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Keiko Lane is a Japanese American poet, essayist, and psychotherapist . In addition to her literary writing, which has been published in journals and anthologies, she writes about the intersections of queer culture, oppression resistance, and liberation psychology. Her current writing projects focus on the relationship between queer kinship , and queer rage and grief in the long-term survival of ACT UP and Queer Nation. Keiko has a private practice in Berkeley, California, that specializes in working with queers of all genders, artists, activists , academics, and other clients who self-identify as postcolonial. She is a volunteer therapist with Survivors International, where she works with refugees and asylum seekers. Keiko also teaches graduate psychotherapy courses on queer and multicultural psychotherapies, the psychodynamics of social justice, and the embodied literature of exile. T he first time I talked about pornography with a psychotherapy client I was an intern. Still in grad school, I saw clients in a San Francisco counseling clinic that offered therapy to the community on a sliding scale. Because I was one of the few out queer therapists, I was assigned many of the queer clients. The client with whom I was talking about porn was a butch-identified dyke in her late twenties who was seeking therapy because she was struggling with issues she felt resulted from a history of childhood sexual abuse. She wanted to heal sexually and to reclaim a sense of desire and agency. She said she felt depressed because she was unsure that healing was possible. We met in a miniscule office just off the waiting room of the converted Victorian that housed the clinic. The room faced west. Through the lacy curtains, the afternoon light poured in, leaving watery shadow patterns on the walls. The room had space enough for two chairs and a Imag(in)ing Possibilities: The Psychotherapeutic Potential of Queer Pornography Keiko Lane small table where I kept my appointment book and the tape recorder my supervisor insisted I use to record my sessions. Over the course of a few months, the client told me about the abuse she had suffered as a young girl, which was simultaneous to her budding understanding that she did not feel normatively gendered. During her late teens and early twenties, she had questioned whether she might be transgendered. She decided that she didn’t actually imagine herself as male, but concomitantly didn’t feel she interacted with women the same ways she saw other dykes interacting. “I mean, it isn’t that I can’t, you know, pass as a ‘normal dyke,’” she said, turning away from me. “What is a ‘normal dyke’?” I asked. “Well, you know, um . . . nice?” “Nice?” I was not certain where this was headed. “Yeah.” “So, you’re not nice,” I said. “Well, no, that isn’t exactly right. I can be. I mean . . . I can go to parties or bars and make small talk and be funny and laugh at the right places in the conversation. But that’s not how I want to be,” she said. “It’s frustrating. I’m frustrated and sad at the end of the night, after I go out with my friends and they’ve hooked up with other people, or whatever.” She looked around the room, uneasy. In our small space, there weren’t many places to look. Her gaze fixed on the tape recorder on the table. “I just . . . I don’t want it all to be so happy, so cheerful, so polite, you know? What about aggression? Or power? Maybe I’m not normal? I want to, you know, be in charge.” “You want to be in charge sexually?” I asked. “Yeah, but also, just in interactions. I want to tell a girl what to do and have her listen to me. Maybe not even all the time—but sometimes. I don’t mean that I want to do stuff to her that she doesn’t want done. But I like that edge,” she said. “Is this reenacting the abuse? That’s what a friend told me. But I want her to want it. I just want to be in charge.” I asked her about her fantasies of being in charge and she became silent. The images that turned her on, she said quietly, were from porn she didn’t really like or, she corrected herself, didn’t want to like. Images she was certain, as she prefaced her explanation to me, were made by and for straight men...


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