SEX with Artist Je Rivera
‘‘SEX WITH’’…..is a blog spotlight series dedicated to creating a safe nonjudgmental space for people of all walks of life to reflect, explore, and discover their relationship to sex.
‘‘I TOLD THE TRANSGENDER WOMAN THAT I WANTED TO HAVE SEX WITH HER’’.
Initially, I had reached out to interview Je Rivera about the long heart-felt Facebook post he’d made the first week of January that essentially served as a public ‘'coming-out’’ announcement of his pansexual identity. Instead, our hour long interview was packed with experiences of molestation, incarceration, suicide, fetishization, sexual exploration, acceptance, forgiveness, and ultimately…self-love.
I guess I should have known I was in for an emotionally charged interview when Rivera said, ‘'Before I answer your question, let me move to where there aren’t any children that can hear me’’.
Still, despite his subtle foreshadowing, I was ill-prepared for the beautiful and tumultuous journey that led to the beautiful Facebook status that had initially drew me in to Je Rivera.
PATRIANA: Tell me about your first consensual sexual experience with a man.
RIVERA: First time I dived down that rabbit hole, the person was transgender. I was 18 at the time. There’s a area in New York called Greenwich Village. It’s a very liberated concentrated LGBTQ area. All of the misfits and rebels hang there. Around that time I was really into drugs and I was making a lot of money off the work I did with my mom. About $800 a week. Didn’t have any bills. So, I mean, there you have it. 18, with a lot of money to blow and no responsibilities. All I did was work and do drugs and shop. I had a wild style.
RIVERA: One day I’m with my friend and his girl. We’re all off ecstasy and we go to Greenwich. His girlfriend was this sexy Asian girl who was like…a graffiti groupie. We were into graffiti heavy. We were popular graffiti artists. In New York that’s a thing. Graffiti is a thing. His girlfriend was real attractive but she was a graffiti groupie. We had all slept with her. Our whole group had slept with her at some point but he wanted to wife her. So that was his girl and we were all hanging out on these steps in Greenwich. He started playing with her and they’re making out and then he goes down on her right there in front of everyone…right there on the steps he starts eating her pussy.
RIVERA: That was common though. Public sex was normal in Greenwich. While they’re doing that, I’m getting horny myself. I’m on ecstasy like them so my hormones are raging. This transgender woman walks by. She was beautiful. It wasn’t my first time being attracted to a transgender woman. In high-school there was this boy that was transitioning into a woman and I remember thinking she was so attractive. Looked like J. Love. I remember thinking, ‘‘Hmm, I think I need to try that’’. But, I didn’t have the nerve to talk to her… but I thought she was drop dead gorgeous. That had been my first attraction to a transgender person. Now at Greenwich, I was on ecstasy so…that was my excuse you know ? I could use that as a excuse like…oh I was on ecstasy. So I tell my friends I’m going to the store. I go and approach her. Within 10 minutes, we’re talking about sex. I told the transgender woman that I wanted to have sex with her. She declined though. We talked for a minute and then she left and…I wasn’t satisfied. I decide to go home because I needed some type of release. While I’m on the train on my way home, I meet another transgender woman. She took me home and we had sex.
PATRIANA: How was the experience for you ?
RIVERA: Once I orgasmed, I felt disgusting. The afterthought creeped me out. I felt dirty. I felt like I couldn’t tell my friends. It was kind of like…wow, here I am sitting with my friends and they don’t even know what I just did. They don’t even know who I am. I felt really weird about having laid down with a man. But…I kept doing it. I had urges. So even though it made me feel wrong…I still would do it.
Rivera’s pronoun use of ‘‘her’’ ‘‘she’’ and ‘‘woman’’ for the transgender individual intrigued me as it clearly contradicted the fact that he was using her as the example for his first sexual experience with a male. I couldn’t resist piquing his brain further on his ideologies surrounding gender and genitalia, especially with his perspective being one of non-hetero-normative.
