Sex Nerds host discussions to encourage sex-positivity

A new student group is aiming to take sex talk to a new level. One Tribe is a select group of 10 Columbia student ambassadors who explore multiculturalism, inclusion and social justice issues.

The group works closely with the Office of Multicultural Affairs and has branched out to create “Sex Out Loud,” a peer dialogue series facilitated by the Sex Nerds, a group of human sexuality scholars at Columbia.

“Sex Out Loud” is an open forum that students can attend to discuss various topics on sex, love and intimacy, including body positivity and sex in the media. The Sex Nerds are working closely with One Tribe Scholars to promote the goal of changing the public discourse around sex and sexuality to make it more inclusive and “sex positive.”

A slide saying “The goal is not to agree, it is to gain a deeper understanding,” was displayed in a slide show at the first “Sex Out Loud” meeting Oct. 8. The rules of conduct include using “I” instead of “you” statements and not putting anyone down with offensive remarks. The rules are enforced by the Sex Nerds to ensure that everyone has an open mind.

The first meeting explored the definitions of sex and sex education, and ice-breaker activities involved students in discussion of  what they do and do not like about sex, love and intimacy.

The 22 attendees expressed past and present experiences with acquaintances and complete strangers. Desirae Gladden, a sophomore business & entrepreneurship major and member of the Sex Nerds, said once students are comfortable, they will open up more when it comes to talking about their own sexual preferences.

“You put people in a space, and you don’t expect them to talk,” Gladden said. “They’re hesitant to talk about what they like, what they don’t like and what they don’t know. Then you get them comfortable and warmed up and they become eager.”

The Sex Nerds will host weekly discussions, workshops and occasional field trips to encourage students to think outside of the box and explore their emotions.

“It’s very important that we work on separating sexuality from reproduction,” said JJ McNeal, a senior interdisciplinary arts major. “Discourse about sex is all rooted and connected into reproduction, but most people don’t have sex just to reproduce and create another person. Sex is not talked about, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not happening and it’s not real. So let’s start talking about it.”

The Sex Nerds want those who come to the “Sex Out Loud” meetings to look at them as “education through liberation,” according to McNeal. There are no teachers hosting the events, and the talks are supposed to help students by providing a safe learning environment where all can come and share openly.

“We want to examine human sexuality as something that is diverse because in media and in education, it is very limited,” McNeal said. “We operate a lot of the time from what we call a ‘sex-positive way.’ There is no representation of all of the different folks that are out there.”