A Good Charity

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“San Francisco Sex Information. How can I help you?”

“Umm, I want to learn about rope bondage, especially about tying knots. Could you please give me a book recommendation?”

The woman on the phone thought of two books right away. Over the next few minutes she did some additional research, and by the end of the call had given me five book recommendations, with an analysis of how good each would be for a beginner learning about knots.

Klutz Book of Knots and Two Knotty Boys Showing You the Ropes are now on the way to my house from Amazon, and should arrive Wednesday.

I wish I would have paid more attention in Boy Scouts.

Yes, this is an actual phone conversation I had. San Francisco Sex Information is a charity organization that gives free, nonjudgmental, confidential information about sex.

When I first found SFSI, I had two questions about sex. The first was a question I’d feel comfortable talking about with anyone. The second was a question I wouldn’t even discuss with my best friend.

I tried out SFSI by asking the first question via e-mail: “I have a friend who’s repeatedly having unsafe sex. I want to talk to my friend and encourage safe sex, but what do I say?” Their reply was thoughtful, saying I was a good friend for being concerned. SFSI included a URL containing good information about safer sex, gave information about respectful conversations with friends, and reminded me to not have important conversations like this drunk.

I was really impressed with their good advice and its flair.

After that experienced response, I decided to ask my second question. Now, I’m not going to tell you what that question was. I was embarrassed by this question, and I’m sure if I brought it up at a party, lots of people would excitedly gasp, “Don’t do that!”

I was overly cautious, wanting to be super anonymous, so I went to an internet cafe. I signed up for an e-mail account with a fake name, and nervously sent SFSI my question. SFSI wasn’t embarrassed at all with my question, and gave me a thoughtful, understanding and respectful response. They took me seriously, and gave me good information I’ve been able to use.

Maybe everyone is like me and has two questions about sex. The first is a trial question, to see if people are understanding and will take us seriously. The second is the question we’re really curious about.

I have this picture in my head that maybe SFSI will save lives if enough people just have their number. I imagine two friends talking in a coffee shop, kind of like people do on a commerical:

Friend 1: Hey, I’m going camping with my new partner. We’re going to try [insert dangerous sexual activity].

Friend 2: Umm. That sounds dangerous

Friend 1: It’s not. I saw it on a movie.

Friend 2: We better call SFSI and make sure it’s okay.

Friend 1 [when calling SFSI]: Hey, I’m going camping… [repeats story].

SFSI: A few things to consider when attempting activities like this are [insert safety information here]. You might also want to consider these other activities: [describes some safer activities].

Friend 1: Wow. I’m glad you told me all that. Thanks, SFSI!

Okay, information about sex probably isn’t ever that drastically helpful, despite what TV would have us believe. But I can still dream.

A cool thing about the sfsi.org webpage is part that says, “We help everyone with sex information: bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, and straight.” I think it’s cool they put straight people last, but still included them.

I really believe in what SFSI’s trying to do, which is educate people about things that are sex-related. I think that by having more information about sex, we can make better decisions about sex. And making the best decisions about sex, so that we can have the best sex possible, is one of the noblest things in life.

Having information also gives you alternatives. I’ve met a lot of people who could have used sex information, people who didn’t know how you get pregnant, people who felt they didn’t have any alternatives to unsafe sex, and people who didn’t understand sexually transmitted diseases. If we talk about the things that don’t get talked about, we’ll also have a higher quality of life.

People have lots of questions about sex, from common questions like the first one I asked to not so common ones. Here are some of the ones recently answered on SFSI’s site, “I’m bi-curious. Should I experiment with my friends?” “Why can’t I have an orgasm?” “Is my penis small?” “Should I use numbing cream for anal sex?”

Please program SFSI’s number into your phone: (415) 989-7374. Just in case you have a “friend” who needs information.

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