MGU 102 | Bisexuality

 

An incredibly uncomfortable topic for many people is sex and sexuality. On today’s show, Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen interview video producer, podcaster, and journalist Natalie Rivera about sexual identities, bisexuality, the relationship between mental health and sex, dating during quarantine, safe sex during COVID, and many more. Natalie has produced and reported for media outlets, including ATTN: and POPSUGAR. She is also the host and creator of How I F*ck, a podcast about sex and inclusivity.

Listen to the podcast here:

Diversity, Shame And Duality: Taking A Closer Look At Sexuality With Natalie Rivera

In all of the myriad subject matters that we’ve covered here on the show, there’s been one subject matter we have yet to discuss that has been suggested by more than a few people through personal conversations and direct messages. I don’t even believe I’ve discussed this with you, Whitney. As you like to do so often here on episodes, Whitney, was surprising me with topics. The thing we haven’t dug into which is an incredibly uncomfortable topic for many people is sex, sexuality, the topic of our sexual identities, how we navigate sex and what it means for us.

There was one exception. It was an episode in which you were describing yourself sexually as adventurous. It sounded like you wanted to let everybody know that you weren’t straight edge in bed or something.

I don’t know that I’m out to convince anyone that I’m anti-vanilla, per se. There’s nothing wrong with vanilla, but now is exciting for me because this is a topic that is such a deep thing for human beings. There’s so much wrapped up in sexuality from identity to self-worth, trauma, and family history. It’s such a layered and nuanced conversation. I’m stoked to have Natalie here to dive into this and many other subjects. You’re giving us permission almost by your presence, Natalie, being here for us to finally uncork this subject, dive into all the layers of our identity and the meanings of our sexuality, which is a deep rabbit hole.

That’s great that I give you permission to talk about it or give you an opportunity to talk freely about it. That’s definitely what I am and my podcast is all about.

What was the inspiration for How I F*ck? First of all, it’s an amazing name. When Whitney first brought your podcast to my attention, I was diving in, the three episodes I listened to of your podcast were so mind and heart blowing to me of hearing other people’s perspectives from a trans person to a differently-abled person. Everybody’s story that I listened to on the episodes you have posted already was to me, such an eye-opening experience of thinking about how someone else handles their sexuality, desires, self-identity, and breaking out of my heteronormative perspective on sexuality and hearing about what other people experience. I want to say thank you for educating me and opening my eyes to different people’s perspectives on their sexuality.

You’re welcome. Thank you for saying that. Those are all very kind words. I had the idea for How I F*ck in 2018 is when I started thinking about it. I didn’t start working on it until late 2019. I was inspired to start this because I ran into a random article by The Atlantic. It was about a sex coach for people with dwarfism and the woman herself has dwarfism. She noticed that there weren’t people having this conversation in the dwarfism community. She was like, “I’m going to take it upon myself to talk about it to educate people.” She even came up with a line of sex toys for people specifically with dwarfism. From reading the article, I learned all these things that I had never considered before. For example, some people with dwarfism, their arms are too short to reach their genitalia so they have trouble masturbating and others might have trouble straddling during sex because of hip problems. That never occurred to me. I never gave that thought about how other people have sex because most people are too pre-occupied with your own things and sex life.

You’re watching porn which is all of these white people that have perfect bodies and you have this whole idea of what sex looks like based on what’s presented to us in the media, whether it’s pornography or even movies and television. They show us the same sex scenes between the same types of people over and over again. We have occasionally diversity in ethnicity, but we occasionally have diversity in different body types in terms of somebody’s weights, but we don’t necessarily have it when it comes to their height, any disabilities, or any things that we don’t see in the media. That’s such a great point and something that is such an important thing to discuss, especially in this time where we’re having a lot of conversations about people that aren’t like us and not accepting them, but doing our best to understand them or hear their stories. That way we get outside of this limited perspective we have on the world. I love that as well.

Most people consumed a lot of images whether that was TV or movies. I consumed a lot of content that is very hetero, white and cysts growing up. I don’t think I’m alone in that because the media has a representation problem. They haven’t been as diverse as they could be. Even when they are diverse, they think that having one person of color or one LGBTQ+ person in a cast, that’s still mostly white. They feel like they’ve done their jobs. They feel like, “We deserve a gold star.” As I got older, I’ve been more selective about the content that I’m consuming, the things that I watch, the things that I read, who was at for, who was at by, and are they othering or excluding people of different race, orientations or identities?

I’m glad that our podcasts can spot a light on people with different experiences. When I was starting the podcast, I want to speak to people who live with disabilities or who are in the LGBTQ+ community. In this season, we’re going to be talking to sex workers as well. That’s something else that I was curious about. From reading that article by the Atlantic, which is great. I hope your readers Google it. Reading that, I fell into a rabbit hole and I was thinking about how does everyone have sex? I was walking to my job at that time and I saw a homeless person who’s sleeping on the bench right there.

I wonder how they find sexual pleasure because they don’t have any privacy and a roof over their heads. A lot of us were fortunate that we have that. If you think about it, having an active sexual drive like being able to pleasure yourself, whether that’s with someone else, by yourself, or watching porn, that comes with some privacy unless there are some people who don’t want that and they like that. That’s a whole different story. Usually, you do it within your privacy at your home. I was curious about that too. How does that work? I’m still hoping to interview someone who is homeless for an episode about that.

COVID happened and I was like, “I’m going to go find someone, reach out to people, and try to speak to people about it.” I spoke to someone who is living in homelessness. He has a podcast called We the Unhoused and it’s a great podcast. He is interviewing his people in the community. I reached out to him to ask him what would be the best way to go about trying to find someone who I can interview about how do you find ways to pleasure yourself or to find sexual pleasure. Especially the homeless population in Los Angeles specifically, that’s where I live, 60% of them are black people. There’s also the stereotype that black men are hypersexualized or predators too. Having no privacy at all and no means to do the things you would want to in private, how does that look like?

MGU 102 | Bisexuality

Bisexuality: When you don’t have privacy, people can think that you’re obscene, especially living in a country where you are considered a sex offender if you have sex in a public area.

 

How would that look like to other people? When you don’t have privacy, people can think that you’re being obscene especially living in a country where having sex in a public area, you might be considered a sex offender or you might be fined for that but what if that’s your only option? That’s why I want to find someone who I could speak to about that. From that article, I started thinking about people in different situations with different lifestyles, identities and how do they go about that? In our first episode, we interviewed Andrew Gurza, who lives with cerebral palsy and he’s amazing. He has his own podcast called Disability After Dark. One of the questions I asked him was that, do you ever have private time to masturbate? It’s like, “I feel like doing this right now, let me masturbate.”

