Sex Talk in the City exhibit opens at Museum of Vancouver

Los Angeles photographer Bob Mizer advertised Physique Pictorial for bodybuilding and wrestling enthusiasts, but Canadian and U.S.A censors were not fooled. (Vancouver Museum)

The diversity of conversations about sex in the city is the subject of a new exhibition opening at the Vancouver Museum on Valentine's Day.

The Talking Sex in Vancouver exhibit will give visitors a chance to consider how sexuality is not only biological, but also cultural and political, according to curator Viviane Gosselin.

"Looking at Vancouver’s sexual history has enabled us to see that many people in the city have challenged the sexual norms of their time — whether it is on issues of contraception, gay rights, or the ergonomics of sex toys — to create communities that are more inclusive and educated," said Gosselin.

The exhibition includes historical sexual devices, educational material and stories ranging from early sex education in Vancouver, to political movements at UBC.

One surprising historical tidbit is the local origins of the iconic black cougar logo that for decades warned movie audiences about sexually explicit content.

Other topics include sex trade work, the role of the internet as 'sex educator' to many children, and the way in which the pleasure of belonging can be as important as pleasure itself, said Gosselin.

"Exploring what people in Vancouver think about sex becomes a telling way to know the city," said Gosselin.

The creation of Sex Talk in the City involved the participation of Options for Sexual Health, the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, the Vancouver School Board, public health experts, activists, sexologists, educators, youth, and historians.

"Visitors are sure to leave wanting to share their own quirky stories about their first time, their sex-ed class experience, or the awkward birds and bees conversation they had with their parents," promises Gosselin.

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Original publication date: 
February 12, 2013