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In this episode of The Turn On, Erica and Kenrya read "Masquerade" by Anne Shade and talk the queerness of the Harlem Renaissance, the twin menaces of classism and colorism, the importance of community care, the beauty of hearing from queer elders, and talking to kids about racism and heterosexism so they (hopefully) won't be assholes.
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Kenrya: Come here, get off.
Erica: Hey, y'all.
Kenrya: We so janky.
Erica: Hey, y'all. Welcome to this week's episode of The Turn On. Erica and Killa, we here. Today, we are going to read “Masquerade” by the good sis, Anne Shade. So sit back, relax, get your wine, your weed. I smoked before this. That's why I feel this way.
Erica: Get your wine, your weed and whatever you need. Enjoy.
Kenrya: “Masquerade” by Anne Shade. "Tell me what you would like to do now.” “You mentioned there were rooms we could watch from." She wasn't ready to be the center of attention. Yet. Dinah gave her an encouraging smile, took her hand and led her to a hidden panel in the wall, beside the doorway to Helene's indoor garden. As they made their way down a corridor softly lit by candle sconces rather than electric lights, Celine noticed they passed curtain alcoves along the way. From what she could tell, there were only six of them, and all but one had the curtains closed. Celine assumed that meant they were occupied. She followed Dinah to the last alcove that had two wide cushion chairs that faced a window looking out into one of the garden alcoves she'd briefly seen at Helene's last party. On the other side of the window were two nude women lounging on a blanket, surrounded by large throw pillows, feeding each other fruit in a seductive manner.
Kenrya: Both women were attractive with lush curvaceous figures that would make the goddess Venus burn with envy. One had a smooth dark brown complexion, and the other was just a shade lighter than Celine. She found herself comparing the contrast to her and Dinah and her body flushed with pleasure. "Can they see us as well?" Celine whispered. "No, it's a one-way mirror. We can see them, but all they see is their own image as long as there's no light shining from our side." "Oh, so the curtain isn't just for privacy. It keeps light from showing through." Dinah nodded, "Exactly. Here, sit." She pointed toward the chairs. They sat and Celine watched in fascination as the darker woman took a bite of her strawberry, then gently rubbed the uneaten half of the fruit over each of her lover's nipples until they were as red and looked as juicy as the remainder of the berry she was being fed. The woman who had spread the berry juice on her nipples took one into her mouth and Celine's mouth watered when the woman whose nipples were being devoured gasped and arched her back passionately.
Kenrya: "Do they know someone's watching?" Celine asked, finding it difficult to tear her eyes away from the erotic scene playing out in front of her. "If they notice the light behind the mirror disappear and we close the curtain, they probably do. These alcoves on both sides of the mirror were specially created for voyeurs and exhibitionists." "So they enjoy being watched?" "It's part of the pleasure." As the women's kisses and caresses became more intimate, Celine's mind was thrown back to the night Paul brought two women home for her entertainment, which had her thinking about the one who centrally haunted her dreams at night. The one who might very well have been Philly. Her mind began to play tricks on her and the image beyond the mirror turned to something that both shocked and sent a thrill of pleasure through her most intimate area. The two strangers blurred into images of Dinah and Philly, her past and present shimmered in a vision before her and she felt like Alice peering into the scandalous looking glass.
Kenrya: Celine became aroused and a need like she never felt before made her body tremble. She turned toward Dinah to see if she was just as affected by the women as she was. She saw Dinah's eyes darkened with arousal, but it was directed at her and not the other women. Celine leaned over the arms of the chairs toward Dinah who met her halfway for a heated kiss. "Come here," Dinah said, her voice husky with passion. Celine took one last look through the window and saw that the shimmery image of Dinah and Philly had turned back to the stranger on the other side of the glass. They were in a position that allowed them to feast on each other's sexes hungrily and Celine's drawers became wet with arousal. She turned back, straddled Dinah's lap and leaned in to cover her lips with her own. Dinah's hands settled on Celine's hips as they devoured each other's lips.
Kenrya: Their kiss continued even as Dinah slid her hands up around Celine's waist and began unbuttoning her blouse. Once Dinah's task was accomplished, she slid Celine's blouse and brassiere straps down her shoulders and arms until Celine's breasts were free of their constraints. Celine couldn't stop the cry of pleasure that escaped when Dinah took one of her nipples into her mouth and flicked her tongue back and forth until the nipples stood erect and aching pleasurably. She also massaged her other breast. "I don't need strawberries to enjoy the taste of you," Dinah said before she paid equal attention to Celine's other nipple. Celine writhed in Dinah's lap as the sound of faint moans could be heard from the other side of the mirror. Celine turned her head to look behind her and was greeted by the side of the darker skin woman facing the mirror while she was straddled over her lover's face buried between her thighs.
Kenrya: It felt to Celine as if the woman was looking direct at her, as she practically ground her sex against her lover's mouth while cupping and massaging her own breasts. "Stand up and turn around," Dinah told her. Celine did as she was told, watching the play of ecstasy on the face of the woman they were watching. Celine's sighed when Dinah slid her hands up her legs, pushing her skirt up as she did so. When Celine's skirt was gathered around her hips, Dinah eased her back her lap so that she was facing the mirror. Dinah reached around and spread Celine's legs, then moved the lacy trim of her drawers aside. When Dinah's finger slipped past the briefs and two of them delved into her wetness, Celine thought the loud moan that followed surely had not come from her. As Dinah's fingers stroked in and out, she heard the sound repeated. She could no longer deny it was her and didn't care.
