2020 SexPosCon Schedule
Mixer @Hampton Inn & Suites Burbank (across the street!)8:00 am - 8:00 am
Closing8:00 am - 8:00 am
Registration8:00 am - 12:00 pm
A.M. Coffee (provided)/Networking8:00 am - 9:00 am
Opening/Welcome9:00 am - 9:30 am
Session 1: Why Peacemaking?Emily Prior, MA, DJ Williams, PhD, Ariel Pliskin, and Jeremy N. Thomas, PhD9:30 am - 10:00 am
Session 2: --Consent in the Erotic Hypnosis Fetish Community --Ecological IntimacySam Hughes, Nick Santer, and Annie Boheler10:15 am - 11:15 am
Lunch (provided)11:30 am - 1:00 pm
Keynote: Joy & Positive Sexuality: Strange Bedfellows or Bosom Buddies?Keynote Speaker: Billy Strean, PhD1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
Session 3: --Cultivating Consent: A Qualitative Exploratory Study of the New England BDSM Community --Couples in Consensually Nonmonogamous Marriages: Findings from a 2,000 person sampleSonja Winter Heels, BA, and D. Joye Swan2:45 pm - 3:45 pm
Session 4: Poster Presentations Coffee Break/Networking4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Session 5: --Osunality Encourages Peacemaking --Re-Vitalize Your Sex Life as You Grow Older: The Wellness Sexuality PracticeDr. Zelaika Hepworth Clarke and Linda Landon5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Closing6:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Mixer @Hampton Inn & Suites Burbank (across the street!)7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Registration8:00 am - 12:00 pm
A.M. Coffee (provided)/Networking8:00 am - 8:45 am
Opening/Welcome8:45 am - 9:15 am
Session 6: --Cuddling as a Peacemaking Tool in the Gender Wars --Positive Sexuality Starts in the WombYoni Alkan, Michelle Renee, and Perquida Payne9:15 am - 10:15 am
Session 7: --Queer Lens in Focus: A Photovoice Project with LGBTQ+ Refugees living in Athens, Greece --Arts-based Research: Using Photovoice to Move Beyond HIV Stigma in Queer Men of Color --Sex Talk: Investigating the Sexual Development and Sexual Attitudes of African American WomenMoshoula Capous-Desyllas, Art Ambartsumyan, Vanessa Myrie, Dani Murillo, and Chanel Jaali Marshall10:15 am - 11:15 am
Session 8: --Looking for a Sex Positive Therapist Online? Some Possible Unintended Consequences --Building a Sex Positive Professional Certification ProgramKarin Wandrei, Emily Prior, Daniel Copulsky, and Andrew Pari11:30 am - 12:30 pm
Lunch (provided)12:30 pm - 1:45 pm
Session 9: --Graphically Yours: A Creative Tool for Therapy --Guided Rape Exposure Treatment: A Proposed ModelJennifer Beman and Andrew Pari1:45 pm - 2:45 pm
Session 10: --Ace and Poly: Insights from the Asexual Community Survey --Communicating Consent Concepts in Casual SettingsDaniel Copulsky and Kathy G. Slaughter, LCSW3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Session 11: Poster Presentations Coffee Break/networking4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Session 12: --Kink and Sex through the Lens of Queer Theory: Findings from the Kink Identity and Sexuality Study --The Kinky Dabbler: Engaging in Kink but not in CommunitiesEliot M. Lev, Jules Vivid, Richard Sprott, and Liam Wignall5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Closing6:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Guided Dungeon Experience (This is an additional cost w/ limited space.)8:00 pm - 2:00 am
Information8:30 am - 12:00 pm
Information8:30 am - 12:00 pm
A.M. Coffee (provided)/Networking8:30 am - 9:00 am
Session 13: --Resilient Polyamorous Families --Opening Up: A ProcessElisabeth “Eli” Sheff, PhD, CSE, and Jennifer Rehor9:00 am - 10:00 am
Session 14: --Using Sex and Porn Online to Change the World IRL --Peacemaking Through Social Media: How Sex Workers are Achieving Social Justice OnlineBrianne McGuire, Tim Woodman, and Riley Reyes10:15 am - 11:15 am
Session 15: --Problems of Tabooed Talk and the Potential of a Sex-positive Discourse and Sex-positive Spaces --Teaching Sex! A Pedagogy of PeacemakingAnna Mense, Jeremy N. Thomas, PhD, DJ Williams, PhD, Emily Prior, MA, and Thea S. Alvarado, PhD11:30 am - 12:30 pm
Lunch (offsite)12:45 pm - 2:15 pm
Certification Program Workshop (This is an additional cost w/ limited space) P.M. Coffee (provided)2:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Why "Peacemaking"? A Panel Discussion
Emily Prior, MA, DJ Williams, PhD, Ariel Pliskin, Jeremy N. Thomas, PhD
Panelists will respond to prepared questions around what peacemaking is, how it applies to positive sexuality, and why it was chosen as the theme for this conference.
Cultivating Consent: A Qualitative Exploratory Study of the New England BDSM Community
Sonja Winter Heels, BA
I explore how members of the New England BDSM (bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism) community define and conceptualize consent. Through snowball sampling methods, I conducted 23 semi-structured in-depth interviews of approximately one hour in length via Zoom or in-person with self-identified members of the New England BDSM community with at least three years of experience. Consent has become a prominent and timely topic within the past several years in the contemporary United States, and very little is known regarding consent definitions, practices, and issues within the BDSM community. Because this study is exploratory in nature, a wide array of themes and topics arose. As a result, I will focus my time on the key findings, including how members of the community define consent, practice consent, as well as common issues related to consent within the community.
Joy & Positive Sexuality: Strange Bedfellows or Bosom Buddies?
