Students gathered in the Old University Union Saturday for a judgment-free discussion of sexuality and sexual education.
“Let’s Talk About Sex” was hosted by SHADES, a BU student group that works to create a LGBTQ-friendly environment on campus, in conjunction with the Southern Tier AIDS Program (STAP). Lambda Phi Epsilon, the Multicultural Resource Center and the Binghamton branch of Family Planning also tabled throughout the day.
Entertainment at Saturday’s event included lip syncing performances by two drag queens and numerous educational games such as a blindfolded “put the condom on the dildo,” a trivia game and “genderbread,” a game in which students put a pin on a spectrum of categories highlighting different terms of gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. These activities, along with speakers, provided information on sex toy usage, understanding individual sexuality and ways to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
Stephen Gleason and Noah Cooper, representatives from STAP, helped organize the event and offered free, confidential HIV and AIDS testing to students who attended.
“Getting people to talk about sex is difficult to do, there’s no secret about that,” Gleason said. “But students need to know that this stuff is okay to talk about, and besides being okay to talk about, it’s important to talk about.”
Cooper said the event also aimed to educate students on risks that are not always obvious.
“We want to help students realize that there are a lot of other options besides condoms and the medications that students can use, by knowing what fluids can transmit diseases like HIV and the different behaviors that can spread gonorrhea and chlamydia,” he said.
According to event organizer Jonathan Salas, a junior majoring in integrative neuroscience, initiating the conversation is necessary in order to educate people on the topic.
“People don’t like to talk about sex; sex toys make them inherently uncomfortable, drag queens make them uncomfortable and that has led to people not talking about sex,” Salas said. “The best way to handle a phobia or a fear is exposure.”
Maria Chaves, a fifth-year graduate student studying English, said she was thankful for the opportunity to talk about sex in a comfortable space.
“It also encourages students to think critically about sexuality,” Chaves said. “And understand that your own body is important because there is not many places on campus where students can openly do that.”
Two sex toy companies, LELO and PicoBong, donated over $2,000 worth of sex toys to the event after organizers reached out asking for donations. The sex toys, which included a device that can be used by any gender identity, were raffled off in order to raise money.
Samiyah Small, a junior double-majoring in cinema and English, said she learned much about the different kinds of preventative measures one could take to avoid contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
“I thought it was great and very informative for people who haven’t gotten any information on how to have safe sex,” Small said. “Communicating with your sexual partners to promote safety is very important and people should know that there is nothing wrong with playing with yourself.”