The Feminine in Religion

The Christian Right’s archaic beliefs about women were evident in the recent presidential election with women’s right to health care and the right to choose an abortion were put on the line. All  throughout history organized religions have done much to control women, including everything from almost destroying our sense of  self worth to teaching us that our sexuality is a sin.

But where did all of this loathing come from? From the earliest days of the Judeo-Christian beliefs.

According to the Old Testament of the Holy Bible, Eve is the reason for man’s downfall. Oh wow, Satan tempted Eve in the form of a snake, but it was Eve who gave into the temptation. Then she allegedly convinced Adam to commit a sin, resulting in both of them being rejected from the Garden of Eden.

The Muslims go one step further, blaming women for man’s inability to control his sexual desires, the result being that women are not permitted to show any skin or hair while out in public.

In the Kabbalist Jewish beliefs, Lilith was the first woman, not Eve. Supposedly, she refused to be submissive to Adam and so was thrown out into the cosmos where she finally met up with Lucifer, who, enticed by her tenacity, took her for his own wife.

Anyone with an open mind can see the paradigm of prejudice taking place. Women are blamed for all of mankind’s downfalls and men are the innocent victims. Eve may have enticed Adam but she didn’t make him do it, yet, it is the woman that is cursed. According to these myths, Lilith is thrown out as worthless because she was strong enough to see the injustice in having to be subservient.

Sexuality is a normal part of being human. It can be considered a manifestation of God to experience love and to (pro)create. Yet, most organized religions try to control even this, having us to believe that our basic human needs are evil. Jesus Christ is considered by Christians to be the savior of humanity, yet his legend had to be free of any and all sexuality. Even his birth is believed by Christians to be sex free, born to a virgin. Christ himself is believed to have remained a virgin throughout his lifetime. But, why? Why is the thought of a sexually active savior so feared?

Religion has done plenty to restrain women’s rights and the right to sexual freedom. Consider The Inquisition. This period of Christian history is filled with torture and murder in the name of God. Women who knew something about medicinal herbs or the art of being a midwife were in danger of being called “witch.” The  “crime” of witchcraft was punished by torture and burning at the stake.

Can the feminine in religion be saved? To find the answer we must look back to the very beginnings of human history.

In ancient Egypt, the Goddess’ stature was equal to the God. The concept of the Goddess played an important part in everyday life. The ancient pagans and wiccans worshipped the Goddess and women priestesses were common. According to pagan and wiccan beliefs, the Goddess and thus women, have stronger spiritual power during certain times of the year.

In the last two decades, wiccan and pagan beliefs have been on the rise. They are all around us, yet they tend to remain cloaked. Why? For the very reason that Christians and Muslims still see women as wicked in one way or another. Women have no reason to fear torture and death, or do we?  To find the answer, we only have to look as far as modern day  Muslim countries where women can have acid thrown on their faces or be stoned to death because of a mere accusation made by a man.

We must remain vigilant in our work for spiritual equality. We won a few victories in the past election. But, it was a close call. Still, women spoke up and were heard. We can do the same for our spiritual freedom, and at the same time consider not just American women but women all over the world.  There is power in numbers and we must mobilize.


Trevor Project Working for a Better Future for All Youth

The Trevor Project was founded in 1998 by the creators of the film “Trevor“: James Lecense, Peggy Rajeskim and Randy Stone. The Academy Award-winning film is about a young boy dealing with being bullied while undergoing self-discovery about his sexual identity. The three creators soon found out that there was little (if any) support for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth facing the same types of crisis as Trevor. In response to this, the filmmakers founded The Trevor Project., now a leader  in providing crises intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBT youth.