He’s attended to by nurses and by people in the building that he lives in. He told me, “No.” As someone with cerebral palsy, he can’t be spontaneous. He has to schedule sex ahead of time. He has to do that. That’s one of the reasons why I decided to hire sex workers. That opened my eyes to a lot of things. It blew my mind. We have that privacy. We have our own homes. We can do what we want, watch the porn that we want, or have a sexual partner come over to our place and do what we need to do. For some people who are attended to, or who don’t have a home at all, that’s a lot more difficult for them.

It’s a privilege that we have. That’s something a lot of our eyes are being opened up to as the amount of privilege and all the different forms in our lives. That pertains to sex as well for some people. I’m excited, you’re giving many great resources. I am excited to learn all of this and very grateful for this information. Up until this conversation, I wasn’t thinking that much about these things. I hope that the audience is experiencing the same thing. It does remind me of something that I would love to talk about so why not jump into it right off the bat. I’ve been reflecting on pornography. During COVID-19, there was a massive increase in people’s viewership of pornography on platforms like Pornhub. I came across a video of somebody talking about how Pornhub is not a website that we should be supporting because they allow anybody to post anything on there. There have apparently been a lot of rapes being recorded and uploaded there, people that are under age because they can’t verify it, or things like revenge porn.

It stuck with me so much because you don’t necessarily think about those things, especially when you have a desire that you want to be fulfilled. Sometimes we think, “I want it that badly. All of these other things don’t matter,” or “I’m going to put on my blinders, do what I got to do, and ignore how it’s affecting other people.” One thing that we stand for on this show is getting outside of your comfort zone so that you can do something that’s not just better for you but better for the world and has this positive ripple effect. Jason and I are not anti-pornography by any means. Everybody has their own perspectives and comfort levels with pornography. If you are going to watch porn, it does make a difference where you consume that. I’m curious if this has come up for you, Natalie, in your work, speaking with sex workers, what you’ve learned about how pornography has made, and what is positive to support versus what might be supporting something that’s not fully within your values.

It’s interesting because I have a sex podcast and I don’t watch porn. I watch porn for research for the podcast which doesn’t sound believable at all even as I say it, but I truly do mean it. It’s very strange, but I’ve tried to. I’ve been open to partners showing me porn because they’re into it. For some reason, it has never been a thing that I’ve gravitated to. Having conversations with people who work in sex work and even people who consume it a lot, it’s been interesting even from what I’ve seen in my research. In one of our episodes, I spoke to a black transsexual woman who talked to me about sexual racism, which is self-explanatory. It’s being prejudice and racist when it comes to the people that you choose to have sex with.

In my research, I found articles and this has been something that happened where people are calling out porn sites or porn companies for being racist or sexist. I don’t remember where this article was from, but they spoke to adult performers, who were saying that they have been in shoots where people are being directed to say the N-word, asked to wear very offensive costumes or offensive plots to the porn. Speaking to the woman guest that I had, she told me that she loves porn and when she checks it, it’s interesting if you’ve noticed a lot of people of different races or identities are othered on there, they categorized. You go on Pornhub and there’s the Ebony category. What does that say about our sex or porn habits when we’re categorizing people or a category for Asian women as well?

They’re considered a fetish. For men and women too, there are a lot of videos of white women being with men of different races, comparing their bodies, and all of that.

Research has found that our porn habits or sex habits were very influenced by the political climate that we’re in or the cultural climate. For example, when 911 happened, there were a lot of searches for porn with Middle East plots or terrorist plots. One of the most popular porn searches is for black men who are humiliating white men. Black men sleeping with a white man’s wife or a white woman. That is a category that also seems to be popular with a lot of people is the idea of a black man humiliating a white man, because of the stereotype that black men have bigger penises or they’re better in bed which sounds great. Not to say that stereotypes are good, they’re not, but in a way, people would say that sounds positive or complement almost, but it isn’t. It isn’t completely true. When we categorize people in that way and have these plots or these titles where its black man steals white girlfriend, I don’t think that’s a good thing and we should reflect on that. Why do we gravitate to that kind of porn?

It’s such an interesting thing from a psychological standpoint. A huge part of wellness is self-reflection and looking at your motivations for why you have certain desires. One thing that we address a lot on this show is a shame, guilt, embarrassment, and all of those things. It’s fascinating how sex, for a lot of people, is about living out some fantasy of a life that you don’t have or acting out things that you want to do, but you’re too ashamed or guilty. There’s a reason that you wouldn’t normally do that in real life so you might do it in your sex life or watch that on pornography to live vicariously through these people. I’m fascinated by it. Removing the shame or trying to understand that, why are you motivated to enjoy something? Is there something that you could do or have, or think instead of that might be better for your psychological health, but also for the people that might be put in those positions to create it. It’s also one of those things where pornography is such a big industry, it’s so driven by money and power as well.

There’s a lot of things coming up with human trafficking too. That’s a huge topic of discussion. How people that are in places of power, whether financially or public figures? They feel like they can have whoever they want. They can do whatever they want. They can get away with things. There’s a lot of horrific things happening sexually around the world. I want to better understand it and be able to be more proactive in my choices as well. I’m so grateful that we’re discussing this. Jason, I know you wanted to jump in on this subject matter too. I’m curious about your thoughts.

On the deepest level when it comes to sex and identity, for me, growing up in a pretty strict Catholic family when I was younger. On the one hand, I felt this message around having sex before marriage is a sin and it’s a crime against God. I remember getting older and feeling there were all these control mechanisms put in place to repress, shame, guilt, and all of these things. The other side of it is as we’re developing as human beings, there are people who aren’t interested in sex. For most people I know, there was this contrasting desire of wanting something and wanting this experience versus the patterning, belief systems, and religious connotations of this puritanical purity save yourself until marriage. Don’t do certain things.

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Sex to me is interesting because it’s this decoding of belief systems, control mechanisms and power mechanisms. The Catholic Church in general is a whole another ball of wax. For me, it’s been an undoing, I suppose, as I’ve gone on of any mechanisms of shame, guilt, or repression and constantly looking at how those come up in my sexual relationships. There’s been this strange dualistic notion of, “It’s good and it’s something to be desired, we’re encouraging it, but if you do it the wrong way, or you do it in a way that’s not fully heteronormative or anything, there’s been so much shame around it.” It’s always tripped me out that there are many laws enacted. Still to this day, many laws trying to limit people’s sexual behavior. I’ve always found that so interesting in terms of the mechanisms of the system trying to control people’s behavior even to the level of sex.

