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Blind adults

Explore Your Sensuality with Renowned Sexologist Dr. Carol Queen

Explore Your Sensuality with Renowned Sexologist Dr. Carol Queen

“People are only afraid of the things they don’t fully understand,” says LightHouse Sexual Health Services Program Coordinator Laura Millar.

Laura is speaking to the stigma around sexuality, and more specifically the stigma faced by people who are blind or low vision when navigating their sexuality — one she has set out to address in our community via her brand new LightHouse sexuality workshops for adults and youth.

“With blindness and with sexuality, there is the fear and the unknown,” she says. “These workshops offer permission for exploration, because it’s brought out into the light. I want to give people permission, to say it’s okay to talk about the range of possibilities within sexuality.”

Laura’s upcoming December 8th workshop for adults, Exploring Sensuality, Sexuality & Erogenous Zones with Dr. Carol Queen, is a particularly exciting one. Laura and Dr. Queen have worked together to craft a fun and educational workshop tailored to blind or low vision individuals who wish to explore sexuality in a safe, supportive and non-judgmental space. The workshop is open to all participants regardless of gender, sexual orientation, sexual experience or relationship status.

Coming to us as a representative of Good Vibrations sex shop, Dr. Carol Queen is an author, editor, sociologist and sexologist active in the sex-positive feminism movement. She is also a staff sexologist at Good Vibrations and curator of the Antique Vibrator Museum, as well as director of the Center for Sex and Culture in San Francisco. She is known for her award-winning personal essays and books including The Sex & Pleasure Book: Good Vibrations Guide to Great Sex for Everyone and Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture.

Armed with a wide array of experience speaking on many topics of sexuality, Dr. Queen hopes to center our blind and low vision students’ nerves and fears and normalize the range of human sexual experience. Her approach is a sex-positive one, which emphasizes welcoming and exploring the many variations of human sexuality. We spoke to Dr. Queen this week about the upcoming LightHouse Sexuality workshop, and she had some great insights.

“What would it take for everyone to have access to what they need to have happy, pleasurable sexuality?” says Dr. Queen. “We live in a culture that tends not to give us enough diverse and useful information about sex, especially sexual pleasure but even sexual health. From that flows questions of different needs and respecting specialized needs that may be relevant, including sexual orientation, finding appropriate partners, communication, sexual health and being sure that we operate in an atmosphere of consent. There are so many pieces of the puzzle.”

We don’t think that blind or low vision people need a separate space to learn about sexuality, but we’re doing these classes at LightHouse because we know that certain widely used visual resources are inaccessible to our community — and when it comes to sex, it’s not always easy to ask the questions that need answering.

Both Laura and Dr. Queen hope this will be a space of mutual learning and trust. There will be no nudity or partnered exercise, so don’t fret! Dr. Queen hopes to incorporate speaking exercises and some individual touch, but the emphasis is on education, discussion and openness. Various tactile tools will be provided by Good Vibrations.

“It’s about agency and understanding yourself,” says Dr. Queen. “The aim is to give people a way of thinking about sensuality and pleasure and the body, because those things are important to any person, no matter what kind of body they live in.”

Laura adds: “The best tool I can give people (blind or sighted) is the opportunity to explore the wisdom of their own bodies and to trust what they feel — to get them out of their heads and into their bodies.”

LightHouse is honored to work with Good Vibrations and Dr. Queen, and it seems the feeling is mutual!

“It’s an honor to work with an organization that means so much to people,” says Dr. Queen. “I got a tour the other day and I was really blown away by how thoroughly LightHouse tackles the work that they do. I run a small nonprofit and I can’t even imagine being as fabulous as you all when we group up. It’s an honor to learn from you all and participate and bring something over.”

Please RSVP to Laura Millar at info@lighthouse-sf.org or call 415-431-1481.

Exploring Sensuality, Sexuality & Erogenous Zones with Dr. Carol Queen

When: Thursday, December 8, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Where: LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired Headquarters
1155 Market St., 10th Floor,
San Francisco, 94103

Who: Adults (ages 18 and older) who are blind or have low vision. You may bring an adult guest with you.

Cost: Free to attend.

Hang Out with Friends and Potential Mentors at 30% and Growing

Hang Out with Friends and Potential Mentors at 30% and Growing

Photo:  Members of the 30% and Growing Club hang out at the Albatross Pub in Berkeley: (Left to right) Aly Slaughter, Laura Millar, Josh Miele, Christina Daniels and Event Coordinator Serena Olsen.

Depending on where you get your statistics, 57-70% of working-age blind people are unemployed. But what if we turned that statistic on its head? What if, instead of agonizing over the dauntingly high unemployment rate among blind people, we reframe and consider that at least 30% of blind people are fully employed? Well we’ve done just that. On the third Thursday of each month, the LightHouse celebrates working blind people at our 30% & Growing blind professionals networking meet-ups in San Francisco and the East Bay.

