Airial Clark

Hey, baby


LIT A new children’s book with a social justice, all-inclusive approach to reproduction? To anyone who might question the need for such a thing, look no further than Toronto-based sexual health educator and writer Cory Silverberg‘s enormously successful crowdfunding campaign to get it published: $65,000 in one month. Not too bad to kickstart a picture book, eh?

Silverberg, along with illustrator Fiona Smyth, noticed that the existing resources for parents to explain to preschool-aged children where they came from are by default heterosexual and gender binary-based, thus excluding many families and children. These books also don’t provide much guidance on topics like adoption or alternative fertilization methods. Silverberg’s fundraising campaign gave LGBT parents an opportunity to prove demand for a factual, age-appropriate, children’s book inclusive to all families regardless of how many people were involved, what the orientation, gender identity, or other make up of the family is, or how it came to be that way.

Parents in the Bay Area offered a lot of the support. Dr. Sonja Mackenzie, faculty at the Health Equity Institute and Center for Research and Education on Gender and Sexuality (CREGS) at San Francisco State University is a queer parent of two children, aged three and seven. Dr. Mackenzie started looking for resources about birth and reproduction when her daughter was two and she was pregnant with her second child. She and her partner sought out media providing age-appropriate but real information about reproduction that reflected their two-mom family structure. For years they found nothing.

Which is why when she saw the What Makes A Baby campaign, she pre-ordered copies for their daughter’s first grade class and their son’s preschool class. Dr. Mackenzie said her favorite parts of the book are the questions that ask children to reflect on “who helped bring together the sperm and the egg that made you?” — because of the possibilities for varied family structures that question allows for. That, she says, “is beyond what we have ever seen represented in children’s books.” She also notes the tear-jerker at the close of the book that asks, “Who was waiting for you to be born?” alongside a depiction of many and varied people surrounding a baby.

Bay Area backer Vicki Hudson, parent to two kids aged four and one, also started looking for books when her wife was pregnant with their second child. What Makes A Baby “enables many different types of families to feel represented. Our story was there.” She also appreciated the physiological accuracy of the preschool material. Hudson believes that using accurate reproductive terms empowers children.

Another family structure included in the story’s framework is that of a single parent household. Hilary Brooks of Berkeley is a single mother by choice, whose five-year-old daughter has a known sperm donor. Brooks was excited about the book because she was “ecstatic to see this entry for young children… it’s more accurate, includes everyone, and will not alienate many of the children it needs to reach.” Once she received her copy she was not disappointed, “I love that love is included in this book, and that it is reframed as love for every child from their family — instead of originating in hetero lovemaking, like it was in the sex-ed books I read growing up.” Which is a main premise of Silverberg’s work, to provide a sexual education resource that is straight friendly, but is also for the parents who don’t have anything else right now.

Are mainstream publishers beginning to recognize this demand? There’s still an overwhelming amount of stigma associated with any book related to alternative sexuality. Despite the actual facts of life, books like What Makes A Baby are still too risky for mainstream publishers, it seems. Or maybe it just takes a little pitch in a language they understand. After the outpouring of immediate and public financial support for Silverberg’s book, he was approached by multiple publishing houses, and has signed a three-book deal with Seven Stories Press, beginning with What Makes A Baby. Silverberg’s next volume might well be What Makes a Book Contract.


Fri/12, 7:30 reception, free. 8:30 workshop, $10-$50 sliding scale

Center for Sex and Culture

1349 Mission, SF.

(415) 902-2071

Starting slow and ramping up


SEX It’s the end of an era at local sex toy and education company Good Vibrations: Dr. Charlie Glickman is stepping down from his position as education program manager for the national retailer.

But Glickman is leaving for another adult education adventure: bringing the joys of prostate play to mainstream society. Joining up with San Francisco-based sex educator, Aislinn Emirzian, Glickman has co-authored The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure; Erotic Exploration for Men and Their Partners, set to be published by Cleis Press in February. The book is all about easy and pleasurable anal play, prostate massage, toys, pegging and anal intercourse, positions, common concerns, and safer sex techniques.

Glickman told the Guardian in an interview about that the book has been in the works for years. Though it’s not the first guide to prostate play, he feels as though he’s tapping into the zeitgeist, that our culture is finally ready for pegging and prostate pleasuring.

