As part of a collaborative piece on The Establishment in conjunction with the Queering Sexual Violence anthology release, four contributors to Queering Sexual Violence share their personal healing paths, envision what healing could look like, and shift the narratives of what surviving and thriving actually can be.
The late Black feminist author, cultural worker, organizer, and one of my teachers, Toni Cade Bambara, asked the timeless question, “Are you sure, sweetheart, you want be well?” in The Salt Eaters, her award-winning 1980 novel. I consistently ask myself this question, because being an unapologetically out Black feminist lesbian who is both an incest/child sexual abuse survivor and an adult rape survivor is extremely difficult. One of many things that I have experientially learned is that healing and being well—emotionally, psychologically, mentally, psychically, and physically—are ongoing journeys and processes, not permanent destinations.
In my essay for Queering Sexual Violence, I wrote about three non-negotiable tools that are an integral part of my healing work. These tools helped me move from victim to survivor and engaged participant in movements to end violence committed against women and queer people, most especially those who are Black/People of Color. These tools are: 24 years of work with a licensed clinical Black feminist psychologist, Dr. Clara Whaley-Perkins; a 14-year practice of vipassana meditation as taught by S.N. Goenka; and 25 years of consistent involvement as an activist/cultural worker/filmmaker in global anti-gender-based violence and LGBTQIA movements.