|Alex Hirka: Bisexual and Sex Activist, Artist, Creator and Promoter of One World Orgasm Day: The Holiday That Celebrates Sex|
Interviewed by Goddess, 2001
Alex Hirka was realizing his bisexuality in the 1960s and 70s at a time when there wasn't much information on the subject. Now he and his partner Laurie are using their experiences and offering support to other bisexuals via their website, in their community, and through Alex's One World Orgasm Day celebrations. By offering people a place to voice their feelings and to be heard, Alex is doing his part to make this a more peaceful world, in which we might all better understand one another, regardless of our sexual orientation.
G: Tell us about your project, One World Orgasm Day.
AH: I thought a holiday was needed to celebrate sexuality, its explosive joy and body pleasure. If there can be a national pickle week, certainly people should have a special annual day to celebrate the energy of orgasm. Like Super Bowl Sunday, people could plan sex parties; like Christmas, they'd give sex gifts; like Halloween, dress up in costumes and role play; like Valentine's Day, celebrate love and lust. It's really quite open.
G: Is there some significance to the date you choose - August 8th?
AH: There was no big holiday during that time of summer, and the season was certainly conductive to body energy celebration. In addition, I wanted to give my partner, Laurie, a birthday present, so I chose August 8th; her birthday.
G: What has been the reaction to OWO?
AH: Some with a blush, some with lusty enthusiasm, but people seem to love the idea of dedicating a special day or weekend to sex. Amidst all the cultural repressions and taboos, they love the opportunity to be open about sexuality in this celebratory, playful way. I've had people writing me from all around the world, telling me that they celebrated this day in various ways. Sex is one of the things that we mostly don't talk about in any real revealing way. This amazing, important aspect of our everyday life, this potentially amazing experience is reduced to a spice to sell consumer products and entertainments, a subject for snickery jokes. Way beyond any chemical/biological differences, our social cultures separate and alienate the genders, repressing and distorting what our sexualities are or could be. Being a child of the 1960's (I was 17 at the time of Woodstock), I believed (imagine) that we were all going to work on disarmament and world peace, on ending racism, exploring our creativity, becoming environmentally responsible, less competitive, breaking down gender roles and exploring sexual liberation. And with some brief detours and blind spots along the way I have kept those ideals alive in me. (In my 30's for a period, like many it seems in that age group, I sought to be "grown-up" and somehow equated that with more conservative ideas...kind of what it feels like the whole country is going through now...we've jumped from the Clinton's to Ozzie & Harriet.)
G: How do you think/hope people will be affected by celebrating OWO?
AH: I guess honesty is the big goal for me-- for people to comfortably acknowledge the sexuality of everyone from young to old. To begin to remove sex from the cloaked realm of guilt and disgust, lies and possessions-- most of which has been put there by the distorted views of the big world religions. To see sex scooped away from male domination! I guess I envision a world where sex is treated as one of the most natural and playful and pleasure-filled aspects of life. Long long way to go, I guess. I guess I'm a bonobo at heart: [www.blockbonobofoundation.org] But, I'm not the only one. As with the nationalism/materialism/religion verses in the song "Imagine", the sex/gender one I'd want to write needs to be imagined and brought to life someday.
G: How do you hope to expand on OWO for future celebrations?
AH: My web page , pass the word, sail it out on the cyber seas, t-shirts, bumperstickers, a coffee table book, a CD of orgasmic songs, interviews like this. Oprah would be helpful!
G: I've read articles that talked about tensions between the gay/lesbian and the bisexual communities. For those who might not be aware of this, explain if you can, the tensions between these communities.
AH: I only visit, and try to work with, the local gay/lesbian community; although there have been some very supportive voices, there are also very many who wish we'd either join up or go away. And in the heterosexual world bisexuality can be challenging because it's sort of 1/2 of what they are - not as easy to file away as homosexuality, which is completely "the other". Both Sides Now [www.angelfire.com/vt/bothsidesnow] was started by my partner Laurie and I, a year and a half ago here in Vermont, to create a place for people who are attracted to both sexes.There isn't much of a visible bisexual community here in Vermont beyond that. The range of people who show up is pretty wide, considering we're in a small city: lesbian women who can't speak of their interests in men to their friends; similarly gay men, but the male gay community is not as judgmental; married men having male sexual partners, who fear the loss of their spouses/families if they were to be honest. We also have male/female couples where one or both are bisexual and they want to find ways to make their relationship work better; people who at a certainly point in their lives are suddenly discovering and wanting to explore their attractions to the same sex; and bisexuals who have had relationships with men and women and want a place to hang out with people whose experiences connect with theirs. Quite a diversity of lifestyles to try to bring together. Bisexuality became an important "issue" to me, well, because I am bisexual and came up against the cultural pressures against living it honestly. Sides and roles were to be picked - gay/lesbian or heterosexual - and that didn't work for me, nor does it, I discovered, for millions of others. To read more, click the article link: [http://www.angelfire.com/vt/bothsidesnow/bi_article.html] The discussion and acceptance, which will allow more people the freedom to identify as bisexual, is really just beginning. Some interesting thoughts on that at: [http://whatexit.org/tal/writings/bimanifesto.html] OWO is only really related to any of these politics in that it is a general celebration of sexuality. I would hope it would just get people who want to be honest and playful about sexuality to be out there about it.
G: You told me that "looking back, it is quite obvious to me that I was always bisexual." In retrospect it was obvious, but were you confused about your sexual identity growing up?
