Up and Coming: Sex and Self Concordia

The Student-Run Organization Helping Hundreds Explore Their Sexuality

Self and Self offers a multitude of sex-related resources to students. Courtesy Sex and Self Concordia

It all began with a desire.

When confronted with Quebec’s “outdated and insufficient” sex education curriculum, McGill student Felicia Gisondi took matters into her own hands. She founded Sex and Self in May 2019. 

The non-profit sought to break through the lacking sex-ed curriculum by promoting inclusive, comprehensive, and evidence-based knowledge and tools. With the help of books, seminars, and gender-affirming gear, amongst other services, the organization expanded and provided resources to those in need. 

In August 2021, Concordia student Gabriela Kennedy met Gisondi by pure luck. Working as a nail technician, Kennedy ended up with Gisondi as her client. At the time, Kennedy had begun questioning sexual accessibility in the Concordia community. 

“We talked about Sex and Self and the idea of bringing it to Concordia. It really felt like all the issues I had heard and thought about within the student body could finally be addressed,” said Kennedy. “This was the one thing I felt like I could take on, so I let myself take a leap.” 

That same month, Kennedy founded the Sex and Self chapter at Concordia University and consequently became its president. After some time spent applying for grants and looking for volunteers willing to contribute, the organization grew exponentially.

“[The chapter] is so much bigger than me. It has turned into something that will outlive us completely,” said Kennedy. 

Blue Fraser joined their peer right away in her effort to launch the Concordia Sex and Self branch. As the diversity advocate of the chapter, Fraser shared how “gratifying it is to give back to [their] community.” 

“As a trans person, it makes me happy to see how well Sex and Self has impacted LGBTQIA+ people,” said Fraser. “When we get messages on our Instagram about how our services have changed lives, it feels awesome.” 

Concordia’s Sex and Self chapter provides students with condoms, dental dams, menstrual products, lubricant, sex toys, gender affirming gear, and ovulation and pregnancy tests, all free of costs. 

Restocked every month, Sex and Self’s Wellness Pantry, located at Le Frigo Vert, allows anyone in need of these tools to grab them on a completely anonymous basis. According to Kennedy, several hundred students make use of the pantry and attend the events they have organized, such as movie and paint nights and book giveaways. 

“When we had our launch party for the pantry,” said Fraser, “everyone came up to us, showed us what they got and thanked us. The response made it clear that these items were so needed.” 

Alongside helping students explore their sexuality in their own way, Sex and Self contributes to lifting the veil of secrecy on the topic. Cameron Brunet, the group’s university representative, shares their gratitude for the service that didn’t exist when they needed it. 

“Growing up, I didn’t have access to gender affirming gear,” Brunet said. “My parents were always watching me, and it felt like no one out there would support a young trans queer kid like me.” 

They continued by sharing how meaningful Sex and Self is to them. “I know what it means to people. I know how life-changing it can be to have access to these items. It’s important that this remains a resource at Concordia.” 

The 2023 schedule for Sex and Self is looking full. Students can anticipate many more in-person activities, educational seminars, giveaways, and Wellness Pantry refills. Those interested can follow @sexandselfconcordia on Instagram for information on upcoming events.

This article originally appeared in Volume 43, Issue 9, published January 10, 2023.