Sexuality in Color: An Interview with Bianca Laureano

Recently I had the privilege and the pleasure to chat with Bianca Laureano, otherwise known as the LatiNegra Sexologist, and co-founder of the Women of Color Sexual Health Network (WOCSHN). I’ve distilled some of her most powerful insights here — click here to read the full interview!

Bianca on founding the WOCSHN: We were all at the [500- 600-person] AASECT (American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists) conference in Phoenix, and by “all of us,” and “we,” I mean 18 black women…I was like: “What is this Klan rally?! How did I end up here?” I paid thousands of dollars to come to the middle of the desert, to be at this ranch with all these white people. And we would see each other and just acknowledge each other…We were saying: “Why don’t we all just be friends? We’re the only ones here. Do we really want to be a part of this organization? What do we need, because this is the field that we’re in right now?” It was from that space, that dearth, but also that connection, that we were able to say: “Yo, we need to support each other.”

We created it primarily for solidarity, for support, for retention of people of color in the field, specifically women or femmes, and also to challenge the white supremacy in our field, because that just isn’t done enough.

Bianca on her influences: The [identities] that impact me the most would be being a child of immigrants, being a femme, being a person of color, particularly Puerto Rican, being a Black Puerto Rican, being fat, being disabled; so all of those have always been with me. Then I have other identities that just evolved as I’ve grown, like the fact that I’m going to be a femme over 40, that means something.

Bianca on the importance of centering people of color in sex education: This is our birthright. Pleasure, sex, it’s ours to do with as we wish, and as we want. Deciding what we want to do and have done to our bodies is a human right, and everybody has it. Including babies. And people with disabilities. And people who don’t speak the language you speak. People who are incarcerated. Everybody has bodily autonomy…For me, it’s also a form of resistance. The Puerto Ricans — we’re so colonized, my homeland is so colonized, and we are seeing that actively as we speak. So that’s a form of resistance for me as well, to choose to resist the white supremacy, and the colonization.

Every time I see people of color kissing, it’s either in a jewelry ad or an ad for PrEP or HIV meds. Everything that we’ve ever created for bodies of color in this country has been reactionary and has been an attempt to limit the type of 1) skin-to-skin contact 2) pleasure and intimacy, and 3) relationships. Since all of our relationships have been created in systems, our families have been created in systems, we’re all in the fucking Matrix, and it has a lot of glitches.

Youth are the ones who are creating the change — it’s not adults. So if we withhold the knowledge and information from young people, that, to me, is a tool of control and manipulation and coercion.

Bianca on developing inclusive sex ed: For me, it’s not just a job — this is me being of service to the community. This is me dreaming in a way that I never had the opportunity to dream about before. And this is me also being in community with other friends and other people who can push me, which I think is really powerful. I always try to go back to: “What did Bianca at 14 need? What did Bianca at 13 need? What were the messages that Bianca needed to hear about this, this, and this?”

We created a curriculum called Communication Mixtapes: Speak On It, Volume 1. We trained people how to write lesson plans, create measurable outcomes, how to write learning objectives, what the Fair Use Act in education is. All the little logistical things that you need to know about doing this work…I’m also doing SAR [a Sexual Attitude Reassessment, a tool that helps sex educators address their own bias and perspectives in their work] that centers people of color. I went to one that was wack — it was very white, and the only time I saw bodies of color was when we talked about pygmies…I’m creating this SAR in which all the examples of bodies are people of color, and we look at white supremacy as a fetish, a kink, a kind of oppression, a structure, and in all the ways that it manifests in our lives.

We need more people of color in sex ed, [but] we need white people in sex ed who are ready and willing to strategically use their whiteness to make sure that we have inclusive, equitable education.

Bianca on wisdom for queer and trans youth of color: I would say that your existence is worthy. That the times where you feel like you’re crying, and the times you feel like you want to hurt yourself, those are the times when you’re feeling most human. You can’t be a human being without feeling the good, the bad, the ugly, the brilliant, the beautiful.

I also think it’s really important to have a good friend. You gotta find somebody who is down for you, who has your front, back, and all your sides. I don’t care if you see them in person or they’re online, but you gotta find someone who will hold you down and care for you in a way that you deserve. One of my top three questions on a first date is: “Tell me about your best friend.” If you don’t have a best friend, that’s a red flag to me — that means you don’t have anyone that has your back that you trust.

And again, your body and your pleasure are your own. Only you know what brings you pleasure and joy, just as you’re the one that knows your body through and through.

Bianca on self-care and burnout: I think when I was in my twenties, burnout looked like just being exhausted, not being able to get enough sleep, not knowing what foods I should be eating, how understanding why my body was responding with acne, or why my periods were late, or whatever. And so now that I’m in my late 30s, going on 40, I think about how so much has changed. Now, it’s not so much burnout as it is isolation.

The fact that babies die if they aren’t touched or hugged — it tells us about human beings. Human beings can die with a lack of touch too. So that got me thinking about the ways that I like to take care of myself…It also right now looks to me like a more collaborative effort. That means that I ask for help all the time. I would ask for help, usually, but I would wait until shit got really bad, but now I’m at the point where I can say: “I’m having a hard day and I feel worthless. Tell me what you love about me.” So, I’ll post that on Facebook, and I’ll get some work done, and five hours later, I have like 40 notes, and that’s a collective form of healing for me.

Bianca on intimacy: What I want is a community and experience where people recognize that we all need touch, and that we can desexualize intimacy in a way that we haven’t done. How great would I have felt if I could receive the intimacy of their hug in the space that they wanted to give it? How beautiful would it be if they were able to just hold my hand while I cry? These are very basic things that people don’t think about, or at worst, they think is some sort of ploy to get their partner. It’s just gravity, physiology, and alignment.

Finally, Bianca on the best music for sexy times: I really love Big K.R.I.T.’s latest album — there’s this one song, “Get Away" that’s like my anthem. The hook is basically: “I gotta get away from the bullshit that they’re on,” and “everybody, everybody getcha glow up.” I love that song, and I love the idea that Bianca is gonna be better at choosing partners and lovers, so that when this song comes on, you can think to yourself, yeah, I did ANTE UP!, and I do have a better lover, and I’m happier…If we’re just gonna make out and drink some rose or something, I love Omar Sosa. He does a lot of syncopated Afro-Cuban jazz — he just does it all. He has this really beautiful Yoruba spiritual component — it’s sounds of seashells, cowrie shells, piano, and chanting…I think for the third song, it’s gotta be something by Prince. Our Patron Saint. Prince taught me everything. I love “Scandalous”. The Crystal Ball album was great.

...want more? Read the full interview here!

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