Kenrya: She closed her eyes and the allowed herself to get lost in what Dinah's strong and long fingers were doing to her. Celine relaxed back against Dinah, laid her head back on her shoulder and thrust her hips to her Dinah's fingers. As Dinah's thumb massaged the nub at the juncture of Celine's thighs, her fingers continued to plunge into her and she brought her other hand up to tweak her nipples. All of this was Celine's undoing. Her orgasm hit her like a tidal wave. "Dinah," Celine called out as her body tightened and shook from the intense pleasure pulsating through her. Celine opened her eyes for just a moment to see the two women lying with their fingers, frantically working between each other's thighs, as they also cried out from their own orgasms. Celine closed her eyes again and let the aftershock tremors run their course as Dinah gently stroked her to ease her out of her pleasure. With a shuttering sigh, Celine placed her hand over Dinah's wrist to still her. "As pleasurable as this has been, I'd rather continue this in the comfort of my bed," Celine said breathlessly. Dinah placed a kiss along the temple, "I agree."
Erica: Hey, so thanks for that wonderful rendition of “Masquerade” by Anne Shade. So, quick synopsis. Now I'm going to try doing this.
Kenrya: You got it.
Erica: Readers, listeners, just FYI, this is our third time recording this episode.
Kenrya: It is because we love y'all so much.
Erica: First time we didn't do it justice. Second time, it was actually pretty fucking good, but I was having technical difficulties.
Kenrya: It was great.
Erica: So third time-
Kenrya: It's a charm.
Erica: Second verse same as the first, the second time anyway. Okay. So here's a synopsis. So there's this chick. Her name is Celine. Celine lives in New Orleans with her family. Celine is a lesbian. Her family does not know that. Her family are good friends with this other dude named Paul's family. Celine and Paul are both queer and their family's like, “Y'all need to marry." That's my Creole accent.
Erica: So the family is like, "Y'all need to marry." So they look at each other like, “Yo, you like mens. I like womens. So let's marry one another and we can live in our little space and enjoy one another. Well, enjoy our lives together, but separately. Then it'll get the heat off of us.” So Celine and Paul married, but when they get married, Celine says to Paul, "Look, do your thing. Just don't love these hoes. Don't fall for a nigga. Don't love these hoes. Just keep it surface." Paul, like a nigga, cause niggas going to nig, Paul meets this dude, falls in love with him and they start relationshiping. Dude’s family out and ends up killing our homeboy Paul. This is all early in the book, so we ain't telling you.
Kenrya: Yeah, this is like the first couple of pages. So we not spoiling.
Erica: So Paul gets killed and it's escandalo. So the whole town ... wait, how do you say scandal in French?
Kenrya: I don't know, bitch. I don't know French.
Erica: Scandale. It's a scandale. So it's a scandale in New Orleans because they're like, yo, Paul got killed because he was laid up with this man and the man's dad actually killed him. So Paul got killed by this man's dad because he was gay and now they started looking at both Paul's family as well as Celine and her family, because she just happened to be associated with a gay man. They didn't know. They don't know that she's also gay, but whatever. So the family's like, “Oh we got to get out of this city.” You get it. So I'm still, “Oh we got to get out of this city.” So they get out of this city and they moved to New York City, New York City in the 1920s.
Erica: So Harlem Renaissance, young fly, flashy, Black people.
Erica: They move up there, Celine and her family. They move up there, Celine and her family, and Celine's family lives with ... Celine has family already up there. One of her family members is Aunt Olivia who has this seamstress shop.
Kenrya: It's like a seamstress, yeah.
Erica: Seamstress shop, whatever. So she has a shop and the family moves up there. Celine gets really close with Aunt Olivia and then there's this other chick Dinah who's a lesbian. She lives with her Aunt Joe. She meets Celine and hijinks ensue dot, dot, dot.
Kenrya: Yeah. That was great.
Erica: Also, it featured my fantastic accent, New Orleans.
Kenrya: That's awesome.
Erica: So I'm going to literally try to board a flight to New Orleans. You be like ma'am, you're on the no fly list.
Kenrya: Bitch. All that shit she was talking.
Erica: You're on the no fly list. Okay. So first, let's start off with something because my first time reading it, it didn't really register, which is how fucked up ... well, first I feel bad for it not registering, but also we live in a world where this shit is so prevalent and so fucked up that it didn't really register until I went back to like take notes on this. So first, the death of Paul. That shit fucking sucks. I mean, yes, death sucks. But this is a situation where somebody was killed simply for being who the fuck they are. And I wanted to call attention to that. Why? Because our trans siblings, particularly our Black trans sisters, are getting killed at stupid as fuck rates right now because they are simply living and being who the fuck they are. So I just wanted to highlight that, shout it out, moment of silence. Note that this shit has been going on since thottin been thottin. I couldn't think of-
Kenrya: Yeah, nothing new, unfortunately.
Erica: Yeah, but it's fucked up.
Kenrya: Queer folks have always been here. Black queer folks have always been here, and unfortunately what has gone hand in hand with that is fucking deadly oppression.
