Sexuality in Color: Two Amazing Pleasure and Radical Self-Love Teachers

sexuality in color blogIt’s Chanté, back with more sexuality (in color) and intersectionality. If you appreciated last week’s definitions but are still curious or you want to learn even more, you may also find this video from Taryn Crenshaw helpful.

Today I’m eager to dive into something that is fresh in my mind: pleasure, body-positivity, self-love and self-acceptance. These are concepts that are important for people of all ages to explore, especially if you’re actively navigating and shaping your own identity.

Pleasure and Radical Self-Love

Last Friday, Heather invited me to attend an event (at Women and Children First!) with them, a reading by and discussion with the renowned adrienne maree brown -- Black queer feminist, pleasure activist, healer/doula and author -- who’s got a new book out, Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good. While I was aware of the breadth and depth of her work, I didn’t know much about her personal backstory.

All of that changed after last week, because during her event she referenced being a Virgo (no wonder she’s so damn cool!) and briefly touched on a variety of complex, multi-layered topics like somatic healing, metaphysics, astrology, yoga and self-love. These are all things I love learning and talking about so I felt as though I found a long-lost soul sister.

Watching and listening to adrienne live was such a treat! She has an amazing voice, vibrant energy and a great read on people. During the Q&A, someone asked a question about how to become more open and attracted to people we aren’t normally attracted to. adrienne dove into her thoughts about decolonizing our fantasies and desire -- for more details on that, check out her blog post about the 5 tangible tools of a pleasure activist. This is something I think we should all being doing as an act of reprogramming ourselves to be more inclusive and open our minds to new possibilities of what it means to be desirable, respectable, or successful. The more I thought about it, the more excited I got about this, and I hope to explore it further.

I could go on and on about her, but instead, I think this is an appropriate place to pause, share some links to more of adrienne’s work, and let her self-represent. For those who are just discovering adrienne and her brilliant work, I recommend these items below that showcase her personality and her emergent framework:

  • First things first -- if you’re not following adrienne on twitter or Instagram (@adriennemaree) you may want to start there! Her content is diverse, informative and intriguing.
  • Her website is full of a lot of great things! Speaking of which, she wrote a post about Beyonce and Lizzo! (Me too!) If you’d like to read mine, it’s right here.
  • Since I failed to record a clip from last Friday’s event, I found a substitute: here’s a recent interview of adrienne featured on For The Wild podcast.
  • adrienne and her sister, Autumn, who seems to be just as talented, co-host a podcast (together) called How to Survive the End of the World.
  • Here’s a YouTube video of adrienne in 2017, talking about her first book, Emergent Strategy.
  • Learn about Emergent Strategy Ideation Institute, an organization founded by adrienne that's based in Detroit.

Another intersectional powerhouse to add to your list of badasses is Sonya Renee Taylor. She's the Founder of The Body Is Not An Apology -- an amazing digital hub where folx can find plenty of content about “radical self-love for everybody and every body." Sonya is an unapologetic, radical self-love enthusiast; a disability and social justice activist and an artist who boldly shares her rendition of life — being Black, a queer woman, growing up in a military family, being a child of the 80’s crack epidemic, and her experience coping with clinical depression. Here are a few places where you can start exploring Sonya and her work:

One of many quotable quotes she dropped during this event:

The reality is we are all a list of things. A list of intersections of identities that converge with each other, that compliment each other, that contradict each other; that either give us access to privilege in the world or give us access to oppression in the world. And without actually raising to our consciousness these intersections, then we don’t actually have an opportunity to create a world that facilitates our ability to live wholly at these intersections.

My hope is that the more I explore intersectionality as a foundation to identity, the more you might too. Here’s to more pleasure, more body-positivity, more self-acceptance and more self-love for all of us. May we all come to know and embody these qualities a little more each day.

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Sexuality in Color: Of Queens and Bs

Hey, hey, hey, it’s Chanté, back this week to continue the convo about sexuality and intersectionality. This week, I want to revisit a little basic terminology I brought up last time.

Sexuality and intersectionality are my jam. Why? Well, because I’m someone who identifies as so many things that talking about anything without intersectionality seems literally impossible. I think the more we can connect the two, the easier it may be to see the fluidity in and the intersections within our own identities and those of others.

If any of that’s brand-new to you, you might want to check out some content on our site about it (from awesome Scarleteen team members Al and Jacob, no less), to get yourself started:

Current Mood: #GetMeBodied

There are two Queens I need to holler at and give all the praise to right now for reminding the entire (digital) world that BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL!

drum roll, please…

#1) Beyoncé.

I got three words: SHE DID THAT. On second thought, I have three slightly better words: Get Me Bodied!

Once again, Queen B broke the damn internet when she dropped Homecoming via Netflix last month.

