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Caroline Giuliani's Mission to End Sex Shame


Forget her dad -- this pansexual filmmaker has radical things to say about the liberating power of threesomes and other sexual adventures.

When I first read Caroline Giuliani's column in Vanity Fair late last week, "A Unicorn'sTale: Three-Way Sex With Couples Has Made Me A Better Person," I had a sense of pride and exhilaration for her. It could not have been easy for her to be so brutally open and honest about her pansexuality, and meaningful experiences with threesomes. What she did took guts, particularly with someone with the last name of Giuliani. But this has absolutely nothing to do with her father.

The media would have you think that it did, but in truth, Caroline Giuliani is her own remarkable person, and that comes through vividly in her story. And after coaxing her to speak with me, she is also fiercely self-effacing. The sensational headlines and summations of what she wrote didn't do her justice. This isn't some scandalous tale about her sex life. It's a coming of age tale, from her generation, that talks about healing and freedom.

Almost a year ago, I wrote a column about the proliferation of throuples in the media and talked with renown sex and relationship expert Dr. Joe Kort. He expressed the desire that people need to come forward and be more open and honest about their three-way relationships. The more who do so will result in less people gasping in horror at the thought of such an arrangement, or of a three-person dalliance.

Being in a romantic throuple, and bisexual, was mostly to blame for former U.S. Representative Katie Hill's resignation from Congress. When I spoke with Hill, she and I both agreed that at 31 years of age, perhaps she was ahead of her time for the aged 70 and up House leadership, and most of her older former House colleagues, who stood in judgement of her lifestyle and orientation. And that's exactly what they did. They judged her based on something they know little about.

In her words, Giuliani is attempting to tear off the shame around threesomes, throuples and being a unicorn, and she professes to "...want to live in a world where we talk about sex as comfortably as we talk about food or the weather." For Giuliani, becoming more free and open about her sexuality, has helped her become "more empathetic, radically open-minded, profoundly adventurous and committed to telling stories that reduce the stigma around sexuality and mental health."

I wanted to know more about this so-called radicalism and this train of thought, so I reached out to Giuliani. Initially, she said, thanks but no thanks. She wanted her thoughts to speak for themselves, and she was not out to garner additional media attention. But I pressed her, and she agreed to talk, as long as I was clear about conveying the fact that she is keenly aware about her position of privilege, and that there are so many more people who deserve the attention more than she does.

"One of the questions you sent me in advance was if I had any role models, or anyone I looked up to," Giuliani began during our phone call on Monday. "There's a ton of people I admire and follow in the LGBTQ community. For example, I have enormous respect and love for Black transgender women, who are much braver than anything I could possibly do in my life. I aspire to be like them, where bravery is required to be oneself."

For that reason, Giuliani was apprehensive about coming forward. "I was a little nervous about writing the column for Vanity Fair because I know I'm in a privileged position, and I don't want any sympathy or anything like that. In that respect, I'm ok with being judged, and used to it to some degree. All I wanted to do, through the column, was add to the dialogue about alternative lifestyles through one perspective, just mine, and in the hopes of getting more representation for other people."

I asked Giuliani why she decided to come forward now? "During the pandemic, I had lots of opportunities to reflect and write. My goal, as a writer and filmmaker, is to create content that destigmatizes sexuality. Unofficially, I'm pretty open about my sexuality with friendships and relationships I have, and I've talked candidly about being radical open-minded and having different orientations and lifestyles. More intentionally, I began putting that into my work, and using that perspective to color the commentary and scripts I was writing."

To Giuliani, it was about making people feel comfortable about sexuality through her own experience and vulnerabilities, and she decided to do it through a national platform. "I wanted to say the things people were thinking about but afraid to talk about. I wanted to be disarming and focus on our common humanity, hoping to further ways to overcome all that divides us."

The reaction, as I noted by the media, was overwhelming. However, I wanted to know what kind of reaction she has been experiencing personally? "It's been really positive. But of course, I'm hearing from the whole spectrum. Inevitably there are some who are resorting to standard slut-shaming, and others who feel quite the opposite.

"When I was writing the piece, I was trying to communicate with people who didn't understand lifestyle choices or different orientations, without watering them down too much. Some people didn't get it; however, others have been touched, telling me, 'You said exactly how I have been feeling." Or, 'You helped me articulate what's inside me.' So many feel silenced by society, and it was nice to shine a light on something that lingers in darkness."

Were there the obvious reactions about that last name? "Well, very expectedly there were comments that I was just trying to get attention, which was definitely not my intention. Others said I had daddy issues, and that was also expected. I think that aspect will probably hang over everything I do for the rest of my life. And that's fine. I have accepted that. If people don't want to look deeper that's on them. I'm just glad that the subject matter is what's getting the attention."

To that end, I asked Giuliani if her family was supportive about how she lives, and about what she wrote. "I've been committed to being super honest and open about my choices and my orientation. I've been living openly in advance of writing and developing sex-positive characters. I talk to everybody about sex without shame. I have had lots of conversations with my family about throuples, and generally they support me. It's not always easy, but I feel love and support."

And lots of love and support for Giuliani comes from her relationship with the LGBTQ+ community. "I owe a debt of gratitude to the community which has made me always feel so safe and comfortable. I was so lucky to grow up with some amazing gay friends who were instrumental in showing me the right way to live my sexuality and to be open about it. So many use sexuality to shame people. It's a powerful way to control people. As we collectively keep pushing, hopefully things will get better and better. It's so important for more people to learn more about all the different aspects and approaches within our community."

I wondered what advice Giuliani might have for others who yearn to break free, to be "weirdly wild"" or to just be themselves? "First, remember that it's progression, and a lifelong learning process," she explained. "It's so important to be gentle and patient with yourself. Shaming is so toxic, and it's pervasive in many unexpected forms. Shaming yourself is equally toxic, and it's never good to express yourself in a place where you do not feel safe.

"When you have the opportunity to be yourself, and express yourself, you're tearing off the chains that are inhibiting. Also, pay attention to the voices you surround yourself with. It's really easy to underestimate how important it is to be around the right people, and to make sure you're in an environment that is supportive. And take heart in the fact that there really is a community out there for you."

John Casey is editor at large for The Advocate.

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John Casey

John Casey is a senior editor of The Advocate, writing columns about political, societal, and topical issues with leading newsmakers of the day. John spent 30 years working as a PR professional on Capitol Hill, Hollywood, the United Nations and with four large U.S. retailers.
John Casey is a senior editor of The Advocate, writing columns about political, societal, and topical issues with leading newsmakers of the day. John spent 30 years working as a PR professional on Capitol Hill, Hollywood, the United Nations and with four large U.S. retailers.