Richard Gere's Brother Helped Found a "Sex Squad" at UCLA
Clockwise starting at top: Steven Gordon, Susana Hernandez, Yicela Vera, Lakhiyia Hicks, Maya Ram, Annabel Parker, Kelly Gluckman, Riy Mutakabbir
Photo by Claire Hoch-Frohman
Back in 2008, David Gere, founder and director of UCLA's Arts and Global Health Center (and brother of actor Richard Gere), organized a co-ed creative performance with theater director Kevin Kane in 2008 to explore sex ed topics in a innovative, creative way. Bobby Gordon joined the group, chose the name Sex Squad — and the rest is history.
As the squad prepares for its annual Valentine’s Day performance (Feb. 10 at UCLA’s Glorya Kaufman Hall; tickets available here) and to go on a tour of L.A. schools, they took time to reflect on and share their message with Angelenos. Assistant director of the Art and Global Health Center, Elizabeth Nails, and Sex Squad members Annabel Parker, Susana Hernandez and Kelly Gluckman share tips on how we can all have a killer Valentine’s Day this year.
What creates true love?
Kelly: Open, loving, honest communication, where both people in the relationship feel like they are being heard.
Susana: Aside from loving each other, you have to love yourself. Realize what you want in that relationship and what boundaries you do not want crossed, how to address them and how to talk about them when they are crossed.
Elizabeth: People can reinvent what Valentine’s Day is instead of a commercialized day. Finding self-joy, self-worth, good communication and sex positivity!
What does "sex positivity" mean?
Annabel: Sex positivity is about communication and having a positive outlook on everything you do. Not being self-conscious.
Kelly: To me it means being able to explore your sexuality with your partner. Express yourself while making sure you're being tested before, using protection, communicating if it’s monogamous or, if it’s an open relationship, using protection with all your partners. Not shaming one’s expression of sexuality. As long as you’re not hurting people! Unless that’s something you like, and then you express that to your partner!
Elizabeth: Whatever a sexual identity, even if you choose to be celibate or not have sex yet, you are not left out of the conversation, and it’s sexy in and of itself.
Is sex mandatory on Valentine’s dates?
Kelly: Not mandatory!
Susana: Sex is never mandatory. There are people who are asexual and so it’s never mandatory.
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Elizabeth: There’s a lot of pressure to fit in some mold, especially on Valentine’s Day, but we unpack those expectations and are giving permission to feel awkward and confused [but] there is nothing expected or mandatory.
How do you practice self-love?
Kelly: I have toys. #notashamed!
Anabel: I put on some nice clothes and go to the Getty Museum. I can see so much of L.A. and there are so many people out there I have yet to meet. Every person is a piece of art and knowing them makes life more lovely.
Susana: I do things that calm me down or make me feel good. I listen to music, write a poem, walk alone or go to a museum.
Kelly: Solitude is really important. Taking the time to process things and be alone.
Anabel: You need to be alone and be your own rock. If you depend on another person, well, you should always be able to depend on yourself fully.
What is your “love” advice for Angelenos?
Susana: Love is between you and your partner. You don’t need to explain it to anybody else.
Elizabeth: L.A. is about self-judgment that is really a judgment of others. We have so much to be grateful for and [need to remember] how beautiful individuality is.
Kelly: People in L.A. are concerned with image. Superficiality is so fleeting and unnecessary. We should be concerned about character, integrity, passion and contribution. Look at people as humans. I’ve dated a lot before my current guy in L.A., and I say … have fun!
Listen to the Sex Squad.
Photo by Claire Hoch-Frohman
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