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Artist Amber Ibarreche on her witchy queer designs

Brooklyn artist Amber Ibarreche’s first solo show went down in Williamsburg at Capricious Space in the spring of 2009. It was called “Ceremonial Entanglements,” featuring a collection of paintings and prints with a focus on typography. The visuals were consuming, lucid and mystifying, calling on the concept of what it means to be tangled up in something, through collage, repetition, and the relevance of repurposing and reinterpreting meanings, whether they are familiar to us or not, beckoning a world of emotion, or simple a flash of insight.

Born in Florida, Amber hails from Atlantic Beach, a small town outside of Jacksonville. (I also grew up in the Sunshine State so I pose the always-important question about it’s wholly weird reputation, which spawns the topic of weather—it can be raining in your backyard and dry and sunny in your front yard all at once, did you know?) “I’ve personally changed a lot,” says Amber. “I’m more me now—sexually, mentally, and spiritually. Nothing else changes if you don’t. I left Florida in Florida. I’m a light traveler. My experiences there were too heavy and dark to carry with me.”

7 Ways to Know It's OK to Sleep Together

I know I’m not supposed to say this, but I wish gay women had more rules. Say what you will about heteros—Lord knows I do—but at least those beezies have a dating blueprint. All gay women have is The L Word. I’ve never seen a lesbian movie or TV show analyze how long to wait before sleeping with a new woman. Lesbians of my generation take a lackadaisical approach to sex and dating that probably stems from growing up in the hookup culture combined with, “Fuck it, we’re gay — it’s not like anyone expects us to wait until marriage.” The upside of no rules is doing whatever you want. The downside of no rules having no fucking clue what you’re doing or what you want or if what you want is what you’re supposed to want and what you will want in the long run (i.e. tomorrow morning).

Personally, I’m torn. Both casual hookups and chastity have their relative merits. For the first few years of my twenties, shortly after coming to terms with my own gayness, my attitude towards sex was similar to a child’s attitude towards ice cream cake: more is more. Actually that’s still my attitude towards ice cream cake. Apologies to any girls out there who resent being compared to ice cream cake. The hookups took their toll, as false intimacy always will. I was careless with myself and others. I hardened.

After a while I got sick of hurting the girls who cared for me, and being hurt by those who couldn’t care less. So came another extreme: chastity. For six months, maybe more, I didn’t sleep with anyone. It was super boring. Now I straddle the line between decadent girl gluttony and puritanical abstinence with uneasy balance, always trying to find that perfect yet elusive spot between too little and too much. To balance out this piece, I conducted an informal poll of my peers for tips to find that sexy sweet spot when its OK to slut it up (Lawd I love alliteration).

Here are seven tips for knowing the right time for sexy time.

1. You aren’t going to run into her constantly.

Call me closed off, but I don’t want to sleep with anyone I’ll have to constantly see. There’s few moments more awkward than the moment you see that girl who slept with you, then never texted again. Or maybe you’ll never want to text her again! Either way, it’s best to sleep with someone not entangled in your social circle. Then no matter how poorly or wonderfully the relationship goes, it can progress naturally with both women’s consent.

2. You could send her a nude selfie without fear.

Hella beta, I know, but also hella true: being comfortable around someone naked is a great barometer for how really you are to have sex with that person. Don’t get confused: I’m not suggesting you send girls nudes. You shouldn’t, especially to strange girls you don’t trust, especially if you are underage. I’m just saying that if you’re 100% sure that a girl wouldn’t share the image of your bod with the world no matter how hot that bod is, she’d probably treat your body right. By the way if you must send nudes, make sure your face isn’t visible. You’ll thank me later.

3. You know her full name by heart.

Does this conversation sound familiar?

“How are things going with that girl?”

“What girl?”

“That girl.”

“Oh yeah her. Ok I guess.”

“What’s her name again.”

“……”

“Do you not know her name?”

“Give me a minute… MANDY. Her name is Mandy!

“Mandy what?”

“No idea, I’d have to check Facebook.”

If that conversation sounds familiar, STOP, do not pass go, do not sleep with Mandy until you know her last and middle name. You should not have to Facebook search your paramour’s last name.

4. She bought you dinner.

Or lunch. Or planned a romantic date. Or made you an adorable surprise. Basically she put in a noticeable amount of effort into pleasing you. Raise your expectations and keep them high: You deserve someone who tries.

5. You’re comfortable with them hearing you snore. 

I really, really hate to admit this, but I’m a delicate-ish snorer. Blame it on a slightly deviated septum inside my otherwise excellent upturned nose. If someone’s sexing, then spending the night, I need to know they can hear my ladylike wheezing and still be attracted to me. This requires trust. How do you know you trust someone? When you let them hear you snore. BOOM.

6. You aren’t blacked out or even browned out.

Two quick definition for you dreary, emotionally stable souls who never over-indulge in satan’s brew.

Blacked out: When you wake up and don’t remember anything from a certain point in the night onward.

Browned out: When you wake up and can remember snippets from the night, but not the entire night, past a certain point.

Don’t have sex with someone for the first time when you’re drunk. They can tell, even if you can’t. Three drinks max pre-sex, no shots.

7. She’s said, “I really like you.”

Hearing a girl say “I really like you” melts my frozen heart. Hold out for the “really“—I like you isn’t enough. Girls should like smoothies and really like the girls they sleep with.