Of course, I stayed up way past my bedtime to attend her digital concert! Nothing (not even my kids waking up and demanding I turn down the TV) was going to stop me from singing, dancing and scrolling through my amazing social media feeds. I stayed up until 4 AM that night -- or day rather -- because I knew it was about to be LIT. The beautiful folx of Twitter and Instagram did not disappoint!

In case you missed it, I highly recommend starting here. This gem is brought to us by Patrice Peck, talented Buzzfeed writer who is has been doing a damn good job of covering all things: #blackgirlmagic, culture and technology.

Anyway, Beyoncé and her crew made me feel all the feels. I laughed, danced, cried and contemplated.

What I loved most was the intimacy of her commentary; it was powerful and poetic. I sincerely appreciated her attention to the details -- everything from the conscious curation (of black artists, performers, dancers, drummers) to Nina Simone’s voiceovers to Beyoncé sharing intimate details about her journey of coming HOME to herself after being pregnant with twins and surviving an emergency c-section. If there’s anyone who understands, I certainly do. Like Bey, I am a proud mommy of twins and went through a similar experience.

Since becoming mother of two highly active little kids, I’ve learned just how much of a sacrifice it can be to 1) conceive 2) grow and 3) raise children. It is NOT for the faint of heart. But as much as I like to joke and tell everyone that Beyoncé and are soul sisters (our names rhyme; we’re both Virgos who happened to be born in the same zip code; both have twins AND we share common interests in wanting to empower and educate urban youth within our communities.), the two of us live different realities and lifestyles.

Because of that, I wasn’t expecting a woman of her stature -- and especially because she has set a precedent: her personal life is off limits -- to blatantly share the fact that she weighed 218 pounds the day she gave birth. I also wasn’t expecting Queen B to spill the tea when it came to experiencing complications or misgivings she had about headlining at Coachella.

Ya’ll, this was a big deal to me because she’s built a brand that is iron clad. I can’t really think of a time where she’s folded OR subjected herself to being explicitly vulnerable. So when she shared such intimate details, I felt like I could FINALLY see more of myself in her. My respect and admiration for her grew tenfold this month.

Her story reminded me, and the world, that black is beautiful, bold and radiant. The glimpses into their family life was exactly what my soul had been yearning for. I loved seeing Jay Z in the background tending to their children while she worked her ass off for this comeback moment. His presence conveyed a strong message; black love and black excellence isn’t about being “Instagram perfect”. It’s about showing up and tending to your tribe. Sometimes it means taking a step back from your own spotlight to make space for your partner’s evolution and homecoming.

Now that she’s home, I can only hope this is the beginning of a new era; one where we start to experience more of the real Beyoncé and as a result, recognize the Queen in ourselves. Thank you, Beyoncé, you are the G.O.A.T.!

2) Lizzo.

Need I say more? Maybe not, but I will; she’s Black. Beautiful. Thicc. Sultry. Confident and my (new) Queen of Body Positivity!

Lizzo went mainstream when she dropped a masterpiece last month -- her album, Cuz I Love You, which quickly climbed the charts and proved to the world that black beauty is not objective, it’s subjective. YAAAS GURL! We see you and we LOVE you.

This is one of my favorite Lizzo quotes -- keep reading if you want to learn how a queen builds herself up and practices self-love:

"First off, I love my body. No matter what angle you shoot it at, no matter the lighting, my body is just so fucking beautiful all the time. I may talk shit about it sometimes, but fuck. She’s still a bad bitch," she explained.

"My second favorite thing about myself is my blackness. I am really just so honored to be graced with this identity. No shade to any other shade on the planet—I just can’t relate. I just love being a black woman, even in a world where [we] are statistically the least desirable. I am still here, and I still rise."

Want to read the full interview? You know you do. It's here.

Shout Outs, Recommendations and Resources

I discovered this awesome website last month (I know, I’m late!) and have to share with all of you - if you haven’t spent time scoping out the stories and content on ShondaLand, I implore you to do so now!

I also wanted to pass along this Upcoming QTBIPOC Series hosted in Toronto! If anyone goes, I’d love to get your thoughts and feedback!

