SlutWalk St. Louis July 16

Brennan Peters has her eye on you

The SlutWalk movement started this April in Toronto, when a cop said: “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” In response, more than 3000 people took to the streets to demonstrate that being assaulted isn’t about what you wear.

Thousands more have followed suit around the world. A tiny negative transformed into a huge positive as people stood up for human rights.

Brennan Peters is leading St. Louis’s SlutWalk, which takes place this Saturday, July 16, at noon. Workshops will follow the march and culminate with an evening performance.

Kendra Holliday: What inspired you to take on SlutWalk and lead the event in St. Louis?

Brennan Peters: My involvement with SlutWalk was accidental. Robyn from TransHaven sent out a group Facebook message with a link to a news story about SlutWalk Toronto. It looked like a really fun time. I’ve organized other things in the past as an LGBT activist over in Illinois—benefits for scholarships, art shows, sexual health education events, discussion panels. It didn’t seem like too big of a deal, but at the time I thought a couple hundred people would show up—not a couple thousand.

I’m more of an educator, as opposed to a director, by nature; I like to think of my role with SlutWalk as one of facilitation. I assessed some needs in the community—a strong desire for empowerment and change, a lack of education and advocacy—and I reached out to some folks who could help address those needs in a variety of different ways. I’m not really a leader, though… I’m more of a people wrangler.

KH: Have you ever had experience with sexual assault or being taunted on the streets?

SlutWalk St Louis

BP: I’ve encountered the most ridiculous things. A fellow customer in a gas station informing me that I had a “sweet ass” stands out in my mind. Given the context of the interaction (me walking past him to exit the gas station) and the fact that this guy was a complete stranger, I have no clue where he got the idea that I was seeking sexual attention.

I think about what he said and how he said it, and while it’s possible that he was so moved by the sheer beauty of my derriere that he simply couldn’t contain himself, I find that scenario unlikely. He humiliated me in front of a bunch of complete strangers, either because it didn’t occur to him that what he was saying was objectifying and inappropriate, or because he knew that it was rude and degrading but felt entitled to speak to me like that anyway.

Not that it matters, but I was sans makeup, sloppily coifed, and wearing a pair of sweatpants and a tee shirt at the time for anyone who might have been wondering.

I’ve had numerous experiences like this throughout my life, and I have yet to meet a woman who hasn’t.

I also have a pretty extensive history of sexual abuse myself. When I was about three or four years old, I was assaulted by a neighbor. I was also sexually abused by a member of my household throughout most of my childhood and adolescence. After that, I dated abusive, exploitative men. I was also a sex worker—a five-year, on-again, off-again career that began and ended when I was a teenager. (Do the math on that one.)

I’ve mostly healed, though, and sharing my experiences as a guest speaker over the past few years has definitely helped me along that path in some pretty unexpected ways. I think that SlutWalk has a tremendous potential to benefit sexual assault survivors by giving them a chance to step out of the isolation that victimization often creates and interact with others who are on that same journey.

Stop Slut Shaming

KH: Have you ever been called a slut?

BP: I’ve been reflecting on this recently. The first time I was called a slut, I was in fifth grade. I had never engaged in any sort of sexual contact with a peer. I dressed like a tomboy. My nose was always stuck in a book. I didn’t really meet any of the criteria that go along with the social construct of “slut.”

But I was new to the school, and my family was poor. I was gangly and awkward-looking, and I had a really poor sense of self-worth. I was an ideal target for bullying, so I endured relentless taunting every single day, but when a little boy from the classroom next to mine called me a slut when we were in the lunch line—everyone went silent. I didn’t have much of an idea of what the word meant at the time, but I knew that it was bad—probably one of the worst things you could call a person—and that it was a word for girls, not boys.

