WORKSHOP ONE (various titles)
· SAFER SEX: the truth is down there
· How do you talk with your children about safer sex if you don’t know what it is?
or we can come up with a title appropriate for your audience
This workshop challenges misinformation and the shame, fear, and hatred mainstream culture perpetuates about sex, our sexuality, and our bodies*. Humor, props, sight gags, and explicit sex and body positive language and role modeling are utilized. No assumptions are made about sexual experience, sexual or gender identity or behavior of the audience – all information is given to all people. Learning to say yes is as important as learning to say no. Non-judgmental safer sex and sexual information is communicated in a playful, provocative way that peaks curiosity and enhances sexual options rather than limiting them. The workshop format is a hands-on interactive experience.
My motto is: Feel No Shame for Your Desire.
* For GLBTQQ groups I use ‘queer bodies’ or ‘GLBTQQ bodies’, for an all-women audience it would be ‘women’s bodies’, and for ‘boomers and beyond’, it is our ‘aging bodies’.
How to bring this workshop to a location near you . . .
I have been invited to facilitate these safer sex workshops at campuses and conferences all over the country, and am a regular at the University of California Berkeley Resident Hall and Mills College here in the San Francisco Bay Area.
My audiences vary from general student populations to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, and questioning people to women-only audiences to first-year foreign students to campus student health worker and peer educators to re-entry students. I have presented it to parents who want more information about safer sex so they are better able to discuss sex with their children, and also to newly separated or divorced individuals who want to be sexually prepared and responsible.
The interactive workshop runs approximately 2 hours, depending on how many folks show up. After creating a safe space with questions like, “What words did you grow up with for your body parts and fluids?”, “How many of you were given information about sex and your bodies by your parents, guardians, or the people who took care of you?”, and “Of those who raised your hands, how many were told about masturbation?”, I ask for volunteers to assist with handing out gloves and lube, blowing up a condom, etc. I emphasize the choice and the importance of learning to say “no” and “yes” and of understanding that sex must be consensual. There is a blowup doll to demonstrate Reality/female condoms, Glyde dams, plastic wrap, and so on.
I ask the organizers who bring me to find people who would like to be “Vanna White” assistants or to be “planted” in the audience when I need a “random” volunteer. Generally, though, there are many people eager to work with me. I do trainings with staff and the student health peer educators on campus.
The workshop is for all sexual and gender identities and orientations – the information doesn’t change. However, depending on the venue, culture, and age of the audience, the costumes and delivery of information does. I believe learning to say YES is as important as learning to say NO.
No A/V equipment is required.
What happened to the Our Bodies, Our Selves women’s health movement? What has happened to those of us who wrestled speculums away from doctors, grabbed mirrors and viewed our own and each other’s vulvas, vaginas, cervixes and proudly claimed our bodies and our sex? Why are middle age/old women so silent/silenced about our peri/menopausal sexualities and juices? Where are our speculums and mirrors now?
This provocative hands-on interactive skills-building workshop targets 50/60/70/80-something populations of ALL sexual and/or gender identities. The Old/er Safer Sex Slut peer educators use explicit sex/body positive language, and role model tips/techniques to challenge mainstream culture’s misinformation and silence about senior/elder/old people’s sexuality in the age of Viagra and rising HIV/AIDS/STD rates.
Using humor, skits, props, role modeling, and hands-on exercises, the 50-60-70 something members of the nationally acclaimed Safer Sex Sluts (aka Latex Warriors) educational performance troupe (founded in 1992) will engage the audience in a unique and creative experience that will leave no one unchallenged or uneducated about safer sex. Troupe members represent a full spectrum of sexual orientations and gender identities and are an ethnic and cultural mix.
We live in a sexually ignorant, erotophobic, misogynistic culture that is perpetuated by each generation’s sexual silence and shame. The norm for this culture is white, able-bodied, young, heterosexual, and male. Add to this the 50+ newly single, widowed, divorced, and separated population, along with the assumption old/er perople are not sexual (nor do they do drugs) and you have a fast growing invisible at-risk population for HIV/AIDS/STDs. Over 10% of all new AIDS cases in the USA occur in people over the age of 50. (CDC Surveillance Report, 1997) Cases among older people may be underreported, as HIV symptoms and infections may coincide with other diseases associated with aging. And on top of ALL this are the professionals who work with elders/seniors/old people, and the retirement communities, assisted living facilities, nursing home’s management and staff who are resistant to providing HIV/AIDS/STD safer sex and sex education materials or presentations. HIV/AIDS is still associated with homosexual and bisexual youth and/or substance abusers, as if there are no gay or bi elder or substance abusers. (UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies newsletter, September, 1997) Rates and numbers of seniors with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) continue to rise. Not just HIV/AIDS but syphillis, gonorrhea, herpes, genital warts/HPV, and other STDs that are preventable. But where are the HIV/AIDS/STD prevention programs targeting old/er people? The Boomers?
Elders/seniors/old people, regardless of sexual identity, often lack even basic information about both their own sexuality and STDs, and are uncomfortable talking about these topics with potential and current partners, especially as they re-enter the “dating market” after a divorce or a long-term partner’s death. Care providers, like MDs, RNs, social workers, retirement and nursing home staff, are often awkward and uncomforable with elder sex and sexuality. Instead of pushing prevention, they perpetuate mainstream cutlture’s mistaken assumptions and silences about old/er people’s sex and sexuality. They may be extremely uncomfortable talking about sex with clients who are as old as their parents or grandparents, especially in a culture of denial and misinformation.
This workshop is designed to meet the prevention needs of seniors of all sexes, genders, and orientations who need to be more comfortable with their own sexuality and those who work with them. It is also helpful for those who will be training colleagues and staff who work with an old/er population.