Chills down my spinal degeneration: Why we need Black queer disabled kink
Blackqueerdisabledkink rejects the notion that non-disabled bodies, white bodies, cis bodies are “the norm” of sexiness.
Editor’s Note: March is National Disabilities Month and our themes at Black Youth Project are Ableism & Physical and Mental Health. We are interested in publishing works that address these topics and the things surrounding them.
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By Jade Perry
After our shower, she filled a bucket with warm water, epsom salt, and rosemary in the quiet of our hotel room. She told me, “Soak your feet.” In this moment, I was clear on what was to come, and that there was no questioning Zaddy. (Zaddy is a personal term that I tend to use with sexual partners who fall within the Dominant / Daddy role of BDSM / kink expression. I’m a Black woman from Philly who is now living in Chicago. Linguistically & culturally, I prefer Zaddy over Daddy, anyday.) She steeped a ginger & turmeric tea to help bring down the inflammation that was sending waves of pain throughout my entire body.
It had been a long day of moving and I wasn’t entirely sure that I’d be able to walk the next day. After soaking & drinking my tea, she spoke up, flowing naturally into the Dominant Daddy (DD) / Caregiver (CG) kink space: “Get on the bed.” I grabbed my cane and made my way slowly as she turned the heating pad up to its highest setting. I laid on my belly. She meticulously massaged the blended CBD oil into all of my body’s curves, letting the heat sink in to make my muscles and tendons more supple.
As I started moaning in pleasure she told me that it was good to let go, that she gained pleasure from pleasuring me, that she’d be my dominant for as long as I’d allow it. My entire body trembled. My spinal nerve signals vacillated from pain to pleasure and back again. As the pain reached a duller hum, I turned to put my back on the heating pad, saw her mischievous grin, both of us preparing for what was to come…
Writing about sex, kink, and sensuality from a Blackqueerdisabledwoman lens is no small feat. First, there is the task itself. For this chronically ill body, this requires lots of rest, sensory deprivation (which helps with migraines and hearing emerging ideas), and peppermint oil pills, back support pillows, and flexibility for inevitable flare-ups.
Then there is wading through the sociocultural politics of pleasure, as Joan Morgan names it in “Why We Get Off: Moving Toward a Black Feminist Politics of Pleasure”. As a Black queer woman, I am deeply familiar with the ways we have been both “hypersexualized and invisibilized.” As a disabled woman, this involves reaching beyond the vague, curious, and sometimes offensive questions and fetishization from the non-disabled (e.g. “Wait… do disabled people have sex? How?”). So, why do this work?
While they do exist, many resources about the intersections of disability and sex (books, social media accounts, and related podcasts) remain obscured from mainstream culture. Additionally, a majority of this content is written by non-POC.
For a while, the conversation has centered around explaining the fact that disabled / chronically ill people do indeed desire and have robust sexual lives. But I’d argue that we need more exploration of the lived experiences at the specific intersections of Blackness, queerness, disability, and kink.
Exploring & deepening Blackqueerdisabled kink language:
- Takes note of all of the sociocultural realities named above & addresses them both inside and outside of the sexual moment
- Affirms the sensual, sexual, erotic, and kinky journeys of disabled / chronically ill babes
- Further unpacks and makes us present to a range of “politics of the bedroom,” and…
- Offers broader sensual language, scope, and tools for non-disabled “baes” & partners
(Note: The use of the term “crip” is intentional and is an intracommunity term. Our use of ‘crip’ is a reclamation and re-envisioning of language once used to harm. However, if you do not identify as disabled or chronically ill, it’s best to refrain from using the term.)
Crip kink wisdom emphasizes the language of consent and healthy communication about sexual / sensual needs (e.g. “That position causes more pain; could we try it another way?”). Crip kink wisdom sees the sensual moments in everyday life. (For example, I learned a lot about the benefits of suspension by rope or fabric and spinal traction from my physical therapist! Best believe I brought that info to the bedroom!)
It was Blackqueerdisabledkink knowledge that taught me how revolutionary my bed could be. It taught me that fucking on a heating pad and taking an Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) before could reduce next day inflammation. It taught me boundaries and how to speak up for my needs (e.g. Today is a red day / I’m high on the pain scale / I’m triggered right now. Could we try again later?).
It rejects the notion that non-disabled bodies, white bodies, cis bodies are “the norm” of sexiness. It teaches me, in a very intimate way, how to receive care. Through the senses of the body, it reminds me that I do not have to be the perpetual care-giver and emotional laborer as a Black woman / femme. In a somatic way, it beckons me away from the internalized ableism of feeling like my body is “a burden.”
It encourages me to play with gender, gender roles, and power dynamics. It reminds me that my personal practices of loving, sensing, and passionately fucking Blackqueerchronicallyill women is a revolution in and of itself. With concentrated sexual energy, we work together to push the margins and the white heteronormative able-bodied gaze out of our most intimate spaces—our bedrooms.
I want to be clear that the thoughts penned here are not a representation of the full community. That is both the limitation and the beauty of this piece. There still exists space for other Black & Brown disabled women to discuss their sexuality, sensuality, and kink!
We are already seeing more digital spaces and conversations open up through disability justice artists & activists like Imani Barbarin (@Crutches&Spice) and Vilissa Thompson. We are creating and can continue to create nuanced language around the power of our sensual lives. And we can do this from our couches, hospital beds, assistive walking devices, sensory deprivation spaces, therapist’s office, community chats with others, online, offline, and then some.