Erica: Deadly oppression. So in this situation, Paul was killed by his lover's father. A lot of times we find that trans or Black trans sisters are being killed by lovers or-
Kenrya: Not lovers, yeah.
Erica: We can't use the word love.
Kenrya: Or niggas that they was fucking who don't want nobody to know.
Kenrya: Or cops or so many people.
Erica: Yeah. So it's up and it ain't nothing new, but just because it ain't nothing new don't mean that it's something right. This is something that has to be stopped.
Kenrya: There are organizations out there that we can support to help support our trans siblings. We were talking before, there's an organization that I support regularly. It's a Black trans travel fund and they specifically take money to help trans women travel safely because so often violence happens between trying to get from A to Z. So giving money to orgs like that, and also I do a lot of direct support. So folks who are on Twitter who say that they need money for something, guess who randomly sends people cash apps and PayPals all the time?
Erica: I was looking at my Cash App like who are some of these people?
Kenrya: Finding ways to support people. Bitch, all the time.
Erica: I think that's so important. Going through breast cancer, you see people, you see all these organizations, Susan G. Coleman, da, da, da, da, da, all that. It's like just find a Black lady that got breast cancer and give her some money.
Kenrya: Give her some money. Yeah.
Erica: It's not even me, because I'm like, yo I'm blessed. Not that blessed. I promise you, there is a million people getting gas to and from appointments. Just little simple shit. So when you think about Black trans women, sometimes their IDs don't match, so that means they can't travel via airline travel. So then what they doing on a fucking Greyhound or on a bus. I feel like the bus-
Kenrya: Could put them in more harm.
Erica: Yeah. But it's just like, so-
Kenrya: Listen, we ain't always been non bus riders. Fuck, I used to take the bus all the time.
Erica: I was on that bus, that Chinatown and Chinatown bus.
Kenrya: Listen, that is how we saw each other throughout our twenties.
Erica: Yeah. I remember I was on that. I was on one of them. I think it was a spring. It was raining and we were on our ... I came up to New York and I was with one of my homegirls. I think we were coming up for that Kappa cruise. No, because we drove for the Kappa.
Kenrya: Oh God. Oh, that fucking cruise.
Erica: We were in that bitch. This fool, this dude was driving this fucking bus. It's a bus, like a real bus. This nigga was driving that shit like he was whipping a Honda Civic in the rain on 95. I was like, nope, I can't do this. I cannot do this anymore. So that's when I gave up the Chinatown to Chinatown bus. I still took a good bus, just not that one. Just not the $5 bus. So again, we got here because we were talking about direct support.
Kenrya: Yes. Seek out mutual aid organizations if you don't necessarily feel comfortable putting money directly in people's hands. Although again, I think that's probably the best way, but mutual aid orgs do a really good job of making sure that money gets directly in people's hands without a bunch of overhead and everything else.
Kenrya: We'll add a couple of things in the show notes for this episode.
Erica: Definitely. Sorry, I had to write a note to myself, add some show notes. Okay. So Celine, her family, they Creole. Nigga, when I tell you that shit is...let me not say they're Creole and colorist. Let me not make it seem like Creole people.
Kenrya: And classist.
Erica: Yeah, because some of the best things in life came from Creole people, Popeye's chicken.
Kenrya: Beyoncé. Oh that too.
Erica: Oh yeah, when you think about Beyoncé. But I was thinking about Popeye's. Is Popeye's a Creole thing?
Kenrya: I'm not sure that it's Creole. It's a New Orleans thing.
Erica: I don't know. But anyway-
Kenrya: It's good as fuck.
Erica: Celine's family is classist and colorist as fuck.
Erica: Now that I think about it, and this is what happens a lot of times. People are so into their racism, classism, colorism that they just let all types of fuck boys, fuck folk in their lives just because they aren't what they're so against. You get what I'm saying?
Erica: So Celine's family is colorist as fuck, classist as fuck. So rather than recognizing that they're trying to pawn their daughter off on a really horrible nigga-
Kenrya: Just because that nigga light skinned and he comes from a good family.
Erica: He light skinned. Come on in, and it's like, no, he's fucking horrid.
Kenrya: Terrible, yeah.
Erica: So yeah, I feel like I've seen this so many times in life. I'm trying to think of examples that don't call anyone out in-
Kenrya: Well, I don't know if I can think of those opportunities, except for, I guess maybe every Tyler Perry movie. No, it's the other way around. I don't know. I don't watch those movies. What's the light skinned nigga is the good nigga?
Erica: I think he's gotten out of that. Has he gotten out of that recently?
Kenrya: Has he? I don't know.
Erica: I don't know, but old Tyler, early Tyler Perry movies was like, you light skin, you good. You dark skinned, you bad. Cause Rick Fox made a whole living off of being a good light skinned Negro. Him and that other man with the carpet braids.
Kenrya: Oh God, Shemar Moore.
Erica: Bitch. So I don't like talking about wigs because I love wigs on our ... I love a good wig, but I don't like bad wigs.
Kenrya: Not that.
Erica: Now, honey, this whole let's get a wig and make it corn rows. Baby, if you on corn rows, just don't do it. Don't wig it. Just put some paper in it. Put some extensions in there. You ain't got to like ... what?
Kenrya: It's so bad. It's real bad.
