hobbies "or the fact that you both like to cook" can bring two people "really, really close without sex ever being a serious issue."
And there might still be some physical contact. Many asexuals have "cuddle buddies," or friends they may hug and kiss or share a bed with. An asexual who has several cuddle buddies is called a "snuggle slut" — which is how Jay labels himself. "I'm a total asexual slut," he said. "Really the distinction between friends and 'more than friends' is an arbitrary social one. ... Rather than figure out which one person I'm going to call my 'partner,' I've been making charts just to keep track of who are all the people that matter in my life and why they matter."
But in dating, how does an asexual come out of the closet? While Henry has no problem revealing his no-sex rule "on the second or third date," some AVEN-ites are truly intimidated about sharing their sexual identity. "One guy I told refused to believe me and could not accept it and accused me of talking a load of bullsh--," Shortass Lady posted. More painfully, Nick007 revealed, "Sometimes I think it would be easier to explain to people if I had lost my penis in some kind of accident instead of telling them that I'm asexual."
"Everybody knows inside of himself or herself, 'There's a core of someone who I am, and I deserve respect for that,' " said Anne Stockwell, editor of gay magazine The Advocate. "I think that is an extension of our civil rights. ... If there's one thing gay people have heard it's, 'Well, you just haven't met the right guy yet,' or, 'You haven't met the right girl yet.' "
There are marked differences between the gay-rights movement and asexuality, of course. While the very term "asexual" is only a few years old and still controversial, the gay community has been fighting for its rights for decades, facing professional discrimination and physical violence along the way. But much of the language AVEN uses to describe the movement for asexual "visibility" comes straight out of the gay-rights playbook mommylovescock.
Jay himself says he "learned to be an activist" working with the gay community as a teen. "We don't have people who are physically attacking us the way that gay people have for a long time, thankfully," he says. "We just have people that are telling us that asexuality doesn't exist."
A low sex drive can also have medical causes — including low testosterone in men — and can even be linked to a history of sexual abuse. "For someone in their 20s who thinks they might be asexual, it's really important for them to ask themselves a lot of tough questions," said Los Angeles sex therapist Alex Katehakis. "Like, 'Why do I want to be asexual?' And conversely, 'What scares me about being sexual?' "
AVEN counsels members to "definitely see a doctor" — especially if someone's experienced a sudden lack of lust.
But the point of AVEN, Jay maintains, is to offer people a different way of defining themselves, free from society's focus on our sex lives. "We don't make you sign a pledge that says you'll identify as asexual for your entire life," Jay said. " 'Asexuality' is a word that you use to describe yourself. If it fits today, then use it. If it doesn't fit next week, then stop using it."
MONTREAL -- It has the names of two saints in it, but the intersection of Ste. Catherine Street and St. Laurent Boulevard is about the most unholy spot in the city of Montreal. Hustlers, strippers, runaways, ladies-of-the-night -- they've been parading at the crossroads of Montreal's two most famous streets for more than a century.
The streets form a gateway to Montreal's legendary lower Main, a seedy, neon-lit strip known for activities that range from mainstream to outright illegal.
Now, city officials have the strip earmarked for a makeover. The city has just cleared a legal hurdle to expropriate a building at the intersection that houses a peep show and other "adult" businesses. It wants to demolish the property and replace it with a $20-million cultural centre sheathed in glass and lights, a move the city hopes will take some of the XXX out of Montreal's traditional red-light district and help launch a reborn entertainment district in its place.
"It will create an irreversible ?lan not just for culture, but the whole area," said Benoit Labont?, mayor of Montreal's downtown Ville Marie borough. "It will be the beginning of a very big phase of urban renewal."
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But some fear that in the process of cleaning up the lower Main, Montreal's soul and heritage could be washed away too. The lower Main, as St. Laurent around Ste. Catherine is known, has been the street of non-conformity since about the founding of the city. During Prohibition, the strip was famous continent-wide for its extravagant vaudeville and cabaret shows that continued into the wee hours, including a 3 a.m. "milkman's matinee."
"St. Laurent is Montreal's street of tolerance par excellence. You could allow things there that you couldn't allow elsewhere else," said Jean-Marc Larrue, author of Les Nuits de la "Main", a history of cultural life on the street.
"The police didn't go there. The Church didn't go there. It escaped the normal rules of morality.
"That's why you'd find stripteases on St. Laurent, you'd find gambling and prostitution. There were no rules on St. Laurent. And what's there today is the continuity of what has always been there. mommylovescock"
Much illicit activity was swept away under the vice-clearing broom of Mayor Jean Drapeau in the 1950s, but some old-style businesses live on. Caf? Cleopatra still attracts crowds for its drag shows and strippers. The famous Montreal Pool Room, seemingly frozen in time since it was opened by a penniless Bulgarian immigrant in 1912, serves up 96-cent "steamie" hot dogs on deeply worn Formica countertops.
