Polyamory, Demisexuality, and Being Transgender in the South

From identity and dating to good sex and managing diverging expectations in the queer community, this conversation has it ALL. Dyllón Burnside sits down with a diverse group of LGBTQ+ community members at the Creating Change Conference in Dallas, TX, in Jan 2020.

AIRED: June 09, 2020 | 0:09:30


- Historically, the LGBTQ community has been vilified

for who we love and how we have sex,

and it has taken decades to fight that stigma

and embrace and celebrate love, sex and desire

as intrinsically a part of who we are.

(whimsical music)

- [Woman] You know, we are so excited that you're here.

- Oh my God, thank you for having me.

Recently, I was invited to one of the largest

and most diverse conferences for LGBTQ advocates

and allies in the nation: Creating Change.

Here, the main focus is a push towards equal rights by day

and being fabulous by night.

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- But day or night, one thing woven into the fabric

of this entire conference is sex positivity

and empowerment, so it wasn't hard to find

three sex educators who were willing to step

out of the conference and talk with me candidly

about modern love, sex and identity in the queer community.

So thank you for joining me here today

at the Creating Change conference.

Let's start off by everybody going around,

introducing themselves.

How do you identify?

- I'm a lesbian-identified person.

I also identify as kinky, fat,

non-monogamous, polyamorous leaning person.

- I identify as a pansexual African-American trans woman.

- I identify as a trans man who is bisexual.

(light music)

- Hmm. - Okay.

- You wanna start, Celiany? - Sure.

I think that enthusiastic consent is something

that really turns me on.

And so, I try to gather as much information as possible,

and having sexy questions is important,

and so, I try to explore before.

- Well any question you ask with that accent

is gonna be a sexy question. (all laughing)

- My idea of great sex is all around openness

and communication, so making a great,

memorable orgasmic experience. (all laughing)

- And my idea of a great sexual encounter

would have to be someone that I can be my authentic self

around and I can just really be my freakiest.

(record scratching) (all laughing)

- Come on, good sex. - Right, so that's it.

- So Kiala and Cole, I'm wondering if your trans experience

and your identity has sort of informed

your ideas about what good sex is.

- Absolutely, because for so long,

so many partners, they see you only one way.

- Mm-hmm. - Yeah, and I think

there's just so much transphobia in our society,

as trans people, we sometimes sacrifice our own needs

because we're under the impression of oh,

well, I'm fortunate, I'm so fortunate

that this person has decided to be intimate with me

in this way, and thankfully, now we know

that we're beautiful and deserving,

but sometimes, in our relationships,

we haven't known that to be true, and so,

it does affect the quality

of the connection that you're having.

(bright music)

- I am recently married.

Thank God that came about.

- I'm actually in a monogamous relationship

with a cisgender woman.

I'm really fortunate that I've finally entered

a relationship with someone who also identifies

as demisexual, because another kinda part

of my identity is that I'm demisexual.

- What does that mean?

- Demisexual actually falls under the asexual/ace umbrella,

so demisexual means that you don't experience

sexual attraction unless you have a strong emotional

or intellectual connection with someone.

For a long time, I felt very flawed,

because I would hook up with people,

and then I wouldn't feel great.

The next day would be recovery, like a hangover

from this exchange that didn't actually fill me

or meet my needs.

- Hmm.

- My relationship status,

I am in a committed polyamorous relationship

with a queer woman.

We have a long distance relationship since 2011,

and it works really well for me.

What that means for us is that we have the openness

to explore other people, with other people, sexually,

for a one-night stand,

but we're not gonna have follow up coffee dates.

I probably won't call you, I probably won't follow you

on social media, and I think that's okay.

- Well, obviously, Kiala, you're married now,

and I'm assuming, are you in a monogamous relationship?

- It is monogamous, but I think I may have a conversation--

(all laughing)

with my partner, because I have dated

a trans man before in the past.

- Okay. - And I've,

after having that conversation with my husband,

we may kinda explore different things.

- Interesting. (upbeat electronic music)

- I spent a lot of time on dating apps,

and dating apps was so frustrating for me

because I didn't always know the right one to go to.

So I started off with Jack'd,

because it was primarily for gay men,

and although I don't identify as a gay man,

I used to, so I was like, I'll get into Jack'd,

I'll see what's going on.

And sometimes, I would be met with,

"Why are you even on here?

"This is for men."

Or I would meet somebody who was only looking

for a hookup, and that was frustrating,

'cause I wasn't looking for a hookup.

I was looking for more.

But I went onto Plenty of Fish,

is more heterosexual, and I would pose

as a cisgender woman until, like I wouldn't put,

"I'm trans" on my profile.

I would talk to the guys, and then,

if I felt comfortable disclosing, then I would.

Some were good with it, some weren't,

and then I went to OkCupid, which kinda gave me

a little bit more room to be myself,

because they had places where you can put,

"I'm transgender, I'm nonbinary, I'm this, I'm that."

It just had more things, too, that we could put

to identify and kinda ease it when I did talk to someone.

- I was on several apps, Plenty of Fish, OkCupid.

- Did we talk? (all laughing)

- We didn't talk, what a shame.

Missed opportunity.

But before my transition, I primarily dated women

and nonbinary people. - Okay.

- And as I started my medical transition,

I started getting more attention from gay men,

and that was very affirming and validating

in a lot of ways because I had always had attraction

towards men, I just, there just wasn't something

quite right whenever I sought relationships with men,

because I knew that before my medical transition,

those men were seeing me as my sex assigned at birth,

which is not how I identified.

So entering a relationship with a man prior

to my medical transition would read

in a relationship dynamic that I didn't fit in.

It was like a different version of myself

that I couldn't relate to was what that person

would connect with.

- Interesting.

So there's a strong connection between gender identity

and your sexuality in the way the two sorta play out,

and in order for you to really embrace and engage

with your sexuality in a way that's fulfilling,

you had to first embrace and engage

with your gender identity with this?

- Absolutely.

That's exactly the case for me.

- How important is it for queer folks to accept

or reject traditional ideas about relationships and dating?

- I think it is important to question them.

I think it is important to engage with them carefully,

because so much of what makes sense to us,

in terms of intimacy and romance is based

on some ideas of what we've seen over and over

in the media about what is it like to be loved?

New ideas about intimacy and romantic love

also include being really close with your friends

and telling your friends that you love them.

And so, I think that that doesn't come with a lot

of the heteronormative world that we live in, no?

So I think that it is important to push back

what doesn't make sense.

- Thank you all so much.

Thank you for being so candid, and sharing your experiences

and being vulnerable, and I appreciate you all very much.

- Thank you. (bright music)

- What are you looking for when it comes to love and sex?

- Brainy, kinky, femme bottom seeks big, bad butch daddy

with a heart of gold, clean and sober a plus.

- I'm looking for a bossy switch of color

who enjoys organic gardening.

- I'm looking for an honest person who can communicate.

- I am looking for fun and exploration,

and someone to help me be a better cat mama.

- Someone to cuddle with me until I fall asleep

and then for them to leave.

- Someone who will sit with me on the couch

and play a video game, and just honestly?

Just share a life together.

- I'm looking for that one special person

who also, maybe two special people, or maybe three?

You know, whatever it looks like.

I love love. (laughs) (bright music)