No Means No #MeToo

Reporter Mia Rodriguez shares her story as part of the #metoo movement

Opinion by Mia Rodriguez | reporter

When I was in kindergarten, a kid said “I will show you mine, if you show me yours.” He showed me his penis.

I was young and confused, as I did not understand. I ran away from him because I did not want to see it.

When I was in middle school, I was grabbing something from the bottom of my locker when a guy grabbed and slapped my rear end and ran. It scared me, so I went and told the teacher, who said “Maybe you were just in his way while he was passing by.”

I went back to my locker, then the same guy came back up to me and said, “Why did you snitch? You should be lucky anyone would touch you” before he left. My heart sank and I stood there in disbelief.

When I turned 18 and started making my own decisions. I decided to download a dating app called Tinder. On Tinder, I matched with a boy and arranged plans to meet up.

I met up with him in Emporia. He was very sexually aggressive.

“Are we gonna have sex or what?” he asked. I looked at him and said “I don’t know.”

He told me to leave and that I wasted his time.

After going to school in Emporia, I moved back to Wichita and started working. My co-worker, ten years older than me, complimented me every day and asked if I was losing weight.

I worked alone with him late at night and he liked to stare at me and ask me about my sexuality. He would ask me about “my type” of people to date and ask “How are you single?”

I would not answer.

He asked me on dates and I would say no.


“Why?” he asked.

I told him he is not my type, I am only 18 and he is a lot older than me.

Later, I quit that job because of him and other reasons.

When I was 19, I met a guy and had been seeing him for a while. He told me to do things I did not want to do. I would say no, but he would put his hand on my thigh and ask “Why not?”

“I don’t want to,” I said. He said, “Okay.”

Later in the night, his hand was in my pants. I told him to stop and he did stop for a second, but then he said, “I bought you something to eat so you owe me.”

“You bought me a $1 burger,” I said in my head. This happened twice.

I asked some people about the incident and most said, “You went to his house, what did you expect?” I never questioned it again.

He kept asking me to come over. One night and I told him no because I was busy.

“You are not busy, do not make excuses. You know you want to see me,” he said.

He continued texting and guilting me then I told him to leave me alone. I never saw him again.

At 20 years old, I went to a concert. A guy grabbed my rear end and smacked it, I turned around thinking it was my boyfriend, but he was in the bathroom. I told the stranger not do it again and he responded with “Do not dress like that.” I was wearing a T-shirt and jeans.

Now I watch my back but have learned to speak up, instead of keeping everything to myself and being scared. I am stronger and happier now, and I am not afraid of anyone anymore.


The Inside Scoop: Austin Allen

Sports editor, Madison Pierce interviews freshman Austin Allen on what it was like for him to come out as gay

Madison Pierce: At what age did you realize that you liked the same sex?

Austin Allen: My sophomore year [of high school].

MP: How did you come out to your parents?

AA: I came out to my parents separately. I had come out to my mother junior year [of high school] and my father my senior year. It was at the end of my senior year when I was dating my first boyfriend. I felt that it was time for me to tell my father, so I could finally be myself. They were both really accepting of my sexuality. I had come out to them in person.

MP: Was it hard to tell your friends? What did they say or think?

AA: I came out to my best friends before I came out ot my parents. They were very accepting.

MP: What’s a common reaction to you coming out as gay?

AA: The most common reaction that I get to coming out to people is that they either say that they already kinda knew or that they are still here for me.

MP: Any fears about being openly gay? (Jobs, making friends, etc.)

AA: I have had fears that my sexuality would affect how people think of me and how some people might not want to be friends with me. The biggest fear is that some of my family might not accept it.

MP: How do you face your fear of people not accepting you?

AA: I faced my fear by being proud of my sexuality and discovered that I do not need people’s approval.

MP: Have you been to any pride events/marches?

AA: I have been to one pride event and would like to say it is an amazing experience because you get to see people come together not to just celebrate LGBTQ, but getting to see that we are all equal.

MP: How does your experience of being openly gay compare to others?

AA: My experience of being openly gay is that I am proud of who I am. Other people that I know are—most of the time—the same way. There are some who feel like they have to closet that part of them away because of how people will think of them.

Split Views

Different queens talk about the drag experience

Imani Kotoure

Nadine Armstrong | photo editor

Current Miss Gay Wichita Pride 2k17, Imani Kotoure, has only been part of the drag community for about two years after her best friend at the time got involved.

“I had known of drag, but had not really seen any of it off screen,” Kotoure says. “When my best friend at the time got into it, and I began helping him, and learning more about the art of drag along the way I fell in love with the art.”

Kotoure’s favorite part about being a drag is getting to prep for a gig.

“I add whatever songs I am performing that night to a playlist of other songs that tend to get me ready to slay, pour a glass of wine, and some munchies, and then sit down at my vanity,” Kotoure says.

When transforming Kotoure takes three hours to paint her face for something important, but can get ready in two when needed.

After arriving at the bar, Kotoure goes backstage to become a woman.

