Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit Recap.

WARNING This Post may contain links that may take the reader to adult themed websites.  We discuss sex, sexual freedom and personal sexual expression in this post.  NO sexual images or content are hosted on this site or this post.  LINKS NSFW with exceptions.

Now that the disclaimer is out of the way……

Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit was amazing, exciting, and informative.  I must say, one of the best conferences I’ve been to, and I’ve been to many.  I have to stop and say though if it were not for Tantus I would not have been able to attend.  They hosted a scholarship for admission via a Twitter contest.  I entered and happened to win!  Thanks TANTUS!  I owe all this to you!
Tantus

Now,Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit (SFS from now on), is held in Virginia by the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance. ” The Sexual Freedom Summit features human rights activists, sexuality educators and researchers, professionals from the legal and medical fields, authors, sexual freedom movement leaders and organizational partners all working toward the time when sexual freedom is fully recognized as a fundamental human right.  This Summit is for EVERYONE interested in learning about the issues in the realm of sexual freedom, advancing their current knowledge and in gaining the tools to actually create the change we need to accomplish.” And advance my knowledge they did.
Woodhull's Sexual Freedom Summit

Friday I arrived in time for the lunch break and I got to catch up with friends I had not seen in some time.  Of course I did some networking with new folks and made connections that will hopefully bring new and exciting opportunities for all of us in the community.  (More on that another time.)  It became apparent quickly that I was a little fish in a new, large, expansive ocean.  Most of the people I was meeting had LOTS of letters and titles behind their names.  I became pretty aware that I was in a new class of conference.  None the less, I was treated fairly, and on par with everyone. At no point did anyone talk down or act as if they were “dumbing-down” the content or conversation for me.  It was ok to stop them and ask to have something explained or expanded in detail to make sure I understood it.

As the classes got started for the afternoon session, I was torn on what to go to. There were so many exciting classes it was difficult to choose.  Finally I settled on Sex, Laws & Videos: Legal Updates from Woodhull’s Free Speech Advocates (#SFSLegal)
Presented by: Luke Lirot, Lawrence G. Walters, Esq.  This class was not all legalese and lawyer speak.  It was a real world look at how the current laws are affecting sex work and sexuality across the US and where the laws are heading.   I’ll be doing a recap blog post of each of the classes I participated in (with exception of one). This class had lots of great insights into the current state of laws and sex.

Next I went to the Friday Keynote.  Keynote: From Slacktivism to Meaningful Action: Using Tech to Fight for Freedom Presented by: Aida Manduley, MSW, Trina Scott, Cindy Lee Alves .  This was by far one of the best keynotes I have even been to. This group of women from the Women Of Color Sexual Health Network presented this in a way that made me think, made me uncomfortable (in a good way) made me open my mind to view things differently, and then made me cry with the empowerment of a people. This was inspiring and incredibly powerful.   Thank you WOCSHN!

After the Keynote it was dinner and social time mostly.  There was a carnival themed dance and entertainment, but after being awake since 4AM for my flight, I was in no shape to stay up and party.  I crashed out at about 10:30.

Up early in the AM on Saturday for a 3.5 mile run on the treadmill.  It was a run day and there’s no cheating on run day, even if I’m traveling. So up,  run, and grab some breakfast before the first set of classes.   Breakfast was provided by one of the sponsors,

First class of the day, It’s Different for Men: Masculine Victims of Sexual Assault (#SFSAssault) Presented by: Sebastian Sprague M.Ed..  This is the class that I will not be posting a blog entry / review on other than what I say here.  We discussed the effects and causes of sexual assault on men.  Men as victims and why most men don’t come forward to report abuse and assault. Patriarchy, misogyny, and macho-ism.   Systems that harm women, also harm men.   This was a very good class and discussion . We asked that the specifics of our time together be kept confidential.  However personal statement will not be included.  Not even my own.   I did take some photos of the presentation which we were told we could share so I may post those with a bit longer description. This class set the tone for my Saturday however, exploring uncomfortable topics.

A short coffee break, sponsored by Chaturbate.  and then back to the learning and brain work.

