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Soft Landing Podcast: Episode 1: The Need to Be Seen


We might be falling, but at least we're coming in for a soft landing! In our series premiere co-hosts Rafaella and Eric talk about their hopes for the podcast and what you, lovely listeners, can expect on the road ahead. Then we'll dive into our topic of the week, sexual liberation. What exactly is it and how can we all attain it? Sit back, relax, and enjoy this gentle space for self discovery.


Interested in diving in deeper? Each episode, we will be providing a worksheet or resource for you to add to your toolbox of self-exploration. This week, we have a Sexual Messages Inventory worksheet, which you can find here.


Have a question you'd like answered on the podcast, submit it here!


 

Soft Landing is created, hosted, and edited by Rafaella Fiallo and Eric Jones. The intro, outro, and transition music all provided by: https://freebeats.io ⁠and produced by White Hot.


For show notes, transcripts, and resources for your self-discovery, click here.


You can also follow on Instagram @softlandingpodcast.


And learn more about our therapy, coaching, and education services here.


 

Episode transcription:


Eric

Hello listeners and welcome to the series premiere of the soft landing podcast, a gentle space for self-discovery. We were so excited to start this journey with you all and even more excited to see where it leads. And with that, I'm your co-host Eric and I use he/they pronouns. I am a second year masters of social work student and therapy intern at Healing Exchange, working with folks around sex, relationships and trauma.


Rafaella

And hello everyone, my name is Rafaella, my pronouns are she y ella. And I'm just really excited to have this podcast because for many years I have been a guest on podcasts and people have asked where's your podcast, when is it coming? And I'm just like, "It's not!" And now I've had the lovely Eric join us at Healing Exchange as an intern who had this bright idea and I'm just so happy to be doing this with you.


Eric

Same, I love podcasts.


Eric & Rafaella

[laughter]


Rafaella

So again, I'm Rafaella and I am the owner of Healing Exchange. Our practice is a mental health practice that also provides coaching and educational services. And we specialize in relationships, sex, and trauma concerns. I'm also a sexuality educator and co-founded Afrosexology, which is a sex education platform that is sex positive and centered around liberation for Black folks. So today, I'm so full and excited to welcome you all on this new endeavor and we'll talk about our hopes for this podcast and we'll also discuss our very first topic which is sexual liberation.


Eric

Awesome. And just as a side note, I don't know if I ever told you this, but I actually was introduced to you and Dalychia from Afrosexology before I even came here.


Rafaella

Really? Tell me more about it. How did you learn about us?


Eric

Yeah. So there was a friend of mine who also went through the Brown School and she was just like, "Oh, I think you would really love this," because we'd talk before at our last institution together. And she knew I was going to be coming here the next year and stuff and so she was just like, "You should check them out. I think this is definitely up your alley, like they're really dope. They do great work". And so I came across you all even before I got here. Now, Dalychia is my faculty advisor.


Rafaella

I see what you did Eric, you set it up real cute!


Eric

I definitely had a plan. I think Dalychia also recognized that, like "Oh, you just found the two Black people doing sex ed shit." And I was like, yes, exactly.


Rafaella

I love it, thank you for sharing that.


Eric Of course. Okay, so let's talk about it, right? This is our first episode. The hope is that we're kind of laying some groundwork for people. So in the episodes ahead, what can people expect?


Rafaella

Yeah, I'm really excited about the vision that we have for this space that we're creating. First, just in the name Soft Landing, A gentle space for self-discovery, right? And so I think we all come across this time in our lives where we are really yearning for more, even within ourselves. Just trying to figure out who we are, where did it come from, what has influenced us or even impacted us or even stunted us in some ways? And so I want this podcast to tackle topics related to sex, relationship, trauma, in that really personal way. But that is also shame free, judgment free, very, very permissive, so that way you can come to any conclusions that you have, also knowing that you can continuously change your mind, and grow and adapt as you learn about yourself.


