Women of Wednesday: Cameron G. on Silence, Nerds, and the Importance of Intersectional Sex Ed

WOMEN OF WEDNESDAY is a micro-interview series featuring women of color in various industries and walks of life, focused on highlighting their pursuits and making it easy for readers to support their endeavors. If you would like to be featured, please submit your answers to the below five questions here.

Cameron G., 23, Writer/Sex Educator (NYC)

1. Tell us about the work you’re doing and why it’s important.

I wear many hats, but first and foremost, I’m a writer. I love the idea of not just telling my own stories, but telling the stories of others who don’t always have the chance to have their stories heard.

Along with writing, I’m also in the process of becoming a sexuality educator. I’ve always been interested in the ways that sex and intimacy play a role in all of our lives. Coming to terms with my own experiences with trauma and unhealthy sexuality was a big driving force for me to get into this field — I knew that my experiences weren’t unique, and that I could help to bring awareness to these things in the field. It was also a shock to me just how whitewashed the field of sexuality studies are; but being able to connect with other women and people of color have been the push for me to continue.

I’m hoping to work directly with clients one-on-one or in group workshop settings to better understand the ways that sexuality impacts us. I’m even working with two friends who are also sexuality educators to develop our own intersectional sexuality programs under Sex With.

When I’m not working on those two things for “work”, I’m also part of a podcast called Nerds Of Prey — a show led by four Black women talking about everything in nerd culture. It’s really important to me, as someone who reads comics, to be able to share my experiences and thoughts with others who also share my community. I’m still amazed by how much we’ve been able to grow in the year we’ve been recording — our listeners are amazing and so positive and encouraging. It really helps to know that others are excited and looking for that genuine representation in themselves as well, in something as simple as a podcast.

2. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in pursuing the work that’s important to you?

I think the biggest challenge has been confronting my own bias. A majority of my work pushes me to work on a freelance or self-employed basis, which demands a lot of discipline and self-accountability. I have to check in with myself and be adaptable in order to accomplish everything that I want to — which can be hard when self-doubt hits. But I do my best to hold myself accountable: making my goals public, checking in with friends and accountability partners, collaborating when I can. And just trusting my gut — because sometimes you need to leave things that no longer serve you, including projects that you once thought were important.

3. What do you need in order to continue your work in the way you envision?

I recognize that it’s a great privilege to be able to be creative for a living. I think this work is important — especially now, with so much ugliness and oppression happening in the world and in America right now, but much of it does rely on support from within the community and beyond.

Support is more than just economic compensation — though that’s also necessary to survive in a capitalist society. I think too of how individuals are rewarded for having social currency over the quality of their work; sometimes there is overall or that proves untrue altogether, but there are so many talented people who create for a living that find themselves being exploited or used by a system built on being the first one to get information out, rather than celebrating quality, important, impactful work simply because it says what we need to hear at that time.

I also think that I’ll need to become more comfortable with evolving and pushing forward. I’m already pretty comfortable with trying new things and having some of those things not always work out. But I’m also encouraged to keep trying because I know that my work is necessary. That confidence in knowing that there’s only one me and I’m the only person that can create work in the way that I would — in the perspective of someone living at the intersections of so many identities — there’s a quiet comfort in that for me. And as odd as it sounds, it does encourage me to keep aspiring to learn more and do better.

4. Where and how can we support you to make #3 happen?

On my end, I think this requires a lot of self-work. I think about social justice work, and how so much of it requires unlearning more so than learning new terminology and phrases and theories. To “succeed” at social justice (which is ironic at the sense that there isn’t really a place to win or succeed, is there?) means to constantly challenge your own internal mindset and how we process and see the world to become more inclusive. That takes a lot of work, to challenge and want to actively change yourself.

But that self work is also important for the second part of it as well — I can’t expect others to change without first challenging it from myself. And also, the expectation that others will change for me isn’t the goal necessarily, but that by having movements or thought processes that are more inclusive and diverse in nature to different kinds of creative work, we can begin to see a collective push towards the kind of support that I and other creatives need to have our own versions of success.

5. What is your favorite quote?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Audre Lorde and her work, how she was so wise beyond her years and in telling her truth, she helped so many be able to do the same with their own lives. One of the quotes she gives that’s really stuck with me is “Your silence will not protect you.” To me, this really has two important notes: as a person with privilege, it’s my duty to speak up when others around me are faced with oppression that I don’t (and even when that violence is directed at me, there is no shame in me speaking up for myself). But it also reminds me, as an introverted person, that it’s necessary to get over that shyness to get stuff done. I have to go out and socialize, meet new people, network, and interact with others if I want to achieve anything — and challenging my shyness is another way for me to continue to grow.