Erica: What did you say?
Kenrya: It's real bad.
Erica: Yes, real bad. But yeah, so I mean-
Kenrya: You know what I was going to say? I can't think of any direct examples of people doing that, but I can think about when I first really realized that was a thing. Growing up in Cleveland, most of the Black folks are ... yeah, except for there's a certain part across town, a couple of suburbs where it's a different situation. They go to a couple of different private schools, and I didn't really know those people, but I knew that they existed. Then I got to Howard and they were there and everybody else was too.
Erica: Howard is classist as fuck.
Erica: First, before we get into this, I love me some Howard University.
Kenrya: Don't mean it ain't got a lot of shit that's fucked up about it.
Erica: That don't mean it ain't got issues. Yeah, I don't think I saw ... maybe there was colors. Historically Howard, I didn't know shit.
Kenrya: If you looked at any of the old pictures, everybody passed the paper bag test. Yeah.
Erica: I didn't know what the fuck a paper bag test was until I got to Howard and niggas was like, yeah. Howard paper bag test. I was like, oh, okay.
Kenrya: Oh shit. Yeah.
Erica: So there's that. But coming to Howard, and that just shows that niggas are going to ... people are going to find a way to classify and make some sort of hierarchy, no matter what the fucking situation is. So you would think at Howard we're all Black and so there's this utopia. No, niggas going to find a way to make themselves better than one another. And yeah, coming to Howard, I was like, oh, y'all niggas on some other shit.
Erica: Cause my first time here-
Kenrya: I call that aspiring to whiteness. They trying to climb that hierarchal ladder to be closer to a white man.
Erica: [inaudible 00:24:45].
Kenrya: Yeah, yeah.
Erica: Yeah, because I remember when I first came to Howard, one of the things that I was just dumbfounded at was just the different types of Black people. Coming from the Midwest, we're all generally like-
Kenrya: Yeah. We don't pronounce stuff right.
Erica: Yeah. There were a couple kids in my school whose dads were doctors. But generally we were all the same.
Kenrya: There weren't a lot like that.
Erica: There wasn't a lot of classism. If anything, growing up, the big difference among people was you date white girls. But it wasn't like ... but when I got to Howard, I saw that and was like, oh wow, this is really cool. But then got exposed to classism. I was like, oh y'all motherfucker's like-
Kenrya: Wildin’, wildin’.
Erica: All skinfolk ain't kinfolk.
Kenrya: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I had that same experience where I did didn't know that they were Black people who lived that way. I guess the only real exposure that I'd had to that was The Cosby Show.
Kenrya: But even then, I don't remember it registering in that way.
Erica: It didn't register that they were-
Kenrya: Upper middle.
Erica: It was just like they're another family.
Erica: Maybe there was like an episode.
Kenrya: There's a lot of bootstrapy shit in hindsight, but I also don't watch that show anymore. So there's that.
Erica: So yeah. Coming to Howard and then meeting ... My dad went to Howard, my dad's dad went to Howard. My dad's dad went Howard, and then bitch, becoming a Delta, being exposed to sororities.
Erica: I feel like, on paper, my current life can look like that. She went to Howard, she became a Delta, worked in government, owns her own business, that kind of shit. And I'm like, girl-
Kenrya: If only you knew. Yeah.
Erica: [Singing] If only you knew.
Kenrya: Yeah, I heard it in my head immediately. That's a little high, but yes.
Erica: Okay. I won't even try it again, but yeah, that classist shit is fucked up and it is just another symptom of white supremacy.
Erica: It just got our people by the fucking balls. Yeah, Celine's family was so caught up in that shit that they just let anybody ... As long as you weren't those two things, it let anybody fucking in. And in the story, it resulted in a lot of pain.
Kenrya: Strife. Yeah.
Kenrya: Even without them knowing ... So Celina's light skin, Creole. Dinah is dark. Without them even knowing that their daughter was queer and what their relationship was, they didn't even want her to be friends with her because she was dark and did not have the clothing and every everything else that they thought that she should have to be fitting of being friends with their daughter.
Erica: Even when these motherfuckers were faced with the same fucking precious-
Kenrya: Like y'all all Black in Harlem [inaudible 00:28:21].
Erica: And y'all motherfuckers just got ran out of fucking New Orleans for some bullshit, and y'all like, mm. Yeah, but that was different bullshit. We're going to impose our bullshit on these people.
Erica: Niggas always going to nig.
Kenrya: If nothing else.
Erica: Okay. So when Celine and her family got up to New Orleans, like we said, Celine's Aunt Olivia is a seamstress and she has this shop. Dinah comes to the shop and this is where Celine kind of gets introduced to the idea of these balls, these masquerade balls, which were spaces for queer people to come and live open, be themselves, live openly without the gaze of straight folks-
Kenrya: Straight motherfuckers.
Erica: Just trying to kill them and be just dicks.
Kenrya: Generally terrible and violent.
Erica: Yes. This was based in the 1920s and Harlem Renaissance. In the Harlem Renaissance, which I remember learning about that as a kid. In my mind, Harlem Renaissance was Billie Holiday, the dude on the piano, what the hell.
Kenrya: Duke Ellington?
Erica: What did you say?
Kenrya: I don't know who you're talking about.
Erica: Duke Ellington.
Kenrya: I don't know who you're talking about.