Keynote Speaker: Billy Strean, PhD
Most people might say that our sexuality is, could, or should be one of our greatest joys. Yet, our journey toward positive sexuality may be impeded with cultural, social, moral, and personal speed bumps. This presentation will consider how the Five Elements of Joy can guide our exploration of positive sexuality. How can we be more aware of challenges and bring greater joy and other positive emotions to our sexuality? How can our sexuality expand our joy?
Navigating Intersecting Identities, Self-Representation and Relationships: A Qualitative Study with Trans Sex Workers Living and Working in Los Angeles, CA
Victoria Loy & Moshoula Capous-Desyllas
This qualitative research study highlights the lived experiences and voices of diverse trans sex workers who are living and working in Los Angeles, California. Informed by transgender theory, intersectionality theory, and feminist theoretical approaches to research, this study uses qualitative interactive interviews and a life time-line approach with six trans sex workers living and working in various aspects of the sex trade in Los Angeles, CA. These testimonies highlight the ways in which sex workers of trans experience navigate their intersecting identities in relation to their work in the sex industry, their personal and professional relationships, and the various roles they embody in their life. Using a life time-line approach, these voices also illustrate the multi-layered connections that trans sex workers have to various institutions over time and the challenges that they face in negotiating work, maintaining a quality of life, and resisting various forms of stigma.
Consent in the Erotic Hypnosis Fetish Community
Sam Hughes & Nick Santer
In the BDSM community, consent is a cornerstone of what distinguishes kink from abuse. However, for people who are into erotic hypnosis (a fetish involving deriving erotic or intimate pleasure from engaging in and/or role-playing hypnosis, mind control, and/or brainwashing) the idea of “people being made to do something they don’t want to do” is central to many people’s attraction the fetish. For example, most erotic hypnosis fetish pornography revolves around someone being controlled against their will. Based on a qualitative analysis of at-least 30 in-person semi-structured interviews to be conducted shortly with erotic hypnosis fetishists at two national erotic hypnosis conferences (one for gay men, and one for the broader pansexual community), this study will examine how people in the erotic hypnosis fetish community construct their understanding of consent and ethics. It will also focus on how mindfulness practices involved in erotic hypnosis contexts interact with issues of consent and empowerment in complex and varied ways. Implications for other activities that ostensibly focus on an imagined or negotiated violation of consent (such as consensual non-consent, or play involving mind-altering substances) will be discussed.
Couples in Consensually Non-monogamous Marriages: Findings from a 2,000 person sample
D. Joye Swan
Studying couples in consensually nonmonogamous relationships in comparison to those in consensually monogamous ones can provide us insight into the lived experiences of this nontraditional model of partnering. This project presents the findings of nearly 2,000 married individuals and couples in consensually nonmonogamous marriages (CNM). The data were compared to married monogamous couples using information from the U. S. General Social Survey. Findings show significant differences between the two lifestyles with those in CNM reporting more frequent sex within their relationship, more satisfaction, lower divorce rates, and feeling more loved. Additionally, the findings will be discussed in terms of leisure vs lifestyle as the majority of couples reported “swinging” being something they only did an average of 4-6 times a year.
A Thin Line Between Sex-Positivity & Purity Culture
Have you ever faced sexual dysfunction or sexual shame due to a sex-negative cultural and religious upbringing? If so, youâ€™re not alone. Between the prevalence of ceremonial acts such as purity pledges and purity balls done in the name of purity culture and the United Stateâ€™s $2.1 billion funded abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, itâ€™s safe to assume religion plays a key role in the way many of us navigate conversations about sexuality. This presentation will analyze ways in which religion can instead be used as a tool to spread a healthy message behind sexuality at its core to the human experience as opposed to a negative message fueled by shame as well as examine specific strategies to integrate sex-positivity into religious conversations about human sexuality in schools, churches or the household.
Re-Vitalize Your Sex Life as You Grow Older: The Wellness Sexuality Practice
Aging adults are constantly bombarded with the myth that sexual energy diminishes as we grow older. The truth is, our bodies have the capacity to experience more sexual pleasure and aliveness as we age.
This lively and experiential workshop introduces Linda Landon’s signature program, The Wellness Sexuality Practice. This highly structured 5-step somatic method, re-ignites sensual, and sexual energy so it can flow throughout the body.
For couples, the practice deepens intimate connection and presence, enhances sensual/sexual pleasure, opens up playful exploration – and builds energy. For individuals, it deepens the connection with self, opens up playful self-exploration, builds self-confidence, and increases vitality.
The Wellness Sexuality Practice is mindful and goal-less. With all goals removed – except the desire to connect and feel – it provides a safe space to explore physical sensation through simple non-sexual touch, and then, expand into more sexual contact.
This practice can also help repair sexual issues, sexual trauma, a breach in intimate connection, as well as conditions associated with aging, such as vaginal dryness or erectile dysfunction.
This interactive lecture will describe the practice, and provide an opportunity to experience Level 1 and 2 (Sensing Communication) in a dyad.
Humans are of & by nature and, our sexual/intimate relationship qualities relate directly to our interactions with ecosystems. This idea has been labeled as deep ecology, integrative spirituality, biophilia, etc.. Scientists such as Ken Wilber, Clemens Arvay, and E.O. Wilson have expanded on this idea and reality. It is by no random coincidence that the ecologically divorced situation that we as a human society are in is coinciding with the ever-expanding realization that our sexuality, responding to immediate culture, has been oppressed.
Our reductionist thinking has led to extreme discoveries in science that include sexuality and ecology however, western science is extremely limited in that many layers of reality are not able to be studied. This is due to the complexities of perceptions and normal responses to observation. It is imperative that in this quickly evolving culture we bridge fields of study related to holistic health, wellbeing, and environmental changes. When we oppress functions, such as sexuality, of our highly evolved animalistic nature, we outsource our needs violently (ref. Lysistrata). Co-creating de-shaming sexual spaces for expression and creativity is a key factor in our upcoming regeneratively oriented, diverse global culture.
