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This has been a hectic week for me as I got back from CatalystCon 2014, survived another North East snow storm (12 inches this time) and for the rest of the week, thinking what my first subject I would write about #ccon. Every time I am around such positive people and exchange ideas, ideas and energy I have to say the personal growth is priceless and best of all, I was lucky enough this year to share this experience with my wife, thereby providing the opportunity to better understand this journey which I started a year ago, understand how/why a gathering of Sex+ professionals and allies could have made such a monumental impact. The impact has been so great that though this journey is something I have to experience and process, this gathering provided her the peace of mind I am around some of the finest people around.
Let me first start off this post by providing a heartfelt Thank You to everyone in attendance, but most of all I want to show my appreciation and respect to the visionary of this conference, Ms. Dee Dennis and that her vision inspires discussions. These discussions could be perceived by some as good while others can see it as threatening, but that is what a discussion is all about and I hope the discussion of growth and betterment will never stop.
So let me say here and now, I want everyone involved in making the weekend so wonderful, “THANK YOU for a wonderful, enlightening and powerful weekend.” Let me say that again, THANK YOU so much Dee and the ENTIRE STAFF for what must have been countless hours organizing and working all the issues which pop-up a conference with so many moving parts; all the while ensuring the attendees had over 50 one hour sessions to choose from, I not only tip my hat to you, If you see me at the next CatalystCon or any other event, you have my open consent card to grab me and I will provide you with a big hug I so owe each of you (with consent of course). Also thanks to the sponsors of this event for your openness, willingness and BELIEF in the SEX+ movement and how important it is to keep the conversation going. I LOVE EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU!!!
For me the weekend started off by having the honor hearing heartfelt stories by Dr. Carol Queen, Dr. Robert Lawrence and Ducky DooLittle concerning their early years as a Sex Worker/Educators. Each painted a vivid picture which I could easily transport myself to that time-period and moment, One thing which surprised me, and I think they were both were just as shocked, that though they were on opposite coasts, in those early years, their tails were shockingly similar while individual to their own situation.
This time I had a better idea of what to expect, so I did prepare myself this time and paced myself at the con, ensuring plenty of time to administer some self care (yes, that was me at every break standing outside of the hotel smoking a cigarette in front of the hotel, but we all have vices). This allowed me to process and prepares for each session, engage in conversation and prepare myself to share my perceptions on subjects. If you did not know, I still hold a lot of fear expressing myself with eloquence and poise. It is not because I do not believe what I am talking and fighting for but it is my brain which works 1,000,000,000 mph and I can only speak about 5 mph.
If you have been following this blog since December 2013, you might remember the post concerning my lack of sex education (read it HERE) and the ramification I have been addressing these past few months which I attribute to that sub-par education. So what happened on Sunday gave me the boost in my confidence that I am doing this for a reason and it could make a difference. It was following my participating in Dr. Rosalyn Dischiavo‘s seminar “Orientation as A Living Entity”.
During the class Dr. Dischiavo had us move around the room and examine first sexual orientation over a period of time asking us to remember our placement on the scale in five year increments and then did the same concept, but focused how we perceived our gender identification during the same five year intervals. Now that we all had both reference points Dr. Dischiavo split the participants in half one side of the room and told them to take their current sexual orientation and had the other group (mine) and have us stand where we fit on the scale at age 15. She then asked us to take our 15 year old gender identity and meet someone on the other side of the room which closes represents our current sexual orientation. Then imagine what the 15 year old gender identity do/react to the placement on orientation.
I walked to a young lady closest to the center of the line, i.e. “bi-sexual” (as I stated in a previous post, I claim a sexual, as in open to any possibility and allowing the relationship to naturally develop rather than forced in a specific orientation, which I am not sure I even developed) and thought, “What would the me then do with this information? How would I react?” I then started to stare at this woman rubbing my chin.
After a few minutes of contemplating Dr. Dischiavo asked if anyone wanted to share their experienced in the past few minutes. After a moment of silence I decided to speak up. I told the class the 15 year old me would try to assess the situation. Does this orientation feel “right”, as long as I am happy, I think 15 year old me would be as well.”
“The 40 year old me wanted to give the 15 year old me a hug and tell him everything will be alright, but be mindful of other people’s bias, ignorance and intolerance infect your life. Living that way will make the next 25 years a little easier.”
Well back to the recharge room, a different lady from the class came up to me and told me how powerful my story was, and that her partner was experiencing similar thoughts and questions as I was. I gave her my card, which contained web address to here. I told her, this is a kind of journal of the questions I have and my journey of self discovery. It was at that moment, I found my place!!!