I went to a different school for sixth grade, and for a school play, I had to kiss a boy. Technically, he was supposed to kiss me—just a peck—but both of us were way too bashful, so the kiss never actually happened. He just hovered about two inches away from the left corner of my mouth. A group of guys in my grade started calling me a slut the next day, at first in jest, but then rumors started going around, and the label stuck.

I was a slut throughout high school, too, only by then, I was working my hardest to earn the reputation. I was an archetype: tight shirts and short skirts (or sometimes short shirts and tight skirts), too much makeup, an impressive collection of notches on my bedpost. I was also an incredibly broken and misguided child. I had boyfriends old enough to buy me beer, a substance abuse problem, and a burgeoning career as a prostitute before I was old enough to drive legally. I hid my recreational activities from most everyone at my school, but it was like they could smell the sluttiness on me. Either that, or the fact that I could say the words “anal sex” without blushing tipped them off.

I remember trying to be “good” a few times, but it was like no one would let me. If girls were too nice to me, they became sluts by proxy. If boys were nice to me, it was because they were trying to fuck me; if not, they risked ridicule at the hands of their peers. It was a no-win situation for me, so I just stayed “bad” for a while.

I’m 29 now. People still call me a slut. I get called a slut at least once a day because of my involvement in this event. I just don’t care any more.

KH: What’s your definition of the word slut?

BP: In my life, it’s a term of endearment used among other like-minded sexually liberated women, but I don’t think that how most folks wield it.

As far as society at large goes, I don’t think the word “slut” really has a set definition. I’ve heard it used to refer to a woman who has sex outside of committed relationships. I’ve heard it used to refer to a woman who is dressed in revealing clothing. I’ve heard it used to refer to single mothers. It’s used almost constantly to refer to sex workers, dancers, and other women in the commercial sex industry. The meaning of the word varies from individual to individual, across cultures and time, but in every instance, it is used to denigrate and devalue other human beings.

It’s a slur. It’s a term that can be assigned many derogatory meanings or connotations, but they all have the same function—to relegate the “slut” to a second-class citizen status.

KH: Is this an event for women?

BP: Sure, it’s an event for women. It’s also an event for trans individuals and men and genderqueer people and anyone else who wants to participate. That’s one of the things I love about this movement, its inclusiveness.

KH: What’s the dress code?

BP: One of the biggest misconceptions about this event is that we are “encouraging” people to dress like sluts. We’re not encouraging anyone to dress any certain way. One of the tag lines for the event is, “Come as you are.” As long as it’s legal, you can rock it and feel welcome within our fold.

KH: There are a lot of people who are anti-SlutWalk for various reasons. Have you heard any criticism that surprised you?

Nice.

BP: I get a lot of extremely misguided criticism from people who haven’t bothered to read the event description. Apparently things like literacy and critical thinking skills are fucking superpowers or something.

The number of women who have chimed in with comments to the effect of, “Well, if you don’t want to get treated like a slut, don’t act like a slut,” has been really upsetting for me. The person saying it is almost always a very young woman, and I wish I had the time and patience to address each and every one of them, fully explaining the concepts of slut as a slur, sexual repression, masculine privilege, internalized oppression—alas, there are only so many hours in the day, but damn, it just breaks my heart to read and hear that kind of stuff. I feel like I’m somehow failing them.

I have had many, many people say something along the lines of, “I bet a bunch of women get raped that day.” That just blows my mind. As one of our supporters aptly pointed out, that’s a pretty cavalier attitude to have about such a devastating event. What’s even more unsettling is that the people who make comments of this nature seem to have no clue why these remarks are so disturbing. I think that says a lot about our attitude toward rape and sexual assault in this culture.

The name garners a lot of criticism, which I honestly expected. There’s always backlash when a group decides to attempt to reclaim a term that’s been used the way “slut” has been; as an LGBT activist I encounter a lot of this with efforts to reclaim the word queer, which is actually how I identify. It can be really frustrating—first society wants to tell us who to fuck or how to conduct ourselves, and then they also want to chime in with what we’re supposed to call ourselves while we’re being what they want us to be and fucking who they want us to fuck. Most people understand once I explain some of the rationale behind the name. (It’s a tongue-in-cheek use of the exact word used by the police officer that tipped off this entire movement, or as I like to call him, The Cop That Launched A Thousand Sluts.)

