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In this episode of The Turn On, Erica and Kenrya talk to queer Black polyamorous feminist and Parenting Is Political podcast co-host Jasmine Banks about the role of kink in healing sexual trauma, the beauty of going through a second adolescence with partners you trust, teaching our kids about sex and gender and pleasure and joy, and how masturbating first thing in the morning can save lives.
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Kenrya: Come here. Get off.
Kenrya: Today, we're talking to Jasmine Banks, pronouns she and her. Jasmine is a queer Black feminist living her best polyamorous life in Arkansas. She's a nonprofit executive director and one-half of the parenting podcast Parenting is Political. Yes, it is. Hey, Jasmine.
Jasmine Banks: Hi. What up? How is everyone doing?
Erica: We are great.
Kenrya: Thank you for coming on.
Jasmine Banks: You're most welcome. It's my pleasure.
Kenrya: Now, it's time for us to get in your business.
Erica: I know. So, like Kenrya said, we're just going to jump straight into your junk. When do you first remember masturbating?
Jasmine Banks: Oh, when I was somewhere around six or eight. There was a Teddy Ruxpin with a very hard plastic nose, and I would just grind the shit out of his face.
Erica: Our parents thought they were doing something sweet, buying us these big-ass stuffed animals, and you're like, "No, you just bought me a boo."
Jasmine Banks: Yeah, yeah. It was definitely interchangeable between Teddy Ruxpin, or I had these Care Bears that also had the hard plastic nose. They don't do stuffed animals like they did. Right now, my kids, they have embroidered stuff, and it's different material, but it's a hard-ass plastic nose-
Erica: Yes, I remember.
Jasmine Banks: ... and really firm stuffing.
Erica: Because if you get hit in the face with it, like if your cousin likes swinging the legs and knocking on your face, you can lose something.
Jasmine Banks: Yeah, yeah, and I remember getting into a fight and throwing those stuffed animals and hitting my grandma's glass coffee table, trying to hit my cousin Shaniqua, and it landed face forward. So, the nose clinked on the glass, and she got her flyswatter, but yeah, it was firm, a substantial stuffed animal, and I took full advantage of it.
Erica: So, was that your preferred technique or did you have a different preferred technique as a baby Jasmine?
Jasmine Banks: It was pillows, stuffed animals. That was it.
Kenrya: That's a common thing what we’re doing.
Jasmine Banks: It was like Pretty Ricky “Grind On Me.”
Jasmine Banks: And Teddy Ruxpin was marketed as an educational toy, but they didn't know what kind of lengths this Virgo child would take that education to.
Erica: You're like, "Oh, we're going to learn a whole lot."
Jasmine Banks: Yes, I am nothing if not resourceful, like I put a little ABC tape in his belly, and he would talk to me, and then I would reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle. You know?
Jasmine Banks: We'd learn together and then...
Erica: We learned together.
Kenrya: Learned together.
Jasmine Banks: Teddy Ruxpin after dark on my futon bed.
Kenrya: I love it.
Erica: I love it.
Jasmine Banks: My mom was like, "You're so attached to him. You'd never wanted to get rid of him when you were younger."
Erica: Like, yeah, boo. It's under this link like, "Boo."
Kenrya: Here's why. So, how old were you when you had your first kiss?
Jasmine Banks: I was nine, and it was with my godbrother. I was raised with two really incredible godmothers, Lee and Orlanda, and they were Black lesbians that lived up the street, and they had... Lee had a son from a prior marriage and that was Brandon, and we spent time together all the time, and we just wanted to see what it was like to kiss, and I remember kissing in the front room, and the parents had gone to something because back then, they were like, "We're just going to leave the babies. Just don't answer the door or the phone."
Erica: Yeah, all the time.
Jasmine Banks: All the time, and there was some uncle that was somewhere in the room not even paying attention to us.
Erica: Oh my God.
Kenrya: That's our house.
Erica: You've completely described my home, like our situation.
Jasmine Banks: He was watching BET or Matlock or something random. I just remember. In the room, it was one of those touch lamps that have three different levels, and then Lee and Orlanda's room was to the left, and there was beads on the door, and we were right by the front door, and one of those black midnight... I can't remember exactly the name, but it was one of those cone incense was just burning and the kiss-
Kenrya: You can't see.
Jasmine Banks: I really thought I was in love with Brandon.
Erica: And now, you look at him like, "Ooh," family.
Kenrya: Proximity will do that to you.
Jasmine Banks: Yeah, I'm like, "That was my family," but even though I have Black community in my school, the social setting was predominantly white. So, I was already starting to get those message of like, "That's not your real family because it's not biological."
Erica: It was like-
Jasmine Banks: Which I don't even know why white people even be talking like that because they know that it'll be biological, and they still be kissing their cousins and enjoying it. So...
Erica: Oh, well. We have whole dynasties. They have whole dynasties built upon that, but-
Kenrya: Keeping it in the family.
Erica: ... they ain't ready for that conversation. Isn't that what the young people say?
Kenrya: Let me know when we going to talk? So, y'all don't want to hear that.
Erica: Yeah, we ain't ready to talk about it.
Kenrya: But bitch, you just started the conversation. Okay. You just made me feel old.
Erica: How old were you when you had a sense of your gender identity?
Jasmine Banks: I have a very interesting story, and I don't even know if K knows this because I'm not super public about it, but in the spirit of giving y'all the juicy content, I was assigned female at birth, and then about eight or nine, I started having developmental issues, and I lived female at birth. My gender was girl. So, sex, obviously different than gender, but it does definitely inform so much about how you perform gender, about how you come into gender conversations. So, around 12, I had this period. My period started, and it didn't stop, and it didn't stop for six months, and I got really, really sick and anemic, and my mom had to take me to the emergency room.
Jasmine Banks: So, they did an X-ray on my abdomen, and they were like, "Something is not right here." So, they gave me some meds to stop the bleeding, and then I went into emergency surgery, and then whenever I came back from emergency surgery, they said, "On your right ovary, part of it was filled with cysts, and we're going to diagnose you with polycystic ovarian syndrome, and then the other section of your right ovary was actually an internal gonad, and you have hyperandrogenism," and they told me at that time that chromosomally and hormonally, I was more male than female, but my sex designation on my birth certificate didn't change, and I continue to feel like very affirmed as a woman and knowing that hormonally and chromosomally, I am more toward the male end of the spectrum of the sex assignments than the female.
Jasmine Banks: Then for part of my life, I went on hormones to increase my female presentation, like growing breasts and fighting hair and finding different things, and then they told me I would never have children because I was making too much testosterone internally to be able to ever fertilize an egg or be compatible with semen, but I surprised them and have four of them little niggas.
Kenrya: Yeah, you do.
Jasmine Banks: With one ovary.
Erica: I know.
Kenrya: That ovary be working hard.
Erica: God is my witness. We going to have a baby.
Jasmine Banks: Yeah, yeah, and it came as quite a surprise to me because I was not trying to get pregnant, and after I had that initial period of menstruation, I never menstruated again, which was a part of being intersex is what it's called, and so yeah, and the only way that I could really menstruate at that point was if I gave myself the hormones because my testosterone level, and all of my androgens are just through the roof, which makes me stronger, and I have more of a sex drive than a lot of hormonally typical assigned female folks, and there's just lots of dynamics that play into it. It's quite interesting.
Erica: Answer this if you'd like, or if not, shut up, bitch. We'll be fine. Are you still on meds? How does that affect now?
Jasmine Banks: Yeah, so I tried to go on birth control to level out some of my body dysmorphia that I experienced around the follicle, like PMS menstruation cycle, and because I have so much testosterone, whenever I went on synthetic estrogen, my body... The hormonal response was just to make even more testosterone and then even more estrogen and then even more progesterone, which caused me all types of issues. So, my endocrinologist was like, "Please don't ever try that again."
Erica: Just you.
Jasmine Banks: Like, "You're intersex. Just be intersex," and the only thing I have to do if I want to get pregnant is I have to supplement progesterone, so it lowers my testosterone levels a little bit so that my body doesn't become a war zone for a fetus.
Erica: Yeah, no. Right after surgery, but before I started chemo, I had to do the egg preservation steps, and baby, like-
Jasmine Banks: Them shots.
Erica: I had to chemo any day. Those hormones, bitch. I remember I was in a nail salon crying and cussing a nigga out over nail polish like, "You don't fucking understand." Those hormones would do something to you, so I'm glad you're able to just live without it.
Kenrya: She already a Gemini, so...
Jasmine Banks: And what?
Kenrya: And she's already a Gemini. Look at her looking at me.
Erica: Shut up, bitch. You're bringing up old shit just to—fix your face. I thought we was homies. I thought she was a homie.
Jasmine Banks: My wife's a Gemini.
Erica: God bless you.
Erica: You know how to love a complex creature.
Jasmine Banks: My oldest daughter is also Gemini.
Erica: That was training.
Kenrya: Is she?
Jasmine Banks: Yeah.
Kenrya: Oh. I'm surrounded. Between Erica and my daughter, they just here. My daddy's a Gemini.
Jasmine Banks: You got to love them.
Kenrya: I do.
Erica: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Ding, ding, ding. Ding, ding, ding.
Kenrya: They are lovable. They just got a lot going on.
Erica: We have a lot of angst in our spirits.
Jasmine Banks: They just need us in their life.
Kenrya: That's true. So, how old were you when you first started experimenting sexually with other people?
Jasmine Banks: Nine. No. Was it nine? No, 13.
Erica: I need the story behind it because your face was just... I need to know what made that happen to your face.
Jasmine Banks: Well, her name was Sarah, and she lived in Tulsa, another neighbor, and we were really good friends, spent all summer together. I think we went to different schools, but we definitely had a lot of summertime interaction, and we were the only kids. Well, there were only three families that had children on our street. So, I would spend the night at her house. Her father had these magazines stacked up in their playroom where we would play with the Barbies. It was like right whenever Skipper's little sister came on the scene in Barbie, and you could squeeze her belly, and she'd pee in the potty.
Jasmine Banks: Yeah, so we got this set up. I'm very specific. I be like archiving my life. So, I have journals detailing this-
Jasmine Banks: .... pretty well. Yeah.
Erica: This is a Virgo.
Jasmine Banks: Yeah. So, Sarah and I are in his hunting room, which has this little play section, and all of these magazines just has sports magazines and on the tops of all of them, it's just about deer and bird hunting and fishing, and he was an outdoorsman, and at one point, we were trying to move the magazines to create a mansion or neighborhood for our Barbies, and the magazine stack slid, and underneath it was Drew Barrymore's Playboy Edition, and I was like, "What is this?"
Erica: Now, we bout to play.
Jasmine Banks: So, I unzip my Care Bear onesie and shove the magazine in there, and we run to her room, and we looked at Drew Barrymore's butterfly tattoos and her playboy centerfold, and that led to lots of experimentation and touching and dry humping and grinding, and Sarah was the first person that I had sexual contact with. Consensual sexual contact with, I think is important to delineate.
Kenrya: Absolutely. Well, actually, the next question is, can you tell us about your first time having partnered sex? So, I don't know if y'all actually ended up having what you would term sex or if that would be another situation.
Jasmine Banks: I mean, there was digital stimulation. There was oral stimulation. There was climax. I would call it-
Kenrya: Yeah, sounds like sex to me.
Jasmine Banks: ... partner sex. Yeah. We were like 12, 13, somewhere in that range, and then we became girlfriends. I don't think we called each other girlfriends, but that's what we were, and I lived there for two and a half years, and we had a regular sexual relationship, and my mom would be like, "Yeah, you could have a sleepover. Just no boys allowed," and I was all, “Bet.”
Jasmine Banks: “Bet. No boys allowed.”
Erica: Like, "No problem." That ain't no problem. That ain't no problem.
Jasmine Banks: When she would come over to my house for a sleepover, I had one of those attic rooms that had been turned into a room, so it had the stairs going up, and it had an attic fan, but it was a whole door situation, and I was like, "Let's turn up Usher really loud, and you just lay on your back," and just dry hump for hours.
Erica: Look, I call him our good friend. I call them our good friend dry humping because once we started having sex, we left dry humping in the past, but-
Kenrya: ... dry humping can be a very useful thing.
Jasmine Banks: Well, in the queer community, it's not separate than penetrative sexual expression and practice. It's actually called tribbing. So, it's useful in the toolbox of sexuality because not everybody's genitals are the same, and most people think of intercourse as P and V penetration, and there's just—sex is so expansive, and sex doesn't require penetration or climax for it to be sex. So, I think if we framed it that way socially, a lot of us would be more honest about how young we were actually having sex.
