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Building Bridges: Sexual Orientation Shifts

Time for another installment of Building Bridges, where we facilitate, then publish a conversation between two people in different life stages who have something with gender, sexuality and/or relationships in common. This time, our intergenerational pair is two women who have had their sexual orientation and identity shift for them during the course of their lives.

Amy & Candice: Shifting Sexual Orientation

Amy, 24: I came out as a lesbian at 14 and was, as I call it, "a Professional Gay" for a long time. I interned for activist organizations, ran the GSA at my high school, got a scholarship from a local LGBT organization for my activism and went on to a women's college where I eventually became co-chair of the LGBT organization on campus. I was, as a friend once said "her definition of gay."

Looking back, I struggled with liking guys for a long time, which sounds so backwards in the way that people think of sexual orientation transitions. I felt a strong connection and loyalty to th

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Building Bridges: Childhood Sexual Abuse

We hear a lot about generational divides. What we hear much less about are the bridges: how people of different generations can and do connect; how we can support and help one another and each offer the other things of great value. Just as often as a given experience, or even life as a whole, is different for people of one generation and those of another, there are also some things that are or have been the same, and all have our own wisdom to share, whatever our age may be.

People of different generations are not incapable of connecting or understanding each other, despite the way so much media can often make it sound that way, or the despite day-to-day frustrations and challenges we have probably all experienced with one another when trying to connect.

Often I am asked to explain things about one generation to another, illustrating differences as well as common ground to each. I often find myself telling people of one age group how to try and better understand the other; making app

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How do I make these erections stop!?!

chris10 asks:

I'm 16, I get erections very easily. When I make out with girls I get them, or if I massage private areas not meaning her vagina. I notice when we're done that I have ejaculated. I don't even feel this happen. I don't feel super excited it just happens! I try to think about different things but it doesn't work! I hope you can help, thanks.

New Series: Would Love Your Help!

I'd like to start a new series at Scarleteen to address some unique first-person experiences while also looking at generational differences and similarities, divides and bridges. All too often, people with shared experiences but of different ages talk past or over each other; have a hard time connecting and seeing where they connect, where they don't and landing in a place where we can all respect each other's experiences, no matter how different we may be.

Ideally, how I'd like this to go is to get two people of different generations -- one under 25, one over 40 -- for each of the following themes/experiences in the list below. Rather than myself or other staff asking the questions or leading the topic, I'd like each of those two people to write out five questions for the other, then each answer the questions they were asked, adding more if needed during that back-and-forth conversation, and we'll edit it all together into something polished and cohesive.

What's the point? First to

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Did I have sex? Did I lose my virginity?

Roxanne asks:

I'm 14. My boyfriend rubbed his penis on my vulva and I rubbed my vagina on his penis, but we were both wearing our underwear. Am I still a virgin? Was it sex? I don't even know what it was... I don't want to lose my virginity at such a young age! I hope I didn't lose my virginity to him! Can someone please tell me?

I feel like my body is wrong, but my parents say my feelings are wrong.

LondonIsABurningFire asks:

I'm a girl, but I've always felt like I'm in the wrong body. Every time I picture myself, I see a boy. I want to get a sex change, but I know how much it can cost. My parents are also Catholic, and are already angry about me not being religious, and every time I try to bring up the subject, they get angry and tell me that I was "made a girl", so I should only feel like one, and that everything else I feel is wrong. But my friends are very supportive, and I even have a guy friend who wants to be a girl. Who do I listen to?

One of the 80 million ways young people are my s/heroes

On top of doing what I do here at Scarleteen (and everything else I do), I also do some outreach sexuality and sexual rights education for a youth homeless shelter here in Seattle. My partner also now works full-time at that shelter, and when he came home last night and filled me in on some things that had gone on that day, I got struck very hard in the gut with some feelings I hadn't fully realized for myself until then, both about that work and the young people there, but also about some of my experiences with some of the users at Scarleteen.

So, I wrote the residents there a letter this morning that I'd also like to share with you, because the way I feel about them is also the way I feel about plenty of you. Because most of Scarleteen happens online, very few of our users are currently homeless or transient, but some have been or will be. In addition, plenty over the years have shared similar struggles, either being in the foster care system or in unsafe homes, surviving loss, ass

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What I Really, Really Want for My 40th Birthday

You probably already know I'm the founder and executive director of Scarleteen. (If not, hello! Lovely meeting you.) You might not know that on Sunday I'm turning 40.

I don't normally ask the internet for birthday prezzies, but 40 is a big freaking birthday. When I was the age of most of the young people I counsel now, I had it in my head I wouldn't live past 36. I've become the adult I didn't even think I would be around to be. When someone asked me what I wanted last week for my birthday, what I felt I really wanted, in my heart of hearts, was the kind of world I'd truly prefer to live in and want for young people, particularly around sexuality, their bodies and their relationships. I want the world I've been working very hard to try and create. Big birthdays deserve big gifts, right?

Of course, no one can just snap their fingers and give that to me. But there is something small each of you can do to plant some seeds for it, and I'm going to go ahead and be a noodge and ask you for

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Q is for Questioning

What's it mean to be questioning, why would you or someone else identify that way, how do you deal in the process and how might you answer the question?

What Safer Sex Isn't

Maybe you know what safer sex is. But do you also know what it isn't? Take a minute and fact-check your ideas about what can protect you from STIs and what cannot.

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