What is your sexual orientation? "Kinky"
Recent work on practitioners of Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, and Sadomasochism (BDSM) has moved away from the longstanding pathological model to consider other narratives of BDSM and formulations of BDSM as leisure, orientation, or both. While descriptions of BDSM as orientation have appeared in theoretical discussions, along with popular media, blogs, and qualitative articles, quantitative data supporting this perspective remains sparse.
The present analysis is based on data collected by Williams, Prior, Alvarado, Thomas & Christensen (2016). This prior study focused on BDSM as leisure, but participant responses also contribute to the conversation around BDSM as orientation, confirming that some BDSM practitioners do consider this a sexual orientation. Tensions also emerge in the data. While some BDSM practitioners present kink identities as a primary sexual orientation or a facet of orientation, expressing these interests in a few distinct ways, others actively reject the idea that BDSM should be thought of in these terms.
Osunality Encourages Peacemaking
Dr. Zelaika Hepworth Clarke
This anti-erotiphobic, anti-racist presentation will highlight the African-centered sex-positive paradigm of the Osunality and African energy matrix associated with peacemaking. A simple translation of Ọ̀ṣunality is Ọ̀ṣun-sexuality or African sensuality-sexuality and eroticism (Nzegwu, 2011). Ọ̀ṣunality is an “empowering, post-colonial, sex-positive, African-centered paradigm” (Hepworth Clarke, 2015, p. 16). Ọ̀ṣunality “affirms the normality of sexual pleasure and the erotic” (Nzegwu, 2011, p. 256). Ọ̀ṣun or Oshun, also known as a peacemaker, will be highlighted along with other African orishas, associate with peace, sensuality, love, and joy. Learning about Osunality can provide sexuality professionals valuable insight into non-western sex-positive paradigms, an opportunity to unlearn negative effects of sexual colonialism (such as misogynoir, cissexism), increase sexual multiepistemic literacy and awareness of erotic sovereignty. This workshop will highlight African epistemic considerations of pain, pleasure, eroticism, empowerment, peace, and relationality with the aim of decreasing the distance toward sensual liberation.
Cuddling as a Peacemaking Tool in the Gender Wars
Yoni Alkan & Michelle Renee
Professional Non-Sexual Consensual Touch (Cuddling) is coming more into the mainstream nowadays. From interviews and mentions on TV (“Billions” and “Bill Nye: Saves the World”) to articles and party conversations; most of the discussions revolve around the touch and sex aspects of cuddling. But the fact that this practice affects people’s abilities to keep each other safe through consent, is rarely discussed. Not only that, but the practice creates a new paradigm where men learn to communicate their wants in a safe environment, and women learn to take autonomy over their level of comfort and are able to say No is a safe and nourishing environment.
This panel will discuss how professional cuddling can teach the basic skills of consent, communication, and boundary setting – which can change the dating landscape completely. Both practitioners on the panel are sexual educators that came to the world of professional cuddling. Both believe that sex positivity affects their approach to non-sexual cuddling services to bring inclusivity to all.
Arts-based Research: Using Photo-voice to Move Beyond HIV Stigma in Queer Men of Color
This presentation will focus on the transformative potential of arts-based research as a tool which can uplift sexually marginalized communities and bring their voices to the foreground of discussions of positive sexuality through creative photography (Sullivan, 2005). I will be sharing photos from a photovoice research project I conducted. These photographs were taken by the participants to express their fears, experiences, and aspirations for intimate relationships. The study uses photovoice and in-depth qualitative interviews to explore the experiences of HIV+ queer men of color and intimate relationships. I approach this study from a sociological queer perspective; I conducted 5 interviews with HIV+ queer men of color and I am still in the process of conducting interviews. My preliminary analysis shows emerging finding on how these men resist stigma and how their relationships with other queer men of color empower them to be honest about their status with sexual partners. Although I will present these findings as an example of a photovoice project, I intend to focus on how arts-based research can expand the field of sex positive research by making findings more accessible to a broader audience.
Building a Sex Positive Professional Certification Program
Emily Prior, Daniel Copulsky, Andrew Pari
A panel discussion on the creation and implementation of a new certification program geared towards professionals of all types who wish to expand their knowledge of positive sexuality.
Ace and Poly: Insights from the Asexual Community Survey
For the past 5 years, the annual Asexual Community Survey has collected data from individuals who identify on the ace spectrum (asexual, gray-asexual, and demisexual). This data confirms observations about the popularity of polyamory as a relationship option among asexual communities, with about 10% of asexuals in the surveys identifying as polyamorous and many more appearing open to the possibility of engaging in polyamorous relationships.
The surveys also provide some insight into ways polyamorous asexuals form a unique cohort and possible explanations for why polyamory may be appealing to asexuals. In particular, the data suggests that asexuals are not drawn to polyamory only as a way to appease non-asexual partners.
Seven Dimensions of Kink: Data from the Kink Identity and Sexuality Study (KISS) Project
Jules Vivid, Eliot M. Lev, Richard Sprott
While kink sexuality occurs at an appreciable rate in the population, we know very little about what it means to have a kink identity. This poster explores one question: What is the structure of kink identity? Using a grounded theory design, 70 in-person interviews were conducted of adults living in Northern California, USA, who identified themselves as kinky. The interviews were analyzed using grounded theory data analysis techniques. Results indicate that seven core categories/dimensions of kink identity emerged in our analyses. These results included: (1) Intertwining of kink and sex; (2) eroticizing power differences; (3) intense physical sensations (SM); (4) sensual experiences (fetish); (5) headspace or altered states of consciousness; (6) fluidity vs stability of power role in kink activities and relationships; and (7) community connection. These seven dimensions could be conceptually grouped into four main concerns: sex, power, headspace, and community.
