This Valentines Day the Museum of Vancouver
throws open the doors to an exhibition dedicated to Vancouvers sexual history. Sex Talk in the City opens February 14 and will give visitors a chance to consider how sexuality is not only biological, but also cultural and political.
Moving from the classroom, to the bedroom, to the streets, Sex Talk in the City explores how sexuality is learned (at school, in the media, through popular culture) and how these conversations have impacted the way people self-identify and relate to each other.
Exploring what people in Vancouver think about sex becomes a telling way to know the city, explains Viviane Gosselin, Sex Talks curatorial lead. Looking at Vancouvers sexual history has enabled us to see that many people in the city have challenged the sexual norms of their time whether it is on issues of contraception, gay rights, or the ergonomics of sex toys to create communities that are more inclusive and educated.
The exhibition shares stories ranging from early sex education in Vancouver, to political movements that began at our universities, to the local origin of the iconic black cougar logo that for decades warned movie audiences about sexually explicit content. It also touches on issues of sex trade work, the role of the Internet as sex educator to many children, and the way in which the pleasure of belonging can be as important as pleasure itself.
Using the same collaborative style that Gosselin brought to the award-winning Bhangra.me exhibition, Sex Talk in the City was created with the help of an advisory panel of 17 people, and a team that included design studio Propellor, a writer, filmmaker, and several historians.
Working with a large advisory committee has played a crucial role in this project, says Gosselin. Committee members stressed the importance of featuring diverse perspectives while highlighting concerns that are often shared across age, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation.
Sex Talk in the City is a unique opportunity to reflect on personal ideas about sexuality (where they came from, the values that shaped them, and how they help or impede our ability to live a healthy sexual life) in a safe, fun, and interesting environment. Visitors are sure to leave wanting to share their own quirky stories about their first time, their sex ed class experience, or the awkward birds and bees conversation they had with their parents.
The creation of Sex Talk in the City involved the participation of Options for Sexual Health, the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, the Vancouver School Board, public health experts, activists, sexologists, educators, youth, and historians.