This post also appeared on the Good Vibrations Magazine.
This last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at MOMENTUM: Making Waves in Sexuality, Feminism, and Relationships. It was easily the best sexuality conference I’ve ever been to and I’m still smiling from it.
There were a lot of reasons I enjoyed it so much, but I think the biggest one is the amazing range of people who came, both as attendees and presenters. There were writers, educators, activists, sex workers, students, professors, researchers, sexologists, therapists, interested civilians, bloggers, sex toy makers, sex toy retailers, bodyworkers, and more. There were people who have been in the field for years, and people for whom this was their first sexuality event. And everywhere I turned, people were discovering new connections and ideas.
It was hard to pin down what we all had in common, besides an interest in sexuality, but every single time I chatting with someone, I found myself wishing we had a couple of hours to sit and talk. I think that the common thread is that it was a collection of people who enjoy thinking deeply about sexuality and applying that to their personal lives and work. It was a real joy to hear all of the different stories, and to geek out with folks who engage in this side of things.
The weekend started out with Maria Falzone and her hilarious performance. Seriously- if you think sex ed can’t be funny, you need to see her. Next up was the opening keynote panel, with Logan Levkoff, Audacia Ray, Bill Taverner, and me, hosted by the effervescent Carol Queen. Getting to hear some of my favorite peers in the field and responding to the questions from the crowd was a super fun way to get things going.
On Saturday, my biggest problem was trying to figure out which presentations to get to. Seriously- I wished I’d been able to clone myself, though I had to settle for following the #mcon hashtag. (You can find all the presentation descriptions on the conference website, too.) Diana Adams had some incredible things to say about sexuality and the law, as well as what strategies she uses to support her clients and push for sex-positive decisions in legal cases. We need more lawyers like her in the world! Audaica Ray had some thought-provoking and challenging things to say about the negative impact of the sex-positive movement on sex workers’ rights (you can read her essay in the conference anthology). Megan Andelloux’s talk on pornography was fantastic- she’s an amazing teacher and offered some really useful tools for sex educators who want to discuss porn with clarity.
That evening, Carol & I hosted a meet-and-greet and it was one of the most fun parties I’ve even been to. Everywhere I turned, people were talking, laughing, sharing stories, trading ideas, flirting, and having a great time. I got to meet some folks I’d only known online, which was really wonderful. I also heard great things about Ducky Doolittle’s Dirty Bingo, and the CineKink screening, though I didn’t make it to them.
Sunday morning, I sat in on Megan Morgenson & Serpent Libertine’s excellent talk on how the anti-sex work End Demand movement fits within historic trends and dismisses the experiences of sex workers. And then it was time for my talk, Queer is a Verb, in which I discussed what it means to engage in queering categories, edges, and identities in order to create new perspectives and terrains to explore. (You can read my essay on the topic in the anthology, too.) In a weekend packed full of wonderful experiences, this was my highlight. The conversation with the folks who joined me was inspiring, and as an educator, it was a joy to see such deep engagement with a topic so near and dear to me.
I wish I’d had the bandwidth to sit in on more of the presentations. And even more so, I wish I’d been able to go to the closing plenary, with Dr. Joycelyn Elders, Esther Perel, and Lara Riscol. But I had had the flu the week before and was beyond wiped out, though I did manage to follow the conference hashtag and read some of the highlights.
The reason they called it “Momentum” is that they wanted to inspire people to discover new ideas and them keep the momentum going after the conference. And I can tell you that I definitely will. I have at least 5 or 6 blog posts in my to-write list as a result of the various conversations I had, as well as a couple of possible new workshops. I’m willing to bet that lots of other folks are feeling the same.
I can’t say enough good stuff about this exceptional event. If you missed it, I really recommend getting to it next year. And one of the organizers is putting a similar event together on September 14-16 in California, called Catalyst: Sparking Communication and Change. I will definitely be there and I hope you will, too!