identify as a lesbian or queer cis-gendered woman. As an open-minded sex-positive person, I have come to understand that sexuality is a pillar of wellness. To me, understanding myself sexually is just as important to my well-being as yoga, meditation, nutrition, and movement.
However, I didn’t always think like that. Even though I felt confident in my sexuality and knew myself well enough to come out at nineteen, and tell the world that I was in a relationship with a woman, it didn’t mean that I was sexually ‘well’. I was unaware that I had desires, boundaries, and traumas to explore. In fact, my queer identity had nothing to do with my personal relationship with sex.
How did I come to understand this?
I attended a play party.
I am unfoundedly moved by human connection; It reminds me that ‘we are all one.’ So, at the age of 28, when my friend invited me to a play party, I didn’t hesitate to say, “yes!”
A play party is a sexual space that I never knew existed beforehand. It is a safe environment where people consensually ‘play’ or partake in sexual activities with the utmost respect for each other’s boundaries. (*If you go to a play party please ensure that it is run by professionals.)
Before this moment, I had never even asked myself if I was poly, monogamous, asexual, etc, or if I viewed this a fluid construct. Although I was different from our heteronormative society in regards to my sexual identity, I never thought to question if I was anything, but a monogamous person.
My first realization: Take away what society, your parents, and the media say, and ask yourself these questions: Are you monogamous? Poly? Asexual? Do you know what these terms mean? Does your opinion change based on the different stages of life? With a partner or lack of a partner?
At the play party, we spoke extensively about consent. I was encouraged to check in with myself. I learned that consent means, “the person gives permission with a verbal ‘yes,’ everything else means ‘no’.” I’ve always heard that consent was sexy, but now I got it. Consent meant that all of these womxn could play because they communicated with each other in their power, knew their boundaries, and weren’t afraid to ask for what they wanted or to say ‘no’. This was huge for me!
My second realization: Check in with yourself. Get good at saying, “No thank you.”
In this space, I felt liberated, safe, and educated. This is why it is so important to incorporate topics of sex into our conversation. We need to get rid of the shame and blame. We need to learn what our boundaries are. We need to learn the true meaning of consent. All of these concepts are part of sexual wellness.
My third realization: What are my desires? What are my boundaries? Do these change? Are these changes, is any, based on the partner I am with or when I am alone? Why hadn’t I learned how to role play in my sex ed class in school? Why didn’t I know myself well enough to communicate how I liked to be touched or what I wanted?
Attending my first-ever play party was life-changing. It showed me what healthy, consensual, explorative, sex could look like, and it got me to question my own thinking.
Now, 4 years later and after I founded my own wellness festival called Sum of Us. I have the privilege to prioritize sexual wellness at my festival. I have the same professional play party experts who facilitated my first play party I had attended 4 years ago. We are now hosting the same experience that changed my sex life! I am grateful for the open-minded and educated individuals who helped me critically think about sex, leading me to discover how much of a role sexual exploration plays in holistic wellness. Now I can play-it-forward.