“Sex is Fun” Fair Sparks Conversations

Madeline Ciak

Teaching students about consent, contraception and reproductive health were the main goals of the “Sex is Fun” fair that was hosted by the Ellen Bommarito LGBT Center held Wednesday, Sept. 23.

While a majority of these topics are considered to be touchy or even taboo to some, students and staff came together not only to engage and educate students through the use of games and visual aids, but to serve as advocates and to try to support one another in a safe and friendly environment.

For example, English major Lexi Cucchiara was in charge of a game called “Race to the Big O,” which focused on her leading a discussion about masturbation and teaching students that sexuality starts with them, not when becoming sexually active with a partner.

“A person has to figure out what feels good to them and put their own desires first. Those are the first steps a person has to be willing to take in order to achieve an orgasm and should take before having sex with their partner,” said Cucchiara.

Cucchiara also wanted to help students see past masturbation’s negative stigma as well.

“Some people view masturbation as being immoral and sinful, but I’m here to teach people that it’s okay to explore their sexuality on a personal level,” said Cucchiara.

Junior health science major Kim Neuville’s game focused on a woman’s likelihood of getting pregnant depending on whether she used contraception or not while pulling lollipops from a pyramid-shaped structure. If a participant pulled out a sucker that had a blue tip, it meant that they were “pregnant,” and if they pulled out a sucker devoid of a colored tip, they were in the clear.

Neuville decided to work at that particular table because she wanted to drive home the importance of not being afraid to talk about different contraceptive options.

“A lot of students, especially the ones that are fresh out of high school believe that being abstinent is the only way to practice safe sex, and that’s not the case,” said Neuville.

Neuville also stated that she believes that having access to contraception, such as birth control puts women in control of their body.

Junior psychology major Sabrina Dougherty’s game was called “Driver’s Ed for the Sex Superhighway,” and focused on the different steps of sexual consent, which were signified by the colors of a stoplight. If a statement was green, a couple was good to go, if a statement was yellow, that means that couple should talk more about the expectations and limitations of the activities they would potentially be engaging in. However, if a statement was red, it means that a couple should cease all sexual activity.

“Talking about wants, needs and desires shouldn’t be taboo. It’s good to have the lines of communication open and to speak up if you’re not comfortable with doing something,” said Dougherty.

Dougherty is also an advocate for consent because she said she feels that students just entering college don’t really understand what consent is.

“More often than not, kids think that they’re not allowed to say no when it comes to engaging in sexual activities,” said Dougherty.

Dougherty is also an advocate for consent and healthy relationships because she’s not afraid of being blunt and making an effort to ensure that her friends and peers are in good relationships.

“I’m not afraid to say ‘Hey, this is unhealthy,’ because I don’t want my friends to get hurt or be pressured into something they don’t want to do.

In addition, she was also handing out fliers that had “Power and Control” printed on them, which served as a visual aid to help students determine if they were in healthy relationships.

She decided to include the wheel at her table because it helped a friend of hers realize that she was in a bad relationship, and she wanted to help other students as well.

“I opened her eyes to the things that she wasn’t recognizing in her own relationship, and it felt good to help her, and I want to do the same for others,” said Dougherty.

In addition to quelling stigmas and starting conversations about taboo topics, Program Director of the Ellen Bommarito LGBT Center Jen Salamone explained that the center has an open door policy, providing students with a safe space for having candid conversations about their sex lives. The center also provides safer sex materials, such as condoms and dental dams.

“We’re also here to advocate on behalf of the students who need us; we have no problem supporting them in their academic career and do when whenever they need us,” said Salamone.

The center is also prepared to help students that want to come out on campus.

“We want to help students because they already have the extra baggage of perhaps being a new student, and we want to make sure that students are not only comfortable with who they are as a person, but that they can be successful while they’re here,” said Salamone.

Freshman criminal justice major Sandra Hull said she believes that the fair was an important learning experience for students and that she’d never been to an event like it before.

“I’m glad this was held on campus because it was really eye opening. Students could have been using contraception wrong before or had misconceptions about safe sex, but it’s important that they learned how to do it right here at the fair,” said Hull.

In addition to talking about masturbation, Cucchiara also opened up about what it meant to be someone who identifies as bisexual and cleared up misconceptions that surround that lifestyle.

“Society has a narrow-minded view that bisexuals need to pick a side and that we’ll cheat on a man with a woman, and that’s not the case. We can be monogamous with either a man or a woman,” said Cucchiara.

While Dougherty spoke about consent, she also spoke about what life is like a lesbian that is a part of a sorority.

“I was open about being a lesbian while I rushed because that’s just who I am, and I expected there to be a lot of stigma, but I was surprised to see that UM-Flint’s Greek Life was so accepting,” said Dougherty.

As someone who identifies as bisexual, Salamone knew what it was like to not only come out on campus.

“It was easy because being open is a part of my job,” said Salamone.

Salamone also gave advice on the right way of asking about a person’s gender identity.

“It’s okay to ask a person about their identity as long as you’re respectful and ask them what their preferred use of pronouns is,” said Salamone.