 

Decolonizing Sex Positivity – Re-thinking Inclusivity (#SFSInclusive)
Presented by: Sonalee Rashatwar, Nafeesa Dawoodbhoy .  This was  a very interesting introspective class that really left me thinking about all the ways we colonize things in our lives.  It challenged the thought that things are like my experience everywhere.  That just because I see the world like X doesn’t make it so. And in order to be truly accepting and inclusive we must accept that another’s view of the world is not only different, but also equally valid as our own, at times even more so.  I have said it in classes about other things but its the idea that Different is no more right or wrong, it is only different.  Of course there is a lot more to it … and Ill expand in my post about this class.

This brings us to the Lunch break that was catered by the hotel and provided by the conference. I could not believe that the day was already half over.  As I joined everyone for the Vicki Recipients’ Roundtable Luncheon Presented by: Carmen Vazquez, Scout, Kenyon Farrow, Carol Leigh AKA Scarlot Harlot, Megan Andelloux, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Yea, its a round table and the award recipients will most likely speak that part I got. What I wasn’t expecting was the level of impact that these award winning social justice warriors have had on the community over all and specifically in their areas of work.  Remember I am a little fish in a big new ocean.  I’m used to local level organizers.  This is where it began to strike me just why I was here.  More about this epiphany in my detail Round-table post.

After the round-table I was in brain overload.  I had so many concepts and thoughts sparked alive that morning, I needed a break.  so I wandered around, played a little Pokemon Go, went to my room and vegged out.  A nice, much needed break.

As the next round of classes was getting ready to begin, I felt a lot better and decided to head back down to participate some more.

The class selection was again challenging, but I saw one that looked very interesting.
Just Don’t Talk About It: The Current State of Men’s Sexual Health, Expression, and Exploration in the United States (#SFSMen) Presented by: David Mandell, Dr. Andrew Siegel, Paul R. Nelson, CCMA, Robert Heasley, PhD, LMFT, Leo Donato . These men and the way that they talked about mens health, they engaged and questioned beliefs and explained issues in a way that was, beautiful.  These men were well educated on their topic, they have good resources and sparked a lot of conversation.  My biggest take away from this class can be found here on my twitter. “When educated about sex from porn you aren’t learning how to have sex.” Men learn how to fuck.  But not how to have meaningful, loving sexual intimacy. More in my SFSMen Post coming soon!

After SFS Men it was again dinner time.  The day was almost over.  Other than the nighttime entertainment and dance later on there wasn’t much more to be done.  I wandered here and there caught up with some new friends, watched some of the Olympics, talked about relationships, ate cheese and bacon fries at the bar…  it was a good time.   I decided to head up to the room and pack my bags.  My 615 Flight meant I once again had to be ready to go at 4AM to the Airport.  Sheesh, will I never learn?  LOL  But I digress….

The evening party time was more award presentations and acceptance speeches from activists.  One of whom made a remark that was so impcatful on me it it is still ringing in my ears today…  “Bisexual erasure by the LGBTQ community isn’t even a microaggression- it’s a macroaggression. Why are there still LGBT organizations that are run only by L or G people? Why aren’t there bisexuals at the helm too?” –@Scoutout   Scout’s story is amazing as well.  But he makes a good point…..

I headed to bed about 10:30, settled in and had everything ready to go , set the alarm.  As I lay down, my brain starts processing everything I have taken in this weekend.  ALL AT ONCE!  I am racing with ideas, topics for discussion, new classes, blog posts… DAMMIT BRAIN SILENCE   I must sleep…  11 comes and goes, still wrenching my brain as it hits a new idea.  11:30… then 11:45.  I am finally able to stop it and that’s when it hits me like a ton of bricks.  You are here to experience the next level of activism.  You are here to see what a national organization can do to affect change, and support different communities while promoting a single root cause.  You are here to be inspired.

Not a day has gone by yet where I have not done something related to my experience at SFS.  Be it a blog post., Facebook outreach, building new workshops in other cities, reaching for our brand, starting new recognition programs, or just a thoughtful conversation about sexuality as a human right. SFS16 lit a fire under me and in me that I hope isn’t extinguished, ever.