It’s unfortunate. I also grew up in a Catholic household where I was told that sex before marriage was something that was sinful and was looked down upon. It takes many years to let go of the shame around sex and the sex that you like. Even if you don’t on sex too, if you’re asexual or aromantic too, there seems to be shame and almost every shade of sex, sexual activity or desire out there. For people who have too much desire, there might be considered hyper-sexual, sex addict or they have a problem. Also with people who don’t want sex at all like in these asexual communities, a lot of people in that community don’t have any desire for sexual contact. They might be looked down upon as something is not right with them too. It’s very interesting because almost every level, every experience or identity, there will be some shame around that. As you got older, you can shake that away but it’s hard when you come from an environment where that is such a strong belief from where it’s very embedded in everything that you do.

Have you done any work in terms of your journey, Natalie, coming from that very strict Catholic background, removing the shame and the guilt, coming to your own sense of autonomy with sex and desire, and what it means to you? Did you have any help along the way in terms of working with a therapist, a sex counselor, or anything like that? What was your process in undoing that for yourself?

I used to have a bad experience with therapy and that’s a whole different story. That has to do more with my relationship with my mother. In high school, she had me see her therapist, which is very unethical and I’m not sure how that was even possible at that time. For a while, I had a distrust of therapist and I wasn’t financially stable. I couldn’t even seek out help. For me, it was finally having open conversations with my friends about wanting sex. I lost my virginity when I was twenty, which I feel a little older because I hear people who’ve lost their virginity in high school, but for me, I waited until I was twenty.

When I was with that person, that was a person who I was with for almost three years. I lost my virginity to someone who I continuously slept with, in a relationship with, lived with, and at some point, was engaged to. That’s all I knew. After me leaving that relationship, I started connecting with my sexuality because I started dating other people and seeing what was out there. I don’t mean like, “I’m going to go sleep with a bunch of people.” I mean in terms of you meet people who aren’t people that you grew up with. For example, a person that I dated for a while after that relationship ended is a bisexual man and I, myself, identify as bisexual. Most of my life, at least when I was open to my friends and my boyfriend at that time, I felt it was erased.

I never felt they believed me because there’s this notion that if you’re bisexual, then people start asking questions. I’ve had people ask me how many girls have you been with and how many guys? They want to compare that. You have to prove your bisexuality to people, which is infuriating. Dating a bisexual man was great because I felt my bisexuality was validated in a way and being in a relationship with someone who is bisexual, but also he didn’t like doing this, he liked doing that. When you create, especially sexual relationships with other people, you start realizing that sex isn’t have to be this one way.

I strongly thought that sex was a man and a woman and the man has to be dominant in a way. There wasn’t room to explore there. Meeting and dating other people, you find out that there are so many different ways to connect and that’s awesome. It makes you feel more inclined to be more open to other things or open to the idea that it’s not something that shouldn’t be considered shameful. I don’t think it’s shameful at all. That’s how I slowly started breaking away from that because the only and very long sexual relationship I had at that time with a person was very monogamous, masculine-feminine in a way where I was very much in the feminine role and he was in the masculine role. Branching out of that, dating other people, and meeting other people, and then finally dating women, it helped shake that because I was meeting all these people with different ideas of how sex was.

I was like, “Sex doesn’t have to be like this and that. It doesn’t always have to be penetrative or this person is dominant.” I had a very great relationship with a trans person who I loved a lot. What he showed me was that it doesn’t have to be by the book. It’s nice to either switch roles when it comes to being dominant or submissive, or being masculine or feminine in the bedroom. I speak only from my experience. I didn’t feel like I had to always be this woman or this damsel who need to be wooed all the time. I started noticing that with my relationships with women or men and the LGBTQ community. This side of me where I didn’t play this role all the time of the woman who needed to be ravished or pleased all the time but being in a role where I can be pleasing and I can be the big spoon.

The man doesn’t have to be the big spoon, I can be the big spoon. That was eye-opening for me. I learned a lot from that. That’s definitely how I start breaking away from those ideas from when I was younger. Truly speaking to people openly about it, I have friends who I’ve been friends with since I was ten. We had plenty of chances to talk about sex, but we didn’t until our early twenties. I remember a friend that I’ve had since I was ten years old, I used to think that masturbation was shameful and I didn’t even know what to call it for so long. I learned what it was when I was in junior high. When I was in my early twenties, one of my best friends who I’ve known since I was a child, she mentioned that she did it and she mentioned something about it.

I was like, “Okay. Now I know.” A lot of people when they get older and in the early twenties, they start speaking more openly about it. They look around the room and they’re like, “It’s okay for us to talk about this now because we’re not living at home anymore. We’re not confined in those spaces where there are all these ideas of how sex looks and how our bodies need to be.” That was helpful having people to finally talk about it and be like, “This person does that too.” I’ve seen many movies where men are talking about women, sex, or talking so openly about it but women don’t. I didn’t see that until I saw Broad City. That’s when I finally saw women openly talking about vibrators or masturbation, even Sex and the City. I was like, “This should be fine for us to talk about.” That helped me too.

There’s another show I’ve been watching called Love Life on HBO. It fuses elements of Sex and the City, a little bit of Broad City as well as Girls, which was another show that was groundbreaking. I watched that with Jason. I love shows like that because when they’re well done, they can open people up to feeling more comfortable about talking about things that are usually seen as hush-hush, but it does depend on your background. Each of us seems to have been raised with a religious mindset. My parents weren’t religious, but there were elements of that religious shame that impacted me. I’ve dated a number of men from different backgrounds, noticing their experiences and perspectives.

MGU 102 | Bisexuality

Bisexuality: Meeting and dating other people, you find out that there are so many different ways to connect, and that’s awesome.

 

I was twenty when I lost my virginity and there’s even shame like, “How old you are?” There’s so much and the more you talk about this, the more that I reflect on all of the shame. I hope that the audience finds some freedom in this. For me, there was even a bit of nervousness talking about something like pornography. Even though I’m comfortable talking about it, I wonder will some people not read this episode. If we talk about sex, are they going to think about us differently and think our show isn’t for them? That shame and being a content creator and finding that courage to talk about this subject matter. Jason, I’m curious there were a number of things that Natalie was saying that I felt like had been part of your own experience. For one, your girlfriend Laura is bisexual. I know that that’s come up in terms of her experience dating you. Shame isn’t the right word but her friends were questioning the fact that she was dating a man when her previous partner was a woman, is that right?

