2nd Annual AltSex NYC Conference 2017

9 to 9:30AMDavid Ley, PhD
“I Didn’t Know I was (Bi, Into That, …) Until …”

The growing world of alternative sexuality is broadening the understanding of human sexuality, arousal and orientation. Gender and orientation are increasingly recognized as fluid in nature, in many people. Sexual expression and relationships, from swinging to the consumption of porn, incorporate intrinsic elements of what was once called bisexuality, and now is better termed sexually fluid responses. Alternative sexual practices introduce people to a diversity of sexual stimuli and allow them to explore their arousal and response to a wide variety of experiences. Click to view PDFs of slides.

9:30 to 10AMWardeh Hattab
Redefining a Safe Space for Everyone: Clinical Approaches to Working with Queers of Color and Addressing Inclusion in Alternative Lifestyles

Individuals who belong to alternative lifestyles may face exclusion for a variety of reasons from spaces meant to be safe. Being a queer of color and relying on a cultural community for support often means risking that foundational support which may not accept alternative lifestyles. Socioeconomic status factors largely into working longer hours to maintain a standard of living and having the ability to pay for events to access kink/poly-friendly spaces; additionally, these burdens make it difficult for a poly-identified person to have more than one relationship. Queers of color also must navigate safe spaces with anxieties around being non- consensually fetishized or desexualized based on identified race or ethnicity. This presentation will focus on clinicians utilizing multidimensional frameworks with queers of color within the kink-poly community. Click to view PDF of slides.

10:40 to 11:10AMGalen Fous
Erotic Myths, Archetypes, and Symbols: The Dynamic Psychological Forces of Fetishsexual Identity

I define a Fetishsexual as a person driven to orgasm or other deep erotic state through innate, inherent sexually charged enactments of internalized archetypal, symbolic, mythic storylines. I believe it qualifies according to APA definitions as a sexual identity. Fetishsexual desires often fall within a broad range of eroticized psychological, emotional and physical power-exchange dynamics enacted through archetypal sexual personas as either dominant, submissive, sadist, masochist, and a pantheon of sub-categories of each. A Fetishsexual has what I define as a Personal Erotic Myth (PEM) that is engaged from within the unconscious, when they become sexually aroused. Click to view PDF of slides.

11:10 to 11:20AMMichael Aaron and Dulcinea Pitagora
Research Update: BDSM as Harm Reduction

The field of psychotherapy is moving away from a more authoritarian top-down lens to a more humanistic, harm reduction approach. To further along this body of work, Michael Aaron, Dulcinea Pitagora, and Markie Twist have initiated research to better understand the motivations and subjective experiences of individuals that engage in sexual behaviors that have historically been marginalized and pathologized. Aaron and Pitagora will present preliminary findings from the study, which is currently in final stages of data analysis. Click to view PDF of slides.

11:30 to 12PMDylan Selterman
Moral Psychology and Monogamy

An overview of research on monogamy (including studies on consensual non-monogamy), that bridges this line of research with burgeoning theories in moral psychology. My aim is to help understand how and why people gravitate toward/away from monogamy based on a diverse array of moral concerns and other personality traits. Click to view PDF of slides.

12 to 12:30PMBrooke Wells
Characteristics of US Sex Parties and Sex Party Attendees

Sex party attendees may possess particular health risk and resilience factors, such as increased condom negotiation skills and sexual assertiveness (Conley, Moors, Ziegler, & Karathanasis, 2012), high levels of sexual risk behavior and substance use (Friedman et al., 2008), and social stigma (Conley, Moors, Matsick, & Ziegler, 2013). However, very little research addresses attendees of marketed private or commercial sex parties, which represent specific subcultural communities with norms and practices that likely influence health behavior and outcomes. As such, we conducted an anonymous online survey wherein we enrolled 1,389 participants via recruitment on social and sexual media, at sex parties, and on sexual networking websites. In this presentation, I will detail (1) the demographic and psychosocial characteristics of the sample, including various identities and the role of identity in behavior and sex party participation; (2) characteristics of play parties; and (3) respondents’ health behaviors (sexual behavior and substance use). Click to view PDF of slides.

