Cheers Sexy People!
Wow wow wow! What an absolute honor it was to be one of the presenters representing the Relationship Equality Foundation (REF) at the University of North Florida’s (UNF) first ever Sex Week! I was so humbled and excited to have the opportunity to create a special workshop with the UNF Pride Club students in mind. I loved every minute of collaborating with Billy Holder and Ariel Zieg – my fellow presenters and Outreach Representatives for REF, as well as coordinating with the ever awesome and amazing Angel Kalafatis – graduate student of Psychology and Human Sexuality responsible for making the Sex Week event come to life (as well as not get de-railed)! This woman is a passionate, go-getting machine when it comes to creating magic out of thin air and looking after the LGBT community at UNF and the world at large – no matter what obstacles get put on her path! You go, girl!
Prior to the event taking place, there was actually a fair amount of controversy over some of the workshops being presented. Two of the classes including the one I was preparing were canceled after several articles were written discussing the controversial nature of the content. But the brave and determined students would have none of that! They rallied together and requested repeatedly that the workshops that they had selected as topics that they would like to learn about be re-instated back on the schedule. Way to go, my courageous and persistent friends! And their hard work paid off.
In this follow up article one student shares “These panels were planned as a result of students asking for advice on the topics already… College students should be adult enough to handle a discussion on polyamory and sexual kinks.”
That’s right! Here is the Mission of Sex Week as stated on the UNF Website:
UNF Sex Week 2017 is a week-long series of events that feature a sex-positive message designed to educate the campus community on a wide variety of topics including but not limited to: health and wellness, relationships and intimacy, identity and orientation, safety and risk awareness, and consent. Dr. Emily Nagoski defines sex positivity in the following way: “Each of us gets to decide how we feel about our body and what we do with it… We get to make decisions that feel safe for us in our body given the context we are in.” We believe that this message is healthy, empowering, and inclusive, and communicating that message to the campus community is at the heart of our mission with Sex Week.
The mission of Sex Week coincides quite nicely with what we are doing here at Loving Without Boundaries (LWB):
I am teaching people that we have more choices, how to love better, and to understand that we are ALL valuable, even if one is part of a sexual minority. Everyone has the right as well as an innate desire to be loved, to have a sense of belonging, and to conduct their lives as they wish. I want people to feel that they are FREE to CHOOSE who to love and how to love, free from discrimination and ridicule. And I want to help create a world where there is more tolerance, understanding, and acceptance for unconventional relationships and sexual minorities. There are MANY ways to have healthy, loving relationships. I envision a world that recognizes sexual and relationship freedom as the fundamental human right of all individuals to develop and express their unique sexuality; to be personally autonomous with regard to bodily integrity and expression; and to enjoy sexual dignity, privacy and consensual expression without societal or governmental interference, coercion or stigmatization.
In the end, here is the workshop that I conceived and delivered for the first time during UNF’s Sex Week:
Polyamory In Practice: How consensual non-monogamy can be a healthy relationship choice.
Description: Ever wonder why someone chooses to live a polyamorous lifestyle? Is it an identity or simply a choice? This presentation is geared towards the poly-curious, those seeking more understanding about ethical non-monogamy as a healthy relationship choice, or anyone with an open mind wishing to understand how others live their lives and why. This presentation will discuss the dynamics of healthy communication and consent, and address myths about ethical non-monogamy.
I cannot put into words how much I enjoyed creating and delivering this workshop to these amazing students! I am dedicated to educating the next generation and anyone who is interested to learn more about fostering healthy relationships, whether they are polyamorous, monogamous, or other! I believe we all have a fundamental human right to love who we want, how we want, in the relationship structure of our choosing.
I’m elated and happy to say that the Polyamory In Practice workshop went fantastically with great turnout! And the students responded well. Some feedback I received:
— Two different young people came up to me at different times to express how grateful they were for the workshop, and one said that she super appreciated that I discussed orientation versus choice as it made so much sense to her and helped her think through her own identity.
— A professor came for the first half and commented along the lines of “Why in the world would they cancel this talk? This is highly informative & professional, and she’s talking about ALL healthy relationships — not just polyamory! Great work!”
— Another attendee said that this presentation was more like a motivational talk about “Be the best you can be” with some polyamory woven in. Cool! I’ll take that! Go be awesome! And go be YOU! Don’t be ashamed of who you are!
REF strives to ensure we have informed, articulate, and educated presenters and outreach reps. And I am so humbled, grateful and honored to be part of the rocking team! Billy Holder gave an excellent and highly informative presentation on New Relationship Energy, while Ariel Zieg did a fascinating and thorough talk on Coming Out Kinky. Nice work, team! We all brought our A Game and we were thrilled to share our experiences and insights with the students. Personally and on behalf of REF and LWB, I would like to thank the students of UNF, the organizers of Sex Week, and everyone who lifted one finger to help put this event on. My fellow presenters, you inspire me and those you share your knowledge and experiences with. And I can’t wait to share these insights and make history again at a future Sex Week or similar event across this great nation of ours!
BIG KUDOS GOES TO…
I want to give a special shoutout to my awesome and amazingly talented boyfriend who also happens to be my IT guy. You rock! Thanks for keeping my nerves calm even during stressful moments getting our technology to work. You inspire and amaze me! Also I want to give a huge shoutout to Matt K. of our LWB community who transported my boyfriend and I from the airport, to a wonderful lunch spot, and then to the campus to rock the workshop. Thank you my friend, for taking the time to attend the workshop and cheer me and this grander mission on! And thanks to Rick Clemons who generously provided a 4-minute video on “coming out” that got great feedback. Go IPEC community who have each other’s back! Yay! And lastly to my local friends who sat through the presentation prior and gave me valuable feedback, as well as my expert presenter husband who tirelessly shared his insights and guidance without complaint. I love you, honey!
FEEDBACK & CALL FOR FUTURE SEX WEEK ACTION
I would love to hear more feedback from attendees! If you were there, please feel free to join the conversation and buzz in the comments below. If you would like to bring these types of presentations and live workshops to your upcoming event, please feel free to reach out to myself or Billy Holder of the Relationship Equality Foundation. Follow more of the conversation on Twitter @altsexweek.
Wishing you peace, love and happiness,
(and thrilling, fun sex too!)