Eric

I love that and I agree. I think that I am one who's constantly talking about a soft life. Like I just want that gentleness in my life because I think the world tells us that we shouldn't have that. And I think that for me, this podcast is that same thing, a place to turn to, where people can sit down, plug in, and just feel like, "This is my time to just take care of myself". To be able to engage with content that feels meaningful. That feels insightful and that's helping people do that work. Because we're all trying to unlearn the lifelong and ongoing bullshit that the world tells us that who we are, what we are, who we're into is wrong.


Rafaella

Wrong, or not enough. Or too much sometimes.


Eric

Yeah, and how do we have spaces where we can be more curious about it rather than judgmental?


Rafaella

Yea, that's so important. And to have a space where there's also an opportunity to be intentional with the content and that's what we hope to bring to you all. So in addition to the topics that we'll be uncovering and discussing, sometimes we'll have guests, sometimes it's just the two of us. We'll also share additional resources and tools that you can use to deepen your experience with the topic of the episode.


Eric

Yes, I am really excited about that piece. You know, I'm a podcast person. I think on this year's "Unwrapped" from Spotify, I think it said I listened to like 23,000 minutes, a little over that, of podcasts. That's a lot. So I'm a fan of podcasts and, at least for the ones that I listen to, I can't think of any of them that are giving people something to actively walk away with and engage with in a way that we're looking to do. And so I'm really excited about that piece too because I think that it speaks to both of us being educators. You know, you are a clinical social worker, I'm trying to be one. And you know, we love a worksheet.


Rafaella

Yeah, a worksheet, a handout, a take-away, a pamphlet, a reflection, a journal prompt. Everything.


Eric

Because that's how we work through the things that we're dealing with. And so I'm really excited to give people those resources for them to really interact with and use.


Rafaella

And also, it makes it just that much more accessible. So what we know through research when it comes to writing and journaling, it helps grasp content and new information in another way, helps kind of solidify it, even. And it also just provides another source of input for learning. So being able to have something audio and visual and tactile, I think can really help with the learning process.


Eric

I dig it. I so I don't know about y'all, but I'm really excited about the episodes I had.


Rafaella

Yes. So you have to stay with us. Stay tuned and connected. So I want you to take a moment, if you could, to go ahead and like this podcast, and share it with your people. Subscribe, so we can continue sharing this information with more people and we need your support to do that. So thank you in advance.


Eric

Okay, so we talked about what people can expect from the podcast. Do we want to talk about, I think you already did, but do we want to talk about the name itself, a little bit? Like do we want to get into like the explanation for it.


Rafaella

Yea, go ahead. Take it away.

Eric

Yeah, so the first part, it's a colon situation, right? So there's like a before and after, if you will. A soft landing. And in our conversations, I came up with a bunch of just different names. And we both came up to this idea of like a soft landing and I think when we talk about imagery, we were thinking about clouds, a bunch of pillows. Just something literally that people can come to and like lay their head down, can just land in, and feel safe, secure, comfort. And having that be a place for people. And then I think the gentle space for self-discovery piece is really about, how do we, as we're giving the space of softness, how then do we give people those tools, the resources, the learning, to discover for themselves...who they are, what they're into, who they like, experience this life for themselves or with their partners.


Rafaella

And I also think that the name "Soft landing" presupposes the fall. It emphasizes that this is part of the process. It can get messy. Things can come at you that you didn't expect. But if we can go into it knowing that this process of discovery can get messy, can get emotional, is hard, then we can be more aware of what we need in that process, which is a soft landing. You deserve a soft, accepting space, to get messy in. To be affirmed and to learn or figure out where you want to go in the future. That's kind of how I fell in love with the name. Just reading it, I was like, oh, this is it. You know, I went back to some other ones and I just kept coming right back to soft landing. It just resonates so loudly in my system, in my body is. This is right, this feels good.


Eric

All right, so with that, what are we hoping for this podcast? What are our hopes of where this leads to.


