Sep 152017
 

Leandra Vane is presenting Parallel: Comparing Societal Stigma Between Disability and Sexual Non-monogamy. Check out her bio here.

Leandra Vane
How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

I live in a very small Midwest town, so my actions for change are small. I try to be the person people can talk to about sex. I share sex positive resources when I can. I use my background in library science to advocate for intellectual freedom and information access as often as possible. I read and recommend banned books. I donate non-fiction sexuality books and sex-positive fiction to my local library on a regular basis. I high five people I see reading romance or erotica in public.

Who or what was a catalyst for you?

Sex positive writers of both fiction and non-fiction have been my salvation since I was a teenager. Books have always been my best friends because the authors and characters were willing to have the conversations with me about sex and disability that so many people in my real life were unwilling or unable to have. Writers who shared their experiences and stories empowered me to start writing my own experiences down and gave me the fortitude to start forging my own connection with other people through my fiction and non-fiction.

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?

I go back to books again. Not only does my local library have the most sex positive books in their collection than ever before, more people are checking them out than ever before and requesting more. I’m giving out a lot of high fives!

What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in society and the field of sexuality today?

Despite the change in climate toward reading sexy books there are still constant battles raging over who can read what and what books or information should be made available to who. Small and rural communities are particularly vulnerable to intellectual freedom challenges and these communities are often the ones that need sex education and information the most. But because of things like budget cuts, local politics, and isolation these communities are often left out of the bigger picture in sex education and information access. Luckily there are dedicated librarians on the forefront doing amazing things every day. But I feel as a sex educator, my skills and resources are needed the most here at home and we still have a long way to go.

Why is your CatalystCon presentation topic important to you?

My disability and my open relationship are the two most stigmatized aspects of my life. I have been so fortunate to learn so much from living in the grey area where these two parts of my life converge. It has added a lot to my life. My erotic fiction has even taken a focus on polyamorous pairings featuring disabled characters. So untangling the stigmas around both of these things is important to me because I had to do that in order to access the richness these experiences add to my life.

Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself?

I had an orgasm once reading an article from a 1924 newspaper on the microfilm reader in the library. Flappers were a kinky bunch.

Sep 142017
 

Euphemia F Russell is presenting Australia’s accessibility to information. Check out her bio here.

EuphemiaHow do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

As far as I know, I am the only Sexuality and Pleasure Educator in Australia who works with adults, and is formally trained in these educational skills and tools. This is overwhelming, but also compelling as each day my work is changing Australia’s understanding of sexuality. With my small community of similar professionals we do what we can to support each other and further the work.

Who or what was a catalyst for you?

The ‘Sex Positive’ Bay Area community in California was a huge catalyst for me to realise I could dedicate my career to this kind of work, not just personally learn and enjoy.

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?

In general, I think any of work being done in the space is valuable as there’s so much work to be done in so many areas and understandings of sexuality!

What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in society and the field of sexuality today?

An understanding of consent.

Why is your CatalystCon presentation topic important to you?

Because Australia has very little infrastructure and institutional support for teaching individuals about sexuality, gender, and pleasure.

Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself?

After sex, my second and third favourite topics to speak about are cuttlefish and trees.

Sep 122017
 

Remi Newman is presenting Sexy Parents Raising Sexually Healthy Kids. Check out her bio here.

Remi NewmanHow 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.

Sep 112017
 

LaTerra McDaniels is presenting RT This: How Cyberbullying on Twitter is Impacting Women of Color in Porn. Check out her bio here.

LaTerra McDanielsHow do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

I encourage others to think outside the box and have conversations outside the box as well.

Too often we are preaching to the choir instead of stepping outside our comfort zone to talk to those whose views are different than our own.

Who or what was a catalyst for you?

A few years ago I got an opportunity to work for an adult performer on several social media projects. Through this position I was able to meet many performers in the adult industry. I found most performers to be honest, open-minded, welcoming and business savvy. I felt the stereotypes about their work and who they are as people was completely wrong so started talking to everyone about about it even my mother hoping to open some minds and I believe I have. I’ve made it part of my mission to advocate for performer safety and respect on and off set because we ALL deserve respect.

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?

I believe LGBTQIA rights has made valuable change that is important in our society. I know it’s still a battle in many places in America and the world but there have been major strides towards acceptance, rights and respect. In the field of sexuality I feel taboo subjects are slowly eroding as people start to fully grasp how multifaceted human sexuality is.

What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in society and the field of sexuality today?

Sex education for young adults is one of the biggest concerns I see facing society and the field of sexuality. Without guidance our youth is being bombarded with information about sex with little help from schools or parents to filter through the madness. We need better sex education and it needs to happen earlier than high school. Sex positive educators need to be on the front lines of this issue and help create a curriculum both parents and teachers can get behind.

Why is your CatalystCon presentation topic important to you?

I’ve seen too many negative comments directed at adult performers over the years of being on Twitter. Social media can be fun but it can also be dangerous and damaging especially when you’re an adult performer. I felt like doing a presentation on this topic could be helpful not only to performers but to anyone on social media dealing with cyber-bullying.

Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself?

I’ve performed 8 weddings and all 8 of the couples I’ve married are still together!

Sep 072017
 

Vanessa Gritton is presenting The Funny Side of Sex(ual Identity). Check out her bio here.

Vanessa GrittonHow do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

As a comedian, I have the platform to make certain ideas or notions easier to swallow for a general audience. They’re laughing, but hopefully, they’ve learned something. Having performed in more conservative areas as a pansexual woman of color, I expose audiences to someone they don’t really have a lot of interaction with and I get to tear down that taboo that comes with it.

Who or what was a catalyst for you?

100% my mother. She’s from a very conservative country where women do not receive sexual education and sexuality in women is discouraged. She immigrated to this country and taught herself a lot of what she knows about sexual health and anatomy so she could help educate me because schools only taught young girls shame and abstinence. Because of this, she created a safe and freeing environment to express myself and explore safely because I knew I had an amazing support system.

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?

We’re becoming more inclusive and creating spaces for the PoC, LGBT and plus size communities as well as providing more educational resources. We still have long ways to go though and acknowledging that is how we make more change.

What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in society and the field of sexuality today?

A lot of humor is centered around the punch down, kink shaming, body shaming etc and it perpetuates stereotypes as well as making things feel “wrong” or like it should be laughed at for existing. Effeminate men are still punchlines. Being sexual with plus sized people is mocked. Trans panic is still something caused by lazy jokes (I’m looking at you, Ace Ventura). We have the wrong kinds of representation because writers and comedians don’t want to take the next step to educate themselves. I want to change that.

Why is your CatalystCon presentation topic important to you?

I want to show people that humor doesn’t mean tearing down sexuality. That humor can bring attention to issues not considered, help you cope with things you can’t normally deal with and normalize the risque. Comedy has helped me heal, grow and love myself. I want it to do the same for others.

Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself.

I eat mustard like it’s candy. I love mustard. I have like 14 different kinds. I do not know why I’m like this.

Sep 052017
 

Rebecca Blanton is presenting Trans Women and Male Privilege. Check out her bio here.

Rebecca BlantonHow do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

I strive to live my life authentically and openly so that others can see it is okay to be themselves. I have worked both inside and outside the political system for change and have taught in university to pass along what I know. These days, I work to bring stories to large audiences about people who have made changes themselves.

Who or what was a catalyst for you?

When I was 11 I watched the Mayor of Castro Street for the first time. I realized that many people had gone before me to blaze a trail so my own fight would be less. Milk did it knowing he would pay a grave personal cost. I figure I owe it to the folks who came before me to continue the fight so that the generations which follow me will have an easier path.

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?
In my lifetime the ability for people to live a little more openly and increasing the vocabulary we have to discuss sexuality has improved. When I was dealing with gender dysphoria and not being able to connect with being a “woman” there wasn’t event a word for what I was. It took another 20 years for people to start using the terms “agender” and “genderqueer.”

What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in society and the field of sexuality today?
In the United States we still live in a society where very few people have control over their bodies. We control access to birth control, health care, and even things like food for poor people. Until we can get to a point where we recognize all people have the right to control their body, we can’t change the core of rape culture.

Why is your CatalystCon presentation topic important to you?

I have spent most of my career looking for ways to give voice to marginalized people. Trans women have risen in visibility in the past two years. With that has come a barrage of attacks, not only from anti-queer folks and conservative factions but from women calling themselves feminists. I hadn’t seen a solid response to many of the attacks, in part because trans women were being excluded from the conversation. I wanted to create a forum where women from different backgrounds could respond to the critiques without coming under attack from TERFs.

Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself.

The report about the needs of women veterans I wrote in 2012 is referred as “the Bible” at the U.S. Department of Labor.

Sep 012017
 

Joan Price is presenting 12 Steps to Sexy Aging – Starting Now!. Check out her bio here.

JP 1 2016-05-20 -1 - Copy cropped

How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

When I started doing this work almost 13 years ago, I felt like a voice in the wilderness advocating for and educating about older-age sexuality. People didn’t know whether to listen attentively, laugh derisively, or go “ewww, wrinkly people having sex? That’s icky!” Now there’s a whole movement of older-adult sex education and advocacy, and I’m proud to be a part of it. I write books and articles, I give talks and webinars globally, and I review sex toys from a senior perspective at NakedAtOurAge.com. At age 73, I can’t imagine any work that would bring me more joy than what I do!

Who or what was a catalyst for you?

The catalyst for me originally was a negative one – I couldn’t find any good books about aging and sexuality that were relevant, contemporary, comprehensive, and other than doom and gloom. So I decided to write my own.

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?

I love the way people in many different sexuality-based fields come together these days to exchange information and support each other, whether it’s on Facebook or at conferences like CatalystCon and Woodhull. There’s a respect and willingness to help each other. I feel part of a warm, welcoming cadre of diverse people united by their sex positivity and open-mindedness.

What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in society and the field of sexuality today?

The current political climate is our biggest challenge, concern, and fear. I’m sure I don’t need to say more.

