The Pansexual Panel: Time To Love Yourself!

The Pansexual Panel

The Pansexual Panel focuses upon fashion, and alternative means of expressing oneself in this week’s segment.

Today became awkward when the gloom of the rain really seeped into my life and into my consciousness. For one reason or another I became acutely aware of my clothing and how much I hate it. After years of trying to find out what my own Pansexuality meant to me, this must be where I get off. More color! Time to embrace the love I’ve been harboring inside myself.

For years while growing up with my mother constantly doting upon me, she chose every piece of my clothing. The most masculine things she could find with randoms bits of color. What she didn’t realize was all the time spent shopping and offering opinions on women’s clothing and makeup was so incredibly enjoyable. She assumed I was straight and just went about her every day routine and I tagged along for all of it. When I became older and started living on my own, I kept with the utilitarian clothing, often convincing myself that I had chosen them because it made sense.

The truth is none of my clothes make sense anymore. They feel uncomfortable, loose; they’re not the colors that represent me anymore. My sexuality, my preferences, my desires all exist on this ever sliding scale that floats on a spectrum. Balance is key and I’m here to tell you that there isn’t a set standard for anything anymore. I want you to do what ever you damn well please.

Yes this is about being Gay, Queer, Pansexual, about pushing those boundaries. In my early twenties I worried constantly about what people would think of me. What they would thing of my queer lifestyle choices. What I eventually came to find was my happiness grew as my worry about others lessened. To put it bluntly:

Who cares what they think?

I can honestly say people are too wrapped up in their own minds to care if you are wearing bright pastels and combat boots. So go out and do it! The best advice I can offer is if it fits and you like it, then wear it. Sure you might want a certain aesthetic but how the hell do you think new fashions come about? By trying new bold choices and walking around with confidence. Your queer! So why not make every single place you walk a runway in your mind.

Maybe I’m an over dramatic queer, but it sure makes me feel better when I know my fashion, my outward appearance is something all my own, something unique and hardly replicated. So I hope you are feeling comfortable in your own skin, your own clothes. Because it’s the first step to loving who you are and if no one else has said it lately; I want you to know I love you very much.

Written by: Jonathan Sotelo

Sexcapades: The Necessity of Birth Control

Sexcapades

My trials and tribulations on achieving a healthy sex life continue as I journeyed to Planned Parenthood for my birth control implant.

My experience on changing birth control methods:

For the last ten months or so, I’ve been thinking about changing my birth control method. I’ve been on the pill for four years now and I’ve been getting tired of taking a pill every day. In my research I found that hormonal forms of birth control can be linked to depression and autoimmune disease. In high school I struggled with symptoms of depression which increased when I began to take oral contraceptives. Additionally, the maternal side of my family has a history of autoimmune disease. 

Two years ago I had a blood test done and my antinuclear antibodies (ANA)results came back positive. A positive result doesn’t necessarily indicate that I have an autoimmune disease like lupus; healthy people can have a positive result. What it does mean is that antinuclear antibodies are present and being produced. Recently, my younger sister had the same results and this brought some concern to our mom. 

After conducting sufficient research prompting me to change to a non-hormonal IUD, I decide to be proactive and make an appointment at Planned Parenthood. My overall experience with PP and its staff was very pleasant. I was able to make an appointment online and set up text alerts. Shortly after I was contacted by PP and to my surprise they were very inconspicuous on the phone. I didn’t really need them to be, but I appreciated it because not all women have open-minded parents like I do.

On the day of my appointment I was very nervous because I knew after the procedure I would experience ‘mild to moderate’ pain, but I was not prepared for what happened. The nurse practitioner did a short pelvic exam to see the placement of the uterus. This is when the nurse practitioner told me that my cervix was really small and tilted, which may impose complications during insertions. This made me a little more nervous but I wanted to proceed. 

After the pelvic exam, they will prep you by using an instrument to open your cervix then clean your vagina and cervix with an antiseptic solution. Following that they will insert another instrument to measure the depth of your uterus. It is here where you will feel some cramping similar to your period. Finally, they will insert a tube containing the IUD through your vagina into the uterus where it will stay.

On my first attempt, I did not go through with the insertion because the instrument opening my cervix came off. The pain was unbearable, my legs were shaking so bad and I began to blackout. The nurse practitioner told me that is a normal for some women as she removed the instruments from my body. The other woman in the room began to place an ice pack underneath my neck and a hot pack on my lower abdomen.

After a little of resting they asked if I wanted to try again, I said yes still determined to get an IUD. Again there was complications and I didn’t let the nurse practitioner get to insertion. She told me that I can reschedule and take a medication that will dialate me. I declined because I was seriously traumatized and I wanted someone I trusted to be there with me. I left PP in pain and slightly disappointed because I don’t want to be on oral contraceptives anymore nor do I wish to be on synthetic hormones. I went home, cried and took a nap. 

Common Birth Control Methods

There are many ways to be proactive about your sexual health and protect yourself from unplanned pregnancies, diseases and infections. Below are four ways that you too can take control of your sex life. 

