Photo from mynewsla.com
By Jen Cooper
*Names have been changed or omitted to protect the privacy of students in the LGBTQ community
LGBTQ* students promoted healthy, safe sex and answered “taboo” questions about queer sex at the LGBTA “Smut Slam” on Valentine’s Day in the Tabler Black Box.
Like a ‘poetry slam,’ student performers free-styled about their funniest or most personal sexual encounters. That portion was followed by a panel of ‘sex-perts’ answering anonymous questions submitted by the audience.
“It’s important to talk about different bodies and how different people experience sex,” said one of the “sex-perts” about queer sex.
Pew research, a nonpartisan fact tank, has polls that estimate that there are more anti-LGBTQ* individuals than originally thought in the population just as there are more actual community members. While the LGBTQ* community is still considered a minority population, one of the big mottos on campus is “we’re here and we’re queer” to promote LGBTQ* visibility.
Out of 100 seats out in the Tabler Black Box, about half were filled, which is usually the turnout according to LGBTA President Claudia Zurek.
“The event was more successful than past years,” Zurek said. “There were more questions for the ‘sex-perts’ and people were very willing to participate and we stayed away from possibly triggering material.”
The smut slam gave many LGBTQ* individuals the opportunity to share stories in an environment that they felt safe in. Two of the students that went on stage to read their poetry or tell a story described themselves as “shy” or “overcoming public speaking” when they went up to the stage.
“It was great to see,” Will Argenzio, former LGBTA president, said. “Some of the few people that went up there that were nervous, and you could see that it meant a lot to them. It took a lot for them to read on stage.”
One of the students who did not want their name used for privacy reasons, said that going on stage was very difficult for her because she had a fear of public speaking. Her poem received raucous applause at the end.
Other people told stories that they admitted they have shared before; one involving a toothbrush as an insufficient sex-toy. Whatever story was told, audience members often laughed especially when the speaker found humor within their own story.
The panel of ‘sex-perts’ answered a variety of questions from threesomes to “butt stuff, how do?” to questions about how to have their partner respect their trans body. The overall messages from the ‘sex-perts’ did follow one theme: take care of yourself whatever situation you are in, communicate with your partner or partners, and consent is key.
“Often, people are stigmatized for wanting, in general,” Argenzio said. “So when it comes to sex, everyone’s values on impurity stigmatize us as the ‘other group’ which gives them an opportunity to be violent or aggressive. It’s nice to have moments like this where we can come together as a community and share stories.”
While LGBTA hosted the event, many supporters of other similar groups on campus attended to show their support. Members of the Trans* Alliance and TNG (The Next Generation) came to the event and even shared some of their stories. TNG, or the BDSM club, also encouraged LGBTQ* individuals to engage in safe and consensual sex.
In addition to visibility and consensual sex, many of the ‘sex-perts’ promoted body positivity.
“The best advice I can give to promote body positivity is to take a ton of selfies and you’ll start feeling yourself because you’ll like some of them,” one of the “sex-perts” said.
In addition to taking care of your own body, the sex-perts promoted STD testing and always using protection, even though many institutions, especially primary and secondary education, limit STD and sex-education to abstinence only.
Multiple studies show that abstinence-only education does not lower rates of pregnancy or STD’s, according to NPR. This is why the LGBTQ* community stresses the importance of sexual health education.
“We will be doing a collaboration with the Planned Parenthood Club on March 28th to share experiences and to promote safe sex with sexual health information,” Zurek said.