Rafaella

My main hope is that this podcast serves as not only a container, but a steadfast resource. So, you are here for your internship. And so, at some point, your internship will end. And, we don't know how many more seasons there'll be. There'll be one, there'll be several episodes, But the way that we have kind of created or come up with the topics and the resources, it really is my hope that it's a foundation where people can start to challenge some ideas, dive into some topics that maybe don't come up too often in their life or in sexuality education, because we know sex education across the globe, especially in the US, is not the best. But that you can keep coming back to it, and you can share it with a lot of people. And it's just a solid, sex ed resource for people. That's my hope.


Eric

Nice. I think for me, when I think about the podcasts that I really love and why I've been listening to them for those 3,000 plus minutes, I think it comes down to me hoping that people feel seen in this podcast and that our topics, which I'm really excited about, I think we came up with some really good ideas of what to explore here in this season. And the hope is that it really resonates with folks, that it's something that is very timely for people, that these are things that people are thinking about asking about, wanting to understand better about themselves. And that's what it comes to for me, it's like how do we make sure that people feel seen and then that like the topics resonate with them? Because what I love about podcasts the most is when that happens.


Rafaella

Can we just talk about that word “seen”? Because “seen” is survival, right? Like literally. When you are seen, your presence is known, it's acknowledged. People know that they have to take care of you or support you. And not like in a bad way, but I literally mean like, “Oh, you are around, I see you.” So, I'm accounting for you. I'm considering you. And we know as humans we need to be seen so we can be taken care of. As little babies we can't figure it out on our own. So someone needs to know that we're here and we need food, and changing, and cuddles and everything. So to me, when I think about being seen, it goes into that deeper need for acknowledgement for our survival. And we know that within sex and gender and trauma, so much of that is exacerbated because people are not seen. So much so that they are exiled because of shame, they're isolated. Being seen is connected to our survival.


Eric

And with that, we are going to take a break and come back and jump into our topic for the week.


Eric

All right, welcome back listeners. So this week we are talking about sexual liberation, which I'm really excited about as a topic. I think there's like a lot of different ways we can go about talking about this. But, I want to start with what kind of comes to mind for me when I think about sexual liberation and we can go from there. So often times when I'm thinking about that it takes me back to like second wing feminism, the 1960’s, we are in a sexual revolution, we are women, we can have a sex that we want. But also through that time, this was mostly for white women. Like claiming this power, claiming their right to sexual pleasure. So I want to talk a bit about what that looked like and maybe how that plays into sexual liberation and ideas around it.


Rafaella

I think historically and present day it appears that certain type of people have access to this idea of sexual liberation, right? Based on not only your body, but how you present, who you date or sleep with, all those things are really taken into consideration in addition to race, social class, education. So I think oftentimes when we're looking at sex education in general, a lot of times it comes from this health perspective, medicalized, public health, all the data statistics are negative and scary and those scare tactics that are used to try to get people not to have sex. So then if you go even deeper into it, then if you just do a brief search on, sexual pleasure, who are the participants? How are they described? What race are they? What age are they? Who are they sleeping with? They tend to be heterosexual folks, they tend to be white folks. But then if you see a study that is talking about pregnancy prevention, STIs, trauma, things like that, then oftentimes it is inclusive of Black folks. At least that's what I see. What is the message that we have there or that we receive when we're using a lot of scare tactics and intimidation as a method for teaching people about sex, and relationships, and their bodies. There's no space for pleasure in there. And in fact, depending on where you're getting this so-called sex education, what if you're getting it within the Catholic school, then there may be no conversation of pleasure in general, let alone sex. So when you do kind of get into the fold of things when it comes to sex and religion and pleasure It gets a little murky because there's this idea that pleasure is bad, it's scary, it's sinful, it will lead you astray, you'll get a taste of it and then you won't be able to move on, it will consume you. I work with a lot of folks who are working through religious trauma, religious shame, and sexual shame. And that's such a big piece of it. And broaching the conversation of sexual liberation can be really scary for folks with that type of background.


