Isn’t every issue of Xtra West a sex issue? Yes it is, but this one is special.
The queer community is more diverse than any other. Queer people come from all walks of life and hold myriad values. We come in all shapes, sizes, shades, ages and genders. And we each have our very own kinks. No one is just like you or me. No one is turned off or turned on by exactly the same things you are. The one thing-in many cases the only thing-queer individuals hold in common with other queers is tentative resistance to oppressive heterosexist orthodoxy.
When we’re told we’re not good enough for marriage or that our blood is too dirty for transfusion, when we’re attacked verbally or physically, when we’re discriminated against in the workplace or the classroom, when we’re alienated or marginalized because of what we like to do when our knickers are around our ankles-each of those little attacks steals tiny pieces of our collective esteem whether we’re aware of it or not.
When vials of frozen HIV-positive blood go missing from the hospital and the mainstream media reacts as if a madman had stolen a loaded assault rifle, when we tear each other down for our differences and seem genuinely offended when other queers achieve personal successes-each of these assaults are painful little attacks on our most basic inner selves.
At the base of that homophobia (internalized or otherwise) is the sex.
What defines queers as “queer” is our basic and carnal desire to freely choose with whom we form sexual and romantic relationships and how we conduct those relationships. If we didn’t need to fuck or get fucked by others of diverse genders, we wouldn’t be marginalized. If we didn’t have the courage to openly act out our sexual fantasies with willing partners, we’d fit right in and wouldn’t need labels like “gay,” “lesbian” and “queer community.”
When we’re attacked for being queer, we’re attacked because of the sex. So, in response, Xtra West pushes the envelope of public sensibilities, and hopefully, may help us to explore some of the thoughts society pressures us to repress.
The sex issue is an unabashed examination of some dimensions of queer sexuality. It doesn’t pretend to cover every aspect of queer life and it doesn’t prescribe views to which all queer people ought to conform. Some of the things you’ll read in this issue might gross you out. Some of the pictures might seem gratuitous or even pornographic.
If, as you read through, you feel even the vaguest sense of disgust, I hope you’ll examine that. I hope you’ll ask yourself: “Does this give me the willies because it truly, personally damages me, or does this give me the willies because somewhere along the line, someone taught me it should?”
Hopefully, you’ll be titillated and informed.
One of the things I find so interesting about the sex issue is that it carries with it a level of risk for Xtra West. By publishing frank and open pieces about sex and sexuality, we risk rankling our advertisers and distributors, we risk backlash from social conservatives, and most strangely to me, we risk backlash from members of our own community.
Sometimes Xtra West’s advertising team is told by potential clients that they won’t advertise in Xtra West because of the sexual content. Usually those clients aren’t squeamish about running their ads in fashion magazines or mainstream publications that have more sexually explicit or suggestive material than we’ve ever run. In my mind, it’s not really that Xtra West is too sexy; rather it’s too queer or too alternative.
The risks are worth it. Frank and open discussion of ideas about sex is critical to our liberation. To avoid sex would be to accommodate the very instruments of our oppression.