Can you tell us how the Center got its starts?
The Center started in 2007 as a small group of volunteer educators going to local (LA) colleges talking about personal experiences with BDSM. After some time, this expanded to other subjects, more volunteers, and then in 2013 became an actual 501c3 organization.
What is the Center’s overall mission?
The website and our brochures say: “Addressing social issues through sex positive research and education.” What that means is creating and supporting programs and individuals who use positive sexuality as a means to address and solve a variety of social issues, including but not limited to: lack of access to sex-positive education, healthcare, research, etc.; supporting marginalized gender and sexual identities; using positive sexuality as a framework for humanizing others, etc.
How does the Center go about accomplishing this?
Currently, we have two main branches: Education and Research. Our Education Programs consist of: presentations for colleges, universities, organizations, parents, and professionals; outreach on college campuses and community events; an Education intern program; and our newest program – a Sex Positive Professional Certification Program.
Our Research Program consists of: Research Affiliates and Assistants from various universities and organizations with a history of positive sexuality publications; our peer-reviewed academic journal, Journal of Positive Sexuality; and a Research intern program.
Both of these programs intersect, helping one another to stay current and focused on our mission.
What communities are you currently involved with?
That’s a big question in a way. We’re involved with many LA local communities, including colleges, universities, and student organizations; BDSM clubs; organizations that promote sex-positive education and parenting; and various other sex positive groups. We’re also connected to communities and organizations across the country and in other parts of the world.
Can you elaborate more on your research? What does your research seek to accomplish/find?
If you mean the Center’s research, we mainly focus on research that promotes positive sexuality, involves participants from marginalized groups, and promotes health and well-being. Some of our research also points out the discrepancies and problems with past or current research on issues like sex work, sex addiction, and other topics, highlighting what could be done to improve our thinking about these topics.
If you mean my personal research, I mainly work on topics around deviance and leisure, BDSM, sexual identities, and feminism. I think overall all of this research is meant to show that 1) sexual identity is diverse and 2) positive sexuality can be used to accomplish a great deal of humanizing and peacemaking that is necessary for us all to not only survive, but live well.
Concerning education, what types of presentations does the Center give? Where does the Center present their presentations?
We give presentations on a variety of topics, including BDSM, polyamory/non-monogamy, sex work, consent, body image, gender spectrum, and so much more. We also tailor specific presentations for certain audiences when needed.
We’ve presented mostly in Los Angeles, but we also have educators in Illinois and Idaho, and have conducted presentations online for organizations in New York, San Francisco, and other areas. The internet lets us go anywhere we’re needed.
How does one go about volunteering/helping out? What type of volunteers are you looking for?
The easiest way is to check our Volunteer page and fill out an application: http://positivesexuality.org/about-us/volunteer-opportunities/
We always need more educators. We also really need some Admin volunteers. We need people who can consistently help with social media posts, putting together fund raisers and events, working at Outreach tables in various community spaces, as well as working on aspects of accounting, data entry, etc. We’re expanding at an exponential rate and need dedicated people who can offer their time to fill some important positions.
Are you currently working on any new projects? If so, what are they?
Like I mentioned earlier, we’re rolling out our new Sex Positive Professional Certification Program. We have a beta-test group going through the program now to help us work out (in?) some kinks and make sure we really hit everything we meant to in the program. This will be made public by early 2019. It is designed for any type of professional who wishes to expand their knowledge and serve a more diverse client base from a positive sexuality perspective. No previous human sexuality education is necessary. It’s all included.
In your opinion, what makes your organization unique?
The diversity of the volunteers and the collective nature of how we work on projects. Everyone is valued and important, whether they contribute $1/month or thousands per year; whether they email opinions in occasionally or show up to everything we do. We’re trying to make the world a better place through positive sexuality, and that has to start from within the organization.
What is the biggest challenge the Center is currently facing? How can we help remedy this?
We’re growing at a very rapid rate right now. Although funds are always welcome, what we really need are a few very dedicated people that can quickly move into responsible positions on the Board, on committees, and in other spaces that help our infrastructure to support our programs.
What is the most fulfilling aspect concerning working at the Center?
For me, it’s the people I work with. Meetings aren’t something to dread, they’re a social event where we get things done. I love the people I get to interact with. I love their energy and dedication. And I love seeing them make connections with others in the organization as friends and colleagues.
After that, it’s of course actually seeing our mission get accomplished in so many ways. We have a broad international network that supports, produces, and reproduces our work. We haven’t taken over the world yet, but we’re getting there.
What is the environment like at the Center?
In a way that’s difficult to answer. We don’t have a physical location, although there are a few spaces we regularly use for meetings and events. Most of the time we’re interacting online or seeing each other when educating, conducting outreach, or working events. However, our overall environment is very open and welcoming. We’re a diverse group and we strive to make everyone feel a part of the organization. We support one another. Although there is somewhat of a hierarchy for the necessity of keeping things running, all input is welcome. We rely heavily on everyone’s opinions and ideas to move us forward. Essentially, we follow our 4Cs: Consent, Communication, Caring, and Caution.
What are your organization’s core values? How do these relate to the overall mission of your organization?
We follow our 4Cs, as well as our 8 Dimensions of Positive Sexuality. [I’ll attach an outline of these for you, should you wish to reference them.] These are our core values as well as how we decide what does and does not meet our mission. If the project, person, or organization doesn’t fit that model, then it doesn’t fit the Center.
What is the long-term goal for the Center? How do you plan to go about achieving this?
Super long-term goal, as with any social organization, is to not be necessary any longer. We hope for a world where no one is marginalized, all people are actually treated with respect and care, and sexuality and related issues are pursued from a positive perspective.
In the real world of attainable goals, we hope to become the center for positive sexuality. We want to be the core that supports positive sexuality education, research, therapy, and so much more.
We’re getting there. We have more support now than we ever did, and we are quickly moving forward. Our education program is very strong. We are building to other cities around the country and we have a great internship program for students who wish to study and teach about human sexuality from a variety of perspectives. Our research program is also strong, with a growing list of established researches affiliating with our organization, using our interns on their projects, and publishing worldwide. As we roll out our upcoming Certification Program, that will increase our reach and our revenue. This allows us to feed back to all of our programs and grow that much more.
Any closing words?
I don’t do this alone. I have a sexy and amazing group of people who provide time, energy, and funding to make the Center what it is and what it will become. The Center for Positive Sexuality is an amazing group that has managed to accomplish a lot, and will continue to do so.
Emily E. Prior, MA
Co-Founder Journal of Positive Sexuality
Emily E. Prior is the Executive Director for the Center for Positive Sexuality. Since 1996 she has been teaching formal and informal classes about a variety of sexuality-related topics including Gender, Deviance, Relationships and Family, and Feminism. She is an adjunct professor at several colleges and universities, has over a dozen publications, and has presented at conferences around the U.S. She is frequently interviewed about her research, the Center, and positive sexuality in general. She also won the Vern Bullough Award for research. To contact Emily, please email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out the Center’s website: http://positivesexuality.org/about-us/