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by Anonymous 

I have burned you out—

it stank

and the smell still lingers in my clothes

my hair

my memories.

So I put some Febreze on that shit and open a window

to air you out.

But

your ashes and dust nestled in the cracks and corners of my home

as if they had the right to be there.

I shift,

and you are back, a cloud that makes me sneeze

cough

gasp for air.

So I blow my nose and grab a drink.

I have burned you out,

however

you still remain as an annoying reminder.

But do not think

that I won’t find another way

to finish what I started.

Trying

by a UT Fourth Year

I’m trying to be normal. I’m trying to re-learn how to love and to be loved.

I’m trying to enter into new relationships. I’m trying to act like sex means nothing to me. I’m trying to tell new lovers the darkest pieces of me and not have them run away the minute they hear the word “survivor.”

I’m trying to live as I did before your hand pushing on the back of my neck took everything away from me. I’m trying to convince myself that it’s even possible.

I’m trying to remove guilt from myself. I’m trying to believe none of this is my fault. I’m trying not to cry.

I’m trying to find someone who will accept my cracks and heal with me. I’m trying to trust that I am not alone.

I’m trying to love myself.

I’m just trying, and it really fucking sucks.

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by a UTK Sophomore 

Shake, Take, Send,
Awake, Beneath, the End.
Flames, Heat, Burn,
Practice, Communication, Turns.
His response fuels me.

 Up, Slack, or in Between,
His Dick is Mine to See.
From Above, Below, or the Side,
My Pussy is His to Decide.
Our Bodies set us Free. 

 Touch, Bite, Grab,
Tie, Bind, Gag.
Thrust, Moan, Scream,
Hang me up from your Beam.
Don’t make me Plea. 

 Cum, Cum, Cum,
Sweat, Breathing, Numb.
Satisfied, Pleased, Relax,
My Nails have left Tracks. 

I love when We Make Whoopee.

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 by Anonymous 

 This year was my first pride ever. Even if the heat was a bit too much, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have fun. I received enthusiastic waves, heard campy screams, smiled under stares from protesters (at least one was an actual Nazi), and developed a large blister on my pinky toe. I sat at a booth with my friends and sold tank tops while we reveled in our queerness. The misery of a burgeoning Tennessee summer was diminished. A week later I am living an alternate version of Richard III, now is the summer of my discontent, and it started with pride.

 Let’s start with the “easy” issues. Underneath all the rainbow colors, pride is white. Two nightclub floats and countless drag queens but no organization there took the time to remind us that TPOC (Google now) lives matter. There were also plenty of cute Babadook pins and signs at pride this year. I did not see a single sign, shirt, pin, or even a God-damned brick that gave any credit to Marsha P. Johnson (Again, Google now). I work with a person who was part of a float for a local “gay” organization. When I saw him at work after pride I asked, “How many people of color are in your organization?” After some thought, he replied that there were no regular black members and maybe a few Latinx or Hispanic members. Maybe.
 

 If you think this piece has taken on an angry tone, you would be right. However, do not confuse my frustration with self-righteousness. I am a white queer, so I am guilty of doing fucked up things too. One thing I do know that I can do right is shut up (Depression helps with that). So, this is for my fellow white people, queer or not. Shut. The. Fuck. Up. Listen to what POC are saying and asking you to do because we will never understand the challenges they go through.
 

 Up next is the fragile masculinity that is pervasive through our whole society, but I am just going to address the queer folks (especially the gays). I’ll provide a little “rule” for this one. If you enjoy/compliment/caress my arm in front of all my friends (it happened) while I am in drag, but you think I am too feminine to take on a date. You. Are. An. Asshole. Now, wasn’t that easy to understand? Just in case, I’ll expand. If someone (again, looking specifically at the white cisgender gays) is too feminine for you, it means that you have internalized misogynistic beliefs and are projecting at least one of those onto the person you are belittling. If you still don’t get it or want more information Google now.
 

 To top off my whole pride experience, I am struggling with my depression. I know I am far from alone in the queer community with this struggle, and recently, I have been somewhat thankful for this challenge. All the terrible thoughts and feelings that come with depression make it hard to have any self-confidence. But you know what? When a queen finds it hard to wear her crown, she learns about humility and the struggles her fellow monarchs face. As we move forward and learn to wear our crowns, let’s remember our history, actually listen to POC, and respect the queens. If you still don’t get it (even after Googling), then it’s time for you to sashay away.

Barriers to Romance

By a Fifth Year Senior

To be sexually active, step one is always going to be in starting a relationship, whether it’s a long term romance or a consensual one night stand. But it’s not always that easy. Obviously it’s harder for people who are shy, or insecure, but that’s not what keeps me from dating.

I’m autistic.

I don’t have aspergers per say, but at a young age I was diagnosed with high functioning autism. Social interaction is extremely difficult for me. I’m awkward, I have irrational levels of social anxiety, and there are social cues that I simply can’t pick up on. Whether it’s a close friend, family member, or a total stranger, I struggle to even look someone in the eyes when I’m talking to them.

It doesn’t happen often, but in the past girls have even told me directly that they liked me, girls that I kind of liked as well, but I always freeze up in terror when that happens. It’s an extreme semi-irrational sort of terror. I don’t know what to say, or how to say it, or how to act moving forward. I just stammer until I find a reason to leave the conversation, after that I’d struggle to say even a single word to her in the future. I could barely say hi.

For me, it’s easiest to be comfortable when I’m alone, but I still long for love and sex just as much anyone else. I’ve been single and abstinent my whole life, not by choice, but by circumstance.

Sex Week has had a lot of great events in the past. There have been events dealing with what you can do with your partner, and what you can do alone. There have been events dealing with religion and sex, such as the choice to be abstinent. There have been events about sexual health, safety, and preference.

But in addition to these important topics, in the future I’d love to see events geared toward people like me. There need to be events for people who have their own barriers to romance that they desperately want to overcome, in order to live a fuller happier life.