year are:

Programa Compañeros of Cd. Juárez, Chihuahua

  • Compas Gay($4,200)– An outreach project for gay youth and men, transgender women, IV drug users, male sex workers and men who have sex with men (MSM) from Juárez, El Paso and Las Cruces, NM, who have a high vulnerability to contracting HIV. Compas Gay facilitates access to HIV prevention supplies, rapid testing and peer promoters to distribute preventive messages.
  • Yo esCOJO mi Seguridad /I Choose Me Security($4,200)– The project provides Rapid HIV/STI testing, promotes safer sexual practices and distributes preventative supplies to women who conduct sex work, those deprived of liberty, those with multiple sexual partners and adolescent women.
  • Safer Consumption Sites($4,200)– The project seeks to change the conditions of “shooting galleries” and reduce the risk of HIV transmission by providing safe injection equipment, Naloxone and education services focused on overdose prevention and harm reduction strategies.
  • Health Navigators: Unifying Efforts to Improve the Quality of Life for PLWHA($4,700)– Works to remove the stigma of and discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS, promotes healthy behaviors, and strengthens the enrollment and retention in health services for people living with HIV and AIDS by providing trained, motivated peer navigators, and personalized case management/assistance to improve patient/health care provider relationships

Centro Caritativo, Cd. Juárez, Chihuahua

  • Preventing HIV For Life($6,000)– Focuses on socially and economically disadvantaged (high school students from 4 southeast city schools, and those on probation and/or in trouble with the law) by providing workshops to teach young people ages 12 to 18 skills to carry out safer and/or protected sex and provide information about health resources and treatments related to STI and HIV.

Alliance of Border Collaboratives – El Paso, TX

  • Expansion of TransFronterizxs Project($8,200) – Supports ongoing efforts of the initial TransFronterizxs project by providing high-risk transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) individuals in the El Paso-Juárez area with financial support for PrEP/PEP copays, physicians copay, transportation for appointments, HIV testing, counseling, and updating legal documentation, etc.
  • El Paso Harm Reduction Alliance($8,500) – Improves access to syringes and drug use equipment among people who inject drugs (PWID), provides outreach to PWID in high-risk settings (shooting galleries, etc.), and increases access to current and evidence-based harm-reduction education.

Borderland Rainbow Center – El Paso, TX

  • HIV Education Across the Lifespan ($10,000) – Provides workshops to underserved, high-risk populations, including the deaf community, women of color, elderly, and youth under the age of 24, in West Texas and Southern New Mexico.

Annual ‘Race for the Cause’ set for Saturday

The 3rd annual Race for the Cause 10K & 5K Walk/Run, sponsored by OneADP El Paso, returns this weekend.

The event is scheduled for June 8th at ADP located at 7651 San Felipe Drive here in El Paso.  Of the funds raised during the event, 50% stays here in El Paso and goes to the Borderland Rainbow Center and the other 50% goes to The Center in New York City,

This year, officials with the Race for the Cause have set the goal of 700 registered participants, with the proceeds from those participants going to help both a local and an NYC center, helping LGBTQ community members.

The funds raised locally will go to The Borderland Rainbow Center’s mission is to create a community space in which lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex people and their allies can heal, grow, and empower themselves and others.

The BRC offers a wide variety of support groups, LGBT Cultural Competency Trainings, a food pantry, and substance-free social events for the community.

The match will go to The Center in New York City. The Center fosters a welcoming environment where everyone is celebrated for who they are, and is fully committed to providing HIV and AIDS services to the community.

All are welcome to register for the event by clicking here.  As early registration is closed, the sign up fee is now $25.00 plus applicable fees, as well as on Race Day.

Race Day Packet Pick Up will be from 6:00AM – 6:45AM and the 10K Run, 5K Run, 1 Mile Walk , and 5K Run will begin at 7AM.

Op-Ed: El Paso’s very own “Room of Requirement”

Over the last year I have been taking my students to the Borderland Rainbow Center and begun volunteering and sending consumers to get services from the BRC. I have learned to call the little house at the BRC home.

As a queer Deaf woman I am welcomed with open arms. Understand I am extremely passionate about two things: Equality for all people and Harry Potter.

