UVSS advocacy brought the Sexpo to the SUB to encourage sex-positive conversations
Presented by the Gender Empowerment Centre (GEM), the University of Victoria Students’ Society advocates organized their first Sexpo in March. The free all-day event took place in the Student Union Building (SUB).
The convention featured a variety of panels, booths, and performances. Attendees could roam the vendors, attend pre-registered panels, or head to Vertigo for live entertainment in the evening.
Individuals were checked for vaccination passports and identification on the way in, to ensure they were fully vaccinated. It was requested that masks be worn by all vendors, staff members, and attendees.
The Michèle Pujol Room (MPR) held the Table Fair, which ran from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and featured a variety of vendors and specialists. Attendees were welcomed to take pamphlets, make masks and buttons, and learn about the resources available on and off campus for sex-positive information.
Artwork was featured along the back wall as part of the art show “fluid.” Advertised as a sex-positive art show, “fluid” featured art from a variety of artists working in mediums such as photography, sculpture, paintings, and other forms of expression. Intimate photographs and drawings as well as a painted mannequin were among the featured displays.
Behind a curtained wall was the “adults only” section, available to those aged 18 or older, providing displays of sex toys available for attendees to purchase. The vendors were encouraging and supportive, making it easier to observe and engage with displays surrounding intimate subjects.
While the convention was inclusive and supportive, the sex-citement of the event was sometimes a lot to handle. The AVP team and Peer Support staff planned support ahead of time and provided a safe space in the form of the “Chill Lounge” where attendees were encouraged to take a second to breathe. Some event staff were also present throughout the day with name tags that read “Support Pal,” and were a resource for those who might need support or some form of private consolation.
A variety of panels were hosted in the Upper Lounge over the course of the day. Panels were free with registration, with subjects like “What you missed in Sex-Ed Q&A” and an introduction to BDSM. The workshops and panels were made available both in-person and via Zoom, to maximize accessibility.
While accessibility is important in the relatively new world of pandemic-era events, it is also important to ensure that digital means for accessing events are a viable option. After trying to attend one of the panels via Zoom, I felt as though the digital setup for that particular event was insufficient in providing a virtual option due to its connectivity issues.
I attended the “Intimacy Workshop” with the CEO and founder of the Sage Initiative, Sage Lacerte, and felt at ease as the presenters spoke casually and comfortably on subjects that could have otherwise been uncomfortable. The room almost had the air of a lecture hall, but in a way that felt familiar and safe. The workshop’s focus was encouraging sex-pression and communication.
At 6:30 p.m. in Vertigo, the sold-out after party began, which was only accessible to students aged 18 and older. Hosted by local drag royalty Henrietta Dubét, the evening affair presented a variety of orgasmic live entertainment. Drag performers such as Queef Latina, Ivory Charming, Steve O’Brian, Judith, and Kinky Binky were set to appear. The live music component featured performances from Joy Shepard, Dilly Cooner, Hoélune Chicas, and Kennedy Halwa.
With brightly-coloured advertisements and giveaways on their Instagram page, GEM did a sex-ceptional job at virtually advertising the event to the public. But since booths and panels were tucked away in MPR and the Upper Lounge, it was somewhat difficult to find the event even as I was looking for it. A passerby would have been unlikely to stumble on it accidentally.
GEM is working to encourage sex-positive conversations among students at UVic. The Sexpo was a great sex-ample of a safe, encouraging environment where individuals were able to feel comfortable and supported in a sex-positive space.
The first publication of this article contained incorrect facts about the event. We apologize for these errors and have updated the article.