Monday, September 22, 2014

Lesson 8: Lessons Learned as a LatiNegra Sexologist

Lesson:

To have a community member "call you out"/hold you accountable it is a gift.

Life Lesson:

Lots of folks get caught up in a "call out culture" where some folks seem to be waiting for you to fuck up and blast you. This is not everyone all the time. But, when you are wrong, and you are held accountable, corrected, and have the opportunity to apologize and learn, take it! This is a gift of love, especially if it is by someone you know well, and most especially if it is by someone you do not know well.

Folks are hurt and oppressed in numerous ways. When you act in a way that maintains that oppression, hurt, and are told you actions have resulted in such pain; that is your opportunity to unlearn and make change. Take advantage and do the work.

Here's what has helped in the past:

You respond by saying "thank you," to the person/people who have held you accountable. You acknowledge the gift and what you have done wrong by saying "i appreciate you holding me accountable about what I did/said that resulted in xyz." You then you make your own plan to unlearn and you be transparent about that work. In the past what has helped is "I am going to leave this post for accountability purposes, I'd like to edit it with a link to what I plan to do in my un/learning process." Then you outline your un/learning process and hold yourself accountable. You then do what you say you will do. At times you may provide a public check in, or if folks inquire you share as much as is comfortable at the time. You end with saying "thank you" again. Sometimes you may repeat this lesson above in closing.

Without realizing it, folks will be paying attention to how you respond, what you say, and how you say it to the folks impacted. People will also appreciate witnessing your transparency. It will help some folks when they find themselves in similar situations. It will be helpful as a guide and reminder that they are not alone, the heat they may feel moving through their body, is not foreign, many have felt this and may feel this again.

You will then be able to provide the same accountability to others in your network. You will do so with compassion and from a place of love and respect. To realize that anger can manifest from love and respect is important to remember. You may say to folks "you did/said xyz and that is hurtful because it is xyz. When I am held accountable I remember it's from a place of love and respect and wish to mirror that in our exchange." This is what it may mean to stand in solidarity with people and groups of which you may not be a part but who too are working towards their own liberation.

For inquires or to hire bi visit her site or email bianca@biancalaureano.com

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Lesson 7: Lessons Learned as a LatiNegra Sexologist

Lesson:

What you write and create has value.

Life Lesson:

It may feel like folks don't ever read or engage with your work and with you unless it it so critique you. It may be true from time to time. That does not ever invalidate your body of work and creations. What you write, some may not read, others may, some may forget, others not ever want to know. But you know you wrote and created what you did and that is what is important.

Then, one day, someone will write you saying your creation or writing impacted them in some way. You won't expect it, you may view your work as old and may even see parts that you'd want to write or edit differently. Nonetheless, what you created was something folks appreciated. Even if just one person appreciated it, that's enough.

Then, on another day, you'll decide it's time. It's time to write more, write a book, create a film, write life lessons. You'll believe it's time to share some of what you've held onto and learned from, you'll recognize the dearth in the field and wish to fill it in new ways with new media. And you will do it. And it will fill you. And you won't care who does/not read or engage with what you create because you will learn that the folks who want what you have will find you and seek you out and build with you. And you will build with them. 

For inquires or to hire bi visit her site or email bianca@biancalaureano.com

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Lesson 6: Lessons Learned as a LatiNegra Sexologist

Lesson:

There are supportive and helpful and genuine racially white people in the field. You have the right to be cautious, but know they do exist. Choose carefully who to build among.

Life Lesson:

This seems to be a bigger issue and topic than I can give this brief discussion on. Yes, there are solid and supportive racially white folks in each field. In the sexology field, one that is overwhelmingly racially white, it will be exhausting trying to figure out who to trust. When you reach your point of needing a break from racially white folks in the field, during that break is when the solid ones will appear.

They will appear slowly, you would have heard of them (of course), but many of them are just "discovering" you and your work; this says more about them as sexologists than it says about you as one. But then there are folks who you were trained alongside, and some of those folks will be, from the beginning, as honest, transparent, respectful, and divesting in oppression as you can imagine. You will value their input, friendship, and insight for the rest of your life.

