Though each of the panels I attended was amazing and the knowledge invaluable, what I really got out of CatalystCon goes much deeper than learning more about sex toy reviewing and toxic toys, erotic sensation, feminist porn, prostate play, sex after age 50, business and marketing strategies, networking with colleagues, making new friends, and coming home with lots of goodies.
I’d heard of past Catalyst attendees experiencing “ccon drop,” and now I think I really understand what that means, at least for me. It doesn’t really mean ending an amazing educational weekend, or missing the new friends I made (though of course I will), and it doesn’t even describe the zombie-like state I was in for the first couple of days after I got back to Texas as I tried to catch up on sleeping, eating normally, and navigating in the “real world” where I can’t always be open with everyone or hug people I’ve just met and listen to their masturbation stories (PS don’t fall asleep with your Hitachi on!)
It’s more of a mix of humility, responsibility, and empathy. After hearing strong Catalyst leaders share their personal stories and tearing up during both Queerie Bradshaw’s emotional Bawdy performance and Joan Price’s panel, I realized that I need to let myself become more vulnerable so I can really connect with people. Throughout the weekend, I found myself telling stories about some of the more negative sex-related things that I haven’t shared on my blog. These things, and others that I have a hard time talking about to anyone, are the ones I should explore more, and I’m determined to push myself to speak up about topics that go beyond my comfort zone.
During the Opening Keynote, Yoseñio V. Lewis talked about how we need to unite, to help and learn from each other, instead of dividing ourselves into isolated groups. He told us about how he realized that an issue he didn’t initially consider directly related to him—the issue of women’s reproductive rights, was actually what he was also fighting for—autonomy and control of his own body.
He challenged us to all to go out and learn about something we think doesn’t apply to us at all, so that we’ll realize that in it in fact does apply to us, that these are human issues we’re fighting for, not women’s issues, or trans issues, not sex worker issues, or feminist issues, not your issues or my issues. They’re our issues. And when we can all come together, as we did briefly at Catalyst, that’s when we’ll really have the power to make a difference.