Sex Down South Con­fer­ence comes to At­lanta in Oc­to­ber

Di­verse sec­ond an­nual event takes on ‘the pol­i­tics of plea­sure’

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The sec­ond an­nual Sex Down South Con­fer­ence prom­ises plenty of live demon­stra­tions, work­shops, par­ties and play. It also prom­ises pol­i­tics.

For many, this year’s elec­tion is not filled with any form of plea­sure. In a time of so­cial me­dia and 24-hour news cy­cles, the cam­paign sea­son has de­volved into a he said, she said ca­coph­ony of bit­ter­ness, anger, frus­tra­tion and in­cred­u­lous­ness.

The styles and his­to­ries of the two can­di­dates, how­ever, un­mask their plea­sure prin­ci­ples, said Marla Re­nee Ste­wart, co-founder of the Sex Down South Con­fer­ence that em­braces the sea­son with “The Pol­i­tics of Plea­sure” theme.

“Peo­ple not only voted for Pres­i­dent Obama for his pol­i­tics. They voted for him be­cause he was plea­sur­able … we would see him happy and in­ter­act­ing with peo­ple,” Ste­wart said. “When we have that hap­pi­ness, it af­fects our ideals.”

Trump, Clin­ton plea­sures an­a­lyzed

Don­ald Trump’s brash, no-non­sense way of ex­press­ing him­self, of not hold­ing back and say­ing what he thinks with­out fear of ret­ri­bu­tion, is an­other form of plea­sure, Ste­wart said.

“He’s be­ing up­front and blunt, even though some state he is racist. He ex­presses him­self freely. That’s im­por­tant,” she said. “Who­ever we are, we want to ex­press our­selves freely.”

With Hil­lary Clin­ton, whose en­tire ca­reer has been in pub­lic ser­vice, the plea­sure comes from a dif­fer­ent place.

“Her plea­sure comes from ser­vice, helping other peo­ple,” Ste­wart said. “Her whole ca­reer is about get­ting plea­sure from helping other peo­ple.”

State Rep. Park Can­non (D-At­lanta), a self-iden­ti­fied queer leg­is­la­tor, will also be wel­com­ing con­fer­ence at­ten­dees via video and to dis­cuss how the per­sonal is po­lit­i­cal. Na­tional, state and lo­cal pol­i­tics and poli­cies are not on the agenda at the three-day con-

Septem­ber 30, 2016

fer­ence, how­ever. Ste­wart ex­pects to draw 400 peo­ple this year.

Build­ing on last year’s con­fer­ence, di­ver­sity

More than 50 pre­sen­ters and work­shops as well as “Sex Celebs” will be on hand to guide at­ten­dees through pre­sen­ta­tions on kink, BDSM, race and sex­u­al­ity, re­pro­duc­tive jus­tice, trans­gen­der and gen­derqueer sex­u­al­i­ties and more.

“What I learned from last year is that we have some hard­core sex­u­al­ity en­thu­si­asts,” said Ste­wart, owner of Vel­vet Lips and a pro­fes­sion- al sex, in­ti­macy and re­la­tion­ship coach.

Last year’s in­au­gu­ral con­fer­ence tended to pro­vide many 101 classes – but at­ten­dees this year are more of a 201 crowd.

“They’ve learned the basics al­ready and now they want more. I feel very for­tu­nate we are able to pro­vide this for them,” Ste­wart said.

The con­fer­ence also fo­cuses on marginal­ized com­mu­ni­ties – peo­ple of color, peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, trans­gen­der and gen­der non­con­form­ing in­di­vid­u­als. Ste­wart and busi­ness part­ner and co-founder Tia Marie wanted to en­sure their con­fer­ence pro­vided re­sources for peo­ple who may be left out of other sex and sex­u­al­ity con­fer­ences.

“We want to en­sure that any­body who is marginal­ized is in the cen­ter of in­quiry,” Ste­wart said.

What also sets the Sex Down South Con­fer­ence apart from other sex­u­al­ity con­fer­ences is the en­cour­age­ment of live demon­stra­tions in the work­shops.

“Peo­ple need prac­ti­cal ex­am­ples,” Ste­wart said.

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