The man should know. Since 1996, the sex educator has been on the frontlines of trying to get accurate sexual health information to the Bay Area, and has taught many a prostate class through Good Vibes. His book release party on Thu/31 kicks off a North American prostate play workshop tour sponsored by the sex toy company, and looks to target an audience that mirrors the people who have shown up in Glickman’s sex ed workshops throughout the years: male-female couples, solo women, gay men, the college-aged to senior citizens.

Throughout the course of their research, the book’s authors interviewed over 200 men of all sexual orientations and their partners to capture a wide spectrum of perspectives on how prostate play expands one’s sexual menu, and what holds men back from experiencing its joys. Pegging is the term used to describe men being penetrated by women, often within a heterosexual context. Glickman and Emirzian’s guide is both a 101 on prostate anatomy and sensation, and an examination of the stigmas associated with prostate play.

But one’s prostate play comfort level is not determined by one’s sexuality alone, according to the authors. Reluctance to experiment — even among gay men — can be due to a perceived threat to masculine identity with which anal penetration is often associated.

Glickman says that the first challenge to exploring prostate pleasure exists on a physical level. “For most straight men, and topping queer men, sex happens outside your body as penis-oriented sex.”

“The basic story goes like this,” he continues in the guide. “Real men don’t get fucked — that’s for women, fags, and sissies. Because receiving penetration is usually viewed as the woman’s role in sex, a man may be worried that he isn’t fulfilling the man’s role if he takes a turn catching instead of pitching.”

Leaving the “get it up, get it in, get it off” mentality behind and moving into a receptive role can result in a new feeling of vulnerability. But men can expand the scope of what sex means to them by exploring the world of prostate play. According to Glickman, letting go of ass-based insecurity can open up a whole new world of sexual pleasure.

“Many straight men have said ‘I tried this and it completely changed our sex life,'” Glickman says. Getting to know the prostate can be a game changer.

And The Ultimate Guide is far from being a book for straight men. Glickman and Emirzian are adamant that most gay porn doesn’t adequately explore prostate stimulation, and the guide is also geared towards homosexual men — and for prostate players from the beginner to the advanced.

For example, in the chapter titled, “Prostate Massage,” one can learn all about how to use fingers properly: “When it comes to the prostate, poking is exactly what you don’t want to do! It may have felt great on your shoulder just now, but the prostate is another matter entirely,” says the guide. “We’ve spoken with a lot of men who complained about finger tips poking and stabbing their prostate, which can feel too intense, uncomfortable, or even painful.”

That chapter also includes sections on “starting slow and ramping up” and “rhythm and variety.” Another common misnomer that Glickman puts some ink towards correcting is the idea that bigger is always better when it comes to butt play. Did you know there is a difference between anal sensation and prostate stimulation? While anal sensations are affected by size of penetrating object, incredible prostate pleasure can be found with just one finger or a finger-sized toy. Tips like these aren’t meant to reduce men’s anxiety about being penetrated, especially those who have only seen anal sex in porn.

The book seeks to address both psycho-social concerns while providing practical how-to advice by carefully delineating between the multiple ways that the prostate can be stimulated and sexual orientation.

Another quote from the text: “The important thing to know is that whether you like anal penetration is about what kinds of sexual stimulation work for you; who you want to do it with is about your sexual orientation. While there can be some correlation between the two, one doesn’t imply anything about the other. If you’re gay and you don’t like anal play, you’re still gay. If you’re straight (or bi or any other sexual orientation) and you enjoy it, that doesn’t make you gay.”


Thu/31, 6:30-8:30 p.m., free

Good Vibrations

603 Valencia, SF

(415) 522-5460


Creating our own traditions


HOLIDAY GUIDE Hold onto your butts, sweethearts, ’tis the season. Your kids are about to be out of school, your extended family is about to fly in, and your alone time is about to dwindle down to a nub.

Don’t fear, we’ve got you covered.

This holiday guide is designed specifically for LGBTQ families, sex-positive families, and other parents who don’t fit into the monogamous, heteronormative mold. Why? Most holiday advice directed at families comes with a heaping dose of heterosexism. Plus, feeling isolated from larger community networks — a common experience for parents — is especially prevalent among parents with sexual identities that reside outside the norm. That feeling of not being connected can result in stress on alt-families during the holiday season.

But not this season! This year we’ve got tips, a recipe, and events to keep you loving your queer, kinky, radical-parenting self.


The easiest way to stay sane during the holidays is to maximize the friends and family you’ve already got. If you’re not careful, a house full of holiday guests can seriously cut down on the already limited amount of sexytime parents are allotted.

