Our newest volunteer, LaTerra, shares her first experience at Catalyst Con…
I’m not a sexologist, educator, or writer but for many years, my friends have come to me with questions and problems they’ve encountered in the bedroom. After some soul searching, I began to imagine sexology as a possible career path for me. I thought it might good to volunteer for an organization which educates & promotes positive sexuality to the public. This lead me to the Center for Positive Sexuality and to Director, Emily Prior. In August, I contacted her about volunteering for the Center and helping with marketing and promotions. Since I’m pretty new to all of this, I thought Catalyst Con might be the perfect environment for me to investigate the realm of sex education which has always peaked my interest.
From Friday September 27th thru Sunday September 29th, Catalyst Con West was held in Woodland Hills, California. Founder/Creator Dee Dennis regards this conference as a “melting pot of sexuality” which unites sex educators, sexologists, sex workers, writers, activists, those in the adult industry and anyone with a passion for creating change. In only three days, this conference covers the full spectrum of topics surrounding sex education and held over 40 different panel discussions and as well as several special events. As an aspiring sexologist, I felt grateful to be in the midst of so many like-minded sex positive individuals.
The first excursion of the weekend was a tour of Trigg Laboratories in Valencia, CA. Trigg Labs is the company which creates Wet personal lubricants & intimacy products. They’ve helped the world stay wet together for over 24 years. Around 10am Friday morning, a party bus equipped with a pole for dancing and champagne took 30 conference attendees to their offices for a rare peak inside their factory. Just outside of Los Angeles, they operate a 52,000 square foot facility where they can produce up to 6000lbs of lubricants a week. Their warehouse is always stocked with at least a three month supply ready to be shipped around the world. They manufacture a variety of different flavors & formulas (water-based, silicon, natural). The company is serious about lubricants and all products they create are rigorously tested before hitting the market.
CatalystCon officially started Friday evening with a kick off discussion titled Sparking Communication in Sexuality, Activism & Acceptance. Featuring a panel of experienced speakers who have been working to spark debates about gay marriage, pornography, reproductive rights and sex education that still plague our world today. Moderator Tristian Tarimino asked thought provoking questions to panelist Jackie Strano, Shira Tarrant, PhD, Sinnamon Love, & Yosenio V. Lewis. One thing everyone could agree on is there is still much more work to do to.
Saturday, I realized I had entered a crash course in sex education as I proceeded to take over twenty pages of notes that day during the following fascinating & informative research panels I attended.
- NeuroLoveology discussed our brains on love
- A Humanist Perspective on Male Circumcision
- Mindset of Mistress
- Moral Panic surrounding sex & scandal in the media
- Body Image and Sexuality
- Feminist Porn in Industry & Academia
- Exploring the Intersection between, Race, Class, Ability, Sexuality and Desire
With the weekend being sponsored by Aneros, Wet, We Vibe, & Sportsheets to name a few, the business of sex education & erotic pleasure also had a large presence at the conference. Not only did these gracious sponsors hand out amazing swag bags full of free products, they also participated in the discussions. The following sessions focused mostly on the business aspects of sex education.
- How to build a career as a sex educator whether it be full time or part time
- Managing your message regarding what gets published
- Creating relationships between sex educators & adult retailers
- The importance of local erotic boutiques as a community resource for sex education.
Although, there were many different panel discussions, similar challenges were raised by educators and writers. Maintaining anonymity online to avoid conflicts at you day job was a major topic. Another issue expressed several times over the weekend was the lack of knowledge among some in the medical profession in regards to the pleasure of sex and training on gender variances. Unfortunately, in 2013 , it’s still difficult to teach sex positivity to others when society still has negative attitudes about sex.
The last day of the conference featured Keynote Speaker Jocelyn Elders, the first African-American Surgeon General and second woman to hold the position. At 80 years old, Mrs. Elders was truly inspiring & full of life. As a pioneer for safe sex in the early 90’, Elders was at the forefront of bringing attention to HIV/AIDS and teenage pregnancy. However, being ousted from her position for promoting masturbation didn’t stop her. For over 20 years she’s continued the fight and is currently working on establishing the first chair in sexual health education at the University of Minnesota which will be the first in the US.
This next phrase says it all from the CatalystCon website: “Knowledge is power, and sharing that knowledge is the first spark in igniting change”. This conference was the catalyst for change in my life. The experience of meeting so many successful sex positive people encouraged me to continue to move forward with my goal of becoming a sexologist and educator.
For a full list of sessions presented at this past Catalyst Con, go to www.catalystcon.com
Dee Dennis, Catalyst Con founder extraordinaire has already put out a call for speakers for the next conference being held in Arlington, VA, March 14-16 2014.
For further information on the sponsors from the event: http://catalystcon.com/sponsor/sponsors-west/
To contact LaTerra:
@lttits on Twitter