Jane Johanson on having famend sexpert Sue Johanson as a mother

When somebody finds out I’m Sue Johanson’s daughter, their entire face lights up. Their entire physique transforms they usually’re like, Whaaat?! There’s a tremendous shift in vitality. It’s fairly extraordinary.

All people has a narrative about Sue, Canada’s best-known sexual educator. “Oh, my goodness, Sue got here to my faculty once I was 12,” or “We listened to Sue on the radio within the automobile,” or “I used to have the radio by my mattress in order that my mother and father couldn’t hear.”

Regardless of her outspoken public persona, I had a really regular upbringing. My dad was in a position to earn a living from home managing a land improvement firm, and Mum didn’t actually get into her line of labor till I used to be a teen. Once I was a child, she made our garments; she taught us how one can knit and stitch; and she or he baked in order that we got here residence from faculty to the scent of cookies within the oven.

Once I was about 13, Mum opened a sexual well being clinic for youngsters. Earlier than she had us children, she was a registered nurse, and she or he felt there was an absence of entry to contraception at the moment in our space; the situation, in an area highschool, was appropriate for teenagers to go to anonymously. The concept took place as a result of an acquaintance of mine from highschool had change into pregnant at a younger age and had nobody to show to. She got here to Sue for recommendation and that received the ball rolling. Sue felt that had there been a spot for this lady to go, this unplanned being pregnant might have been averted.

After the contraception clinic opened, it took off. Mum began instructing about intercourse and protected contraception in colleges. She even taught in my class. I bear in mind being in Grade 11 or 12 and listening to that Sue Johanson was coming to speak to us and I might really feel myself sitting in my seat like, Oh, no, right here we go. I used to be blushing, however deep down I used to be so pleased with what she was doing.

My sister and I each labored on the clinic once we have been youngsters. There have been two submitting cupboards, a counselling room, and slightly examination desk for the physician to do a sexual wellness verify. Nobody received paid at first. There have been medical doctors and nurses, social employees and public well being employees volunteering their time. There have been at all times individuals lined up within the hallway ready. Then as the general public well being division realized that it was one thing viable, Mum was in a position to get salaries for employees.

I used to be the receptionist, coping with individuals who weren’t that a lot older than I used to be. I had pals and children from faculty who would come into the contraception clinic and there I used to be, sitting behind the desk asking for his or her names and making a file for them and attempting to stay calm. I needed to be respectful of anybody who was courageous sufficient at that age to need to go on the contraception capsule or get different contraception. I discovered at a really younger age that intercourse was additionally a non-public factor. Mum made it very public together with her work, however for those who wanted privateness, you might discover it. These teenagers have been nervous, too: They’d see me and their eyes would go extensive. However after they realized that my lips have been sealed and I wasn’t going to return to highschool and unfold this round, a belief developed.

By the point I used to be 16, my pals have been sexually lively. I used to be not. I used to be curious and experimenting, however I don’t assume I felt that stress to have intercourse as a result of I knew I wasn’t prepared. I felt too younger.

Individuals assume that as a result of I used to be raised with Sue that I went to her for all my sexual questions. I completely didn’t! It’s not that Mum wasn’t amenable to that—she was. She would have cherished for us to come back to her to inquire about intercourse and sexual well being, however I simply couldn’t. I didn’t need to hear it from my Mum. Mum had three children and I bear in mind saying to her, “You probably did that 3 times?” I don’t assume any child needs to listen to about intercourse and sexuality from their mother and father. You don’t need your mother telling you that the person does this, and to pleasure a person you do that after which this. No.

In a manner, not operating to my Mum with questions or letting her into my sexual world was my teenage rebel. I wished my intercourse and sexuality to be non-public. However, if I introduced pals residence they usually began speaking to her, they have been in heaven and so was Mum. I would go away the room and they might keep within the kitchen and drink tea, and she or he would speak to them about intercourse. How handy that I might go to my pals and discover out about intercourse from them afterward.

We didn’t have Google again then; for those who had a query about how one can give a hand job or how one can put a condom on again then, you have been by yourself, discovering issues out—and generally too late. That’s what was vital to Sue: She wished to catch children earlier than it was too late, earlier than they needed to make selections they didn’t need to make.

I used to be lately attending a 10-day silent retreat in Barrie, Ont., when the concept for a documentary about my Mum’s legacy burbled up within me. Upon returning residence, I purchased a video digicam and began getting Mum, now 92, on tape, asking her questions on her life and filming household events. I wished Sue to be remembered for the way in which she blazed a novel path for herself. I spent loads of time gathering photographs, outdated VCR movies of interviews and appearances, and going by books she had written. Then I began my seek for a documentary filmmaker who might make this imaginative and prescient come to life. Sue was a pioneer who individuals knew and cherished, and I didn’t need her to be forgotten.

Once I was a child, I wouldn’t watch Mum getting interviewed by David Letterman or Jay Leno. It was too embarrassing. She would come out in her brilliant yellow skirt and strappy little sneakers and her glasses and smile, and she or he’d be waving her palms round. And I’d be considering, Oh, god, there she is. And but now I see that clip and assume, God bless; have a look at you! She was up towards loads of odds. She broke down boundaries.

I’m simply glad she was in a position to stay protected by all of it. Now it’s getting ugly once more. In the event you have a look at intercourse and sexuality curriculum in colleges right now, we’re strolling backward. I feel Sue can be saddened and ashamed that that is occurring in any case that tough work. Hopefully issues will flip round.

Once I watched the trailer of the ultimate product, our documentary Sex With Sue, I used to be bursting with pleasure. I’m so lucky to have this wonderful girl as my mom. Lately, if I had a query about intercourse, I’d haven’t any downside going to her and she or he’d be capable to reply even now. Isn’t that a gorgeous factor in any case this time?

Intercourse with Sue premieres Oct. 10 at 9 p.m. on W.