I’ve also been surprised by the incredibly personal nature of the criticism, too. Over the past month I’ve been called slut (of course), ho, whore, cunt, bitch, dyke, fat, stupid—pretty much every name in the book. I’ve been called “sexless” (and here I was thinking sexless and slut were mutually exclusive ideas), a man (which didn’t bother me in the least but was confusing as the comment came from a man), “the most obnoxious person on the planet” (possibly), and a “feminist pitbull” (which I rather liked, honestly). I’ve also been told that God hates me and I’m going to hell, but as previously mentioned, I’m queer, so that’s nothing new.

KH: Why did you choose Manchester Grove as the area for SlutWalk?

BP: I didn’t really choose The Grove. The Grove chose SlutWalk. Most aldermen and business owners didn’t want to be in any way associated with this event. We literally had one option, and it would have been a somewhat hostile environment. Then Chip Schloss (owner of Atomic Cowboy) reached out to me.

For the first year of the event, I thought it was really important for it to be a positive experience for all involved, and I think The Grove can offer that. It’s a thriving neighborhood with a vibrant and diverse culture, and the businesses have been very supportive of this event, particularly Novak’s and Atomic Cowboy. Chip is a really great guy. He genuinely cares about this cause and about the populations represented by this movement. He’s gone above and beyond to help me get this together.

KH: Do you have children? What do you think kids should be taught about interacting with the opposite gender?

BP: I have one child, an 8-year-old son. I don’t really teach him how to relate to people based on gender. I teach him to get to know them as individuals, interact with them appropriately based on whatever characteristics they possess, and always treat people with kindness and respect. I’ve gotten some criticism for this in the past because some people seem to think that it’s an awfully complicated way to raise a child, but the way I figure, if folks are sending their kids off to fancy preschools where they learn three different languages by the time they’re five, then surely my son has the aptitude to learn how to treat people like the individuals they are.

So far, so good. When he meets someone who presents a somewhat ambiguous gender identity, he doesn’t use a pronoun until that person has established how they identify. He says things like, “Some day, when I have a girlfriend, I want to be friends with her before I try to kiss her,” which tells me that a) he respects women as human beings, and b) he’s most likely heterosexual. However, he doesn’t assume everyone in the entire world is heterosexual. He corrects his peers when they use “gay” in place of “stupid.” He cannot wrap his mind around the concept of judging someone by the color of their skin. He personally doesn’t believe in God, but he doesn’t belittle other people’s religious beliefs or spiritual needs.

His teacher tells me he’s always the first to volunteer to help in the classroom and that students in the class who struggle—a little girl who doesn’t speak a word of English, a boy who is having trouble adapting to his new foster home, another little girl who has some behavioral issues—all know that they can sit next to him at lunch or play with him on the playground and that he will show them kindness and treat them with dignity.

It’s amazing what our kids have the ability to learn when we take the time to teach them.

KH: Who inspires you?

BP: I am really fortunate to be surrounded by truly inspiring people. The hands-down biggest source of inspiration in my life is my son. He’s honestly what motivates me to engage in a lot of my activism. There have been days where I’d rather shove a rusty screwdriver through my eye socket than call the people I need to or respond to emails or deal with idiots on the Facebook page— because as much as I love what this event is accomplishing, I’m more of a behind-the-scenes person. I don’t like being the go-to gal, and I don’t like being in the spotlight, but I want my son to have a better quality of life than I did, and that means positively shaping the world he will inherit. That ideology really pushes me to be my best and do my best.