1:50 to 2:50PMLaura Jacobs
Hormones and Handcuffs: The Intersection of Transgender Identities and Alternate Lifestyles

Transgender and gender nonconforming people have nontraditional relationships with their bodies. Anecdotal evidence suggests percentages of transgender and gender nonconforming people involved in ‘alternate lifestyles’ of BDSM and nonmonogamy are significantly higher than in cisgender populations. Why? And how do we as providers assist our clients engaged in these lifestyles? This lecture examines the intersection between transgender identities and sexuality with a focus on nontraditional expressions of sexuality and relationships as well as how involvement in these lifestyles impacts a person’s exploration of self. This workshop is intended to help providers develop cultural competency and improve their ability to assist clients. Click to view PDF of slides.

3 to 3:30PMMiki Mosman
Sex Worker Identities: Voices from the Community

While there is ample academic literature on sex workers, and there are frequent reports on sex workers in the popular media, it is much more rare to hear about sex workers’ experiences through their own words. This presentation’s focus is on amplifying the diverse voices of sex workers in order to gain a greater understanding of their identities, their strengths, and the type of support that they might need. Through a discussion of the data collected from semi-structured interviews with current, former, and considering sex workers, we will learn how doing or thinking of doing sex work has formed, shaped, or defined their identities. We will hear from the voices of sex workers about the different ways that sex work has influenced their identity development personally and professionally, as well as sexually and relationally. We will also learn about the different experiences of individuals who identify as sex workers, and those who engage in sex work as a means of survival. Click to view PDF of slides.

3:30 to 4PMUte Anderson and Alex Petro
Degree of Shame: The Invisible Population of Student Sex Workers

This qualitative study explores the motives of students who engage in sex work and how they perceive their ability to coordinate academic responsibilities and their work. The research seeks to evaluate whether stigmatization is a concern described by student sex workers. Furthermore, the projects wants to offer participants a space to describe positive and negative aspects of their involvement within the sex business. Click to view PDF of slides.

4 to 4:10PMDulcinea Pitagora and Michael Aaron
Working with Sex Workers—Clinical Application

Aaron and Pitagora draw from their respective clinical work with clients who identified as sex workers to illustrate some of the issues that arise in therapy, and clinical approaches to working with them. Pitagora discusses the potential for countertransference, in terms of over- and under-identification in working with sex workers, and approaches for therapists experiencing countertransference.

4:20 to 4:50PMDJ Williams
Expanding Diversity or Double Trouble?
Exploring Intersections of Contemporary Vampirism and Sexuality

This presentation provides an overview of contemporary human vampirism and its relevance for clinicians and helping professionals. Specifically, various self-selected vampire identities are discussed with a focus on how such identities sometimes intersect with various sexual motivations and practices. The presentation draws from current quantitative and qualitative research that explores demographics associated with self- identified vampirism and clinical and therapeutic alliance issues pertaining to clients with these alternative identities. The importance of clinician openness combined with accurate risk assessment is also addressed. Click to view PDF of slides.

4:50 to 5:20PM Courtney Plante
Dispelling Stigmatizing Misconceptions about Sexuality in the Furry Fandom

When it comes to sexuality, there are few groups who are as frequently misrepresented and stigmatized in popular media as furries. Television shows, websites, and news reports routinely reduce or trivialize the complex and multi-faceted nature of furry identity to a fetishistic interest in fursuit sex. A decade of research on more than 20,000 furries worldwide has found no evidence to substantiate these misconceptions and, in fact, strongly suggests that furry is not a fetish at all. Instead, it is best conceptualized as a diverse and inclusive fan community that includes far greater proportions of genderqueer and non-heterosexual members than is found in the general population. Rather than a sexual identity itself, the furry fandom is an inclusive space for all identities and orientations who share a common interest in media that feature anthropomorphic animal characters. Click to view PDF of slides.

5:30 to 6PM — Panel Discussion & Final Words

Left to right: Dulcinea Pitagora, Michael Aaron, Miki Mosman, Galen Fous, Laura Jacobs, Brooke Wells, (back of) Wardeh Hattab, Alex Petro, (profile of) Dylan Selterman


The 2nd annual AltSEX NYC Conference was sponsored by Cuddlist


and produced by
Michael Aaron, PhD and Dulcinea Pitagora, MA, LMSW, MEd


We raffled off David Ley’s book, “Ethical Porn for Dicks”


Photo of conference photographer Maika Harrell by conference photographer Marcuslikesit.


Photo of conference photographer Marcuslikesit by conference photographer Maika Harrell.


See you next year!

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