Let’s not hide from each other. Let’s not cover up what we feel is natural. I want to be free with you. I want you to be free with me. I want to talk, laugh, joke, play and stay in our bare skin for the entire day. Why would we cover ourselves? I find you beautiful and you find me the same. From the soles of our feet to the details of our skin that cover our veins. I see no reason to make you wonder because what you want from me is more than physical. I want to see you as you are. Fully with nothing covering your blemishes or scars. Don’t hide from me and I won’t hide from you…
When I was in High School there was a book of short stories and poetry called Erotic Noir that my BF and I were crazy for. It was this large book of beautifully affirming, liberating self-loving, candid, intimate tales of Black sexiness. It was of course the only book of Black Erotica of I found on the bookstore shelves at the time. There was nothing else to compare it to so it was a very special book for me. That was back in the day when I wrote religiously. I never was and still am not very good at writing about graphic intimacy or sexual experiences and so I would read and immerse myself and admire but I remained uncomfortable with actually writing anything like it.
Thanks White Male Patriarchy.
….actually, no thank you.
But thanks to being raised in a household where I was free to run around naked until I learned to be self conscious, I’ve always been pretty comfortable being naked. But as a Black women however (probably as any woman) it doesn’t matter how comfortable you are being naked. In this world, you learn how to become self-conscious even about being un-self conscious.
Cut to Afrosexology, an IG account that was shared with me a while back whose goal is to create “A Black, liberated, sexually free, accepting, loving and curious community. Cut to Saddi Khali’s intimate photos of Black women of all shades and sizes. And then recently, cut to Darkwitness who I just started following on IG, reposting the image above from an account belonging to “expressionsuntold__.” This captivating shot, this study of lines flowing like rivulets on a Black thigh, evoked so much beauty for me that I had to see more.
Now, I try not to deny my immediate instincts about things presented to me in a sensual and or sexual context. It’s not always easy since we’re heavily conditioned to respond, not from our own instincts but from what we’ve learned about how we should feel. We even compartmentalize certain sexual kinks, talk openly about some and keep others behind closed doors, buried in closets of shame where we only take them out in the dark. I’m not judging. We’ve all learned to do it.
When I looked at the other images on his account, I was immediately enticed, not only by the nude images of Black men and women in various positions from posed to casual but also by the powerfully candid, erotic, tender and heartfelt captions written under each of them. There is so much that distinguishes these images from the colonizing While male gaze injected, humiliation and violence factor porn that is prevalent online and has been for so long. This is not just about the act of sex, but the moments in between, before and after, casual post coital moments, intense moments of sexual build up and release, contemplative, reflective moments and many more.
On the tumblr page, which is considerably more graphic, close ups of intimate body parts are so close sometimes that I didn’t always recognize them immediately. When I did however, there was no way I could regard them as dirty or nasty. I never have considered the body dirty or nasty, only our minds. As a mature sexual being, I was familiar with what was being conveyed explicitly and as an artist, I appreciate the choices he makes in capturing, not only bodies in motion and repose but also angles and depth of focus to evoke mood and emotion. Not to mention the way he accompanies each image with the written word. Expressions Untold’s thoughtful, titillating, reverent and delving captions do as much for unfolding meaning in his images as the images themselves. It is clear that his intent is to be unflinchingly open, candid, raw and yet respectful and honorable.
The Black Sexual social media movement I see happening online seeks to connect the viewers to spaces where it is safe to freely explore our sexual and intimate inclinations within our own community. It is not the objectification of the Black body that has been shoved down our throats, that we have been forced to internalize for generations, but a celebration of it, the spirit of it, a marveling at not only the beauty we have been trained to see but also the beauty that often gets overlooked, the perfect imperfection of stretch marks, rolls, folds, crevices, etc., the beauty that comes from age and maturity. There is a place for all of it and it is not merely physical. The best images convey, not only the body but the binding energy that emanates from and is shared and felt through our bodies.
I know someone, a woman, who has these amazing framed boudoir shots of herself up on the living-room wall of the apartment she shares with her husband. When I tell you these photos are sexy and tasteful and classy as hell! I have spoken to her about how beautiful, brave and amazing I think it is that she did something that fell so much outside of her comfort zone and display it so proudly. She told me about the journey that lead her there, which had very little if anything to do with sex. If she allows me to, if she’s comfortable I would love to talk more with her about that journey and maybe share what I learn with you. I did a sexy photo shoot for a friend years ago who wanted that experience in a safe space and what I recall was just a freedom and desire to explore and experiment with ways of seeing herself as a sexual sensual being.
Over the years, I have taken many intimate photos of myself and shared them with my husband only. In fact, I have taken them expressly for him. I’m pretty comfortable in front of the camera and take selfies all the time, but again, these are for his eyes alone, though I also get a kick out them myself. I’ve always subscribed to my mother’s views about sharing intimate photos in a public space, not only because of the threat of exposure but also because of the danger of misused energy, not knowing who is out there using your image in potentially nefarious ways. But are my mother’s views really my own? Probably not. I was this close to posing nude for an art class when I was away at college as an undergrad and she talked me out of it over the phone. LOL!!
That being said, as a photographer, and a being very conscious of the way energy works, I know that being naked or showing bits of body parts or the act of sex is but a fraction of the numerous ways in which intimacy can be conveyed on camera. I mean remember this sexy ass photo of Obama embracing Michelle from behind, his mouth right next to her ear?
Will a sexier, more intimate moment ever happen in the White House ever again? Who thought it ever would? Child, it takes melanin! I mean the sexual chemistry here is palpable. Look at the blissed out expression on Michelle’s face. What if anything is he saying to her to make her look so happy, to make her eyes close even for a few seconds? All of these elements and more hint teasingly at the intimacy that created such a dynamic, respectful and balanced partnership. We don’t need to see any flesh. We get it. It’s hot. They’re not hiding it. They never held back on showing their affection for one another on camera and as I loved watching every minute of their Black love on parade.
Similarly, with regard to more explicit visual erotica, I feel like these Black IG accounts are really diving into a frontier of creating spaces to see ourselves sensually and sexually that does not involve selling ourselves or making ourselves palatable for sick, perverted and oppressive white audiences. I am all the way here for it.
*quick word of warning. Expression Untold’s IG acccount is tame compared to his tumblr page so please make sure you’re on your personal computer before clicking on his link. LOL! Enjoy!