Erica: I see him on the ... anyway. So Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, all these people that we learned about in the Harlem Renaissances as kids, because with me, It was like junior high, high school, Harlem Renaissance. These people are amazing. This is a time of growth.
Kenrya: I think of all the writers and stuff, but that's funny. Yeah.
Erica: But bitch, as an adult, just knowing creative people and creative spaces and all of that, them motherfuckers was queer and high. Their motherfuckers stayed on some drugs and stayed fucking each other. Looking back now-
Kenrya: We should be clear that those two things don't have to go together.
Erica: Oh no, no, no. Sorry. I didn't mean like that.
Kenrya: Yeah, but we were never taught, at least I definitely wasn't, that so many people who were integral to the Harlem Renaissance were queer. I didn't really start to find that out until the last few years probably. It absolutely wasn't taught, but nobody ever talked about who was queer back then.
Erica: Yeah. It's just like, you see it in so much of what they did. Billie Holiday, so I remember learning about her and you learn about these people. It's particularly like the Black women. You learn about these Black women. You're like, oh they did this in the face of oppression and they did this and “Strange Fruit.” It's like, yo, most of the time these women were already living in a space where they were like, I had to push, I had to fight all my life. They were living in a space where they had to just fight to be themselves and free and love who they want. So the shit that they get recognized for is the, Ooh, she wrote “Strange Fruit.” Ooh, she said, “Fuck the US. I'm going to go live...” talking about Josephine Baker. “Fuck the US. I'm going to live in Paris and have all these kids and all these amazing things.”
Erica: But it's like, at least for me, I see that stuff being birthed in the fact that they were people living lives that weren't mainstream. So their fight, the fact that they have all this grit and this determination and all this to do all this extra shit, came out of the fact that, nigga, that's who I am. I got to fight to love the person, to even like the person that I want to like. So it's only right that I'm going ... Again, this is one of those things where I believe we ain't all free until we all free.
Kenrya: Until we all free.
Erica: They're fighting for their normal shit, and they just happen to bring us straight niggas along with them.
Erica: You get what I'm saying?
Kenrya: Yeah, at every step of the way, that's so been the case, even in modern movements where, especially queer Black women and nonbinary folks are at the front of that shit, dragging our asses along even as we impede fucking process and try to stab them in the back along the way. It's fucked up.
Erica: Then when the story is written, that whole queer stuff gets kind of stashed away.
Kenrya: I'm even thinking about more contemporary stuff like Bayard Rustin and all of this shit where, I never even heard his name when I was a kid, let alone that that nigga was queer and that he orchestrated everything about the March on Washington for Jobs.
Erica: Never. Everything, everything. Yeah. So yeah, it is just interesting to think about Harlem Renaissance and how I grew up being taught and thinking that it was a very binary space. You have these light little damsels and they're doing X, Y, and Z. It's like, no, these were some bad ass bitches fucking shit up. Speaking of bad bitches fucking shit up, have you watched “The Harder They Fall”?
Kenrya: Yes, I did.
Erica: I did too.
Kenrya: We watched it this weekend.
Erica: I'm so proud of myself.
Kenrya: I'm proud of you too.
Erica: I'm so proud because-
Erica: Okay. We're recording this when it just came out and that's a lot for me to say I watched a movie.
Kenrya: Hmm. I've got some issues with that movie. One of them actually-
Erica: I liked it.
Kenrya: ... falls into something we were just talking about. So yeah, go ahead.
Erica: Exactly. I was just going there. Okay. So I thought of about it and I haven't done much ... because I'm one of those people, if I watch a historical movie, I'm going to go on a Wikipedia search and Google search about who this person is and yada yada yada. So I'm thinking about the female characters in the book. I mean in the movie, particularly-
Kenrya: Stagecoach Mary.
Erica: Stagecoach Mary. Nigga, she did not look like Zazie Beetz.
Erica: At all. But for the purposes of this movie, they're like, you know what, we're just going to cast a cute little light skin girl with some curly hair, that's super thin and hikes her titties up.
Kenrya: Remind me to tell you something about that, that I can't talk about on the air, after we record. Yeah.
Erica: Wrote it on my hand.
Kenrya: When they started publicizing who was in the movie, there was backlash pretty immediately on Twitter about the casting of Stagecoach Mary, because Stagecoach Mary, also known as Black Mary, she was an older woman. They lot of fudging with the timelines, and I know this because let's just say I had to do some research around these characters. She was dark skinned. She was thick. She was older.
Kenrya: Yep. She was fat.
Kenrya: She looked nothing like Zazie Beetz and it bothered me that there are so many fat Black women, dark skinned, Black women that they could have cast in this role who would've fucking killed it. But then once I got into the movie.
Erica: The chick from whatchamacallit?
Kenrya: Danielle Brooks would've been everything in this movie. Who are you thinking of?
Erica: Jurnee Smollett's sister from-
Kenrya: Oh yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. She would've also been ... She would've been perfect. You're right. Yeah, she would've been great too.
Kenrya: Yeah, she's awesome. So I was already bothered by that and then we watching. It was burning my partner up. He was so angry. He kept talking about it. We kept having to pause the movie, but then I didn't know she was the love interest, the main whatever, until we got into the movie. Then when you see the ways that other people's lives are put in peril to save a light skinned woman, the only light skinned person in the entire movie, by the way.
