1. How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?
My goal is to bring sex-positivity to the fields of public health, medicine, and violence prevention. I want to cause broad shifts in how practitioners in these fields think about, talk about, and approach sex, pleasure, health, prevention, and response. I’m doing this by taking a broad approach to reach people at various points in their training and in a multitude of settings.
2. Who or what was a catalyst for you?
Megan Andelloux, Debby Herbenick, and Kate McCombs are my three biggest sex ed catalysts. Seeing their work affirmed for me that my ideas, dreams, and goals are both valid and achievable. Additionally, because each has a very different approach to sex ed, I knew I could do it “my way.”
Beyond that, the cancer patients I worked with inspire me each and every day. Their sharing their sexual stories is the reason I began researching sex and chronic illness. I carry their stories with me to this day.
3. What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in the field of sexuality right now?
Not approaching our work as a business as well as the lack of business resources available that incorporate solutions to the unique challenges created by this field. I’m so excited that resources like Tristan Taormino’s Sex Ed Boot Camp and Reid Mihalko’s Sex Geek Summer Camp are now available and really think they are just the beginning of a shift within our field to making this work sustainable and fulfilling on all levels.
4. 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 last year has seen some incredible and exciting policy changes and recommendations. These include the WHO’s endorsement of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), Medicare lifting the coverage ban on gender-affirming surgery, and Obama signing the LGBT nondiscrimination order. Additionally, we’ve seen more and more states allow same-sex marriage and an increase in the conversation around campus sexual assault.
5. Why do you feel it is important to bring this topic Sex, Dating, Kink, and the ‘C’ Word and How to be a Sex Positive Warrior in Public Health” to CatalystCon West?
Dating, Sex, Kink, and the ‘C’ Word
Simple: people have questions and not a lot of great places to find answers. When I worked with cancer patients, I experienced this massive divide between what the patients wanted to know about sex and what the healthcare providers knew and discussed. It really showed me that healthcare providers needed more training and patients needed more resources and places to ask questions. So for this panel, we wanted to reach both providers and patients to offer some guidance around common issues and what to do about them.
How to be a Sex Positive Warrior in Public Health
During my public health training, I spent much of my time lamenting about how the field was so sex-negative. I understood a lot of the ‘why’ behind this, but that didn’t stop the fact from bothering me. When I found others who had similar views, I knew it was time to really start doing something about it! Since Catalyst draws such a varied audience, we wanted to create a space to share our experiences and ideas as well as to see what’s worked for others. After all, the more of us who work towards this goal, the more likely we are to bring about impactful and lasting change.
6. Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself.
I adore Latin music and my favorite rhythm is the salsa (followed closely by cumbia). I don’t get out and dance enough!
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