Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Unpacking the Lessons of CatalystCon

Just when you think you have no more virginities left to lose gleefully shatter...

Sept 16-18, I attended - and presented panels at - my first CatalystCon.

What is CatalystCon?
CatalystCon is a conference created to inspire exceptional conversations about sexuality. It is about reaching out and stimulating those who attend to create those important conversations in their own communities, changing how we as a society talk about and treat sexuality.  It is about stimulating the activist that is within all of us and sparking transformation in the way our friends, neighbors, children and even politicians discuss one of the most important aspects of humanity.

So, okay we can (most of us) accept that this is a conversation that needs to be stimulated. What does that look like, feel like? Who's at such a conference? And what can we learn?

Lesson One: The Hurrieder You Go, 
The Behinder You Get

For starters, it felt like me rushing to my car Friday morning, painfully aware that my friends from SPLA were waiting for me to arrive with our swag, the banner for our table, and other printed materials, which were all in my vehicle.

Our table did look nice. Partly because of volunteers like Patrick, Jules, and Mina.

I next became even more painfully aware of dropping my full, 24 oz. water bottle, directly on my big toe, while rushing to get into the car. This did not benefit my fresh pedicure or my water bottle.

Also, owie owie owie!

Lesson Two: In Any Situation, You Will Find People and Situations You Did Not Expect

Arriving at the area set aside in the hotel for us, it was highly amusing to find that our convention, including hundreds of sex workers, sex toy salespeople, and sex educators, had been placed next to a yo-yo competition, mostly young men in their teens and twenties. At least one of our conference goers, who appears in adult video entertainment, was recognized by some of her yo-yo'ing fans.

Lesson Three: If It Involves Technology, 
There Will Be Difficulties

When I created my PowerPoint slideshows on my desktop computer, everything looked great, but when I transferred them to my laptop, all my hot pink accents turned... purple. This was a problem as it totally clashed with the hot pink logo on most of the slides. Was able to fix that..

But despite locating the A-V tech, discussing cords and hook-ups and stuff the day before, (mine was one of the first panels on Saturday morning), and arriving that morning fifteen minutes early to get everything hooked up, we still had technical difficulties.

My awesome panelists: Dr. Victoria Reuveni, Dr. Jennifer Lang, Mina Harker,
plus me and Tony the Technician

Lesson Four: When You're Up On The Dais, 
No One Can See The Screen

Although I had discussed the subject matter with my panelists, and sent some of them the materials to review, add suggestions, etc., I did not realize I would have to guide them through it. Because the slides were projected on the screen behind us, and nobody else had a good view of my laptop.

So I felt like my presentations were too much my voice, though others said they went fine.

When I do future panels, I will make sure to print out hardcopy of each slide and share with the panelists, so they can chime in more spontaneously.

Lesson Five: You'll Want To Hang Out With Everybody, But There Won't Be Enough Time

One of the best things about a national conference was getting to see long distance friends again, and to meet those I hadn't yet met in person. Also, getting to fangirl over some of the rockstar educators in the sexuality field was awesome.

Caroline Ryan, who came all the way from  Ireland

Antoinette and Kevin A. Patterson of PolyRoleModels

Walker J. Thornton, Author of Inviting Desire

However, the dinner or lunch I'd hoped to have with some long distance friends didn't happen, and during chats over dinner before the keynote presentation, it was impossible to converse with everyone at the table; too much noise. Besides my immediate seatmates, it was mostly a matter of "Just smile and wave."

Lesson Six: Pervy Pin Collecting Is A Thing

I collected some I really liked,

If not as many as my friend Dana.

We've all heard of sapiosexual and pansexual.
Now introducing: PINsexual.

Lesson Seven: It'll All Be Over Too Soon

I really had a blast, and so did my tiara. I had been warned about, and luckily, did not experience much ConDrop (a term for the psychological letdown experienced by many following an exciting conference). I did my best to stay hydrated, eat healthily, and checked in with myself and rested rather than staying up half the night partying (though I heard there were some amazing parties).

Dee Dennis and the other organizers did an incredible job. I am so grateful for the experience and looking forward to doing this again.

Have you ever been to CatalystCon, or other conventions?
What were your take-away lessons?
Your thoughts?