The Pill

This oral contraceptive stops the sperm from fertilizing the egg by stopping containing hormones that stop ovulation and thickening the mucus blocking the sperm from reaching the egg in the uterus. It works best when taken around the same time every single day. There are apps like Bedsider that sends you reminders. I have friends who set alarms, whatever works for you just make sure you take it!

FYI: Oral contraceptives do not protect against STIs so use condoms!

 According to PP, even if you use the pill perfectly, it will be 99 percent effective, but since that is not realistic it is about 91 percent effective. Using condoms and the pill together is a perfect combination against the spread of sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies.

It is important to note that oral contraceptives, like other forms of birth control, are not one size fits all. There are different brands, different doses of hormones, there are combination pills and progestin-only pills. Talk to your gynecologist to see what form of oral contraceptive would be right for you. 

IUDs and Implants

The Implant aka Nexplanon is a little rod that is inserted into your bicep and it releases hormones that prevent pregnancy. It is very low maintenance because it is under the skin and is effective for up to five years. The implant method works similar to the pill, it releases the hormone progestin which thickens the mucus in the cervix and prohibits ovulation. Side effects include spotting, some may experience longer and heavier periods, while most experience short and lighter periods. Pain and bruising maybe a side effect after insertion. 

According to PP, the Intrauterine Device (IUD) is the one most effective birth control out right now. Currently, there are five FDA approved brands: Paragard, Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla. The IUD can be hormonal or non-hormonal. Paragard the only non-hormonal IUD is wrapped in copper that prevents pregnancy for up to 12 years. Since there are no hormones, Paragard does not interfere with your natural cycle and ovulation and it does not increase cervical mucus. Paragard can also be used as an emergency contraceptive if inserted within five days of unprotected sex. There are some side effects of IUDs that included cramps and backaches, worse period symptoms and heavier periods(Paragard), spotting between periods and irregular periods.

And for those who haven’t heard: both implants and IUDs do not protect against STIs and HIV so use condoms! 

Condoms

Condoms are probably the most commonly known and popular forms of birth control methods. They prevent pregnancies and lower risk of contracting STIs. They come in a variety of forms liked lubricated or non-lubricated, some contain spermicide (do not use for oral or anal sex), some do not contain spermicide, latex and non-latex (my personal fave because I’m allergic). Spermicide contains chemicals that stop sperm from moving, therefore spermicide condoms are lubricated with it. Spermicide condoms may cause irritation to some men and women so you may want opt for another type. Be wary of the types of lubricants you use because they may cause certain types of condoms — like latex — to break.

Emergency Contraceptives

Emergency contraceptives can stop a pregnancy before it starts and can usually be taken up to five days following unprotected sex. However, the sooner, the better. It is extremely important to note; emergency contraceptives are NOTabortion pills.  There are four types of emergency contraceptives, one I already mentioned (see IUDs). 

Ella is a new form of emergency contraceptives in the United States that blocks the hormones involved in contraception. It comes in a one pill pack and it is most effective within the first 24 hours of unprotected sex when conception of pregnancy is at its highest. Ella does not decrease fertility or cause infertility. It is only intended for one-time use so if you want to have unprotected sex again, I would suggest using condoms or change your birth control method. Ella is available at family planning clinics like PP, campus health centers and in certain states your local pharmacists can prescribe Ella to you (California is one of them!).

Plan B is probably the most commonly knownemergency contraceptive. Plan B is a one pill, progestin-only emergency contraceptive (reminder: progestin delays or stops ovulation). It has the same ingredients as birth control just at higher doses. This emergency contraceptive also does not decrease fertility, so when you are ready to have a baby you are free to do so. Plan B is not an abortion pill either and does not protect you from HIV and STDs. Some women found after taking Plan B they saw changes in their period that include spotting or bleeding. However, it is recommended that you take a pregnancy test if you miss your period. 

According to Bedsider,the Yuzpe method is an emergency contraceptive method that dates back to ‘70s. In this method, certain everyday birth control pills can be taken in two doses 12 hours apart to decrease the risk of fertilization. It most effective within the first 72 hours of unprotected sex. Women who use this method may feel nauseous and some may vomit, it is suggested to take the pills with food. Since you are taking an increased amount of your everyday birth control pills you are going to want to talk your doctor about what to do to get back on your regular schedule. 

Take Control of Your Sex Life

If you are curious about other forms of birth control or want more information on the ones, I listed above that my go to websites are Planned Parenthood and Besider. Overall, I think birth control and safe sex practices are really important to a healthy, enjoyable and chaos free sex life. I wish I was taught more forms of birth control growing up and in high school. One of my greatest hopes for this world is the incorporation of realistic safe sex practices in our education system. As a youth leader in an after school program for middle schoolers, I’ve noticed that sexual education is not a part of curriculum. It deeply concerns me that some of these teens are engaging in sex without knowing the risks and ways to prevent these risks. Another one of my greatest hopes is access to realistic sex education programs and access to birth control methods.

Written by: Julie Cappiello
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The Pansexual Panel: Group Sex and Polyamory

The Pansexual Panel

Group sex, polyamory, and most importantly, taking care of yourself is the core message of the latest issue of The Pansexual Panel.