AH: I guess the point is that the words/concepts weren't there to help me define myself. I knew what I liked, but I didn't know what it was. So many bisexually oriented people end up force-fitting into either heterosexual or homosexual lives. I'm amazed and thrilled that today young kids are beginning to have that information available, to begin trying to explore their sexuality and "coming out" whatever they are, without blinders.
G: Do you still struggle with your sexual feelings today?
AH: One of the hardest things for me has been to be with women and feel that I had to hide my attractions to men. What an amazing thing it has been to be with a bisexual woman who can understand and appreciate that. The lack of a truly bisexual space is a difficulty. There is only one "queer" bar in town and the men and women mostly keep to themselves. Flirting with a woman there would likely illicit the same response as flirting with a heterosexual man in a straight bar.
G: Do you think on some level that we're ALL bisexuals?
AH: I certainly think most people have the potential to enjoy sex with members of their own sex, and/or the opposite sex. Cultural pressures, and conditioning, and individual lives are all so entwined. I certainly have no doubt that liberated from some of these amazing constrictions, which most people aren't even aware they are entangled in from childhood, they could enjoy some amazing body pleasures with their own other other sex. But people do get comfortable and feel safe in the roles they grew up in, no matter how constricted. To see the levels of limitations, conditioning, and the power of peer pressure I only have to look at the case a few years ago of a local boy who wanted to wear a skirt to high school. There were endless discussions, an uproar...it was front page news! More than anything, I wish things were set up so people felt free to experiment and explore. There would be people who ultimately chose to be strictly heterosexual or completely heterosexual, but the middle ground, to varying degrees either way, would hold the majority. The strongest homo- or bi- phobias certainly seems to belong to men, along with the strongest fears around any gender fluidity. During the battle for Civil Unions here in Vermont this past summer, it was always the men who were most vehemently, almost violently, against it. Secondly there were the "religiously inspired" women.
G: What attitudes/messages do you want to impart to your children concerning sexuality? Do you feel that you are more open sexually (attitude wise) with your children than your parents were with you?
AH: It comes back to honesty for me. I want to be as honest with them about sexuality in general and about my bisexuality as I can be. To my memory my parents basically never acknowledged the existence of sexuality around me, never mind passing on any practical information. It's how things were in the Pleasantville of the 1950s. (There are forces at work to take us back!) Schools back in the days of Father Knows Best certainly made sure that even biological charts avoided anatomical correctness. As a result, as I became sexually aware, I knew better than to talk about it to anyone. Susie Bright's Nurture: Being Sexual and Being a Parent is a great piece of writing on the subject of sexuality & parenthood.[http://www.susiebright.com/stories/nurture.html] Seems like so many of the problems in people's lives around sexuality are that we're taught not to be honest about our thoughts, desires, fantasies. Secret lives. And then the fairytales teach that monogamy is the only exhalted relationship, and that jealousy is justified. We can't individually completely escape all the conventions and cultural constructions around sex and relationships, but I am trying with these wonderful little people to teach freedom and responsibility, in sexuality as in everything else.
G: Tell me about some of your hobbies, Alex.
AH: I make and love visual art. I was involved in the "Mail Art" [www.dragonflydream.com/MailArt.html] movement for over 10 years in the late 70s and early 80s. As a result, pre-internet, my works traveled all over the world, to private collections, galleries and museums. I've published magazines, produced recordings. Recently I put together all of the artwork on the Both Sides Now site and also for my site, 
I also created the artwork for the first four issues of SwitchKissers, [www.angelfire.com/vt/bothsidesnow/switchkissart.html] a bisexual magazine which was published in Montreal. (I also, quite proudly, made up the name for the magazine.) I love music, reading, film, writing... and ranting about politics - sexual politics and church/state stuff gets me started pretty quickly.
G: Alex, would you add some final thoughts/advice for anyone who might be struggling with his or her sexual identity?
AH: I can only approach that from a sort of existential perspective. The artist Eric Drooker did a great illustration for an Allen Ginsburg poem... a man walking in from one dark doorway, walking through a brief passage of light and life, and into another dark doorway "Life seems a passage between/ two doors to the darkness." I personally don't hold to any afterlife myths, and cherish reminders of my brief visit through this experience called human life. It helps me to focus on what to love and work for and what to learn to let go of. I won't be able to change the world to the point where it would be smart enough to immediately throw that evil idiot out of the White House tomorrow, but I can do lots more than the other currently popular extreme of going shopping at Walmart so I don't have to think about these scary smiling people in power.
This rant/preface leads me to the only advice I feel comfortable giving anyone which is to try to live as clearly and honestly as you can, to take the necessary risks, to not give up too much struggle or who you are for some sense of security. Find people to talk to! Being alone with the desires, the questions and struggles does not help. The internet has run wires between millions of closets and I suspect has helped open the doors of quite a few. It was why Laurie & I started Both Sides Now, to connect with other people; not necessarily to find any answers, but to share the questions and struggles. Courage!
Goddess has been published in Batteries Not Included, Subliminal Tattoos, Void of Tolerance, Venus or Vixen?, Dare Magazine, Grey Areas Magazine, Erotica Readers Association, Caress, Mike South.com and she's even dazzled the Playboy Advisor with some advice. She loves writing about relationships 'cause she's been married for... like... EVER to the SAME guy, and if that's not an amazing accomplishment, what is?
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When Goddess is not writing or spending time with her wonderful husband, she loves reading romantic fiction and non-fiction books on sexuality, spirituality, and anything that helps her understand her twisted thoughts a little better. She also enjoys Taebo, running, "testing" sex toys, trying to keep up with the idiocy on The Young and The Restless and email, so write her at email@example.com!
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