TREVORSPACE is the largest online network of LGTBQ youth with over 45,000 members in 138 countries. The community continues to grow with  over 1,000 new people joining every month. AskTrevor is a non-emergency Q&A platform which receives about 200 letters per month. Trevor also offers online counseling and the suicide prevention hotline, Trevor Lifeline, which has received 200,000 calls since its’ inception. Lifeline handles on average 100 calls a day, 2,900 calls a month, 35,000 calls per year. Trevorchat is a live chat geared towards depressed or suicidal youth and it serves 6000 youths a year.  If you feel depressed or suicidal (or know a friend or family member who is) please do not hesitate to call the Lifeline at 866-488-7386. Trevor Project’s Senior Education Manager Nathan Belyeu took time recently to talk to VenusPlusX.            

Why do you think there is so little political discourse on LGBTQ youth?

Belyeu: This is a really interesting question. Current research has shown that LGBTQ people are starting to come out younger than they once did. Organizations such as The Trevor Project are working hard along with our partners to increase awareness and understanding regarding the LGBTQ youth community and make sure that our youth’s voices are heard by our elected representatives.

Why is suicide among LGBTQ youth increasing?

Belyeu: Suicide is a very complex issue. Only 60% of all youth in the U.S. who need mental health care actually get it. When we talk specifically about LGBTQ youth, they often face additional stressors which place them at increased risk for suicide including issues related to coming out, bias, and victimization on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, and a lack of supportive communities.

When you add the influence of stressors like prejudice, fear, and hate to things that affect all youth, such as lack of access to appropriate mental health care and resources, LGBTQ youth are at an increased risk for suicide attempts. This is why The Trevor Project offers crisis intervention services that are accessible 24/7 (The Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386); instant messaging with a counselor through TrevorChat; a social networking community for LGBTQ youth (; education programs that teach both students and adults how to help recognize warning signs and help a person get the help they need (Trevor Lifeguard and CARE workshops); and, so much more.

How are the public schools systems dealing with LGBTQ youth Are they even equipped to handle the subject?

Belyeu: Many schools across the country are providing support to LGBTQ youth through staff education and training, education for students regarding LGBTQ issues, and by creating supportive spaces and groups for LGBTQ students and their allies. A large percentage of our schools across the country, however, still have a lot of work to do to create spaces that are supportive and safe for all students to learn and reach their educational goals. The Trevor Project provides a variety of resources for school administrators and staff including direct education for staff and students, the Trevor Lifeguard and CARE workshops, as well as resources which can be requested from our website

Have popular shows such as Glee and United States of Tara been effective in bringing LGBTQ issues into the mainstream?

Belyeu: We know from research that having positive role models and positive media representations of LGBTQ people and allies helps create a broader awareness and understanding of LGBTQ people and the community as a whole.

There are so many youths that end up homeless once they come out to their parents. What programs are there for these youths?

Belyeu: Homelessness is most certainly a problem for many LGBTQ young people. Many cities across the country are starting to understand the special needs of LGBTQ youth and are responding by providing resources for shelters that are inclusive and supportive of LGBTQ young people. Organizations like Trevor: Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays (PFLAG) and the Family Acceptance Project  are working hard to assist families in the process of being accepting and supportive of their LGBTQ youth, hopefully decreasing the amount of LGBTQ young people who end up homeless nationwide.

What types of support groups would you like to see established in local communities?

Belyeu: The Trevor Project is working hard to provide resources for LGBTQ young people nationwide through our services, but it is very important that resources and support services exist locally, where youth can access them and can feel accepted at home. One form that this often takes is GSAs (Gay Straight Alliances) in schools and universities. In locations where schools are not providing this type of support network, many LGBTQ and allied adults are successfully starting youth support groups to provide safe and affirmative places.

How can our readers support the Trevor Project?

Belyeu: There are a variety of ways, including volunteer opportunities that you can participate in to help LGBTQ youth nationwide and in your local community; events that you can attend to support our mission and goals; as well as various ways to support our work financially. To learn more about how to be engaged visit our website: .

Do you think that campaigns such as “It Gets Better” are effective?