Eric

I think like that piece we're saying how like this worry of what will you have it you're going to just lose control. I feel like that was the situation back then in the 1960s and even today where it's like this fear of “Well, now that people are just, you know, able to have the sex that they want to when they want to, all the morals in our society are just going to go up in flames. It’ll just be pure chaos and no one's good anymore and we're all going to hell in a hand basket, you know. I feel like that's the same thing, like the storylines that we're hearing today around sex and sexuality, like Oh, people are too open. People are too into things. And where have the morals of America gone, right?” And I find it to be so interesting that that is always kind of the go-to. And it even makes me think of when I was writing a paper about sexual health for queer, trans youth…this idea that like the adults in the room are so fearful of pleasure for other people. There’s this unease, this like worrisome. And I'm trying to figure out how do we engage with that?


Rafaella

Yeah. A lot of times it is that fear of pleasure for oneself. You know, it's really hard to accept something as true and valid for one person, if it's not for you. That's just a society we live in, right? It's like if I can't have it, why, why do you get to have it? What makes it okay for you if I haven't figured it out yet? Or if I had to suffer. Or go through something traumatic in order to get where I'm at now, then you have to do the same thing. We don't have so much compassion in our society where it's like because it was so hard for me, I want it to be easier for you. Right? It’s very common that it's just like, “Well, I went through the shit, so this is culture, this is the norm”. Instead of really thinking about how it can be better. And I truly believe that we are not doing our best. We can do a lot better in a lot of areas. But for some reason, we don't.


Eric

What do you think those reasons are? Do you have an idea? Do you have any…I'm like, what reasons? Tell me, please, let me give my notebook real quick [laughter].


Rafaella

Yeah, that's a really good question because the truth of the matter is that there are a lot of reasons. The first thing that’s coming up for me that just feels so loud, is that it's scary to go against the norm. Literally, we survived in community. And sometimes that survival relies on harm. It relies on us falling in line to what the norm is. Even when it's oppressive. And so going against it can challenge or minimize or completely take from us, our resources, our connection, and access to the things that we need to survive. That's the thing that comes up the most in my mind of why don't we do better? Because we are…our system is set up to help us live, to survive. And so, if there is anything that we pinpoint that feels like, “This might get me in trouble and remove my access to community, or resources, or the status that I have, then I'm not going to do it. I'm going to follow the status quo. Because that's what everyone else is doing and so that means I will maintain whatever this imagery that I've created for myself or maybe other people have created for me.” So then when you go against it, and people think that you are an ally, or whatever the case is, then it's like oh no well you can't sit here you can't play here anymore. And that can be terrifying for folks. But what we also know is that a lot more people, well, I don't know…my best guess and hope is that a lot more people want to change. So, what if we just all said it out loud? Like, oh, actually none of us actually believe this or all of us are actually queer? You know something like that? So that way we can say, oh, we're more alike, in these really holistic, affirming ways than we are alike in the really scary and violent ways. So let's do something with that.


Eric

I love that. And it made me think of, I was looking into sexual shame for an assignment, and it speaks to this idea that, at times shame and guilt can serve a purpose, to keep us in line to how we exist within a group.


Rafaella

Shame is violent. And I hear what you're saying and there is so much research about shame being helpful and useful but I personally refuse to subscribe to that because don't believe we have to even center shame as helpful in order to change behaviors. I think we have to question why do we want to change that behavior? If it's something scary or harmful, like someone's doing something harmful, is there not another way to have that conversation and talk to them so they can make some changes without shaming them? I think so. And to be quite honest, when I think about my own experiences, shame has never made me not do something fully. Maybe I hid and did it. Maybe I lied after I did it. But I didn't not do it. Maybe it taught me, I can't talk to this person anymore because they don't like this thing, but I'm still going to do it. So, it does isolate people. It makes you not feel like you can be your whole self or else. So, I don't really like the idea that shame has any use with positive outcomes. It definitely can have an effect, but it's going to be negative every single time.


