Not everyone can have an open conversation with their parents about their sexual exploits, let alone broadcast it to the world. But Shannon "Shan Boody" Boodram, a YouTuber who's known to keep it real when it comes to anything sex, love and relationships, has managed to do both. Her latest video? A bare-all sex talk with her parents, and let's just say that it goes there.
“At first my parents, of course, weren't thrilled and people around me are like are you sure? And I've lost jobs because of it," Shannon admits about her risqué career-path. “But the firmer that I get and the more sure that I am, the more other people feel that way."
As taboo as the topic of sex is in the black community, Shannon has managed to capitalize on the one thing that everyone's doing but few are willing to openly talk about. And when it comes to lovemaking, Shannon is as much of an expert as she is an enthusiast. The certified sexologist earning her credentials from the University of Toronto has made guest appearances on shows such as The Amber Rose Show, Just Keke, and The Insider, lending her expertise to the millions looking to gain a better understanding of their anatomy and how to use it, as well as dropping knowledge (and the occasional tear over an ex) to her 140,000 plus fans on YouTube.
So how exactly does one choose to specialize in sex? Well, if you ask Shannon, it was something that just came about naturally.
Growing up Shannon tapped into her sexuality at a young age. Her mother called her crude but Shan calls it having a natural sexual development. Her Barbie's became sexually active before she could even quite understand the depth of the act. She found the available information on the subject to be boring, so she relied on popular urban books such as Coldest Winter Ever and Fly Girl to school her on what to expect for first-time frisking. And though her parents didn't hide sex, their open door policy still left questions that she didn't quite know to even ask. So at the age of 16, when she lost her virginity to a hot London bloke while attending a track meet in Hungary, it didn't quite meet her expectations.
“The first time that I had sex I thought the clitoris was inside of the vaginal canal, and so I kept waiting for that experience—for this button to be pressed and for it to feel amazing—but the truth is your vaginal walls have as many nerves as the back of your hand, so there's not a lot," says Shannon.
At 18, when she stepped on the campus of Baltimore's Coppin State University, she had five notches on her belt and zero orgasms to complement them. Describing her own teen sex life as “shitty," she became fascinated by the stories of her more experienced friends. The honest conversations with her fellow peers sparked a desire in her to get the real scoop on sex, and not just the sultry scenes that television shows and porn portrayed the act to be.
“I met a girl there who was 18 years old and HIV positive, and one of my friends from Baltimore, she was a lesbian. And so I learned about sex from her and I was like man, this is what's kind of missing. You have the facts and information but competing with that are these interesting stories."
The textbook version of sex was dull, so she started gathering real experiences from her peers and compiled the answers into a book that touched on topics ranging from abstinence to STI's and unplanned pregnancies. “I didn't really think to myself, oh I'm going to make sex my career. I was just like this is a really good book idea."
After a year of touring with her book, Shannon decided that she wanted a less controversial career path, but just as she began turning down the sex talk, BET reached out to her with an opportunity to be a sex and relationship educator for a new talk show they were filming, so the Toronto native applied for an American work visa and flew to L.A. to audition. She landed the role, but the pilot didn't get picked up. Back in Toronto she was specializing in wedding photography when a year later the television network reached out again, this time for a talk show featuring Eva Marcille, Jessica White and Wendy Raquel Robinson. Although once again the show didn't get picked up, Shannon, felt that her calling was in L.A., and relocated to the city of dreams with no job and no place to live to continue auditioning for roles.
But the move was far from easy. She was shooting pilot shows, but each pilot locked her into a six-month holding deal in which she couldn't audition for other roles. Her American work visa limited her to working only in television, making it difficult to pick up outside work as is typical for those pursuing television and film roles. The constant cycle of going in and out of holding deals left her penniless, feeling purposeless, and struggling with depression. In one video, Shannon breaks down in tears as she recounts the experience of fighting to get out of bed everyday while waiting for the next opportunity to come.
“L.A. is one of those cities where if you're not really clear on what you want to do, go home, and once you have that clarity and what you want to do the second part of that is constantly knowing what is giving back to you, and putting that energy out there," Shannon says.
Despite the seemingly grim circumstances, Shannon learned to hustle and picked up hosting and journalism gigs to make ends meet, as well as continued building her brand on her YouTube channel, where she speaks openly on the topics of sex and relationships in today's culture. “I'm getting better at my craft, I'm connecting with people on my own, and I basically can make my own schedule. People can't take that away from me. You have to find a space for yourself that you have control of and that you actually are getting a return from."
"You have to find a space for yourself that you have control of and that you actually are getting a return from."
Not only has she battled with inconsistent jobs, but being known as a “sex expert" also impacted her job opportunities. In November, she was offered a stage-hosting gig for a tech company, but upon accepting the offer the company had a sudden change of heart after researching her and discovering her passion for pleasure.