You do not need to teach them anything, they will come knowing they have work to do. They will come into your life not to take, but to help support you when you need it the most. They will give you the push you need, or the name of their publishing agent, or a workshop opportunity, or mentorship, or simply their undivided attention and respect. You will come to recognize the difference between the racially white folks who are just talking the talk and you will know who is really invested in doing the work and walking the walk along side you, not leading you, but walking next to you, side by side.

They will give you the space, time, resources they can for you to do what you need to do. They will bear witness and be open to the unlearning process. They may be few, but they are more than enough!

The racially white folks you have encountered and built with who you would recommend:

Cory Silverberg
Judith Steinhart
Jini Tanenhaus 
Bethany Stevens
Jenny Bornstein

For inquires or to hire bi visit her site or email bianca@biancalaureano.com

Friday, September 19, 2014

Lesson 5: Lessons Learned as a LatiNegra Sexologist

Lesson:

The field in the US is very racially white. Changing that will mean expanding who is identified as a "sexologist" and you will embrace that expansion because it means inclusion.

Life Lesson:

Expanding who one identifies as a "sexologist" or even "sex educator" or "sex worker" can lead to inclusion. There are some folks who will not engage with "sexologist" and prefer "sex educator." Sex work as a term and identity marker will be one that folks will be drawn to if it encompasses their experiences. You will realize how each term speaks to what you have done and will do and your contributions.

When you realize that there are significantly more Black, Latinx, Asian, Native and multi-ethnic/racial sexuality educators who are being ignored by sexuality organizations, this will be your motivation to lean on the side of inclusivity. Think of all the HIV educators, testers, outreach workers; all the folks who do sexuality education in schools (regardless of how great or poor the curricula they use may be); the folks who work in medical care; who serve and help heal in traditional and non-traditional ways. We are all sexologists. Nobody's work is more important or valid than another. This will be a lesson you hold on to for the duration of your time in this life.

There is room for more people of Color in the US field of sexology. We are already doing this imperative work. We are not being paid well for the work, we are not receiving the attribution to do the work, but many of us choose to continue to do that work because it is with our own communities, families, and youth. We will do this work even with the poor pay, watching racially white folks get more shine, and our organizations get less funding. Our work will continue even if it is "underground" or subversive. Our work saves lives.

And when you are ready and have the energy you will create spaces for us to build community. Places like the Women of Color Sexual Health Network, Tamika & Friends, Inc., and The LatiNegr@s Project all will benefit from your expansion of the term "sexologist."

This will also be one important way to make the field accessible and inclusive to working poor and working class folks; to youth; and it will become the layered and complicated and dynamic field you always imagined you'd be a part of. You just didn't realize you'd play a role in creating that space, but the rewards are vast.

Sexologists of color are here, we exist, we do the work, much of the work others don't want to do or think they should not have to do because they have degrees or training or read certain books. Your definition of sexologist will push beyond that to include lived experiences, supportive networks, sharing of collective knowledge, and healing.

For inquires or to hire bi visit her site or email bianca@biancalaureano.com

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lesson 4: Lessons Learned as a LatiNegra Sexologist

Lesson:

The US field of sexology was built on the bodies of enslaved Africans and indigenous people. You are not allowed to ever forget this.

Life Lesson:

Because so many others will forget, happily. They will forget and that erasure will seep into the work they do and it will continue to erase the humanity and needs of those who are most in pain, most under-resourced, most oppressed. You want nothing to do with that as your liberation is not rooted in the oppression of others.

Your sense of liberation is rooted in so many interconnected things and people and spaces. Oppression has no place. It will seem like a majority of your life's work will be in reminding folks of the fucked up ways this country has hurt and injured and built upon our bodies. That the least folks could do is take a moment, a breath, a thought, to let this soak in before making a move. There is healing in that work. There is also more pain. You decide how much you can endure and that is enough because your goal is to not forget and to act with integrity and humanity.

