The ACT UP workshop hosted by Godless Perverts on January 9 was a huge success! It was standing room only at the Center for Sex and Culture, all the more notable with the weather being so bad. We actually had to turn people away at the door. (A nice problem to have, but still a problem: we apologize again to anyone who wasn’t able to get into the workshop, and we hope to have another one soon.) And the feedback we’ve gotten has been overwhelmingly positive. It’s impossible to summarize the entire workshop in one blog post — we made an audio recording of the event, which we’ll post as soon as possible — but here are a few highlights. [Read more…]
We recently held a Godless Perverts Social Club discussion on Participating in a Resistance Movement. It was a huge success: we think the turnout was bigger than any Social Club we’ve had in our four years of operating, and the conversation was inspiring, practical, and productive. We talked about which issues our community is most concerned about since the election; what actions people can take to resist the rise of fascism and the extreme right-wing — and what actions we’d like the Godless Perverts to organize. Here’s a summary. [Read more…]
Wow, wow, wow.
On Saturday December 12, Godless Perverts hosted a benefit party for St. James Infirmary, the San Francisco health clinic run by and for sex workers. We just finished tallying up the numbers — and we raised over $900! ($901, to be precise.)
This was our first big fundraising event, and we’re delighted that it went so well. Everyone at the party had a grand time — the silly icebreaker game was a big hit, as it mysteriously is every year. We had a wonderful spread of yummy food and beverage. The fraudulent Tarot readings were eerie and hilarious. And very importantly — between donations made at the event, and overflow from our online fundraiser, we raised over $900. St. James Infirmary is an important and valuable resource: they provide sex workers of all genders with health care and counseling of all kinds, including primary care service, gynecological and urological medical care, STI testing and counselling, needle exchanges, and support groups. We were delighted to be able to pull together the energy and resources of the Godless Perverts community, to support the clinic in such a tangible way. We’ll definitely be doing this sort of event again!
We want to extend a huge “Thank You” to everyone who helped out. We want to wholeheartedly thank Borderlands Cafe: the space was perfect for the party; the management went out of their way to help us make the event a success; and the staff were incredibly warm and supportive, and did a lot to make the event a pleasure for everyone there. They even donated to the fundraiser! Big thanks to the volunteers who showed up early or stayed late to help make the event happen. Thanks, of course, to everyone who brought food or beverage — we had a wonderful spread! We want to give a big “Thank You” to Juba Kalamka, who did such a wonderful job representing St. James Infirmary at the party. Thanks to everyone who helped spread the word about the event and about our online fundraiser: we know that not everyone can attend events or donate money, and we’re so glad that social media made it possible for everyone to help out.
And many thanks, of course, go to everyone who donated money. Whether you made a large donation or a small one, whether you donated at the event or through our online fundraiser, you made this a success.
Greta and Chris are terrible at remembering to take pictures at our events — so alas, we don’t have party pics! We do have pics of food and door prizes, though. (If you have pics of the party — and permission of everyone in the pictures to post them — please send them our way! Yes, selfies totally count.)
And did we mention that we raised over $900 for St. James Infirmary? We did. All of us. If you did anything at all to help make this event happen — if you mentioned it to a friend, if you kicked in a couple of bucks when we passed the hat at a Godless Perverts Social Club, if you just helped build the Godless Perverts community so we could get stronger and put on events like this one — you were part of making this happen, and we’re deeply grateful.
Note: If you missed out on this fundraiser, and want to support St. James Infirmary, you can donate directly to them here.
We may be Godless, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t know how to party. For the last two years, we’ve helped the non-believer community celebrate the winter holidays in a secular fashion by holding the Godless Perverts Holiday Fun Time, a social event complete with icebreaker games, weird songs, and decadent desserts. We’re having it at Borderlands Café this year, a magnificent community space, and we’ve got a lot of great uses planned out for it.
We’ll have our usual silly icebreaker games, goofy but fun holiday songs (Walt Kelly’s “Deck Us All With Boston Charlie” is a perennial favorite), delicious potluck holiday treats (bring your favorite to share – we will!), and the pleasure of connecting with our fellow secularists. And this year, Greta’s going to be giving openly fraudulent Tarot card readings! She’s almost completely guaranteed not to tell your future (except by accident), but it’s just as sure to be a great deal of fun. It’ll be on Saturday, December 12, 8-11 pm, at Borderlands Café, 870 Valencia St. in San Francisco, near the 24th St. & Mission BART station.
This year, as you may know, we’re doing it a little bit differently. The Godless Perverts Holiday Fun Time is not only going to be fun, but it’s going to be a fundraiser for an organization that we’ve admired for a long time: The St. James Infirmary.
To do that, we’re trying to raise $700 to pay for space rental, refreshments, and assorted expenses of this year’s party. We’re
almost just over halfway there, thanks to the generosity of some of you. As we get closer to our goal, we thought that it would be a good time to talk about the organization that we’re supporting this year, and why we think that they’re so awesome.
Every year, Godless Perverts hosts a Holiday Fun Time party, with festive food and drink, door prizes, atheist holiday songs, ridiculously adorable icebreaker games, and more. (This year’s party will be on Saturday, December 12, at Borderlands Cafe.)
This year, we’re turning the party into a fundraiser for St. James Infirmary. St. James is a unique healthcare resource, even in San Francisco. Founded by and for sex workers, they provide free, compassionate and nonjudgmental healthcare and social services for current and former sex workers of all genders and sexual orientations. Like so many San Francisco non-profits, they are being forced to move after losing their lease. They need to find a new site by the end of the year.
