A lifelong interest in sex and sexuality...
The short version
A lifelong interest in sex and sexuality has taken me on a glorious – and at times very challenging – path through sex writing and broadcasting, running events, attending and facilitating experiential workshops and festivals, to certifying in 2017 as a Sexological Bodyworker.
I'm a graduate of the Urban Tantra Professional Training Programme and a regular facilitator at the annual Quintasensual Queer Tantra festival. In summer 2017 I attended the four-day Trauma Training for Bodywork Professionals with Katie Sarra and Caffyn Jesse. I'm also a qualified counsellor.
The long version – sex positive, sex critical and sex curious
I have been continuously delighted by the world of sex and sexuality from the moment I started reading Reay Tannahill's Sex in History as a young teenager. But there was no internet when I was growing up in a rural area. At 12 I was veering between Cosmopolitan (which provided pretty good sex ed for the time) and a relative's porn collection. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I became very confused.
The older I got the more struck I was by the contrast between the strength and capacity of my desires and the constricted way I was supposed to express them. I couldn't find anyone like me, and everyone in my vicinity, myself included, had very unhelpful views of what sex was, and ought to be. Despite all the showing off and gossip, no one was winning. Like many people, I grew up profoundly dissociated, mostly as a safety mechanism.
My years in mainstream work exposed the great contrast between the conservatism of how I was supposed to write about the world, and the reality of the lives of actual humans. Exploring my sexuality in my 20s, I couldn't find a place for myself, and lived in a world of disembodiment and intoxication. This period, while painful at times, provided me with insights that have been a great help to me as a practitioner.
I spent five years involved with a sex-positive charity awards event as a judge and panellist. The day I stepped into a room full of joyous misfits, teachers and pioneers, I knew I was home.
I got involved with other sex positive events. I started to explore neo-tantra and what is often called 'conscious sexuality'. I dived in, attending as many workshops, classes and festivals as I could, sometimes assisting facilitators to get more experience.
This period of my life was utterly transformative. I began to realise that I had the capacity to hold someone in quite a deep and complex space. I was told I had 'magical hands' more than once. (NB: I don't think I have actual magical hands! I suspect I have the capacity to make someone feel relaxed in my presence, so they are able to enjoy my touch more deeply.)
I enjoyed sexuality-based practice, but found the heteronormative and gender-balanced nature of many events increasingly alienating. Friends felt the same, and in 2014 they set up a wonderful queer tantra festival which I have been involved with since the beginning.
I am ongoingly amazed by the courage of people who step up, share themselves and have the courage to expand their experience. Working in and around sexuality, I've had the privilege of meeting a number of sex educators, facilitators, bodyworkers, activists, sex workers, kinksters, event organisers, writers, artists, academics, performers, and therapists: extraordinary people who sometimes risk a huge amount in the name of exploration and speaking the truth about us complex, messy humans.