Positive Sexuality Starts in the Womb
This presentation will go over the importance of starting positive sexuality conversations with children at an early age and how that can create adults that are more inclusive and sex-positive. A discussion of examples of starting these conversations will be provided to participants.
Sex Talk: Investigating the Sexual Development and Sexual Attitudes of African American Women
Chanel Jaali Marshall
This highly engaging session will begin with a brief historical overview of the sexuality of African and African descendant women. The presentation will then move into the myths, misconceptions, and stereotypes surrounding the sexuality of Black women. Attention will be given to the ways we learn about sex, and with that information, how we interpret sex and sexuality through our behaviors. This session is intended to be highly interactive with key discussion questions and videos positioned throughout with the intent of examining the aforementioned subjects. The speaker will also include personal stories collected from interviews in order to engage a cross-cultural perspective with the audience.
Graphically Yours: A Creative Tool for Therapy
The Graphic Sex Project is a creative tool to enhance self-acceptance, awareness, and partner communication. In the context of a therapy session, it can tap into artistic self-expression to help clients understand their sexual desires and the way in which their current sexual activities do or do not meet those desires. It is a unique methodology for helping people be empowered and fulfilled in their sexuality.
Using a handful of colored 1cm cubes, people make graphs of their sexual values and preferences, connecting their sexuality to a visual and tactile medium as a new path for exploration of desires. For clients that have some difficulty talking explicitly about sex in session, the process of creating a graph helps people attach words to desires, and create visual representations of current sexual situations, as well as future ideals, past traumas, fantasies, and realities.
Communicating Consent Concepts in Casual Settings
Kathy G. Slaughter, LCSW
Since the #MeToo movement began, our cultural conversation around sexual assault and consent changed, broadened, and moved beyond the communities already focusing on consent like the kink community. Yet resistance, ignorance, and confusion about how to engage each other consensually remain. Educating various kinds of communities about how to create change is now critical. In 2018, Mosaic Experiment, a regional Burning Man event in Ohio, decided to make itself officially a consent event. We recognized stating we value consent is easier than putting it into practice, so we created an education and accountability project called the Consent Team. This presentation will cover our guiding principles based on restorative justice and adult education, our use of the 4Cs in education initiatives and our lessons learned around enacting cultural change in a committed, diverse, chaotic community.
Art Sex Data: the Graphic Sex Project
This on-going art installation showcases the diversity of the human sexual experience and gives participants a new methodology for understanding their own sexual narrative. Participants make “graphs” of their sexual values and preferences using colored cubes. A picture of their creation is added, anonymously and consensually, to a growing collection.
The graphs that people make become a tool for them to open conversations and negotiation with partners about their needs and desires, as an essential part of positive sexual interaction and outcomes.
The Kinky Dabbler: Engaging in Kink but not in Communities
Kinky sex is increasingly mainstream in Western countries; this has opened up novel routes for individuals to engage with kink. Previous research into kink has predominantly focused on individuals who immersive themselves in kink communities – the transformational effect of the internet for individuals who engage in kink has been understudied. Drawing on ethnographic observations and 30 interviews with gay and bisexual men in the UK who practice kink in different ways, this presentation identifies the kinky dabbler – a new type of kink practitioner who engages in and invests in kink activities, but does not self-ascribe a kink identity or engage with kink communities. Key features of the kinky dabbler will be discussed, alongside implications for further work.
Queer Lens in Focus: A Photovoice Project with LGBTQ+ Refugees living in Athens, Greece
Moshoula Capous-Desyllas, Art Ambartsumyan & Vanessa Myrie
This project illustrates the power of photovoice methodology to capture the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum seekers. In collaboration with the LGBTQ+ Refugees Welcome Collective, we placed the power to create art & represent knowledge in the hands of the participants themselves. This process can serve to empower individuals and encourage peacemaking between cultures and communities while reaching a broader audience beyond academia. This project highlights the social, political, and economic challenges of displaced LGBTQ+ people from Syria, Iraq, Uganda, Cameroon, Pakistan, and Cuba, who hold intersecting identities related to race, class, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, nationality, and citizenship status. The detrimental effects of homophobia and transphobia continued to manifest within the refugee camps by their own ethnic communities. This research illuminates the strength and resilience of LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum seekers as they negotiate identity, express hope for a better life, identify needed resources, and grapple with physical, emotional, and symbolic notions of home through photography. Their images document their migration to Greece, the loved ones they left behind, and the new communities they formed along the way, as they affirm their identities, build solidarity, create peace within and among themselves, and celebrate their survival.
Looking for a Sex Positive Therapist Online? Some Possible Unintended Consequences
Feeling safe is an important element of successful therapy. Sexual and gender minorities often experience bias in their therapy encounters. While the existence of online directories can be valuable for people seeking sex-positive therapists, there can also be unintended negative consequences. Since most directories allow therapists to check off their areas of expertise, a therapist can indicate an expertise that they don’t really have. This can result in clients not getting the help they need and even worsening their situation. This presentation provides recommendations as to how this can be addressed and recommendations for future research.
Guided Rape Exposure Treatment: A Proposed Model
Sexualized violence is a devastating lifetime trauma that occurs in high numbers, both in the U.S. and around the world. In addition to PTSD and Rape Trauma Syndrome (RTS), anxiety, depression, self-harming behavior, suicidality, and disruptive relationship barriers are sequelae of sexualized violence. Victims often feel “damaged for life.”
One aspect not addressed clinically or in the literature is the concept of repetition compulsion for sexual assault victims. A well-documented area in general trauma, the field has left the drive towards repetition compulsion of the sexual trauma experience largely alone. Some survivors, consciously and unconsciously, seek relief of symptoms by replaying aspects of their experience.
The presenter will build upon their previous SexPosCon presentation, “From Rape to Rapture,” (understanding arousal in sexualized violence), by reviewing the expression of repetition compulsion in the kink world, based on qualitative interviews with women who play out these urges.
