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3 Blessed Are the Promiscuous Attraction is simply more nuanced for more people than some of us want to admit, sometimes even to ourselves. That attraction may never manifest as physical intimacy, nor does it have to, but denying that it exists creates a false, naïve and ultimately destructive sense of what is normal and possible. . . . Different people can experience attraction differently. For some, the order of attraction starts with body first. That’s fine. For others though, it starts with the being first, the human being, regardless of the body and its gender. —Charles M. Blow, Fire Shut Up in My Bones In 2006, Canadian singer Nelly Furtado released a catchy earworm called “Promiscuous,” from her third studio album, Loose, featuring Timbaland. Mixing with R&B sounds and a hip-hop vibe, the album wandered down a different road from her first album with hit songs like “I’m Like a Bird,” which was a much more upbeat pop song. “Promiscuous” felt like something straight out of a club and had an aftermidnight tone to it—mysterious, illicit, and seductive. When you hear those first beats and Furtado singing the refrain in a 45 throaty way, as if she were caught in a moment of elation, it’s hard to resist dancing and moving, too. When I was growing up, expressions of sex, desire, or fantasy—whether found in music, literature, images, or art—were framed in a language of hiddenness, with undertones of shame and guilt, and not just in church but in school, too. That old adage “sex sells” is correct and isn’t limited to overt sexuality. Suggestive, titillating, and implicit sex sells, too, and maybe even more so. And then, of course, there were the overly medicalized sex-education classes, which were taught in a way meant to diminish the strangeness of sex but actually reinforced its taboo. In a scene in one of my all-time favorite movies, Mean Girls,1 Coach Carr teaches a health class on sex. He opens with, “Don’t have sex, because you will get pregnant and die! Don’t have sex in the missionary position, don’t have sex standing up, just don’t do it, okay, promise?” And then he pulls out a box and says, “Okay, now everybody take some rubbers.” The parody hits the mark. My parents never talked about sex and sexuality with me; I used to joke that I got off lucky. I generally understood the basic mechanics around reproduction , and I knew what it’s like to carry a pretend baby (read: an egg or a bag of flour) around for a month. But I didn’t understand how sex, sexuality, desire, and identity are intertwined. That repression affected me in a significant way, like cutting off an appendage. Something was missing, and it crippled my sense of self. Outside the Lines 46 Being closed off in this way meant I could never fully connect with others. I feared attraction and those more carnal desires, feeling that any sort of intimate connection was related to sex. But queerness undoes these rigid structures and boundaries. Radical love dissolves borders between people and eradicates the binary.2 Embracing an identity as a “promiscuous people”3 is a way of living into this radical love. Promiscuity is characterized by many transient sexual relationships , and we can psychologize and pathologize all the reasons people are promiscuous. It is associated with not only disease but also immorality. Multiple sexual partners indicates a lack of faithfulness, and it challenges the monogamous structures of marriage and the basic family unit. For this reason , among many others, it is often used to debase the queer community. But the word promiscuous means more. It is rooted in the Latin word for “to mix” and carries with it a sense of bringing together various elements. This notion of promiscuity as indiscriminate mingling is a far cry from the negative cultural definition of promiscuous we use in a more judgmental way. The global leader for the Metropolitan Community Churches, Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, draws on this definition of promiscuous in what she calls queer people ’s penchant for “promiscuous hospitality.” It’s an orientation outward toward others, and particularly the Other, to see and love with the indiscriminate excess of divine love. I’ve got a tangled history with this excess. During the summer of 2000, I had multiple sexual partners. Blessed Are the Promiscuous 47 After I graduated from college, I decided that...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781506408972
Print ISBN
9781506408965
MARC Record
OCLC
1037807246
Pages
176
Launched on MUSE
2018-06-07
Language
English
Open Access
N
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