I also recently engaged in a mutual respect-a-thon with a former college instructor of mine, Cassie Westfall. She taught a sociology course my first year back at school, and it opened my eyes to a lot of social problems that I had seen in action but didn’t have names for. I have a great adviser, Barb Hunter, who encouraged me to succeed in school and as an activist simply by having faith in my abilities, which was fairly new to me at the time. Now she’s like a second mom to me. She even occasionally nags me about appropriate professional attire, a concept the trailer park girl in me is still struggling to grasp. Both of these women have been instrumental in helping me articulate what I had experienced and continue to experience. It has been really empowering for me.

The people I’ve met and worked with throughout the process of organizing this event inspire me as well. I’ve met so many survivors, and they all have such unique experiences and perspectives. I feel like I’m learning from all of them, all of the time. And Robyn Montague and Claire Swinford, Kendra and David and the rest of the SEX+STL folks, Lindsay and Andie and Maddie and all the fashion show people, Michelle Mynx, and the AlphaWom ladies, and the people at Atomic Cowboy—it’s mind-blowing to me that so many people have come out to support this event, and I definitely couldn’t have done it without each and every person. I really think it’s an experience I’ll take with me going forward.

Oh, my boyfriend is pretty inspirational, too, but I’m not going to get publicly sappy about it or anything. As a couple, we just don’t do that sort of thing, but I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge him.

KH: What time is the march? Anything else going on that day?

BP: The march is at noon. The nice folks at AlphaWom will be there a little earlier to help people make signs, though we do recommend you bring your own. There will be workshops following, beginning at 3:00pm at the Fox Hole (inside Atomic Cowboy). Those should wrap up by 7:00pm, which is just in time for the Body Positive Fashion Show over at Novak’s (hosted by Miss Ohio Vintage and Missfits Magazine). We also have a burlesque showcase kicking off at 8:30pm, again at the Fox Hole.

KH: What are your future plans?

BP: I’m actually moving to New Orleans in August to finish my psych degree. After that, it’s off to grad school. I want to study Social Psychology—masculinity studies, interestingly enough.

SlutWalk Participants in Melbourne

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7 Comments

  1. “My involvement with SlutWalk was accidental. Robyn from TransHaven sent out a group Facebook message with a link to a news story about SlutWalk Toronto.” And..
    “: I get a lot of extremely misguided criticism from people who haven’t bothered to read the event description. Apparently things like literacy and critical thinking skills are fucking superpowers or something.”

    I was trying to find the FB St Louis Slut Walk event but wasn’t able to. I would like to say that the description of this event in St Louis is very watered down. It seems that the person promoting this event seems to think that slut walk is about all violence and it’s focus is very eschewed from it’s original intent. Very sad and maddening too. Because of this I will not be attending. Slut walk is not about all violence. It’s about women and rape and what they wear. So it would seem that even men that identify as women try to hijack our movement from us. =(

  2. See, I just got called a man again!! 😉

    Teresa, what you call “watered down” I call an attempt to reach out to people who might not ordinarily participate in this event. The primary focus of this event is sexual violence and slut-shaming. My responses on the message board and the workshop events leave no question about that, but in the interest of effective ally recruitment, I thought it was necessary to point out that sexual violence is related to respect and that, really, all violence is. It effectively demonstrates that feminism a univesal, as opposed to women’s only, issue in a concise and easy to understand way.

  3. So – I have no problem with the idea that NO means NO.. And I also have no problem with the idea that just because a woman dresses a certain way does not mean a man has the right to victimize her or even approach her in any other way but respectful. But how are you addressing the idea that all over the world women are using their bodies and looks as a way to manipulate men…giving them the impression they are interested just to get what they want? Shaking their asses just to get attention..The whole “woman shows cop cleavage” scenario just to get out of a ticket is VERY familiar to us. You and I both know it happens ALL the time and I believe this is a HUGE problem. Women know that men are visual beings… easily stimulated through their eye gates.. and easily manipulated by a woman’s sexuality. In these cases it is not JUST the mans responsibility to keep his distance but it is also a woman’s responsibility not to abuse her femininity.. her sexuality. How are you addressing this issue?

