I can’t put my finger on what it was about this weekend that made me so introverted, but suffice it to say I found myself arriving at Momentum feeling very awkward and unconfident and quiet. It’s been a while since I found myself in a group in which I had to explain myself as a writer/blogger/thinker, and in the midst of people who have devoted their lives to sex writing, education, and positive activism, I think I felt a bit under-achieving. A little like a wannabe or a poser in a house full of truly dedicated, wildly passionate players.
I found myself constantly exposed to the very end of the tentative tendrils the sex-positive community is stretching out into the mainstream, and I realized that in my writing I have been unconsciously pushing myself away from the mainstream, using complicated terminology and assuming a level of familiarity with my subject matter on the part of my reader. I’m not sure why, except that maybe it seemed to my ever-longing-for-legitimacy subconscious that using big words would make me seem more official. That throwing around language almost inaccessible to most people about things that the vast majority of readers don’t quite understand or even care about would make me sound smart. Academic.
But sex isn’t about academia. Trying to crack open people’s minds and extract from them, sometimes gushingly and sometimes haltingly and painfully, their contributions to an open dialogue about human sexuality in performance and in private life is about doing. It’s about going out there, talking openly and in words that anyone can access. Hoping that through my talking, by sharing, by exploring ideas surrounding our most taboo topics, a few people will have “a-hah!” moments and dive into the dialogue isn’t enough. I need to be challenged rather than simply sit here and pretend to challenge myself in a bubble. The sex-positive community does exist in a bit of a bubble, as it was pointed out at several panels over the weekend, but it’s our responsibility to make that bubble as friendly and inviting to anyone who wants to get inside as possible. To make it transparent, accessible, and open to all.
I think I walked into the midst of a crowd of people so far advanced in their thinking about topics I’ve only pondered abstractly, so devoted to promoting the message I’ve reluctantly held up as I realized that, yes, I’m involved now and no, I don’t want to stop being involved, but damn, it’s kind of scary out here in the spotlight… and I froze. I felt outclassed, outsmarted, out-activist-ed. The fact that I initially started writing about these things essentially by accident seemed to be shining directly in my face, like a cop with a flashlight demanding, “What are you doing here?” Was I passionate enough to be in this company? Was I willing to risk what Susie Bright and Dr. Carol Queen and Reid Mihalko and Dr. Ruthie have risked to get my point across? …and, for that matter, what was my point?
Truthfully, I spent a lot of my time at Momentum sitting quietly, alone, in corners and watching everyone around me with a mixture of fear and fascination. I realized over cigarettes outside (I usually don’t smoke more than the once-a-month-bummed-from-a-friend-while-drinking cig, but on the way to DC I found a half-empty pack of Marlboro Lights in my seat, and figured it was a sign) that I haven’t been thinking nearly enough lately about just what it is I’m trying to do here. I have a lot of thinking ahead of me. I need to decide just what it is I’m trying to contribute to the conversations I heard started and continued at Momentum, and I need to decide what I can do contribute as loudly and positively as possible.
It’s going to be an interesting few weeks… I’ll keep you all filled in.