Erica: I was the whole time like, bitch, if you ain't just-
Kenrya: Oh God.
Erica: So I liked the movie a lot, but-
Kenrya: It was troublesome.
Erica: Yeah, that was definitely a part where ... but I got here because I was thinking about, there were probably tons of queer people then fucking shit up. Oh shit, what was ... Cuffee?
Kenrya: Cuffee. Yeah. So Cuffee is based on a real character, real person, Cathay. Cathay pretended to be a man in order to enlist. She was the only female Buffalo soldier in history.
Kenrya: They could have ... yeah.
Erica: So again, queer people out here fucking shit up, but history kind of changes, glosses over it. Or dark-skinned people out here fucking shit up, but then we go and cast a light skinned person.
Kenrya: Yeah, overall I really liked the movie in general. It was lovely to see so many Black people being on all sides and to have Black people be the villains and the heroes, and everybody was really great.
Erica: And Black not be a thing, but just-
Kenrya: Just who you are, and to be accurate in the fact that there were so many Black cowboys and whatnot. I did not like that they pit the women against each other. I did not like that the so-called evil Black woman was dark, was brown skinned at least, and that the one who everybody was trying to save was light skinned. That was all problematic for me. But the music was excellent. I don't even really fuck with Jay-Z, but the music was excellent. It was directed by a Black British man and he did a damn good job. It was beautifully shot.
Erica: Damn, Jay-Z on your own fuck with him list?
Kenrya: You know how I feel about ... it's hard for me to move on.
Erica: Kenrya is a fucking Aries to the fucking core, to the core. To the core, to the core.
Kenrya: When I got to the second half of “Lemonade,” I was like, bitch, what did you do?
Erica: Yeah, no. I totally agree.
Kenrya: I've been side eyeing him ever since. You know I still listen to old Jay-Z, but I don't even listen to new stuff unless she on it. I'm not a fan anymore.
Erica: Yeah. I fuck with Jay-Z, but it is definitely one of those things like just because you forgave him.
Kenrya: Don't mean I did. Then I have issues with the NFL thing. I think he is a capitalist par none or bar none. That's the word. That's the phrase. I got issues with that, just like I have issues with him and Bey for this diamond campaign. Who thought it was a good idea to put a blood diamond on a Black woman and then told to be like, oh yes, she's the first Black, what? Nigga, I don't give a fuck about that. That's not the honor that you think it is. So I got issues with a lot of that stuff and it doesn't mean that I don't love her, but it does mean that I call into question the ways that they sometimes use their wealth. But also they use their wealth in really wonderful ways for people too. So it's not an either or, it's definitely a both and situation, but that's it.
Erica: In general.
Kenrya: Her, I love.
Erica: Jay-Z ain't on your face. Like you love him, I don't. Okay. So yeah, this book showed beautifully that there were lots of spaces for queer folk back in the 1920s. They were finding ways to-
Kenrya: Make space for themselves.
Erica: ... love and be creative, and be themselves. What'd you say?
Kenrya: Make space for themselves. Yeah.
Erica: Yeah. Yeah. So it was great. Okay, so Celine had her Auntie Olivia. Dinah, who is Celine's boo thang, she lived with her Aunt Jo. What was Aunt Jo's lover's name?
Kenrya: I don't remember.
Erica: Aunt Jo had a girlfriend, a partner, a lover, and Aunt Jo ran a boarding house, a rooming house or whatever. Everybody just assumed that Aunt Jo and her-
Kenrya: Partner were just business partners.
Erica: Her lover was just her business partner.
Kenrya: It was like their perfect cover. They got to live together and work together, but they were together together.
Erica: Yeah, the two old spinsters that never got married. There was this Netflix movie. There was this movie about these two women, white women. But these two old women and everybody looked at them like they're just two old ladies that are best friends that live together. They was like, no, we fucking. Then one was just about how they had been together since the fifties or sixties or some shit like that. They found they were able to live and love, and have a beautiful relationship. But everybody looked at it as Ms. Mary and her friend, Ms. Rose, and they just two old ladies that can't find men. So they decided to just be together, live together with their cats. It made me think about how many times we see that in our families, in our communities, and we don't even think much about it. At least growing up, you don't think much about it. Then you get older and you're like, oh, that's what auntie so-and-so always brought her roommate to Thanksgiving.
Erica: I have family members that are like that. Some I wonder. Well, one, I wonder if, are you gay or are you just smart and know niggas ain't shit?
Kenrya: Mm, that's hard.
Erica: Just decided to live a life without. Like is she gay or smart, or both? But yeah, I remember when we interviewed Trystan for the end of-
Kenrya: Season four.
Erica: ... last season. He was talking about, he grew up in Atlanta in the South, in the seventies and there was Miss so and so and her friend. They just lived together and ain't nobody say nothing. It makes me wonder. So I've been reading that book, “The Prophets.” I've been trying to read it for forever because I love it. It's just taken a while because I'm an old lady and I got a lot of shit going on. But in the book, you definitely see the progression of people recognizing that these two men live together. I mean, these two men are in a romantic relationship and being like, shit, life's hard. If this how they get their joy, then let them have their joy. It goes from that to, we are embracing Christianity to appease the white devil that runs this plantation. So as a result of that, we are going to oppress these two people that are minding they're fucking business.