Let’s all collectively admit that people are giving polyamory a bad name by slapping it on every instance of group sex and calling it a day. Okay, now let’s take a step back and really dig into what the heck I’m talking about. Just the other day a question threw me for a loop; how do people even get into a situation were multiple people want to have sex with you?

It’s a fair question. And on my part, all the situations I’ve ended up in before just happened naturally. Not to say some didn’t have a few kinks (no pun intended) to work out. But to be perfectly honest it was more of a “right time, right place” kind of situation. Before delving into the topic, it should be noted that when polyamory is done right, when everyone is open and honest about their needs and wants, it works really well. It does require that you put out a lot more effort, but the payoff is almost always worth it.

And for the uninitiated: “Polyamory is the practice of, or desire for, intimate relationships with more than one partner, with the consent of all partners involved.”

Let’s assume for this round that you are in fact looking to get into a sexual encounter with multiple people at the same time. Well good for you! Most people feel weird about sex in general but here you are wanting to dive head first into sexual exploration. My first instinct is to over plan, so definitely do not do that. However, this doesn’t mean you should skip expectations and limits. That’s right: LIMITS! Just because it’s a more open group doesn’t mean you have to compromise something. Establish these rules before moving forward and people will know you are serious about your boundaries.

Safety should always stick at the top of the list, both mentally and physically. Are you sexually active? Then get tested every 6 months to a year, or better yet, every 3-6 months. As long as you are making yourself top priority, you can literally do anything you like. Oftentimes people will try to rain on your parade and limit what you do; don’t let them! That message is especially directed towards femmes and ladies: slut shaming isn’t cool, “dude,” and I’m here to tell you that everyone else is just JEALOUS. That’s right, full on Jelly!

But all in all, if you want more legitimate information about sex in general check out the book: The Guide to Getting It On by Paul-Joannides

This book changed my life when I first read it 8 years ago, and I sure hope it gets you started down a road of sexual positivity. Until next time, enjoy your sex and make sure you don’t compromise your comfort for some else’s pleasure.

Written by: Jonathan Sotelo

The Pansexual Panel: Why only with straight men?

The Pansexual Panel

Think about you. Why are you only having sex with straight men? Are you really being who you want to be? Or are you hiding in plain sight?

Just the other day someone asked “who are you (what gender, what sex)?” and vaguely gestured to my bright pastel clothing. A gesture that could only be interpreted as pure confusion over my sexuality and attached to it my gender identity. Everyone wants to place you in a box because they feel uncomfortable that they can’t judge you with a quick glance. This discomfort spreads even more when they aren’t sure if they should use HE SHE OR THEY assuming THEY ever comes across their mind. Sure dealing with straight culture can dampen your otherwise queer day, but that’s not the point. What drew me to this tiny corner of the internet today was a discussion among my Femme friends about sexual pleasure. More specifically:

Are you having an orgasm every single time you have sex?

Too broad? Let’s narrow that down:

Are women having orgasms when they have sex with men?

Please note the word “men” is being using lightly and for obvious reasons is not capitalized. More on that later I promise. The story begins with our close friend, who we will call Katie for the sake of her privacy and her innocent questions. Our friend group was not prepared for the bomb shell she dropped on us just a few days ago. Seemingly out of nowhere she asked:

Do you guys have an orgasm every single time you have sex?

Among the many answers came a single question:

Are you only having sex with straight men?

She nodded yes and a loud sigh came from every queer member of this impromptu panel that was formed around this single question. She continued to explain that her sexual relationship consisted of vigorous sex for just a few minutes during which she never quite got there. Plain and simple she wasn’t enjoying her sexual relationship with her boyfriend. Or rather her own pleasure was not being put up for discussion by her nor her boyfriend. Naturally we suggested that be the first step but to our dismay we discovered that he told her “It just takes too long”.

Let’s unpack that; a young girl mid-twenties who can count her sexual partners on her hand has now been told her want for pleasure is inconvenient.

F*** THAT.

Orgasms are important!

Obviously the first step should be an open discussion about pleasure both shared and individual but if someone isn’t willing to do that for you then you should consider why you are keeping them around. Is this a critique of straight men? Not at all, but consider that the most unsatisfied women we’ve ever encountered are always having sex with straight men. See, our set societal norms are cock blocking us. Seriously, the patriarchy has become so prominent and normalized that some women are questioning if they should be enjoying sex at all. The answer is:

YES!

Of course you should be enjoying sex, we should be redefining sex to include a huge variety of things. Penetration isn’t the only form of sex and I’m here to tell you that you need to stop letting people shame you. Upset some fucking people, talk back, question their motives be loud and be seen.

What is the first step? Start here if you like. This won’t be a 100% percent correct and informational one stop shop for all things sex, gender, sexual identity but it will be a place you can be honest with yourself and each other if you are willing to enter into that conversation.

Who am I?

My names Jonathan Richard Sotelo, I’m Mexican Guatemalan American. I am Queer, Pansexual, and gender non-conforming. If you believe in the spectrum you could place me right in the middle.

Until next time, think about you.

Written by: Jonathan Richard Sotelo