I am again very thankful for the opportunity provided to me by TANTUS for the Membership and by Relationship Equality Foundation for paying my travel expenses. Thank you to the amazing presenters, speakers, moderators that lend their knowledge to this conference.  Thank you to the Organizers, staff and board of WoodHull.  This was a life changing experience.
If you would like to support more individuals having these types experiences, perhaps even yourself, then I highly recommend joining REF as a supporting member today.
REF-350x150.png

Atlanta Poly Weekend 2016 ( Preview)

Well, its that time of year again.  In just 2 weeks Atlanta Poly Weekend 2016 will be taking over its new hotel home.  Yep , if you hadn’t heard they are moving to a new venue this year.  The new home for #APW2016 is the Sheraton Downtown Atlanta ! APW is excited for this move as it indicates growth, change, and expansion.

Along with the new hotel,  lots of other new things are happening this year, the most presenters they have ever had, 30 as well as, the most new presenters they have ever had, 18!  That’s over 50% NEW FACES teaching classes.  But of course they brought back your favorites from previous years. Some of the presenters listed include, Tikva Wolf (Kimchi Cuddles) Dr. Eli Sheff, Joreth, Bettie Bullet, Amanda Anatra, Ricci Levy, and  myself.
Classes this year have been extended to 1 hour 30 minuets, so plan accordingly. They will have a 15 minuet break between classes that should help with restroom times and stretching the legs.

New events happening this year include a Pool Party (pack your swim suit) in place of a dance.  Organizers have said the dance has been poorly attended in years past so they wanted to try something new.  The Pool party will be on Friday Night from 7-10Pm.  Make sure you are there for all the fun! Also this year brings back the loved game of Match Game against Humanity.   This  is a mash-up of the traditional Match Game, and CAH, where the staff choose the Black cards out of a deck of CAH for the questions,  and the panelists answer with their own made up white card answers. It is a lot of fun.  Not one for the kiddos though.

Classes look really interesting this year, as usual.  APW really prides itself on not only the amount of classes they offer, but the quality as well.  With classes ranging on topic feom Asexuality, to Yoga, to communication and coming out,  you name it I think they have it covered.  With this year a night time Adult track of topics restricted to 18+ years old.  See the full line up and descriptions here .

In addition to all the new programming that APW has this year, never before have this many community organizations been represented at APW.  over 12 different organizations have come out already to support this wonderful event.  They include, Relationship Equality Foundation, Woodhull Freedom Foundation, NCSF, Atlanta Poly, AID Atlanta, Lost n Found Youth, Relate Con, and several more.  Its amazing to see this much support for the event that started so humbly 6 years ago in the basement of  a hotel.

With all this awesome going on, I ask you will I see you there?  If you have not already bought your tickets,  go now and get them HERE Badges are only $60.00 per adult. Meet some of the best presenters, activist and advocates in the Poly Community,  learn skills and expand your minds view on different topics, make new friends,  but most importantly, have a good time.
Ill see you June 3-5 2016 at Atlanta Poly Weekend!

Thanks for all the new Follows!

Just a quick thanks to all the new followers.

Disclaimer …. My grammer is not always the best.  My Ideas may be a bit unconventional at times. Sometimes I go a while between posts because… Life happens. Also the things I post about are based on my personal experiences.  My solution may not work for you.  If you find another way to do something, feel free to share it in the comments.  Someone else may benefit  from it.

I do hope you enjoy what you read here and that at least one person can learn one thing form my ramblings.  If so then this is a success.

Check out my appearence page for where I will be and How to get me to come to your town.

Thanks for the support.

Beyond the Love- One of the best cons -EVAR!!!

This past weekend I had the honor to be a presenter at one of the country’s newest polyamory conferences, Beyond the Love Polyamory Summit.  Hosted in Columbus Ohio by Dawn, Dank and Karen (DD&K) and the Columbus Poly community.  This event was scheduled as a 2 day 3 night event.  It had a strong line up of presenters and educators from around the country.  From new presenters like myself to some of the most recognizable names in education Sarah Sloane, Master So’N’So, and others.