  4. Cherri – Mutual respect. Don’t manipulate or exploit people. Do unto others. Goes both ways. I look forward to learning about all the take away messages will be from this exciting day.

  5. We will have an entire workshop session dedicated to improving on the event. I think it will address some of the issues you’ve brought up. I fully acknowledge that we’re putting this plane together as it’s going down the runway, so I appreciate your thought points and your ultimate conclusion that it’s an event worthy of your support. 🙂

    I do have a couple of comments. First, we have made an effort to reach out to groups previously excluded from past feminist efforts– trans individuals, people of color and different socioeconomic groups, relgions, etc. In some cases, we’ve had tremendous success. In some cases, we’ve been completely ignored. Input as to how to reach underserved and underrepresented populations is most welcome, but I wanted to clarfiy that there has been a conscious effort to be as inclusive as possible. 🙂

    I don’t encourage attendees to wear provocative clothing. Some women do intend to use their clothing as a form of protest– we’ve had Arch Rival Rollergirls saying that they’re coming in uniform because they kick ass in the ring in their spandex, but they get leered at and intimidated at the grocery store in the same exact attire. Some women have expressed an intent to wear what they were assaulted in. Personally, I think that women using their attire as a form of protest is a wonderful idea, but as a movement, it seems counterintuitive to encourage attendees to dress any certain way.

    As far as the name goes, it stems from what the police officer in Toronto said and the fact that “slut” is the slur in question here. It’s not intended as a marketing ploy or anything of that nature, but given what we know about the media, it is a little bit like naming your kid Richard and not expecting the kids on the playground to call them Dick. 🙂

  6. March is at noon, presentations start at 3pm.

    Title: Feminism 101 -or- Corsets and Combat Boots: Together At Last
    Where: The Fox Hole (inside Atomic Cowboy)
    When: 3:00pm-3:20pm
    Hosted by: Brennan Peters, Director of SlutWalk St. Louis 2011

    Description: Many civil rights movements are maligned and misunderstood. The purpose of this workshop is to take an honest but light-hearted look at the truth about feminism—the myths behind the movement, its history, its shortcomings, effective ally-building, and the implications of gender equality on our future. The presentation will last approximately 15 minutes and will be followed by a question-and-answer session. **Please note: The 101 series is in no way a comprehensive overview of the concept addressed. It is meant to provide attendees with a base of knowledge from which to understand other workshop presentations and engage in further learning.**

    About the presenter: Brennan Peters is an activist, single parent, and returning adult college student. She is currently studying Social Psychology and has presented her work on transgender issues in medical care settings, cultural differences in perceptions of childhood sexual abuse, romantic “dealbreakers” and other topics at conferences for the Midwest Psychological Association, the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, and the American Psychological Association. She has also presented workshops and discussion panels on a wide variety of topics—ranging from commercial sex to partner violence in LGBT relationships—for a number of different groups and regularly engages in LGBT, sex positive, and feminist activism.

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    Title: Queer Theory 101 -or- We Are NOT All M/Fers

    Where: The Fox Hole (inside Atomic Cowboy)
    When: 3:25pm-3:45pm

    Hosted by: Brennan Peters, Director of SlutWalk St. Louis 2011

    Description: Our society perpetuates the idea that we all fit into very discrete categories—male or female, black or white, gay or straight—but science has long indicated that many aspects of the human experience exist on a continuum. This workshop will give a general rundown of those orientations and gender identities that lie outside the heterosexual, gender binary “norm.” The presentation will last approximately 15 minutes and will be followed by a question-and-answer session. **Please note: The 101 series is in no way a comprehensive overview of the concept addressed. It is meant to provide attendees with a base of knowledge from which to understand other workshop presentations and engage in further learning.**

    About the presenter: Brennan Peters is an activist, single parent, and returning adult college student. She is currently studying Social Psychology and has presented her work on transgender issues in medical care settings, cultural differences in perceptions of childhood sexual abuse, romantic “dealbreakers” and other topics at conferences for the Midwest Psychological Association, the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, and the American Psychological Association. She has also presented workshops and discussion panels on a wide variety of topics—ranging from commercial sex to partner violence in LGBT relationships—for a number of different groups and regularly engages in LGBT, sex positive, and feminist activism.