PATRIANA: I notice you used your experience with this transgender woman to describe your first sexual experience with a man. That can be seen as quite offensive. What are your thoughts on transgender women fighting for their womanhood, to be seen just as women?
RIVERA: Well back then I was fetishizing them as men. Largely because I was still coming to terms with my sexuality and it was hard. You know, I never spoke about my sexuality growing up. I hid that. I was raised in New York and New York is largely influenced by hip hop culture. In hip hop….homophobia is real so it’s not easy for someone like me to be raised in New York. I’m a butterfly. You cage a butterfly and it dies. So, I hid my sexuality and I went through a phase of just really sexualizing (male-identifying) men and (fetishizing) transgender women. And that was wrong. No one deserves to be sexualized or fetishized. Not women or men. I was sexualizing men how women fight every day to not be seen or treated as. That wasn’t cool.
RIVERA: But honestly, when it comes to transgender women fighting to be seen just as women, that’s fine with me. I understand it. To me, I feel like when you go your whole life being misunderstood and trying to define and figure out yourself…you reach a point where you’re like…fighting to be seen. You’re fighting for an identity. They’re fighting for their identity. I get it. I feel it because I’ve been there. I think ultimately we’re all just spirits. I’m attracted to spirits, I’m open to different types of spirits.
I see….I see….
Rivera, in his present day self loving pansexual identifying glory, no longer fetishizes or misgenders transgender women as men. He openly and confidently has carried relationships with male-identifying men, as well as he has carried openly and healthy relationships with transgender women. As well as he has carried openly and healthy relationships with cisgender women.
Now, if you’re a detail oriented person, you would have caught that earlier on I shared Rivera’s responses to the question I posed about his first consensual sexual experiences with a man. Unfortunately, and tragically so, his first overall encounters with sex were not consensual at all and actually quite disturbing.
But…then again, when is rape culture ever not tragic, unfortunate, or disturbing ?
(correct answer is:)
N E V E R.
RIVERA: I was molested as a child from the ages of 5-10. By my older stepbrother.
PATRIANA: Oh my goodness. I am so so sorry you had to experience that Je. I can’t even imagine how difficult that was to overcome psychologically.
RIVERA: I actually forgot I was molested. My brain blocked out the memory. Until about high-school. In high-school I started having dreams about the incident. I was dreaming about my stepbrother and what he would do to me every night. And then I…I started to look at guys differently around that time. I would be at school and I would start thinking like..oh he’s cute. He’s cute. All of those dreams about my stepbrother…sparked my curiosity. And the curiosity turned into me actually trying it. And it wasn’t bad. I liked it.
PATRIANA: So you feel as though your molestation played a heavy influence on your sexuality? Do you feel as though your attraction to men would not exist if your abuse had never occurred?
RIVERA: You know, I ask myself that often. It’s a hard question. I don’t know. I can never truly know because I’ve never lived a life that did not include my abuse. But… it definitely influenced my sexuality but…I don't know if I would not like men if it never happened though. I may still have been into men either way. And that’s the accepting part. I feel like everything happens for a reason. Maybe that was just my life path. It was just meant for me to be fluid in my sexuality. My abuse…though it was fucked up and I didn’t deserve it..but it was in my life path. And I accept that. I accept who I am and what made me who I am.
PATRIANA: Wow, that’s pretty deep. How did you learn to cope with your past abuse ?
RIVERA: Honestly, acceptance. I just accept everything that has happened. I don’t think anything is a mistake. Some people are rubbed the wrong way when I say that but I believe it to be true. My abuse was just in my journey. It was apart of the shaping of me. It wasn’t avoidable which is why it happened. So I don’t beat myself trying to figure out if I was meant to be attracted to men or not. I just know that nothing happens by mistake and so I accept my destiny. I accept my feelings for men and for women. I fucking love women too.
PATRIANA: How was your first sexual experience with a woman?
RIVERA: (laughs) Ironically, my first encounter with a woman was molestation too. I actually had a lot of sexual encounters with women at a young age. And what’s funny about it….is the first one was before I got molested by my stepbrother. My first sexual encounter was with a woman. I was 5. The lady was my moms friend. She used to babysit me. She was dropping me off one night . She stopped me and she said ‘‘have you ever seen these before?’’ …And then she exposed her breasts to me.
