Well, MBLGTACC was amazing as usual. Every year I've been to this conference, I've wondered why I'm still going, especially since the conference is not particularly kink-geared. This year I had a more legitamate purpose - I attended as a business professional. I did a couple workshops to give people a sample of what my speeches are all about, and I also advertized at my booth for one loooooooooooong day at the Exhibitor Fair from 10am-6pm on Saturday. Seriously. 8 hours, and the traffic was non-stop!
I spoke to more students, activists, faculty, advisers and staff members than I can even count. Thank you all so much for your support and enthusiasm, for stopping by my booth, for being friendly, for asking questions, and for being courageous enough to speak to a boy in rubber. I was kind of nervous about the Exhibitor Fair, because from previous conferences, I could never remember a speaker renting a table out to try to book gigs. But I can't even count the number of students and schools who came by, asking me about my prices and my available dates! It was almost overwhelming. While at the table, I also told people about the workshop I was presenting on Sunday morning, as a preview or sample of what I can do at their schools if booked. I'm proud to say that the classroom my session was in was completely full with people sitting on the floor, but they also had to shut the doors to more attendees because it was creating a fire hazzard. :(
And by the way, for those of you who took pictures of/with me, please e-mail them to me.
I really, really love this conference. The energy, enthusiasm, and optimism of college students is envigorating to me. Traveling down this road toward becoming a public speaker hasn't been easy. Busy work schedules, late nights, time away from my Minneapolis crew, and the expenses all add up. I've missed two MPLS Eagle Gear Nights in a row now! ERGH!
But going to this conference is refreshing, to say the least. I have a renewed sense of determination to press on. This morning, I presented a 90 minute workshop on "Debunking Myths about BDSM", and this afternoon, here's an e-mail I received (posted with author's permission):
It's **********, the kid with the pink shirt who wouldn’t shut up during your Sunday morning session. I just wanted to say again how inspiring your workshop was. I’ve had some limited kink experience, but nothing more than a couple isolated scenes with random people from recon, and certainly nothing like some of what you described in the workshop and on your blog (yes, I’ve been creeping). Initially your workshop made me a little uncomfortable, and I spent the better part of the bus ride back to my college thinking about why. I came to the conclusion that despite how out, proud and self-affirming I’d like to think myself, I really do feel ashamed about that part of my sexuality. Seeing a presentation discuss so openly what for me was such an intensely personal and private topic (that more or less lives on the internet in my world) felt like a challenge to my own internalized oppression. I’ve unknowingly been telling myself that this part of me was rightly a dirty secret that shouldn’t leave the realm of Recon; if people knew about this part of my sexual expression, how could I be a role model for my peers? I can’t believe I’m writing this, but I actually have been thinking myself a pervert because of these desires.
Anyway, I could bitch and moan about myself for pages, but I guess I just wanted to say that the work you’re doing is really important and that your presence at an otherwise “vanilla” conference was affirming and validating in such a meaningful way for anyone with a dirty secret. It’s so easy to dismiss stigma against kink as trivial, but for the people affected by it I think it’s a lot more oppressive than anyone really realizes. Your passion in the workshop was nothing less than inspiring, and I wish I could find community for this part of my life like you have. So I guess now comes the awkward ending to an awkward email. Thanks so much for your workshop and your openness."
This is why it's important for kinky people to be present as activists everywhere, not just in kinky forums. This is why it's important for us to challenge what "sexual orientation" really is. This is why it's important for us to be outspoken about the lives we lead and the dreams that we share. This is why conferences like MBLGTACC are so, so important.
This is why we need to always remember to love ourselves, and to pass that feeling on to others.