My very first mentor in sex education passed away this week. My training as a peer health educator, 15 years ago, set the stage for my present career. I got a MS in Counseling because Annie had a MS in Counseling. Here’s just one example of why Annie became a model for me: Way back, early in my training as a sexuality peer educator, I was sitting on the floor in a room in the student center, talking with the other sex peer educators about periods, the menstrual cycle. What factors influence the menstrual cycle, Annie asked us. Being a painfully ignorant 18 year old, I raised my hand and said, “Isn’t there something about the phases of the moon?”
Unsurprisingly, everyone laughed.
Not Annie. She said, “There are centuries of mythology and artwork devoted to the idea of the moon as a feminine power…” and she went on to talk about how cultures have constructed meaning around the phases of the moon and the phases of the menstrual cycle. And of course she clarified that in fact the moon was not a factor influencing the menstrual cycle.
Not only did she help me not to feel like a moron, she shared a richer contextual understanding of reproductive biology than I had ever witnessed, she role modeled a level of sex positivity and unconditional respect that inspires me still, and she fixed my ignorance while making me feel that my ignorance was a gift to the entire group.
I have lots of stories like that – and there are lots of people like me, whose lives were shaped by Annie’s generous spirit, her kindness, her commitment to promoting healthy, joyful sexuality.
I’m going to Delaware for the memorial service – my second memorial service this year. If there are any blog readers who also went to U of D and also were touched by Annie, I hope you’ll let me know.