A highly controversial potential model for exposure treatment, rooted in current trauma-informed principles will be proposed and discussed. Healing trauma through kink is largely in its infancy as an acceptable treatment approach. This presenter will attempt to address and advance these concepts.
5 Facts Every Sexuality Professional Should Know about Transgender, Non-binary, and Gender Nonconforming Youth
Over the last few years, the ethics of treating transgender, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming youth have come into question in the public sphere. Many of these conversations include misinformation from publications aimed to discredit the professionals who provide gender-affirming care and limit life-saving healthcare to trans* youth populations. Sexuality professionals are in a unique position to help, having baseline knowledge about gender diversity and working in a social justice-focused field. This session aims to provide sexuality professionals with a starting point to advocate for trans* youth. We will cover myths and facts about trans* youth and their families, what medical transition for minors looks like under WPATH guidelines, social and systemic factors that affect health outcomes, and what we know about the outcomes of current treatment options.
Kink and Sex through the Lens of Queer Theory: Findings from the Kink Identity and Sexuality Study
Eliot M. Lev, Jules Vivid & Richard Sprott
Few studies have examined the relationship between kink behaviors and sexual behaviors, yet of these few studies, the relationship proves to be complex, with notable diversity in how people construct the boundaries of sex and kink and how these practices interact (Simula, 2019). As part of a grounded theory study of kink identity, the current study examined how 70 kink-identifying participants from Northern California discussed their experience and understanding of the relationship between kink and sex in interviews conducted in 2014 and 2015. The findings indicated seven themes. The themes are discussed through the lens of queer theory, noting how the boundary between kink and sex is fuzzy, and how kink and sex can be transgressive to sexual norms. This study is particularly relevant for enhancing the visibility of sexual and gender minorities while progressing sex-positive discourse that underscores the complex and diverse intersections of kink and sex.
Resilient Polyamorous Families
Elisabeth “Eli” Sheff, PhD, CSE
Using data from a longitudinal study of polyamorous families with children, Dr. Sheff will detail the advantages, disadvantages, and resilient strategies that members of poly families use to deal with disadvantages. Dr. Sheff will explain resilience theory and demonstrate how it applies to these polyamorous families, and close the presentation with ways in which conventional families can learn from resilient polyamorous families.
Peacemaking Through Social Media: How Sex Workers Are Achieving Social Justice Online
Tim Woodman & Riley Reyes
With the advent of various forums of social media, sex workers have their first-ever public platform to advocate for social justice and their own humanization and rights. This presentation will explore successes, failures, and objectives for the future in guiding online interactions through the lens of sex workers’ experiences.
Opening Up: A Process
Using the lens of attachment theory and sex-positivity, we will explore the different ways couples have successfully, and unsuccessfully, “opened-up” their relationships. Opening-up is a process of changing the relationship agreement from exclusively monogamous, to some form of consensual non-monogamy (CNM). By depicting both the benefits and the risks that changing a relationship dynamic can have, this presentation provides a balanced view of CNM.
Sex Speech: Problems of Tabooed Talk and the Potential of a Sex-Positive Discourse and Sex-Positive Spaces
In my talk, I reflect upon the role that language has for different aspects of sexualities. I locate this matter within the examination of a German German sex-negative socio-political climate and an emerging sex-positive subculture in Western Europe. The basis of my considerations is the observation that public talk about sexualities is negatively framed an observation that public talk about sexualities is negatively framed and focussed on dangers without equally highlighting the abundance of sexualities and richness sexual experiences. without equally highlighting the abundance of sexualities and richness of sexual experiences. In the first part, I will give brief evidence for inhibited discourse evidence about sexualities in Germany since 2014. In the second part, I will give examples for negative consequences of a tabooed discourse and I will use these examples in order to indicate different functions that language has for individual sexual experiences and sexual identity as well for sex culture. In this part, the focus will be set on dimensions of (1) dialogical self, (2) model constitution, (3) invisible narratives, and (4) sexual violence that I derive from an analysis of Carolin Emcke’s monographies Wie wir begehren (How we Desire, 2013) and Weil es sagbar ist (Because it can be Said, 2015). In a third section sketching aspects of sex-positive spaces, I hope to introduce a setting that has the potential to help cultivate an affirmative body and sex culture. My hope is to illustrate how far spaces that build upon principles of negotiation, self- and group responsibility and clear communication might support sexually satisfying exploration as well as the acquisition of a sex-positive attitude. The section also tries to expand the vision on sex and explain that language on its own is not going to save sex culture, but that there is a need to cultivate a sex-positive attitude and different modes of sensing, listening and interacting.
Using Sex And Porn Online To Change The World IRL
Altering the context and interface of explicit media has the power to influence perception, and in turn, behavior. People are uncomfortable speaking openly about sex, largely the result of segregated information consumption. While there is a wealth of sex in a myriad of formats available online, it is presented in a way that perpetuates the idea of separateness and subsequently shame, guilt and fear. There is untapped potential in the vast landscape of the internet; so many opportunities to transform the way sex-based media is seen and felt and understood. Changing sex online can change our experience in real life.
Teaching Sex! A Pedagogy of Peacemaking
Jeremy N. Thomas, PhD, DJ Williams, PhD, Emily Prior, MA, Thea S. Alvarado, PhD
This panel will draw on the experiences and insights of professors who regularly teach courses on sexuality in order to consider how a pedagogy of peacemaking can help facilitate student learning and acceptance of positive sexuality. Classroom challenges and best practices will be considered, with a special focus on how instructors can help manage and leverage students’ often diverse (and sometimes oppositional) perspectives in order to create a positive, peaceful, and effective learning environment that brings students to deeper levels of understanding, compassion, and respect.
Meet the Presenters
Billy Strean, PhD
In a world where many are tired, busy, distracted, and feeling disconnected, Dr. Billy Strean engages and enlivens people.
