Last November 10, during the Open House, the club People are Not Their Sex (PANTS) Club brought its annual Sexpo, an event about safer sex education and exploring sexual identity and interests, to GMC Campus. This year, the club presented different workshops in the afternoon, then the main event at 7pm, and finally the speaker at 8pm. With almost 180 – 200 attendants, the event seemed to be useful for a lot of students on campus. I therefore decided to schedule an interview with Oscar Hughes to give you more details about this event.
Oscar, can you please briefly introduce yourself, your major, and your hometown?
So you already have my name, Oscar, (laughed). I’m an interdiscipinary major with concentrations in Psychology and Gender Studies; and I come from Long Island, NY.
Are you junior, or senior?
Senior! I’m going to graduate this December.
Woo, around four weeks left, and you’re done with your college career. How do you feel?
I planned to graduate early so I was ready to leave. But now I’m little nervous as finding a job and making some new friends this semester.
What will you remember most about GMC?
I really appreciate that GMC has PANTS club. I joined the club right when I got here my freshman year and met a lot of people that I became friends with. I feel proud that my friends and I have been able to make changes on campus that have increased accessibility for LGBTQ students.
I also appreciate that I was able to plan different independent studies to guide my own learning.
So, can you tell me about Sexpo? What is it, and what does it present about?
Sexpo is PANTS club event that has workshops, information about safer sex, consent, and sexuality, free stuff, and a speaker.
Our guest speaker this year was Adam from Outright Vermont. They [rather than identifying him or her, they prefer us to use “them.”. I did not realize this until Oscar reminded me. Thanks Oscar!] spoke about using technology in sex, such as phone sex, sexting, etc.
The workshops: this year there was a polyamory workshop, we had one about gender and sexuality, a consent workshop which I led, queer-yoga, and a workshop on HIV/AIDS & stigma led by a guest from VT Cares in Burlington, VT.
After the workshop, we had an hour of sex-related club tables in the Gorge. We had tables about neurochemicals related to sex, masturbation, stuff that people at GMC find sexy, BDSM, and more. Also the Slow Food club cooked us aphrodisiac foods (such as basil and garlic pesto).
I heard that the event attracted a huge number of people. Is that correct?
True! We had a very high attendance rate, around 200 people. They seemed very excited and appreciated the stuff that we had in the event.
Why did you become involved with this event?
This is my third time helping organize this event. My first time was in my freshman year when I first became a member of PANTS club. I was told about it and it seemed exciting, and sex education is very important, so I got involved right away.
This year I was a leader in the planning because we have a lot of new PANTS members who hadn’t yet been to a Sexpo. I invited other clubs, found our speaker, helped put the schedule together, and led the consent workshop. The other club members also did a lot of fabulous work in putting this event together.
How did the community, especially people who do not belong to the LGBTQ community, support this event?
We had a lot of support and got great involvement from the community. Even though PANTS often focues on queer issues, Sexpo is about sex education, which is also important for folks who aren’t LGBTQ. We had attendees across many gender and sexual identities. We also tried to have more information about asexuality at this year’s Sexpo, because we want people to remember that some people don’t have sexual attraction and that’s okay too.
How did you feel after finishing this event?
I’m glad that I did this event in my last year of college. I have heard a lot of positive feedback from people. Overall, it was fun. Last year, in the workshops, we had only 5-10 people or less, but this year, some of our workshops had 20-30 people. This was the most rewarding because people seemed to learn a lot.
What were the most challenges/ difficulties that you encountered during planning the event? And how did you overcome that challenge?
Many clubs wanted to have tables at Sexpo but unfortunately could not go to the main event because it was a busy time of the semester. We did expect to have more to do and to learn about during the part in the Gorge. Also, at one point, I was really frustrated and stressed about having so much to do, but when I emailed people and asked them for help, they were very supportive. Everyone really pulled through.
Final question, what have you learned from this event?
I learned that I should have given the other members more opportunities to lead meetings and plan events so they could feel more empowered to run the club when I’m gone. This is my last semester and I facilitated much of the event planning and meetings and so I’m worried that many of the members don’t feel confident to make PANTS their own. They certainly do have the ability to carry PANTS and Sexpo on into the future, so hopefully they realize that and will keep making things happen.
Well, I believe that you did a great job, and people would ask if they needed. Thank you for your time and congrats on your early graduation!
Pictures that used in this post were credited to Brandywine LaBelle.