That’s correct. First of all, Laura reads the blog. I know that she’s totally comfortable with me sharing this information publicly. When we first started seeing each other right before the COVID quarantine in LA happens, this was early March 2020, we started dating. She was relaying to me that she was getting all of these messages from many friends and acquaintances on social media asking her like, “You’re dating a guy now. I thought you were gay, this or that.” She got quite a few of these messages where I remember, at one point, she was emotionally upset. She was crying about it and feeling like, “Why is everyone judging me? Why is everyone trying to put me in a box? Why is everyone trying to dictate expectations of who I want to be with?”

She looked at me, she was like, “I love who I love and that’s that.” From the get-go, it was interesting for me, it’s my first relationship with someone who identifies as fully bisexual, has been in love, and been in romantic relationships with both men and women. To see her try and navigate, I don’t know that it was that people were trying to shame her. My interpretation of it is people have ideas about us as human beings in our boxes, words, and language depending on how we use it can be very empowering or it can be super limiting. What I observed with people responding to her having me as her new partner was like, “We thought you were only into women. How can you be with a guy? We’re confused.” Her job is not to assuage your concerns or confusion. I’m choosing who I choose and that’s my choice. It’s been an interesting journey being with her I suppose to see how people have been responding to us being together. It’s been fascinating to observe it.

It seems people get heated up when they’re confused or whatever. They seem confused about something and they’re like, “My brain was wired to think this way. You told me to make my brain think that this of you, and now I have to teach my brain to think something else of you.”

We don’t like it when people change because that feels threatening to us on some level.

It’s not even like your partner is changing because your partner is bisexual so they’re not changing at all. She’s just being who she is. That’s very unfortunate about the messages that she’s been receiving. I’ve been in situations where it is confusing for people. Working on this podcast, I’ve reflected a lot on my bisexuality. I’ve been in relationships with two women. This is the thing with me. People that I date unless it’s a long-term relationship for 1, 2, or 3 years, people I date usually three months. I don’t know why. I feel like I have a trial period. I’ll be into someone and then during month’s mark, I’m like, “Never mind or something.” Both of these women. It’s like with men and with women, it’s always been like that, a three-month mark.

Mine is two months, so I can completely relate to that. What’s yours, Jason?

Here’s the thing, for most of my adult life romantically and this is even back to high school, I’ve been a serial monogamist. I’ve also had periods in the last ten years all throughout, my entire 30s and now in my early 40s where I have had quite a few that have been 8 weeks, 3, 4, 5 months. I’ve been less of a serial monogamist and more of between the 2 and 5-month mark. Not intentionally. It just seems like after my last partnership ended in 2016, between now and then, it’s been a lot of trial runs, as you call it, Natalie.

I had a partner since I was fifteen. I’ve always had a boyfriend and it was a two-year relationship. After that, another two-year relationship. After that, almost a three-year relationship. For a while, I need to be a little more careful about who I decide to be in relationships with. I need to date people for a while before I can say that they are my boyfriend or my girlfriend. That’s why three months, but it’s strange. It’s always been three months for some reason. What I was going with that is that every time that I would be in a relationship with women, especially the first woman that I ever dated, her and I were together for three months.

I remember I was like, “Am I gay?” When I started dating her, I remember telling my dad, “This woman is in my life. I’m dating this woman. I think I’m gay.” Instead of saying I’m bisexual because I’ve always known since I was a child that I was bisexual. When I finally got into my first relationship with a woman, I was like, “Am I gay? Maybe I’m gay. This entire time I was gay and I didn’t know it.” After that ended and I started dating men again, I was like, “I guess I’m not. I’m a fraud. What’s wrong with my brain?”

Again, when I dated another woman, I was like, “I think I’m gay.” It was weird that my brain would do that. Even myself, I felt like I had to be definite. Even when I was in those kinds of relationships, I also felt like I’m either this or I’m that. With this podcast, I’ve been doing a lot more research, reading up more LGBTQ+ content, and seeing what’s out there. I’ve seen videos and articles by bi-people who say that they have their own bi-phobia in a way where they have this anxiety where it’s like, “Maybe I’m gay.”

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In this relationship that I’m with a man, I can say very freely and openly as always that I’m bi. When I was with women, I’d be like, “I’m gay.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s interesting. It’s almost similar to what the reactions your partner is getting, even with myself, I also need to give myself an answer. I need to decide whether I am or I’m not. I grew up in a family where my father never thought that bisexuality was a real thing. I remember him talking about that a couple of times, he said, “Whoever you are, you aren’t.”

Me and my father have a good relationship and my stepmother, his wife told me that, “You changed the way he looks at bisexuality because now he’s like no, it’s real.” I do feel that me and some other bi people out there, you do question yourself too when you’re in it. People will question you and be like, “I thought you were gay or you were this or that.” You, yourself, you might question it also. The fact that we grew up feeling like we always have a definite answer for something. People are always asking questions especially now, we live in an age of knowledge, people want to know things, people make statements, or we’re always learning. Whenever there’s an in-between, it throws people off and it can even throw yourself off, even if you are in-between, if that makes sense.

I feel like this struggle that you’re describing beautifully, Natalie, to me it can be extrapolated into other machinations in the world like this binary thinking. You’re either straight or you’re gay. You’re either a Democrat or you’re a Republican. You’re either vegan or a meat-eater. You’re a liberal or you’re conservative. We could go on down the line of how many systems, structures, and mechanistic ways of thinking we have in duality consciousness. When you’re in an area that you don’t have a name for necessarily, or in terms of bisexuality, a label that you’re trying to define for yourself that there’s not some locked down definition of what it is.

There are gradations of it, there are shades of this. The exciting thing that I’m finding in terms of collective awakening, collective empathy, people hearing stories, doing research, seeing other ways that people are living in terms of ethnicity, gender, race, color, religion, sexuality, all the things we’re talking about as much chaos and bat shit craziness as there is in the world. We can all attest to that. I’m excited by the fact that people are waking up that we don’t have to anchor ourselves in these binary choices anymore. We can rip open the box and say, “I don’t know what I am and there’s not even a name for it yet.” That takes a lot of fucking courage. To go into uncharted territory and not even have a title or a label for what you are yet.

