A few years ago, I began writing & compiling “living” draft notes about the sexual & sensual lives of Black women & queer people of color (QPOC) socialized in Black Evangelical church spaces. Published pieces, drafts-in-progress, social media posts, personal voice notes, and conversations with close friends were the mediums I used to engage questions like:
- What have we learned about our sexuality from the institution of the church?
- How did members of biological or fictive “church families” reinforce those beliefs? Divest from those beliefs? Or (most often) divest from some while reinforcing others?
- How could we use the faculties of intellect AND creativity to heal from sexually repressive norms & expectations? What would this LOOK like?
It seemed that I was not alone:
“Digital ethnography reveals burgeoning communities of critical questioning regarding the sexual politics of Black churched women. Online groups such as ‘The Unfit Christian Congregation”, curated by D. Danyelle Thomas have opened up new pathways to discuss sex & sexuality in the Black church & the church, writ large. Hashtags such as #Blackchurchsex, (created by Ahmad Green-Hayes, projects like “Sex is a God Thing”, (by erotic coach and former praise dancer, Rashida KhanBey-Miller), online forums such as #BlackSkinWhiteSin on The Feminist Wire (curated by Dr. Tamura Lomax, author of Jezebel Unhinged: Loosing the Black Female Body in Religion and Culture), written materials on The Churched Feminist, Candice Benbow‘s Red Lip Theology (and more) allow us the chance of digital conversation with theologians, faith leaders, educators, and integrative practitioners. The curation that happens in these spaces and beyond allows participants to ask questions, receive feedback in real-time, share resources, and actively suss out what information is necessary for their further reflection. These practices and spaces allow us to hear the lived experiences of others and build more accessible community libraries on such topics. The work of embracing our erotic selves as Black churched women is a work that must happen across socioeconomic stratification. Perhaps social media platforms allow greater access for us to question, reframe, and synthesize – together…” (excerpt from unpublished draft, “A Seat at Mother Bynum’s Table: Resisting Warped Trajectories of Healing for Black Evangelical Women”, by Jade T. Perry & Indhira Udofia).
So, I read everything I could get my hands on regarding sexuality and its intersections e.g. books on sexuality, poetry discussing desire, texts by theologians on what we perceive to be “Biblical sexuality” & the fallacies therein, attended a panel featuring Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, the writer of Sexuality & the Black Church. My travels, conversations, and various engagements of this work led me to my new ‘comadres’ and now dear, dear friends: Black women who are scholars, sex workers, sex positive polyam artists, sex educators, sensuality coaches, and intuitive healers & mystics of all disciplines.
Through this, and writings of my own, I uncovered a very simple through line: Honoring our erotic, sensual, sexual selves is crucial to the well-being of Black women & QPOC and is supported by the Divine.
Immediately afterward, my next question emerged:
“Okay so, like… cool shit & all but… HOW?!” (Haha!)
HOW to honor MY sexual self?! As a mystic, I know that there are some questions that no one else can answer for you. Scholars, artists, healers, etc. can all provide artifacts and guides that point out a variety of options. It was my intention to reference these artifacts and to use my own intuitive gifts & skills to answer this over the course of time.
On my 28th birthday, I went to an appointment with a trusted reiki healer, a queer woman of color (as is my preference for most personal healing services). She held her hands in the air, directly above my vulva, and said… “It’s feeling a bit cold here.” I knew exactly what she meant before she explained. I knew that this had little to do with my levels of sexual activity. It was more about the fulfillment and em[BODY]ment of my OWN sensual energy. I had no idea of its quality. I knew that honoring my sensual self was important but found myself at a loss of how to honor it in a way that felt authentic.
I didn’t experience any breakthroughs until the timing was right. For me, this timing included:
- The collisions of my journey as a burgeoning mystic bae, personalized ritual creator & intuitive tarot consultant (which, if you’re only familiar with my work here may seem quite random! Check out the work I’m doing with co-founders Teresa Pasquale Mateus & Ra Mendoza over at The Mystic Soul Project)
- The re-imagining of my body’s capacity post a traumatic incident, a medical leave of absence, & flare up of chronic illness
- Beginner level sessions in strip dance & sensual floor work, under Rashi’s tutelage
I knew what I was stripping off once the red light came on: purity culture myths, years of ingesting religious material that damned & derided my queerness, my physical ability, my sensuality, and the physical body itself. I knew that one of the mediums of my work was to deconstruct this and for my own healing, to remove my sensual self from the White gaze, the male gaze, the heterosexist & able-bodied gaze. But to be clear… “To engage in dismantling these precepts is to also engage with the psychic toll that it takes to make repeated dips into this stream”. So… I offered myself Embodied Rituals™ which allowed me to get to know, appreciate, and fully honor my sensual-spiritual Self. I now wish to share some of them with you through various mediums (e.g. social media posts, writing, artistic installations, & reflective activities).
These are ongoing projects (as most are), but all of my writing about sex, sexuality, sensual, etc. will go under the InterSEXtional Projects category & will be linked in this page. Additionally, I plan to share materials from the ongoing Embodied Rituals™ Project as both time & capacity allow. I want to thank you for going on this journey with me & I look forward to answering the question of how we can honor our erotic, sensual, sexual selves – in dialogue with you!
Feature Photo Credit: Ally Almore