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    Title: Deconstructing Slut-Shaming 101 -or- Viva la libido!

    Where: The Fox Hole (inside Atomic Cowboy)
    When: 3:50pm-4:10pm
    Hosted by: Brennan Peters, Director of SlutWalk St. Louis 2011

    Description: American culture dictates that a person’s sexual behavior—real or perceived—is directly correlated to their morality or value as a human being. This session will deconstruct the word “slut,” take a look at why and how it is used in our culture, the factors that perpetuate slut-shaming, and what each and every one of us can do to end it. The presentation will last approximately 15 minutes and will be followed by a question-and-answer session. **Please note: The 101 series is in no way a comprehensive overview of the concept addressed. It is meant to provide attendees with a base of knowledge from which to understand other workshop presentations and engage in further learning.**

    About the presenter: Brennan Peters is an activist, single parent, and returning adult college student. She is currently studying Social Psychology and has presented her work on transgender issues in medical care settings, cultural differences in perceptions of childhood sexual abuse, romantic “dealbreakers” and other topics at conferences for the Midwest Psychological Association, the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, and the American Psychological Association. She has also presented workshops and discussion panels on a wide variety of topics—ranging from commercial sex to partner violence in LGBT relationships—for a number of different groups and regularly engages in LGBT, sex positive, and feminist activism.

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    Title: Congrats and Critiques: Feminist Perspectives of SlutWalk

    Where: The Fox Hole (inside Atomic Cowboy)
    When: 4:15pm-4:55pm
    Hosted by: AlphaWom

    Description: SlutWalk is one of the most rapidly growing women’s movements today with numerous people on board, yet so many others feel discouraged from participating. This presentation evaluates published praises and concerns that have been voiced from a diverse body within the feminist community, while highlighting social privileges surrounding the context of SlutWalk.

    Questions for audience to think about ahead of time:

    -Do you think people of different races and ethnicities are affected positively or

    negatively by SlutWalk? Why or why not?

    -Do you think reclaiming the word slut is damaging or helpful to the women’s

    movement?

    -Do you think SlutWalk is effective? How could it be improved or changed?

    -Why do you think SlutWalk has gained so much popularity as a global movement?

    -What do your sexual, racial, geographic, and economic privileges give you access to on a daily basis and how do they shape your interactions?

    About the presenters:

    Sarah, Jessica, Theresa:

    Three alpha females who are inspired by people with revolutionary humanitarian visions, boldly sharp tongues, and progressive social missions. We love nerding out to feminist literature, dancing to the beat, and embracing in free hugs.

    AlphaWom is a women’s initiative. Its composition is defined as, created by, and orchestrated for females who are looking to perform beyond what is socially accepted. It is a platform for women and girls to liberate and empower themselves and each bother by creating a strong female community that engenders discussion, education, and activism. Interweaving the principles of knowledge, creativity, leadership, self-efficacy and advocacy, we are cultivating one another and ourselves to promote the greater good of all women.

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    Title: “Who, Me?” The Rationale of Rapists

    Where: The Fox Hole (inside Atomic Cowboy)
    When: 5:00pm-5:40pm
    Hosted by: SEX+STL (Sex Positive St. Louis)

    Description: Can something as traumatic as rape ever be chalked up as a simple misunderstanding? How come so many “rapists” appear baffled at the suggestion that they have done something terribly wrong? Kendra Holliday of Sex Positive St. Louis explores how an intimate encounter involving two people can leave one person in need of months of therapy and the other in need of a cigarette. Holliday delves deep into her own personal experiences in order to shed light on this gross discrepancy and discuss how we can get more minds to match up with the meeting of bodies.