“I tuck, and layer on like 5 pairs of compression shorts,” Kotoure says. “Then grab my body from my body bag, … which is two hip pads made out of foam …, and then two butt pads, also of the same material. I put those on under two pairs of flesh tone tights, and then I layer on about eight caramel colored ones after that, along with a pair of fishnets and my undergarment.”

Next in Kotoure’s transformation she puts on her foam breasts, costume and starts getting ready for her first number.

“My last steps are putting on my wig, nails and jewels because I always feel like they pull my looks together,” Kotoure says.

Then she is ready to go on stage and perform.

“It’s an amazing feeling to put so much time and energy into a performance and then to take it a step further and to be able to see the people in the audience, friends and family alike, live for you and all of your hard work, it’s exhilarating,” Kotoure says. “I always say, If you’re doing it right, you’ll feel like you’re Queen of the Night.”


Terri S. Aqui

Nadine Armstrong | photo editor

Former Miss Gay Wichita Newcomer 2016 and first alternate to Miss Gay Kansas Newcomer 2017, Terri S. Aqui as been active in the drag community for the last five years. She entered the drag community through an ex-boyfriend who was a drag queen.

“In the middle of our conversation I told him I thought it would be easy; something I could mark off my bucket list of things to try,” says Aqui, “so I went to the Amateur show called ‘Boot Camp.’ After your performance, the judges tell you everything you did wrong and everything they hated. I kept coming back until they couldn’t judge me anymore and 5 years later I’m still at it.”

When Aqui is getting ready for a show, she takes a nap two to three hours before the show so she can reflect and relax. When Aqui wakes up, she finds a song to perform.

“Once I wake up, I just think of a song that reflects my current mood for the moment and perform that,” Aqui says.

To keep it quiet while putting on makeup, Aqui gets ready on Facebook live. When it comes to the glamorous outfits, she orders them, but she is learning how to sew her own.

Every Saturday, Aqui hosts a show with her drag grandmother Adina Ronee at Club Boomerang called “The Saturday Night Pre-Game.”

“Being on stage is the best feeling in the world,” says Auqi, “because you are taking on a completely different persona and living a new life all in that moment. All of your problems and worries go away.”

Performing does have its challenges. Aqui has to find new and creative ways to keep the audience engaged so they do not get bored watching the same set.

“Drag is an art form, drag is self-expression, drag is beautiful and you should never judge a queen,” Aqui says, “because it takes more courage to stand in front of a group of strangers and dance your heart out in a dress than you’ll ever know.”


Harmony Nyte-Carmichael

Noah Merrell | design director

For Carmichael being a “Drag Queen” is not just dress up, it is a way for her to be her true self.

“It is a difficult thing to explain,” she says. “You know that feeling when you just get your haircut, or you know your makeup looks great? Put on those new shoes and feel untouchable? Being in drag is that feeling to me. It is nice to walk around and feel beautiful. It is even nicer when you have a crown on your head!”

Going into the show she plans everything out even days before.

“I always pack my bags the day before a show just in case I forget something I will have time to pack it before heading to the event,” she says.

She treats the packing like she is going on vacation and can plan up to a week worth of just clothing.

When it does come to show time she has to get into her persona and loosen up to help her get prepared.

“Typically on show days, I find myself jamming to the songs I will be performing that evening on repeat. I love to use my show prep as a time to become Harmony,” she says. “That being said I like to get into the mindset of what I will be doing for the evening.”

Not only is drag something she loves to do, but it has also come with some awards for her.

“I am proud to say that I am the current Miss Gay Wichita, Current Miss XY, Former Miss Boomerang, and Former Miss Wichita Pride. I am a recipient of the MImi VanHorn Evening-gown award, the Fritz Capone Talent Award, and Miss Wichita Pride – Audience Choice Award,” she says.

She also said that she strives to be the most awarded Queen in Kansas.

“I am known as a ‘pageant queen.’ I honestly just do drag to compete and win pageants. That is just me. Some queens would not be caught dead competing in a pageant,” she says.

It is safe to say that Harmony has made a name for herself in the drag world and is even recognized sometimes when she is not even in drag.

“Often times going by any of the clubs or bars I am called Harmony (in-or-out of drag) however, it is not common for me to be stopped out in public and greeted as Harmony,” she says.


Abstinence is Not Education


“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul,” 1 Peter 2:11. Some Christians believe that sex is a beneficial gift from God in the context of marriage, and all other sexual relations are immoral. To illustrate that, Design director Noah Merrell used someone holding a cross and a condom in each hand to show that by choosing to have sex before marriage is betraying Christianity in the eyes of some Christian Americans.

Opinion by Noah Merrell | design director

Abstinence-centered sexual education is a disservice to all people and it is about time we fix this broken system.

So can someone tell me why schools still have a primary focus on abstinence when it comes to teaching young adults and teens about sex?


It is true the only 100 percent foolproof way to prevent STDs and unplanned pregnancy is by practicing abstinence, but the expectation for unmarried people to avoid doing something as natural as sex is preposterous.