What do you think? How do you know when it’s cool to sex up a lady?

AE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Catie Curtis ditches labels for "Flying Dream"

Catie Curtis has been writing her own music since 1989, but her new album, Flying Dream, is the first she’s put out on her own in 10 years. After a decade of working with labels, the New England folk star raised funds for her new record with help from diehard fans, of which she has many. A prolific songwriter and seasoned traveling troubadour, Catie has made a name for herself in both the music and queer communities as an important voice for supporting independence and equality.

On Catie’s thirteenth album, she worked with Kristen Hall, an original member of the country band Sugarland, who also happens to be gay. Kristen produced Flying Dream, and co-wrote six of the songs. The end result is a cohesive 10-track tapestry of emotional folk with hints of country, pop and blues.

We spoke with Catie about recording Flying Dream, releasing the album on her own, and her recent separation from her wife.

"Starting From Now," Australia's can't-miss queer web series

The best thing about the increasing accessibility of film and TV production equipment is the opportunity for people to tell stories outside the mainstream media establishment. For queers, this has meant the ascendancy of the web series, a format now familiar to any scourer of YouTube. One of the newest additions to the genre is Starting From Now, an Australian serial that premiered last week.

The premise: Steph, a sweet but naïve lesbian, moves to Sydney to pursue a career in graphic design. Within five minutes of her arrival, she meets Darcy, who is looking very Shane today, and all days. They have an instant connection, aided by the fact that they meet on the rainbow-tiled entrance to a gay bar, and Steph is immediately like, “So should we get coffee which will lead to drinks which will lead to marriage which will lead to our ashes being scattered off the same clifftop?” And Darcy is like “Raincheck.” So Steph goes to her friend Kristen’s place, where she is staying, only to find that (GASP!) Kristen’s girlfriend is the same woman with whom Steph just fell in Insta-love. Inappropriate shoulder-touching and melancholy gazing ensue.

Watch now! "Why So Much Violence Against Queer Black Women?"

Host Marc Lamont Hill had our own Eboni Rafus on HuffPost Live today to discuss violence against queer black women. Eboni joined in via Skype along with Rev. Irene Monroe and professor Myisha Cherry, while writer/activist Darnell Moore was in studio for the conversation. Darnell’s recent piece in Out, “When Black Lesbians Are Killed by Black Men,” touched on the recent murders of Britney Cosby and Crystal Jackson, as well as the killing of Sakia Gunn in 2003. Eboni and the other panelists engage in a great dialogue about why this is happening and how we can make sure to talk about it without placing all of homophobia on the black community.

Trying out lesbian dating app Dattch

Attention fellow youthful spinsters: Dattch, a Pinterest reminiscent lesbian dating app from England, just hit the American app store. I’ve eschewed dating for quite some time now, and while the scores of weeping women on my doorstep have done little to weaken my resolve, solitude’s desolation is beginning to take a toll on what little remains of my soul. I find dating underwhelming because humanity is underwhelming, my self very much included. All I require of a mate is model looks, investment banker wealth, and Rachel Maddow’s intellect. Basically Rachel Maddow.

Imogen finally sees some action on "Degrassi"

After months of waiting, Imogen Moreno finally got some airtime on Degrassi in episodes 19 and 20 (“Dig Me Out” and “Power to the People”) as she fought the good fight and—with the help of her new BFF, Becky Baker—protested the school’s sexist dress code.

ABC Family's "Twisted" introduces an awesome queer character

ABC Family once again lived up to its reputation for being the most inclusive major television network, with the addition of a new queer character to the show, Twisted. The show is produced by one of AfterEllen’s favorite fellows, Andy Reaser. (Reaser is a former writer for Pretty Little Liars and is the best damn #BooRadleyVanCullen’er around.) Twisted centers on a teenager named Danny Desai, who was recently released from juvie, where he spent the last few years serving time for a murder that his father actually committed. He reconnects with his two childhood best friends, Jo, the police chief’s daughter, and Lacey (played by Kylie Bunbury), who will eventually become Danny’s girlfriend. The rest of the plot is, well, twisted.

Watch now! Djuan Trent talks about coming out as queer on TMZ Live

Former Miss Kentucky Djuan Trent came out as queer last month, and she Skyped in on TMZ Live yesterday to discuss the reaction from the LGBT community and her home state. Djuan, who works for the state government out of Lexington, says she found it interesting that some people objected to her identifying as “queer” as opposed to lesbian, bisexual or gay.

“I know there are a lot of people from older generations who do not care for the word because it brings back a lot of bad memories, but there are a lot of people from my generation and especially up North who are using the word a lot more,” Djuan told TMZ. “And I like it, so I used it.”

"Blue" gets a little gayer with Julia Stiles' real life sister

You may already be familiar with the WIGS online network, which features scripted dramas (and some documentaries) featuring female leads.Blue stars Julia Stiles as Blue, a young single mother trying to balance her day job, childrearing, and a second job as a sex worker. The episodes, usually under 10 minutes apiece, blend think and kink. They also manage to pack in a lot of engaging content, like the evening when Blue gets home from meeting with a client to realize she needs to have The Talk about Internet porn with her 13-year-old son.