ARLINGTON, V.A. — More than 350 attendees from around the U.S. and Canada — and as far as Sweden and the Netherlands — gathered in Arlington, from March 15-17 for the sold-out CatalystCon East sexuality conference.
Created to inspire conversations about sexuality, the event featured 40 sessions and workshops on sexuality-based topics such as erotic writing, “toxic toys,” body image and sexuality, homophobia in communities of color, and sex and disability. Described by founder and organizer Dee Dennis as a “melting pot of sexuality,” CatalystCon unites sex educators, sex workers, health advocates, writers, activists, and others with a passion for creating change.
"CatalystCon continues to be such an important meeting of the minds for sex educators, thinkers, academics and community members," said Carol Queen, staff sexologist at Good Vibrations and co-founder of The Center for Sex & Culture, who spoke at the closing keynote with her partner Dr. Robert Morgan Lawrence. "It was a real honor to bring some historical perspective to some of our colleagues who've recently gotten involved with sex community, sex ed and CatalystCon."
The official hashtag #ccon was used so often that it became a trending topic on Twitter on Saturday evening. The conversation continued during and after the conference using the main hashtag and customized hashtags for each session and special event, and many of the best tweets from the conference were curated using Storify. For more information, visit catalystcon.com/press/live-tweets.
Dennis also announced that more than $900 was raised for sexuality education organization Scarleteen (scarleteen.com) at CatalystCon East, thanks to fundraising efforts by conference staff and attendees and representatives from sponsors artpulp, Tantus and Sportsheets International. Other official sponsors of CatalystCon East included ANEROS, Pleasure Chest, Wet, EROS, the FC2 female condom, Good Vibrations, Sex Out Loud with Tristan Taormino, Sexquire and The Smitten Kitten. Find more info on the sponsors at catalystcon.com/sponsor/sponsors-east.
“Tantus Inc has always been an education based company,” Tantus President and Founder Metis Black said. “We were the first business to educate the industry about material safety and silicone sex toys, and when a sex positive conference that reached out to sex toy bloggers, sex educators, health workers and sex workers came we were one of the first to jump on board. Sponsorship at Catalyst isn’t a vending opportunity; it’s a chance to talk with peers and experts, hear their voices and ideas and share common ground. We get one on one time with store affiliates, meeting the movers and shakers and social media’s who’s who. I feel so energized and full of ideas each show. Really, there are other educational conventions around but there’s only one CatalystCon."
CatalystCon West 2013 will be the third CatalystCon Sponsorship for Tantus.
CatalystCon returns to the West Coast Sept. 27-29, at the Warner Center Marriott in Woodland Hills, Calif. Dr. Joycelyn Elders, former Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service under President Clinton, is already confirmed as the Closing Keynote Speaker.
CatalystCon West is accepting speaker submissions until May 15. The conference welcomes anyone who has something to share and the desire to spark conversations in the realms of sexuality, activism and acceptance. To apply to speak at CatalystCon West, visit catalystcon.com/call-for-speakers.
“At CatalystCon, everyone is welcome, everyone is respected, and everyone is encouraged to share their knowledge and experiences,” Dennis said. “Everyone has something to offer, and the more participants, the better the experience — for everybody.”