There's a place where fairy tales exist and I'm wholly convinced that place is Atlanta, Georgia, or at the very least within the realm of the 2018 Sex Down South conference. Here in this space, I found myself in the presence of sex positive black magic and I'm not sure it gets much better than that.
SDS is one of the few conferences that caters to the need for a safe space and the desires to explore sexuality, academically and otherwise, that people of color have. Here, in this space, black sexuality is made a priority helping to shape the careers and lives of sex workers, educators, and other professionals in the arena.
As someone who goes to school for human sexuality, this is of the utmost importance to me — having a like-minded community, that is. There are not many people of color in the field of sexuality, so having that network professionally is beyond necessary and it can be found right at this conference.
Nonetheless, I had been eyeing this conference since before I began pursuing my education and with that in mind, I think that the simply sexual human being in me would've loved the space just as much. In any given city, it's difficult to find a scene that is inclusive to all the freaky things that we do (did anyone else sing this in Christina Milian's voice?) or wish we could be doing.
As I've mentioned in a previous article, I had been trying to branch out into the Black kink community, but that sh*t is basically nonexistent but not at Sex Down South -- not in the space where anything is possible. Now in all fairness, the kink community in general is one that you must be invited into by someone who is currently in it but let's be real, how often are white people (who are the visible majority) inviting us into their spaces?
But, aside from the kinky events that could be explored, there were more vanilla topics such as an amazing interactive "Facesitting 101" and "Fuckstrology" (the astrology behind good sex) workshop.
And on the more PG side of things were the healing circles. Being surrounded by Black women in that way — in the way that I was for this healing circle -- felt like coming home. Within the circle that I attended, I found myself comfortable enough to break down crying in the midst of strangers within the five minutes of introducing myself to them and pulling a tarot card that summed up my entire life in that moment.
There is something for everyone to give and receive by attending this sexuality conference.
Furthermore, in the ongoing presence of networks such as CENTRIC and Historically Black Institutions, there's proof of all the ways having our own space can uplift us and acts as a catalyst for Black excellence.
Yes, I'm saying a Black sex conference might be one key to Black excellence because in my eutopic worldview of Black excellence, it's identified by a well-rounded, well adapted individual of color that begins within. And I wholeheartedly believe that can be further manifested in spaces like Sex Down South.
With that in mind, here are three reasons everyone should attend SDS at least once.
1. Sexual Healing
After centuries of having black bodies used as pawns to control the dialogue, imagery, and perception of us. One of the greatest things that Sex Down South offered was a blueprint for sexual healing in the black community through a number of diverse workshops, from "The Baby Mama Bounceback: Black Women Redefining Their Sexuality After Motherhood" to the "Decolonizing Sex" and "A Place for Me: Black Women's Healing Circle." This type of healing is difficult to begin to achieve out in the real world because generally speaking, our day-to-day spaces aren't safe ones for black sexuality, whether it be sex negative black people or sex positive black people who like to keep their spaces white. Here, you are given the space and the tools to redefine and reshape what our sexuality means to us without the socialized tenants.
2. Each One, Teach One
Much like a good Church, this safe space wasn't only available for those who knew without a doubt they wanted to explore sexuality, in one way or another, it was also readily available to those who opened themselves up to learning and those who had questions on any number of topics. Meaning, if there was a not-so-sex positive person in the space most conference-goers used this as a space to educate, correct, and challenge any ignorance that may have been present.
3. Destigmatizing Human Sexuality
Sometimes we can get in the bad habit of labeling the unknown as "white people shit." Culturally, we've done so with homosexuality and so many other elements of sexuality that we simply don't get or don't attempt to get. If history has taught us anything, this type of shame makes it difficult to come forward as an individual who goes against what society deems "right" or "natural." We've seen it in black people's fear in embracing those within the LGBT community, but we also see that and hear people refer to other sexaulity topics such as kink as white people shit. This labeling is used to describe sexual assault, making young black girls and boys believe these things happen to white people. So, if and when it does happen to them, they feel isolated and unseen. But educational, interactive conferences like this help change that type of labeling and destigmatize sex little by little. None of this is just stuff that happens to white folks, it's stuff that happens to all of us.
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Featured photo by Mickie Woods