To celebrate the one-year anniversary of this column, today we debrief The Debrief! Thank you for joining me here to talk about sex, dating and relationships. And another huge THANK YOU to all of you this past year who shared your stories, questions and reflections. Thanks, too, to you reading this right now thinking about what you want to add to the conversation. Yeah, you. What are you going to share this year?
The first person to respond to my request for stories submitted anonymously. Her story of finding her identity as a lipstick lesbian and coming out to friends and family has gotten the most page views of all The Debrief posts this past year. So, go you!
Josh shared another coming out story, reflecting on coming out to his friends two weeks before going to the Boston Pride Parade last year. Miriam told us about her process looking for a relationship but not wanting to start a family. An anonymous writer talked about other challenges in dating, due to religious complexity and her identity as asexual-with-exceptions. Ellen discussed the logistics of dating with celiac disease. But we didn’t get too down on the possibilities of partnership because Sam and Ben shared their adorable JDate success story.
In the summer, we took a serious turn. With the Winter Olympics about to start in Russia this week, we still need to grapple with the state-imposed persecution of homosexuality that Bryan discussed. After the High Holidays, Matt wrote about vanity and finding meaning and Amy explained the sexiness of touching and pleasing the same person over and over and over again.
I made Dorise wait with her post through the High Holiday season, but I was so excited for you to see what she did. Those graphs? She analyzed 125 first dates, assigned grades to each, and figured out which ones she really believed could have been something. Her post came in at No. 5 for most-viewed this past year.
After that, Sasha shared her hilarious (and so awkward) tale of an Internet date with someone staying in her building. Phylisa reflected on the support she got from the Boston community after going through a difficult breakup. I had a phone call with an anonymous helper for the piece about costume play. And of course I had such a good time chatting with 88-year-old Enid to get her dating advice!
Itai wrote about the Transgender Day of Remembrance, and Lee shared his story of friendships, breakups and living as a gay transgender man. Then Leah emailed me in mid-December, asking if I might write about safe space and respectful behavior at holiday parties. Through our conversation, Leah decided to share her story of being sexually harassed last year at a New Year’s party and what she did about it. Esther is the most recent person to contribute her personal reflections, writing about her conversations with her mom about sex.
I’ve really enjoyed my new strategy of crowd-sourcing pieces. Not knowing what to expect, I asked on Facebook in December, “Will you only date Jews?” The responses poured in, and the resulting series of nuanced positions was the second-most popular post this past year. Several people shared their New Year’s dating resolutions a few weeks later, and I have a piece in the works about your favorite ways to say “no.” Email me if you have a thought or two to share about that, and find me on Facebook if you want to get in on future conversations.
Here’s a quick shout-out to all the sexuality professionals—or people whose work intersects somehow—who have been featured in the column: Logan, Ayo, Sarah, Dara, Jordan, Joanne, Margie and Robyn. Tell me about other amazing sex, love and justice pioneers who might want to hang out here!
I love facilitating this space in which I can invite other community members to share their stories, questions and reflections, either by name or anonymously. I am honored every time people choose to share their stories with me, and I am deeply moved by what they express.
I also write several pieces myself. The most difficult pieces to write have been the two addressing issues of trauma and violence. I wrote a post connecting the ritual of spilling wine at the Passover seder with the Steubenville rape trial, and soon after that I wrote a post about different kinds of trauma in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing. It was a difficult spring.
My favorite posts of the ones I wrote myself are the pieces that push boundaries. One of my earliest posts asked, “Can hookups be holy?” I also wrote a post about National Masturbation Month in May. I also have enjoyed the opportunity to share some of my own process. Elul, the last month of the Jewish calendar, is a time set aside for reflection. I took the entire month to reflect on sex, dating, relationships and building community, and continued this tone through Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I gained a lot, personally, from working on these posts and sharing them with my readers.
I am always looking for new story ideas and new contributions, so I encourage readers to email me at email@example.com anytime.
Truth. Anytime. Like, right now. You know that story you’re thinking about? That date that you can’t figure out, that heartbreak you can’t shake, that friend who gave you the best advice you’ve gotten yet? I want to hear it. Use your name, choose a pseudonym, write it all out to send me or we can find time to just talk it through. Let’s debrief!