Speaker Spotlight: Terri Clark

 CCON East 2013, Speaker Spotlight  Comments Off on Speaker Spotlight: Terri Clark
Mar 112013
 

Terri Clark is presenting The Silver Rainbow: Working with LGBT Seniors and What’s Your “Bi-Q”?. Check out Terri’s bio here.

 

Terri ClarkHow do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

Sharing what has motivated and moved me to make a difference in my own life. 80% of success (ie, being a catalyst for change) is just showing up (Woody Allen). The Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 rule, the law of the vital few) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. (Wikipedia). How does this apply to being a catalyst for change? It means that 80% of success in making change is just showing up, but only 20% of the people do it (probably even less). Folks at CatalystCon East are in that 20% and ready to make change, especially as that change applies to the diverse field of sexuality.

Who or what was a catalyst for you?

One of my favorite quotes that inspires me as a catalyst is from Howard Thuman, theologian, educator, and civil rights leader. “Don’t ask what the world needs; ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.”

What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in the field of sexuality right now?

The societal values and norms that permeate our culture, media, policies, and laws that view sexuality as a narrow, heterosexist construct. Sexuality is a social construction and as such reflects the judgments of society. For example, our society assumes that older adults are asexual and without sexual desires, thus impacting their access to information about pleasure, intimacy, and safer sex. For those of us who identify other than male/female/heterosexual, we are often subjected to discrimination, prejudice, and numerous encounters of homo/bi/trans phobia. Our society has little tolerance and understanding of the variances within sexuality.

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?

CatalystCon East! Creating Change Conference (National Gay and Lesbian Task Force). Marriage equality cases being heard by the Supreme Court.

Why do you feel it is important to bring the topic of your session, The Silver Rainbow: Working with LGBT Seniors, to CatalystCon East?

Long overlooked and invisible in society at large, older LGBT people are beginning to emerge as a distinct community. 2012 is the first year our baby boomers are turning 65—our society is going to see dramatic growth of this age demographic and with that, growth in the number of LGBT folks. While LGBT seniors share many of the same aging related issues as their hetero counterparts, they also confront special challenges as well. LGBT seniors may face social discrimination due to their age as well as their sexual orientation or gender identity. Older LGBT people often experience homophobia, biphobia and/or transphobia when trying to access healthcare or elder care services. They may also confront age discrimination within LGBT community organizations.

Why do you feel it is important to bring the topic of your session, What’s Your “Bi-Q”?., to CatalystCon East?

Bisexual individuals are in many ways a hidden population. When recognized, bisexuality is often viewed as being part gay and part straight, rather than being its own unique identity. Further, bisexual individuals face not only discrimination confronting the LGT community because of their non-heterosexuality, but also resistance from the LGT community. Participants will increase their understanding of bisexuality and become savvy when working with the diversity of our sexuality.

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

I am an avid cyclist and used to spend my summers leading bicycle tours. Highlights include riding from Maine to Florida and cycling 800 miles in 8 days throughout central Florida. I also enjoy hiking and climbed three CO “14-teeners” in three days.

Learn more about all our amazing speakers here. Register for CatalystCon East here.

Speaker Spotlight: Yoseñio Lewis

 CCON East 2013, Speaker Spotlight  Comments Off on Speaker Spotlight: Yoseñio Lewis
Mar 072013
 

Yoseñio V. Lewis is presenting Sex and Sexuality from a Trans Perspective. Check out Yoseñio’s bio here.

 

Yoseñio V. LewisHow do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

I’m a catalyst for change through being a shit-stirrer…people always want to go back to homeostatis, they want that balance in their lives. If I upset the status of complacency by making them realize things need to change, I have a 50-50 shot the change will happen in the direction I wish it do happen. A lot of people don’t know they’re complacent till it’s pointed out to them. Others have to be drug out of their complaceny. I’m a pretty persuasive person, so change happens!

Who or what was a catalyst for you?

There were/are many people who were/are catalysts for me, but right now my brother Shadow comes to mind. The first day we met he stood up for me and became the best white ally I’ve ever known. He’s made the way much easier for me because he takes on a lot of the silliness for me so I don’t have to deal with it.

Why do you feel it is important to bring the topic of your session, Sex and Sexuality from a Trans Perspective, to CatalystCon East?

It’s important to talk about sexuality from a trans perspective because even today there are people who think our bodies and our sexuality are so foreign, think that they could not possibly be attracted to trans people (though they slobber all over us UNTIL they find out we are trans and then they try to backtrack). Demystification and celebration of our lives, of our bodies is an endless task.

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

It’s my goal to ride every rollercoaster in the world, especially ones that go upside down and backwards!

Learn more about all our amazing speakers here. Register for CatalystCon East here.

