April 11th, 2011

An Extraordinary Gathering (and a Gathering of the Extraordinary)

One week ago right now (that is to say, last Monday at 1:00 in the morning) I was in the bar of the hotel where the MOMENTUM: Making waves in sexuality, feminism & relationships through new media conference was held, engaging in a social hour(s…) with conference organizers Tess Danesi, Diva, and a number of the other conference attendees/presenters.

The moment I drove away from the hotel, and thus the conference, that night, I started missing it.

I experienced MOMENTUM as so extraordinary and magnificent it’s felt hard, really, to recreate it in words. The general energy of the gathering of people focused on, appreciative of, and fascinated by sexuality seemed palpable to me; I experienced this energy as vibrant, refreshing, and consistent throughout the conference, starting even before any of its official events had begun. It was like being in an energetic hot tub. In addition, Robin Sampson/Erobintica and a friend of hers came down to stay with me to attend the conference, which was an added pleasure of the weekend.

I do not feel it is an exaggeration to say that I found all of the workshops and presenters I attended/observed astonishing. The opening panel, composed of Tristan Taormino, Carol Queen, Jenny Block, Reid Mihalko and moderated by Lynn Comella, struck me as positively electrifying—serving as an appropriate tone-setter as such for the rest of the weekend. As I had followed the list of presenters in the weeks leading up to MOMENTUM’s beginning, I felt delighted and impressed by the figures Tess and Diva were securing to present there. Though I knew I felt excited to see/meet so many of them in person, I was truly blown away by the power and energy I experienced when the time came from the presentations I had the privilege of experiencing.

Saturday began for me with Megan Andelloux‘s workshop on educating about sexual health and pleasure. I’ve known of Megan since the story of the controversy about her Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health was reported on Good Vibrations Magazine in 2009, resulting in my immediate support for her endeavor and its success. Shortly after that I became acquainted with her online, and it was a delight to get to meet her in person and certainly to see her present. Also on Saturday I had the unexpected fascination of attending the impromptu presentation by Constance Penley, who was at the conference and filled in for another speaker who had canceled. Constance served as an expert witness in last year’s obscenity trial of John Stagliano, and I found it utterly riveting to hear her behind-the-scenes account and perspective of such.

Early Sunday morning saw a panel I found starkly fascinating and informative in Sex Positive Interventions: The Feminist Sex Wars and Beyond presented by Lynn Comella and Carol Queen. Later Sunday, having found his energy distinctly compelling during the opening panel Friday night, I attended the presentation of Reid Mihalko, my meeting of whom was one of my favorite parts of the conference. The conference closed Sunday afternoon with an open-to-the-public discussion from Tristan Taormino and Susie Bright, which it probably goes without saying I found magnificent.

After all the official offerings were said and done, it was with the social gathering at the bar Sunday evening that the conference weekend ended for me. This was one of my favorite aspects of the conference—the opportunity to personally interact with the others there (this happened Saturday night too, when Rachel Kramer Bussel was still in town and I got to see her—and eat one of the cupcakes she brought!—at MOMENTUM headquarters [i.e., Tess and Diva’s hotel suite] for a while). Here I got to spend much more time with Tess, Diva, Lynn, Reid, and others as well as connect for the first time with the lovely and delightful Greg DeLong, co-founder and designer of (the gorgeous!) njoy sex toys.

At one of my former day jobs at a nonprofit dedicated to supporting and protecting reproductive health and rights, we were asked at a board meeting one time to go around the room and introduce ourselves and say something we found inspiring. When it got to me, I said that I found it inspiring to be in a room full of people that I knew cared about this issue as much as I did—so much that they would devote their livelihood or time or resources to it and convene at this gathering where embodying and expressing such were at the forefront of our consciousness. Historically I have tended to profoundly appreciate being in the presence of such gatherings, to witness physically the existence of people who experience the same intensity and clarity about a subject that feels so important to me.

That’s how I felt at MOMENTUM. And immediately after I left Sunday night, I missed that camaraderie, the feeling/knowing I was surrounded physically by people who care as much about exploring, discussing, and appreciating sexuality as I do and the warm feeling of knowing I would be going back to that and surrounded by it again the next day. I relate to the description found here that fellow conference attendee (presenter, actually) Leela wrote about this phenomenon.

In summary, what an amazing conference. A result, of course, of amazing creators and organizers Tess and Diva, to whom I extend profound and enormous thanks—not only am I so appreciative of and impressed by what they created and convened, I am truly thrilled that I had the opportunity to personally be a part of it.

I can hardly wait for MOMENTUM 2012.

Love,
Emerald

“Now I sit here like a Buddha in this chair, watching your spectacle unfold, I’m sorry I don’t mean to stare…”
-LIVE “All I Need”

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15 Responses “An Extraordinary Gathering (and a Gathering of the Extraordinary)”

  1. Leela says:

    Emerald, what a fabulous rundown, and thanks for the link! I especially wish I’d been able to go to the Sex and Pleasure workshop on Saturday morning, but so far I haven’t figured out how to run a workshop and attend one at the same time. :)

    See you there next year?

  2. Emerald says:

    Hi Leela! Lovely to see you, and thank you! Indeed, and I hope that next year I get to come to your presentation. :) Again, I am sorry I didn’t get to meet you this year—doing so is now a specific aim of mine for next year!

  3. Erobintica says:

    Great account of it!

  4. Emerald says:

    Thanks Robin. I’m so glad you came down to attend it.

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