Sexual health and awareness conference breaking taboos

ConvergeCon helps to create a healthy dialogue around a stigmatized subject


Reported by Jennifer Blake

Talking about sexual healing breaks a double taboo, according to Vancouver-based counsellor Lauren Shay.

“We’re both talking about sex and we’re talking about abuse,” said Shay, who added that many people aren’t having either of these conversations with their friends and families.

ConvergeCon, a gathering focusing on conversations about sexuality, interpersonal relationships and activism, took place at SFU Harbour Centre on March 30 to 31.

“Sexuality is such a core part of who we are,” said Gosen. “It’s so important and so many people are shamed for it.”

During ConvergeCon, Shay held a presentation titled Reclaiming Sexuality After Sexual Violence and Abuse.

Shay said the #MeToo movement allowed a lot of people to recognize things that happened to them that weren’t acceptable, things that many people had previously minimized or “pushed down.”

“More people are fully feeling and moving through their trauma, and also feeling validated about having not felt okay,” said Shay.

She said that many programs which help people survive their sexual trauma don’t provide people with what they need when they start to seek healing in their intimacy and sexuality.

“Our society as a whole, we have a lot of stigma when it comes to people who survived sexual violence going on to have desire,” said Shay.

Noah Jensen, who attended Shay’s presentation, said that he believes this discussion is important because victims of sexual abuse are in a vulnerable situation, but they still have the ability to reclaim sexuality.

“I think it’s really important that they learn it from a non-judgemental perspective that sex can be beautiful and it can be empowering,” said Jensen, who also mentioned the current culture of shame surrounding discussions of sexuality.

Shay said the best thing you can do as the friend of a sexual abuse survivor is to be the person who is safe and non-judgemental to talk to.

Kale Gosen, founder of the non-profit Vancouver Sex Positive Society and organizer of ConvergeCon, said this is the first event they’ve ever held at SFU. Gosen said that previously the event had been held at a hotel, but they had gotten in trouble for “talking about sex too much.”



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