Belyeu: When paired with other resources such as those provided by The Trevor Project and other organizations, programs and campaigns like these can certainly be part of a holistic approach to increase awareness and visibility regarding LGBTQ youth and the unique issues they face. It Gets Better is also an excellent way to showcase the unique strength and resiliency within the LGBTQ community.

What type of future do you hope for in regards to LGBTQ youth? Do you think it is reachable within today’s generation?

Belyeu: I really love The Trevor Project’s Vision Statement, “A future where the possibilities, opportunities, and dreams are the same for all youth, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.” Every day the staff and volunteers at The Trevor Project are working hard to make sure that vision becomes a reality by saving lives, building community, and changing society and culture so that all youth have a bright future.



Half-Drag Photos Spark International Conversation on Sexual Identity

Leland Bobbé  is a New York photographer who has found himself at the center of attention in the Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, and Bisexual (LGBT) community. His amazing  Half Drag  photos are split down the middle with one side showing a man without makeup and sometimes even with a beard. The other side shows the same man in full drag including makeup, hair, and jewelry, taking viewers instantly into the juxtaposition.

We wanted to know more about how the photos came about. Were they just photo-shopped or were two different photos pieced together? No, says Bobbé, “they were all done with one shot,” which means that the makeup is done that precisely.

Perhaps no one is more surprised at the popularity of Half Drag series than Bobbé himself. “I never expected this to go viral in the way it has. It has taken off beyond my expectations,” although they were meant to provide a provocative social commentary on gender identity, normative ideas about gender roles, and the traditional male/ female paradigm.

The importance of his work reaches beyond the LGBT community — it has had an impact on many people’s understanding of sexual orientation and gender expression. Straight men and women are caught by surprise at the work. The transition from drag to man is severe, yet beautiful. It apparently makes people question their own concept of gender, sparking an  international conversation on the subject.

Madame Rosebud Neo Burlesque

His portrait series of burlesque artists had a showing at New York’s Museum of Sex. These photos are more than just portraits, they strip away the glitz and glamour of the stage — leaving only the true human condition. Portraits such as Madame Renee Rosewood put a face to popular fantasies such as S&M. “I shot these portraits from 2009 – 2011, as classic portraits so they would look very real and honest, not posed and glitzy like most of the burlesque performer portraits I’ve seen,” said Bobbé.

When asked where he finds the amazing people who are the subjects of his work, he said, “Sometimes I find people on the streets, in stores, Facebook, anywhere I see someone that looks interesting. For my Half-Drag project I found most of my subjects through Facebook.” He finds inspiration in classic music and movies and lists  the Beatles, Pretenders, Ramones and The Godfather movies as his favorites. “I like them all for different reasons but they all contribute to my attitude and state of mind.” If he could photograph anyone, dead or alive, it would be John Lennon.

Vivienne Pinay Half Drag portrait

So what is his next project? “I m working on a project called New York City Wall Art. These shots are of New York city walls with layers of peeled posters that when isolated become very interesting to look at.”

Blow the Whistle on Stop and Frisk Today


The Stop Mass Incarceration Network will be blowing the whistle on the NYPDs “stop and frisk” program. It is estimated that every day 2,000 New Yorkers 2000 of color get unconstitutionally stopped by police in the war on drugs. Organizers Carl Dix and Cornel West are calling on thousands of people in New York and nationwide to respond to the NYPD’s racial profiling by blowing a whistle. On September 13, whistles and palm cards will be distributed with instructions for people to blow whistles when they see the police violating the rights of citizens of color.

Get yourself a whistle and do the same in your city. I’m going to, I see it all the time.
Police bias and profiling of all sorts must be stopped. The result is that a person of color is 5.6 times more likely be become an ex-felon for a minor offense that his white counterparts do with impunity. VenusPlusX has been writing about stop and frisk, mass incarceration, and the for-profit prison industry that feeds on this in Mass Incarceration: Follow the Money, Part 1 and Part 2.