As a grown Black, queer, non-binary femme– I quite enjoy thinking about intersections of Blackness and kink and taking opportunities to embody a more sex-positive me. I recently, unknowingly, found myself at an all Black, queer, dungeon party, yep, a whole dungeon party– and it was everything. My ideology of having a pleasure-forward life is thriving, a work in progress, but had I not considered my desires for myself and listened to the ideas of others, I probably would not have this confidence.
Dismantling Unsolicited Advice and Harm
I recall a time when a childhood friend and I visited one of our favorite places– the bookstore. On this day, we stumbled across the adult erotica section. We were young school girls, very naive, impressionable, and interested in well, bodies and what they could do. We flipped the pages and chuckled just enough for one of the floor attendants to sweep around the corner and bark, “You need Jesus.” Even at that time, around nine or so, I thought to myself, “She’s full of shit.”
Even though I felt this adult was wrong, her two-second opinion undoubtedly imprinted dirtiness and shame on me. It always seemed to me that similarly to the adultification of young Black boys, little Black girls get scolded and sexualized for their developmental inquiry. How do little Black girls go from ‘cute’ to ‘fast’ so quickly?
What could have easily been an instance of compassion in a teachable moment turned into a negative introspection I’ve had to unravel over time. To this day, it puzzles me that this older Black woman could not, for her life, wrap her head around our natural curiosities at that moment. While I have since reckoned with the fact that everyone’s openness and mindset around sexuality differs, I deeply believe that the attitudes we share about sex with children are critical as it informs their quality of life in adulthood.
Curated Self-Study and Exploration in Safe Spaces
I’m grateful I received enlightened perspectives on sex from my mother in adolescence. It heavily contrasted with the other so-called ‘guidance’ at church and school. Those institutions were developmentally counterintuitive, impractical, and intolerant. Rather than using fear tactics and messages of abstinence at home, I was offered valid answers to my questions with sympathetic explanations backed by emotional and medical support whenever needed.
I didn’t encounter positive constructs about sex and sexuality from an institution apart from my family until I attended college for my undergraduate program at Georgia State University, where I studied film and sociology. I distinctly remember running around the quad with my chai in hand, excited to learn about the intersections of family, race, sex, and gender identities. I was explicitly taught how not to yuck someone else’s yum. Even though I was presented with this new information generally via white feminists in this new world of academia, I was impressed, infatuated even.
Through my coursework, I was able to witness duality. Knowing that anyone could be educated, professional, and a bonafide “freak” gave me great satisfaction. Above all, my studies prompted me to think critically about human nature with fresh, objective perspectives and pair theory and research with my own identities. I started to challenge where I found myself on the spectrum of sexuality. I began to take inventory of how I could take principles of radical self-acceptance and sexual autonomy into my own practice.
Stepping Out With An Empowered Mind…And Pussy
Leading up to my dungeon experience, I was in heavy reflection mode. I asked myself, “When do I get what I want?” At this point in my life, I’m ready for pleasure. I’m no longer the little girl ashamed for wanting to feel good. As such, I’m on a mission to make up for lost time. I owe myself bliss and satisfaction–it’s high time I explore and have more fun. I saw a post and registered for what I thought was a queer sensory mixer of sorts, and it technically was, but to my delight, I got so much more. While there, it wasn’t until I heard one of the organizers refer to the event as a dungeon party did my head cock. I didn’t feel bamboozled at all; it sparked my curiosity, and I decided to lean into the night’s events.
Unfortunately, in more cases than not, Black people, let alone Black women, are not provided messages of pleasure as a birthright, even in adulthood. While I had a good old time, I spent a few moments afterward thinking about why it was such a memorable event. I couldn’t deny the implications of the racist, patriarchal, economic, and hetero-normative factors that could have affected me adversely had the dungeon party not been run by, and exclusively crafted for, Black queer-identifying persons. Shared experience is everything.
With regard to access and gaze, it felt damn good to explore and mingle with other people who looked like me. I enjoyed the visibility and reverence for Black queer people of all walks. It essentially eliminated race-based fetishism, allowing the space to feel much safer and familiar even, although it was my first time. I didn’t have to think about the lens through which I was viewed, for what reasons, and by whom.
Plays Well With Others
The evening opened with a warm welcome, the program’s ‘why,’ and boundary introductions. This allowed folks to name their yeses and no’s with shared collective and individual-level language. Sessions and offerings included: group meditation, live music, a paddling station, a cuddle pit, a drag strip tease, and even a Shibari demonstration. The evening’s programming lent itself to how much sensuality and creativity are interconnected, a platform for self-expression. The variety of judgment-free play enticed me. Sacred spaces such as these are unique. They allow for unmasking and eliminating code-switching and other facade demands typically required of alternative lifestyle Black folks and Black kinksters navigating the heteronormative, conservative, and non-Black counterparts navigating the world.
These days, Black folks are reclaiming luxury and softness; I hope that this shift from scarcity to abundance stays to include expansive sex and intimacy practices. Marginalized people deserve contrasts of hard and soft, control and surrender–to their wills. I think about the paddle station and Shibari demonstration especially, we’re talking object impact, tying, and restraint–all reminiscent of the traumas associated with slavery. I opted for a caning…and it was therapeutic to submit on my terms. I was intrigued by the Shibari display, primarily due to the excused aftercare of the participants following the show. I found it fascinating that the practice builds in restorative measures to ensure emotional and physical tenderness and communication following intense connection.
Queen Of My Playground
Throughout the night, I felt like a kid again on a literal playground. “May I play with you?” I asked an attendee in the cuddle pit. I enjoy the feeling and aesthetic of fishnet material and simply wanted to graze her thighs. To my delight she/they warmly agreed, a light but indulgent moment.
I made my way home with big goddess energy. The dungeon party reaffirmed that pleasure is my birthright. It’s my body, and I’ll do what I want to.