PATRIANA: You have got to be kidding me.
RIVERA: Even though I was only 5…I liked it. I knew something was wrong with her showing me. I knew that it was something to be kept secret. Like I knew not to tell my mom. But I liked it. I liked the way it looked.
PATRIANA: Did she ever make you have sex with her ?
RIVERA: We never had sex. She would just expose herself to me and let me touch her. She wasn’t the only one though. Before I was even 18, it happened with another 4 or 5 women. One of them…she was also a friend of my moms, she grabbed my hand and put it in her crotch.
PATRIANA: How do you feel about the sexual abuse encounters you had with older women ?
RIVERA: I didn't look at it as molestation like I did my stepbrother.
PATRIANA: Why not ?
RIVERA: I think it's because we're taught we're supposed to have sex with the opposite sex. So it was more so like… well that was supposed to happen anyways. It just happened early. I do tend to be with older women in my adult life though. That definitely influenced that.
PATRIANA: Did you ever tell your mom ?
RIVERA: Yeah, but it was years later when I was in jail. I had went to jail for 3 years for selling drugs. I told my mom while I was in jail. I was 24 at the time. When I got out, that was the hardest 2 years following me telling my mom. Dealing with my family’s sympathy and regret and guilt, it was a lot.
insert hoe phase at age 24, post jail, when Rivera is buff and looking good and all the women (and men) are throwing themselves at him!
‘‘I was fat and ugly as a child so I had never been popular with the women. But when I got out of jail…everything changed. Women were at my fingertips. I was having sex with the waitress, the bartender, the flight attendant. Everybody. I remember thinking around that time like…yeah this is adulthood? Oh this is fun’’, Rivera stated with a laugh.
PATRIANA: What was your worst sexual experience ?
RIVERA: Hmm with this one girl I had flew out to me. I was living in Florida at the time. I had knew her back from when I lived in New York though. We just had never had sex. I flew her out though because I like shit like that. I like to fly people around and show them a good time. Sometimes my first time meeting them be right there when I’m picking them up from the airport.
RIVERA: So I flew this girl in and we had drinks and stuff. The conversation was great. Everything was great. We go back to my spot to have sex and…it was terrible.
PATRIANA: What made it terrible?
RIVERA: She was too shy. She couldn’t loosen up. I don’t know. I think she was afraid of me looking at her like some hoe or something. The thing is, sex is all in the ideas. In order for it to be real good and fluid, that person has to have liberated ideas about sex. It’s not going to be that good if they don’t. They have to be free.
I definitely understood where Rivera was coming from and agreed with him wholeheartedly. I am a strong advocate for the healing and liberating abilities that lie within our relationship with sex. I was also pleased to listen to Rivera as he shared progressive habits and communication methods he uses with his own sexual partners…
RIVERA: There’s so much lack of dialogue surrounding sex that we should be discussing. Like sexual health and just overall sexual hygiene. I ask people questions and they get offended and it’s just really…it’s really because of lack of dialogue.
PATRIANA: What are some ways you try to practice healthy dialogue ?
RIVERA: So like…this one time I was having sex with my ex. I pulled out and looked down and seen all this white stuff.
RIVERA: I didn’t ridicule her. I just gently told her like, baby I think you may have a yeast infection. So we went to the store and got what she needed and that was that. She felt safe and she had what she needed. We need to learn to make our partners feel safe always. If we go down on each other and we aren’t the freshest..okay. Don’t ridicule them. They’ve been running around all day. Let’s just get in the shower so we can be fresh and make this experience more enjoyable for the both of us. That’s all it is to it.
PATRIANA: I love that. What a fresh perspective. So in regards to sexual health, how do you practice it in your personal life ?
RIVERA: Asking questions. Do you test? Can I see your papers? Have you had a STD before ? Just being responsible. It all boils down to responsible communication.