BTL FB Banner

Registration began on Friday afternoon.  Lindsey and I had driven for 2 days to get here and were couldnt wait to get checked in. We had arrived early so we went to get some lunch at a nearby restaurant.  There were a lot of options very close by.  Registration opened at 4pm and we got checked in. We got our ggoodiebags for attending, and I got a cool thank you bag for being a presenter.  It was full of small things but it was a nice thank you, unexpected, and thoughtful. The I was offered a “dot” Green, Yellow, or Red.  These were indicator dots as to the level of flirtation you were open to. Green was “Open to flirtatious conversation” Yellow, “Ask before flirting”  Red “No Flirting please”.  I felt this was a great way to passively express our individual level of openess.  I had 4 Green dots for the record.

Shortly after getting checked in we wandered around into the merchant room, and found all the classrooms. Easily enough everything was together and labeled plainly to find. In our wanderings, we came to our first class. A Poly Primer 101 class by PolyAnna and partner.  It was very informative , even from an experienced poly person. Never forget the basics and always learn something. They discussed terminology and structure as well as common early pitfalls to watch out for.  Then came the group discussion where Poly Bucks were handed out to attendees for participation.

Poly Bucks?  Yes they were a sort of fake money that wasn’t worth anything but it was fun to have an incentive to use to encourage class participation. Later in the weekend one could use their poly bucks to ” rent a presenter ” for a 15 min 1 on 1 exclusive time.  More about that later.

After the first class I experienced the coolest mixer meet and greet game ever. It was a poly scavenger hunt.  The object, find people and ask them questions from the list of things like, ” Someone in a Poly relationship over 15 years”, Someone who traveled over 100 Miles to get here”, Someone who has been to Mardi Gras”.  Once found, you wrote the name of the person on your paper next to that item.  This was a lot of fun as it sparked conversation and got the name exchange going. This was huge.  We (APW2015) will be doing something very similar in JUNE).

From here we went to the 5 love languages mixer. Led by Boi Kris, an energetic and fun host, we went through a 20 question quiz and answered questions from the 5 Love languages. Once complete we were sorted into groups of our primary love language, seated in long rows (almost 100 people took part in this activity) . The al-a Speed Dating style we rotated chair to chair chatting with the person across from us.  Gender didnt matter,  it was a get to know you session, not a hook up event.  I really liked the no pressure atmosphere. It did get a little loud and there was initially a little confusion but Boi Kris sorted us out and kept us moving.  WHAT A BLAST!  The night wound down and we were getting tired after 2 days on the road. We turned in somewhat early, Knowing I had a class to teach in the AM.

Saturday started out stronger than Friday finished, which I thought was very impressive.  With Yoga at 8am and then classes beginning promptly at 9.  Pastries and coffee were supplied for a morning snack. One of the main things that stood out to me was how punctual everything was. There was no “Con standard time” An event went on on time and ended on time, EVERYTIME. This is hard to ensure at a convention.  The organizers and staff did a great job ensuring that this happened.  Kudos!

My class was at 10:30am.  Coming out poly was the topic and I had a great turn out .  A lively bunch of engaged participants made the class more fun for me as well.  Lots of people were live tweeting  the class highlights can be found on the twitter #comingoutpoly  #BTL2014 A few of my favorite bits,  People will react to your by taking your cues; make it a big deal then it will be.  There is a natural opportunity for cooperation between the and the lgbt community. (benefit of) @btl2014 .  “the more secrets you have, the more other people can hurt you with them.” –  . Lindsey being in the class was a HUGE help because she got to share her stories about coming out when partnered to a national Polyamory figure.  Being in the media kinda requires being out.  Overall this was a great class not just for the attendees but also for me.

Later I went to the Leadership and Activism panel moderated by Alan of Poly In the News.  This was a great chance for new and experienced community organizers to come together and discuss the current trends and where we should go from here. What are we missing? Who are we missing?  ANd it was obvious by looking around the room that the greater poly community is underrepresented in the People of Color community. We all agreed that more needs to be done to reach out to this group of people and see what we can learn .  This community cannot move forward with out ALL the people in it working together.  Phone calls were made with in the hour and connections were begun. Hopefully we as one side of the community can reach out to the other sides of the community and work together to build a greater community.

