CatalystCon East Concludes 3-Day Run

ARLINGTON, Va.—CatalystCon—a three-day conference that brings together speakers and attendees to address topics such as feminist porn, sex education, body image and sexuality, sex work, and political organizing in the sex positive community—wrapped its East Coast installment last weekend, and organizers have issued a call for speakers for the West Coast version, scheduled for September in Los Angeles.

From the opening keynote address—where Lauren Marie Fleming, Del Tashin, Melissa Gira Grant and Mo Beasley were led in a discussion on “Sparking Communication in Sexuality, Activism and Acceptance” by Tristan Taormino—to the closing address that featured a conversation between Carol Queen and Betty Dodson, CatalystCon presented several sessions and conversations geared toward sex workers, sex educators and others.

Panel discussions ran the gamut from talking about the stigmas and practicalities of living and dating with an STI, the differences between on- and off-camera sex in porn and mainstream cinema and the pros and cons to coming out as poly to the barriers faced by LGBT people outside the debate for gay marriage and the need for responsibility and ethics within the world of sex toy manufacturing.

Many of the topics were returning favorites from previous CatalystCons, and continued the dialogue for a new audience. The presentations of sex in the media, issues of homophobia in communities of color and self-care strategies to avoid burnout as a sex worker have been popular with CatalystCon attendees since the first installment. But true to form, CatalystCon organizers and speakers brought to light new dynamics and conversations in keeping with the world today.

Additionally, CatalystCon East this time featured the CatalystCon Studio, where discussions and presentations were recorded. Tristan Taormino once again brought her Sex out Loud radio program to the event, while Carol Queen took part in the Why Are People Into That?! podcast, hosted by Tina Horn. Also making its debut this time was The Deeper Truth, recorded biographies of speakers from CatalystCon.

“We introduced it so we can have an archived history of this conference and of the Catalyts’ histories,” explained Dee Dennis, founder of CatalystCon. “That was our big addition for this show, but we already have plans for the next conference, too.”

For CatalystCon West, which will take place Sept. 11-14 at the Westin LAX in los Angeles, organizers will introduce the CatalystCon Film Series on the opening night of the conference.

In addition to adding a fourth day to CatalystCon West, Dennis added the CatalystCon Film Series to show films that are more documentary-based.

“To be clear, this is a series, not a film festival,” she said. “This is not for porn or kink or anything else; there are plenty of outlets for those films. We wanted to give a voice to filmmakers whose traditional distribution might have only been online.”

The CatalystCon Film Series is perfect for the new West Coast location, Dennis added, since the hotel has a full movie theater.

“We can even serve popcorn if we want!” she said, with a laugh.

Ideally, she added, the filmmakers will be a part of the event, discussing with audience members their catalyst to make these films.

The call for speakers for CatalystCon West is now open.

“We urge anyone who has something to share that will spark conversations in sexuality to submit a proposal,” a press release from CatalystCon organizers reads. “Whether you are an individual, therapist, sexuality educator, media specialist, or activist, you have a voice to be heard.”

For more information, or to submit a proposal to speak, visit