As part of online initiatives to continue connecting with and educating the community during COVID-19 protocols, Philly’s LGBTQ+ Latinx social justice organization GALAEI is hosting regular virtual sex education workshops on its Instagram page. Corem Coreano, Kendra Cabrera and other staff members will lead the sessions Mondays and Wednesdays from 3-4 p.m. via live videos at the handle @galaeiphilly.
Coreano serves as youth coordinator for GALAEI, where they create programming for youth drop-ins, and “encourage youth to heal through creative outlets of expression.” Cabrera is an intern for the organization, bringing her expertise in human sexuality and social work, which she studies as a graduate student at Widener University.
The sex-ed workshops are a work in progress, Coreano told PGN. “Due to everything with COVID-19, a lot of the material that we have been developing is for virtual live sessions,” they said. “[They are] interactive, very client-based. So far, we’ve done ‘Communication’ and ‘Sex-Ed 101’, where we tried to do a condom demonstration on [Instagram] Live. We’re still figuring this out — we’re trying to do the best as we can.” Coreano and Cabrera are encouraging community members to be vocal about topics that they’d like to see covered.
Some of GALAEI’s usual programs include those centered on youth, including sexual health and education, HIV prevention and the Trans Equity Project, which provides peer support and facilitates trans competent care, among other resources.
As the community engages in social distancing and other protective measures, Cabrera deems it important to reinforce new coronavirus precautions with one’s partner, especially if one person in the relationship still has to leave the house to go to work. She derived her knowledge in part from New York City’s guide to Sex and Coronavirus Disease 2019.
“You have to understand that if your partner goes to work, comes back, maybe has been exposed to someone with COVID, you have to take the same precautions,” she said. “Understand that kissing can easily pass the virus, [and] rimming. Using condoms and dental dams can reduce contact with saliva or feces — things that can essentially get you in contact with the virus. We’re relaying that type of message to our audience because unfortunately, the situation has put a [damper] on sexual interactions.”
Coreano emphasized proper communication with one’s partner when it comes to sex, as well as ways that single folks may find satisfaction when self-quarantining or social distancing.
“If you’ve been locked up with someone so long, you want to make sure you’re being communicative of your sexual needs and your sexual boundaries,” they said. “If you aren’t with your partner, if you’re single, are you finding ways to please yourself while you’re stuck at home? Are you masturbating? Are you watching porn? How are you getting your sexual fix?”
Both Coreano and Cabrera discussed the importance of comprehensive sex ed in general, outside of COVID-19 quarantine protocols.
“Folks need to understand that sexuality is important for every single one of us,” Cabrera said. “Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum — whether you identify as asexual, whether you’re a very sexual person or somewhere in between, whether you are a man, a woman, you’re androgynous, you’re nonbinary — it’s part of all of us.”
Coreano spoke of the role that sex ed plays in dissolving stigmas associated with sex and sexuality.
“Growing up for me as a queer Latinx individual being raised in a Pentecostal household, I was taught that sex is tabu and that masturbation is sinful,” they said. “From a young age, I was taught that we shouldn’t engage in our bodies in this way. Comprehensive sex ed teaches us to own our bodies, develop the boundaries and create a language of consent that is important for the upcoming generation.”
Corem Coreano’s pronouns are he/they. Kendra Cabrera’s pronouns are she.
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