'50 Shades of Green' encourages talk of sexuality

Sex can be an embarrassing, awkward topic that many people don’t want to talk about, but on Valentine’s Day, the LBGT Resource Center collaborated with the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum to overcome the stigma by hosting an event encouraging the MSU community to have a dialogue about sexual issues.

LBGT Resource Center Director Deanna Hurlbert said the conception of the 50 Shades of Green event stemmed from an exhibit by multimedia artist Sharon Hayes featuring a documentary called “Ricerche: three” which centers on conversations of sex in an all-women’s college in New England.

Hurlbert teamed up with the museum’s Curatorial Program Manager Tammy Fortin and organized an interactive dialogue with patrons.

Fortin said the museum wanted to do something different for Valentine’s Day. It was really about asking students and community members their ideas and opinions, she said.

“We wanted it to resonate with our exhibition and be along the same lines with what (the artist) did,” she said. “Why is (sex) different here? What’s so special about our community?”

The dialogue included a card game where each guest could take a card and either answer a question about sex or come up with a word association.

The game opened the group to have a larger discussion about some controversial topics, including sexual consent, race, culture, virginity and polyamorous relationships. The conversation was audio recorded and Hurlbert said in the future she plans to make 50 Shades of Green into a video blog series.

“Where else are these conversations happening?” Hurlbert said. “LGBT people aren’t the only folks who have an interest in sex and sexuality.”

Hurlbert said many topics that she wanted to touch on in the series were the definition of sex, fetishes, interracial dating and marriage, asexuality, HIV and STDS, sexual orientation and anonymous hookups, to name some of many.

Hurlbert said MSU has many conversations about sexual health and safety, yet not enough about these often-shamed topics. “We need to have conversations about sexuality when it’s not pathological,” she said.

Media and information sophomore Khalil Speller said he enjoyed the event and thought it was important to host on campus.

Speller said he recently attended the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference. “The workshops opened my eyes,” he said, adding that he discovered many opportunities which he took to get involved on campus with LGBT organizations.

Hurlbert and Fortin said they are both looking forward to continuing the series and having a future video blog and hope to hear more from the community about these topics.

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