Health. When I was younger, I used to have a very narrow view of health. It was something that I only thought of when I went to the doctor. Health was all about my body – if it hurt, if I coughed. But as I grew older, I understand health in a broader way. Health is emotional, sexual, and spiritual, too.
“We work hard, and play hard,” said one NQAPIA member. This means the sweat we have while protesting, planning a program, or visiting our legislators is the same sweat we have when we’re making queer love with our sweetie(s).
So, sexual health? It’s more than just condoms. What I’ve learned from my friends in sexual and reproductive health and justice, that sexual health starts way before you’re in bed (or wherever you like it) with someone or some people. Sexual health is about knowing your own body and also making sure there is consent by everyone involved. Here at the conference, one of the exhibitors is Asian Human Services and they have the Banyan Tree Project. They are tabling and giving out packets with condoms including female condoms.
Sexual health is also about knowing that there are many parts of the body that can give pleasure. Ear lobes, the back of the knee, toes, and fingers.
I remember when I bought my first dildo – although, it was marketed as a “back massager.” I was in my late teens, and I went to my mall to Spencer’s Gifts. For a suburban area, Spencer’s Gift was the closest store that had toys like this. Looking back, it was a horrible toy. It was made of hard plastic with only one speed – fast. But still, it was one of the most liberating things I ever bought and paved the way for my own sexual health liberation.
Fortunately, in Chicago, I got introduced to a great local and feminist toy store called Back 2 Bed. All the toys were out of the box so that people could touch and feel them. No question was stupid to ask. I now have many more toys in my toy chest that much more pleasurable. The zen stone toy is one of my favorites!