Na na na na...

Meghan Lane will be a senior coordinator of the Health and Sexuality Peer Education Program next year, and continues to be an HIV counselor at the Berkeley Free Clinic. Send her questions (before they take away her e-mail!) at [email protected]

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Na na na na ... Hey, hey, hey ... Goodbye! Yes, everyone, it's the end of another fabulous year of Sex on Tuesday, with yours truly as the co-pilot. I've had a wonderful time guiding you through the ins and outs (pun most definitely intended) of the joyous world of sex. I hope that you have picked up a few tidbits that will serve you well, or at least that you have had as much fun reading as I have had writing. For my last hurrah, I answer questions that I get all the time from Sex on Tuesday readers.

Q: How do you know so much about sex?

A: Call it a strong personal interest. I have been an informal sex researcher ever since I was a wee one, starting sometime around the age of six when I was an avid reader of my grandfather's Playboy magazines. I find sex fascinating because it impacts all people regardless of sexual experience, yet few people are able to speak candidly about it. I continue to wonder why common myths about sexual health circulate in a time when free information is so readily available.

My formal education about sex includes five college-level courses about gender and sexuality (four at UC Berkeley), a two-year involvement in the Health and Sex Program at the Tang Center and a year as an HIV counselor at the Berkeley Free Clinic. I have designed an individual major through the Interdisciplinary Studies Field Major program that examines sexuality and gender through time, around the world, and through the lenses of several different disciplines. In addition, I have a mind like a sponge when it comes to sex information, and I use the Internet and a sizable personal library to answer my own questions.

Q: Do you make up the questions?

A: No, I really don't make up the questions. They are all questions that I have been asked in my Sex on Tuesday capacity, as a Health and Sexuality Peer Educator, or as an HIV counselor. Sometimes I get questions that concern heterosexual or homosexual relationships specifically; either I tweak these questions to be more inclusive or I try to answer the questions in such a way that everyone can benefit from my response.

Other times, I just go off on a tirade. For example, I wrote columns about S and M (sado-masochism), sexual assault and Proposition 22 because I thought that they were timely and relevant to the campus community. My goal has been to get people to think critically about sex and sexual health. I want everyone to realize that all opinions, lifestyles and forms of sexual expression are equally valid as long as they take place between consenting, mature people who understand and accept the possible consequences of their actions.

Q: Do people recognize you on campus?

A: Not so much the first semester, when my picture didn't look very much like me. My roommate tells me that some people are convinced I am Asian because of that photo.

Now a lot of people come up to me and say hello. A lot of them also tell me what they think of my column. I call these encounters "Sex on Tuesday sightings." The most interesting sighting I had was when I met a postal employee named Jake in McCone Hall. Jake told me that every Tuesday he picks up several issues of The Daily Californian. He takes them to the post office, where the employees seem to enjoy reading my column. He then mails a few issues to somewhere on the East Coast, where I have a small (cult) following.

Q: You're not writing the column anymore?

A: I am not graduating soon, but I think that it is time to step down from the vibrating throne of Sex on Tuesday. I have had a fabulous time writing the column. There was a feature story about me and the column in the San Francisco Chronicle, and I have received overwhelmingly positive feedback leading me to believe that I have stimulated discussion about why sexual health information should be readily available. I got some flak from concerned parents and community members about the explicitness of my column during the first few months of my writing. In response to their concerns, I write columns in an inclusive and sensitive manner that stresses communication and consent. I do not shy away from being explicit because ambiguities in language about sexual health can only lead to confusion and might be dangerous.

So I pass the torch on to the next spectacular Sex on Tuesday columnist. It is vital that the campus community has access to accurate, unbiased information about sex. Receiving that information from a fresh perspective reinforces the idea that there are different ways to approach the topic of sex, all of which are valuable.

I realize that even though you might have picked up some valuable information from the column this year, it is easy to forget. Additionally, some of what I told you will soon be outdated. Hence, I hope that what most people take away from reading the column is not specific facts (though they are important, too) but the ability to answer their own questions. In every column, I try to direct interested folks to resources where they can find more in-depth information. I also shy away from giving advice. It is much more effective, in my opinion, to present a variety of options and encourage people to make the decision that is best for them.

In parting, keep educating yourselves. Stay true to yourself, ask questions, and have fun! It is sex, after all.


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