I had the pleasure of interviewing Elicia Gonzales, the co-founder of Sex X. Think Ted Talks, but cooler. Her mission? Promote sexual freedom as a basic and fundamental right afforded to all. YES, PLEASE.
This visionary kickstarted events in Philly to provide a safe space for people to learn, heal and have fun. You can join her at the next Sex X event on May 17th. Here’s what Elicia has to say about her cause and how she stays motivated in the hustle.
How did SEXx begin?
One day in 2014, I sat watching a dear friend and Philly community leader, Chris Bartlett, do a brilliant TEDx talk. I was so inspired, I texted my friend Dr. Timaree Schmit that very moment to ask, “hey, whattya think about doing a ‘TEDx’ event based solely on sex?” “Awesome, let’s do this” she exclaimed. SEXx was born.
Cut to several weeks later when we hosted our first event at William Way to a standing-room-only audience. We chose to host it in May in honor of National Masturbation Month. Yep. It’s an actual holiday.
It started in 1995 by the amazing folks at Good Vibrations in California in response to Dr. Jocelyn Elders, then U.S. Surgeon General, being fired for merely suggesting masturbation be taught in sex ed.
What can you expect when you attend your first SEXx event?
You can expect to have your mind blown. Completely. I’m not saying that because I helped to create SEXx. But the people who come to talk and perform are truly sexual revolutionaries who teach us that sex is WAY more than a penis going in a hole.
Sexuality is spiritual, it’s erotic, it’s painful, it’s healing, it’s essential, it’s a burden, it’s complex, it’s powerful. It’s all of these things. It’s none of these things. And so much more.
People who attend an SEXx event get to connect with other people who are curious and trying to be better humans.
Dope. What’s the most memorable thing that’s happened to you at a SEXx event?
Each event is slightly different from another so all are memorable in their own way. One thing we love is that we bring together a beautiful mosaic of people. So different from other sexuality conferences or events that cater to JUST academics, or JUST artists – we really try to bring everyone together.
What’s memorable is that you are going to listen to someone who otherwise comes from an underrepresented community. We hear from people who do sex work, people who are transgender, people who reclaim their bodies and abuse through Kink, people who did not necessarily go to school to study sexuality.
What’s memorable is that we are making real, complex talks accessible for folks.
That’s beyond rad. So, how do you pull it off? Tell me about your team. How do you stay motivated?
The team is everything. Period. We are a collective of educators, poets, artists, performers, professors, public figures. We are a collective so we make decisions as a group – rather than just by one or two people.
We meet in person (usually over pizza and cocktails) but aren’t about meeting just to meet. If we can handle stuff via phonecall or email, we’re all about that. We are all busy with lots of things (I am a concierge with My Secret Soiree, for example). So we get shit done. And keep it movin’.
Brilliant. Let’s talk about motivation. What gets you out of bed in the morning? As an entrepreneur, I’m always curious about other people’s process. How do you find a balance between work and wellness?
I really subscribe to what Audre Lorde said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” It becomes challenging when the work feeds my soul, though. So when the work comes from the heart, it can feel like wellness. I am really on a “path of purpose and profit.” This is my life’s work. So I have to be mindful of how I nourish myself so that I can endure for the long-haul.
Wow. I can totally relate to that, but it’s amazing to hear it in someone else’s words.
I have learned as I have gotten older the art of saying “No.” As women we are socialized to be there for everyone and everything. But now I try to be more intentional with my commitments – what is its purpose? What would it mean to say “no” and would I just be saying “yes” because I feel obligated (read: I don’t want to disappoint or “Look bad” in that person’s eyes.) You gotta let tha shit go. It is toxic.
Hell yes. So, what are your self-care rituals?
You tell me – given that I co-founded SEXx and talk with women about self-pleasure. J
In all seriousness, I am a Scorpio, so sexual expression and experiences are my life force. I read recently that scientifically, women are our creative, productive, fiery best when we are sexually satisfied. So – I really have a moral obligation to society to take good “care” (wink wink, nudge nudge).
Self-care for me is about finding joy. That joy can come from chillin’ in my back yard looking at the birds, singing karaoke at home with my boo, catching up with friends, or Netflix binging. Self-care is about disconnecting and recharging.
What makes you feel powerful?
When I am mindful, intentional, and recognize that when I LIVE MY TRUTH, the Universe clears a path and magic happens. That’s when I feel powerful. When things feel organic, when I am joyful, when I connect deeply with others. That’s power.
Truth. To learn more about Sex X or attend an event on May 17th in Philly, click here.