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Hey, Hey, it’s Chanté, the new curator for Sexuality in Color!

sexuality in color: writing outside the lines at scarleteen (abstract image)Hey! I'm Chanté Thurmond, and I'm the new curator of the Sexuality in Color blog, as well as Scarleteen's Growth and Advancement Advisor. Before I share a quote that's been in my heart lately, and a shortlist of a few exceptional PoC who consistently add value to the culture and to their respective communities, I want to share a brief backstory about my journey to Scarleteen.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, I had the great fortune of meeting (and befriending) the infamous Heather Corinna, Scarleteen's founder, at an annual Teenwise conference in the Twin Cities. We became instant pals -- the two of us bonded over our shared passion and commitment to working in partnership with young people. We shared a belief that youth and emerging adults have the power to tap into their collective genius (whenever they want) and they, not adults, are the gurus of their own bodies, minds and hearts. And eventually we discovered that despite our superficial differences (like our age, race, ethnicity or zip codes), Heather and I share similar stories of origin -- we are both the firstborn child to young parents. Throughout the years, we've also come to realize that while our stories seem to have run parallel at multiple times, there are points of divergence (like our gender identities, our sexualities, our values or adopted philosophies). Either way, our respective paths have unfolded to complex intersectional identities that we inherited from our diverse, immigrant families and environments.

I think it's super important to recognize that we're all living intersectionally. Whether we name it or not, we each bring some kind of bias, privilege or cultural lens to the conversations and relationships we have -- be it IRL or virtually. So, while Sexuality in Color is curated by me -- a proud person of color (PoC) -- I won't ever claim to speak on behalf of ALL PoC. My experience is simply one of many.

Our histories never unfold in isolation. We cannot truly tell what we consider to be our own histories without knowing the other stories. And often we discover that those other stories are actually our own stories. - Angela Davis

More and more, I'm reminded just how intersectional we all are, even among biological siblings who've lived with the same parents in the same house. For instance, what is offensive to me as a Black Latinx, cisgender millennial woman may not be so for my younger sister, who identifies the exact same way. Whenever we do have differences of opinions, I don't find it productive to debate how or why. I've come to feel it's much more helpful if we simply acknowledge and accept that while we're the same, we're extremely different and it's perfectly okay.

Anyway, here's the shit I really need to talk about: lately, I've been post-traumatically triggered by violent images and language hijacking my social media channels, group chats, radio and television. Most recently, and so sadly, this has come from so many things I've seen on #BlackTwitter. The back and forth banter within our tribe has been going from zero to 100, real quick. It's been everything from: R. Kelly, Michael Jackson, relentless anti-abortion trolls, stonings in Brunei and the pervasive misogyny from Silicon Valley to DC.

The one that really broke my spirit is the tragic murder of Nipsey Hussle. Every time I think about the love and loss his partner, Lauren London, is living through, I experience a profound spiritual heaviness. Maybe it's because I sincerely appreciated their positive display of Black love and excellence. Maybe it's because Nip strongly resembles my partner, or because I know deep down inside this hit way too close to home. Gun violence is a pervasive public health issue within our community that cannot be ignored, one of many on the long list of traumas that we as people of color suffer.

Whenever I find myself feeling sad, lost or disconnected from my culture, I do a little life hack that I want to share.
I've created several curated lists of folks who share my values or who are adding something positive to the culture. When Twitter and Instagram feel like much too much, I immediately go to my short list of inclusionary voices.

Here are six gems I want to shout out for being strong, vibrant voices who consistently show-up and add value to the collective community. Thank you in advance for being great examples of how to effectively use your influence and position of power to clap back and reclaim our power as PoC. I see you and I appreciate you.

Short List of Sexuality In Color Badasses You Should Know
  • Erica Hart - Queer, Poly, Sex Educator who is  a proud cancer survivor. Unapologetic Black Activist (on and offline) who calls a spade a spade.
  • Twitter: @iHartEricka
  • Website:
  • Zach Stafford - Young, Black Unicorn on the fast track to owning the LGBTQ media & tech star space! Currently EIC of The Advocate; Previously Chief Content Officer of Grindr.
  • Twitter: @ZachStafford
  • Annie Segarra (aka Annie Elainey) - Queer, Disability Advocate and Latinx who is the definition of intersectionality! And don't forget successful YouTube content creator and artist!
  • Twitter: @annielainey
  • Blair Imani - Black, Queer and Muslim Activist turned Author. Maybe you've heard of her, maybe you haven't?! If you're looking for a young, inspiring PoC who can make you laugh, cry or march, click here!
  • Twitter: @BlairImani
  • C. Riley Snorton - Black, Queer, Transgender Author and Professor (English and Gender and Sexuality Studies) at the University of Chicago
  • Books: Black On Both Sides (2017) and Nobody is Supposed to Know: Black Sexuality on the Down Low (2014)
  • Twitter: @Crileysnorton
  • Britteney Black Rose Kapri - Chicago-based Author and teaching artist for Young Chicago Authors. Her bio on her website is probably the best I've seen yet: Pro Black. Pro Queer. Pro Hoe. | I write shit. I talk shit. I teach shit. (I'm jealous af of that copy!!)
  • Book: Black Queer Hoe (2018)
  • Twitter: @BlkRseKapri 

From my heart to yours; thank you.

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