I agree especially these times where we want labels and we want to group people. There’s got to be some studies about this like how our brain works this way. Our brain does like labels. Our brain likes grouping things and having little boxes. That episode of SpongeBob SquarePants where everything in a person’s brain is in files, cabinets and stuff. They’re all in order. When we hear about someone dating someone who isn’t the people that they’ve dated before, when people decide these different things, it’s confusing for us. You mentioned veganism, I’m a vegan and I get that a lot where at first in my veganism, it’s okay every once in a while like Thanksgiving. If I want to try my boyfriend’s dish or something, I’ll have that. If I did that in front of someone like a friend, they’d be like, “I thought you were vegan?” I’m not like that anymore as a vegan.

I’ve watched a little too many documentaries during this pandemic. I’ve consumed a little too much content where I am a little bit grossed out by me. Before, at the beginning of my veganism, I was like, “I’m doing this for the environment because of climate change. I’m doing this for different reasons as opposed to animal rights.” It’s okay if every once in a while, if I go on a vacation or trip somewhere, I’ve never been there and they have a dish that has meat, it’s okay, every once in a while, if I do indulge in it. If I did that in front of someone after I told them that was vegan, they trip out. They’re like, “I thought you’re vegan?” Having to explain yourself and be like, “I’m going to take a little break or make this one exception because we’re in a different country and a different state, or we’re at this wedding and they gave me this food.”

We struggle with that so much. Jason and I often talk about how that’s negatively impacted our feelings towards the vegan movement and it’s pushing us away from it at times because we tend to be liberally minded with our perspectives on things. The constant potential for somebody to judge you for your decisions can weigh heavily on you and cause anxiety, depression, isolation, shame, and all of these tough emotions that aren’t good for your mental health. It is fascinating how people can be incredibly opinionated and critical about all these different elements of your lifestyle that tend to be very personal decisions. It comes out of this desire, especially in the vegan movement.

It’s like, “We want you to be perfect because if you’re perfect and we’re collectively perfect, then we’ll make a bigger change in it.” This fear that if somebody doesn’t do something perfectly all the time, then things aren’t going to work out the way that we want them to. Sexually, it’s interesting as well. There’s so much fear within sex, especially a lot of it stems from a religious perspective, which is we have to do things because this is the way that they’re done. This is the way that we act. If we do something out of bounds then it’s a domino effect, everything is going to get wrong, it’s going to be out of our control, and that’s scary.

It causes a lot of times with the vegan thing too much constriction causes somebody to get rebellious sometimes, or they’ll swing in the opposite direction because they’re so full of resentment or they feel like they’re going to burst. That’s the unfortunate side of trying to do everything perfectly or coloring within the lines and abiding by other people’s rules and boundaries. I love that we’re having this discussion, not just about sexuality but the vegan side of it as well. The topic of depression and anxiety are things that hit close to home for both you, Natalie and Jason. I’m curious about the intersection between that and sexuality, veganism, or other things in your life and how you two have been navigating that. The other thing I want to make sure we touch upon too is sexuality during quarantine so whichever you two want to dive into next, I’m curious.

I don’t think my quarantine sex life is exciting.

Few people are experiencing exciting quarantined sex especially safely. Now, safe sex takes on a whole different meaning.

MGU 102 | Bisexuality

Bisexuality: The brain likes labels. It likes grouping things and having little boxes.

 

I’m in a long-term relationship and I live with my partner. In the beginning of this, before things got scary, I was like, “We’re home all the time. We’re having more sex.” That lasted two weeks and then things got crazy. The job that I was at that time, I was laid off from that and that was terrifying. My partner is a freelancer. He works in the entertainment industry. There are no shows, no festivals, concerts, any of that sort where he would normally be thriving during this time. That’s not happening. That also causes stress and also seeing other people struggle. My dad owns a small business and they have been struggling during these times. It affected my sexual desire. I have not had that much of a desire to have sex. It’s weird because I’m pretty vanilla. I also don’t watch porn but I have a sex podcast. Every partner that I’ve ever been with, I’ve always had a higher sex drive than my partner. I’ve always had such high libido. That’s always been the case with everyone I’ve always dated.

The longest I had ever gone without sex was four months and that’s because I had a skin infection. I had cystic inflammatory acne when I was in my early twenties, which I have some scarring from it. I did not want to leave the house because of it. It also was very painful, it’s on your face. That was the longest I ever went without having sex which my boyfriend always teases me about because he thinks I was a little crazy. Now that we’re in this, I haven’t had the desire. I’ve gone a week or two without having sex, which is incredible for me especially living with my partner, sharing the same bed, and the fact that we’re both in here all the time. I’m working again which is great, but I’m working remotely so I’m always home also. Even creating this podcast, working on it, and focusing on it, it hasn’t affected my libido. Once things pick up and things feel more normal, I feel that my sex drive is going to be normal again.

That’d be such an interesting subject matter to explore more. I don’t know if you did an episode on this yet, but about sex during the quarantine. It’s been fascinating for me talking to other people, friends of mine, for example, who are single and some of them struggling. The loneliness is intense. You can feel lonely even when you’re in a relationship and not necessarily because that partner isn’t stimulating enough for you or things aren’t going well. Even in a great relationship, you desire contact with other people. There’s so much strain that quarantine has put on relationships. To me, it sounds even more challenging to be single during this time. Seeing my friends dating, their decisions around it, going on the dating apps, and some people that have met people in person.

I know numerous people who have done that during this time. I’ve had to try not to be judgmental about their decisions, in general. I try to have a lot of compassion, even though there’s part of me that’s like, “I can’t believe that they would go and have a sexual relationship with somebody that is a stranger during COVID.” I have to realize that’s their decision like we’re talking about veganism like, “How dare that person have a non-vegan meal? Don’t they know what’s at stake.” We have to remember that each person is making these decisions to the best of their abilities, circumstances, and mental state.

Coming back around to the depression and anxiety side of things, those are always fascinating too when it comes to sexuality. I’ve been with a number of partners who have struggled with depression, and that certainly affected our sexual dynamic. You, Natalie, I tend to have a higher sex drive in my relationships. It’s very relatable. That in itself is a struggle, but there have been partners that I’ve been with who have had low sex drives because of practically crippling depression or anxiety.

