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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Sunflower Seeds: My Dating Life

Casual dating is exhausting in today’s day and age. I’m an extremely busy woman and I just don’t have time to take on another headache. 

People in modern society seem to be using dating apps for their love lives. I know plenty of men and women who have met their significant other online because they were “hooking up” and after a few months they figured out they liked them. I question this and wonder if the relationship came out of convenience or actual desire for one another. I believe you should live your life how you want and in whatever ways, but I’m just not into the whole idea of this dating apocalypse. 

However, I plead guilty. I have used dating apps from time to time and still consider downloading them when I want attention, but I’d like to think I will meet someone the old-fashioned way. A few weeks ago, I met a guy on a night out. He was attractive, charming, and very polite. The next day he took me out to breakfast at a darling little place on the beach. We spent the day watching dolphins and shared a few innocent kisses. It was merely a weekend fling, but it was refreshing meeting someone without swiping. 

Out of the few boys I met from Tinder I’d say that maybe only one of them was worth my time, and the rest turned out to be horror stories. I’m happy I got out of my comfort zone to meet them, but never again! I do consider my love life to be puzzling, for I don’t really know what I want. For example, one time I thought I was in love with a guy I was fooling around with, but it was just my libido talking.

I think it would be nice to have someone for sappy holidays like Valentine’s Day, or to reach for a soup can on the top shelf, but that’s about it if we’re being honest. I change my mind nearly 1,000 times a day, and I find myself getting bored with people after a few months, so I just don’t know if I could sustain a relationship at this point in my life. I have nothing against one, but I’m very much an independent woman.  

When I was in New York, an older man approached me and told me “you are a beautiful girl, don’t ever limit yourself,” and then proceeded to walk away. At first, I thought it was sweet and a bit strange, but then it resonated with me. I know its cheesy to say, but the world is your oyster. There is so much to do and see, so why limit yourself? I’m not saying that a significant other will tie you down, but I think it is very important to grow on your own. 

I am so happy and grateful for all the experiences I have had. From those experiences I feel like I was able to mature, figure out what I like and don’t like, and get to know myself better. I have a tremendous amount of love and support from my friends and family, and I am just focused on those relationships at the moment. Samantha Jones once said, “I love you, but I love me more,” and she couldn’t have said it better. 

In the Pink: Breaking Up with my GPA

Graduating with high GPA

I’m breaking up with my GPA.

And let me be clear, I am not breaking up with a 1.4 GPA in pursuit of a higher grade point average. The sentiment is quite the opposite. This 3.75 that I’ve spent the last 5 years raising and maintaining is no longer serving me, so I’m letting it go.

I’ve been in college for much longer than I could have ever guessed. For some context, I was raised with the assumption that I was going to graduate from high school, get a bachelor’s degree in four tough, but rewarding years, and then dive into the workforce with the grace of an Olympian. I graduated high school and that’s where my expectations end.

I immediately began attending a four-year university after high school. And despite being the first in my family to move out in pursuit of an education, I didn’t think twice about it. I soon learned, however, that at 18, I was too young, inexperienced and insecure to live away from my family. After bouncing around community colleges, I found the perfect one, switched majors at least six times, and then I finally transferred to San Diego State University.

During those confusing, sometimes paralyzing, but mostly busy years in community college, my GPA probably fluctuated as much as my weight. I would fall into bouts of depression, eat entire boxes of pizza to myself, wear the same clothes for days, skip weeks of classes at a time and fail exams. Listen, I’m an “A” student. It’s not a humble brag or a point of pride. It’s just true. When I’m not in the middle of a crippling depressive episode, I pass my classes with flying colors and get all As. So when I started collecting Cs and Fs, it was a nightmare. I just kept thinking I need to get better so I can fix my grades. I need to undo this damage.

When I was mentally healthy again, I worked my tailbone off to raise my GPA by taking as many units as I could and throwing myself into my school work while simultaneously working for the school paper, radio station or theater department. I came to learn that while it was comically easy for my GPA to fall, hoisting it back up to its shiny glory required an unfair amount of effort. I needed to ace like three or four classes to balance out one bad grade.

I went into the ring with my low GPA, touched gloves and upon hearing the bells, fought. And hard. I was bloodied, exhausted and covered in bruises throughout the entire process, but I came out on top. My GPA was rising. As an outsider looking in, doesn’t that sound honorable? I stayed up late, woke up early and dedicated every hour of every day to school. I was the epitome of a good student. I had been before, from kindergarten through high school and I’d finally found my way back. It’s inspiring, right?

That’s where I’m not so sure anymore.

I got good grades and a GPA worthy of acceptance offers from all the universities I applied to. But I never got to see my family.

I lived with them, yet never saw them or spent time with them for almost two years because I spent about 12 hours at school every day; I had more mental breakdowns than I can count on my fingers. I would sob during the nights, overwhelmed by the amount of responsibilities I had. Ask my boyfriend how many times I screamed at him the night before an exam, just sobbing that I needed to get a good grade while losing my mind. The stress was like a bubbling tea kettle that would scream every few weeks and I would lash out on those closest to me because I genuinely thought it was the end of the world if I got a B; I even began flirting with suicidal inclinations. Fortunately, I never got to the point where I considered it thoroughly. But nearly every time I drove away from school at 9 p.m. after being there all day for class and running the radio station or rehearsing for a play, I would stare at the freeway’s center divider and fantasize about swerving into it. It’s sick. I was sick. But I kept thinking No one can be mad at me for not completing my responsibilities if I’m dead.

I was so very miserable, I was crying almost every night. Although I wish I was writing this in retrospect, I’m still in school, still taking on more than I can chew, still desperate to keep raising my 3.75 GPA to something even higher. Why?? For what?? Nothing logical, if I’m being honest with myself. I just foster an unhealthy obsession with getting good grades because people expect it of me and I want people to be proud. I still cry until I pass out some nights and even though I don’t look at center dividers with the same worrisome notion as before, I often find myself wishing I could disappear.

The craziest part is, the lowest my GPA ever got was a 3.3. Yes, I went through all that because my GPA “tanked” to a 3.3. I have a warped perception of what a crisis is. Clearly, since I was more worried about a B than the fact that I wanted to crash on the freeway.

So I’m breaking up with my holy GPA.

I’m going to do my assignments, I’m going to study and I’m going to try really hard, but friends, believe me when I say, I am not going to try my best. It’s controversial and counter intuitive. Why am I paying tuition if I’m not willing to give it 100%? I’ve learned that doing my best means neglecting every other part of my life and I’ve tried that for too long. That method gives me amazing grades, praise from professors and fantasies of dying. No more, I can’t take it; I’m done with that. Instead, I’m going to search for balance and a middle ground.

I’m well aware that my GPA might lower. Good. It’s not worth the price. And maybe, just maybe, my happiness might rise in exchange.

Written by: Monica Vigil
Seeing as to how it is officially Spring Break for San Diego State University, and therefore, KCR, we will be taking a week off to allow our staff to rest and recharge. Rest assured, your regularly scheduled content will resume again the following Monday!