Thursday, January 20, 2011

Oregon State Uninvites Tristan Taormino as Keynote Speaker

As many if not most of you know, Tristan Taormino is known in the poly world for authoring the book Opening Up.  Tristan is a prolific writer, a passionate sex educator, and a dynamic speaker, especially on issues having to do with sexual freedom.  Despite her amazing credentials, she has just been done a great injustice.  Oregon Statue University, which recruited her as keynote speaker months ago, has now gone back on its commitment, citing as the reason Tristan's "resume and website." 

Now one would think that an institution of higher learning like this one would make sure to do due diligence on its keynote speaker BEFORE sealing the deal to be sure the speaker is right for their conference.  But not so with OSU - go figure.   

If you support free speech and Tristan Taormino's mission of sexual empowerment, please voice your opinion to the people listed below about OSU’s last minute decision to cancel her appearance as keynote speaker at it's Modern Sex conference next month and not reimburse her for travel expenses - see press release below for details.

Thanks for your supporting Tristan and her work.


Write to the following (Press Release with details below.)

Larry Roper
Vice Provost for Student Affairs
632 Kerr Administration Building
Corvallis, OR 97331-2154
541-737-3626 (phone)
541-737-3033 (fax)

Dr. Mamta Motwani Accapadi
Dean of Student Life
A200 Kerr Administration Building
Corvallis, OR 97331-2133
541-737-8748 (phone)
541-737-9160 (fax)
twitter: @deanmamta

Dr. Edward J. Ray
600 Kerr Administration Building
Corvallis, OR 97331-2128
541-737-4133 (phone)
541-737-3033 (fax) email:


January 19, 2011

Tristan Taormino

Award-winning author, columnist, sex educator, and filmmaker Tristan Taormino was set to be the keynote speaker at Oregon State University’s Modern Sex conference, scheduled for February 15-16, 2011. Yesterday, she was uninvited by a university representative, who cited her resume and website as the reason.

On October 28, 2010, organizers of the OSU Modern Sex conference booked Taormino to give the keynote talk; they confirmed the date and agreed to fees, and Tristan’s management received a first draft of the contract on November 1. That contract was incomplete and sent back to OSU for revisions. As with many negotiations, the contract was pending as all the paperwork got done, but in late December, OSU again confirmed Tristan’s appearance and conference organizers told her manager to purchase airline tickets, for which OSU would be reimburse her.

On Tuesday, January 18, 2011, Steven Leider, Director of the Office of LGBT Outreach and Services contacted Colten Tognazzini, Tristan Taormino’s manager, to say that the conference had come up short on funding. Tognazzini told him that since the travel was booked and the time reserved, they could work with whatever budget they did have. Leider said that would not be possible: “We have to cancel Ms. Taormino’s appearance due to a lack of funding. It has been decided that OSU cannot pay Ms. Taormino with general fee dollars, because of the content of her resume and website.” At OSU, ‘general fee dollars’ include taxpayer dollars given to the University by the Oregon State Legislature to defray various costs. They differ from ‘student activity dollars,’ which are part of every student’s tuition and help fund student groups and activities.

Taormino’s resume includes her seven books on sex and relationships, the 18 anthologies she has edited, numerous television appearances from CNN to The Discovery Channel, and her award-winning adult films. She was a columnist for The Village Voice for nearly ten years and has given more than 75 lectures at top colleges and universities including Yale, Princeton, Cornell, Brown, NYU and Columbia. Her website,, includes sex education information, advice, and information about the films she directs for Vivid Entertainment, one of the largest adult companies in the country.

“In my ten years of booking Tristan at colleges and universities, of course there has been some controversy. But I have never had a university cancel like this last minute,” says Colten Tognazzini, Taormino’s manager. “It’s not unusual for contract negotiations to drag on. Once they confirmed we should book her travel, I felt comfortable the event was a done deal. I continued to work with them in good faith that a signed contract would be forthcoming. I believe that the conference organizers’ hands are tied, and this decision came from much higher up. They have cancelled with less than a month’s notice during Tristan’s busiest season. She gave up other opportunities to go to Oregon. Without a signed contract, we may have no recourse, and were told we will not be reimbursed for her travel.”

