About a decade ago, in one of our World Association for Sexual Health Advisory Board meetings hosted by the warmth of colleagues in Brazil, we were brainstorming how we could elevate the state of sexual wellbeing for everyone, beyond politics, advocacy and academic research. Our president at the time, Dr. Rosemary Coates, suggested creating a whole day around the theme and that is how World Sexual Health Day was born. We looked at the calendar and picked September 4th as the day to claim sexual well-being for all. Our hope was to step away from seeing sexual health as just a disease-free state and more of a state of well-being.
Turn It On: Sexual Health in A Digital World
The theme for 2021 is “Turn it on: Sexual health in a digital world,” which is so relevant to the moment we’re living through. Not only has technology had a huge influence on sexual health, from the advent of the internet and dating sites to the global accessibility of sexual health information, but the pandemic has kept many of us at home and in front of our laptop or smartphone more than ever.
The phrase “Turn it on” is important too. We want to ignite awareness of sexual health and sexual rights, as well as activate participants in confronting and fighting the many abuses of sexual health in digital spaces.
We at the World Association for Sexual Health define sexual health as “a state of physical, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality. It requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination, and violence.”
I am so appreciative of this positive and respectful approach to sexual health, as opposed to a deficit- or shame-based approach. If we don’t have positive learning environments, we won’t be able to fully explore our sexuality and reach a deep level of well-being, personally or on a global scale.
World Sexual Health Day at Stanford University
I’ve been involved with the World Sexual Health Day Planning Committee since it began in 2010. We first hosted an event for the public in New York City and then when I moved to California in 2015, Stanford University, specifically Dr. Inge Hansen, generously offered to be the home for our event.
This year, we are hosting another virtual event at Stanford University, and we are inviting everyone, from colleagues to students, peers, friends, and members of the public, to celebrate with us.
8:30 am – 5:00 pm.
The event is virtual, free, and open to everyone from anywhere. You can add a nominal fee of $25 upon registration to receive six hours of CE for the event.
The agenda will provide an exciting day of learning and connecting.
This year, we will also have a film screening! “Yes I Am: The Ric Weiland Story” is a documentary on the life of Ric Weiland, queer co-founder of Microsoft who made Weiland Health Initiative possible at Stanford University. The film addresses the intersection between the tech world and advocacy for queer rights. The audience is invited to watch the documentary in conjunction with the event. Exact Time TBD, but you can watch the trailer here.
Share your learning online and use the hashtags #WorldSexualHealthDay2021, #WSHD2021, #TurnItOn,
You can also check those hashtags on your favorite social network and see what others are sharing!
Want to take it one step further? Organize an event and let us know your plans! It has been amazing to see how many people have organized meaningful events around the world.