In a thriving metropolis like the Bay Area, every conceivable profession has a meet up group, but where do aspiring-to-be-fully-employed blind people have the same opportunity?

30% & Growing creates that space where being a fully employed blind person is perfectly normal. It’s a space where busy working blind people can take a quick time out to connect with their peers, enjoy some libations, and argue with their friends about current events—just like any other worker bees at the end of a work day.

With 30% & Growing, we intend to grow the ranks of our fully employed working-age blind people by leveraging this tremendous resource for those coming up in the ranks or even thinking about it. Blind job seekers now have this monthly resource available to them allowing them to learn from those that came before them and cull advice about their professions of interest and the unique experience of navigating a career as a blind person.

But we don’t just network – we laugh a lot. We’re serious and social, taking in the buzz of a variety of local watering holes and restaurants across San Francisco and the East Bay, sampling craft beers, wines or cocktails and sating our palate with light snacks and appetizers. More importantly, 30% and Growing offers connection, dialogue, relationships, and community, and a time and place to go out with friends and colleagues for happy hour, just like any other hard-working tax payer.

For information on upcoming gatherings please contact Serena Olsen, Adult Program Coordinator, at solsen@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7316.

World of Sex Workshop Series

World of Sex Workshop Series

Photo: Portrait of Workshop Leader Laura Millar

Join LightHouse Sexual Health Services Program Coordinator Laura Millar, MPH, M.A., as she guides you in our groundbreaking series focusing on sex and sexuality. We will explore different sex-positive communities, lifestyle sub-cultures and the organizations that serve them.

To start the series off we invite you to the following workshop and field trip this month.

Introduction to BDSM
Adults (ages 18 and older) who are blind or have low vision. You may bring an adult guest with you.
When: Thursday, September 22, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Where: the new LightHouse Building, 1155 Market St., 10th Floor, San Francisco, 94103

This workshop is designed to demystify BDSM and introduce participants to topics related to BDSM. The presenter is a member the Society of Janus. There will be plenty of time for discussion and Q & A.

For more information or to sign up, please contact Laura Millar via e-mail at info@lighthouse-sf.org or telephone415-431-1481.

Field Trip to the Folsom Street Fair
For those still curious and wanting to learn more about BDSM and the fetish community, we will be taking a group of participants, and sex positive volunteers out to the Folsom Street Fair.

Folsom Street Fair is an annual BDSM and leather subculture fair that takes place every September. It provides a safe space for self-expression and entertainment and is open to the public. Please note that this event is for adults only and is mature in content. If you are unfamiliar with BDSM or the Folsom street fair and would like to go with us, we highly recommend you attend the introductory workshop on Thursday, September 22. Also please note, there is a $10 suggested donation to enter the fair; proceeds raised benefit local sex positive charities and public health agencies.

Who: Adults (ages 18 and older) who are blind or have low vision. You may bring an adult guest with you.
When: Sunday, September 25
Where: We will meet at the LightHouse Building, 1155 Market St., 10th Floor, San Francisco, 94103
The fair location is on Folsom Street, between 8th and 13th streets.

Pre-Opening Tour: All who wish to do a guided tour of the fair before it is open to the public, please meet at the LightHouse between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m. We will walk about 15 minutes and then take a 45 minute tour of the fair. We will then return to the LightHouse to pick up those who wish to experience the fair itself.

Attending the Fair:
If you would like to attend the fair itself, meet at the LightHouse at 10:30 a.m. We will walk about 15 minutes and then meet up with sex-positive LightHouse volunteers who can be your sighted guide as you explore the fair. At 12:30 p.m. those who wish to return to the LightHouse with the group will meet while those who wish to stay may do so.

For more information or to sign up, please contact Laura Millar via e-mail at info@lighthouse-sf.org or telephone 415-431-1481.

About the Workshop Leader

Laura Millar joins the LightHouse team as the Program Coordinator for Sexual Health Services. Legally blind herself with a Master of Public Health as well as a Masters in Sexuality Studies, she will be conducting research that examines how individuals with vision loss learn about and navigate the world of dating, sex and intimate relationships. In this role she will be offering workshops, trainings and in-services for individuals who are blind or have low vision, their family members and the organizations that serve them, ensuring that sexual health information and services are comprehensive, inclusive and accessible for everyone.

The LightHouse is pleased to be in a unique position to expand its services in this area. We know that for many, just talking about sex and sexual health can make many people feel uncomfortable. For people experiencing vision loss and the professionals that serve them, navigating these sensitive conversations poses its own unique set of challenges. Laura is here to help make those conversations a little easier for everyone. If you have questions about Laura’s role, the work she will be doing, or would like to talk to her please feel free to e-mail her at info@lighthouse-sf.org or call her at 415-431-1481. She would love to hear from you.

If you have other topics you would like to propose for the World of Sex series, or ideas about how to be more involved with this series please contact Laura Millar via e-mail at info@lighthouse-sf.org or telephone 415-431-1481.