This mess all began in 1981 when the Adolescent Family Life Act (AFLA) was passed without hearings or floor votes in the U.S. Congress. The act was established to promote “chastity” and “self-discipline.”

Funding for this act was cut in 2011, but still took the majority of funds.

Although funding has changed for the AFLA it has just been hidden in a new program, abstinence-only programs now have a new name: “sexual risk avoidance.”

Sex is not an evil thing, but by only teaching abstinence schools are not providing students with the proper tools to have safe sex.

Some people believe talking about sex should be left up to the parents; this is an entirely wrong way to look at it.

First, there are LGBTQ+ relationships, and if the parent or parents do not know much about same-gender sex, then they will be almost useless in helping their child understand how to be safe.

Next, if the kid is living in the system such as with foster parents, they may never have that parental figure in their life to explain safe sex to them.

Let’s be honest though, how many of us have been told the birds and the bees by our parents? If we were, was it at a reasonable age or had we already had sex by that time in our life?

You see, it is an uncomfortable conversation to have and some parents avoid it in general, because It is so much easier to just sit down and tell your kids to wait until marriage, when we all know that is not a realistic expectation.

There is also a religious dilemma, the most popular one being that some Christian Americans believe that sex before marriage is a sin. Even though people believe that, it does not mean they are practicing it.

According to the Kinsey Institute; California State University, the average male loses his virginity at age 16.9; females average slightly older, at 17.4.

So it is pretty obvious that people are not waiting very long before they become sexually active.

According to the AIDS Policy Research Center & Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, states that have taught comprehensive sex and/or HIV education and covered abstinence along with contraception and condom use tended to have the lowest teen pregnancy rates, while states with abstinence-only sex education laws that stress abstinence until marriage were significantly less successful in preventing teen pregnancies.

I mean the proof is in the conception. If you are not giving people every tool to help prevent accidents or the spread of disease, then you are doing nobody a favor and are only spreading ignorance.

If you do not teach young adults and teens how to have sex correctly, then you are adding to the problem.

The most aggressive and effective way to prevent these mishaps is to tackle the issue straight on with inclusive and thorough information about sex.

The worst disease to spread is the attitude that sex is a bad thing and something that should not be discussed. It is a very natural part of being human, so let’s stop preaching abstinence and start talking the real issues.

There is nothing wrong with having sex, but there is something wrong with how we are teaching people about sex.

The only way to solve this problem is to start the conversation.

Let’s talk about sex.


How to Fall in Love After Your Sexual Assault

Guest columnist Victoria Lemon shares her story of overcoming being sexually assaulted

Opinion by Victoria Lemon | guest columnist

I was 17 years old when I was raped by a man I thought I had a close relationship with. There are a lot of things from that night my mind blocked out in order to protect me- my good ol defense mechanisms kicked in. However, there is a lot I do remember.

I remember waking up the next morning next to him. Taking a shower, and looking in the mirror and realizing with all the bruises on my body I resemble more of a smurf than a human being. I went to work like I usually do, and it was there that I broke down and told my manager what had happened.

I did everything I thought I was “supposed” to do. I made a report with the police and eventually took him to court where I testified against him. He got six months parole for assault. You read that right- assault, not rape. I wish words could describe the betrayal I  felt, from the judge to myself.

When the trial was over and I was left with a life sentence and he was left with a slap on the hand, all I could think about was “So what now?”

Forgiveness? No, it was too soon for that. Do my best to forget everything that happened? Yeah, that’s the one I went for. So for almost three years, I kept myself busy. I tried to fill a void that he created and I allowed to stay there. I went to school, work. I  dated around but never allowed myself to get close to anyone, especially not intimately. I focused solely on loving others the way I wished I loved myself.

Fast forward to June of 2017. I got my first ever boyfriend, and let me tell you, it was quite the experience. However, no article or support group or “sexual intimacy after sexual assault” self-help book could have prepared me for trying to love someone, and myself, all while fighting demons from years ago.

My boyfriend would touch me and I would have flashbacks, leaving me sitting on his lap crying, and apologizing. He tried to understand but you can’t until it’s you with hand shape bruised around your neck, and a sore throat from saying “no” so many times. I’d lash out at boyfriend just because all I could feel was anger. I was pissed off at the man who raped me, I was pissed off at myself for not being healed, I was even pissed off at God.

December came quickly. It was cold and I was tired. I realized I was looking for love in the wrong places, and I would continue to do so until I learned to love myself the way I loved myself three years ago before it was taken away from me. I ended a relationship and started a new one-this time, with myself.

And that’s what it took. It took me forgiving my assaultant for what he had done. Not just forgiving him, but hoping he could conquer whatever demons he had so he could heal himself, too. Then the next step was to forgive myself for all the time I spent hating myself, and for hating him. I eventually found a relationship with God again. I no longer cursed His name or pitied myself. I accept what had happened to me. I realized I was still worth loving, regardless of what happened to me. There is no rule book on how to love yourself after a tragedy. There isn’t a rulebook for anything. Acceptance, forgiveness, time and self-love. That’s what it took for me.