So every time I go to the little BRC house, I am amazed at what it can do. I have been there when they turn it into a grocery store and distribute fruits, vegetables, chocolate milk and chicken nuggets to nearly 100 people.

I have seen the little BRC house become a family living room where people from all walks of life come together at Brunch to share a meal, laughter and support. Where no matter what your family looks like you are perfect.

I have seen it transform into a safe space so that teenagers can ask about pronoun preference without judgement as the cupcakes are passed around. And they were good cupcakes too.

Then, the very next time I walk into the little BRC house, there is counseling happening in a back room where young people are supported on their journey to self-identity and another counselor is providing care for people in a variety of languages.

I have sat in a board meeting where amazing people from around the community sit on couches and lawn chairs and give so selflessly of themselves and their time and their talents to keep this little house going.

I have seen the little house turn into a storage unit so that persons from other countries always have food to eat.

The little BRC house is always bright, festive, and welcoming. It is a constant classroom. There are students from different majors and different schools across the country all coming to learn from the mentors, the clients and the people that cross our threshold.

They learn about LGBTQ sensitivity and pronouns but more than that, they are learning to be global citizens. They are learning cultures, languages, competencies, and humanity by becoming allies to so many minority groups.

The hands-on learning comes in a new form. Sitting down next to someone and listening to their stories. Stepping up as an ally and advocate. Walking away thankful for this little house that became a door to another world.

The little BRC house is a place where you can ask the silly questions, eat some amazing food, learn to knit, continue your fight for recovery, sing karaoke and most importantly find a family and support.

In the Harry Potter series, we are introduced to a magical room in the Hogwarts castle. The “Room of Requirement” also known as the “Come and Go Room”.

It becomes whatever the person needs. In the series, students and teachers hide banned objects in the room. It becomes a bathroom. It becomes a haven for the resistance with beds and food. And during the height of the battle it becomes an escape. Harry Potter has always been my escape and my story.

And I wholeheartedly believe the words that J.K. Rowling so wisely shared,

“We do not need magic to change the world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already. We have the power to imagine better”.

So I found it. I found my piece of Hogwarts in El Paso: The Room of Requirement is at 2714 Wyoming.

It becomes whatever the Borderland Rainbow Center needs. It is always big enough, warm enough and has enough food. There is always room for more people and languages and cultures. There is enough space for learning and companionship and your true self.

At the BRC we aren’t just imaging better we are making it happen. One cupcake, one food pantry client, one therapy session, one board meeting, one handshake at a time. We are making the world better.

So come visit us at the BRC, who knows what the little house will become when you drop by.

Author: Jennifer Dahlgren-Richardson  |   Borderland Rainbow Center

***

The El Paso Herald-Post welcomes all guest columns, open letters, letters to the Editor and analysis pieces for publication, to submit a piece or for questions regarding guidelines, please email us at news@epheraldpost.com

 

Op-Ed: A Look Back at PFLAG’s Youth Trans Visibility Event

Sundays are generally family days for me. And as I prepared myself for PFLAG’s Youth Trans Visibility Event, I had the thought I wanted to stay home to be with my family.

As soon as this thought entered my mind, I quickly reminded myself what this event was about: that I get the opportunity to celebrate not only our local transgender community but also the transgender community worldwide…transgender persons who do not have family support because of who they are as people.

I can represent the love and acceptance they may not receive at home. Or maybe they do have family support but not the support of their community. On this day I had the privilege to celebrate and honor their lives and stories.

The PFLAG board members and volunteers all worked hard to provide an event that could be tailored to transgender youth, so that it could truly be a day of celebration. We decorated the room in the transgender flag colors of pink, blue and white. We set up game tables, a cookie decorating table, tables with pink and blue table cloths for participants to sit and a food booth serving nachos.

We even had a scavenger hunt where groups of youth received a great big loot of toys for their “hunting efforts”.

Amidst the games, cookies, cupcakes and nachos were transgender youth of varying ages celebrating who they are with their friends and family there in support. People were seen hugging and catching up. Moms who shared a common connection of having a trans child were seen talking with pride about their child. There was a lot of fun, laughter and most importantly love in the room.