I have friends who even, in general, with depression, they can’t put themselves in that mindset, which totally makes sense. I’ve gone through my episodes of depression and I can’t tell you why I still had sex, even though I was depressed, but I can see how you don’t have the drive to do much of anything, especially if you’re coming from a place where you’re not too happy with yourself. At least for me, with depression, you’re not necessarily happy with yourself. You’re not happy in the present moment, but you start obsessing over things about your past or things that you’ve done, mistakes that you’ve done, or you, yourself, in this and the now and you don’t like yourself. The best way to have sex and the best mindset to be in is to be in a place where you’re happy with yourself but you want to explore your body, you want someone else to explore your body. Where you’re not feeling that or not too happy with yourself, it’s hard for you to feel like, “I’m worthy of pleasure. I’m worthy of someone to explore me, or to give me pleasure.”

I can relate to that. That’s been very indicative of my experience too, Natalie, in the sense that over the last few dancing with depression and being diagnosed with clinical depression back in 2014. I have noticed that in a relationship that my level of depression, suicidal ideation anxiety affects my sexual performance. There were a couple of periods that I went one entire year without sex. I went another eight-month period without any masturbation even. I was in such a low dark, painful place psychologically, emotionally that I couldn’t even open myself to that possibility. It’s interesting too if you talk about the dynamic of desire and libido. My partner, Laura has a high level of testosterone and her libido is higher than mine.

It’s been interesting navigation of when I do have a depressive episode, which if I want to give myself, not credit, but a pat on the back, I’ve been managing my depression, my mental health well over this quarantine period. There are days that she came over, we made dinner together and had a wonderful evening, but I had had an entire day of ruminating on some dark things and beating myself up. As a result, I didn’t feel having sex. The other side of all this that I want to call back to before I forget, in talking about the energetic dynamics, you talked about dom or submissive or these energetic roles. Years ago, I was working with my therapist, Gary, who I’ve had a great relationship with.

I was talking to him about my challenges and romantic relationship of feeling that I am a very emotionally sensitive man. Some women have not understood what to do with that because they’re used to more of a traditional dominating emotionally closed-off male archetype. Me being in a very sensitive emotionally receptive role, I was talking about the challenges of that. I made this up on the spot, I said, “I think that I’m energetically androgynous.” He said, “What does that mean to you?” I said, “I naturally have a balance of archetypically feminine and masculine energies. I’m an energetically androgynous person.” He said, “It sounds like you need to find an energetically androgynous person too.” I’ve never used that phrasing on the show before, but it accurately describes how I feel on the inside. Regardless of my chosen gender or my gender assignment, I feel like I have a balance of what one would call masculine and feminine energies, even if that’s a thing. Sometimes I wonder if that’s even a thing. Assigning gender roles to energies. Is any of this making sense or do I sound like a crazy person?

It makes sense to me. Laura is an energetically androgynous person. I thought you were going to bring up you found your person. I remember when you met her, you energetically and physically complement each other in so many ways. It’s been lovely to witness that. She’s been one of the only partners that I know of, myself included, Natalie. Jason and I dated years ago and transitioned into a friendship which confuses a lot of people too. The fact that we can be great friends and run a business together is confusing to people. People often assume that Jason and I are dating or married.

With Laura, it’s lovely to me even you talking about her testosterone, that makes sense that you would be with someone that balance you out in that way. Hold you when you’re feeling in the more feminine energy and not be afraid of that. Whereas a lot of women, myself included in some ways, the masculine energy feels more comfortable for me and I haven’t been in the past, I’m working on this but being able to hold a man when he’s in that vulnerable, feminine energy. That’s something that a lot of women struggle with. I want to give props to Laura because she’s got that androgynous energy too.

People are going through different hardships. To have someone to remind you that you're worthy of love and anything great is important. Click To Tweet

I haven’t met her but it sounds for sure like you have met your person. It sounds like she matches your energy.

We are both exploring not being so attached to, not labels, and titles regarding the container of our relationship. As I mentioned at the beginning when people were grilling her about her sexuality, “How could you be with a guy? We thought you were this way and that way.” It’s an ongoing exploration because we’re very fluid in the exploration of our dynamic. There are times when she feels like she needs to cry. She’s uncertain about things. She feels vulnerable and wants to break down and let her emotions out. I do that a lot. On the third date, I cried in front of her and I didn’t feel weird about it. There wasn’t this moment of like, “She’s going to think I’m weak.” I had a moment where I needed to cry, I cried in front of her, and she held me. It was a beautiful moment. We still bring that up like, “Remember on our third date when I cried with you?” What I feel with her is a lot of freedom to be as we are and learn more about one another without being so locked down to traditional dynamics. That’s a good way of describing it.

You two started dating right before quarantine happened. It was the first week of March 2020. You have an interesting perspective on what it’s like to date during quarantine and make these decisions. Do you see somebody and are you sexual with somebody when your masks are off and you’re exchanging fluids in a lot of ways? I haven’t heard you talk about what that decision process was like for you and her and the pros and cons of dating someone during this time.

We had an agreement at the beginning that we were both going to be extremely mindful of our self-care in terms of she’s on-board for always wearing a mask, having hand sanitizer, and having responsible hygiene whilst in public and at home. She had a COVID test and it’s negative. It was a conversation of us both being very mindful and responsible of how we were caring for our health while in a container of a new romantic relationship. You asked about having sex, it’s been amazing because it’s this exploratory period of being in a new relationship. She has a very high level of openness, kink and being very open to try new things as do I. It’s been a beautiful container of being very communicative, very open, being very responsible about how we’re handling our personal health, and also our sexual health being in this new container of relationship together.

If your relationship can thrive through during a Coronavirus, then it seems like you guys have a bright future ahead of you.

I hope so, Natalie. It’s cool that you say that because in a sense having a new relationship during this period. There has been an accelerative effect to our intimacy because the traditional channels of what I would like to do with her were not available. It was like, “I want to book all these concert tickets. We’ll go to Coachella and we’ll go to Burning Man.” We’ll do all the regular dating rituals of let’s go out to a restaurant, let’s go see shows, let’s go see improv comedy. Here in LA, all that’s been shut down. As a result, those externalized activities which can serve as distractions sometimes were not available to us. Henceforth, the deep, intimate, emotional conversations happened much more quickly than perhaps they would have had we had those traditional dating channels available to us.

You guys are almost using what you have in front of you, trying to make it work and figuring out creative ways to keep this alive because it’s still very early.

We’ve made domestication sexy like we’re bringing domestication back. “Baby, what do you want to do tonight? Make dinner at home again? Fuck, we’re going to make dinner at home. What do you want? Japchae Korean noodles? Fuck, let’s do that.” Hanging out with the animals on the couch, making dinner at home, playing fun games with each other. We’ve embraced the domesticity fully and made it fucking sexy.