After that panel was over it was time to break for lunch.  We went out to a nearby restaurant with a newly made friend.  We enjoyed laughs and conversation and decided we would use the coloring pad they gave us as an opportunity to fill a Flirt mail. 🙂  We returned to the conference bellies full and brains ready to go.

I attended the panel Navigating our Differences led by the amazing Sarah Slone. This was a fantastic open discussion about the ways we communicate to our partners and what we can do better to accept our differences and still grow as a relationship.  I was live tweeting this one.  Highlights include “If you do not ask you will not get. navigating Differences in relationships.. Determine needs vs wants for EACH realtionship independent.  .. Our success is not dependent on the other people in our relationships.  Using nonviolent communication is a great way to discuss differences in relationships Example… when ________ , I feel _________. … Shorter is better when discussing differences,.  Overall this was my favorite class.

The afternoon was spent socializing and making connections with new people and community organizers from across the country. This was facilitated by the organizers putting tables in open pre function space to invite people to sit talk and relax if they didn’t want to go to any of the classes or who needed a break.   This was brilliant!  Again great job to the organizers on this one.

As the afternoon came close, we remembered we needed to change for the Masquerade Ball and that we had a dinner to attend.  So we excused ourselves and went upstairs to change and get ready for the evening events.

The dinner that the organizers planned for the guests and their partners as well as VIPs and Sponsors was simply amazing.  What a great way to say thank you to the presenters.  It also gave us an opportunity to sit with other presenters and discuss classes, life and organizing in a private setting.  It truly was a positive experience.

The Masquerade Ball was a lot of fun. they had wonderful decorations and some pretty good music too.  Which for a con dance sometimes that’s iffy, however the DJ did a good job.  In addition to the dance , music and decorations, they had a Prom Photographer there who took everyones photo and emailed them to us for purchase.  It was a great way to create a memorable moment of the weekend with all of ones partners if they were there.  Something you don’t normally get to do in general society.  The night went on after a bit we left the dance and sat in on a game of Cards against humanity.  This is a really fun game to play and even more so with strangers.  If you haven’t played CAH then ill let you google it.  Its basically Apple to Apples for Adults.  We played for an hour or two then went back to the dance to socialize some more.  But as the Clock struck 1am the dance was closed and we all had to find somewhere/one else to party with.    (it was a pre arranged time line as the hotel had other guests and they didnt want to disturb them.)

We asked a few folks up to our room and chatted for the next 2 hours about community organizing and ethical communities and connections between people and communities.  It was a great big community organizer nerd fest.  i loved every minuet of it.  The people we invited up were so intelligent about everything we discussed. They listened , even if disagreed, but thats part of it too; challenging each others ideas and making us think outside of our bubble.  At about 3am we decided enough was enough and to bed we went.  9 am class to teach on Sunday. *thud*

Sunday was hard.  Not enough sleep means that I was not at my best for my class.  Then after ymy class I only wanted more coffee and socializing.  I knew that I was leaving soon there were connections I wanted ot make between this community and the one I have at home.  I spent the next 3 hours talking and visiting with folks from the northeast and the midwest.  We discussed organizational styles, types of poly people and how we can better communicate our message with a unified look, sound and feel to the greater society. Several of us agreed on talking more indepth about these topics via email.

Sadly it was time for closing ceremonies.  Lots of misty eyes and hugs. One REALLY cool part… they gave anyone who wanted to promote their group 30 seconds on the floor in front of everyone.  It didnt have to be poy specific. It was a great way to get the word out about groups open to poly folks and run by poly folks.  Another great idea for inclusion.  As we said our goodbyes and gave our final hugs to this group, I felt like I was part of something great that had just happened. On the way home, Lindsey and I couldn’t stop talking about all the great experiences and people we had just encountered.

Overall the event was a huge success and I highly recommend this one to everyone.  Ive been going to cons for over 20 years and this is by far one of the best organized and best executed events in the country.  I will be back next year.  I hope you will come too.

Stay upto date with all the Beyond the Love info at  BEYOND THE LOVE