Dinu Bumbaru of Heritage Montreal says city planners have to be careful they don't throw out the baby with their urban-renewal bathwater.
"St. Laurent is one of the most significant heritage streets in the city. It's a sinful place, but it's a soulful place too," Mr. Bumbaru said. "We run a risk of sanitizing it.
"The street has its problems -- we shouldn't be naive -- but it's a bouillon, something very alive. We run the risk of erasing that reality."
Some wonder if renewal will leave room for the old-style, even historic, businesses. Importations Main, an old-fashioned grocery selling Middle Eastern specialties, was the first business in Canada to import olives and feta cheese. Today, Th?r?se Haddad stands behind her bins of cashews and dried fruit and wonders what will happen to the business started by her husband's family in 1917.
"St. Laurent has a special cachet and if it will change it's too bad, because they'll erase all the small businesses like ours," said Mrs. Haddad, as her 80-year-old husband, Teddy, who's about to retire, stood nearby. "I worry they want to get rid of us for their big projects."
Mr. Labont? and other leaders say they aren't trying to play vice squad or chase anyone away. But he, along with arts, tourism and business leaders, say Montreal needs a focal point and boost for its cultural activities.
A vast area around the lower Main has already been branded Montreal's Quartier des Spectacles -- entertainment district -- and refitted with widened sidewalks and new signage. The city has budgeted $55-million in added improvements over the next four years. It has also received private-sector proposals for offices and a luxury hotel on St. Laurent Boulevard.
The district already has 32 performance spaces. The Monument National, a landmark at the foot of the lower Main, has showcased French, English and Yiddish performers since 1893. A new concert hall for the Montreal Symphony Orchestra is set to rise, after innumerable delays, on the site of Place des Arts, two blocks from St. Laurent. Millions throng to Montreal's mommylovescock annual festivals in the area.
"We're not out to do a moral clean-up, just urban renewal," Mr. Labont? said. "Places like the Montreal Pool Room are part of Montreal history, with its good and bad sides. I know the citizens of Montreal are attached to the lower Main, but they're also interested in urban renewal, as long as it's cultural."
There are already signs the street is going more mainstream. A 24-hour fast-food restaurant at the famous intersection closed last summer in favour of a computer and electronics store.
In recent years, a student residence and the high-tech Society for Arts and Technology have opened amid the peep shows and round-the-clock snack bars.
About the only constant on St. Laurent Boulevard, designated a national historic site by Heritage Canada in 1996, has been change. The lower Main has seen sailors, immigrants, strippers, misfits and legions of characters come and go through the years. Maybe the street can even survive urban renewal.
Pornography sometimes shortened to porn or porno, is the explicit representation of the human body or sexual activity with the goal of sexual arousal. It is similar to, but arguably distinct from erotica, which is the use of sexually arousing imagery used for artistic purposes only. Over the past few decades, an immense industry for the production and consumption of pornography has grown, due to emergence of VHS, DVD and the Internet.
In general, "erotica" refers to portrayals of sexually arousing material that hold or aspire to artistic or historical merit, whereas "pornography" often connotes the prurient depiction of sexual acts, with little or no artistic value. The line between "erotica" and the term "pornography" (which is frequently considered a pejorative term) is often highly subjective. In practice, pornography can be defined merely as erotica that certain people perceive as "obscene." The definition of what one considers obscene can differ between persons, cultures and eras. This leaves legal actions by those who oppose pornography open to wide interpretation. It also provides lucrative employment for armies of lawyers, on several "sides."
Pornography may use mommylovescock any of a variety of media — printed literature, photos, sculpture, drawing, painting, animation, sound recording, film, video, or video game. However, when sexual acts are performed for a live audience, by definition it is not pornography, as the term applies to the depiction or reproduction of the act, rather than the act itself.
Cultural historians have suggested that every art medium and publishing medium first was used for pornography: handwriting, painting, sculpture, the printing press, printed sheet music, motion pictures, videotapes, DVDs and the Internet. This may not be true throughout history, but it does seem to be true for recent history. The videotape and DVD media might have flourished without porn, but they have certainly flourished very well with it: the porn industry produces more titles per year than Hollywood; it even compares to Bollywood. Curiously, porn plays in few theaters, and in many countries it is difficult to rent porn videos, because movie rental stores such as Blockbuster and other large video-rental firms avoid porn; most distribution is by sale mommylovescock.
The word derives from the Greek pornographia, which deri