Many people have different responses to sexuality during this time and their relationship dynamics. We have to each examine what our values are and our comfort level when it comes to our relationships and sexuality. That’s a big part of taking out the shame, the stigma, and all of this is being open-minded, flexible, and not comparing your relationships and sexuality to other people because each of us are experiencing it in different ways.

You guys both have something going on that’s great. Doing things like cooking for each other, staying home, and being with your pets or anything of that sort, that’s important especially now because it’s a stressful time. You need to respect your partner if they’re in the mood or they’re not in the mood for sex. If they’re not, find those different ways to show them that you care and they’re special because so many people now are going through many different hardships. To have someone to remind you that you’re still worthy of love and anything great is important.

What are some of your favorite resources for learning about sexuality and relationship dynamics? You mentioned the Atlantic which I love too. There are always great articles there, but what else do you read? Do you have favorite books, YouTube channels, or other podcasts? What have you found enlightening for expanding your knowledge and awareness on these topics?

MGU 102 | Bisexuality

Bisexuality: If your relationship can thrive through a Coronavirus, you have a bright future ahead of you.

 

I love looking for content that is made by people who have firsthand experience of that. For me, I don’t like going on YouTube. I like finding YouTube videos by people who are asexual or living with a disability and who are openly talking about it. That’s the content that I like to consume especially on Instagram too. I following accounts from people who know what they’re talking about because they, themselves, are in that community or they have experienced that.

For example, the Intersex Project, I spent a lot of time on there. If I’m going to learn anything about the intersex community, I need to find content made by people who are intersex. I read Middlesex during quarantine and I loved it. It was amazing. It was a great book. The author isn’t intersex. I still want to learn more about that experience. I’m looking for organizations like the Intersex Project, sitting down and watching videos that they made because people who are featured in that organization who are affiliated, they record their own videos where they talk about their story. I watched almost all of them especially because not everyone is intersex in the same way.

They all have different experiences. I like seeking out that content and supporting independent content creators like looking for content made by people that it’s their only source of income. Andrew Gurza who is our first guest who I mentioned earlier, is a disability awareness consultant and that’s a title that he made up himself. Him as a Disability Awareness Consultant, what he does is that he does talks, he has his podcast, and he writes articles. That’s what I do. I seek out articles that are written by people from that experience. I read this great article from Vice about fatphobia and sex. I gravitate to specific articles or podcast episodes from content creators that touch on those subjects.

I’ve been listening to a lot to Short Wave by NPR is a science podcast, but it’s been interesting hearing them lately because they’ve been exploring the science behind racism or why climate change affects this group of people as opposed to this other group of people. If I had to give a shout out to one specific podcast or place to get content, I have been bingeing Nancy, which is a great podcast by WNYC. It was canceled after the 4th season but I’ve been listening to all of their older episodes. They have great content that is about the LGBTQ+ community, but you’re also hearing stories that aren’t so cookie-cutter. They’re not the typical of this story or the typical of that story.

You’re learning a lot about people from all different identities and different experiences. They had a great episode about child drug stars. Kids doing drug and they had a great episode exploring that. They had an amazing episode exploring queer sex ed. How there are some places that are advocating for that. They want sex education to not be heteronormative because many people I’ve spoken, they grew up with sex ed after schools and they’re like, “This doesn’t pertain to me at all. I’m not the target audience for this education. I don’t see myself practicing the things you’re asking me to practice or being careful in the way that you’re asking me to be.” Nancy is a great podcast to check out and for me, I love finding the op-eds. I love finding personal essays by people who are living in it. That’s the best way to learn about sex, sex work, different orientations, or experiences.

Is Middlesex the novel that was written by Jeffrey Eugenides?

Yes. He wrote The Virgin Suicides. It’s an incredible book. It’s like a history book. It goes over all these different periods of history. It’s like Forrest Gump in a way where this family and one of their daughters is intersex. This family, you see the different generations. They talk about Detroit back in the day and all these different historical things that happen. It’s so great. It’s pretty dense. It took me almost three years to finish it because I’m putting it down. I would read six pages then I felt like I read a whole history book or something. There’s so much information in it.

It wasn’t until during quarantine that I delve into it and I was like, “I’m going to finish it.” When I was like, “I have the time to only focus on this.” I finished it within days and it’s so good. I love it. It’s amazing, but it’s not by someone who is intersex. It is great and I’m sure a lot of people appreciate it or appreciate the representation. It inspired me to look for more information elsewhere. Whenever I consume anything like any documentaries especially during this time, I go watching many documentaries. Anytime I do that, I fall into a rabbit hole and look for content elsewhere. I look for supporting content or other things about it. The lesson doesn’t finish with the end of a book or the end of a documentary, I continue trying to learn more and teach myself by reading elsewhere.

What do you think is the overarching psychological process that a person can experience through storytelling? One thing that I’m moved by not listening to your podcast, Natalie, but so much information that I’ve been consuming. The one thing that I feel very moved by has been the deep, compelling power of the story. As you’re talking about reading these books and consuming this information, hearing these stories, what’s the psychological process here? Is it that, I have a greater expanded awareness? That leads to a greater sense of empathy for another human being who I don’t have a direct relation to what they’ve experienced. Nonetheless, there’s a sense of empathy or love that I experienced for this person via their story. Perhaps, that empathy translates into some action where I’m supporting a person who is different than me. What do you see the power of story or information having a psychological process on a person when they consume it?

It can make you more empathetic and more understanding of other people, especially with the Black Lives Matter protest. A lot of my friends have been reflecting on the content that they’ve consumed or the things that they learned in history class that weren’t necessarily true. They’re, me included, opening our eyes to things that we thought were true and they weren’t or things that we didn’t know. When we learn new things and about all these other experiences and stories, it makes us more understanding of how the world works. This is embarrassing that I didn’t know what Rosewood was until a couple of months ago. I didn’t know about Tulsa until I watched Watchmen the HBO series.

Isn’t that crazy that you learn history through some fictional TV show, most of which is fictional. It was interesting to see that because when I watched Watchmen, I was like, “This must not be real.” I looked it up and I was like, “This happened.”

When we learn new things and all these other experiences and stories, it makes us more understanding of how the world works. Click To Tweet

I thought the same thing. When you learn those kinds of stories, when you know about them, everything else makes a little more sense to you especially right now with the Black Lives Matter protest. That viral video of that woman who spoke passionately about why people are alluding and why alluding shouldn’t be frowned upon. Why you need to be more understanding of it? When she talked about that, she mentioned Rosewood and Tulsa. Knowing those two stories and things that happened, it makes you understand what’s going on a little better because she said like, “Black people have thrived in Rosewood and Tulsa and that was taken away from us and so we’ve tried to have our own properties, have ownership in this country, and have things that belong to us, but nothing belongs to us.”