Why is your CatalystCon presentation topic important to you?
I’m giving two new presentations this year: 12 Steps to Sexy Aging – Starting Now! is relevant for all ages, not just the over-50 crowd that I usually speak to. I’ve learned some things about ways to stay sexy through the decades that I’m delighted to share. I’m also giving a pre-con workshop: ALL WRITE! All You Need to Know to Turn Your Idea into a Polished Piece of Writing. I’ve been earning my living as a professional writer for more than 30 years, and I taught writing at the high school level for 22 years before that. The practical tools I’ll teach will help people in any field who want to write with more skill and confidence and enjoy the process more — and yes, I can teach that in a 3-hour workshop!

Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself.

I almost died in an automobile accident in 1979. I decided to live. Every year, every day, is a gift I might have missed.

CatalystCon Partners With jessica drake For Downtown Women’s Center Donation Drive

 CCON West, CCON West 2015, fundraiser, Special Event  Comments Off on CatalystCon Partners With jessica drake For Downtown Women’s Center Donation Drive
Aug 312017
 

One of our favorite members of the CatalystCon community is jessica drake.  Many of you may know jessica from her work with Wicked Pictures and as a sex educator, but we also know her for her support of the Downtown Women’s Center in Los Angeles.

CatalystCon founder Dee Dennis and jessica would like to invite everyone to take part in a special CATALYST DWC donation drive. During CatalystCon West, we will be collecting unused hotel toiletries and other items for the Center’s showers and welcome packages for new residents. For a list of the Center’s most needed items, please see the DWC Wishlist.

“For years I’ve been a supporter of The Downtown Women’s Center,” said jessica. “Not only do they house over 70 full time residents, they also run a huge day center, assisting the homeless women of Los Angeles, providing them with food, medical care, rehabilitational resources, and more! Thank you so much for helping out with such a great cause, and one I hold very dear to my heart.”

We’re happy to partner with jessica on this project and look forward to supporting this important cause during CatalystCon West.

 

 

Aug 312017
 

Shadeen Francis is presenting Boldly Unbroken: Decolonizing our Approaches to Trauma and Healing. Check out her bio here.

Shadeen Francis

How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

We all have the capacity to create meaningful change in the world, wherever we are and with whatever gifts we were given. I am a teacher, a creator, a witness, and collaborator. I help people of all backgrounds to accomplish their goals, create loving relationships, and lives they desire.

Who or what was a catalyst for you?

The things that have always driven me are love, learning, and justice.

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?

Communication has been invaluable to the field of sexuality. Despite ongoing censorship, there has been so much gained from dialogue between open-minds and vulnerable hearts. I’m excited by how many people are willing to have hard conversations that center pleasure, inclusivity, consent, and medical accuracy.

What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in society and the field of sexuality today?

Division, misinformation, and shame.

Why is your CatalystCon presentation topic important to you?

My idea of the world centers around relationships: our relationships with others, our relationship to the planet, our relationship to a higher power, and most importantly our relationships with ourselves. Trauma can happen at any level of existence, and it keeps us from connecting to one another in ways that make us feel safe and whole. We all deserve safety and satisfaction in our relationships. If my work can help anyone find more peace or pleasure, I have done my part in service to humanity.

Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself.

If I’m not talking about sex or social justice, I’m probably having brunch or re-organizing my closet.

Aug 302017
 

Erin Tillman is presenting Beautism and Status: How Stereotypes Influence Leadership, and Limit Choices… Recognizing Patterns and Reclaiming Power. Check out her bio here.

Erin Tillman

How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

I’m doing what I can to empower single people when it comes to dating, consent, and self-care. Things are evolving quickly in the dating game because of online dating and dating apps, and these rapid changes have a lot of single people feeling lost. I help singles navigate through the ever-changing, ever-evolving world of dating.

Who or what was a catalyst for you?

Any and all individuals who are fighting for equality.

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?

The conversation around consent has become mainstream. Millennials and post-millennials are generally aware of what consent means compared to older generations. There’s still work to be done, but the younger generations are more aware of issues around consent because there has been media coverage of high profile cases…and for better or worse, that brings awareness and gets a conversation started.

What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in society and the field of sexuality today?

One big challenges that I see is that we still aren’t able to live and let live overall, but especially when it comes to sexuality. I hope one day we can get to a place where we’re all happy and fulfilled in our own lives, so much so, that we aren’t trying to negatively influence others’ lives.

Another major challenge is that consent is still a huge issue. Though there is more awareness around boundaries and consent, there are still concerns about how it is discussed, how to prevent potential assault, care for survivors, etc. I look forward to a time where consent violations are consistently seen as unacceptable in our society and conversations about boundaries are a regular part of human interactions.

Why is your CatalystCon presentation topic important to you?

Privilege is a huge topic impacting so many areas of our society, and beauty (or the perception of beauty) is a privilege that impacts individuals in regards to social status, and even in seemingly unrelated areas like career advancement. Like all areas of privilege, it’s important to be aware of possible (appearance-related) privilege not only to put things into perspective, but also to find solutions to certain issues.

Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself.

I’m fluent in french

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