Sexual Freedom Summit: Saturday, Sunday, Monday

By Saturday morning I was starting to feel a bit overwhelmed. I had been sleeping and eating well (maybe too many carbs), but I made it to the 9am session with Twanna Hines on Sexual Health Advocacy, where I was a Room Monitor. Good info all around and a suggestion that I might be able to find funding for my senior sexuality classes as I teach STI prevention. (I’ll followup.)

Second up was Eugenics, a subject I knew very little about other than Margaret Sanger’s involvement in NYC 100 years ago. Tracing the history, Erin Basler talked about how this movement to preserve the “purity” of certain races, is still alive today. In fact I was reminded of Erin’s talk when I watched Rachel Maddow’s show of August 19th where she talked about John Tanton and the Center for Immigration Studies. Disturbing…

In the early afternoon I was back at the Registration table for a few hours. I was also able to catch the last half hour of Different Shades of Kink, but my body was having a difficult time staying present, with my assorted aches and pains and brain fog. (See my post from last December about fibromyalgia.)

laura-better-halfAs I headed towards the Restaurant I very luckily ran into Laura Collins Lyster-Mensh, and we decided to sit down for a talk over supper. I had been listening to Laura’s podcast Our Better Half since it began in early 2016. I wondered who the heck was this woman who called herself a sexual prude, yet delved into interviews with some of the strangest, kinkiest, and most delightful characters in the human sexuality realm.  We spent 2 1/2 hours comparing our life histories and sharing personal stories. Her podcast is now one of the top items I recommend to my Forever Sexual senior sexuality groups. (There… I’ve just outed myself.)

Thank you Laura! Can’t wait to meet up with you again!

Sunday was the last day and everyone gathered for brunch and a Round Table discussion. Said goodbye (but stay in touch) to many people, helped out at the Survey table, got Allie Moon to sign my copy of Girl Sex 101, and bought a Sex Geek t-shirt. Then as the Summit closed, all of the volunteers helped with unpacking, repacking, cleaning up, etc.

I went upstairs to write for awhile, then drifted down to the lounge for a drink. Joined folks sitting by the elevators, comparing Summit experiences, swapping email addresses and waiting for shuttles or cabs. Gave Nina another hug and promised to stay in touch with her and Vera around current birthing practices.

Monday I was able to unwind on the train trip home. Thinking about where I want to go with all of this. Continuing to lead discussion groups? Yes. Masters at Widener? Maybe. Online activism? Of course.

Sexual Freedom Summit: Friday

Got downstairs too late for the Summit breakfast so slipped over to the restaurant for tea and breakfast buffet.

girlsex101First up was Allison Moon’s talk on Self Publishing. Allison has published several books. I had just read Bad Dyke on my Kindle a few weeks previous and was interested to hear her speak.

Allie led us through the steps she had taken when publishing her first novels a few years ago, her memoir Bad Dyke and her recent Girl Sex 101. She talked about choosing whether to work within the publishing establishment or doing it on your own. Publishing began to change in the 1980s, and the start of the Internet in the 1990s only accelerated that. Fascinating stuff and lots to think about as I help some friends with their publishing choices.

(Side note: I have a background in publishing, since before the Internet and even before Desktop Publishing. I worked for a publisher in New York in 1970-1971, when we still used T-squares and rubber cement. I also worked with a women’s printing/publishing collective in Vancouver, BC in the late-1970s. In the mid-1980s I went back to school to learn computer graphic design and the newest advance in the field, Desktop Publishing.)

After this session I did a Volunteer stint at the registration table and found some time to talk with exhibitors and other folks and grab a quick lunch.

The afternoon’s session on Trauma in Maternity Care was intense to say the least. It brought me full circle back to where my interest in women’s health started. Vera Levitt Casey had stopped by the registration table and when I told her of my background in lay midwifery, she hoped I would join her and Nina Hartley in talking about birth trauma.

(Side note: I was a traditional or lay midwife in British Columbia from the mid 1970s until the mid 1980s. I learned best practices from other midwives at the Vancouver Birth Centre. I also worked with the Vancouver Women’s Health Collective as a women’s health teacher and clinic worker. In 1974 I also went to Vancouver Community College to train as an LPN.) 

SpiritualMidwiferyInaMayGaskinMost folks know Nina as an actress in adult films, but I was more interested in the fact she has a BS in Nursing and is an RN. I was delighted when she talked about The Farm and Spiritual Midwifery and Leboyer’s Birth Without Violence. Those people and their birth books had been my bibles when I was pregnant and working as a midwife.

When birth is taken out of a woman’s hands (almost literally) and given to other’s who do not respect her wishes and needs, interventions such as episiotomies and c-sections (with resulting PTSD) are almost inevitable. It is 40+ years since the natural childbirth movement began and birth interventions in hospitals have only become more commonplace. So many women attending this session were completely surprised and in the dark about what really goes on during childbirth in the US. Time to start another revolution…

I finished the day by going to the Keynote on Using Tech to Fight for Freedom. Powerful words and thoughts about how the Women of Color Sexual Health Network wants to use social media to advance justice-oriented work. Whew!

After such an intense day I sequestered myself in a corner of the lounge with a couple of vodka’s/ginger ale and wrote in my journal. The day had been a review of what I have done over the years – publishing, women’s health, activism. Now as I aim to carry all that I’ve learned forward where can I have the most impact?


Sexual Freedom Summit: Thursday

copy-sfs-logoI took the train to Alexandria last week to Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit. I was working as a Volunteer, but kept my schedule free for the whole first day of Sexuality and Aging.

Unfortunately the session on STIs was cancelled but I went to Tom Callahan’s great talk on making your community LGBTQ friendly. We need to start talking about where seniors who wish to remain sexually active fit into assisted living and nursing homes. Some places are finally waking up to the reality of senior sexuality, but many who identify as LGBTQ are forced back into the closet by repressive staff and outdated policies. We can change this.

Gen Silent

Lambda Legal


LGBT Aging Center/

In the afternoon I went to Joan Price’s wonderful 25 Tips for Sexy Aging. Joan as you may know is one of the reasons I find myself writing this blog. I won’t list all 25 tips, but here are a few:

1. Foreplay implies an end goal of orgasm. Play on the other hand can be whatever both of you (or more!) want to do. It could mean just cuddling or a full-on kink scene.
2. A senior “quickie” should last at least an hour.
3. Seniors ought to be using sex toys to help have regular orgasms. At least once a week says Joan, but I would say double that.
4. Have sex before a meal – not after that candlelit dinner. Listen to Dan Savage’s advice “Fuck first.”
5. Sexual expression is part of healthy living and has nothing to do with age. Amen to that.

Joan Price