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Ico Fish on the journey of Enlightened Consent

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Image courtesy of Enlightened Consent Foundation
Image courtesy of Enlightened Consent Foundation

A big challenge living as a Queer person today is learning and internalizing that one's own feelings are okay — and it's no secret why that challenge exists. The world teaches us that certain desires are shameful, even when they don't really hurt anyone. Even when they would do the opposite of hurting, and lead people to a personal (and often mutual) truth and fulfillment, the shame remains.

And though this challenge is out in the open, it's difficult for many to find a space accepting enough in which to explore their feelings fully. Enter Ico Edward Fish, a "sacred sexuality coach" offering counseling to LGBTQ+ people, as well as those who are kinky, polyamorous, or both.

"One of my superpowers," said Fish in a Zoom interview, "is being able to hold people in unconditional love and acceptance as they explore who they want and what they desire. Because once they have that visceral experience of it actually being okay, and being loved and accepted for who it is they want and what they desire, it's much easier for them to love and accept themselves."

Fish's counseling practice began around 2009. But their journey to where they are today took a winding path, their practice evolving as they learned more about their own identity and sexuality.

That more general process started in 2004, when Fish started to get into personal growth work. "I started reading everything I could about women, dating, sex, and attraction," they said. Some of that reading introduced them to the idea of ethical nonmonogamy (ENM), which eventually led Fish to the idea of polyamory, which they found suited their need for emotional connection better.

As Fish continued their personal growth work, they noticed a pattern. "I found more and more people starting to share really intimate things with me, and then saying, 'I have never shared anything like this before with anyone,'" Fish said. "It was that, and another personal growth course, that pointed me in the direction of becoming a relationship coach."

"As I also developed my spiritual side," they added. "I came to realize that I was helping guide people to the truths of their heart and soul."

For some time after this revelation, Fish played with their image. "I tried to make myself into what I thought a relationship guru looked like. I had been an accountant in IT work... and I got tired of people looking at me and saying, 'Are you an accountant? Are you in IT?'"

Their solution at the time was simple: "I grew out this really long beard."

A 2018 communications course brought another change. "People kept reflecting to me, 'There's something getting in the way of me connecting with you. I can't put my finger on it. I don't know what it is,'" Fish recounted.

"Then there was some kind of what I can only say is divine inspiration. On the very last day of the course, I did something that I'd never expected myself to do. I shaved off my beard completely and let that go. I put on a blouse, and a skirt, and pantyhose, and I showed up to the last session dressed feminine-presenting."

Feedback from everyone in the course was positive, Fish said. Whatever was getting in the way of people connecting with them was gone, and the instructor said that as long as they denied that feminine side of themself, something would be missing from their life.

This isn't to say Fish has themself completely "figured out." Throughout the interview, they talked about their growth not in the past tense but in the present progressive.

Their for-profit counseling practice is just one part of Fish's Enlightened Consent brand. On the nonprofit side of things, the Enlightened Consent Foundation is the latest effort in Fish's "commitment to the divine" to cause a "paradigm shift in how humanity relates to sexuality and sexual expression." They realized early on that such a monumental task would require help, especially with such a diverse clientele, who might not always want to "mix." For example, someone might be LGBTQ+ but not kinky or polyamorous.

Part of what the foundation aims to do is create a network of sex educators, relationship coaches, and tantra teachers who share the same mission. Fish compared their own role in that mission to that of a travel agent, someone who helps people recognize their own feelings and presents possible destinations. Others in the network would act more like tour guides, with knowledge and experience of shortcuts, pitfalls, and beauty others might miss.

In other words, if you were just discovering that you're Trans, the foundation could put you in touch with someone who's been living as Trans for a long time. The same goes for someone discovering that they're into rope play, or that they're polyamorous.

Fish talked at length about Enlightened Consent's biggest event yet, a three-day "LGBTQ+ Art of Love" online summit. Each day has a different theme, with live talks from teachers to match. Fish said their goal for attendance is at least 100 LGBTQ+ people and allies.

Day 1 will cover "loving yourself and everything inside of you," with speakers like Jonathan Troen, founder of Self Love Revolution. Day 2 will get into "loving others and everything outside of you," and day 3 will wrap it up with "loving the all, bringing the inner and outer together to love the whole that you already are," featuring Samson Love, a Nonbinary shaman with an ineffable presence.

Tickets to the summit are $47 per person. One-day passes are also available at a discount. To get involved, book an appointment, or find out more, visit http://www.enlightenedconsent.org/.