“I'm not hiding the fact that I talk about sex. I'm a strong woman who's educated. I volunteer at a sex trafficking clinic. I give the best that I can to this world, and to devalue me because I talk about something that people search on the Internet more than anything else is disgusting," says Shannon.
"I give the best that I can to this world, and to devalue me because I talk about something that people search on the Internet more than anything else is disgusting."
The experience taught her to not only be firm in who she is, but also be patient with those who don't understand who she is. “I think that I'm finding my comfort, but I'm also respecting my pace. And I think a big part of maturity for me was giving that permission to other people—giving them room to find their comfort and to respect their pace. If they're not where I am right now it's okay. The more confident I am and the more that I'm honoring what's authentic to me, that will rub off."
Perhaps the biggest challenge for the 30-year-old is continuing to walk in her purpose even when it seems that all odds are against her. In a recent video, “Am I Cursed by God?", she celebrates finally becoming an American citizen after months of fighting to be approved for her green card—a big win in the midst of battling bed bugs, hunting for a new apartment with little money in the bank, and purchasing a plane ticket for an event that was cancelled last minute.
“How hard you work in the worst of it will determine how temporary this is," she says. “The slower you act, the more that you indulge in self pity, the more you indulge in comforts to take your mind off of it, the longer it will take to get rid of these issues." Pushing through the hard times has proven to be rewarding for the sex educator, who recently picked up a big contract with Trojan and continues to speak on sex panels amongst her other hustles.
As stressful as the struggle has been, those same experiences have given her the confidence to say that she's no longer a young girl just trying to figure it out, but a woman who knows who she is and is unapologetic about it.
"I've definitely grown up as a woman," Shannon says. "I've dealt with so many things. I've dealt with bed bugs, I've dealt with car problems I didn't know how to fix and flats on the side of the road and running out of gas, and my Internet turning off for no reason and having to call the Internet guy. It's just life. And I'm proud that I'm busy and I'm focused, and I don't spend as much time worrying about other people's opinion. When I first came here, I still felt weird about the word 'woman', but now I'm super clear that's what I am."
In addition to her success with her Shan Boody YouTube channel, Shannon recently inked a deal with Fullscreen where she created, executive produced, and starred in her own multi-episode series exclusively on the streaming platform. The series, all 12 episodes now available in full on the platform, is called "Shan Boody Is Your Perfect Date" and is a social experiment where Shannon sets out to prove that the key to being anyone's perfect date is tapping into the psychology of seduction versus looks and appearance. It did so well, she's getting a renewal!
Shannon also went public about her open relationship with up-and-coming artist Jared Brady, someone she gives further credit to about the growth she has experienced as a woman in recent years. They are very committed, very in love, and very open with their audience and even branched out from her channel to create a couple's channel called The Examined Life, which is formatted in a style that is part-podcast, part-vlog where Shannon and Jared talk and have candid conversations about everything from their relationship to their own journeys as individuals.
That's how you really glo up.
All images courtesy of Shannon Boodram
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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A dead bedroom can kill any relationship. In all long-term, committed relationships, couples experience various phases, from the initial passion to a more complex and enduring connection. Yet, as time passes, sex may decrease, which introduces an issue often referred to as "bed death."
According to Advance Psychology Partners, 'bed death' occurs when individuals in a committed relationship experience a decline in the frequency of sexual activity and fall short of the desires of both or either partner. It is sometimes labeled a "sexless relationship" due to the infrequency of sex. In the U.S., an estimated 20 million people find themselves in such relationships.
This shift is a significant change for couples. Let’s face it: no one wants to be in a sexless marriage or relationship. But how can couples effectively confront the impact of fading physical intimacy on the overall health of their enduring partnership?
"I have found that many factors influence one's desire to dive, and it is often not a majority of just one thing. Most people assume that if they don't desire [sex], they are no longer physically attracted, but in my experience, that has little to do with it most of the time," explained Brittanni Young, LMFT, CST.
"Some of the heavy contributors that I see most often include excessive goal orientation towards orgasm, people not prioritizing their own sexuality, and the landfill of ‘should’s’ that develop from toxic sexual scripts created long ago in upbringing," she added.
Furthermore, these issues are not exclusive to any particular orientation, but it does manifest differently.
Young is a licensed marriage and family therapist, sexologist, and board-certified sex therapist who practices in Georgia and Florida. She has worked in the sexology field for over a decade. Young helps couples and individuals looking to get through challenges of all facets facing sexuality and intimacy, such as desire mismatch, over-compulsion, and dysfunctions. She recently launched a deck of intimacy connection cards called "Show Me Your Cards." Young is working on another product that helps teach children to consent and negotiate appropriate touch. She sat down with xoNecole to discuss what causes the decline in the bedroom, the myth of 'lesbian bed death,' and recommendations on overcoming "bed death."