Godless Perverts wholeheartedly supports St. James Infirmary — and we want to put our money where our mouth is. So this year’s Holiday Fun Time is a fundraiser. All donations collected at the party will go directly to St. James Infirmary. We’re aiming to make it a barn-burner that raises a heap o’ cash!
But we need your help. We need to cover the expenses of throwing the party: renting the space, printing songbooks, acquiring door prizes, providing food and beverage (the party’s a potluck, but we need to offer something to our early arrivals!). So we’re doing a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe.
We’ve estimated that our total costs will be $700. If we raise more than that, or if the party expenses are less than that, any extra funds will go to St. James Infirmary. (If the party expenses are more than that, we will suck it up and pay out of our pockets — we will not spend more than $700 of your donations on party expenses.)
Please help make this happen! Even small amounts help — if you can only donate $5 or $10 or $20, it really does add up. Your donations will help us throw an awesome party that brings in a bucket of cash for St. James Infirmary. Let’s do this! Please support the event, and spread the word!
(You can also donate directly to St. James Infirmary.)
Asking consent shouldn’t be a problem in the BDSM and alt-sex communities. It shouldn’t be a problem anywhere, but the fact that kink events continue to face the issue of people grabbing without asking (or even transgressing previously negotiated boundaries) is especially poignant to me. One of the things I found most attractive about the kink culture — back in the days when I was learning about it from On Our Backs, Susie Bright books, and the alt.sex newsgroups on Usenet — was the idea of negotiated consent to do things that would otherwise be “bad.” I especially loved safe words. The idea that you could agree to signal when you needed to cross from fantasy back into reality symbolized everything that I loved best about the kink movement and the peer education movement that was coming up behind it.
But safe words — and in many ways, the ethos of consent that was so enlightening to me at the time — have become uncool among large segments of the kink communities. Safe words — and the negotiation that comes with them — are seen as the province of newbies and kink tourists, and that’s a problem.
Fortunately, there are people who have been pushing back. One of them is adult star and activist Maxine Holloway.
I’ve known Maxine for years, and even though sex radicalism sometimes seems to be hanging on by its fingernails in San Francisco, she’s one of the people that still gives me hope that the city’s tradition of combining perversion with politics will live on in the age of Twitter and Facebook. In 2012, I wrote a piece for the SF Weekly about how she and other cam workers at Kink.com were fighting for fair wages. She herself got canned from the porn giant for trying to organize the workers. For those of us who love combining blasphemy and sex, she’s recently become known for doing Mormon-themed porn as “Sister Rose.”
Maxine is continuing a campaign that she started last year to promote consent at Folsom Street Fair, which is coming up on September 27. Last year, she and other activists passed out bright yellow stickers and temporary tattoos reading “ASK FIRST,” like the one below:
Maxine herself says better than I can why Ask First is necessary. In an article for the Eros.Com blog, she describes the precise events that inspired the campaign when she took a box full of her used panties to sell at Folsom in 2013:
I arrived to find a sea of attractive, kinky people, performers, and spectators. I tingled with excitement as I wove through the heavy crowds with my friends. Pushing through the crowds of people I suddenly felt a hand on my ass. I turned around and it was gone. A few minutes later, I felt another hand on my breast. I whipped around to see a group of men laughing and hurrying away. I tried to shake it off and continued on. As I navigated through the masses this continued to happen over and over and over. I know I was giving the public permission to interact with me by engaging and selling my underwear, but I didn’t agree to be touched or grabbed by complete strangers. As the sun set, I was hurling curse words at entitled grabby men and protectively covering my chest as I walked by strangers. I went from feeling like ‘Best Dressed Pervert’ to feeling violated and unsafe.
Public sexuality is a huge part of what makes the Folsom Street Fair exciting. The SF streets proudly display elaborate BDSM outfits and kinky acts as a form of sexual expression and community. But there is a big difference between celebratory exhibitionism and voyeurism – and a free-for-all. All too often consent gets erased in sexualized environments. When this happens it is no different than the prehistoric victim blaming that if a hemline is too short — they were “asking for it.” Just because someone is dressed sexy, or is engaging in sexual behavior – does not mean that it is an open invitation for everyone. Consent needs to be given and received, just like in any other environment. Unfortunately when abuse happens at kinky events it is often shrugged off as “part of the deal,” and non-consensual behavior seems to be on the rise as these events grow larger.
I’ve heard much worse stories than this. Maxine’s story isn’t something that’s unique to Folsom, or even San Francisco. It is, unfortunately, a big problem and a persistent one.
This year, Folsom themselves have been kind enough to help out by donating an entire booth to Ask First. Maxine and friends still need money to cover the expenses of printing the stickers and tattoos, the materials to build the booth itself, payment for a photographer, and various other things. All told, they expect to need $2,475 for the day.
This is where we — the Godless Perverts community — come in. Ask First is running a crowdfunding campaign to get that $2,475. As of right now, they’ve made 44% of their goal, and it shouldn’t be hard to help them make it the rest of the way. If you’ve got a few bucks, throw them into the Ask First fund to remind kink communities to life up to that great ethos of negotiated consent that made them so attractive to me and many others.
I have to admit one thing right up front: I haven’t given money to this myself yet. The key word is yet. As of right now, my bank account is so low that I’m afraid if I so much as breathe on it, it’ll go right into overdraft. When my paycheck comes in (hopefully tomorrow), I plan on sending some cash straight to Maxine Holloway and Ask First.
If you want to know even more, check out Maxine’s video below explaining the whole thing in detail.
Source: ASK FIRST | Indiegogo