Eric

For me, what I was thinking of is, how do we get to a place where we decide for ourselves what we actually want to take and what do we want to leave behind. I think, particularly, behind. How do we get to a place where as we're on this self discovery, how do we really take the time to really observe all the things that we've been told. And make those decisions for ourselves of what we want to be behind.


Rafaella

That’s a big question. This is not what you said, but this is coming up right now. How do I know that this next thing that I'm going towards isn't also oppressive or isn’t also a social construct, or isn’t also what everyone else is doing. Which I feel like happens in the queer community. It's like we’re often trying to leave the boxes and then sometimes we find ourselves in yet another box. It's like, oh, you have to be queer this way or if you haven't had this experience. It’s like, damn, I thought I was leaving all of that. But now here I am again trying to prove myself or not feeling like I'm fitting in. And I do acknowledge that there are a lot of changes happening and people are having more transparent, bold conversations around queer identity, being expansive, and breaking out some of those boxes that have been created. Even talking about like a top and a bottom and how you should dress and if someone is femme or masc [short for masculine]. Like all these different things, we're definitely challenging it. But at the same time, a lot of folks are still ascribing to this idea because it's tough. And then you feel isolated so much in identity one and you find this new place that's like come here, we're queer, we do the things, there's no shame. And then you get there and you're just like…Sometimes maybe it's an internalized pressure of conformity. But either way, regardless, of if it’s internal, external, it's there. And we definitely need to talk about it more so we can continue to challenge it and create this…you know, choose your own adventure type of sexual liberation.


Eric

I love that. Yeah, because you know, that's such a great point. Even when you do leave one space and get into another one, it doesn't mean that you won't still be faced with different messages and different ideas of how you should be and show up in that space. And even when we're thinking about queer identities, that does happen there. And I think that's an important piece too because there's even times where I felt like you know, I'm a fat Black person, and there have been many times where I'm like I don't feel welcome here. I don't feel like this sexual being and how it's showing up is what is the ideal.


Rafaella

Yea, like desired.


Eric

Yeah, and I think that there are probably a lot of people who also feel that, one way or another.


Rafaella

Absolutely. I mean our society does a damn good job, from media and all types of media, from movies to music to social media, that really puts on a pedestal what the ideal body is supposed to look like, with the ideal couple is supposed to look like, with the ideal sex or sexual experience is supposed to look like and even feel like. And so we're combating so many messages that challenge our bodies, like what our bodies is telling us that we want, what our mind is telling us what we want. And then we're just like, let's put that to the side. Because Cosmo said that this is how you do it. Or I'm watching pornography, and they're doing it like this. And sure, use it as a starting point if you want. Or just be curious, go into it with some curiosity, not to just fully take it on as a new identity or a new mandatory way of showing up as a person. And then have some discernment. You know, and lead with pleasure. Figure out exactly what you want. And pleasure is such a good route or litmus test towards our sexual liberation. Because when I say pleasure, I don't just mean sexual pleasure. In fact, I mean everything. What do I enjoy touching. So getting into the senses. And how that can let me know about the experience that I'm having internally and externally. Who do I like being around? How do they make me feel? Does it feel oppressive to be around certain people? Do I feel like I have to hide big parts of myself in order to maintain this connection with someone. Right, is the encounter pleasurable? Is my work pleasurable? So I think it's definitely a great way to kind of gauge our day-to-day experience and be able to make some changes. And then when it comes to sex, I think it gets really complicated for folks. Because we're not taught about pleasurable sex.


Eric

Again, we're taught about how to prevent pregnancy and STIs.