Tognazzini spoke to a source at OSU who speculated that the University feared that when it went before the legislature in regards to future funding, legislators would use OSU’s funding of a “pornographer” on campus as ammunition to further cut budgets. This source, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Tognazzini, “I think they’re uninviting Tristan because they don’t want to have to defend her appearance to conservative legislators.”

“I’m extremely disappointed that OSU has decided to cancel my appearance. I’ve been protested before, but never uninvited. I have never misrepresented who I am or what I do. I am proud of all the work I do, including the sex education films and feminist pornography I make,” says Taormino. “The talk I planned to give at this conference, titled “Claiming Your Sexual Power” has nothing to do with porn, but the porn is such an easy target for anti-sex conservatives and censors. I find it ironic that one of the missions of the conference is to understand diverse perspectives of sexuality. Apparently, my perspective—one of educating and empowering people around their sexuality—isn’t welcome at OSU.”

If OSU students and others still want to hear Taormino speak, she will be teaching two workshops at She Bop ( in Portland on February 13 and 14. “She Bop supports a healthy perspective on sex and sexuality and we are proud to have Tristan Taormino present two years in a row at our shop in Portland. Tristan is a leading educator paving the way for others to help break down the stigma around sex in this country. It is part of our mission as a female friendly adult shop to support sexual empowerment and growth,” say co-owners Jeneen Doumitt and Evy Cowan.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

More on Sex Addiction in Sex-positive Culture

I've been talking about this subject online in several different forums, and wow, does it make some people cranky - not only that, but some also outright reject the idea that sex addiction even exists. If only.

As irritating as it is to know how much criticism and false accusations are made toward we in the sex-positive world, it's easy to question the concept of sex addiction. But it's a very real emotional illness for a lot of people that eventually turns their world upside down. Many desperately wish they could stop but find that they can't. Instead they compulsively take greater and greater amounts of risk to get a very temporary sense of satisfaction that soon turns to guilt and shame. There is a general sense that if people *really* knew who they were, they would be rejected and ostracized.

This is not just true of vanilla mainstreamers but is also just as true for some in the sex-positive world. In many cases our more open attitudes is what draws sex addicts to the BDSM, swing and polyamory communities. It's a cycle that keeps repeating itself as feelings of shame cause anxiety to build which acts as a trigger to act out again. And around and around it goes.

The risks are significant:

• Getting STIs and bringing them home to unsuspecting partners;

• Being arrested having public sex or hiring a pro off the street;

• Getting caught surfing porn and masturbating at work and losing one's job;

• The financial drain on the family by paying for pros, porn, phone sex, etc.;

• Loss of time spent acting out needed for maintaining healthy relationships;

• Humiliation at having one's addiction publicly exposed - you don't have to be Tiger Woods or David Duchovny to have that problem - and to friends and family; and

• Risk of losing intimate partners who feel betrayed about what has been going on without their knowledge or consent.

Sex addiction is growing at a rapid pace due to the easy availability of sexual goods, services and hookups via the internet. Yes, we all know that these can be used in healthy ways. If you do any of this and it doesn't cause you problems, they you aren't a sex addict. You're sex positive - good for you!

Still, this affliction most definitely exists in our own communities, likely in much larger numbers than any of us suspect. It doesn't get talked about by the addicts because of fear of being ostracized.  Their partners don't talk about it due to the shame and self-doubt it raises for them about their own desirability. Codependence is rampant, just as much as with any other kind of addiction.

This is not to raise fear but instead awareness and compassion for those who suffer from feeling out of control around their sexuality, and for their partners who must find a way to deal with betrayal and doubt about themselves and about their partner's love and commitment. If you are an SA or the partner of one and would like to talk, confidentiality is assured, just drop me a line at