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A former three-sport NCAA athlete and coach, Billy Strean earned a Ph.D. in sport and exercise psychology from the University of Illinois.
Dr. Strean is also a Master Somatic Coach (Strozzi Institute), Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-500), a Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher, and a Certified Professional Co-active Coach. It is precisely this eclectic range of disciplines and fields of study — somatics, yoga, sport psychology, laughter and play, and his 30+ years of teaching experience — that is the foundation of Dr. Strean’s success both in the classroom as well as outside the classroom as keynote speaker and workshop facilitator.
In 2008, Dr. Strean received the University of Alberta’s Rutherford Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. In 2011, Dr. Strean was one of ten Canadians selected to join the prestigious 3M National Teaching Fellowship. His current research is addressing mindfulness in schools for social and emotional wellness. His audiobook, Humor Me: Lighten Up and Love Life Laughing, explores the benefits of laughter and humour and how to apply them in daily life. His 2017 book, For Those Who Dare to Teach, takes an autobiographical approach to sharing insights and practical tips for teaching. His recently released book, Alive with Joy reveals how to move from disconnection to optimal living. Through his former company, Exhilarated Performance, and currently as the Chief Joy Infuser at Adventures in Joy, Billy has provided over 500 dynamic presentations across North America to help people to Re-Charge. Re-Connect. Re-Discover.
Yoni Alkan, DHS
Dr. Yoni Alkan is a sexual educator and a sexual consultant with a Doctorate in Human Sexuality and a Masters in Conflict Resolution and Mediation, he is also a professional cuddler with Cuddlist.com and a Certified Cuddle Party Facilitator in San Francisco.
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Yoni is a TED speaker at TEDxSoMa 2019, and the author of www.thebookofcuddles.com which is an instructional on cuddling that teaches how to better your touch. He is also the creator of www.elementsofsexuality.com; a playful, geeky, and educational site about the elements that contribute to our sexuality. Dr. Yoni Alkan is a global speaker on various Human Sexuality issues since 2011. His expertise includes alternative relationships, improving our dating landscape, and touch and consent advocacy.
Thea S. Alvarado, EdD
Dr. Thea S. Alvarado holds a B.A. in Sociology from UC Berkeley and an M.A. in Social Science with a concentration in Demographic and Social Analysis (DASA) from UC Irvine.
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She completed her Ed.D. through UC Davis’ Capital Area North Doctorate in Educational Leadership (CANDEL) Program. Currently a Sociology professor at Pasadena City College, she has over a decade of experience teaching community college students about theory, methods, culture, socialization, deviance, institutions, and social change.
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As an artist, she developed the Graphic Sex Project as a way for people to understand their sexual scripts, and use the devices of the art of storytelling to shape meaning in their sexual lives. The Graphically Yours therapy kit is a powerful tool in sex therapy sessions for opening up conversations and helping clients explore their values and desires. Her live interactive installation is being used in universities all over the country in their sexual health and wellness programs, and as a featured event in Sex Week, to promote good sexual communication and consent culture. Check out a gallery of graphs made at her installations at GraphicSexProject.com, and make your own!
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She enjoys working with diverse communities and empowering unique erotic embodiment fuels Annie’s work. She helps you discover and soften your growth-edges – in turn enabling increased desire and sensual celebration to emerge.
Annie has been studying with The Somatica® Institute since 2017 and provided faculty support in 2019 for the core training. She recently acquired a Permaculture Design Certificate through Starhawk, has been working with the land since 2011, and holds a BS in Biology and Environmental Science from CSUMB. Her passions draw from Tantra, deep ecology, psychedelia, horse training, dance, communalism and understands that sexual positivity is an integral factor in creating a regenerative and peace-oriented society.
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His research focuses on LGBTQIA+ and non-monogamous identities. Daniel also serves on the board of directors for the Center for Positive Sexuality.
Social Media: @sexhealthinfo
Ren Grabert, M.Ed. (they/them) is a sex educator and healthcare researcher with over a decade of experience teaching about gender identity, alternative relationships, and navigating sex and chronic illness.
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Ren’s passion is supporting marginalized sexual communities and teaching healthcare providers the information and skills to facilitate patient-centered, affirming dialogue so that they are better prepared to discuss sexual health with their patients. Ren holds a B.S. in Public Health from Temple University and an M.Ed. in Human Sexuality Education from Widener University. In the very little spare time they have, Ren is a knitter and devoted dog parent.
Zelaika Hepworth Clarke, PhD, MSW, MEd
Zelaika S. Hepworth Clarke, PhD, MSW, MEd, is an anti-colonial sexuality educator, African-centered social worker, decolonial eroticologist, cultural and clinical sexologist, sexuality counselor, sexosopher, decolonizing autoethnographer, and consultant.
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Dr. Clarke is the first Jamerican (Jamaican-American) to receive three degrees in Human Sexuality from accredited Universities in the United States: Bachelors of Arts from NYU in Sexuality, Culture and Oppression (2007); Masters of Education in Human Sexuality (2012) and Doctorate of Philosophy in Human Sexuality (2015) from the Center for Human Sexuality Studies at Widener University. Dr. Clarke is also a graduate of the International School of Transnational Decolonial Black Feminism in Cachoeira, Brazil, & from Decolonizing Knowledge and Power Summer School in Barcelona, Catalonia (Spain). Dr. Clarke co-founded an anti-racist sexuality studies program at Goddard College in Vermont. Dr. Clarke provides therapeutic, educational and consulting services through the Pluriversity.
Sonja Winter Heels, BA
Sonja Winter Heels is a recent graduate of the University of New Hampshire honors program with a bachelor’s degree in sociology.
