Dear Federal Way,
It’s not you; it’s me.
I’ve valued our relationship over the past 12 years.
Sure, it’s had its ups and downs.
You’ve asked me for help, requested I write about topics dear to you and yours, thanked me for amplifying issues important to you, and expressed your respect and admiration in many ways, including shouting, “Hey, aren’t you the Sex Lady?!?!” as I walked down the street.
You’ve also called me disrespectful names, questioned my intelligence, discounted my experience, and even tried to control my faith beliefs.
Through it all, I’ve had many conversations with those of you who agree and disagree with my opinions – and even some of you who disagree with facts and science.
I’ve learned a lot.
I’ve learned that doing this work of advocating for, teaching, and training folks to teach comprehensive, inclusive sexuality education is much less about condoms and chlamydia than it is about dismantling shame and stigma about our bodies and our relationships.
I’ve learned that, for all the progress we’ve made regarding reproductive health, contraception, and LGBTQ rights, there is still more than enough shame and stigma to go around — in Federal Way, in Washington, in the United States, and in the world.
I’ve learned that people are hungry for ways to tell their stories and live their lives in ways that lead with love, acceptance, and health, instead of living with the shame and stigma we’ve felt for centuries.
I’ve learned that, even in 2019, people continue to feel threatened by laws protecting the rights and choices of those who are pregnant, those who do not easily fit into a gender binary box, and those who love folks who are the same gender they are.
I’ve learned that trauma and scars run deep, progress can be temporary, fear is a powerful force, and love can overcome almost anything.
And now, it’s time for us to part ways. This is the last Sex in the Suburbs column.
Whether you are saddened by this news or jumping for joy, I’ll still be around, doing what I do — advocating for medically accurate and inclusive information to be shared in developmentally appropriate ways for the health of bodies and relationships.
I’ll be looking for new ways to be an ally/co-conspirator with my LGBTQ siblings, especially any needing assurance you are loved by God.
I hope we can still be friends.
And I hope you will use your voices to lead with love and respect, always.
Wishing you peace,
Amy Johnson, MSW, is a trainer and educator in the Pacific Northwest. She is co-author of three books and facilitates classes and workshops in the Puget Sound area. Amy specializes in sexuality education and in promoting safe and healthy sexuality culture in faith communities. All opinions are her own. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.