Erica: So, what about an orgasm? When did you first have an orgasm with a partner?
Jasmine Banks: With Sarah, yeah. Our parents were either just negligent or super chill. I guess it depends on like-
Erica: Depending on the director of the movie.
Jasmine Banks: Right. It depends on if my PTSD is triggered, if I frame it as how I frame the story, but they were cool with me and Sarah taking showers together, and they're like, "Oh, they're just friends." I mean, my mom wasn't naïve because my mom, I came out to her when I was eight. I was like, "I think I'm gay," and she's like, "Okay, girl. Eat your food."
Erica: “What's for dinner?”
Jasmine Banks: Yeah, so we were allowed to do all sorts of things even though my mom had drag queens as friends and folks in that period of time that identified as transsexuals and folks that were just gay men. My mom had a lot of really good friends who were impacted by HIV/AIDS. So, she was having conversations with me about sex and sexual identity very, very early on, and I knew about masturbation as one of the first... She framed it as like, "If you don't know how to please yourself, can't nobody else please you, so you better start practicing, Jasmine, and know what feels good to you," which is really interesting in juxtaposition with some of her other parenting practices, but suffice to say, I think she probably knew what was going on and was laissez-faire about it, whereas Sarah's parents were like country-ass white people who were like, "They're just friends taking showers together."
Jasmine Banks: Anyway, so my first orgasm was in the shower with a removable shower head with Sarah. We figured out how to turn it on the high-pressure vibration mode, and I just held it at her, and it worked.
Erica: I still haven't done the shower thing. We-
Kenrya: Yeah, we were talking to somebody else doing a, "This is your sex life," and she was saying that that's one of her tools, and we were both like, "We never do that."
Jasmine Banks: Yeah, yeah. I mean, it became an issue for my mom whenever I used it as a young person because she'd be like, "Other people have to use that to shower, little nasty girl," but Sarah was the first person that I realized that I could use that medium to achieve climax, but what I didn't realize is when you have that really intense experience for the first time and you're not prepared for it, your legs start shaking and you get weak and in a slippery bathtub is probably not where you want that to happen.
Kenrya: Poor baby.
Jasmine Banks: So, I'm standing in the back and pushing myself back onto the tiles so that she can do what she needs to do with the shower head, and I climax, and my legs fall out from under me, and I just... like strike me and Sarah in the shower, but I don't think any of us have unclumsy sexual experiences no matter what age.
Erica: None of us.
Kenrya: Makes it fun.
Erica: Yeah, when you're older, it makes it a little more dangerous because those body parts aren't as rubbery as they were when you were younger.
Jasmine Banks: That's so funny. Yes, that's true. That's very true.
Kenrya: So, what three words would you use to describe sex in your teens?
Jasmine Banks: It was confusing. It was painful. Gosh. I feel like I'm such a buzz kill now in this part of the interview.
Jasmine Banks: And it was about safety.
Kenrya: Do you want to expound on any of that or do you want to move on to your 20s?
Jasmine Banks: Sure. So, around the time that I moved away from that neighborhood, with Sarah, I moved into a community called The Colony, which is for single mothers who are widowed or divorced who have been homeless because my mom had gone through multiple domestic violence situations, and we lived in domestic violence shelters. So, anyway, we landed in this place that was my most stable home, and it was in very much influenced and proselytized by the churches that were in that area. So, as a part of going to school with a white majority, junior high and high school, and being a part of this community that was preyed upon of like, "Oh, you're a widow and you're a single mom, and you should come to this event," I started going to youth group.
Jasmine Banks: So, I went from having this really fringe radical Black, queer, Native experience as a young person into this very white cisgender heterosexual Christian patriarchal frame, and there was a lot of social motivation for me to not identify as Black, but to identify as mixed, for me to ask Jesus to be my Lord and Savior and get rid of all of the sinful things that, obviously, because she was a single mother, she had... my mom had thrust upon me. So, I went through a period of really rejecting all the things that my mom taught me around sex and positivity in the best way that she could because she felt like she wasn't empowered and adopted a lot of the True Love Waits movement, which was Joshua Harris and a part of the white evangelical church.
Jasmine Banks: So, there's purity balls and there's like throwing away your secular music and don't be a sexual temptress, and then that really required me pressing down my identity as a queer person, and at that point, I identified as a bi person. So, I confessed those evil sins to my youth pastor and all of my other student leaders, and I made a commitment to be celibate, and I threw away any kind of idea around non-monogamy, and I was on the straight and narrow, and during a religious trip to the Cherokee Nations, family camp revival, that was happening in my senior year, I met a white man who was part of a worship group who had come to the Cherokee nation to do a mission trip over spring break, and he ended up being... I was 18, and he ended up being the first person I married.
Jasmine Banks: Yeah, so I spent the last part of my teenage years with him, and the safety layer of that is that when you're told at, like my mom is an unenrolled Cherokee, which means that she's not actually allowed to claim Cherokee citizenship even though her father's mother is on the Dawes Rolls. We're currently in the process of applying for citizenship so people can stop telling me that I'm not Cherokee because I can't handle it. So, when you're not Black enough, you're not Cherokee enough, you're not straight enough, you're not queer enough, you're the single mom, you're homeless, really, you look for safety, and anti-Blackness in the form of cishet patriarchal society, particularly of the white Christian persuasion, offers a lot of faux safety.
Jasmine Banks: But what you trade for your safety is compliance and shedding your identity. So, I did that in my teen years, my junior high and teen years, in order to feel some stability and normalcy. The short version of the end of that story is it didn't fucking work.
Kenrya: Okay, good. So, what three words would you use to describe sex in your 20s?
Jasmine Banks: Sex in my early 20s was unfulfilling, was about power, and was just about reproduction and getting my babies.
Kenrya: You want to dive into any of that?
Jasmine Banks: Yeah, so, by the time I was 20, I had married this white man from an upper-class family and a very Southern Baptist background, and I was trying my best despite all of my feminists and Black feminists and radical ideology and proclivities to be the good Christian wife, and we were in ministry together in church ministry around worship, and then I did children's ministry. So, I didn't really have a very fulfilling sexual life because he was not able to come to a space with partnered sex that was liberatory and open because of how his Southern Baptist upbringing had really caused so much damage around sexual identity, and then on top of that, I didn't know that he was an abuser, and that it was an underground situation.
Jasmine Banks: So, sex then just became about like, "How do I negotiate power with him? How do I have children because I know I want to have children, if I'm going to have children?" Because I'd already had one by accident, which was Zara, and then I knew I wanted her to have siblings, but the writing was clearly on the wall that we were not going to be together, and I didn't, and I hadn't yet discovered that he was a pathological sexual predator. So, yeah, it was just more about, like let's just figure out how to survive in this marriage and get my needs met. By the time Zara was born, I was still in undergrad, and he had tried to pressure me to not keep the baby, or if I kept the baby to drop out of school, and I just knew sort of intuitively that I needed to push through school, and I was like, "No, you drop out, and I will stay," and then I had a lot of non-sexual deeply intimate same-sex relationships through my 20s where there was cuddling and erotic connection, but there was never intercourse.
Jasmine Banks: So, I didn't feel sexually deprived, but I was coming to terms with the fact that I either need to have an open marriage, or I need to admit that I'm more queer than what I can stand, and also I'm just not a good Christian wife, but by the time I was 20... Yeah, 25 was the first time I discovered that he was a sexual predator and had been assaulting women and hiding it from me, and he went to sex rehab. So, then sex just became like, "What the fuck?" It was good that my mom taught me to masturbate because I did a lot of that and a lot of non-partnered sex. Am I so bumming y'all out?
Erica: No. Not at all.
Kenrya: Not at all.
Erica: I was just thinking like, "Damn, this is interesting as hell," and the fact that... I mean, I hate that super positivity where it's like, "Man, you've been through so much," and you're still so positive. I hate that, but at the same time, you understand where that's a simple way of summing up how I'm feeling right now like, "Goddamn." These experiences have made you into just an interesting little layered person that I am like, "How much time we got here? Because I want to go back to... " It's amazing how all these experiences have just built up to make you who you are, and I think it's dope as fuck.
Jasmine Banks: Yeah, so the end of my 20s was... As far as like relationally, I was working on confronting that my children who I found out were sexual assault survivors by the hands of their biological father and fighting for their right and navigating my own. When you're in intimate violent situations, sex is also a component of how the abuser brings you back and controls you or creates shame narratives. So, I was working through all of that, but by the time the end of my mid-20s rolled around, I was able to have a community to really help me emancipate myself from that chaos, and then I was able to start doing sexuality on my terms that was absence of the constraints of a predatory abusive connection.
Jasmine Banks: So, the end of my 20s was a really, really fun time of catching up on all the things my True Love Waits period of life had kept me from experiencing.
Kenrya: I just think about the ways that sex was used as a weapon within my marriage all the time and how overwhelming that is and how it contributes to my PTSD and how it stands in the way of... It doesn't have to, but it threatens to jump in the way of having healthy relationships after the fact and all that it takes to do that and loving the fact that you've been able to do that and create a life with Mo and y'all's kids, and it's just-
Jasmine Banks: Yeah, Mo and my other partners who have done a tremendous amount of dharma and labor around helping me transform, and there was a pretty good year where when Mo and I would have intercourse, particularly penetrative intercourse, where if I climaxed, I would spend the next hour in a ball having a panic attack. So, it really required having a gentle partner who could hold me and not personalize whenever I had that dissociative experience around sex and body, and we don't often talk about the ways in which those of us who have survived childhood sexual assault become enmeshed or entangled with folks who are predatory with their sexual choices and behaviors because they target us, not because we find them, but because they target us, and then that dynamic plays out, which is a part of that intergenerational work we have to do around our sex and our sexual identities and expression, but yeah.
Jasmine Banks: I think that oftentimes when we're talking about the salacious juicy parts of sex that we like to cut away how trauma has played a part of that or how struggle has played a part of that because we've been socialized to want these very linear narratives and themes like, "Oh, yeah, like all of my sex is really bomb," and people are like, "You have BDSM. You're BDSM. You're a kink practitioner. That must be so... " People get excited about it, and it's arousing, and then I say things like, "Yes, and actually, I am a kink practitioner because it has been a vehicle for healing the sexual assault and trauma," and they're like, "Awww man. You ruined it. It's not so sexy anymore."
Kenrya: But it’s fucking life.
Jasmine Banks: But it is, like what is more sexy than consent practices and negotiation of desire and openness that helps to heal wounded places in us and helps us access who we have been all along that violence and trauma kept us from being able to live in that truth? That's sexy as fuck.
Jasmine Banks: Y'all both said, "Mm."
Erica: I've always been a sexual person. Someone told me like, "You're the type of person that just gives that off," and for that reason, I've always been a sexual person. I give it off. I receive it, all of that, but doing this show has taken it to another level that has combined my love for fucking and a good orgasm and pleasure, with also just recognizing how it is freedom and a path to liberation. So, the more I hear from people like you and the more I learn, I am just taking it all in because it's amazing that... Everyone says like, "Do what you love. You never have to work a day."
Kenrya: Yeah, that's bullshit, but okay.
Erica: Yeah, but I feel like I am finally at a point where it's like all of these things that I enjoy are coming together, and not only do I enjoy it, but I see its purpose in the world, and that gets me so fucking horny.
Jasmine Banks: I mean, it's all right. If sex is about a joy and pleasure practice in some of its layers, then it makes so much sense that this is working for you and that this is hitting at a core part of who you are that is deeply linked with feelings of liberation because those of us whose histories emerged from enslavement and settler domination have not had the freedoms too. So, hoe culture, you being ratchet with your sexuality in the face of stereotypes like the Jezebel and Sapphire and the Mammy is... It's like that's powerful work, and it's political work. So, I definitely appreciate where this sits for you in the constellation of your life.
Jasmine Banks: As a polyamorous person I feel in the same way that a person who's just really guided me in my critical polyamory, which is Kim TallBear, she talks about in a podcast she recently did around how sex really needs to be taken off of the shelf, like it needs to stop being commodified. It's not like some special ornate thing. What makes it special is the meaning we make of it in the moment, but as far as a global frame, like it's not unique. It's no different than me choosing to cuddle with someone as intimacy because I can fuck someone and not feel an intimate connection with them and not feel anything. It can be exchange or extraction, or yeah, an extractive relationship, and the church has done a really good job in particular of attaching so much meaning around morality and ethics to sex and what we do to our body and that was just another way, another vehicle for controlling and criminalizing the Black body that when we choose to be like, "Yeah, I have a platonic friend that sometimes I let eat me out," and we're still platonic friends, and we high-five and just kick it.