Rafaella

And then, if we get past that, then it goes straight into performance. And when we're so focused on performance, we're not in the body, we're completely in the head. How does this look? How do they feel? What does my face look like? What should I wear? You know, all these different things where it's not rooted in pleasure. It's not like what do I wear that makes me feel good and present in my body. It's what do I wear to make them feel turned on? So, it's really taking a step back to understand, and identify, and own your pleasure in every realm of your life because once you get good at it, it starts to transfer. So I actually advise people to start with the non-sexual. Center the sensual pleasure, center the relational pleasures. And it can be jarring because then you'll realize, “Damn. This relationship isn't pleasurable, the job isn't pleasurable. I'm just eating to get by because I'm ripping and running, like my food and stuff is not pleasurable. I hate my clothes, they don't make me feel comfortable, everything is tight.” You start to awaken to like, oh wow, I don’t have pleasure in my life.


Eric

That sounds, not fun.


Rafaella

Not fun. Yeah. It can be heartbreaking to be honest. It can be a rude awakening. But we have to wake up. We have to wake up so that we can figure out what needs to change. Make those changes and get closer to our own individual idea of what pleasure and liberation means for us.


Eric

On that note, I think let's take another break and then we’ll go into what that might look like for people.


Rafaella

All right, Eric, so then how do you see sexual liberation today?


Eric

Mmm, that's a great question. I think I want to preface it probably with like what I don't think it is. That's important because it's almost myth busting a little bit. I think that a lot of people assume that when we talk about sexual liberation it means they have to be fucking a lot, like all the time. They just have this lineup and you’re just going in on it like all the time. And you're like yes I am, I’m sexually liberated because I'm just fucking a lot, with a lot of people and that's what makes it. I think it's not the opposite, but I think that that's just a simplification of it. There are people who do value having a lot of sex. And that is valid, right? If that is how such liberation looks like for them, awesome. But I think that we have to get to this place where we recognize that sexual liberation isn't a one size fits all behavior or like ways of interacting for all people. It is such an individual experience and process, right? It's really thinking about what is it that I want out of sex in sexuality, and how can I set myself up to have those experiences? So it might be, you know, if you're like someone who is ace or on the spectrum of asexuality, someone who doesn't experience sexual attraction to another person, or whatnot. If you're on that spectrum, maybe you're like, actually to be sexually liberated for me is I don't have to have sex. Right, that for them is like…I feel sexually liberated is knowing that I have the choice to not have sex and that is beautiful and powerful. And then at the same time, someone who's like, well, for me, sexual liberation is, I want to have someone spank me, until my cheeks turn red and that is what gets me off, that's what gets me going. And that is also sexually liberating for that person. And so how do we reframe this idea that sexual liberation equates a lot of sex, to sexual liberation equates to you having the sex and sexuality that you want. That is yours and no one else's and that you're able to then lead the life to having it.


Rafaella

Because the key word is liberation. It’s freedom. So, you have sexual freedom to make the choices that you want. That makes you feel good, that make you feel seen. That’s autonomous. Centering consent and you can have pleasure in all of that, even without having sex. That is the big piece and I love that you mentioned folks with asexual orientation. Because folks who are asexual or maybe they're disabled. Maybe they're celibate for whatever reasons that they’re celibate. Does that mean they don't have access? Does that mean that they can’t be sexually liberated.


Eric

I think that the choice that they're able to make, shows that they're sexually liberated.


Rafaella

Exactly. You can choose. Because otherwise, we're just falling into compulsory sexuality where everyone feels like something's wrong with me because I don't desire sex, so I'm not attracted to other people. And that can be very isolating and scary for folks. What is wrong with me? Nothing. Nothing is wrong with you. That's just who you are and you can explore that. I think also in that liberation is the ability to explore and figure it out. And to also know, listen, ya’ll… You get to change your mind. That is also a key piece in liberation, in your freedom. It is not to be pigeonholed into any one identity because that's what you said that one time. So I like to give people the permission to say, use the label if it makes sense, if it helps you find your community, and it explains something. And then know that you can change your mind as you learn more as you have more experiences, you say, okay, I used to identify this way and now I use this. Or now I don’t use a word at all. So, know that you can change your mind as you're going on this journey because people will try to question you, or invalidate you because, well, I thought you said this. I did.


Eric

That was in it and this is now.