So don’t think that you have to be the one to take your children to the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band’s Dance-Along Nutcracker. Try to get your in-laws to do it, while you squeeze in a quickie with your partner or have a grown-up play date with your friend with benefits. Sure, you still have to wrap the kids’ presents — but you should really have someone unwrap your clothing first.

In this truly unique SF version of the Nutcracker, the audience dances along while the Freedom Band plays Tchaikovsky’s classical suite. Tutus are available for rent on site.

Dec. 8, 2:30 p.m. and Dec. 9, 1pm, $25 for adults, $16 for children and seniors.


The best part about being a non-traditional parent is that we create the rituals. Here’s two family-focused events that each seek to empower parents.

At Rad Dad Zine’s 23rd issue release party — celebrating an end-of-the-year issue appropriately titled “Making Family” — parents will do short readings from the zine, followed by a discussion on radical parenting at this kid-friendly community gathering. Parenting norms? Hmph, let’s go poke at stick at them.

Dec. 15, 5-7pm, free. The Holdout, 2313 San Pablo, Oakl.

You’re encouraged to “bring the foods and holiday traditions that make this season meaningful to your family” to the annual Our Family Winter Solstice Party. This year, the LGBTQ group is partnering with San Francisco Recreation and Parks to hold the celebration at the Eureka Valley Recreation Center, where the party will feature a magician, the group’s legendary multi-table gingerbread-making station, and other arts and crafts.

Dec. 16, noon-2:30pm, free. Eureka Valley Recreation Center, 100 Collingwood, SF.


I encourage potluck-style casual dinners with other families during the holiday season. It doesn’t have to be a big production, and if it’s other parents who are coming over, your house doesn’t even have to be super-clean. (They get it.) Just offering a space to gather is an important contribution, and if it goes well, next time around a different family can host.

At the best family holiday potluck I ever went to, the kids made all the food. My sons were six and seven at the time, and weren’t allowed to use sharp knives or the stove, as was the case for most of the other children in our little after school collective. We found easy, no-cook recipes that they could make with very little assistance from their grown-ups.

The variety of dishes we wound up with was hilarious and festive — probably not the most balanced meal ever cooked, but nutritional concerns took a back seat to the pride the kids felt in sharing food they had made themselves. The hands-down favorite dish of the evening was this little number:



1 package instant vanilla pudding mix

1 container frozen whipped topping, thawed

3 cups milk

1 package graham cracker squares

1 package prepared chocolate frosting

1 package holiday M&M’s


Whisk together the pudding mix, whipped topping, and milk. Arrange as you would a lasagna, with a single layer of graham cracker squares in the bottom of a 13×9 inch baking pan. Drop spoonfuls of the pudding mixture over the crackers, leaving about half in the bowl. Then add another layer of crackers and the remaining mixture. Top with the last of crackers. Spread the frosting over the whole cake, up to the edges of the pan. Place M&M’s on the frosting. Cover, and chill at least four hours before serving.


No holiday guide would be complete without the perfect gift recommendation. I’m bestowing this honor on Santa Rosa-based Calliope Designs’s personalized holiday ornaments. The company has been making them for over 30 years, and its website specifically states how happy it is to make ornaments for LGBTQ families: “We know that families come in all shapes and sizes and are happy to present ornaments to the gay and lesbian partners and families all over the world.” How can you not adore that?


Regardless of if you’re having sex alone or with a partner, your sexuality matters. That can mean prioritizing some grown-up time at one of the great sex-ed classes offered by Good Vibrations. I’ve heard that sometimes attendees leave with a free gift! The only challenge is that classes are during prime “must be at home with the kids” time. How to resolve? Do a childcare swap that includes dinner. One day a week, you host the brood, then later in the week your parent-ally can host. Maybe you can even attend a Good Vibes “Humpday Happy Hour” workshop. Every Wednesday you can find a free sexuality workshop at one of the store’s Bay Area locations. Here are two upcoming classes that I highly recommend:

“The Art of Clitoral Stimulation” Dec. 6, 6:30-7:30pm, free. Good Vibrations, 1620 Polk, SF;”50 Shades of Play” Dec. 12, 6:30-7:30pm, free. Good Vibrations, 603 Valencia, SF. (415) 522-5460,

Airial Clark is the Sex-Positive Parent, an East Bay sex educator who teaches workshops on raising kids outside heteronormative models of family. Read more about her work at