“What were you thinking?”
“Why a sex issue?”
Before Tuesday, I've never had so many people interested in my thoughts. The idea for an issue based on sex and sexuality first came up in Sept. 2012. The CNM Chronicle managing editor at the time and I had been kicking around all sorts of ideas for a special edition; when I suggested sex and sexuality, we immediately agreed.
The very first article we had decided on was the center spread. “A Rainbow of Sexuality” was something that was very important to me and I knew that no matter what else went into that edition, a round table interview would be the centerpiece.
Every week after, I would tell the writers to come up with ideas and keep a running list of things they thought might be interesting. Just before spring break, we selected the articles that would go into the issue. Everyone on the staff contributed something to the creation of this issue. It mattered to them as much as it mattered to me.
So why do it?
Because we do not talk about sex openly. Sex, sexuality, gender identity and masturbation: these are not dirty words. It is not wrong to talk about these concepts and practices. People have sex. Our parents did it, we do it and, one day, our kids will do it, too. Not talking about these things puts people at risk, not just for pregnancy and STD/STIs, but for abusive relationships, misguided decisions and self-loathing.
From the beginning, my goal was to educate. I wanted to honestly discuss topics that were relevant to the times. Suicide rates among LGBT teens have skyrocketed. The Boy Scouts of America are being boycotted for kicking out gay members. The Girl Scouts of the USA are being boycotted for allowing transgendered children to join. E.L. James’ “50 Shades” trilogy has sold millions of copies and will soon be a adapted into a movie, all while giving a drastically incomplete and sensationalized view of the BDSM community. Realistically, we are an office of 13 people who write for an audience of 30,000. We cannot change the world, but we had the opportunity and an obligation to inform our readers and if even a single person walked away better informed about sex and sexuality, then we made a difference.
We expected disagreement. I learned when I first began working for the Chronicle that pleasing everyone all at once is the sort of goal that will drive a person crazy. I wanted feedback, especially from those who disagreed. I wanted to have open discussions about what others thought was right, wrong or just plain left out. Those comments are what will allow me to do my job better next time.
I thought others would be open to that, too. I believed that I and my staff would be respected as journalists and adults and that those who were offended or upset by the issue would talk to us, as has always been the case in the past. But then, I have always been a bit of an idealist. The up-side to this whole affair is that our issue reached more readers than we expected.
People throughout the nation, and even on other continents, have read all about sex and sexuality. Some of those people may have been offended or disturbed, and that's okay; it is not mandatory to agree with newspapers, but we can be sure now that we reached and educated at least one person.