It is about this time of year that I would normally be writing about my conference experiences. But with the pandemic keeping us from gathering, they were all canceled in person. But I was lucky enough to attend the Sex Down South conference for the first time virtually. This year’s theme was focused on Sexuality and Spirituality, so my pull to go was strong. Not only did I learn a lot from the workshops that I attended, both during the day and evening. But I learned a lot about myself and how I function during conferences.
Virtual Ups and Downs
I will say, it was nice to be able to just attend a conference in my comfiest clothes. My past experiences being that I would tend to keep my dress fairly professional while still being comfortable. There was no rush to get up and rush through breakfast to make my first workshops on time. I could hop in and out of different workshops which was a treat for my busy mind. Or if I wasn’t feeling one, I could slip out with far less anxiety. I could spread out my notes and planners during workshops like ‘Dirty Computer: Advertising Sex in the Shadow of SESTA/FOSTA’ presented by Amina Peterson. I had a lot more freedom for the sprawling that happens when I am in learning mode.
But there were so many things I missed, the biggest being the interactions. I missed the energy around me, while it was comfortable I love the feeling that conferences have. It keeps me engaged. While getting too comfy made me doze a little because I was home.
Sex Down South worked with a page called Hopin which did have a networking option that would connect you to another person at the conference. But I am just introverted enough that I never gave it a shot. I like the connections that come from being in a group. Settled someplace where we can talk if it is between workshops or during downtime. So I will be honest I never was able to work up the nerve to try it.
One of the things that I did get out of this, was being able to really do a lot of inner work while I was at the workshops. It was during ‘Fat Fuckers‘ with Dr. Ruth Neustifter, that I found myself in tears at one point. Happy tears that I don’t think I would have been able to express if I was surrounded by others. Feeling just a little more at home in my body with the things that I took out of that workshop. Being at home I was able to relax just enough to allow myself to be very vulnerable. As I listened to Rachael Rose speak during ‘Get Your Head in the Game: Having Great Sex with a Noisy Brain’. I was having a breakthrough in notes for my next therapy session to talk about my ADHD. So much of what I spent the weekend focused on was myself and the things I was working on personally.
While I wished that the nightly workshops and activities could have happened in person. It made it easier to not be as shy. Asking questions and tipping performers. But also going to workshops I might not have in-person like the Energy Orgy which was a first for me!
While I was still behind the safety of my computer screen, I was still bolder than I would have been. And in a way, it has prepared me for when maybe we get to do these things in person. To branch out and push my own learning boundaries. I put myself in workshops like ‘Feminine Dominance’ taught by Carly S, which I felt like a fish out of water for. But by the end of it, I had so many new thoughts about dominance as someone who is femme!
Will I go next year? Maybe. I do want to support this conference so much more. I want to experience it in person. A lot of that will depend on the pandemic and where our world goes. I know that this has only given me a taste of this particular conference. I want to dive deeper into my sexuality and I really feel like this was a conference to do it at. Perhaps when things get closer to January I will be in a place to visit the physical convention. But if not, there will always be 2022!