The Decline In Intimacy
Intimacy often dwindles within relationships, a phenomenon triggered by various factors such as stress, the insidious monotony of routine, and the toxicity of unresolved conflicts, to name a few. While couples manage daily life, exchanging intimate desires and concerns may take a backseat. Sadly, this gradually erodes the closeness once shared in the relationship.
"Typically, the first thing I do when working with a couple on desire challenges is rule out medical causes by referring them to their primary care physician or other provider they are working with," Young shared. "There are times when unmanaged or mismanaged conditions factor into low desire levels. Also, many medications can wreak havoc on keeping desire levels up, such as antidepressants, SSRIs, anti-anxiety, and blood pressure medications, to name a few."
Jeff Bergen/ Getty Images
"Next, I look at the state of the relationship. If there is dissatisfaction in the relationship, then it definitely affects how close and intimate one wants to be to another. There are also plenty of individual factors one can bring into the equation, such as low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, feelings of shame or guilt around one's own sexuality, and external life stressors that can get in the way. I find that life stressors can be a big one for folks, as once you get in the habit of not prioritizing sex, it tends to stick," she added.
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent "bed death." It can involve prioritizing your wants and open communication about sexual needs.
"What tends to be effective for all couples is taking an inventory of how satisfied they are with their sexual behaviors and engagement. Being truthful in this vein can be the start of unlocking inhibitions that can keep you from seeking out and being genuinely vulnerable in intimate spaces," Young explained. "Next, I suggest opening up lines of communication around these truths. When people assume that nothing can be done, hope is lost."
The Myth Of 'Lesbian Bed Death'
The notion of "lesbian bed death" perpetuates a simplistic and inaccurate stereotype about the sexual dynamics within lesbian relationships. Contrary to the myth, the experience of a decline in intimacy is not universal among lesbian couples. The diverse spectrum of relationships among women challenges this oversimplified narrative, emphasizing that the complexities of sexual dynamics extend beyond stereotypical assumptions.
"The notion of 'lesbian bed death' is based on a research study done by Pepper Schwartz in 1983 that found that lesbian couplings fell behind in sexual frequency compared to heterosexual and gay male couplings," Young revealed.
"Several other studies [after] have replicated these findings but give very little information about sexual satisfaction. Despite there being more research needed overall in the sexuality field, more recent research did find that when it comes to the length of sexual encounters, lesbian couples had the longest duration of encounters. To that end, sexual quality over quantity is a better marker of satisfaction, and that is what I pay most attention to in my work. With that said, dissatisfaction can happen in all couplings over time," the sexologist continued.
Factors influencing reduced intimacy among lesbian couples may include communication challenges, societal pressures, and individual variations in libido. Menstruation can also play a role, with some couples navigating discomfort or hormonal changes during this period.
"There are certainly some nuances that come into play with lesbian couples that differ from heterosexual or other-oriented couples. As I stated earlier, physiological factors can factor into the rise and fall of libido. The hormone fluctuations that come from menstruation and menopause can impact desire levels, and it is double present in lesbian couples. Another nuance is the lack of a sexual script from society on lesbian sexual behavior. There are patriarchal roots to sexual research, which have created our societal norms that tend to leave out anyone who isn't heterosexual," Young stated.
Overcoming The Challenges
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While 'bed death' challenges couples, solutions are within reach. By identifying and addressing the underlying causes, couples can rekindle the flame of intimacy and ensure a healthier, more fulfilling relationship.
"In the words of Esther Perel, another sexual professional in the field, 'love enjoys knowing everything about you; desire needs mystery.' I recommend keeping it in the front of your mind, prioritizing, and keeping it interesting. Be open to learning more about your own sexuality every day, as well as your partner. You are always growing; what worked for you 20 years ago may not be the same today. Stay curious with one another and be open to exploring new ways to pleasure. You deserve it," Young said.
For instance, Young advised that couples should "keep sexual encounters light and playful." And not be afraid to introduce new elements, such as toys.
"Touch often in ways that are consensual and feel safe! I made 'Show Me Your Cards' to serve this purpose specifically. Just because you do not feel in the mood to go all the way does not mean you aren't in the mood to hold hands, exchange body massages, or dance together. Connecting often in any physical form, as long as it feels pleasurable, still counts as 'being in the mood,'" she said.
Overcoming the hurdles of "bed death" and debunking myths surrounding 'lesbian bed death' offers a unique perspective for couples grappling with the difficulties of sustaining a connection. Learning the proper ways to work through a sexless relationship can help foster a healthier, more fulfilling relationship.
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