I don’t think I’ve made it so much of a secret that I enjoy sex…a lot. I mean, I literally have “Hoe” in my pseudonym. And anyone on following me on Twitter is well-aware of my fondness of all things sex. But yea, in case you’re new to my writing, I absolutely love sex…and this post can serve as an introduction into my views around sexuality as far as it relates to this blog.
For this topic, I think it’s important to discuss how my ability to own my sexuality in an unapologetic way was an important precursor to also owning my Blackness and Queerness in an unapologetic way. Sex-positivity, a concept which originated with feminism, has highly informed much of my attitude around LGBTQ issues and Black issues (and Black LGBTQ issues) and I believe anyone who’s looking to work towards any kind of liberation should take on a more open mindset around all things concerning sexuality.
For my personal journey, I was always outspoken about racism, but I didn’t find full confidence in expressing myself in a way that felt fully affirming and authentic until I was able to own all parts of myself—sexuality, included. Fact of the matter is, sexuality has always been a big part of me, but it had long been something I felt like I had to obscure or hide. It wasn’t until I found the Leather/BDSM scene back in late 2011, and started attending leather events and immersing myself in the community in early 2012, that I started to become more confident in my sexuality. As that confidence grew, my advocacy towards social issues followed right along. I found myself embracing normative ideals far less and replacing them with more radical ones. I also found myself caring less about what others thought. As I’ve found myself stepping more into “Unapologetic Blackness” over the last couple of years, the mindset that was instilled into me via the sex-positive scene just fit like a glove.
What makes sexual liberation so crucial to any other form of liberation is it speaks to giving people space to explore sexuality in a way that’s true and authentic for them, which means you’re more fully embracing who you are as a whole person. How might that look? Well, it’ll mean different things for different people. For some, it means feeling free to go to a sex party as often as you wish. For others, it means opening your relationship to outside parties…even branching said relationship out to a polyamorous dynamic. It could mean exploring BDSM. It could even mean no sexual activity, altogether. Examples abound. The point is that you’re fully owning yourself and not allowing fear of judgement or persecution to deter you, and doing so in a way that respects everyone else’s autonomy (and consent) to do the same.
Because sex-positivity is rooted in feminism, it’s usually associated with women. And while it’s absolutely crucial for women to be able to own their sexuality in a world that teaches them that sexuality is something for them to offer men (rather than something to enjoy for themselves), fact is, sexual liberation is crucial for men, too. For Queer men, this kind of goes without saying…there are many parts of the world that still persecute men for having any form of sexual relations or affection with other men (violent homophobia is still an issue here in the U.S., as well). We have many systemic hurdles to overcome in being able to embrace who we are.
But even cisgender, heterosexual (cishet) men stand to benefit greatly from this. Although cishet men are granted far more space than any other demographic to be sexual, that doesn’t necessarily translate to full autonomy to explore sexuality. While there’s far less stigma on cishet male sexuality, the activities that they’re “allowed” to do within a patriarchal world are still limited…this is especially true of cishet Black men. Basically, if it’s anything beyond getting your dick sucked or fucking a (cisgender) woman—and maybe eating pussy—then anything they do is gonna be subject to judgment. We saw a prime example of this earlier this year, when Amber Rose clapped back on Kanye West for his attacks on her by disclosing that Kanye loves to have his ass played with…even calling him a “Fingers in the Booty Ass Bitch.” While fully justified in going for the jugular against Kanye, Amber knew exactly what she was doing in that response. The insinuation is that, if a man has anything up his ass, then he’s assuming a “feminine” role and therefore he’s “weak” (something I’ve expanded on in this piece).
We also saw an example from the first season of the new series Insecure, where Molly ended up dumping a guy after he disclosed to her that he had one sexual encounter with another man back when he was in college, despite the fact that she disclosed to him that she had an experience with another woman. It speaks to a very real, toxic perception that if a straight man ever touches another man, even just once, then he’s automatically gay, and many women won’t have him. This also leads to the erasure and discriminatory attitudes towards Bisexual and Pansexual men.
…and then there was that whole thing with Michael B. Jordan and Ryan Coogler…ugh.
Some dudes equate pretty much any human, reasonable or otherwise healthy activity to being gay.
Telling on themselves, more than anything. https://t.co/akfMWr4qJc
— @angryblackhoemo (Account is permanently banned) December 12, 2016
Really, it all boils down to homophobia (which directly harms gay, and otherwise Queer-identified, men). Men, in general, aren’t given the space to explore themselves sexually and most end up repressing it, which partially feeds into the toxic mindsets that we see from many men (as an example, think of all of the cishet men who commit violence against trans women in response to their attraction to those very women…which they often don’t have space to openly claim).
Feminism and sex-positivity go a long way towards addressing this, very issue.
Sidebar: While I’m not focusing on it in this, particular piece, it’s also important to acknowledge how gender expression & gender identity play a crucial role in intersecting with sexuality.
For my own experience, I’d long felt like my various identities (Black, gay and sexual…and yes, the last two are separate) all worked against each other. Blackness (within white supremacist patriarchal systems) discriminates against homosexuality and discourages against open and honest sexuality, in general (as outlined throughout this post); the gay/LGBTQ scene discriminates against Blackness (as I’ve previously covered) and, in many cases, discourages sexuality; and even the sex-positive scene often puts Black and/or gay people in situations where we might be discriminated against in those terms. But in my opinion, all of those issues boil back down to white supremacy, patriarchy and/or respectability. Once I realized that these identities actually can (and should) work with each other, I started to feel far more secure and empowered in who I am…I felt more like a full human being. And this is what I think is crucial for us, collectively, as Black people.
A sex-positive mindset lends itself to a more liberated mindset, in general, because, for many of us, sexuality actually shapes a lot of who we are. Being able to openly and unapologetically own that, and respect others’ ability to do the same, will allow one to be a more full and liberated person, which makes Black liberation that much more attainable…and, even more importantly, sustainable. How can we be liberated as a people if so many of us are stuck compartmentalizing and/or hiding important parts of ourselves, instead of being able to exist as whole human beings?
If we’re imagining a world where all Black people are free, then that has to include a world where we all have the space to explore our sexuality in honest, healthy and humane ways, as sexuality informs much of who we are as individuals (even if that’s little or no sexuality, at all…there should space for that, too).
Sexual liberation is a crucial part of Black liberation that can’t be dismissed.
If you enjoyed this post or any of my other work, and please consider supporting my efforts with a donation!