sex+ Front Line brings you the people and groups on the front line of sexuality, doing what they love and changing the world for the better. This edition features Tobias Slater, founder of The Summerhouse Weekend.
Who are you?
I’m Tobias Slater, the founder of The Summerhouse Weekend, the Co-founder of Kinky Salon London and all sorts of other things.
What are you doing?
Right now my diary is focused on making The Summerhouse Weekend 2017 happen and also just starting to put into place The Winterhouse Weekend which is our equivalent event in the winter. With six years of The Summerhouse behind us, I'm focused on how I can bring in new bunches of people and also to make it as welcoming as possible for people who might think this event isn’t for them. It started as a birthday party – an excuse to bring my friends together - and it developed into a journey exploring all aspects of intimacy and relationships, supporting people to expand and experiment in a safe container. This community (including myself) is always learning and trying to do things in a more progressive way. I don't want to just put on a party, I want there to be something that has meaning to people and where people challenge their preconceptions and hopefully go away with their lives being enriched a little bit. There is a way that human sexuality, intimacy and connection becomes a conduit for exploring all sorts of other things like feminism, race, fat bodies etc. Our values and what’s important to us comes up in sex. It becomes a very heated environment. We want to do a lot of listening to people who've had not so great experiences at our festivals. That's one of the things to put front and centre, we have various structures such as the wellbeing team that supports people and trying to listen, understand and improve things is constant work.
Why does it matter?
Sometimes I wonder if it does matter. I think that this area is seen as a luxury for privileged individuals who have got time to navel gaze. Other times I think that sexuality and our sexual identities are such a fundamental part of human nature and so pushed down and disrespected in society that any little thing we can do to chip away at that stigma and that shame will be good.
What's your secret weapon?
Trying not to get drawn into polarities and binaries and trying not to think in an either/or way and holding multiple ideas in my head at the same time. People aren't good or bad, we are capable of doing good things and bad things. I apply that to our community and try to hold a firm centre position. At The Summerhouse, there will be people who have a really amazing time and people who have a really terrible time, sometimes their needs directly conflict with one another. I mediate and find positions that can hold everyone and allow them to be heard. That's something I value.
Are you a cat or dog person?
I want to bust the cat or dog binary. Can we have a place where all animals can express their identity and be equally loved?
How do we show some love?
Featured photo: Victoria Henry