Erica: I think about that as I think about the old Black ladies or the old ladies in the communities. I wonder if a lot of the like, Ooh girl, this shit ain't right. Y'all ain't supposed ... that came in when there were outside influences versus folks just being like, that's what they're doing. They minding their business.
Erica: Have fun, you know?
Kenrya: I think that that's true. Actually, what episode ... remember we did the book? Damn, whose book was that? Was that Fiona's book where it was the ... crap, I can't remember. We did a book either third or fourth season where African Rain Queen ... I feel like I'm making up that up, but that's part of the title.
Erica: Oh, “The Rain Queen.”
Kenrya: Yes. And then we were talking about how there were all these cultures in various parts of Africa that queerness was just the norm and that so much of that was corrupted once white folks came in and tried to tell us that the ways we were living were wrong. Again, white supremacy rearing its fucking head, fucking shit up.
Erica: Ding. Ding. Yeah. Okay, so just to round out this conversation, Celine and Dinah's aunts both were queer women living back in the day. One of the things that they did that I thought was really special, poignant, important was they sat them down and was like, "Look, it's great for y'all to love each other, but there are consequences for you living this way." They had this whole conversation like, folks find out, this is what you got to deal with. This is the world that we're living in, yada yada yada. It made me think about how as parents, we want our kids to be happy, be themselves, or at least I do. Most of most people I know want our kids to be happy, be themselves and live a happy, full, healthy life, being themselves in this world. But we recognize society. We recognize all this other bullshit. So then we have to balance the whole ... it's like being Black, being a Black kid. I want you to be a free Black kid, but I also need you to recognize that you're Black and there's some really heavy that comes with that.
Kenrya: That you got to be safe while also being free.
Kenrya: Yeah, and that was essentially what that conversation was. They were like, if you are going to pursue a relationship together, here are the things you need to be thinking about. If you want to be free in this way, here are the ways that you can be safe. But also, they really were giving insight into the ways that some folks were living. Like they were saying, such and such may present as a man, but actually that is something that they are doing strictly for the fact that they want to be able to live together as a couple and not bring violence. They had a really real conversation with them and yeah, you're right. It's like what people call the talk, which honestly has never really rung true with me because I feel like we have a series of talks with our kids from super young about how to navigate racism.
Kenrya: But it did kind of smack of that. I think the best part of it for me was that it was this conversation of generations. We don't very often get to see queer elders in books, on screen, anything like that. So the fact that they had that access and that we got to see that in a book was pretty fucking dope that they had folks who they could go to who could guide them.
Erica: Yeah. One of the things that ... I think it was Aunt Olivia said this to Celine. It was the first time that they had ... it wasn't the first time that they had sex. So Celine and Dinah had just had sex. Next morning, Olivia comes down and you can tell she's still happy for what had happened, but at the same time was kind of bashful, ashamed or whatever. Aunt Olivia pulled her aside and was like, “Look, girl, don't be sad about it. Don't be ashamed about what you did. Don't be ashamed of grabbing pleasure by the horns and embracing it. If there's any place you need to be happy and strut and come around and puff your chest out, you can do it here, but don't ever be afraid of embracing your pleasure.” I thought that was very important, especially from an older queer person, to a younger queer person, because I think that happens just in life, period. Something feel too good, so then we think it's supposed to be bad. But to hear that from an elder to a young person also made it just that much more beautiful.
Kenrya: God, and that feels like another vestige of religion. Obviously I say this as a Christian, but if it feels too good, it must be wrong. That is awful.
Erica: Yeah. Just to go back real quick about the talk. When you said that, it definitely made me think about how there has been a lot of conversation recently about the talk, and I think posing it as a one time talk makes it seem too easy for white folks. It ain't ever just a one time talk. This shit is steep. My kid is steeped in the fact that they're Black. This is something that they're faced with every single day. To me, that's what makes it even worse than it just being a talk.
Kenrya: Absolutely. It's a constant thing. Listen, I hear in my head, remember we went to the museum to the Blacksonian and my kid was like, "More racism."
Erica: Yeah, more racism. Yeah.
Kenrya: And I don't know, was she like seven?
Erica: Yeah, that's exactly what it's. [crosstalk 00:52:50].
Kenrya: But it's constantly fucking coming and we're always having to negotiate and navigate it, and we have to tell them about it when they're itty bitty before the first time somebody says some racist shit to them, so that they know how to steel themselves against that shit, and it's awful.
Erica: Yeah. It's not like our kids are growing up in this bubble of no racism and everything being perfect, and then they get hit in the face one day with us pulling the sign, like, "Hey, you're Black and this is what's going to happen." No, it is my kid at fucking six years old, seeing a cop and being like, "Ooh, there's a cop," or our friend’s five-year-old seeing a fucking American flag and saying, "Oh, look a Donald Trump flag."
Kenrya: Yeah. I know once we were taking a walk, and this was during the beginning of the pandemic. My kid saw a police officer and saw cars and freaked out. We had to try to navigate down the street without her ... because she was so anxious just from seeing them because she ain't dumb and she knows what's going on in this world. And unfortunately that is the reality that we're in. It's this balance that we have to walk of teaching them to be free, as you were saying earlier. You don't want them to be walking around afraid, but God damn, they also have to know what's going on, what they're walking into all the time.
