In the new documentary A Sexplanation, released June 7, gay health reporter Alex Liu (pictured), 36, takes viewers on a journey to better understand sex by offering a sex education that is rooted in finding the fun and beauty in carnal pleasure.
Liu, who also directed and co-wrote the film, explores sex through a range of lenses from the scientific to the religious, featuring interviews with psychologists, sex researchers, a Jesuit priest, and several generations of Liu's family.
"With humor and grit, Alex takes audiences on a playful, heartfelt journey from a shame-filled past to a happier, healthier, sexier future," says the film's synopsis.
It's also a bit personal for Liu, who, like many before him, was introduced to sex by way of the internet. When it came to sex education, Liu's experience was the same as that of many other American students: Sex was taught to be something bad, with a focus on the pains of childbirth and the images of untreated sexually transmitted infections.
Add in the fact that Liu is gay, and the fear that came from his sex-ed classes became ingrained. He believed sex would be the end of him. And because his sex-ed classes weren't filling him in on gay sex, he wound up on porn sites, secretly trying to discover what he was looking for. That led Liu to a place of isolation and guilt, so much so that he began having suicidal thoughts.
However, things have turned around for Liu. In A Sexplanation, he uses his experience as a platform to support better sex ed. He discovered that "it's never too late to have 'the talk.'"
It's something needed today as well. Liu notes that legislation like Florida's "don't say gay" law can be chalked up to people having a lack of understanding when it comes to sex, gay or otherwise."I'm empathetic towards parents who buy the 'don't say gay' panic -- they never got a good sex education either," Liu says. "This film tells the story of why silence is a deafening, shaming message and how early sex ed helps families connect over difficult but necessary conversations."
This story is part of The Advocate's 2022 Advocacy and Politics issue, which is out on newsstands July 18, 2022. To get your own copy directly, support queer media and subscribe -- or download yours for Amazon, Kindle, Nook, or Apple News.