by Gabriella Cordova, Founder of SexPositiveWorld
“For the first time in my life, I feel truly seen and accepted for who I am.”
I hear this all the time.
I heard it often last summer, at the West Coast SexPositive World Convergence Camp. Sixty or so people had gathered to spend a long weekend together to offer and attend workshop, cook together, dance together, and play together. Another forty had come for an evening or two to enjoy SPP’s Wine Bar Social, or to attend the Orientation.
So very often, people approach me – with tears in their eyes – to tell me they feel healed, moved, changed, accepted, seen, or celebrated, because, for the first time in their lives they were able to share, with a group of accepting strangers, the fact that they are sexual beings. That they are sexual beings, who may or may not conform to accepted social norms and who may or may not fit into the box of what culture says is sexy, desirable, or fashionable. And in this group they were not only accepted and tolerated, rather, they were celebrated, cheered, and encouraged, to be more of who they think they are, and to go beyond that to all the possible iterations of themselves.
When I began SexPositive World, I was hoping to effect, on a larger scale, some of the change that I had been able to in my practice working with individuals. I had seen how much people were affected in their sessions with me and had heard time and again how healing it was to have been able to experience eroticism in their minds and bodies and to be witnessed and held without judgment or shame. But I had no idea how hungry people were for this container.
What started as one chapter in Portland, Oregon has grown to seventeen chapters in six countries. A member/volunteer organization where everyone is asked to serve, to do what they can for their community by learning to teach, offer experiential events, host, or to simply show up and hold space for those in various stages of their journey. Although I founded SPW, I did not build it alone, it has been and continues to be built by countless individuals, way too many to name (but you know who you are!) who selflessly, lovingly, and sexily, share their time, skill, wisdom, and resources.
I am so very grateful to all the courageous and beautiful people who have stepped up to do their part in creating, supporting, and expanding SexPositive World, to those who keep showing up to do their own work or to encourage others to keep discovering, accepting, and celebrating the totality of who they are. SPW has changed me, humbled me, and at the same time, made me bigger and stronger, and for the first time in my life, I feel truly seen and accepted for who I am.
Gabriella Cordova was born to hippie/tantric/yogic/poly parents, and her upbringing was quite unusual. By the age of 18, she had lived in seven countries, spoke five languages, and had given birth – at home, with the help of a midwife and herbs. She birthed two more and raised seven children altogether, with a philosophy of no television or junk food. During her parenting years, Gabriella alternately lived off the grid – raising, preserving, and preparing 90% of her family sustenance – was a peace activist, a lactation proponent, a student, a business owner, a wife and a lover. Her passion for life, love, and all things sensual, compelled her to become a Tantra teacher, pleasure facilitator, workshop presenter, and organizer of events related to sacred sexuality, eroticism, relationship, and female empowerment.
She went on to open Amoress Studio, a yoga/dance/and event center, to produce ErosFest NW, a four-day erotic arts festival that included dozens of workshops. She founded Sex Positive Portland Meetup Group, which has now grown to over 500 members. She currently runs the Elysium Lodge – a large property with a working farm, focused on hosting sexpositive events, workshops and retreats. Recently, Gabriella brought together a coalition of sex positive groups, Sex, Love, & Spirit that make it possible to bring big name authors and presenters like Christopher Ryan and Deborah Anapol to town. Along with co-producer Teri Ciacchi, she is the instigator of the Eco-Sex Symposium Portland, 2011. Gabriella is the founder of Sex-Positive World.