How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?
I make it a point to share the things that aren’t perfect or popular with my clients, both online and in private. I’ve always had a slightly greater than average willingness to say the things other people are thinking but aren’t saying, and I find speaking up about body issues, sexuality, dating, etc. in order to reduce shame and open up dialogues is probably the best thing I can contribute to my community.
Who or what was a catalyst for you?
So many things and people! One of the original and most powerful influences was an Indian poet named Shailja Patel who led a workshop I was a part of when I was 18. She talked about the importance of writing on taboo subjects and left me with a profound sense of duty to bring light to the dark corners.
What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in the field of sexuality right now?
Personally I find it difficult to straddle (tee hee) the line between arguing that it’s ok for women to be sexual creatures, without over sexualizing us in the same breathe. More widely, I think sexuality educators can’t seem to find a safe home in any field. Feminism (which many people, including myself promote and participate in) often ignores, disowns, or blames sex workers and slutty folks for societal ills. We also get attacked by politicians, Men’s Rights Activists, and religious groups. Sexual health and knowledge is tied into so many important issues, but we are in the dark ages in many places about this normal, crucial part of life.
What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable positive changes that have been made in the world of sexuality in the past year?
The increase in number of vocal sex-workers is awesome. I am also in love with the rising popularity of porn stars speaking at college campuses and out Queer politicians (in Texas we have lesbian Houston Mayor Annise Parker and pansexual Texas Representative Mary Gonzalez from El Paso). I think the growing attention and inclusion of trans-rights as an issue is pretty indicative of massive progress as well.
Why do you feel it is important to bring the topic of your session, Cancer is My Wingman, to CatalystCon West?
When I was diagnosed with cancer I took to the internet to find out how people were including cancer in their dating life. What I found was that mostly they weren’t. Everything I saw said either that dating is impossible with a chronic illness, or that you have to be lucky to find your one shining knight who will graciously look past your huge flaw. Yuck. The more I connected with other survivors, the more I saw that there was a huge demand for conversations about how to be sick and sexual at the same time. Sex is good for you and given the rise in cancer outbreaks, this is a topic almost everyone will need to deal with at some point in their lives – whether as a survivor or a partner.
Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself.
I’m a 4th generation massage therapist! I don’t do it professionally any more, but if you can find me, a massage table, and a bottle of coconut oil all together at the right moment, I’ll share some family secrets with you in the form of elbows in your knots.