Jasmine Banks: That is a powerful thing in the face of a nation that says, "In order to be a good citizen, you have to not have sexual intercourse so that you keep everyone healthy, and you only have one partner, and you track your children, and they're registered with the state," and you have a picket fence, right? We know that Black and Indigenous folks have never fit in that lens, and it's intentional because that is a social construct that will always keep us as other because our ancestors and our practices call us to a deeper, more abundant, more generous version of family and sex and expression.
Kenrya: Yes, bitch.
Erica: Yes. Bitch, I'm coming over for conversation and cornbread when the world open back up.
Jasmine Banks: My poor kids are going to be like, "My mom was a Black feminist, and she would show her friends her vulva, and it was normal."
Erica: I always wonder what our kids will remember about... There are certain things about growing up that I remember, and I'm convinced that my son is going to remember this summer as a summer of me sitting on the porch drinking, eating chicken and talking about my body parts.
Kenrya: That is what you did.
Erica: I literally sat on my porch and ordered chicken every three days and talked about sex. So, it's the thing. Now, I'm raising great people.
Jasmine Banks: I think they're going to be great. I think as long as it's normalized, it's like, "I'm sorry that your little white friends have parents that never have sex, but we fuck," and not only do we fuck, but it'll be the middle of their Saturday and be like, "Watch the baby and lock the door. We're going to go have sex, and yes, you're probably going to hear us." I actually just started this other practice when they're like, "We don't want to hear about that all the time," because they're embarrassed of us and the social norms of their peer groups. So, we've been like, "We're going to go have a Bible study."
Erica: Your kids are going to be invited to an actual Bible study, and they're going to freak the fuck out.
Jasmine Banks: They're going to be like, "This is not what it sounds like. Who are we calling ‘Daddy’ during this Bible study? When do we say, 'Yes, Daddy'?" Then the Christians are going to be like, "Do you mean Father God?" And Addison's going to be like, "I don't think so."
Erica: I mean, I heard God say it, but I don't know if that's what they're talking about.
Jasmine Banks: They're going to be so fucked up around religion. I'm going to be like, "I was just being slamming the spirit, okay?" And then Zara's going to be like, "What did that have to do with your butt?"
Erica: And there'll be no answers.
Jasmine Banks: Yeah, I actually just got one of our kiddos. They asked that we talked about masturbation very openly, and one of the kiddos was like, "I would some lube and a vibrator," and I was like, "Okay, yeah. Dope. I can get you one that's appropriate for your anatomy and for your age," and then they came back two weeks later like, "I need new batteries." I was like, "What the fuck?"
Erica: That's like keeping it under the pillow. Wait. I do. Let me shut up.
Kenrya: You do that.
Jasmine Banks: Like the Tooth Fairy will give you new batteries for your vibrator and mine.
Erica: But I think it's so important. I buy vibrators as graduation gifts for young girls now because... Well, I've only had an opportunity to buy it for young girls, but let's learn how to pleasure yourself, and this is just a thing that we do, and it doesn't have to be weird or gross or nasty or unless you want it to be. Unless you want it to be.
Jasmine Banks: The other day, the same kid had a really fantastic school trip and said, "Hey," and we talked about consent and all kinds of different, like how we negotiate space because we're a close-knit family, and we also know that privacy is important in how you practice masturbation. They announced, "I'm going to be in the bedroom for an hour, and it's going to be locked because I'm going to masturbate," comes back out, and I inquired, and I said, "Hey, it seemed like that was urgent, like you just made this declaration. What was going on?" The kiddo was like, "I had a really good day, and I just wanted to feel even better," and I was like, "I am done. Write papers on me. I am in the critical canon of teaching your child sexuality."
Erica: I love it.
Kenrya: Ooh, but it's interesting.
Erica: So, did a ribbon and a star dropp from the sky and get pinned to your shirt?
Jasmine Banks: Beyoncé came down and said, "I am so proud of you."
Kenrya: That was good.
Erica: I love it. That was good. You go, sister.
Jasmine Banks: She said, "I love you like you from Houston."
Kenrya: It was actually really good. Yeah, but the reality is, and I wonder if how much you do influence other parents, like I know for me, the first time that I had a conversation with my daughter about gender identity was off of something that you wrote online about how we need to talk to our kids about it. I think I've been having conversations with her about consent since she was very young in all of the ways, right? Not just framing it around sex, but when we go to the doctor's office, she has to give consent for them to be able to look at her body. For white people touching her hair, she has to give consent on whether or not she wants... because that was a whole thing.
Jasmine Banks: But she doesn't have to ask if she stabs them, like if she pulls out her shank-
Erica: No, she does not. She can do whatever the fuck she wants.
Jasmine Banks: They touch her hair.
Kenrya: [crosstalk 00:42:36] shank. Yeah, but we hadn't had any conversations about that. So, we did, and I asked her, "Who do you feel like?" She was like, "Well, what do you mean?" We had conversation. She's like, "Oh, okay. Yeah, no." She's like, "I'm a girl." I was like, "Okay, cool. I just want to check to make sure that I am living right and making sure that I'm taking care of you and providing the safety and the support that you need." So, I hope that you know that as you share your life with your kids and the way that you are open about sexuality and gender and sex with them that other folks and in your podcast, that other folks are absorbing that and learning from that.
Jasmine Banks: Yes, yes. So, we get messages all the time from Parenting is Political podcast listeners about like, "You're telling me to teach my child this? I didn't even know it about myself." So, we're doing this multi-generational transformation work, and I don't mean to say that we're intentionally, like it's planned and it's targeted, but I think that for me, when it came to... A lot of folks make meaning of what I share online and how I live my life so openly, and they frame it as though I'm attention-seeking, or I'm always looking for drama, or I'm trying to be some online celebrity, but I had to come to this place of reckoning around the accesses that I, like access points in my life, intersections in my life, and I'm light-skinned by I don't know what grace.
Jasmine Banks: I was the first-generation person to graduate from junior high or high school and neither of my parents have secondary or post-secondary education. I just have all these opportunities, and I'm sure a level of that is definitely colorism, and the level of that is also definitely having proximity to white family members, but when I thought about who I wanted to be in my life work around Black liberation, I knew that I had to make the choice to not be underground because those privileges that I had and the way that colorism is so fucked up, I could speak to audiences and hold and honor Blackness and still tell my story where some of my dark-skinned siblings can't do that, right? Does that make sense?
Erica: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jasmine Banks: So, I chose to be really intentional and measured. I'm not as much as I appear to be. I don't just go on the internet and vomit everywhere and just be haphazard about things. I am often very strategic about what I do and what I don't share and how I share it, but sharing and telling your story has been the only way that I have healed and transformed and found deeper joy and deeper liberations because someone else told their story, and every time I look around, I don't see people telling my story, and I believe that Audre Lorde taught us that, right? If you don't see yourself in books that have been written, you have to write one. So, I look at my social media engagement and the stories that I tell in person and through digital mediums in that way, and I have written a book, but it's not published, but it's written.
Jasmine Banks: But yeah, like I hope that someone... I was interviewing George Johnson from “All Boys Aren't Blue,” and they were saying the same thing. They were saying, "I never saw a story this about myself, so I wrote it," and George also has the same kind of social media that I have where they're really reflective, and they really share these things that most people would hold with shame, and I don't like Eminem for various reasons, but I love his rap tactics that he starts playing the dozens on himself before whoever's in the rap battle can, right? He's like, "Yeah, I'm white. Yeah, I'm from the trailer. Yeah, I can't fuck. Yeah, I'm skinny," right? I think there's some power in that, like what does it call when you take someone's gun away from them, right?
Jasmine Banks: When you take their ammo away from them, ammunition, and then you take back power by naming those things about you. So, yeah, I mean, it's been a defense strategy, it's been an offensive strategy, and it's been a strategy that I hope invites deeper community and conversation. I'm not trying to say I'm right because I've grown so much. I'm not the most expert on whatever critical analysis of X, Y, and Z, but I do practice every single day to be less wrong about the things that I think.
Kenrya: That's all you can fucking ask for, right?
Jasmine Banks: Mm-hmm (affirmative), and I'm a good lay.
Erica: Hey. Another gold star.
Kenrya: Which leads me to ask you what three words describe sex in your 30s.
Jasmine Banks: Sex in my 30s. What I just do with sex in my 30s is a hard question. It has been juicy and restorative. Man, you said three words?
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jasmine Banks: Yeah, and playful.
Kenrya: Yes, okay.
Erica: Fantastic because that sounds amazing, and I was about to say lit, L-I-T. Lit. That's what it says.
Jasmine Banks: Yes. It has been lit. So, I’m married to Mo. It is a love marriage, but it also was a tactical marriage because we live in Arkansas and Mo is nonbinary and queer, and I'm queer, and we need some state protections in order to function in this community, especially because our daughter is trans and so it makes it even more complicated. So, Mo has been such a fun partner to experience a second adolescence with. So, queer people often don't have the room in our younger years, develop psychosocial development years to really unpack and experiment and play. There's so much social pressure about staying closeted or having shame or all kinds of variables, and I would say the same for Black folks, even Black folks who aren't queer. It's not safe for us often to experiment and go through those developmental milestones that white young people do at their little keg parties and whatever.
Jasmine Banks: So, I've been experiencing second adolescence with Mo, and that's been really, really fun, and then we transitioned into this more secure sex practice. That's less about experimentation and more about us developing our own deep identity. We'd be like, "Okay, so what was something that we tried that wasn't... " Oh, so in kink, there are folks who like to induce vomiting by deep-throating, like extreme deep-throating to the point where it introduces vomiting. So, that was one of the first things that we experimented with around kink because gagging was sexy for me, and we learned very quickly that gagging is nice. When things come up after the gagging, that's a no-go. That's like a-
Jasmine Banks: I'm not kink shaming, but that's something that we experimented with throwing away, and now, we're just practicing holding each other in a really incredible way in our sex play, and then with my other partners, it's just been so good. I have two other women partners that I... Mo’s nonbinary, but I have two other Black women partners that I have sexual experiences with, and I just broke up with my girlfriend because she was garbage, but we did have a really good sex life, but she just needs to get her life together. She's probably listening to this. Get your life together, Megan.
Erica: Oh, shit. Pow-pow.
Jasmine Banks: So, it's great because with each of my partners, I'm not expected to take on any kind of heteronormative role, right? People usually assume because I'm more femme-presenting that I'm the bottom or the person who gets penetrated in my relationship with Mo, but no, I'm Daddy in that relationship, and then I have another sexual relationship where we're both femmes. We're both high femmes, and it's just a completely different level. I have another sexual relationship where it's just all erotica, and it's all text, and I love writing and words and reading, and I just really, really love that medium. So, to have someone that I could have sexting with and then masturbate or not has also been really incredible.
Jasmine Banks: So, it's just very fun. COVID threw a wrench in lots of plans, but I'm learning that during a part of my life, I did some sex work, and I did some cam work as a part of that sex work, and I was like, "Oh, I have these skills. They're coming back. Okay."
Erica: It's like riding a bike.
Jasmine Banks: You ain't going to keep me down, COVID. So, that has been really fun, and then also with COVID, like distance play toys that have Bluetooth or function over, those have also been very helpful.
Erica: Tell us about a sexual experience that you remember fondly.
Jasmine Banks: Because of how I am a dom top in my BDSM life, I really, really, really appreciate bottoms and subs that that need extra care, aftercare. So, I had an experience with a person who was bottoming for me who had never really felt safe to have a climax because she was a squirter. So, part of the care that I was able to provide for her was around clean up and clean up for her and aftercare, and I bought a special mat and tool that helps to protect the bed, but doesn't make it feel like, "Oh, you're a medical case, and this is weird," right? It was seamless as far as the environment and the scene went, and she got to climax, and she ejaculated, and then we got to do this care work afterwards. That was really fulfilling for me.
Jasmine Banks: So, when I show up in BDSM space and get to do aftercare, it gives me this really lovely sexual high around nurturing and aftercare. If you're not familiar with BDSM, that might seem a little weird and confusing, but-
Erica: You know what? Actually, that's one of the things about BDSM that I find beautiful is the intentionality of the aftercare part. So, yeah, if you're not familiar with it, then you probably should be getting a little more familiar with this, so you're not just leaving your partner on the bed underneath the sheet alone. You know?
Jasmine Banks: Yeah, yeah, because subspace can be definitely hard, that rebound. It was with a different person, but another really fun one that I got to do was someone who really, really liked to be shocked, and I didn't realize how much I like to shock people, but I do.
Erica: Learn new shit every day.