Speaker Spotlight: Harper Jean Tobin

 CCON East 2013, Speaker Spotlight  Comments Off on Speaker Spotlight: Harper Jean Tobin
Feb 262013
 

Harper Jean Tobin is presenting Sex and Sexuality from a Trans Perspective. Check out Harper’s profile here.

 

Harper Jean Tobin

How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

In my day job, I work to change public policy while setting an example as an out polyamorous, kinky person in my field. In the rest of my life, I work to change lives and communities as an ally, friend, mentor, and occasional writer and speaker.

Who or what was a catalyst for you?

Working for the Oberlin Sexuality Information Center in college, which introduced me to new avenues for education and activism and fed a lifelong passion for spurring conversations about sex.

What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in the field of sexuality right now?

As a dabbler in the field, I will leave this question to the experts, except to say that perennial challenges of American puritanism, intersecting oppressions and gender, sexual, racial and other lines, quick-fix popular culture, and lack of supports for lifelong sexual literacy persist.

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?

What seems like a big jump over the last year or two in public discussions about topics of consent, relationship structures, and less common sexual practices – albeit often within narrow or distorted parameters – has created some new opportunities and challenges. The prospect that many more Americans will have consistent access to routine health care in the coming years also underscores the importance and continuing challenge of improving health care providers’ roles in promoting sexual health and healthy sexuality.

Why do you feel it is important to bring this topic [the topic of your session] to CatalystCon East? 

Because the ways our culture thinks about gender and bodies in relation to sexuality can get in the way of… well, everything, and having nuanced conversations about the hows, whys, and well-what-thens is important for trans folks and our partners and allies as we build relationships and communities, negotiate sex and share sex-positive spaces.

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

I cut my teeth as a writer and activist working on a zine about radical activism and DIY culture with a bunch of punks, geeks, and anarchists in my high school days in Louisville, KY.

Learn more about all our amazing speakers here. Register for CatalystCon East here.

Speaker Spotlight: Minister L. Renair Amin Covington

 CCON East 2013, Speaker Spotlight  Comments Off on Speaker Spotlight: Minister L. Renair Amin Covington
Feb 212013
 

Minister L. Renair Amin Covington is presenting PRIDE & Prejudice: Confronting Homophobia in Communities of Color. Check out Renair’s bio here.

 

Minister L. Renair Amin CovingtonHow do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

I believe that as a African-American Lesbian Minister, my identities intersect in such as way that opens up the door for much dialogue. I believe that Voice is often attached to Purpose and when you choose to no longer be silent about your testimony, change can be heard.

Who or what was a catalyst for you?

I always believed in speaking up and out, however my catalyst happened about 10 years ago when I first moved to New York. After a series of unforeseen circumstances had led me to finding my own place, I realized that I had to share with others things that I believed had helped me through as well as things I believed people had misconstrued.

What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in the field of sexuality right now?

I believe one of the biggest challenges in the field of sexuality rests in the mindset around sexuality as a whole. There are still some topics that are off limits or considered taboo. Unfortunately, there are segments of people that believe that they have rights to what goes on behind the closed doors of others therefore instead of trying to understand, they are trying to control.

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?

I think the advancements around the subject of Gay Marriage is an important valuable change. It shows that people are starting to understand the normalcy of Same Gender Loving relationships and that we are no different and deserving of the same civil rights.

Why do you feel it is important to bring the topic of your session, PRIDE & Prejudice: Confronting Homophobia in Communities of Color, to CatalystCon East?

I feel it is important to bring this topic to the conference because as I said before it is important to dispel the myths that many already have about the Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, and Transgender community.

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

Everything is pretty known about me. LOL.

Learn more about all our amazing speakers here. Register for CatalystCon East here.

Speaker Spotlight: Del Tashlin

 CCON East 2013, Speaker Spotlight  Comments Off on Speaker Spotlight: Del Tashlin
Jan 302013
 

Del Tashlin is presenting Sex and Sexuality from a Trans Perspective. Check out Del’s bio here.

 

How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

Honestly, part of my personal spiritual journey has been accepting the role of harbinger of change. It happens when I meet people whose lives are stuck in some way and need a nudge in order to make a difficult choice or decision in order to be happier, healthier, and more in tune with themselves and whatever their Purpose may be. Sometimes it just happens because I can provide honest answers to requests for advice that others may dance around or avoid because they’re afraid of upturning the apple cart. Sometimes it’s because I have a propensity of thinking outside the box, and come up with options they’ve never considered. And sometimes, it’s just by being my authentic self and showing by example that you can dictate your life on your own terms, even when it takes heartrending, difficult, and tumultuous decisions to get there.