When nothing belongs to you, that target that people are alluding, that doesn’t belong to the black community. When you learn those kinds of stories, you have a better understanding as to why things happen, why things are, especially if things are systemic and you’re more likely to be like, “I understand why that happens.” As opposed to these people have a good Civil Rights Movement or Jim Crow Laws, that was so long ago. They need to get over and stop. When you see the bigger picture and you see stories like Kalief Browder. I saw the documentary on Netflix. When you see that documentary on Kalief Browder or about people who are going to jail as teenagers for stealing a backpack, you have a better understanding of the world around you and you’re more empathetic, at least I hope so. In my case, I’m more empathetic to people. When I learn more and I see these stories, I have a better understanding of people’s struggles in a way. I try to.

You were told growing up, I was that you don’t know what people are going through like, “Try to be nice. You don’t know what people are going through.” I don’t understand why that is still isn’t the case especially when it comes to people who are being marginalized. Some people quickly jumped to conclusions or they’re like, “Get over it. You’re exaggerating this and that, whatever.” There’s plenty of stuff that’s happening to so many people and you don’t know. Even with the homeless population, some people might think that, “They got a job,” or “They made mistakes,” or “They brought this upon themselves.” When you speak to people who are in that situation, you learn about them, and why this happened, you have a better shunning. You’re less likely to dismiss things as get over it, this is your fault, or you brought it upon yourself.

When we’re children, we’re raised to be empathetic or be nice. Now as adults, every man for themselves, defend for yourself, and that’s their problem. That person is in that position because they made the wrong decisions. I don’t think that’s the way it should be. It’s such a bigger picture. My friends and me included, we’re all starting to realize that. It is important to educate yourself especially now. You see those Instagram posts and those lists during quarantine, while everyone is talking about race. Race is being talked about in mainstream media so much. Take the time to educate yourself and watch this documentary and read that book. If you’re at home, scratching your head, and not understanding why people are acting this way, why these things are the way they are, or why they’ve escalated, you have the resources out there to find that out.

It is our responsibility to seek out that information. I went to school in the Los Angeles Unified School District where we didn’t have any resources and I wasn’t around anyone who wasn’t Latino. I went to a predominantly Latin X school. I wasn’t around other people who didn’t look like me, other experiences, I didn’t learn all the things I know now. I wish that I did. We have a responsibility to teach our kids the truth about systemic racism. For us, this chapter is about slavery and Civil Rights Movement, but we don’t talk about them in between and now. When we do that, we’re helping build people to be more empathetic, as opposed to being more dismissive.

When you’re dismissive, you’re a little more divided because you’re like “It’s this way, it’s that way, my brain was wired to think that it’s like this,” and if you’re against that or if you’re different about that, then probably you’re a special case or you’re an exception, but it’s not the general thing. I find information important especially when there’s a lot of misinformation going around. Why not seek out content made by people of color, indigenous people, or LGBTQ+ people? I’m speaking for myself, I’ve consumed so much white heteronormative cis content all of my life. That’s all I’ve been like. What’s wrong with breaking away from that and watching a documentary, or watching a movie about a trans experience or the justice system? I’m all about information.

MGU 102 | Bisexuality

The Virgin Suicides: A Novel

This has been such an amazing exploratory conversation that went many different directions and there’s so much more to touch upon. It’s funny a few episodes ago, Jason and I were talking about one of the big reasons that podcasters “fail, stop or give up” whatever you want to call it. One of the reasons that podcasters stop creating episodes is they run out of things to talk about like topics. For you, there’s a never-ending topic database you can pull from when it comes to sexuality and all these different voices that you can bring on. I’m excited to see what you do with your show, to learn more from that, hear all these different perspectives on how people live their lives, what their preferences are, what they’re learning and struggling with. Thank you so much for being a guest on our show and doing the content that you’re doing. It’s important work.

I try to make informative content. That’s important to me and I’m not by any means a sex expert and that’s something that I’ve mentioned in my podcast. I am a journalist. I am someone who loves telling stories. I’m a storyteller. Entering a conversation as someone who doesn’t know that much and who wants to learn, I hope that I can create content where people are learning along with me.

Your approach is wonderful because it’s almost less intimidating, at least from my perspective, I’d rather hear from someone like you that feels like you’re going in with the type of questions and exploration that I would. It makes it easier for me to listen because I relate to you so much.

I can see that. That makes me feel good about myself.

I’m glad I can give you a little validation there. We all need that as content creators.

I explore this content and I’m like, “Should I be talking about this? Should I be reporting this because I don’t have a degree in this or that?” It’s nice to hear that.

It’s wonderful that you’re overcoming any imposter syndrome that might come up for you, Natalie because again, diving into the handful of episodes you have up for the podcast, I’ve felt expanded and opened listening to them. I’m already a huge fan. I want to piggyback on what Whitney said to acknowledge you for your courage, acknowledge you for bringing a voice to people that aren’t necessarily having a voice in the mainstream around their sexuality and identity. For the audience, you can find Natalie’s work on her website, it’s ByNatalieRivera.

Thank you.

I want to thank you for opening my heart and my mind to new perspectives. To you, our audience, thank you for joining us again for another episode with myself and my partner in crime, Whitney Lauritsen. Natalie, thank you so much. You were an absolute pleasure. I love your energy and love what you’re putting out in the world.

Thank you for having me. This was a great conversation. I loved it!

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About Natalie Rivera

MGU 102 | BisexualityNatalie Rivera is a video producer, podcaster, and journalist based in Los Angeles, where she is from. Her video production career began in 2015 when she was hired by POPSUGAR to script and produce videos for their daily content team. She spent nearly three years at POPSUGAR covering breaking news, human interest stories, and live events. Natalie was also a staff writer for POPSUGAR  where she wrote articles pertaining to entertainment, culture, and her Mexican-American roots.

She left the company in 2018 to join ATTN: as their editorial producer where she continued making videos, with a focus on politics, social innovations and the environment up until her departure in 2020. She is currently a freelance podcast producer for podcast streaming service Himalaya’s bilingual audio and video podcast, The Girl with the Self-Esteem Issues with Rosie Mercado. She is also the host, producer, and creator of How I F*ck, a podcast about sex and inclusivity.

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