This will show in the work you do, the responses you make, the creations you build, the community that welcomes you, and the ways you use your body, voice. When others begin to remind folks of this reality and history, your work is still not done! There is space for everyone's reminders. There is space to push selective knowledge in a space that will not isolate or bring more pain.

And there will always be your work, because you've chosen to be transparent in your unlearning process. You work will be a part of a much larger movement and voice. Don't forget what you've said or written or done, even when others may. Sometimes they don't mean to, sometimes they don't have the same access, sometimes they didn't do the work to get there, sometimes they just don't know yet. Your work will always be here.

See what you've written:

An Open Letter to White People in the Sex/uality/Sexology Field

For inquires or to hire bi visit her site or email bianca@biancalaureano.com

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lesson 3: Lessons Learned as a LatiNegra Sexologist

Lesson:

Your unlearning and learning process will be lifelong.

Life Lesson:

Yeah, folks say this all the time in some variiation, but what they don't say is that you won't be just learning new things, but you will be unlearning a majority of the white supremacist, colonizing, oppressive, and hurtful stuff the field in the US was built upon. Being trained by only racially white people in school, clinical settings, non-profit spaces, will be parts of your training. You do not have to hold on to all they teach you. Most of it is incorrect and wrong anyway. Especially the cultural parts.

Plus, things will change anyway. Language is alive, it will change and this you will learn. You will learn about new findings, new ways the body can heal, new forms of medication and prevention. But you will also have to unlearn all the ways you were told the body usually works. Those forms of training are cissexist, heterosexist, and guesses at best! You will learn folks bodies are not the same, no matter how much folks with MDs and PhDs say they are, and young people will lead this!

The unlearning is something that has been done in secret, a form of shame and embarrassment. But having survived more shame and embarrassment than other folks wish to even understand, you will know that sharing this unlearning process is imperative. Doing this publicly will be healing for you and others. It will be a good example of what is wrong with the field. It will help others come to understand their unlearning process. It will open you up to building connections and networks with folks who holding onto those ideas would push away and keep you isolated.

It will become a part of your integrity.

Unlearning is mostly uncomfortable, but it doesn't have to be painful. It won't be if you see it as a gift, a healing, a necessity. It is also collective and you are not doing it alone no matter how often it feels that way. Sometimes unlearning is the only option.

For inquires or to hire bi visit her site or email bianca@biancalaureano.com 


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Lesson 2: Lessons Learned as a LatiNegra Sexologist

Lesson:

You will be in love again, and again, and again.

Life Lesson:

The "love" you will know will shift and change. It will be a love of life, work, career, knowledge, people, expansion, community, lovers, body, family, emotion, movement, spirit, expression, health, it will be so layered and complex. You will learn about love through your work as a sexologist. These lessons will be unlike any other person may learn in any other field. Sometimes only other folks in the sexology and sex work field may understand. Sometimes they will be yours to keep to and for yourself. Sometimes folks will not ever understand, but that doesn't make the lesson or the love any less important or valid or transformative.

Sometimes it may feel lonely. Remember you are surrounded by love, so that loneliness is about holding onto something that is not a reality for you, but a reality for someone else. You will teach others about this love the way your body moves, the way you feed yourself, the way you divest in things that do not bring you what you need and desire, the way you invest in people and things and spaces. You will have all you need.

And when you find the partner you will be with for the remainder of this life's work it will be a challenge. A constant struggle. One that is rooted in the deepest forms of compassion and intimacy that will test you in ways that hurt, ache, vibrate you to your core. It will all be worth it each step of the way. You will find support that will bring you to tears, bring you to your knees, make you question your existence. And each time you will be surrounded by love, touched with loving hands and spirit. This is where you need to be.

Lean into the love as your Irish lookout tells you each time you call her hysterical and speaking in dolphin. The love is there to lean on.

Look at what you've written on this subject:

How Do You Discuss The Multiple Layers of Love?  (February 2010)
Preparing for 'the talk' with your Child (February 2010)

For inquires or to hire bi visit her site or email bianca@biancalaureano.com