WiseBodies, A Safe Space To Discuss Sexual Health, Presents a Blockbuster Event
Human beings have had bodies for as long as there have been human beings. And yet, there is still so much shame and confusion attached to having one. What woman hasn’t felt the need to “hide” a tampon or pad, or the fact that she’s having her period at all? What young person hasn’t been too embarrassed to ask questions about sex and sexuality? That curiosity doesn’t stop when puberty does — new issues arise with menopause, with each new partner, when someone who is transgender takes a step toward transition. Sometimes the internet is the only place a person can turn for answers. WiseBodies has a better way.
The Chatham, New York-based nonprofit organization was created six years ago by Isa Coffey, a longtime nurse and sex educator, in order to create a safe, shame-free environment where students of any age could learn whole-body health, and where no questions were off limits.
“WiseBodies is about creating safe spaces to talk about tough subjects,” says Sherry Jo Williams, one of WiseBodies Hudson-based board members. “We live in the future, and in the future there are an increasing number of children and adults who are gender non-conforming, gay, straight, etc.” Williams believes that everyone deserves to have as much information as they can in order to make empowered decisions.
In 2011, after a hiatus of 20 years, New York State made sex education mandatory in all public schools, but word is still out on if the law is being enforced and what exactly the classes cover. In addition, a classroom full of their peers is often not an ideal place for a student’s most sensitive questions. WiseBodies has stepped into that void with classes for children and teens, and their parents if they choose to attend, where students learn about anatomy, intimacy and consent, and gender identity. This past summer, the nonprofit ran its first successful summer camps.
The organization also offers women-only classes, and evening Sex Talk workshops with guest speakers. They partner with Hudson’s Kite's Nest, Perfect Ten, Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood, and the Staley B. Keith Social Justice Center. A huge part of the WiseBodies curriculum is focused on training the next generation of “brilliant sexuality educators” through its apprentice program.
In her role as board treasurer, Williams has been tasked with organizing the inaugural WiseBodies fundraiser, and she and local filmmaker Lisa Thomas have planned a “blockbuster evening.” On Saturday, Sept. 29 at 1 p.m., the Crandell Theatre will screen Thomas’ film THIRSTY, followed by a Q&A session with Thomas and the film’s star, Scott Townsend (a.k.a. drag queen Thirsty Burlington).
The film follows Townsend from his early days growing up as a “girly-boy” in the projects of Cambridge, Mass., where he survived bullying and assault, to his current life as a revered drag queen and Cher-impersonator in Provincetown. Hailed as “a true-life musical adventure as dramatic as it is entertaining,” the 2016 film has won numerous awards, including the grand jury prize at the Portland Film Festival, and best picture at the Boston LGBT Film Festival, the Harlem International Film Festival and the Wicked Queer Film Festival.
Later that same evening, Townsend will perform as Thirsty Burlington at Hudson’s Or Gallery & Tavern, along with local entertainer Girlgantua, and musicians Ryder Cooley and The Dust Bowl Faeries, beginning at 8 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 29 at 1 p.m.
THIRSTY Screening and Q&A at Crandell Theatre, Chatham, NY
Adults $20. Seniors & Students $10.
Saturday, Sept. 29 at 8 p.m.
Performance by Thirsty Burlington, Girlgantua & Dust Bowl Faeries
Or Gallery & Tavern, Hudson, NY
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