Jasmine Banks: My rising is Scorpio, so that's what I thought I must have been channeling.
Kenrya: That makes sense.
Erica: That makes sense.
Jasmine Banks: Like the sting and the pain.
Kenrya: So, we have a pretty good idea of what your sex life looks like now, but on average, how many times do you have some sort of sexual contact in a week?
Jasmine Banks: Gosh. I talked to you about this for another piece that you did. It's had an uptick recently. Before whenever I was traveling and I could see my people in New York with my play partners, then I... That was multiple times a day. Now though, because of COVID, it's probably four or five times a week unless I have someone that comes to visit, or we do a video chat. Then it's a weirdly large number out of the typical norm because it's multiple partners.
Kenrya: Are there, I guess along those lines, certain times of day that you prefer to have sex? Like, "I like to have sex in the morning."
Jasmine Banks: I remember you telling me about that, and I was confused.
Kenrya: Why are you confused?
Jasmine Banks: Because I'm not a morning person, but I did have a sexual partner recently that made me motivated enough to wake up a couple of days out of the week to have morning sex with her. Today, Mo text me in between a meeting and was like, "Hey, do you have time to have sex?" That was really nice and fun. I like midday sex. At this point with homeschooling with COVID and working from home and the white supremacist in chief and everything else, like the race war that we all need to grab our machetes for very soon. I get tired at night. So, now, my sex life has shifted to the daytime, and if we don't get it in on the weekday, it's like our kids don't see us for a couple of hours on the weekends.
Kenrya: Got to make up time. That's why I like morning sex because I'm always really fucking tired by the end of the day, but also morning is not really for me.
Jasmine Banks: Okay. Well, you make the morning-
Erica: It's just first-thing-in-your-day sex.
Jasmine Banks: What does that mean?
Kenrya: Because on the weekends, it's like 10 or 11 o'clock, especially if my daughter is at her dad's.
Jasmine Banks: You get to sleep in until 11 o'clock?
Kenrya: If she's not home, which is only twice a month for 48 hours, but I take advantage of it.
Jasmine Banks: I'll trade that for a couple of my sex sessions. Let me sleep until 10:00, somebody.
Kenrya: Yeah. I mean, it doesn't happen often, but when it does, I take it, and then if I can roll over and have sex, it don't get too much better than that.
Erica: See? Just logistically, what about your breath?
Kenrya: We just don't breathe in each other's faces. I mean, shit. It's a lot of weight when you have sex that don't involve... on your nose. We're considerate, but I don't care. I want to-
Jasmine Banks: Also, bodies have smells, and it's whatever. You don't need to be so fresh and so clean, clean. Bodies just-
Kenrya: Listen, I wake up juicy. I like-
Erica: I've [crosstalk 00:58:11] now a marinated puss is-
Kenrya: Is a good puss.
Erica: A good puss. It's like baked over. It's been baking overnight like a warm baked potato.
Jasmine Banks: I still sleep with my hands between my thighs. I do. I've done it since I was a child. So, if I lubricate at all and I wake up, I just rub it on Mo's face.
Kenrya: Like, "Hey, good morning."
Jasmine Banks: And then because we're that crunchy queer couple, Mo be like, "It smells like you're about to ovulate." I'm like, "Shut the fuck up. That's not what you say."
Erica: I love it. I love it.
Kenrya: As do I. All right. Let's see. Oh, how long do your sex sessions typically last?
Jasmine Banks: Oh, man, if it's a scene, it can be a couple of hours. If it's just typical vanilla sex, that's usually shorter. That's an hour or less.
Erica: Okay. Where do you usually do it?
Jasmine Banks: Our scenes are usually in our room. If the kids are gone, it's like fair play game. I broke the car window because there was sex happening, and I broke the windshield with my foot because I was pressing on it hard.
Kenrya: I'm sorry. You didn't get hurt, did you?
Erica: So, when you break... Do you just commit at this point, just keep going or did you-
Jasmine: I mean, there ain't shit you can do about it right then, right?
Erica: Okay. Yeah, that's what I was thinking.
Jasmine Banks: What's been done has been done.
Kenrya: Yeah, you didn't get hurt.
Jasmine Banks: Mm-mm (negative). It didn't shatter. It just spidered it.
Kenrya: Oh, yeah.
Jasmine Banks: Now, I got to fix my wife's window.
Kenrya: I mean, that you can have sex.
Erica: Somebody was making it rain. A good hail storm. What's the best part of your sex life right now?
Jasmine Banks: The best part of my sex life harkens back to my history that doesn't feel coercive. It feels very held and free, and just I really love that Mo, the partner that I have most immediate access to, really likes eating my ass. That's so nice. I really love that, and then also because sex is about reciprocity and this third space you create between you. I really like that because Mo is a nonbinary person who's doing a lot of work for themselves around body and sexuality, coming also from Christianity, that I get to be a safe space for practice around experimenting how gender expression and identity intersect with sexual expression and identity. That has been really, really fun, and I love having a nonbinary partner because it never feels like I'm with a set gender or a gender at all.
Jasmine Banks: It's just like this is Mo's version of nonbinary, and we get to make of it what we want. So, if Mo's like, "Hey, can I get a dildo that squirts and can I cum on your face?" I'm like, "Yes."
Jasmine Banks: Let's do that.
Erica: Let's explore.
Jasmine Banks: So, it's great. I hope it's like what the future of sex is for so many of us that even those who are not queer or those who are not trans can figure out blueprints for play and erogenous experience. It's not just about all that boring stuff you see on Pornhub.
Erica: Yes. What's the most frustrating part?
Jasmine Banks: That I can't travel because I have people I need to fuck.
Erica: Fuck you, COVID.
Jasmine Banks: Yeah, it gets to the point where I want to protect the herd and then also I need to go to Alabama to see somebody. I'm really, really trying to be a good relative and not travel and go places.
Erica: But it's just those junk has needs.
Jasmine Banks: Well, eight months is a long time to be away from a partner.
Erica: Yeah, for sure. How often do you masturbate?
Jasmine Banks: Every day.
Erica: Every day, yeah, and what's your favorite technique? Do you have one?
Jasmine Banks: I'm a friction kind of person, and it's always my hand. I have all kinds of toys and tools whenever I was active as a Just Jasmine blogger, which is still my blog, still exists. I would get all kinds of different free products, and then I just love sex shops, and I collect things, but I just have never found anything that I enjoy as much as my hands. Also, it might be just about logistics because I always masturbate first thing when I wake up no matter what, and I don't want to get up and walk to my closet and open a bin and figure out what I want. So, maybe it's also that I'm lazy. It's the Taurus in me. It's my Taurus moon.
Kenrya: Oh, yeah, I was married to a Taurus. That's the whole thing. Why every day? What does that do for you to start your day in that way?
Jasmine Banks: Honestly, it might be for everyone else because I'm nicer, less murderous. I feel energized. I'm ready to get up and do things afterwards. It's activating.
Erica: It's a power-up button.
Kenrya: Do you ever have any trouble turning off the day and focusing on bodily pleasure?
Jasmine Banks: Totally, totally. As a person who's survived childhood and adult sexual assault, dissociation is a huge part of how I balance things, and especially dissociating from anything that's about being in my body. So, I've had to create practices and norms where I invite myself to be inside my body, and masturbation has been one of those ways, and then lingerie and anything that's experiential and tactile that I can put on my body also is a meditative practice that calls me into space with myself. So, it's complicated. So, even if I don't have a busy day, that is definitely a learning edge that I have.
Erica: If you could snap your fingers and change one thing, what would you change about your sex life?
Jasmine Banks: I would be able to get people pregnant.
Erica: Babies for everyone.
Jasmine Banks: Wow, that's an interesting question. I don't know if I would really change anything. No. I would. Okay, so I would change how complicated it is to be a relationship anarchist, a person who's poly in my sexual expression in life because it often feels like that heterosexual vanilla couples just get such an easy script to follow, and they don't have these 4,000 fucking conversations with people in order to get some head.
Erica: But here's the thing. Part of the problem is that's what be fucking us up.
Jasmine Banks: That's true.
Erica: That's [crosstalk 01:06:14] us. That's what fucks it up. I think what makes it outside looking in, but I know it's like a, "Fuck. I got to... " But-
Jasmine Banks: Sometimes, I get a little tired. I'm like, "Is there a hand signal where I can just be like please?" I mean, I know we have sign language for it, but just a single-hand gesture like, "Let's do anal, but I don't want to be partners, and I'm not trying to steal your... I'm not trying to do anything nefarious. I just think you might be fun to do anal with.”
Erica: That would be... Okay. You got to come up with a-
Kenrya: Are you making up a...
Erica: I'm doing my Walter Machado.
Jasmine Banks: No. This is the... Anyway.
Erica: We have to have video for now [crosstalk 01:07:14].
Kenrya: We got to start using video.
Jasmine Banks: We're ridiculous. So, are y'all going to come to Parenting is Political to talk about sex and parenting?
Kenrya: Yes, if you'll have us.
Erica: Yeah, yeah.
Jasmine Banks: Cool, cool.
Kenrya: Before we do that, can you tell us what is a sex best practice that you want to share with our listeners?
Jasmine Banks: I have so many.
Kenrya: Give us what you want.
Jasmine Banks: Oh my gosh. This was my Miss America question. All right. So, I would say a best practice that I commit to is understanding that sex is about an experience, not a performance, and in so many ways, it doesn't have to be, "Did I do this good? Did I do this bad? Did you climax? Did you not?" And embracing these binaries, but checking in with people like, "Did you feel listened to? Did you experience pleasure that you could recognize? Did you feel as though you could communicate to me? Did you have fun?" Those things, like normalizing those questions doesn't make it any less sexy, and it actually opens up opportunities of deeper sex play and engagement because then folks feel safe and seen to give more details about what they want. It becomes even more juicy at that point.
Jasmine Banks: I have had partners in the past who when we tried those practices, we're like, "I just feel like we're doing an exit survey, and I don't like that, and it just feels like you're grading me or I'm grading you, and we shouldn't do that." So, normalizing an open communication is just really, really critical because it's that safety and communication that allows us to negotiate boundaries and consent and desire, and those are all foundational to having an enjoyable sexual experience.
Erica: Do you have any must-use tools?
Jasmine Banks: Uberlube is one of my favorites, and I think that folks who... How is it? Well, this is what I'm going to say. Cis women who are not queer definitely need to try an internal dildo. It's a dildo that has a hook or a bulb that you insert into your vaginal canal, and it can vibrate or can't vibrate, but I want cis women masturbating by putting the internal dildo and putting a shit ton of lube and rubbing the dong while literally stimulating and get into it. I think that is a must-have experience. We first introduced that tool to be supportive of some of the habits of Mo's dysphoria or some of the ways that Mo's dysphoria was showing up, but at one point, I was like, "Why is this just for a nonbinary person who needs to see themselves like gender expansive? I'm going to try this," and I masturbated with, and I was like, "Next level. Next level."
Kenrya: Next level?
Jasmine Banks: Yeah, so if you have the anatomy... Language is just so problematic, but say I'm talking to Erica, and I'm assuming you have a vulva, and I'm assuming you like to stroke dick, why not stroke your own while playing with your clitoris?
Erica: Girl, I'm online right now. I'm about to buy my own. Like bitch, I'm literally looking online right now to purchase-
Jasmine Banks: And then the bulb, which is used to secure the person who's wearing the internal dildo acts as a mechanism for you to feel full, and then it vibrates. It also hit your G-spot, and I'm like...
Kenrya: Yeah, we may need you to send us the link when we finish.
Erica: No, I'm looking, and you will approve before I press in. Thanks. Okay. Would you rather give up partner sex or masturbation?
Jasmine Banks: Partner sex, hands down.
Erica: Oh, yes.
Kenrya: [inaudible 01:11:57].
Erica: I'm lazy, but yeah. I like it.
Kenrya: Yeah, you're like, "You mean, they get to do the work? Yeah, I'll stick with partnered sex."
Kenrya: What do you hope that people learn from this walk through your sex life?
Jasmine Banks: I just hope that folks can take away that even those of us who have our bodies and our sexualities and our sexual experiences as sites of extreme trauma and suffering and even shame that we don't have to throw away sexuality and sexual experience and that in community and through embodied healing, we can transform and have different memories and different ways of being in relationship with our bodies and others and the intersections of sexuality and sexual practice. I really hope that comes through, and I also hope that it comes through that you can be a dope-ass parent and caretaker and really like to fuck and really like kink and really do all sorts of expansive things around sex.
Kenrya: Yeah, I think they're going to get that.
Jasmine Banks: I hope so.
