April 18-24 is National Volunteer Week! The Center for Positive Sexuality could not do what we do, and what we have done for over a decade, without all the volunteers we’ve had over the years. With this in mind, we want to introduce you to Matthew, an educator who has been with the Center since before it was even “the Center!”
I’ve been lucky to know and work with Matthew since I first became a volunteer in 2012. I first met him when I was an undergrad a few years before on a panel in a human sexuality class. In the time I’ve known him, he’s been warm, gracious, and encouraging. His balance of fun, self-deprecating humor mixed with compassionate seriousness when speaking on panels, or training our educators is truly an experience.
I invite you to read on for a little back and forth we had about his time with Center for Positive Sexuality, how audiences and questions have changed over the years, and where it fits in the current political/social climate.
Victoria: Tell us a bit about how you got started with the Center for Positive Sexuality.
Matthew: I was part of the core group that started the Center. We were doing the work already, presenting at colleges on BDSM and Non-Monogamy. I remember when Emily said that what she wanted to create was some sort of central hub for presentations and research about sexuality from a positive perspective. That’s when the Center for Positive Sexuality was born.
V: How has the Center changed/grown in the time you’ve been with it?
M: Of course everything has gotten bigger, and we’ve added branches we’d barely begun to dream of originally. What matters to me more is the amazing quality of the people who make up the Center now. We are far more diverse, from not just sexuality or ethnic standpoints but also from levels of academia and personal life experiences. It’s really encouraging to see how far we’ve come and how much we encompass now.
V: Looking back to when CPS was first founded, what did you expect once you hit and surpassed the decade mark? How does the reality compare?
M: I never really had a 10-year goal or anything like that, but I always hoped that the Center would become more self-sustaining over time. When we began, the Center depended entirely on the efforts of Emily, myself, and only one or two other people. Now there are so many amazing people handling the work together, so professionally, it’s just amazing. We have a healthy, strong infrastructure that will survive far into the future. That was my fondest wish, and it has already come true.
V: How have audiences changed over the years? Do you get different sorts of questions when you’re on a panel now compared to a decade ago?
M: When we started doing these presentations, first on BDSM and then all the others, we got a lot of negative and judgmental questions. A great many students insisted that we were “broken” in some way or other, and that any sort of alternative sexuality or sexual interest must stem from abuse or unhealthy behaviors. Now, the audiences are far more receptive and want to learn more about every subject, not to understand why we’re broken, but so they themselves can become more enriched. The questions went from “what horrible childhood experience made you like this?” to “where do I sign up?”
V: What are some thoughts or concerns you have in the current political/social climate around positive sexuality and how the Center fits into the discussions?
M: It seems to me our society is balanced on the edge of a knife. On one side we are leaning towards acceptance, and a real desire to understand and support each other despite our differences. On the other side looms a level of violence and intolerance that terrifies me. I truly believe the Center can serve as a means of helping all humanity to embrace and accept each other. I joke that the 8 Dimensions is our “World Domination Scheme” but I also stand behind it. Wouldn’t it be an amazing world if we all, individuals and nations, followed these ideals and treated each other accordingly?
V: What advice would you give those interested in sex positive study or work?
M: PLEASE JOIN US!!! The Center thrives on diversity, and on new energy that is brought to us by every new affiliate, be they volunteer, intern, research affiliate, or whatever.
V: Any additional thoughts/advice/reflections you’d like to share?
M: I believe in the work we do. I believe that by spreading the ideals of the Center we are making a real, tangible and lasting difference in our society, and in the world. I am fiercely proud of what we have accomplished, and deeply humbled by the amazing group of people who have gathered under this banner. Sexuality is at the core of who we are. We are working to help end shame and increase understanding and acceptance of ourselves and everyone we encounter. It is truly an honor to be part of this organization.
There are several ways to get involved with Center for Positive Sexuality!
Donate: Donate once or set up a recurring donation! Every little bit helps CPS do the work we do!
Volunteer with us! We are always looking for folks to add to our educators, or to help on the admin side of things.
Intern with us! This is a great way to round out an educational program you may be working on. We have specific tracks (Research, Education, Admin) or we can co-craft an internship to fit your needs.
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