    About the presenter: Kendra Holliday is a 38-year-old bisexual atheist mother located in St. Louis, MO and the Editor of The Beautiful Kind. She is a passionate sexplorer when it comes to kinks, fetishes, BDSM, swinging, and polyamory. She is co-founder of Sex Positive St. Louis and an Alternative Lifestyle Advisor and Gynecological Teaching Associate for Washington University School of Medicine. She has been featured countless times in the local alternative weekly The Riverfront Times and is winner of the 2011 Web Award for Best Sex Blog. Her life experiences include monogamous marriage, divorce, sex work, parenthood, as well as being fired and sued for her sexuality. She is currently in a polyamorous BDSM relationship with her long-term partner, Matthew.

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    Title: Sexual Violence and Diversity: Views from a High-risk Community

    Where: The Fox Hole (inside Atomic Cowboy)
    When: 5:45pm-6:25pm
    Hosted by: TransHaven

    Description: A moderated interactive discussion of the impact of sexual violence, and the rape culture on diverse communities. Join two rape survivors, both of diverse backgrounds, to hear their views on the issue and to share your own. Sexual violence affects us all, and victim blaming affects us all. This is a forum for everyone, especially those who have ever felt left out of the debate.

    About the presenters: Robyn Carolyn Montague, who openly identifies as transsexual, is the Co-Founder and Chair of TransHaven, an all-volunteer social justice organization advocating Access, Safety and Respect for the Trans Community. She is also separately involved in the local and national Trans Community as an advocate for Trans Equality, and is an advocate for shelters and the care for the LGBT Homeless and for Anti-Violence issues. Robyn is a frequent speaker at public schools, universities, organizations and LGBT-related events and recently came out publicly as a person with disabilities and a sexual assault survivor.

    Claire Louise Swinford, an out member of the transgender community who self identifies as a sex+ queer, is a staffer at TransHaven focused on LGBT behavioral health and disabilities issues. A self-styled “crossroads” advocate, her work focuses predominantly on those areas where the LGBT and disabilities communities meet, with a strong focus on inclusion, legal protections, and healthcare access. When not engaged in political and social advocacy, she also works independently as a patients’ rights advocate focused on behavioral health, peer group facilitation, peer crisis counseling, HIV education, and outreach speaking on trans and disabilities issues. A native of Chicago, Claire currently splits her time between Tucson, Arizona and St. Louis.

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    Title: BD/SM and the Rest of the Alphabet: What Does it Mean, and What Does it Mean to You?

    Where: The Fox Hole (inside Atomic Cowboy)
    When: 6:30pm-7:25pm

    Hosted by: Bo

    Description: This workshop will cover the basics of what BDSM is and is not and some of the other terms that people use—both correctly and incorrectly. It will also touch on some of activities, interests, and preferences that are sometimes considered BDSM, but are, in reality, just kinks and lifestyle choices. **This is a good workshop for those curious to know more about BDSM and/or kink, either as a matter of curiosity or more personal interest.**

    About the presenter: Bo started in the lifestyle in 1989 in Phoenix, AZ at the age of 18. Little did he know where that path would lead. Today, he is The Proud Master of Bo’s Tinkertoy; they have been together for over four years. Bo is very proud of her and the growth she has shown over the years. Bo considers himself a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to the lifestyle; over the past 20 years he has learned—and played—a lot, but has narrowed his interests to the edgier side of play. He enjoys throwing fire, fire batons, and fire floggers. He also enjoys breath and blade play with his girl. He has been teaching and presenting on his favorite topics for about three years and hopes that those who attend his classes find them both enjoyable and informative.

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