thebodpoe Spring 2016 update

The body poetik is an intimacy coaching service as well as a public awareness effort to foster healthy sensuality (whether this includes sexuality or inspired erotic style) for all bodies and orientations. One of my biggest challenges in doing this work in Florida has been a lack of commonly used language.

For instance, the term "sex positive" was coined by the psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich in the last century and it has, in recent decades, been used widely,  across the U.S. to talk about how to have safer sex, how to change the culture of sexual abuse, how to change tired media stereotypes about who is and isn't worthy of sexual attention. It has also been used to describe communities that are welcoming of LGBTQ folks or folks who cannot necessarily access sexuality in the same way as others, such as people with physical or cognitive disabilities. In general, the sex positive school of thought sees sexuality as a natural, human right and seeks to debunk harmful myths and improve sexual health.

So, when I arrived in the Tampa Bay Area in 2014 and started running thebodpoe, I did a Google search for "sex positive Florida" in the hopes of meeting like-minded people. I was so disappointed that only two results showed up on Google--a defunct Facebook group and an outdated news story out of Miami that made just passing mention to the term "sex positive" in reference to South Beach gay clubs. There was tons of info on "kink" and :fetish" parties, and while these lifestyles are part of thesex positive milieu, the sites I found often played up "the dark" or "dangerous" aspect of kink and this gives the wrong idea for people who want healthy alternative sexual lifestyles. I have spoken to friends and colleagues in other states and lamented that I can barely do intimacy coaching here without adequate search engine results for "sex positive". Without local knowledge of the term, many Floridians mistake my work for something threatening, lurid, or find it confusing at best.

Now, just two years later, I'm really thrilled to see SEVERAL Google hits under the search terms "sex positive Florida". From what I can tell, this is largely due to the inception of the Sex Positive Academy (a virtual center of learning and support connected to the University of Central Florida). SPA is based on similar organizations in Seattle and San Francisco.

Also, along local lines, it was really heartening to take part in the Unitarian Universalist OWL training right here in downtown St. Pete, this January. OWL or Our Whole Lives is age-appropriate, ethical education about sexuality for grades K-12. Here is how the UUA describes their curriculum:

Honest, accurate information about sexuality changes lives. It dismantles stereotypes and assumptions, builds self-acceptance and self-esteem, fosters healthy relationships, improves decision making, and has the potential to save lives. For these reasons and more, we are proud to offer Our Whole Lives, a comprehensive, lifespan sexuality education curricula for use in both secular settings and faith communities.
OWL classes can be lead at your church, regardless of denomination, at your school or rec center, at Girl or Boy Scouts groups.  To become trained to teach OWL in your community, go to their trains page here.

Both SPA and OWL are truly progressive developments for the Tampa Bay Area. ones that couldn't come too soon, considering FL. has one of the highest rates of new HIV infections in the U.S.--due to lack of public education and a culture of sexual repression which creates ignorance.

I can't wait to connect with SPA and find out more about what they do! And now that I am a certified OWL facilitator, I look forward to working with Bay Area kids and parents around healthy body-image and early sexual development.

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