Kenrya: Yeah, well done. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Jasmine Banks: Thank you for having me. I hope you're not jealous that Erica's my new best friend.
Kenrya: So, here's the thing.
Erica: Here's the problem. You say that, but then there's a lot of responsibility that comes with this. So, yeah, you're going to be like, "Damn." I mean, yeah. So, is this the one I need to be buying?
Kenrya: Those hormone shots she was getting, I was the one giving her them shits.
Jasmine Banks: Yes, that's a great starter, and you see the ridges? It also can rub your... gets clitoral contact.
Erica: Yeah, they have another one. They have the little bunny, but I feel like I'd freak out with all that stimulation.
Jasmine Banks: Yeah, that, when that has the ridges is nice because it's got an angle that you can bend the shaft part a little bit away and get your hand down enough to give yourself the physical contact around clitoral stimulation. So...
Erica: Dink, dink.
Kenrya: Okay, send it to me.
Erica: Thanks, bestie. Sorry, Kenrya.
Kenrya: It's fine. Where can other people who want to be your bestie find you online?
Jasmine Banks: Well, applications for best friends are closed. I peaked at Erica. So, @ParentingIsPolitical on Instagram is the best place to connect.
Kenrya: And then the website is ParentingIsPolitical.org?
Jasmine Banks: That is correct, and we have all of our podcasts there and email and newsletter and people can subscribe and all that jazz, but people think that just because I be really personal that I want them to follow me on my personal social media, like my Jasmine, Instagram, and every once while, I get the streak of Virgo, I feel bad because I'm not being nice to people. So, I'll let them in, and then three weeks later, my list is cut down again.
Erica: Who the fuck is this? Who's this person? Yeah.
Kenrya: Yeah, so y'all head over to the Parenting is Political accounts and follow her there, and that's it for this week's episode of The Turn On. Thank y'all so much for listening. We'll talk to you next week.
Erica: Peace out.
Erica: This episode was produced by us, Erica and Kenrya, and edited by B'Lystic. The theme music is from Brazy. Now, you can support The Turn On and get off. Subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast app. Then drop us a five-star review, and you'll be entered to win something that's turning us on. Post your review and email us a screenshot at TheTurnOnPodcast@gmail.com to enter. Our Patreon page is also live. Become a supporter today and access lots of goodies, including two-for-one raffle entries. Don't forget to send us your book recommendations and sex and related questions and follow us on Twitter at @TheTurnOnPod and Instagram at @TheTurnOnPodcast. You can find links to books, merch, transcripts, guest info, and other fun stuff at TheTurnOnPodcast.com. Thanks so much for listening and we'll see you soon. Holla.
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In this episode of The Turn On, Erica and Kenrya talk to sex educator and pleasure witch Haylin Belay about tapping into your personal spirituality; achieving a pleasurable, integrated sex life; rooting out anti-Blackness in sex education and all the shit popular culture gets wrong about witchcraft.
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Kenrya: Come here. Get off.
Kenrya: Today, we're talking to Haylin Belay, pronouns she and her. Haylin is a seasoned sex educator and holistic health promotion professional with a focus on reproductive justice and youth empowerment. With over a decade of hands-on experience developing award-winning health education programming and providing professional development for clinicians, educators, and activists, her expertise is in teaching practical skills for a healthier, more pleasurable life. Love it. She's also a yoga instructor and a spiritual coach who offers group classes, workshops, and one-on-one coaching from a trauma-responsive, integrated mind-body-spirit perspective.
Kenrya: Haylin is the creator of Sex Ed For All and My Feminism Involves Witchcraft, and she hosts a web series called How to Sex Toy. Haylin's mission is to support everyone, regardless of gender, orientation, libido, relationship style, kink, fetish, ability, size, trauma background, or sexual experience in living their best and healthiest lives. A practicing witch and professional tarot reader, Haylin lives in New York City with her cat, Princess Walter, and a kitten.
Haylin Belay: And a kitten. Also, I'm so sorry, I just realized that that's outdated as well. I've moved to Baltimore. I moved to Baltimore about five seconds before corona hit, so I really snuck in under the deadline.
Kenrya: Welcome to the area.
Erica: Welcome to the area.
Haylin Belay: Where are you all calling from?
Kenrya: We're just outside of D.C.
Haylin Belay: Okay. Hey, neighbor.
Erica: Hey, girl.
Kenrya: And, on that note, thank you for coming on the show.
Haylin Belay: Yeah, of course. Happy to be here and [crosstalk 00:02:00].
Erica: What's the kitty's name? I mean we can't have Reverend Jackson, Reverend Kitten, what do you call it?
Kenrya: Princess Walter.
Erica: Taking all the shine.
Haylin Belay: The big cat, he's not that big, but the big cat is Princess Walter, and then the baby kitten, she's got a little mohawk pattern on her head, [crosstalk 00:02:19], that's her name.
Kenrya: I love it.
Erica: I love it.
Kenrya: Yay. So, we first learned about you and your work when you did a tarot reading on Another Round, rest in peace.
Erica: Rest in peace.
Haylin Belay: Rest in peace, yes.
Erica: That was a horrible air horn.
Kenrya: Horrible air horn.
Erica: You know what? It was a chicken, okay?
Haylin Belay: That definitely was a chicken.
Erica: I'm from the Midwest. It took me a while to-
Kenrya: Even know what the fuck an air horn was?
Erica: Yeah. I was like, "What is this?" At a monster truck rally, maybe.
Erica: My bad. Continue. Shout-out to Another Round.
Kenrya: So, when I was working on my book, “How We Fight White Supremacy,” I reached out to you and I asked you to write what ended up being a really beautiful essay about what it means to be a witch and how that's tied to your liberation and all of our liberation, and folks need to go read that essay, but in the meantime-
Erica: Available at your favorite bookseller, we'll include a link.
Kenrya: Your favorite Black bookseller.
Erica: Black bookseller.
Kenrya: But in the meantime, can you tell us a bit about what being a practicing witch means to you and how you come to this work?
Haylin Belay: Yeah. First and foremost, thank you for the opportunity to write that essay. I'm trying to remember, I'm very bad with time, was that in 2017?
Kenrya: Shit. Probably. Listen, it came out in 2019, so, yeah, sure, 2017.
Haylin Belay: Yeah. I haven't read it in a minute, but I stand by everything that I said in that essay, most likely. If anything, probably the only edits that I would make now are just the same thing, but even more emphatically. My relationship to witchcraft takes a lot of meandering turns. It's a story that I tell in many of my workshops because I think the story of it explains why I'm teaching all of the seemingly disparate things that I teach. I will say that I am an Ethiopian, and most Ethiopians have a really strong negative relationship with the word "witchcraft." So, as a child, I was not thinking of anything that I did or that my family did as witchcraft or magic, it was either religious or it just didn't have a name, these cultural-
Erica: You just do it.
Haylin Belay: Yeah, exactly. When I have a stomachache, my mom puts her hands on my stomach and takes the sickness out, that was just a thing that happens. So, it wasn't until probably college that I actually started using the word "witch" specifically, and it really started, embarrassingly enough, from this pretentious academic anthropologist lens, like, "Witchcraft is a construct," which I don't regret, I think that-
Erica: Don't you love your collegiate self? You're like, "I learned some shit," I'll get on everybody's nerves at Thanksgiving.
Haylin Belay: But, luckily, the books that that led me to were books that were useful for me to read. So, the snobbery aside, it was a useful period of time. So, I first got interested in the concept of witchcraft from this anthropological lens, but it didn't really become personal until I got my first tarot deck, and I got my first tarot deck at the same time that I was experiencing processing a pretty high-impact trauma that happened during my college years.
Haylin Belay: So, as anyone who has experienced trauma knows, when you're in that aftermath, especially really early on, it feels like your organizing idea of what the world is has now shattered, either because you were one way and then something happened and now that way doesn't exist anymore, or because, in my case, my organizing principle of the world for a very long time had been organized around my abuser, and so now that that person's no longer in my life, who am I? How do I know stuff? How do I make decisions? How do I deal with things?
Haylin Belay: I got a tarot deck mostly because I was like, "This will be a fun way to procrastinate from things when I don't feel like doing what I'm supposed to, at least I'll have this pretty thing to look at and play around with." And every time I picked up my deck, it was like, "Okay, well, there goes the next three hours because I'm going to have to process this, I'm going to have to journal about it," and talk about it with my therapist, and process it really deeply.
Haylin Belay: Finding that that experience was not just, when I say that I had an anthropological or a political interest in the word "witchcraft," what I really mean is that the construct of witchcraft as being specifically in, I wouldn't say conflict, "conflict's" a harsh word, but in contrast to a hegemonic view of the world that is top-down, hierarchal, dogmatic, these institutional ways of thinking that is, "Here is the truth, it's this thing outside of you, and you have to learn how to adopt it," that witchcraft was a statement of personal power, "I have the power to do things with my will or intention," and also a statement of knowledge, "I have the power within me to understand truth. I don't need somebody else to tell me what truth is and learn how to fit myself to truth, I already have it."
Haylin Belay: So, that was, I think, first something that I came to, again, politically. I went to college, I got radicalized, I was like, "No more institutions. Everything's a social construct. I'm a witch because I exist in opposition to these constructs." But, over time, it became something that little teenager-me, who was so areligious that she started a Secular Students Alliance in high school, which I now look back on and I'm like, "What was I doing? What was my area of focus that I was like, "This is a really important thing I need to be my spending my time doing is starting an atheist club at school."
Haylin Belay: But now, at almost 27-years-old, I consider myself a deeply spiritual and a deeply religious person. And I've realized, in retrospect, that, actually, that's not something new that I developed as an adult, it's something that I've had my entire life, but I didn't have the language for a spirituality that wasn't organized religion. I didn't have language for a spirituality that actually did allow for me to be the person that I knew myself to be, that allowed me to work my way out of some of the traumatic experiences of religiosity that I had as a young person.
Haylin Belay: And so, at first, it started with the political stuff, like book stuff, and then it became this spiritual thing. And then I actually moved into this really embodied work. So, as you mentioned in the bio, which was so fun to listen to, I love listening to people talk about me, happy Leo season, you mentioned-
Erica: Give yourself your flowers.
Haylin Belay: Many things I do. I am also a sex educator, that's my main "professional" thing that I've been trained to do, thing that's on my resume. So, I had been doing work around values and health for a while, but the connection of those two things came pretty late in the game, I think it was probably 2018, 2018 is when I did my yoga teacher training, and that was a choice, I was like, "I know I'm a good sex educator, but I feel like I could be a great sex educator if I was able to not just talk to people about these social-emotional skills, but also talk to them about these sematic experiences that they don't have other places to talk about. How do you know what pleasure feels like? How do you know what distress feels like and how to regulate it?" And those kinds of questions came later, partially because I'm an over-educated hyper-intellectual analytic person, I'm just like, "How do we figure out the-
Erica: "Now that I know this, I need to study it."
Haylin Belay: Yeah, exactly. I want different theory, yeah, which was useful for a while, and then you get to a certain point, and anybody who's done anything with enough intensity or commitment knows that, at a certain point, you hit the wall of you just have to feel it. You can know it, you can say it to other people, but that is not the same thing as feeling it and living it and feeling like it's a part of you. So, in the last two years, especially, I feel like, this could be a long story, but I feel like it all came around probably in the last two years that I really felt like these different things that I was doing as a sex educator, as a social-emotional skills educator, as a witch, now feel like they're all part of the same thing, which is pleasure.
Haylin Belay: Obviously, that's related to my sex ed work, that comes as no surprise, but it's also fundamental to what I think of as my spirituality and my witchcraft. A lot of times, I call myself a pleasure witch, to bring attention to the fact that my practice is really centered around acknowledging the sacredness of my own intuition, which I use pleasure and intuition interchangeably, that body feeling of, "I know that this thing is happening and it's good," that's what I want to privilege in my life.
Erica: You hit on so many points, I'm like, "Yes, yes, yes, yes," particularly the point where you talked about being the president/founder of the Secular Student Club, the SSC. So, you and your SSC homies, it's funny because I think about my girlfriends, and they laugh, because I will make a joke about Jesus in a minute, that doesn't mean I don't believe in him, it's just I'm working through some things and I'm trying to figure out where I fit in it all. So, I think it's really dope that you have been able to, now, stand on the mountaintop and look on everything and see how it all lines up into seeing who big Haylin is, because my next question is: what did baby Haylin think she wanted to be when she grew up?