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She is primarily interested in researching alternative sexualities, particularly the BDSM community. During her years at UNH, she held the position of Undergraduate Research Assistant at the UNH Carsey School of Public Policy, using both qualitative and quantitative methods for various evaluation projects. Sonja was also recently awarded a 2019 Undergraduate Research Conference Award of Excellence for her presentation, “Making Meaning of Consent: A Content Analysis.” She is now continuing her work on consent through her senior honors thesis, a qualitative exploratory study of the New England BDSM community. She hopes to build off of this research in graduate school and continue exploring the complexities and intricacies of the larger BDSM community.
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She is the author of two books, The Power of Pause: Simple Meditations for Complicated Lives, and Ignite Your Vitality using Human Design, and presents her signature programs in the US and abroad.
Linda created the Wellness Sexuality Practice for individuals and couples who want to revitalize intimacy and connection. She is also a Tantrica and member of Sex Positive Los Angeles.
Eliot M. Lev
Eliot Lev is a research assistant with the Population Research in Identity and Disparities for Equality (PRIDE) Study at Stanford and University of California San Francisco, the Sexual and Gender Minority Health Equity Lab led by Dr. Annesa Flentje at University of California San Francisco, and the Community-Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities (CARAS) led by Dr. Richard A. Sprott.
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Eliot’s research interests include mental health of sexual and gender minority individuals, intersectional and multicultural identities, strength-based approaches, and advocacy work for SGM communities. He is also a peer counselor with the Alliance Health Project serving HIV+ and LGBT+ people and the National LGBT Help Center. In his previous career, Eliot was a tenured violinist with the San Francisco Symphony and is proud to have been the first openly transgender musician in a major American orchestra.
Chanel Jaali Marshall
Chanel Jaali Marshall is an independent researcher, sexual educator, and mental health professional focusing on the topics of sexual development, sexual attitudes and behaviors, and reproductive rights.
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She is the owner of Jaali Co., a company specializing in comprehensive, pleasure-based sex education for adults. Her research has been presented at several national conferences. She is an HIV/AIDS activist and conducts community workshops nationwide on subjects from safer sex practices to sexual assault.
Brianne McGuire is a researcher, designer, and content producer working with sex media.
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She is the founder of GRAPHICPAINT, a platform for uncensored, crowdsourced materials, and host of SEX COMMUNICATION, a podcast of real sex audio recordings and explicit personal histories. Her work centers around the belief that if we change the way sexual content is presented, we can change the way people behave and think.
Brianne’s projects are built using both design and behavior theory; her years of experience studying human interaction with various media have informed her innovative ideas. She is committed to normalizing the taboo and creating a cultural shift towards the free expression of sexuality. Through provocative presentations of authentic experiences, she inspires her audience to challenge their preconceived notions and practice radical self-acceptance.
Prior to launching GRAPHICPAINT, Brianne spent two decades working as a graphic designer and brand strategist for clients ranging from public corporations to independent startups. She studied Industrial Design at Pratt Institute before shifting to print and web-based work as a professional.
Brianne is based in New York City where she documents sex, develops original media, and writes regularly for OVEE Health.
Anna Mense is a PhD candidate and a lecturer in Philosophy at the Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Germany.
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In her research, she is currently focused on the Philosophy of Love and Sexualities. Anna graduated in Philosophy, English, and German as a teaching profession with a thesis on the question »Is there an Aesthetic Pleasure?«, in 2014. She was committed to university policy for many years and she founded the undergraduate conference Dia: logos in 2015. Her PhD project »On the Capability to Love« aims at understanding the role that so-called deficient loving has for the concept of love. She is working on an integrative concept of love that is capable of explaining how far loving always implies both options of success and deficit as well as demands the cultivation of personal capabilities. In her second research project »Sex Speech. Problems of Tabooed Talk and the Potential of a Sex-positive Discourse and Sex-positive Spaces«, Anna analyses the role that language and concepts have for different aspects of sexualities, sexual experiences, and sexual identity. She locates this matter within the examination of a sex-negative socio-political climate and an emerging sex-positive subculture.
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He focuses on the controversial & taboo that most in the field won’t address, including specialized populations in the sex trade and human trafficking. He’s been honored with national leadership designation as an expert in trauma, sexualized violence, and disaster response. He’s conducted the largest ever international discussions on rape and developed a national policy on the sex trade. In 2018, Andrew led the Start By Believing Campaign, a program dedicated to believing sexual assault survivors, to its largest regional designation in CA. He trains forensics and mental health professionals nationally and internationally and is writing the first book on the arousal experience in sexual assault to help rape victims and therapists understand this response.
Perquida “QP” Payne, LMSW is the founder and owner of Queen’s Poise Love Coaching, LLC where she provides individual & couples coaching, as well as group workshops on sexual health & awareness and being empowered in one’s sexuality.
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She is the senior training coordinator for a residential treatment center in Westchester County, NY. There she works with leadership to design and facilitate training for staff that enhances their skill set in working with traumatized youth & their families. Ms. Payne has 10+ years of social work experience working in foster-care, prevention, teaching parenting skills, and as a Community School Director. She earned her BA in Sociology from the University of Hartford, and her MSW from the University of Connecticut. Outside of her full-time work, Ms. Payne is a Certified Sexuality Coach, Relationship workshop facilitator, Certified Breastfeeding Counselor, Childbirth Educator, future doula, femme domme practitioner, and a sexual health & wellness educator with Bedroom Kandi Boutique Parties. As “Mom’s Sex Coach”, she focuses on supporting mothers to reclaim & embrace their sexuality as a means of better connecting to and taking care of themselves. With her experience working with traumatized youth & families, she is particularly interested in working with and empowering this population and those with traumatic sexual history/beginnings. She currently provides workshops, parties, and coaching in the NY metropolitan area, and is developing a book on sexuality development.
Jennifer Rehor, LMFT, CST
Jennifer Rehor (she/her) is a Psychotherapist, AASECT-Certified Sex Therapist, Clinical Supervisor, Sex Researcher, and Author.
