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Milwaukee SHARE offers a week of adult sex ed

Lucky Tomaszek, education coordinator for the Tool Shed, says Milwaukee SHARE offers sex ed for adults.
Lucky Tomaszek, education coordinator for the Tool Shed, says Milwaukee SHARE offers sex ed for adults.

Conventional wisdom goes like this: Sex ed is something you learn in school. But then what? You’re supposed to go the rest of your life only knowing what you learned before you could rent a car?

The staff and educators at the Tool Shed, 2427 N. Murray Ave. in Milwaukee, don’t think so. Since 2003, the sex-positive sex toy shop has been a resource for adults of all genders and orientations to explore their sexuality. Selling dildos, vibrators, sexy underwear and kinky gear is just part of what the store offers. The Tool Shed has a staff of sexuality educators who provide information and resources to help customers improve their sex lives.

For the first time, the store is devoting a week to that mission, sponsoring the first-ever Milwaukee SHARE (Sexual Health and Relationship Education) series. From April 3 to 10, the event’s organizers have planned so many events that education coordinator Lucky Tomaszek says she and the other Tool Shed educators are working on trimming the schedule.

As of this writing, Milwaukee SHARE will encompass almost two dozen sessions, discussions and events. They range from the general — a kickoff night when Tool Shed staff and guests will tell stories about real experiences they’ve had with sex and relationships — to the more specific, such as sessions on couples in which one partner is trans, sex for older people, learning to set up play parties for swingers and polyamorous relationships.

Tomaszek says the idea sprang from working with local universities on their biannual sex-ed weeks, which feature a similar mix of events. “The idea of having a campuswide sexuality event … really impressed me,” she says. “We never had anything like that when I was a young adult.”

But she says Milwaukee SHARE offers a chance to retroactively fill that gap.

The largest event Tomaszek will lead draws on her knowledge both as a sexuality educator and as a parent. “Tickling, Teasing and Touching: Creating a Consent Culture for Kids” (9 a.m. on April 7 at the Tool Shed) is a session designed to address the tension between teaching children about consent and bodily autonomy while also guiding them to avoid making autonomous decisions about sexual activity before reaching maturity. Parents also have to learn to resist forcing their children to give hugs or kisses when they don’t want to.

Tomaszek will also be involved with the Tool Shed staff in smaller sessions throughout the week, as well as two “Ask the Sexpert” sessions: one at Colectivo on Prospect (10 a.m. on April 6) and one at Riverwest Public House (9 p.m. on April 9). She’s hosted similar events before, asking attendees to anonymously write down questions for her to answer out loud for the group. She says that she’s been consistently surprised by the sincere — and only-as-explicit-as-necessary — nature of the queries.

Tomaszek is also excited about “What Aren’t They Talking About,” a day-long conference on April 4 designed for health-care providers. She says Tool Shed’s staff often counsels health-care professionals  on handling issues that come up around sexuality and gender identity. “What Aren’t They Talking About” helps them to understand the unique sexual issues of four groups of patients: seniors, people with disabilities, transgender patients and patients who participate in fetishistic sexual activities, such as leather and kink.

Since this is Milwaukee SHARE’s first year, Tomaszek says the overreaching goal is getting out the word and bringing in as many people as possible. Most of the sessions are free. “The goal is to make everything accessible,” she says, “and to let people know we’re an educational resource, not just a store.”

An up-to-date schedule for Milwaukee SHARE can be found at toolshedtoys.com or mkeshare.com, or by calling 414-906-5304.

SELECT SESSIONS

They Didn’t Teach THAT in School: True Adventures in Real-World Sex: Twanna Hines, sex educator and founder of the blog Funky Brown Chick, and Tool Shed staffer, will tell stories about what they wish they’d learned about sex and relationships. 8 p.m. on April 3 at Hybrid Lounge, 707 E, Brady St. $5 cover.

Ask Me, I’ll Tell You: Talking Out Loud about Sex & Aging: Joan Price, senior sex author and advocate, hosts a candid discussion about how to solve problems of satisfying sex after 50, 60, 70 and beyond. 8:30 p.m. on April 5 at the Tool Shed. Free.

Tickling, Teasing and Touch: Creating a Consent Culture for Kids: Tool Shed education coordinator Lucky Tomaszek helps parents promote a consent culture in their home, giving kids the bodily autonomy they need. 9 a.m. on April 7 at the Tool Shed. Free.