PATRIANA: I agree. So have you ever had a STD ?
RIVERA: I had syphilis before. And the scary part was, I didn’t even know I had it. I didn’t know how long I’d had it or who I got it from. I didn’t have symptoms or anything. You know with syphilis, it can remain dormant for 10+ years. I found out when I went to jail for selling the drugs. They test you. So when they tested me, they told me that I had syphilis. And that was a huge wake up call. It was scary to learn that you can have something and not even know it. Prior to getting syphilis, I was always just kind of rolling the dice. But after that, I definitely became more socially responsible. Getting tested and asking my partners questions.
As though our interview couldn’t get any more interesting, it took an unexpected turn when I asked Rivera to open up a bit more about his last relationship and his views on love and intimacy in general…
RIVERA: Human beings are fucking possessive. My ex girlfriend was shocked because I told her I was okay with her fucking another man.
PATRIANA: You told her that ?
RIVERA: Yeah. Look at it this way. For instance, she was taller than me. I’m pretty sure the majority of her exes have been taller than her as she’s used to dating taller men. So…what if taller men make her rocks get off? She'll never get that with me. So what does that mean ? She’ll never be able to experience that fantasy again while she’s with me ? Nah that’s dumb to me. If she wants to spice it up every once in a while by laying down with some tall dude… Why not?
PATRIANA : What did she say when you told her that
RIVERA: She was surprised. She asked, If I fuck someone can I do it in front of you?...and I said you fucking right! I'll masturbate to that shit . I like that nasty shit.
PATRIANA : So what happened? Why is she a ex?
RIVERA: She was a liar. I was finding out too much stuff about her that she kept lying about. I can’t stand liars. So I had to let her go.
It’s safe to say that Rivera has taken the time to define his perspectives regarding sex, dating, and relationships in ways that work for him. And unapologetically so.
I found that to be profound as it isn’t common for people in general to do so, but it’s even less frequent I come across men who have such fearless alternative principles in their ideas surrounding love & intimacy. Rivera revealed how ultimately spending time with women and listening to women most shaped his principles for being with women in relationships.
RIVERA: I love women. I spent a lot of time with my cousins and their friends at a young age and they taught me that women are just as sexual and have just as many needs and desires as men. I would overhear my cousins talking and they would be like, ‘‘yeah I went over and fucked him. I just wanted some dick right quick’’. And it showed me that they are just as sexual as men. It’s just….they get called names for being true to their sexual nature.
PATRIANA: Why do you think that is ?
RIVERA: There's such an absence of accountability prevalent in society. I'm a rebel. Once I figured out my voice and could have ideas in sexuality then no one could tell me nothing. No one can tell you how to be you. I hate when men tell women how to be women. It's the dumbest shit. I'm like yeah cause you have a vagina and you know what that’s like. Men need to check their homeboy for doing foul shit. 5 years or so I've made it a point to be a voice of reason to the men around me.
Of course our interview was packed with so much stuff that I almost forgot to ask him about the Facebook status that I was originally supposed to be interviewing him about. In the end I did manage to squeeze in a question though…
PATRIANA: So all of that led to the Facebook post you wrote a few days ago ?
RIVERA: Yep. I made the decision that 2019 would be my best year yet. No hiding. No doing stuff off the radar. I know this new sense of freedom will only bring more abundance of everything and I’m ready for it.
PATRIANA: Well you certainly have not had a lack of experiences, even while in being lowkey. I’m excited for your new journey of honesty and transparency.
RIVERA: 2019 is going to be amazing. I can feel it.
MEET JE RIVERA.
Je Rivera is a 32 year old artist who produces liberating and thought-provoking content dedicated to challenging the societal norm. His crude and bawdy sense of humor is often highly criticized, somewhat offensive, and oddly enough…pretty charming.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR :
Patriana Jones is a 24 year old creative who uses her literary talents to explore topics such as sex, dating, and relationships. She is Founder of #MeLiberated and uses her platform to create dialogue and curate spaces dedicated to healing, liberation, and self-love.