Rafaella

Yeah, that was 3 months ago or that was yesterday. I don't want that today. I don’t identify as that today. So to have a lot more flexibility and willingness to mix it up. Keep me on my toes. You come in dressed this way, next time you come in dressed another way. I love that.


Eric

And I think that speaks to, for me, the pleasure of it. And for me pleasure is the joy, the playfulness that we get to experience as we're exploring. The idea of you saying, what you wear one day to another is where I'm at right now. I recently had this really great sex education workshop where I had on these wide legged pants and this gorgeous jade green silky blouse, all from the “women’s”, and I’m using air quotes, section of ASOS. And when I tell you, I just felt so good about myself. I was just feeling so cute, so gorgeous, so beautiful and then I turned around and went to party that night and I was wearing overalls and a sweater. And I was also feeling really good about myself. And I think that the more we’re able to give ourselves that permission to really go on this journey of life, of exploration around sexual liberation, I think the more we'll have people out here doing things and figuring things out that either, maybe in the moment feels good and they recognize actually that's not for me, I'm going to try this other thing. I think that opens us up into so many different possibilities and that are far more exciting than just these scripts that we've all been given.


Rafaella

And on the same side, I want to encourage all of you to create space that gives permission for folks. Because so often we're encouraging folks to take space and to give themselves permission. But we live in a very judgmental, critical world. And so in order for us to really get there, we have to all commit to it. So that means if you can't get right, move out the way. If it's not for you, if you don't like it, that is cool. Get out the way. You don't have to say something negative. Your opinion matters to no one. Especially if it's a negative one. So if it's not your cup of tea. You don't have to drink it. You don't have to drink it. But we have to create an actual space that we can say is brave and it's safe and all sort of stuff. Because people say like, well, we can't guarantee a safe space. You're right. Because there's some mean people, judgmental people, critical people, asshole people, who will make you feel less than or who will try to invalidate you. Right. And we have to do a better job at holding people accountable for the things that they feel like it's free speech in their opinion they can say at any time anywhere. Like come on now. I don't want to take it real old school, but also didn't your parents teach you that if you don't have something nice to say then don't say it. But social media has really embodied people to just be ruthless and disrespectful and just quite frankly like nasty. Unnecessarily, but again going back to earlier when we were talking about the fear of losing something. It’s that fear. And it's so pervasive because you could have not said this at all. No one knows you. You're using a troll account. Like, what is going on? This is a whole…you know what? Let me reel it in.


Eric

But what I'll say to that, is that reminds me something I do try to remind myself is that it’s not about me in those moments. That actually comes from, if anyone's read the Four Agreements, the book. I think it’s the second agreement that says nothing in this world is about you. I try to live by that. That’s about their own shit that they're dealing with that they probably aren't working through. So how do I remind myself of that and allow for those words and not stick to me.


Rafaella

Yeah, because so much is projection. We have to realize that and also at the same time for those of us who are in this space, how can we take on the responsibility to make sure that folks have space. That they're able to give themselves permission and be met with acceptance and being seen. That's minimal. We can do it. We can't be sexually liberated individuals.


Eric

So that was one of the things I had in mind earlier too. How do we have the individual level of sexual liberation but also recognizing that that literally exists within a system systems that are telling us all the time that we shouldn't. How do we work towards that both/and of sexual liberation. But we have to do some healing as a world. Rafaella

As a world, as a community. We can't do it by ourselves. How has that looked for you?


