One last birthday card for Scarleteen!
I've been saving this very wonderful birthday-card-of-sorts from the also-very-wonderful Liz for almost a year now, looking for just the right time to post it. Seeing as we're two days away from the end of this 20th year and our next (our 21st!) birthday, it certainly feels like a good time. If you want to help us wrap up this big anniversary year with some support to help us stick around for years to come, you should know about a few cool things going on right now or coming up soon!
1) Any new donor this month gets advance access to our new zine! You can read all about that here.
2) For those who can and want to order some great, non-toxic and affordable toys, Kenton at Funkit Toys has made some special just for us -- they're scarlet, even! -- to help support Scarleteen. $10 from every $24 dildo and $18 from every $40 model go to us, and you can even add an extra donation while you're there if you're feeling extra generous.
3) At the end of the month, there will be opportunities for two more donors to win this big prize! - Heather
If you had told me fifteen years ago that I'd be doing sex education as a job I'd probably have laughed at you. Can you imagine: me telling others that you can have a healthy sexual relationship with your body, let alone admitting it to myself!? A lot has changed since then for me – the Liz of today is more confident, more comfortable with herself (not to mention finally grew boobs).
What hasn't changed in that time is that Scarleteen has remained my #1 sex ed resource.
As a young teenager who'd only really seen potential versions of herself on websites that, as a minor, I had to lie to gain access to, finding a site that was not only age-appropriate but that never talked down to me just because I was young changed the way I thought: about both the sex I could one day have, and the types of relationships I might form.
I don't consider myself to have been "born a boy," but it's nevertheless the way that a lot of people saw me as I was growing up. When facing down the barrel of expectations that brought along with it, I sought out a new set of expectations and ideas altogether. When I was stuck, or alone, or scared, it felt good knowing there was a place online I could turn to for help, and for support that I was even allowed to.
Many years later, as I'm in the process of finding family of my own and learning from a whole new generation of young queer people, it's an extraordinary privilege to be helping contribute to the same annals of advice that I sought comfort from, and that helped shape me into the adult I am today. I've no shame in admitting they still do, too! Sex ed has no age limit, and as I revisit Scarleteen's pages now I still find myself learning and growing. That's not to say that it's perfect, or that every topic has been covered: I'm excited for what another twenty years will bring!
No birthday is complete without presents, and I believe the biggest gift you can give to yourself is the time and opportunity to explore what you want from life, love, sex, romance and relationships – whether that's all of them all the time, or only a few of them some of the time, thank you very much! To know that there are folk of every gender and sexuality under the sun looking for a bit of guidance, or a word of love, and to be able to tell them that I have stood where they stand and survived is a humbling thing, just as I was told by the queers before me.
We all have to start learning somewhere, but we also have so much room to keep learning; to continue on a journey of knowledge about sexual health, practices and pleasure, and especially about ourselves and our own bodies. I will always be thankful for the tools that Scarleteen gave a scared young me, for the tools it continues to give me as a (for the most part) less scared older me, and for the tools I get to help build for the hundreds of thousands who access these pages every year.
Happy birthday Scarleteen, and here's to many more decades online!