Haylin Belay: Oh my God. Baby Haylin wanted to be a film critic? I say that with a question mark at the end because, actually what I wanted to be was an anthropologist, but I didn't know that. I thought that what I wanted to be was a film critic because I was really interested in film as an artifact, the way to study culture. And then I got to college, in the film department that I'd applied to be in, and took one class and was like, "I hate this. What? Why are we talking about this weird psychoanalytic theory that has nothing to do with lived ... This is boring."
Erica: "I was just trying to throw stones at Indiana Jones."
Kenrya: Film is my second minor, it's definitely its own separate world.
Haylin Belay: Yes. So, I was interested in film as a young person, and I did a film studies essay that I'm still really proud of, at 18-years-old, this really good essay about movie adaptations. And then I went to school and was like, "Actually all the classes that are about film in the way that I want to talk about them are in the anthropology department. That's interesting. Let me see what's going on over there." And then I got to four years later and here I am.
Erica: Bam. I love it.
Kenrya: I'm always curious, now that we're hanging out with little Haylin, about the contrast of how we grew up and how we are now. What was the prevailing attitude about sex in your home, growing up?
Haylin Belay: I think she's kidding, but still, to this day, my mom will tell me she's a virgin.
Erica: But there's still like 10% of maybe-she-believes-it.
Haylin Belay: To this day. I'm like, "I don't know if you think that I don't know where babies come from. I'm not really sure what this is about, who you're saving face to by saying this." The relationship to sex, I mean baby Haylin, actual baby Haylin, my mom has this really lovely story about being in the grocery store, and I must have been like five or six, I was young enough to be sitting in the little cart thing, and I was like, "Mom, do you know where babies come from?" And she was like, "This is going to be so funny. Okay, yeah, where do babies come from?" And I was like, "Well, when a sperm and an egg ..." because I had been watching my “Bill Nye the Science Guy” and I saw the episode about how conception works and was like, "That's really interesting, that's really cool."
Haylin Belay: I think that I've always, on some level, even before I really knew what sex was, had this interest in human sexuality. I think, when I was younger, that interest was something that I felt very guilty and embarrassed about, it was not a subject that we talked about in my household. I didn't learn the actual names for body parts until ... I learned them in Amharic, which is the language my mom speaks, but she wouldn't even say them in English. And really had to learn a lot of things on my own, whether that was from “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” from educational resources, or from the internet. Little bit bigger baby Haylin, adolescent Haylin, spent a lot of time online, "doing research."
Erica: Do online research and you have to do, what they call it, in-person research-
Haylin Belay: A practicum.
Haylin Belay: So, I was really just trying to understand what was going on, and I don't think that I knew it was job that I could have, to talk about sex, until college. Up until that point, even when I had taught sex ed, I had taught sex ed in high school, as a youth activist. Oh my God, sorry, the kitten and the cat are ...
Kenrya: They really are right there. Hey.
Haylin Belay: They're teaming up on me.
Erica: Hey Robin Williams. Cat reverend.
Haylin Belay: You got to get out of here. Where was I? So, as a high school student, I taught sex ed as part of my youth activist work with the Texas branch of the National GSA Alliance, I don't know if GSA still exists in that way anymore.
Erica: What's GSA?
Haylin Belay: Okay.
Erica: We're in D.C., I'm thinking General Services Administration, I'm like, "I don't think that ..."
Haylin Belay: No, that wasn't it. Gay-Straight Alliance.
Erica: Okay. Yeah, we just called it Gay-Straight Alliance.
Haylin Belay: I feel like when I was coming into college was around the same time that GSA was falling out of fashion as an acronym, there's all these new fun things that people call their affinity clubs, but we were a GSA. The sex ed work that I did with the GSA Alliance was from the perspective of health education as a human right, queer folks don't get any education that's relevant to their sexuality, I mean none of us take good sex ed, but especially queer folks don't get good sex ed, so we're going to teach young people how to give sex ed to their peers. And I was like, "That's so cool that I get to do this. It's really fun and engaging and meaningful to me. It's too bad that I don't know what I want to do for a living," or "I'm not sure how I'm going to find a career at some point when I grew up."
Haylin Belay: And then I went to college and was volunteering in another peer education program and working at the Health Promotion Office, and just like, "Yeah, I'm really just trying to figure out what I want to do with my life and I can't figure it out." And, finally, it literally until probably my junior or senior year, I think it was a mentor of mine said to me, we're talking about, I think, just my resume, I was just talking about stuff that I had done, and she was like, "Do you realize that you have been working in the field for six years?" I was like, "Oh. No. But now that you said that, that sounds really cool. I've been working in the field for six years."
Haylin Belay: So, it's something that, I think in part because it was so secret and taboo, like I knew that it existed and that I wasn't supposed to be talking about it and, on some level, like my mom in the grocery store being like, "No, don't talk about the sperm," I was like, "Oh, I'm not supposed to talk about the sperm, okay."
Kenrya: Right. "Was that a nerve?"
Haylin Belay: I'm like, "Okay. Interesting. I'm going to file that away for later."
Erica: I love it. So, I was digging around on your website, to prepare for this, great website by the way, and what I love is your manifesto. It's just so dope, it's like, "This is who I am, this is what I believe." And one of the things you said is that it's grounded by belief that everyone deserves an integrated sex life and healthy pursuit of pleasure. What does that mean to you?
Haylin Belay: So, on my website, I break it down piece by piece, I'm going to break it down piece by piece here as well. So, starting with that first part, what it means to have an integrated sex life, I think, speaking from my own experience, we are really trained to think of our sex life as something that is completely separate and distinct from our real life, and that, I think, even goes for people who do have some kind of sex ed or do have a more open relationship to sexuality. There's still this idea of it's dirty, it's secret, it should be hidden, it should be in the shadows.
Haylin Belay: And I think that that separation, in and of itself, does so much damage, causes so much harm, is the root of so much pain and hurt and trauma because when you are separating and bisecting these parts of yourself, inevitably, part of what happens is that dissonance comes out in, I mean as I was saying earlier, I have a holistic perspective, so not just in your emotional life, not just in your relationships, but literally, physically in your body.
Haylin Belay: I have had a lot of conversations with folks, not just women, but most often women, where we'll be talking about things that they assume to be anatomical or biological things happening with their body, and then through dialogue and education, finding out that, actually, that is something that has way more to do with an emotional reality, a psychological reality, that it's not, "My body just does X, Y, Z," it's your body does X, Y, Z under very specific circumstances.
Kenrya: Like a dry ass pussy.
Haylin Belay: Yes. For example. Not to say that that vaginal dryness isn't a thing that people can struggle with, and also I think there's a lot of people in the world who are experiencing "vaginal dryness" who actually are just not aroused and don't realize what it feels like to be aroused in a way that would allow them to know, "That's why this is happening. I need to ask for X, Y, Z. I need to do A, B, C differently."
Kenrya: I've been there, with a whole ass partner who told me there was something wrong with me, but I just didn't want him.
Haylin Belay: Yeah. I've worked in a couple of sex shops, on and off, for the last few years, which, oh my God, that was my side fun money in college and right after college. Best job. Worse job because it's retail, but best job for everything else. So, the ...
Erica: Dry pussies.
Haylin Belay: Dry pussies. Working in sex shops is probably the best ethnographic research, sociological study of sexuality that I think is even possible. It's really hard to get people to self-disclose or self-describe their sexuality, but when you have them in a context where they think they're having a retail interaction, they'll actually tell you a lot more and be a lot more honest than a situation where it's like, "Okay, I'm the sex educator, I'm the public health police, basically, and you're going to sit here and lie and tell me that you use condoms every time because you think you're going to get in trouble if you don't tell me the truth."
Haylin Belay: Being in sex shops, again, I cannot count how many times I felt like I was not just educating somebody about sexuality, but also doing some relationship counseling and mediating some conversations that partners felt like they could not have directly with each other. Being that third external point to help communicate things in language that folks didn't have, and why do people not have this language? Because we're taught to think of our sex life as something separate from our real life, so why would you need to know this language? Why would you need to have an expertise around sexuality? Why would you be curious about it, unless it was for dirty reasons?
Haylin Belay: And that stigma, in my own personal life, I, as I was saying earlier, have always been interested in sex and sexuality, I've also, ever since I hit adolescence, have always been a highly sexually-motivated person. I think sex is fun and cool. And even just that, not even talking about what I do for a living, but even just being a person, an adult woman who thinks that sex is fun and cool, automatically with it comes, "Well, if you think sex is fun and cool, it must be because you are a prostitute," that's the only reason, right? Those two things go hand-in-hand because why else would you care about sex and sexuality, unless it was for reasons related to what society is going to think of as vulgar reasons, profane reasons.
Haylin Belay: So, even just that part, not even talking about the healthy pursuit of pleasure, but just having an integrated sex life, to me, is one of the most important aspects of the work that I do, being able to have a conversation with somebody about sex and sexuality and help them develop that language of you can describe yourself with your personality traits, that you're brave or that you're funny, whatever, to have that same language about your sexual desires, your sexual personality, your erotic imagination, your relationship styles, your needs, your wants, your boundaries, all of these different things.
Haylin Belay: The healthy pursuit of pleasure is, ideally, where that integration will lead you, that to be able to repair this part of yourself allows for a connection to what pleasure is and a kind of confidence in the pursuit of that pleasure that makes it easier to make healthy decisions, that makes it more natural to make healthy decisions because the experience of sexuality isn't, if you're watching a scary movie, like I'm covering my eyes, I'm holding my breath, I hate everything about this, it's so nerve-wracking to be doing this at all, and so I'm stumbling through it and I'm not even maybe noticing what my experience of it is.
Haylin Belay: I've noticed that there's something kind of specifically transformative about sexuality and embracing sexuality and healing the relationship to sexuality. It's one of the reasons why I love being a sex educator, just in general. One of the best pieces of career advice I ever got was, "You should do the thing that people you love love to do," and I love sex educators. Not every single one of them, not going to name names, but not every single one of them is an amazing person who I want to hang out with, but, on average, when I'm going to a conference, when I'm going to an industry event, when I'm meeting somebody who works in the field, again, not all of them, but oftentimes, these are people who are really comfortable holding onto challenging conversations. They're people who have taken the time and the effort to work through their own internalized biases and bullshit.
Haylin Belay: They're people who are, on some level, just by virtue of what they do for a living, saying, "I reject this respectability notion that's based in white supremacy that sexuality is somehow antithetical to humanity, expertise," all of these things. To be able to do that work with sexuality, which is this really embodied thing, this thing that requires you to have a relationship to your body that is curious and introspective and, again, most importantly, accepting, I think is a really specifically useful way of thinking about healing some of those emotional, psychological, social wounds that come from not just acute, capital-T trauma, but also the general trauma of, I used to say existing as a marginalized community or existing under these specific oppressions; in 2020, existing, just, period, existing.
Haylin Belay: We're all walking around with cracks in the armor, we're all walking around with this experience of there's something outside of me that is bigger than me that's saying I am wrong about what the truth is and that I can't do anything about it. And to be able to say, "Actually, no, I know what the truth is and I can do things about it," whether that is from the perspective of sexuality, like, "I actually know that wet ass pussy is a good thing and I reject this narrative that it is not a good thing, and I'm going to go make that wet ass pussy a reality." That is one form of liberation that I think really naturally brings us to other forms of liberation, being able to say, "Wait, actually now that I've experienced the pleasure of believing in and acting on my own internal knowledge, where else can I do that? Where else in my life am I going to be able to have this same experience of saying, ‘I know that you said X, Y and Z, but I say A, B and C, and so A, B and C is what it is.’"
Erica: We have a list of questions, as all interviewers do, and I feel like you've answered so many of them already because you're just such a ... I would do my air horns, but you all be hating on them.
Kenrya: I mean it's not good. It's fine, I can't do it at all, so I appreciate that you even try because I won't.
Haylin Belay: Bold, brave.
Erica: Exactly. Okay, so I'm going to jump around a little bit because you touched on this. Through this podcast, I have realized that I have a love for sex education and am working to become a sexuality educator. Yay. And I've met so many cool, amazing Black femme sex ed educators. But I feel like I'm in a bubble because I'm in this amazing little Turn On bubble, I find amazing people like you, I'm over here on mute, shouting, "Preach!" But then I realize, as I go to classes and workshops and conferences, this is a white ass community. And I just wanted to find out what do you think the role of anti-Blackness plays in keeping us from pursuing this as a profession and what can we do?
