How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?
In my work as a surrogate partner I have the honor of changing someone’s life by offering them the gift of practicing what it’s like to be in an intimate relationship. The clients are often adults who have never been sexual with another person. The changes they go through during their time working with me opens up a whole new world to them, one that they felt was out of reach. They can now replace feelings of inadequacy with feelings of confidence and feelings of shame with feelings of pride.
Who or what was a catalyst for you?
Every person I’ve ever been sexual with. The bad experiences, the not so bad ones, the amazing ones, have all shaped my sexual development and kept me constantly curious about my sexuality and the sexuality of others.
Academically, my professors at NYU in the sexuality education master’s program in the late 90s opened my eyes to the field of sexology and the many ways that sexuality is an integral part of our personalities and is woven into our culture.
What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable changes that have been made in our current society and the field of sexuality?
There is increased awareness of the lives of LGBT people and advances in civil rights, but still more work to be done.
What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in society and the field of sexuality today?
As a society, there is still deep fear around educating children about sex and sexuality. The cycle of ignorance will continue until this changes. Feelings of shame will continue to shape how people see their sexuality and that of others. Shame leads to feelings of hatred that are expressed both inwardly and outwardly. Even in the field of sexology, there is a taboo about looking at infant and child sexuality, so it is a challenge to get funded to do research.
Also the myths of “sex addiction” and “porn addiction” have to be debunked and those therapists taking people’s money to “cure” them should be stopped. They are in the business of shaming and furthering the victim status of spouses who are unhappy with their partner’s use of pornography and in some cases, sex workers. It is part of our society’s demonization of pornography, sex work and those who use either or both.
Why is your CatalystCon presentation topic important to you?
As a parent, I am the primary sex educator for my child. I take this role seriously. I know that what he learns at home will shape a great deal of his sexual self-esteem. I want him to feel at home in his body and to value it and those of others. I want him to see his sexuality as a gift to be celebrated, not something to be ashamed of. Imagine a world in which every child was raised this way.
Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself.
I smoke bubble gum cigarettes.