If I can help one person to feel less alone, that it is alright, healthy in fact, to question to question your beliefs. That mama told me to eat my vegetables, and her answer to my “They are yucky” she would inevitably state, “How can you KNOW you don’t like something if you haven’t even tried it?”
This is my solemn promise promise to all who read my blog; I will continue to document my journey in discovering myself. Some of it will be hard to read, probably just as hard as it will be for me to write. This will always be a place you can come to, know you are not alone and that what you feel, attempt to honor and nurture it, that sense of wonder.
So CatalystCon, Dee and all, thank you for making this special moment happen and know there were hundreds of other people having AH’ HA moments like mine. I thank you for all you have done and will do to ensure the discussions continue.
Don’t worry, this is just the tip of the iceberg of things I want to discuss in the coming weeks and months.
I stand WITH you all!!!
The Best of the Best:
Eric Meets Sex Positive Community:
With all that was going on within my personal life (See Part 1) with almost losing my wife multiple times, and multiple different medical conditions, besides attending Sex Camps I also decided to finally meet and receive a better understanding of the Sex Positive community, see what it was all about, what I could learn and most importantly what I can do to advocate and assist as many people and groups as I can.
Back in 2012, I started my initial outreach to this exciting community of advocates, professionals and educators who sit on the front-line fighting like superheroes protecting, educating and promoting a message we all have a fundamental human right to be sexual, express our sexuality, a sexual identity and explore a sexual desires freely in an environment free of violence, judgment and stigma while respecting the privacy of those who share our views.
It was during the election cycle of 2012 I found a purpose as I saw what appeared as several laws which threatened the safety and rights of Sex Workers and professionals by a series of poorly written laws which could easily be manipulated to infringe on our rights, such as L.A.’s infamous Measure B, California’s Prop 35 and several states had same-sex measures on the ballot, but all where confusingly written, or terms like trafficking was used to confuse the implications of the laws.
It was during this time, I used my voice on Twitter and limited followers to promote and educate as many as I could on what the implications these laws would have and could ruin the lives so many people for simply working, writing, expressing or educating on issues sexual subject matter.
Though my efforts were bitter sweet as many of the same-sex referendums passed, many other measures passed threatening their livelihoods and status of life. Thus I decided to attend my first conference:
CatalystCon a.k.a. #ccon:
I had bought my tickets for this conference before a medical emergency transpired with my wife, so I was not in the best head-space for this conference and was nowhere near ready to fully absorb all the awesome information all the presenters provided and find my true voice in helping in the cause of promoting a Sex+ Lifestyle.
My day started early on the brisk March day as I attended one of the pre-conference workshops hosted by Tristan Taormino (http://puckerup.com/). I probably had a look of utter shock on my face as this presentation commenced. Ms. Taormino’s eloquent presentation provided me with a scope and how to present myself and this wonderful community to help people understand what we are all about.
It was in Ms. Taormino’s class that I met a wonderful woman by the name of Emerald (@Emerald_theGLD) (http://thegreenlightdistrict.org/wordpress/) who must have seen the look of shock, which she was right as I felt I was truly unworthy to be in the room with all these incredible pioneers. Her aura and personality made me feel welcomed and accepted. I can never thank her enough for that moment in Ms. Taormino’s class as it set the stage for me for the rest of the conference.
Another notable mention was the chance to spend a few minutes to chat with the incredible Elle Chase (@LadyCheeky) as I was following her lead at the time of a Tumblr blog of shared images which promotes a positive views of the many faces of sexuality, Her blog http://www.ladycheeky.com/ is an incredible space to visit and admire her work in finding images which tell an incredible story and focuses on promoting a positive body-image message.
Another major defining moment that weekend was the opportunity to meet Sabrina Morgan (@SabrinaMorgan) (http://about.me/SabrinaMorgan). If you have not had the chance to meet her or hear her speak, I recommend that you do so at the first opportunity you can. This woman is more than meets the eyes as I describe her to friends as an incredibly poised, smart spitfire of positive energy whose bravery in presenting her information inspires me as every time I have spoken with her (in person, twitter or e-mail) she has increased my knowledge, understanding and love of more diverse people. This time if I get a chance to give her a hug, I will not be shy or meekish and take her up on the offer.
Lastly a major highlight for me that weekend was the chance to meet the conference organizer, Dee Dennis (@DeeDennis). I know how busy she was organizing and orchestrating the events to be kind enough to take the few minutes to talk and even share a nice hug.
I know there were so many people at this event, and I feel horrible in not naming everyone I met or shared in conversation but I feel I have gone on long enough you get the idea.
I do recommend you register for CatalystCon East 2014 ASAP as the line-up looks incredible and there is a lot to learn, a chance to network, collaborate while enjoying the energy of this incredible community.
Part 3 of the 2013 Year in Review will focus on the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance 2013 Summit.