Erica: Yeah. Yeah. So to call it just a talk, like one talk, to me it cheapens the whole concept because it's never just a one talk. It's a my kid [inaudible 00:54:33].
Kenrya: It also reminds me of the ways that we need to expand the idea of the talk. Everybody's always talking about intersectionality. Well, we need to be you thinking about that with our kids from really early on. So what are the other aspects? What are the other things that you need to be talking about your kid about, the isms that they might be coming up against even before you know whether or not is something that they are directly going to experience, because you also need to make sure that they're not the ones who are perpetuating that shit. So having talks about queerness and consent. No matter what your kid's gender identity is or what their sexual orientation is, these are conversations we need to be having with them from young too, so that they're not fucking assholes, and so that they know that they are supported and they have the tools that they need to navigate when they come across those things. All of it is part of bringing little people up, whatever your role is in that.
Erica: Yep. Yep. Okay. On that note, Kenrya, do you have anything else for us?
Kenrya: Nah, just one thing.
Kenrya: It's time for what's turning us on.
Erica: Ah, shit. What's turning us on. You did it without the prompt. I love it, bitch.
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Erica: Okay. I can't even snap because my nails too long. All right y'all. Well, we're going to take a break and then we'll be back with what's turning us on.
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Erica: Okay. Y'all so we back and, Killa, what you got?
Kenrya: All right. So, because I forget who was on the show, we asked them what their go-to tool was and they recommended this. Then I feel like I ... it's like when you buy a car and then you start seeing everybody on the road with your car. I started seeing everybody talk about this little flower situation. So I was like, okay, let me get one.
Erica: You're late, because everybody, they've been talking about this at the top of pandemic, but okay, continue.
Kenrya: Oh, well then yeah, that I was real fucking late, whatever.
Erica: You're late, but it's okay.
Kenrya: I had a bunch of other toys that were sustaining me at the top of the pandemic. So you'll see it's shaped like a rose and it's got a little space in there, and you put your clit right there. Although, you could put other parts in there. A nipple will probably ... I haven't tried that yet, but fit right on up in there. It's supposed to be a simultaneous sucking and licking situation. Yes. So usually when I use toys in general, I go straight to whatever the top steady vibration is. But with this one, no nigga. We had to turn it off and start over.
Erica: You're literally going to buzz your clit off. You're literally going to buzz your clit off.
Kenrya: Yeah. So go slow. Start low, go slow with this one. It was great. It was incredibly intense to the point where I was kind of running away from it. I was definitely with my partner.
Erica: That's when you keep it on, because then you're going to squirt.
Kenrya: Well, I couldn't. I'm also finding, because I can't get my heart rate up too high, and I'm having to rethink little ways that I show up in sex.
Kenrya: So I have to take deep breaths. I have to slow things down and this is not necessarily conducive to that. So we started it just awesome. He put it down and I was like, oh, nigga, no. But then it was good. Then we used it while we were ... so he was penetrating from behind. So what I find it's really good for using while having penetrative sex for me, because the shape of it makes it much easier for me to just hold there than the other toys that I usually use. It just need to be in a general vicinity because it's so strong that it really does the job and it gives you some additional backup while you're also doing penetration.
Kenrya: So that's is how I have been using it, and I really like it. It's a good one. It also, because I have ... again, I've been having to rethink how I have sex because of disability. It's just so much easier to hold in my hand without my wrists hurting and popping and all of this stuff, because I've got joint pain. Yeah, so good one to try. We'll put this in the show notes. You got any questions about this?
Erica: Perfect. So you saying that made me think there was this TikTok and I'm in a hotel room, so I don't mind doing this. There was this TikTok and it was ... give me two seconds. I'm so sorry. Okay, so there was this TikTok and the TikTok was like, this is a cup, this is a bottle of water. The TikTok said something along the lines of, when you're fucking and somebody else is holding the vibrator, it was like this.
Erica: Dog, I was like ... y'all going to have to see this on YouTube to get the real effect.
Erica: But yeah, I died because I was like, that is exactly it.
Erica: All right. That's all I got.
Kenrya: This is very easy to hold, at least for me with all my issues. It's a lot easier to use than some of my other toys.
Erica: Hold it yourself and you're good. All right. Well, that's it. Thank you guys.
Kenrya: This is Turn Us On.
Erica: Erica, Kenrya, two hoes making it clap. Wow, that was wet.
Kenrya: That's what she said. Bye.
Kenrya: This episode was produced by us, Kenrya and Erica, and edited by B'Lystic. The theme music is from Brazy. Hit subscribe right now in your favorite podcast app and at YouTube.com/TheTurnOnPodcast, so you'll never miss an episode.
Erica: Then follow us on Twitter @TheTurnOnPod and Instagram @TheTurnOnPodcast. And you can find links to books, transcripts, guest info, what's turning us on, and other fun stuff at TheTurnOnPodcast.com.
Kenrya: And don't forget to email us at TheTurnOnPodcast@gmail.com with your book recommendations and your pressing sex-and related questions.
Erica: And you can support the show by leaving us a five-star review, buying some merch or becoming a patron of the show. Just head to TheTurnOnPodcast.com to make that happen.
Kenrya: Thanks for listening and we'll see you soon. Holla.
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.