Jun 222010
 

4 years ago, I emailed Audacia Ray and Jamye Waxman.  I’m sure the letter was slightly more eloquently written, but each of them boiled down to:

“Hi. You are a sex-positive feminist who works with adults, sex workers, people in the adult industry, and more. I want to grow up to be like you — how do I do it?”

I’d never met them or contacted them before; however, I’d seen their movies they’d directed, read their blogs, and I knew that I wanted to go that direction. Now, it helped that I was already working on my Master’s of Human Sexuality Education and was working at HotMoviesForHer.com. However, I wanted more. I wanted to help people, to change lives, to educate adults outside of the traditional setting.

And not only did they write back, but they agreed to have dinner with me when Dacia was in Philly for a book reading. They are now people I count as my friends. Both have given me countless pieces of advice, both have put me in contact with amazing people, and both are just sweet, kind hearted people themselves.

Last fall, Tristan Taromino met with me in Phoenix for dinner with her partner (and mine), and we chatted. Again, more advice, more inspiration, more support. But even more, she introduced me to the marketing director of Fascinations, who is now my boss at my full time dream job, being a sexuality educator almost 24-7. A reference from Tristan is worth its weight in gold.

Of course, there is my favorite North-Easterner, Megan Andelloux, another fierce and sassy sexuality educator who I’ve gotten to know more and more the past few months, and who dispenses advice and support to me right and left.

And Always Aroused Girl, who designed this whole site for me, graphics and all.

Why mention them? Well, first and foremost, to thank them for helping me figure out who I am, what I should do, and supporting me in following my dreams. But also, as an example of our responsibility to our community.

I get letters weekly from college students and bloggers (and others) wanting to become sex educators. To each person, I take the time to find out their background, their education, their passions, their dreams, and I write long letters back and forth with them, supporting them how I can.  At Fascinations, I fly out sex educators to Denver, Arizona and Portland, having never even heard many of them talk, but in hopes of providing them a leg up while also providing sexuality education to the masses. I’ve helped people with marketing their blogs, their small indie companies, writing press releases and more.

Why? Because this community grows upon itself. We must help each other. Foster new educators, new bloggers, new authors, as well as support each other as established ones. Without this support, the community becomes weaker, more diluted.  Often times, I think we get nervous; if I help someone else, what if they become more famous than me? What if they take my classes/my places I present?

To this, I say that I would much rather have more sexuality educators who are strong and care about each other, than few who are snippy and angry, and unable to work with others. I’d rather lose a little traffic to help out a new blogger who may have amazing things to say that we haven’t heard yet.

Our responsibility as we learn and grow is to continue to give back. I thank those from whom I’ve received support, and I hope to continue to give it back as much as I can.

-Shanna

May 032010
 

As many of you know, I made a big mistake last week.  I realized once I’d gotten to my apartment that I’d left my purse in my car. It was a bad knee day, and we live in a gated community with a security guard, so I figured I’d wait till the morning to grab it.

I woke up with a smashed car window, and a missing purse.  After the initial shock, my partner and I started the process of filing a police report, calling the insurance, getting the glass fixed, canceling and reissuing my credit cards and IDs, etc.

In my purse were also things less replaceable.  My camera with pictures from Queer Prom and the rest of my life. Pictures of my deceased father, and of my sister. Business cards of contacts, and of previous doctors, physical therapists, etc. A travel pill box with all of my medication. Membership cards, frequent shopper cards, gift cards, etc. The purse itself was *the* perfect purse I’d be looking for over the years, and had been a gift from my partner (and was leopard print). They don’t make this purse anymore.

I felt (and still feel) violated and hurt by this invasion of my privacy, of someone else going through my life. I felt numb, unable to replace my meds until my bank accounts are unfrozen, unable to do much without my license. Am terrified of getting pulled over in this police state while I wait for another to come in the mail.

My partner helped me get through this, but so did the amazing sex positive community. From a loving outpouring of support to twitter to people offering to send me their old cameras, a leopard print nail file, and a business card holder (to replace the Bettie Page one from my best friend), I have felt such love and care from this community, from MY community.

So I thank you. From the bottom of my slightly violated heart, I thank you.

-Shanna