Building Momentum: How Two Soccer Moms Founded a Sex Conference
I think about it and I can't believe it. Dee and I went from working mundane jobs and being over-protective moms (I wasn't a soccer mom myself, unless you extend "soccer" to include ice-skating and gymnastics -- then I fit right in) to founding a conference about sex, which this year will feature, Dr. Joycelyn freaking Elders, the former Surgeon General of the US of A, in a stellar closing plenary.
How did we get here? Blogging. That's what we blame. As sex bloggers in late 2008, we decided to create a calendar for the following year featuring other sex bloggers. Out of the chaotic last-minute whirlwind, the NYC SexBlogger Calendar was born. We loved the sense of community it fostered and we donated the profits to Audacia Ray's Sex Work Awareness project, now the Red Umbrella Project.
We did a calendar until 2011 -- that one had Nina Hartley gracing its cover (ask me sometime about that photo shoot and the pillow fight at the Erotic Heritage Museum in Las Vegas) -- and then we decided to take on a more, ahem, much more ambitious project. This conference. MOMENTUM.
Tess and Dee. Mothers, business partners and founders.
We still shake our heads and pinch ourselves hard -- okay, maybe that's just me and yeah, I like that -- when we look at what an amazing space we’ve created.
It started innocently enough -- isn't that always the way? With equal parts naivety, passion and commitment, we forged ahead hoping that the kind of conference that we wanted to go to -- one where there was intelligent talk about all areas of sexuality -- would resonate with others. If not, we figured, at least our friends would show up. And they did and so did 250 other people!
At our 2011 conference we found ourselves graced with an opening keynote featuring author and Fox News sex columnist Jenny Block, sex educator Reid Mihalko, the legendary (and lovely) Dr.Carol Queen, feminist pornographer Tristan Taormino and UNLV professor Dr. Lynn Comella. We were utterly blown away when Susie freaking Bright contacted us and sat on our closing plenary along with Tristan. Not only that but our presenters list was a veritable Who's Who in the world of sexuality, the heavy hitters.
At the same time, because we feel that having letters after your name isn't the only qualifier for someone to be able to convey great sexual information, we included writers, bloggers, educators and kink enthusiasts in our roster. And being committed to sex-positive feminism, we wanted to develop a conference where sex workers felt welcome and pornography could be discussed intelligently. I think anyone who is passionate about sexuality who wants to meet other people who feel the same, would benefit from attending. But of course I'd say that. It's my conference!
Seriously, though. What can you expect if you decided to check it out? It will be spring in DC, with cherry blossoms in full bloom. There will be sessions on sex and spirituality, body image and sex online, using pleasure to help build strong relationships, monogamy and infidelity, sex and disability, senior sex, sex and the media, staying true to yourself, sex work and social justice, sex and cybercrime, consent, sexual abuse, pornography and so much more among the 40 slated sessions.
MOMENTUM 2012 promises to be a weekend filled with education and intelligent discussion, seeing old friends and meeting new ones, bonding, and fostering a sense of community among those who believe that sex matters. It still amazes me what two harried moms can create when they work with a "build it and they will come" philosophy combined with passion and determination (and endless bugging of friends and associates). We dared to dream and we dared to build it and they came, and we hope after reading this, you'll consider joining us, too.