Illustration by Sidney Howard
A number of organizations on campus have dealt with sexuality before. From awareness of sexually transmitted diseases to education about consent, many of the facets of sexuality have been brought to students’ attention. The university even offers a number of courses that focus solely on sexuality.
This year, the University of Florida’s Pride Student Union, or PSU, tackled the issue of sex in a way that hasn’t been done before. In their recent event, which spanned the week of Feb. 17, Sexxx Week, the organization wooed people out of their comfort zones and created a space for a dialogue otherwise left to private spaces. These five days of Sexxx Week were devoted to sex toys, to adult films and to the wide range of sexuality that is often alluded to, yet has never been closely examined in the organization’s previous events.
Hiram Martinez-Cabrera, the internal vice president of PSU, has done programming and marketing for some of the organization’s past events that have promoted open discussion of sexuality. These include Opulence 2013, which was PSU’s annual drag ball, and Trans* Days, a week of celebrating the trans* community that involved a three-hour workshop and a speech by Isis King, the first trans* woman to compete on “America’s Next Top Model.”
“At the end of the day, we try to keep the message obvious that queer people are more than just what we are perceived as,” Martinez-Cabrera said. “We are a mobilizing group with different talents. We’re in different parts of the world and in different occupations.”
Sexxx Week has continued under those principles. There was a focus on spreading open-mindedness about people’s differing sexual preferences.
“What we want to do with this topic is to not ‘yuck my yum,’” Martinez-Cabrera said. “Someone’s own personal pleasure shouldn’t be shamed by someone else because they enjoy a different part of sex that someone might not be comfortable with.”
Part of this plan included the participation of Conner Habib, a queer adult film star who has lectured on and written about pornography and homosexuality for numerous publications, including vice.com and salon.com. PSU felt that Habib’s impressive credentials and diverse background made him the perfect choice for creating dialogue about what is considered by some to be a taboo subject.
“He has a master’s degree in English and has spoken at numerous colleges,” Martinez-Cabrera said. “He is not what people perceive as a pornstar.”
Habib’s inclusion raised concerns with some people who feel it supports generalizations about the queer community. They felt that by bringing in an adult film actor who is homosexual, the event would cause an association between homosexuality and an industry known for promiscuity.
This negative reaction was only shared by select individuals. Martinez-Cabrera said, overall, the feedback was positive. People responded to the event and recognized the efforts by PSU to open a discussion about the current taboo nature of issues like pornography.
“We wanted Conner Habib to basically break the fourth wall between the audience and the porn industry,” Martinez-Cabrera said. “There is an organization on campus that is finally breaking that boundary.”
Along with Habib’s talk, PSU also provided a safe-sex workshop that included contributions from local businesses. One such contribution was from Vox: Voices for Planned Parenthood, which provided information related to the promotion of safe sex. STRIVE, which stands for Sexual Trauma/Interpersonal Violence Education, spoke to the audience about sexual violence and consent. X-Mart provided information on sex toys and means of protection when using them.
This wide scope of varying discussions all falls under the goal of Martinez-Cabrera and PSU to create a more open and honest campus in regard to sex.
“Most of us are sexually active,” Martinez-Cabrera said. “That’s the reality of it, and for us to play hush hush for a topic that affects a lot of individuals is to be ignorant.”