That Time of Year When I Get to Bask in the Splendor of a Whole Bunch of Sex Educators

Almost two years ago, when I was trying to find a job that would challenge and fulfill me as much as the one I’d had with AASECT, I briefly considered getting a degree in public health and becoming a sex educator. At that point, I’d interviewed many educators for Contemporary Sexuality, and had also written articles about sexuality education for publications such as the Atlantic and Jezebel. I was fangirling hard over these men and women and the work they did.

But then I was like: Dude. You have an infant. You’re juggling a billion projects. You’re writing a book and teaching yoga. You can’t even commit to the local choir! How are you supposed to get a degree?

So instead, I contacted the fine folks at the Center for Sex Education and begged them to let me do volunteer work for them so I could soak up their wisdom and be cool by association.

Since then, I’ve been doing mostly news roundups for their blog and sometimes copyediting their teaching manuals. And as an added bonus, they let me come to their annual conference! How lucky am I?

Last year, I was super on top of my shit and multitasked while at the conference, selling sex ed-related stories to the Washington Post, Broadly, and Pacific Standard. This year, I was a week away from needing to send my book edits back to my publisher, and I was also drowning in snot. So I mostly hid in dark corners and tried not to draw attention to myself.

Even so, this year was all about getting to meet and/or be in close proximity to my personal heroes. One morning, there was a Q+A with Dr. Joycelyn Elders, the former Surgeon General of the United States. She’s known for suggesting that masturbation be taught in schools as a form of safe sex—and for promptly being asked for her resignation by President Bill Clinton. Because Elders has had a long and distinguished career, she was asked if there was anything else she would prefer to be known for. “I have no trouble being remembered for masturbation,” she said without hesitation. This woman is a delight and I wish we could hang out together and make friendship bracelets with clitoris charms or something.

Other highlights of the conference included a fantastic, interactive workshop on reproductive justice, a session on sexual violence prevention that explored restrictive gender binary boxes, and even a fireside chat with the one and only Dr. Ruth (she’s a firecracker, but I’ll admit that her problematic views on consent made me uneasy). I also got a chance to say hey to the wonderful and talented woman who did my headshots, to reconnect with a kick-ass sex educator I’d met the year before, and to meet (and take a selfie with) an awesome sex geek I’d been following online for years.

But by far the most exciting thing for me was meeting Emily Nagoski, the author of Come As You Area book that strongly informed the shift in direction of my own book. So much so that I’m reading the damn thing in one of my headshots (my god, I can’t stop staring at how amazing my hair looks in that photo). I forgot to bring my book in order to get it signed because clearly I have not been in my right mind lately but, after attending Nagoski’s pre-conference workshop, I went up there, shook her hand, and thanked her for writing it. And then I ran out of the room so I could collapse into a puddle of overwhelm.

I don’t know that I’ll ever have the time or money to earn another degree, or to become a certified sexuality educator, or to do anything other than what I’m doing now. But I keep being offered these awesome opportunities. And I just sent in my book edits two days ago. So all in all, I suppose life is pretty darn good. 🙂