This post is a long time coming as I haven't been able to properly articulate why I've felt so uncharacteristically doubtful about my work in the sexuality community. A 5 day juice cleanse apparently cleared out more than just the toxins in my body. The juice cleanse gave me the clarity to finally resolve my inner conflict.
Hopefully, I can get this stuff out in a somewhat coherent way.
Being a sex educator comes with a lot of baggage for me. I absolutely LOVE my work, but I can't shake the feeling that people expect me to have more of a platform or cause. I feel like every time I open my politically incorrect mouth, people are going to be there telling me I'm wrong, need to change the way I speak, am not a good sex educator, will never be accepted, etc.
I've put together a list of the biggest challenges I face when working in the sexuality community.
Point # 1 Sex & Politics: You will never see me give a workshop, talk about, or write about sex and politics. This makes me hugely different from many educators. It's not that the 2 things are mutually exclusive to each other because they are not. It's more of me thinking that they don't always have to be the same thing...kinda like orgasm isn't always the same thing as ejaculation--they are often talked about at the same time, but it's not uncommon for them to be separate.
Even though I graduated from a women's college, I have never considered myself to be a feminist and hope like hell no one ever calls me one. I like to think of myself as a "sex-positive-female-empowered-woman." I guess my general feeling is that calling myself a feminist requires me to be political or more importantly, politically correct.
When I was growing up, I was basically raised with the belief that talking about politics was bad etiquette. This is not unlike being brought up to not ask people about how much money they made--you just didn't do it (sorry about the double negative).
Which brings me to my next point.
Point # 2 Sex & Religion: You will never see me lead a workshop or talk about sex and religion. I'm not religious and never grew up with a religious belief. Again, I was also raised in a way that asking someone about their religion or getting into conversations about it was bad etiquette. In college I was required to take a few classes in religion in order to graduate, but that is the extend of my relationship with it.
Point # 3 Sex & Political Correctness: This is probably the single biggest reason I have doubt. I'm not politically correct. At all. This is a huge deal breaker for many sex educators.
What I am is someone who spent 5 1/2 years working in the HIV positive community in San Francisco.
In case you haven't heard, that makes me pretty freaking gay. In fact, you probably already know that I am often referred to as the "gayest gay man in the world" by my friends. By the by, my friends also happen to be some of the gayest people I know.
Here was a typical conversation at my job (I was technically their supervisor, but I don't always refer to me as such):
Me: I also think it might be a good idea to get some table clothes so the folding tables don't look so ghetto.
Co-worker: super gaaaaaay.
Me: And I think I'm going to buy some of those cute cupcake displays since we do so many bake sales we can totally use them again-- oh yeah, I forgot I bought a bunch of glitter--I think it would be cute to have a glitter trail leading up to the bakesale.
Co-worker: gaaaayest thing ever.
Me: Laughing...why the fuck does that make me soooo gay when you are the one who always wear pink, dresses your freaking chihuahua up in all pink outfits, and came into work singing the Scissor Sisters?
Co-worker: because you are hella freaking gaaaaay so just deal.
I'm not even kidding that this was a typical conversation at my office. Almost anything I did or said got a response of "gay" or that I was, in fact, gay. Therefore, it became a common response I used with other people who identified as being something other than heterosexual. It is really difficult to put into words, but it was as if the "that's so gay" campaign existed everywhere else except within the gay community.
In case you haven't heard the news, it's also become extremely politically incorrect to say the term "tranny". It's not that I go around calling everyone a tranny Tourettes style, but I did use the term often. After all, this is the same community where a bar called "Trannyshack" exists.
First of all, it is difficult for me to not use the word when people who identify as transgender, use the word tranny.
Yes, I know the proper word is transgender.
Yes, I know it's not the same thing as transvestite or cross dressing.
Yes, I will absolutely use what ever pronoun you like.
No, I don't go around using the term "she male" or "chick with a dick".
I have, however, used the term "girl/woman with something extra" or "girl/woman who has everything".
In my mind, how can the term be so derogatory when a trans person suggested that we include a special "tranny spotting" section in the next work newsletter?
Also, remember when Christian Siriano used the phrase "hot tranny mess"? Well, the Monday after Saturday Night Live aired a spoof of it, I found this in my work in-box
By the way, the person who sent it to me was my co-worker and a trans man.
If you add all the points together, you get one very doubtful Catherine.
It makes me different from others in the community, and, believe it or not, by some definitions make me not an ally. By the way, people who may think that can go fuck themselves.
More importantly, it made me question my ability to be effective as a sex educator and if I should continue with my business.
What I now realize is that I am totally ok with all this. I don't need to be the most popular or respected sex educator. Just like in my personal life, I am not someone who always easily gets along well with everyone nor do I aspire to be liked by everyone.
Shaming me (and at this point I'm not even sure if it is really happening to me or if I am just perceiving it to be happening to me) is not going to make me change the way in which I provide sex education.
I am not political.
I am not always politically correct.
I am, however, freaking great at what I do.
And the people who don't support me for being the way I am can suck it.