How I Found My First Sex Geek Community (or How I Became a Sex Educator)
I’ve been giving sex-related advice for as long as I can remember being aware of sexuality. When I was younger, I found myself being the go-to friend for information about periods and as I got older, friends would ask me about birth control or how to orgasm during intercourse. I was like a sponge for information about sexuality. I particularly remember devouring a sexuality book my older sister game me for my 17th birthday. I loved learning about sexuality but it wasn’t until I went to university that I really learned I could make a career out of my seemingly unusual interest.
Many sex geeks I know describe a similar experience – being “the sex person” who’s super interested in learning everything there is to know about sexuality, but not knowing that they can turn that passion into a career. That can be a pretty isolating experience, especially when there’s a lot of sex negativity in our environment.
Enter Sex Geek Community.
Having learned from the aforementioned book that people were doing some interesting sex-related stuff at UC Berkeley, enrolling there was a logical choice for me. Like a sex geek homing device, I searched every campus database for the word “sex” and eventually discovered the Sexual Health Education Program (SHEP), which runs through the campus health service. I remember my eyes getting wide while I was reading about the program. They train a new group of students every year to work as peer educators, giving one-on-one sexual health counseling appointments and facilitating workshops in the campus community. They also put on events for National Condom Week, which incidentally started at Berkeley. I couldn’t wait to join them.
I applied, was accepted, and finally learned what it was like to be part of a sex geek community. I remember the delight I felt when I opened my acceptance letter, and the exhilaration I felt when I got to meet the group for the first time. I thought this is my tribe.
After being part of SHEP for a year as a peer educator, I became the Training and Special Events Coordinator the following year. Getting to facilitate the training with the other coordinators and being involved in sex-positive community-creation was one of the most satisfying experiences of my professional life. I also made some dear friends – many of whom I still regularly Skype with from Australia and visit when I’m back in the States.
As part of the program, we got together as a group every week for additional training and debriefing. We also got to meet several people who worked in sexual health professionally, a couple of whom became colleagues/mentors of mine after I graduated. This interaction between peer educators, student coordinators, University staff, and professional sex educators was incredibly valuable and is something that strongly informs the work I do today.
Similarly, Sex Geekdom is about bringing passionate, sex-positive people together, regardless of professional status. I want others to feel the joy and relief I felt when I discovered I wasn’t alone in my passions and that those passions could be a source of connection, rather than isolation – hence ‘The Joy of Sex Geekdom.’