Starting this Wednesday, The Union for Gender Empowerment (UGE) and Queer McGill are holding Rad Sex Week – announced as a “week long anti-oppressive, trans- and queer-positive feminist adventure into gender, sexuality, sexual health and activism.” Since 2009, the organizers have presented a diverse program every year, featuring workshops, discussions, talks, and performances centred on sex and sexuality. Lily Hoffman, a member of the UGE, explained, “We want to promote a more open and tolerant attitude toward sex and sexuality […] I personally feel that at McGill most conversations about sex are superficial and that there are substantial lacks of knowledge about less conventional sex practices, and trans* and intersex people.” Rad Sex Week is intended to change the attitudes of students toward sexuality and create an in-depth discussion about sexual diversity.
Rad Sex Week is a well-established highlight of the UGE’s and Queer McGill’s activities. The aim of both groups is to enhance the position of women, queer, trans* and intersex people, and to encourage an open conversation on campus. In addition to being home to different working groups, the organizations offer an alternative library, as well as alternative contraception and menstruation products available by donation. During the Rad Sex Week, they work with external partners – including Stella, l’amie de Maimie (an organization representing and supporting sex workers), two Montreal-based drag artists, the Alternative Lifestyles Community Centre, and sexual health educators involved in the Sense Project and Head & Hands – in order to reach a broader audience. On Monday, Clinic L’Actuel will set up HIV tests and be ready to answer questions about sexual health.
The workshops will deal with the political aspects of sex, romance, and different conceptions of intimate relationships, and address questions around sex and safety issues in general. They offer an open and non-judgmental environment for trans* people to discuss shared concerns, and attempt to offer an insight into drag to interested people. Intersexuality and where that fits in our conventional understanding of sexuality is another topic treated during the week. Some of the more hands-on events give an introduction to erotic practices like kink, waxing, and bondage. The Slippery Slope Cabaret on Thursday will be a highlight, according to Sabine Grutter, Resource Coordinator at Queer McGill. As stated on the Facebook event page, the play will be a “sexy and provocative animal-themed extravaganza of burlesque, drag, and sex-positive performance” looking at conservative societal attitudes and fears toward everything that is not heterosexually monogamous.
All workshops will be held in English, with the exception of “Intersex Realities,” which offers the option of whisper translation. The locations are spread over the McGill downtown campus and are mostly wheelchair accessible.
Rad Sex Week’s will have daily free events from February 19 to 27. Check out the Facebook event for more details.