In the middle of all the fun, we had two women, Jocelyn and Andi who spoke to us about their journey of transition. They both spoke with passion and courage about how to love and accept ourselves.

Jocelyn and Andi shared that while they did not have a traumatic coming out or transition experience, they know many transgender people do. They shared the all too unfortunate events that many transgender people experience and that we as a community and society must do more.

After more games and socializing, we were treated with an exceptionally, beautiful musical number by Jocelyn. THIS GIRL CAN SING! If you have not had the privilege of hearing her, you are missing out!

I was lucky enough to hear her sing the night before at the Queer Arts showcase hosted by Borderland Rainbow Center. She commands a stage and she left many in the room that day in tears. She sang “Hero” by Mariah Carey. These words could not be more fitting for the transgender community and the strength and resilience they must have in a society that still struggles to understand them.

The lyrics encourage us to look inside us and we will find that a hero lies in us all. This is also a message for the TransAllies in the world. That it takes strength and courage to stand with our transgender friends and fight for their equal treatment. Jocelyn sang lyrics that will stay with all of us in that room for years to come.

This was truly an event that celebrated the dynamic transgender community that exists in El Paso. It was interesting to think that we were joined in celebration with other transgender communities around the country and world to say we see you.

We love you. And that you matter in this world. Transgender people are just like any human deserving of love, respect and equality.

Although this was a day of celebration, those transgender persons who have lost their lives due to violent acts, were not lost on us.

After experiencing such a fun day, it was hard to come across a news article the very next day of a black transwoman who was fatally wounded by a gun violence. The article cited the Human Rights Publication of 2018 reporting transwomen faced record levels of violence in 2017 and 2018. That the transgender people targeted the most are those who identify as female, are women of color and under the age of 35.

No human should ever be targeted for their identity. Ever. Not for religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, culture, immigration status or disabilities. No transgender person should be made to feel less than anything than their wonderful, beautiful self.

We as a society must recognize the unique talents, diversity and strength they offer this world. And if we can continue to have events that support and celebrate our transgender friends, we can continue to make them visible to the world and be seen for who they are.

I hope that through continued awareness and events like the one PFLAG hosted, we will be able bring greater acceptance and love to the transgender community.

***

Author:  Sara Harrison – Borderland Rainbow Center

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The El Paso Herald-Post welcomes all guest columns, open letters, letters to the Editor and analysis pieces for publication, to submit a piece or for questions regarding guidelines, please email us at news@epheraldpost.com

Borderland Rainbow Center’s Matthew Shepard-Based Play Set to Debut Friday

The Borderland Rainbow Center, a support and outreach organization for El Paso’s LGBTQ community and their allies, is set to perform a play based on the real events surrounding the murder of Matthew Shepard.

In reflecting on why the community should watch the play, Ashley, a BRC Social Work Interns shares, “You may think that LBGTQ issues do not impact you. You may think immigration issues do not impact you, or Indigenous or Black American issues do not impact you. I want to assure you that without question these things do impact you, whether you are part of those communities or not. What we give permission to be done to one group, we give permission to be done to all groups.”

Shepard was killed for being a gay man in Laramie, Wyoming and according to BRC officials, the performance of the play is to bring awareness to violence against LGBT individuals that happens still today 20 years after Matthew’s Death.

Matthew was tortured, tied to a fence, and left to die.  His murder, along with other hate crimes like the dragging death of James Byrd, Jr in Texas, inspired the Federal Hate Crimes Act.

Passed in October of 2009, this law gives the U.S. Department of Justice the power to investigate and prosecute defendants who selected their crime victim based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

The play contains mature content and language.  Materials and support are provided by the Matthew Shepard Foundation. Profits from this play benefit the Borderland Rainbow Center.

There will be three showings in three different locations and times:

  • Friday, January 18, 7PM at St Francis on the Hill Episcopal Church (6280 Los Robles Drive)
  • Saturday, January 19, 2:30PM at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church (1810 Elm Street)
  • Sunday, January 20, 3PM at El Paso Public Library Main Branch (501 North Oregon Street)

Tickets can be bought on the Borderland Rainbow Center’s Facebook Page

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