Promises You Can Keep: Through Transition Together: Activist Helen Boyd — who helped her husband through his transition — will speak to the relationship strategies that help make transition as a couple survivable and even awesome. 8:30 p.m. on April 7 at the Tool Shed. Free.

Bacchanalia Basics: Cooper S. Beckett and Dylan Thomas, co-hosts of the non-monogamy podcast Life on the Swingset, break down the basics of play parties, from logistical concerns (how to ensure 10 people can fit on the bed) to ethical concerns (consent, STI disclosures, relationship arrangements). 8:30 p.m. on April 8 at the Tool Shed. Free.

Sex with Survivors: Embodied Sexuality for Survivors of Sexual Violence: Sex educator and professional dominatrix Sophia Chase focuses on embodiment and sexual empowerment in a session that helps survivors of sexual assault or abuse feel safe and in control of their bodies. 10 a.m. on April 9 at the Tool Shed. Free.

Share the Love! An Extravaganza of Grown-Up Sex Ed: Education can be fun as well as important, and this sex-ed party proves it! The evening will include a live “Ask the Sexpert” Q&A, live clothed kink demos with Lady Sophia, music by Lauryl Sulfate and Her LOL and Roxy Beane, and performances by burlesque troupe the Brew City Bombshells. 9 p.m. on April 9 at Riverwest Public House, 815 E. Locust St. Free, but tips encouraged.

The Mind-Body Connection: Yoga, Dignity and Long Term STIs: Yoga instructor and “sex nerd” Jessica Popp explores ways in which yoga’s boost in self-worth and viral immunity can help those living with a chronic STIs. 10 a.m. n April 10 at the Tool Shed. Free.

Porn Like Us: Celebrating Sexual Diversity in Cinema: Queer porn performer and advocate Jiz Lee hosts this event exploring examples of sexually diverse porn that can help everyone, especially trans and queer people, see themselves as deserving and capable of a happy and healthy sexuality. Lee will also appear at 4 p.m. at the Tool Shed to sign the anthology Coming Out Like a Porn Star. 7 p.m. on April 10 at Riverwest Public House. $5.

PrideFest workshop focuses on ‘feminine gender’ presentation

PrideFest, at 4 p.m. on June 7, will feature a presentation on the Stonewall Stage about “feminine gender” presentation. Led by local filmmaker and transwoman Ashley Altadonna and Tool Shed owner Laura Stuart, the presentation will explore “options in make-up, clothing choices, body language, transition-related products, and more.”

WiG recently connected with Altadonna to learn more about the program.

You’ll be presenting on the Stonewall Stage, one of the more intimate settings at PrideFest. What can people who attend expect from the talk? We’ll be hosting an honest conversation about the challenges of female presentation. We’ll have useful tips for the participants on clothing choices, hair styling, voice modification and products like gaffs and breast forms.

Do you do these presentations on a regular basis, or is this event a one-of-a-kind experience for PrideFest goers? I have done several presentations on trans issues before, but this is my first time presenting on this particular topic. I’ll be doing another presentation on transgender sex topics at The Tool Shed later, in the fall.

It seems there has been an increase, at least online, in resources and retailers catering to LGBT customers and our fashion preferences and styles. Still a relatively small number, but an increase. Are there some resources you’d like to recommend? One of the best ways to find out about fashion resources is to connect with other members of the community. One of my goals with this event is to help facilitate those connections. For local transition-related needs, The Tool Shed has a wide selection of products and an LGBT-positive setting

The PrideFest promotion for the program says the targeted audience will be people assigned male at birth who are exploring feminine and/or female presentation, but everyone is welcome. What would you like the “others” in the audience to take away from the presentation? I hope others take away a great appreciation for the challenges facing those beginning their transitions and that they can be an additional source of support for the trans community.

You’ll be presenting the program after a drag makeover involving the Miltown Kings and before a performance by Funkin Wassels comedy troupe. Do you plan on catching these shows? What’s your favorite element of PrideFest? I’m certainly hoping to catch the Miltown Kings. My favorite activity at PrideFest is people watching. 

Besides preparing for this presentation, what are you working on these days? I’m finishing my documentary Making the Cut, which looks at trans health issues and the insurance industry and what it means to be trans and male or female bodied in our culture. More about the film can be found at www.tallladypictures.com.