This is one area where my training has started to help me on a personal front. We learn fairly early on in the program that, as educators, it's important to work from our students' existing knowledge base in teaching them new concepts. Through the utilization of this existing knowledge we can scaffold (and here) their learning to provide support as they reform their current understandings of the world. The same goes for our friends, our family, and all of those awesome new acquaintances we're constantly meeting at parties in our spare time (amiright?), since "What do you do?" seems to be one of the most common things to talk about with people you've just met in American society. (Thanks, Levinson.)
One of the most important things I've learned since entering this program is not to say immediately that I'm in school to be a "sexuality educator." That too often leads to the response of, "Oh," before the conversation quickly and awkwardly ends. Instead, I first tell people that I'm learning to be (just) "an educator." Then, if they inquire further, this opens the door to talking about my focus in human sexuality studies. Saying first that I'm training to be an educator gives most people a familiar concept with which to grapple before they're stymied by the S-E-X word. And at that point they often feel confident enough about understanding at least one thing I've said to ask questions and try to understand more.
Sometimes, I get frustrated that I have to start from the basics every time. But what's even more frustrating is the outcome of trying to jump ahead, beyond my audience's conceptual understanding, so that a dialogue—which is what the process of education really is, when we break that concept down to a basic level—can't even happen. So starting with the basic concepts provides a practical jumping-off point for the conversation to take place, even in these non-classroom situations. I also know that, despite it being frustrating sometimes, having to start with the basics in these conversations and the existence of situations seen in the "Sh*t People Say to Sexologists" video are good indicators of the need for sexuality educators to be out in the world. The moment this thing called the "sexuality educator" isn't needed is the moment a conversation won't end in awkward silence, or the moment when an incredulous assertion that our field of study isn't a real thing won't be made simply because the word "sexuality" was used. It will also, hopefully, be the moment when laws like Tennessee's "gateway sexual activity" bill are less of a norm than an exception. (Read the bill.)
So the need to start with the basics in these conversations is also a call to be "out" as sexuality educators and sexologists. Because whether or not I am in "the classroom," I am still in the classroom. And whether or not I am speaking to my primary target audience, they still need that education, for their sake and mine, at least about the very basics of what sexuality education is. Unless people know about what we're doing and can relate to the concepts, there's no way that things will change in our lifetime. And there are very few other people who know how to do that education. While there may certainly be times when it is wiser to stay in the human sexuality educator closet, it is almost always the case that sexuality educators need to be out as sexuality educators no matter where we are or what we are doing. And it just so happens that there are good ways, provided by our education as sexuality educators, to do that.