Haylin Belay: Well, I'm glad you asked. So, this is a soapbox that I find myself standing on really frequently because it's actually pretty common for me to teach some adult workshop, and then someone comes up to me afterwards and is like, "You can do this as a job? How do I have this job?" They have that same awakening moment of, "Wait, this is actually really cool. How do you do this?" One of the first and most obvious ways to switch careers and to build a new skillset is certification. And certification, as a concept, fundamentally, is anti-Black. So, let's start there. The fact that there are certifying bodies-
Erica: It's expensive, it requires a shit load of money, time. I don't think that I would have been able to pursue certification as much as I have these past few months is because I am in the middle of a pandemic, and so I'm able to work from home, and before that, I, unfortunately, had a sickness and was on medical leave for a while, but in that time, had the ability ... like I had a job that gave me good benefits, that gave me ability to stay home. And I say this, I'm sorry, I'm talking to you, I'm fussing and all this, but I say this all the time, so many of our aunties have been sex educators and it hasn't been formalized, or you got a cool cousin that tells you, "Girl don't forget to pee after you have sex," just little things like that, and we fail to remember that this is a thing.
Haylin Belay: Yeah.
Erica: So, thank you, gals.
Haylin Belay: A lot of my sex ed came from Lil' Kim and Trina, they taught me a lot. I learned many things about pleasure and sexual communication. So, on the note of certifying-
Haylin Belay: I've been a sex educator for over a decade, at this point, and I am not even eligible for a sex certification. I could not get certification if I tried. Again, not going to name any names, but I've also met certified sexuality educators who I would not trust in any classroom because the specific parameters of what you have to know to be a certified sex educator through AASECT and the parameters of what I think makes a quality sex educator, there's some overlap, but there's also some really important things that are not considered part of your critical knowledge for being a certified sex educator.
Haylin Belay: For example, you don't have to engage with any kind of conversation about anti-Blackness, which seems like a really big blind spot for someone who is going to be working specifically in sexuality, working specifically against sexual stigma that is, by its nature, really heavily rooted in anti-Blackness. There is a colleague of mine who ran a POC-led SAR, which is a training you have to do to get AASECT certification, on top of all the other things that you have to do, and the training that she led, I think it was the first POC-led SAR, either the first or one of very, very, very few. And this is an institution that's been around for a while, so if this institution's been around for a while and this was the first POC training that they had, what does that tell you about the standards for certification, going back to the origin of this institution?
Haylin Belay: What's the purpose of saying, "Okay, you've got a stamp next to your name that you can be a sexuality educator," other than to create a barrier to artificially keep people who have tons of knowledge, tons of expertise, and some of the best sexuality educators I know are not just not public health professionals, but they didn't study sex ed in school. Some of the best educators I know come from peer education programs. I'm not just saying that because I came from a peer education program, I'm saying that because I think that peer education programs really uniquely equip people to learn sort of what I was alluding to earlier, not just the content, but also feeling and living and experiencing what your students are experiencing.
Haylin Belay: And I think that's so, so crucial for being a sexuality educator, and that's not something that AASECT measures for. To be clear, I'm not saying that the problem is that there should be a better certification. What I'm saying is certification is bunk, as a concept, especially in a field like sex ed, like I would have people ask me, "Do I need certification?" And, usually, my response would be, "If you feel like you have a lack of knowledge that pursuing certification would help you build, like you need a foundation of the main components of a comprehensive sex ed program, sure. Find a way to make it work for you. Know that there are other ways you can get that education that aren't through a certifying program, it just might be harder or take more work to track those things down.
Haylin Belay: But if you already know stuff about sex, if you've been working in a sex shop for four years, if you're somebody who, like me, is just very interested in sex and sexuality and went out of their way to study sexual anatomy and to read lots of books and to develop a really robust language around it, if you know things, that's all you need to know. You just have to know things and know how to communicate them to other people. It's not like being a yoga instructor or a pilot, where you legally are not allowed to give sex ed unless you have the certificate saying that you can give sex ed.
Haylin Belay: Really, as you were alluding to earlier, all of us are sexuality educators in some form or fashion. If you are having a conversation about sex, if you're sharing information, if you're having conversations about different perspectives, you are engaged in that work of helping somebody else and helping yourself develop your sexual sovereignty, that's a really political word for something that ... I'm trying to talk about something very human, just having language for who you are, knowing yourself.
Haylin Belay: So, in conclusion, certification sucks and I really wish that it was possible for ... I mean look at it this way, the history of sex ed in America really starts with patriarchy, it starts with essentially marriage education, "Here's how to be a husband, how to be a wife." And then we get into a version of sex ed that's about moral purity-
Erica: Yeah, "Don't come back with those dirty diseases from"-
Haylin Belay: "Don't get pregnant, don't get infected," exactly. And then, of course, HIV, the AIDS crisis, that pandemic means that, to this day, in New York City ... Right now, I think it's a city policy that you have to do comprehensive sex ed, but there is a statewide policy that you have to have six hours of specifically HIV/AIDS curriculum. Not sex ed curriculum, HIV/AIDS, and that's a byproduct from a period of time where sex ed and HIV and AIDS prevention meant the same thing.
Erica: That is just rooted in so much negativity and stigma and just wrongness that ... I'm usually not a speechless kind of gal. Like, huh? There's so much more. There's so much more about sex than just how not to get a disease because then you have all these kids walking around, like the first thing you think about with sex is disease.
Kenrya: Well, and it doesn't do anything to address the structural racism that leads to the very real fact that we are the people who have these high transmission rates either. It's just a shaming tactic that does nothing to actually educate people or make them safer or do any of the things that sex education should really do, like educating you about your bodies and helping you to feel rooted in that and safe in that.
Haylin Belay: Yeah.
Erica: I'm sorry. This reminds me of when my son wouldn't brush his teeth, and so I'd google images of rotted mouths, like, "Brush your teeth."
Haylin Belay: Like, scare him straight.
Erica: There was no in between. Yes, I was wrong. But it's just like, "This ain't doing shit." Sorry.
Haylin Belay: Well, no, those scare tactics, for something like sex and sexuality, I can understand and empathize, on some level, especially ... My younger sister, she just turned 12, and even as a sexuality educator, sometimes she'll say stuff to me about sex where I have to take a breath and be like, "It's developmentally appropriate for her to ask this question." Nothing weird is happening, even though, on some level, I'm like, "Oh my God, but you're a baby." And I can only imagine, as a parent, feeling like, "Oh my God, but you're a baby, I want to protect you, I want you to not experience all of these what public health world calls "negative health outcomes" related to sexuality, like STIs or unwanted pregnancies, or whatever the case may be, abusive relationships."
Haylin Belay: But the research shows, research both meaning actual formal research and also just lived experience, look at the world, if all you do is tell people, "Don't have sex" or "Don't have risky sex," they're just going to be like, "Okay. Whatever," they're going to sit in the room and they're going to look at you and they're going to write what they think they have to write on the little form, and then they're going to do whatever the hell they were going to do anyways. And now they're going to go do it without any extra information about how to do it safely, about how to do it responsibly, how to communicate about doing it. They're just out here, doing it, with the information that they got from TV, movies, their older cousin, kids at school, sources that, because we live in a society that does not generally have good sex ed as a baseline, all of those sources are suspect sources for receiving sexuality education.
Haylin Belay: It's especially upsetting, as someone who's in the field, to know that this information exists. For example, great example, sexual violence prevention, without going too deep into the weeds, one of the most effective things to prevent sexual violence from happening in the first place is consent education with a focus on social-emotional skills, so that's stuff like empathy and boundaries and emotional regulation, things that you almost never hear people talking about in sex ed classrooms. The fact that that is information that exists in the world, and yet it's not information that's widely known, it's not information that policy gets written around, it's not even information that most curriculums get written around.
Haylin Belay: A lot of curriculums are still using language, like, "Pregnancy prevention program, that's what we're here to do," and that's not really going much deeper than that. When people ask me what I think my job is, talking to middle schoolers and high schoolers about sex, my job is telling young people how to have good sex. And I think on a baseline level, people hear that and they're like, "But that's gross," but it's not gross. Do you want them to get to adulthood and not know how to have good sex? To not know what's pleasurable, what's safe, what exists in the world, what their options are?
Haylin Belay: Because I think what about my formative experiences were of sexuality and of relationships, and I was lucky that I had been teaching sex ed for a while before I had sex for the first time. So, I was like, "I know how to put a condom on, and I have one with me, and I'm going to use it and I know how to communicate about it, and, also, I'm going to have an orgasm because that's something that I am allowed to ask for in this experience and feel entitled to," and that was a huge benefit that came from having even that baseline education in condoms and anatomy.
Haylin Belay: But the relationship trauma that I experienced in college was something that the sex ed that I had been teaching didn't talk about, it didn't prepare me for. To have had that information, as a young person, and again, to know that the information exists and that people don't get it, it literally keeps me up at night. I'm getting kind of choked up, talking about it now, that so many people experience trauma, or even if it's not traumatic, just bad sex.
Haylin Belay: It breaks my heart to think of all the people in the world who do not have the sex life that they want to have, and I don't mean they're not having the orgies and multiple orgasms that they want to have, but I just mean literally the things that would bring them pleasure and the things that exist in their life are mismatched, when we know how to make things different, we know the information of how do we keep people from being in abusive relationships? How do we keep people from getting pregnant when they don't want to be pregnant, or from spreading infections? It's not by going in and saying, "Don't have sex." We know that, actually, going in and saying, "Don't have sex," does the exact opposite thing.
Kenrya: Wow. So, we know what keeps you up at night. What's your favorite thing about what you do?
Haylin Belay: I mean my favorite thing about what I do is that I get paid to do the thing that I care most about in the world. How many people get to say that in 2020, in this stage of late capitalism? I feel so strongly that this is not just something that's important to me because I care about sexuality, but also, as an aspect of the greater work towards social justice and the greater work towards liberation, I feel so blessed that the exact thing that distresses me most is also something that I get to get up every day and do something about, and also people pay me for it. That's fantastic.
Erica: Yeah. So, what do you wish more Black people knew about sex and sexuality?
Haylin Belay: Okay, wow, there's a whole long list of things. I mean the first and most easy basic one is it is okay to talk about it, and talk about it meaning talk about it with vulnerability and openness and honesty. There's this really, I think, painful double consciousness, like this internalization or reflection of the hypersexualization of Black people and Black bodies mingling with our natural human psychology and physiology, and leading to these circumstances where I see ... For example, I used to work with a group that was exclusively high school girls, mostly Black and Brown teenage girls, and there was so much expectation around sex and sexuality that was, if you compared it to the independent schools that I also taught in, which, in New York, independent meaning wealthy schools, so these are super rich kids, mostly white kids, they cannot even say "vagina," let alone "pussy" in a classroom, they're too scared.
Haylin Belay: And then being in this other classroom and, superficially, it looks like, "Well, they're using the language, they're talking about it, they know about it," but the relationship to it is just the exact mirror reflection opposite of the expectation for white femininity. If white womanhood is being desexualized, being beautiful, but not sexy because that's trashy, then Black femininity has this obligation to be sexy, and to be sexy is not necessarily the same thing as experiencing pleasure. I mean I know we've talked about it a couple of times, but I'm going to bring it up again, Wet Ass Pussy has everybody so mad, not because it's about sex, because there's plenty of music about sex, but because it's about women's pleasure, and that's the part that I think I wish that it felt like something ...
Haylin Belay: I'll put it this way, me existing in the body that I have is something that I have to think about in every single classroom that I'm in, and one of the reasons why I was doing work with a group of all girls is because, at a certain point, I realized, "At about age 13, boys learn that one of the ways that they can feel good about themselves or get status with their peers is to be demeaning towards women. So, me going into that classroom to talk about sexuality, which is going to immediately trigger all their stuff and they're going to need some outlet for it, and I'm the person who's standing there, by age 13, 14, they've already learned that; by age 16, 17, they're taller than me. So, that's probably not the classroom where I'm going to be the most impactful and the most effective."
Kenrya: And there's no safety there.
Haylin Belay: Yeah. Physically, I'm not worried about a young person physically attacking me, but to be in a space like that and have to hear, I'm saying "have to hear" as though I don't have this job on purpose, but it's still really painful to have to hear people expressing things as not just fact, but, "This is the way the world is" because what I'm hearing is that external truth that's been saying, "I have to consume you. You have to believe in me, you have to ascribe to this, or else you're wrong." They got you. They completely got you. And you're doing it now in a way that, because of who I am and how you perceive me, I'm not going to be the one who's going to be able to pull you out of it.
Kenrya: That's real. You got to know what you can and what you can't do.
Kenrya: I want to take it back a little bit and tie in the book that we read last week. It stars a witch and it has this whole intricate mythology that centers Black people, which was really hard for us to find. We've known that we wanted to have you on the show, legit since we started the show.
Erica: Like, you were one of our first-
Haylin Belay: Oh my God.