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She received a Master’s degree in Psychology / Marriage and Family Therapy from Brandman University, and a Master’s degree in Human Sexuality from San Francisco State University. As part of her Master’s Thesis, she conducted original research based on more than 1,500 women from the kink community, which has been published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.
Jennifer is the founder and owner of Affirming Therapy Center (ATC), a group private practice with a team of sex-positive clinicians who are all committed to serving communities of Gender, Sexual, and Relationship Diversity (GSRD), including LGBTQ, kink, BDSM, sex work/adult industry, and consensual non-monogamy. At ATC, Jennifer offers individual therapy and couples counseling, helping adults with anxiety, depression, relationships, sexual health, life transitions, personal growth, and to increase intimacy and sexual satisfaction.
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She works within a spectrum of touch and connection as a Cuddlist® Certified Practitioner and an IMBT Trained Surrogate Partner. Michelle is also a Certified Cuddle Party® Facilitator and facilitates female sexual empowerment workshops. Based in San Diego, California, she is an active member of both GSRD (Gender, Sexuality, and Relationship Diversity) Affirming Therapists and STEM (Sex Therapy Education Medicine). Michelle feels honored to be able to work inside the complete spectrum of connection from platonic to sensual to sexual.
Riley Reyes is an adult actress, fetish clip creator, and sex educator, who has worked in environments from mainstream porn sets to independent fetish studios.
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As APAC Chair, Riley continues the organization’s legacy of political advocacy, performer outreach, and community support. Raised in a family of educators, Riley believes that information is the greatest source of power. She seeks to provide resources for adult performers, and to make them accessible to talent of all types and abilities, even to models outside of the Los Angeles mainstream industry. She also chairs the APAC Fundraising Subcommittee, on which she organizes fundraising events designed to build community and raise awareness on important issues affecting the adult performer population.
Riley is committed to uniting the diverse sectors of adult entertainment, and uplifting the voices of those in need. She knows the importance of solidarity to accomplish APAC’s goals and fights every day to build a better tomorrow for adult performers everywhere.
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With a PhD in Sociology and certification as a Sexuality Educator from AASECT, Dr. Sheff specializes in gender and sexual minority families, consensual non-monogamy, and kink/BDSM. Sheff is the foremost academic expert on polyamorous families with children, and her 20+ year Polyamorous Family Study is the only longitudinal study of poly families with children to date.
Sheff’s first book, The Polyamorists Next Door (2014), details the findings of the first 15 years of her research on polyamorous families with children. Her second book, Stories from the Polycule (2015), is an edited anthology of writings by polyamorous folks. When Someone You Love is Polyamorous (2016) is Sheff’s shortest book that guides family members and significant others who are trying to understand a polyamorous loved one. Sheff blogs for Psychology Today at https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-polyamorists-next-door
Joye Swan, PhD
Dr. Joye Swan is Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychological and Social Sciences at Woodbury University.
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She earned her PhD. In Applied Social Psychology from Claremont Graduate University and has been a sexuality researcher for over 20 years. She writes a column in Psychology Today called Up Close and Personal and is the co-author of the recent book Bisexuality: Theories, Research, and Recommendations for the Invisible Sexuality.
Jeremy N. Thomas, PhD
Jeremy N. Thomas, Ph.D., is the Editor in Chief of the Journal of Positive Sexuality.
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He received his Ph.D. from Purdue University and is currently Director of Gender and Sexuality Studies and Associate Professor of Sociology at Idaho State University. His research addresses sexuality, deviance, and the body, and he is especially interested in experiences, meanings, and identities related to pornography and sex work; BDSM, kink, and fetish sexuality; sexual consent, abuse, trauma, and assault; and body modification, ritual violence, and self-injury.
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Jules received her B.A. in Art History from UCLA and will be finishing her M.A. in Sociology at The New School this spring. Her research interests span gender and sexuality, performative aesthetics, and music subcultures.
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She identifies as cis-female, solo polyamorous, and pansexual. She has been a licensed psychotherapist since 1981 and currently specializes in work with individuals and relationships with members of the LGBTQ and open relationships communities. Karin has an MSW and a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Social Welfare. She is currently a core adjunct at the undergraduate online psychology program at National University in La Jolla. She has also taught at the undergraduate and graduate level in social work, psychology, and gender studies at Humboldt State University, California State University, East Bay, San Francisco State University, Mendocino College, the University of California, Berkeley, and at Western New Mexico University. She presented a paper on the experiences of lesbian-feminists who came out in the 1970s who now are involved in romantic/sexual relationships with all genders and who are polyamorous at the first and second Non-Monogamies and Contemporary Intimacies conferences in Lisbon and in Vienna and this paper was published in Sexualities in 2019. She recently published a paper on the unintended consequences for clients who use online therapy directories to find sex-positive therapists in the Journal of Positive Sexuality.
Liam Wignall is a lecturer in Psychology at Bournemouth University, UK.
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Using qualitative research methods, he explores the identities and experiences of non-heterosexual individuals related to: kink, BDSM, and fetishes; pup play; pornography consumption; drag subcultures; non-exclusive sexualities; and sexual consent. He draws on theories from psychology, sociology, and cultural studies, focusing on the impact of the internet and the role of community participation for these kinky individuals. He is a research affiliate for the Center for Positive Sexuality, a member of the International Academy of Sex Researchers, and serves on the British Psychological Society’s Psychology of Sexualities committee.
Tim Woodman began tying up damsels in 1996, back when VHS was king and DVD was hard. He has been performing in BDSM/fetish/kink adult entertainment ever since.
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Tim is also a BDSM lifestyler and teaches classes for BDSM lifestylers and adult entertainment professionals in bondage, whipping, roleplay, and assorted other fetish skills. He volunteers for APAC and for the Center for Positive Sexuality and is passionate about feminism, women’s rights, and sex worker advocacy.