On a community level, I’m always looking forward, thinking about the future. I, like most people, want to leave some sort of indelible mark on the demographics and communities I have touched; in general, I try to leave things better than when I found them, and that includes organizations I join, tribes who take me in, and demographics that matter to me. I work to make sure that new blood is being infused in a way that makes it easy and comfortable for them to join mid-stream, rather than having to forge their own tributary in order to find these subcultures and breath new life and new ideas into them. I look at demographics as a constantly changing, growing, mutating groups of people and try to create ways, or inspire others to create ways, to make sure that we never let stasis and entropy kill us. Few communities imagine their death as a small collection of the eldest members sitting on rocking chairs talking about the good old days – they want to know that others will reap the same (or better) benefits that they did when they found them (or were found by them!).

Who or what was a catalyst for you?

I’ve had several people, known and unknown, who have inspired me to take a good look at my life and take leaps that I lived in fear of. I blame Raven Kaldera for a great deal of the present incarnation of who I am; he remains a close friend and confidante. There are also authors, artists, and musicians that have given me the ability to envision life as more than just a one-way rail from birth to death; Neil Gaiman, Robert Anton Wilson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bitch and Animal, Marilyn Manson, Jackson Pollack, and John Cameron Mitchell are some of my guides and guardians whether they know it or not.

What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in the field of sexuality right now?

In America, we’re perched on this precipice where some people have accepted the fact that sexualities of all stripes, colors, shapes and sizes exist, whereas others are desperately clinging to an older model where it is a traditional model to be followed and never discussed or explored. It’s like we’re on this big teeter totter and you never know who’s going to be swept up into the spotlight or buried into the dirt from one moment to the next. We need to find a happy place where those who feel that their sexuality is bound up in their identity can celebrate it in whatever form that takes, but those who feel sexuality is more of a function or means to an end are *also* comfortable in making that decision and feel as respected and included in things. Not everyone has to waltz down Main Street wearing who they fuck or fancy on their tee shirts; but neither does everyone have to stay silent and never discuss it. I really hope we can, as a nation, find a place where it really *is* a personal preference, rather than a political one, but we’re definitely not there yet. There are many who choose to live a public sexual life in one way or another, who would rather not do so, but choose it because if they don’t, they’ll never receive the rights and recognitions (and perhaps normalizations) that they deserve.

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?

I hate to admit it, because the books are such literary crap, but I really believe that the 50 Shades phenomenon has helped paint BDSM as something that it’s okay to get turned on by, even if you never actually buy a flogger or go to a munch. And even though I disagree with him more than I agree with him, I do believe Chaz Bono getting more national recognition not only as a trans* man, but one for whom transition was really no big flashy deal and who has a mother who supports and loves him unconditionally, has brought much more recognition to gender identity in many variations to places where it had never been discussed or explored before (mostly, outside of urban centers). Finally, I think the movement for governments to include a third-gender option on official papers (like driver’s licenses and passports) is a glorious change that I hope catches fire and becomes an accepted practice internationally. (Currently, the “X” gender marker is being considered or has been adopted in Australia, New Zealand, India, and the UK)

Why do you feel it is important to bring the topic of your session, Sex and Sexuality from a Trans Perspective, to CatalystCon East?

I feel like, as sexuality explorers and educators, we’ve all heard some version of “Gender Identity 101”; we’ve got the terms, the odd pronouns, the need for gender neutral bathrooms at events. But rarely do we delve any deeper, look at the real challenges posed by more and more people rejecting the gender binary. If we teach a class about scrotal inflation, how do we do so in such a way where it doesn’t matter what gender the person owning the scrotum is, or whether or not the scrotum was factory installed or an after market addition? When do we decide that a meeting, organization, class, or ritual needs to be a safe space for “women”, and how do we define what a “woman” is, or do we decide to delve deeper and decide that it’s really for people who experience sexism, or who have experienced menstruation, or who were socialized as girls, or who desire to experience pregnancy, or, or, or…

Gender has been a neat little way to divide people into groups who have had similar experiences, and as transgressively gendered people become more active and accepted in sexual spaces, we need to start dissecting the real things people share in common when they come to these events/places/organizations, and speaking to *that*, rather than just shorthanding it by what your genitals look like, or what kind of clothing you choose to wear, or what letter the government has on your drivers license? (Which, if things progress the way they are “down under”, may include X as well as M/F…what will *that* mean for parties that look to your license as a way to gender you?)

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

This is hard, because I tend to be a pretty open book. I guess in this context, something that few people know about me is that I am an award-winning Improvisational actor (yes, like “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”) and went on tour with some fairly well-known musicals when I was in my early 20s. And at the same time, when I was home from tour, I worked as a professional submissive/masochist in a very active (but now defunct) pro-House in NYC.

Learn more about all our amazing speakers here. Register for CatalystCon East here.

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