IT’S not often you see Snapchat and sexual health education in the same sentence. But that didn’t stop social media influencer and entrepreneur James Kavanagh. Two years ago, he started posting vlogs. “I was trying to teach young people how to be safe, about the different STIs and how you can get them. I was also talking about the different clinics you can go to to get checked regularly if you’re engaging in sex,” says the 29-year-old who lives in Dublin.
He found a lot of confusion among young followers. It’s the result, he believes, of an uneven sex education programme in schools which in some cases is influenced the school’s religious ethos.
But it’s not only the education system we need to change. Parents have a role to play too, he says. And the more matter of fact, the better. “Talk to your kids about sex like you’re talking to them about the weather. Everyone has sex that’s how the human race continues.”
He has teamed up with Durex and HIV Ireland to drive awareness of the international ‘give a f**k’ campaign. Durex has partnered with nonprofit organisation, (RED), to support its mission to end AIDS. For the month of November, funds raised from the sale of all limited-edition Durex (RED) condoms will go directly towards a programme in South Africa where it’s estimated there are 7.2m people living with HIV. Durex has pledged to make a donation of at least $5m (€4.4m) to The Global Fund via the partnership with The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation offering to match this amount.
James is happy to get the message out. “I do it because sexual health is an area we all need to take seriously, in Ireland and internationally.” What shape are you in? I’m in really good shape — I see a personal trainer three times a week. I have 30-minute sessions each time. I am rubbish when it comes to going to the gym and selfmotivation. I need someone to beat me around for short bursts.
I walk absolutely everywhere which is kind of to my detriment because I’m trying to bulk up. I’m quite thin.
What are your healthiest eating habits?
I eat a lot of oily fish — I love fish in general. I always was really good at eating vegetables. With our food business, we are cooking a lot — we gear it towards organic and local producers. I eat fish about three or four times a week. I eat red meat and chicken very rarely.
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
A glass of Spanish Albarino white wine every night. What would keep you awake at night? I am not a good sleeper. Because I work for myself, there is always a bit of anxiousness around when the next job is coming and so on. How do you relax? I get into bed at about nine with my glass of white wine, cat Diana — a sphinx, one of those hairless cats — and watch Netflix on my laptop. What’s your favourite smell? I am crazy about candles. Vanilla tends to be the one I use the most. I burn it in my bedroom — I find it really calming and indulgent. I like the range Considered by Helen James in Dunnes.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Enya, Louis Theroux, Anne Doyle — she’s loads of fun — Emma Thompson — love her — and Oprah because she can help solve all our problems.
What would you like to change about your appearance?
I’d like to bulk up.
When is the last time you cried?
Yesterday, I watched the new documentary on Netflix about the marriage referendum — it’s called The 34th. My boyfriend William and I watched it and bawled.
What traits do you least like in others?
I hate untidiness. William is a great cook but very untidy. We’re together six years which is a lifetime for me, previous relationships lasted only a year.
What traits do you least like about yourself?
I don’t have a great sense of urgency. I tend to put things off to the last second which I hate. I’d like to be more organised. Do you pray? I’m into meditation. I try to do it every day, but it’s usually every second day. I simply sit on the floor breathe for about three minutes and try an connect with my breathing. It’s probably the longest time in my day when I don’t have my phone in my hand.
What would cheer up your day?
When I get my coffee after lunch. In Dublin, it’s 3fe coffee but when I’m in Cork, Soma on Tuckey St is my favourite.
“I am crazy about candles”
EDUCATE TOGETHER: Sexual health is an area we all need to take seriously, in Ireland and internationally, say James Kavanagh.