Kenrya: Yeah. Seriously.
Erica: You were one of our first people.
Kenrya: But we had a hell of a time finding a book that we thought was a natural tie-in, to the point where we were just going to be like, "Fuck it, let's just have her on the show."
Kenrya: We finally found something. But it was interesting because it's a fantasy book, right? It doesn't feel like anything that I've ever read about what modern witchcraft is. I'm wondering, what does popular culture get wrong about being a witch?
Haylin Belay: Almost everything. Pretty much every single thing. The popular conception of witchcraft, especially in North America, is pretty interchangeable with Wiccan, or Wicca, which, for folks who don't know, is a religion, it's a specific collection of beliefs about how to use magic, and magic is one of the tools that that religion uses. Witchcraft, as a practice, is a lot more malleable, it's a lot more magical, in my opinion, because witchcraft doesn't describe a collection of beliefs, it describes a way of interacting with the world.
Haylin Belay: So, this motif I keep coming back to of I have knowledge within me and I can effect change in the world, that's intuition and manifestation. And, arguably, all magic falls under those two big umbrella categories, you're either trying to access your inner knowledge or you're trying to make your internal desire into an external reality. Magic in popular culture is usually ... First, we have to consider the fact that witchcraft is going to be generally maligned. There is reasons by a lot of the examples of witchcraft that we see in our popular culture are negative depictions of scary witches because we live in a country that is "built on Judeo-Christian values," and one of those values is no witchcraft.
Kenrya: But putting kids in cages and shit-
Haylin Belay: Yeah, that's super normal. And, also, to be honest with you, a lot of the things that I do in my current witchcraft practice are things that I learned to do as a young person in the Orthodox church because, guess what? That stuff is also magic. But because it's coming from this external source, you're going to call it a different form of knowledge, but guess what? What you do and what I do are actually not that different.
Haylin Belay: Something else that I think is missing in the popular conception of witchcraft is an understanding of what magic does, like the function of magic and why people practice magic. I'm thinking about just movies, and mostly Halloween movies that I'm thinking of, frankly, that have witches with the pointy hats and the broomsticks. But I can't think of a time where I've seen a depiction of a witch in popular culture that was a disenfranchised person, it was a Black person, using magic to seek justice as an alternative to institutions that were denying them justice or using it as a way to access healing in defiance of institutions that were denying them healing. And that is, especially in America, the foundation of so much of what witchcraft is. Witchcraft is a tool of the oppressed to use their personal power, their willpower, to enact change in the world, in a world that otherwise maybe doesn't give them many other routes or avenues for effecting change. And that's really a perspective of magic I don't see very often. Usually, either it's bibbidi-bobbidi-boo, it's that kind of fanciful magic, or it's tarot cards and black makeup and-
Erica: “The Craft.”
Haylin Belay: Yeah, exactly. Which, I will say, one thing to say about “The Craft” is that they are using magic the way that magic is really meant to be used. You all feel downtrodden, use some magic. Lift yourself up. Literally lift yourself, levitate off the ground and get [crosstalk 00:54:45].
Kenrya: What books, or resources outside of books, would you recommend for our listeners who want to delve into their own sexuality or spirituality?
Haylin Belay: Oh my God. So, first, I'm going to give my annoying answer that I give when people ask me this question in classes, because usually I get the question of, "What book should I read about spirituality specifically?" And my response is usually, "I'm not going to give you a reading list. The tool, the resource that's going to help you learn more about your spiritual practice is your own intuition. So, I'm happy to talk to you about how to hone that tool so that you can really feel confident in it, but I'm not going to tell you, "Here's five books that you should read" because then we're just doing the thing that you said you wanted to get away from over again. You said that you were done with having these external truths enforced upon you, so don't take mine, I don't want mine to be the replacement, I want you to find your own."
Haylin Belay: So, that's my caveat for any recommendation I gave ever, like the resources that I find useful are not going to be universally useful, they're the language that made sense to me, and I'm an expert, but I'm not the only expert. You're also an expert in your own spirituality and your own sexuality. That being said, there is a book called “Magic: The Real Alchemy,” and I'm blanking on who it's by. I'm not even necessarily naming it because I think everyone should go out and pick it up, but it is a book that came into my life very randomly, it was a gift, I think, it was a gift from a friend of mine around the time of my graduation because I had just started using this language of witchcraft, and it's a book that I think has helped me to develop a language of how do I describe my own spiritual practice. I don't agree with everything that's in the book, but I think it's a really beautiful way of looking at magic and witchcraft not just as a thing that you do, it's not just a collection of rituals, but as a philosophy, as an organizing way to see the world.
Haylin Belay: As far as sexuality, I think opening up or discovering your sexuality is, very much like spirituality, a super, super individualized process. So, on a similar note, I would recommend to anyone who's curious to ... I was about to say go to a sex shop, don't go to a sex shop, but go to a sex shop's website and look at their book section.
Kenrya: Right. This damn coronavirus.
Haylin Belay: Yeah. But there's so many books that are out there, covering every possible different topic that you could want to learn about with sexuality, and almost all of them are going to have information that, in some way, disagrees with each other or presents different versions of the same information because sexuality is, partially because it's so taboo, an area where our knowledge is always growing and changing, and also there's a lot of misconceptions that we're working through in real-time.
Haylin Belay: The one book that I would say, if you're interested in being a sex educator specifically, I would really strongly recommend is “Trans Bodies, Trans Selves,” the title is a play on “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” and the entire text isn't specifically about sexuality. The section that is about sexuality specifically completely changed the way that I teach sex ed. And, honestly, the entire book, it's huge, it's an encyclopedic kind of text, and it's something that I use as a reference and go back to all the time. I think, as a cis person, I had been teaching queer-inclusive sex ed for a long time, and I don't think that I actually had a really deep understanding of what that meant until I read “Trans Bodies, Trans Selves.” So, that's a book that I would whole-heartedly recommend. Everything else, sorry, you're going to have to figure out by yourself.
Erica: Okay, so, really quickly, I want you to rank the following things that bring you pleasure, I want you to rank them. We've got food, sleep, sex, music and books, that's one together, and pets. Rank them.
Haylin Belay: One question, is it based on how often I do it or how much enjoyment when I-
Erica: The enjoyment.
Haylin Belay: Enjoyment, okay. Sex, pets, food, music, books, sleep.
Haylin Belay: Was that a controversial list?
Erica: No, I like it. Yeah, all right.
Kenrya: What's your ranking?
Erica: Me? It would probably be food, sex, or if I could incorporate the food in the sex, that would be great, I love my dog so much, music and books, pets, and sleep.
Haylin Belay: Wow.
Erica: And I love sleep.
Haylin Belay: I'm going to tell your dog you put him in fourth place.
Erica: I know. He's the sweetest thing. Somebody else will take care of him.
Haylin Belay: He going to feel bad.
Erica: What about you, Kenrya?
Kenrya: I think it's sex, sleep, food ... No. Sex, sleep, music and books, food, and pets because I don't really like animals.
Haylin Belay: Wow.
Kenrya: I'm sorry. I love your dog, but, listen, I am a person who could live her whole life without having something crawling around in her house.
Erica: Oh my gosh, they just love you so much.
Kenrya: They do. They do, though. Every time I go down to Erica's house, her dog rushes me. I think it's because they know.
Haylin Belay: They know that you need a dog in your life.
Kenrya: Here's the thing, I am so allergic to every fucking thing, and I think that's why it's not a pleasurable thing to me, like I have to pop an extra Zyrtec, just to go to her house. And we have friends whose houses I can't go-
Erica: Mind you, I clean.
Kenrya: And her house is spotless.
Erica: She made it seem like ... I was watching “Hoarders” last night, so I got triggered.
Kenrya: No, your house is spotless. But we have friends who have cats, which I'm extraordinarily allergic to, I can't even sit in their house because I get super sick. So, pets are last on the list, to me.
Haylin Belay: I'm technically allergic to cats, but I just love my cat a lot, so I get over it.
Erica: That's how I am about wheat.
Kenrya: I literally can't breathe, it's too bad.
Haylin Belay: Yeah, I mean my cat allergy is just, "I didn't wash my pillowcase since last week and now it's his pillowcase and I got to wash it."
Erica: Okay, so what is next for you?
Haylin Belay: That's a great question. You all have any ideas what is next?
Erica: Getting to know the city of Baltimore.
Haylin Belay: How am I supposed to do that?
Kenrya: But not, because it's not safe.
Haylin Belay: Right.
Kenrya: So, staying your ass in the house.
Haylin Belay: I moved on March 1st. First of all, I moved here, thinking it was going to be a temporary move, I thought I was going to be in and out of New York every other weekend. I didn't even say goodbye to anybody.
Erica: "Baltimore because I'll be in New York all the time."
Haylin Belay: I was like, "I'll be there all the time, no worries. I'm not even saying goodbye to you all, I'll see you in a couple of weeks." Cut to-
Erica: Six months later.
Haylin Belay: I was going to say, how long has it been? Cut to now. So, I have explored ... There's one park within walking distance of my house, and it's beautiful, and I'm trying to go there at least three times a week, and that's really one of very few things that I have planned. My agenda, generally speaking, I've been trying to keep as clear as possible. Being stuck in the house, having really not a lot of confidence that I know enough to plan as far in the future as I normally would, I was diagnosed with ADHD, 10 months ago at this point, which-
Erica: Oh, wow.
Haylin Belay: Yeah, at my big age, finally figured out what was going on in my brain for that whole 26 years leading up to it, and I'm so glad that I have that language and knowledge now because it's really helped me to see how much of my planning and organization and future-orientedness was a coping strategy for just trying to deal with the brain chaos. So, as far as what's coming up next for me, I'm still teaching, I'm still seeing clients, but I'm really trying to go with the flow as much as possible and take this time as an opportunity, especially as a person with an executive function disorder, to just be very gentle with myself.
Haylin Belay: I have three things that I'm trying to do per day, and one of them is yoga, so really two things that I'm trying to do per day, and if I don't do them, that's also fine. We were talking about this before we started recording, but I've been, for a while, in my adulthood, working through perfectionism and internalized anxiety about performance. And, now, in 2020, I give infinite amounts of grace to myself, to other people, compassion, compassion, I understand, life is hard, so I'm trying to be understanding with myself.
Kenrya: It is.
Erica: That's dope.
Kenrya: Yeah, it is dope, and I'm glad that you're there. Where can people find you?
Haylin Belay: So, pretty much everything I do is at Haylin.co, my website is Haylin.co, my Instagram is Haylin.co. And then probably the easiest way to find out what I'm doing as I am doing it is either to follow me on Instagram or to bookmark my links page, Haylin.co/links, that's where I post all of my upcoming workshops, my availability for bookings, stuff that I'm writing and working on, etc.
Kenrya: Dope. And that's H-A-Y-L-I-N.C-O, not .com, folks. Thank you.
Haylin Belay: We're in the future.
Kenrya: Exactly. Thank you so much for coming on, this has been so fucking dope.
Haylin Belay: Yeah, thank you.
Erica: Yeah. You're an amazing person, so thank you for finally, I mean not that it-
Kenrya: Not that it took you a long time because you were like, "Yes."
Erica: It took us long to get our shit together to invite you, so thank you for joining us.
Haylin Belay: Yeah, thank you, guys, so much for having me. It's been a joy to talk to people, that's so exciting. Wow. Thank you for the invitation, it's been a joy to talk about these topics. I feel like the thing that I haven't been able to do during quarantine is talk about sex ed. My conferences got canceled, my professional development trainings, no more, so it was really a pleasure.
Kenrya: Yay. Well, thank you for being with us, and that wraps up this week's episode of The Turn On. Thank you all for listening.
This episode was produced by us, Kenrya and Erica, and edited by B'Lystic. The theme music is from Brazy. Now you can support The Turn On and get off. Subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast app, then drop us a five-star review, and you'll be entered to win something that's turning us on. Just post your review and email us a screenshot at TheTurnOnPodcast@gmail.com to enter. Our Patreon page is also live. Become a supporter today and you'll gain access to lots of goodies, including The Turn On Book Club and two-for-one raffle entries. And don't forget to send us your book recommendations and your sex and related questions. And follow us on Twitter @TheTurnOnPod and Instagram @TheTurnOnPodcast. You can find links to books, merch, transcripts, guest info, and other fun stuff at TheTurnOnPodcast.com. Thanks so much for listening and we will see you soon. Bye.
The Turn On
The Turn On is a podcast for Black people who want to get off. To open their minds. To learn. To be part of a community. To show that we love and fuck too, and it doesn't have to be political or scandalous or dirty. Unless we want it to be.