Eric

A big thing that I've really worked on trying to do in my own life is normalizing talking about sex. I try really hard to talk about it like I'm talking like I'm going to the grocery store. Like, oh ya’ll, I had this really hot hook up last night. And we did this and this and this, right? And  so through that, normalizing for other people to do the same. I think that that has helped me so much because, one it’s giving you a space to talk about things and talk it out with people of even the good and the complicated stuff. But then it also has just allowed for much richer conversations and relationships honestly with people in my life. I think of even with my family. I remember when I first had a conversation with my mom about being gay. And she was just like, I'll always love you, but as long as you're not one of those gay people, not too flamboyant. Not too this, not too that. And when I think about where we are now to where we are today, I actually recently did a sex chat with her. Which is this intervention to increase a person's sexual sex efficacy and you people were like, “Oh my god, you’re doing it with your mom?” And I’m just curious about my mom's sexual experiences and how healing it was to have those conversations with her was so profound. And I don't think that that would have happened if it wasn't for the many years leading up to it, for how our relationship has changed over time, to get to a place where we can have that frank conversation. So that's something that I try to do in my life that I want to continue to do in the world. That's why we're doing this podcast, it’s also to just start to normalize these conversations. Because if they have them siloed, they’re only staying there and not getting out to where they need to be.


Rafaella

Yeah, so go ahead and share this link with someone right now. Pause and share. But you know, I think something also that is important to talk about are the stuck points and the struggles that we have. Because we start talking about sexual liberation, it’s like, “Oh, talk to your friends about how you masturbate, and the hot hook up that you’re having.” But what about, I'm experiencing vaginal dryness or you know I'm having some erection concerns. Or I tried this position, it didn't work. I'm having sexual pain. I'm feeling less confident because of XYZ. We still need to get there. And I think there's still a lot of shame and embarrassment that may come up because bodies do what bodies do, which means they are not always predictable. And then we feel embarrassed because we're not machines. Who would have thought? Just in case you had an idea that you were machine, you're not. Your body is not going to always work the way you want it to work just because you said, “Now, do this thing.” So I think we should also create space for recognizing that, “Oh, let me talk about the things I'm struggling with and maybe my friends or whoever has a resource or can at least relate to me and say oh wow I've had that experience too. I don't know what to do about it, but you're not alone. Yeah, let's talk about it.”


Eric

Exactly. It think that is so important. Because I think also, like as much as the connection around fun sex stories, I think there's even deeper connection when we share those issues and those moments of like tension. Because also, oftentimes, you're not the only one experiencing them.


Rafaella

Most of the time, like almost all the time.


Eric

So I think when we put it out to the open, we're able to connect on that as well, which I think is even more powerful to know that in my complications, in these issues, I'm also not alone. That's powerful stuff.


Rafaella

Absolutely. Because again, I'm being seen. Come on, circle back. It all comes together. And unfortunately it comes together in a way that can feel like, ugh, this hurts, it doesn't feel good. I'm trying to figure it out. But the beautiful thing is that there's so much opportunity for growth, and learning and change. And so we just have to do the hard thing. Have the hard conversation, be vulnerable, wisely. So, I'm an advocate for being vulnerable and taking risks, but also read the room. You know the relationship that you have with people, you know who they are and how they showed up for you in the past. That may not be the person right now. Maybe you start with the conversation around like, it's hard for me to be vulnerable with you. And you talk about that. You don't have to go straight into the other vulnerable thing because saying that it’s vulnerable to say that it's hard to be vulnerable, is hard. So sometimes start with that conversation. And I just wanted to say that because, with everything on social media, you know, a lot of people are advocating for this growth spirit that we're kind of in right now. And take baby steps. Just remind yourself that it takes time. And you'll get there but there's yeah there's no rush. You want to build these relationships, you want to be more transparent and honest about how you've been experiencing other people, and experiencing the relationship. And again, it starts with just naming a couple of things out loud with that person, letting them know, like this is what it's like for me to have been in relationship with you. Here are the things I can own. Maybe there's some things in in my experience that's activating me or triggering me in some way and also there's some things that you're doing. And it takes us to work through our own defensiveness…I mean, it takes through a lot. But we have to do it, period. If we want the relationships that we want, with people and want them to be healthy, we want to be vulnerable, we want to be connected. We have to take the risk and it's not going to always go the way that we want. Sometimes, listen. There can be heartbreak and disappointment. You can have a hard conversation that you've been avoiding because you didn't know how they would respond and they respond poorly. Or you ask for something and they say no. That's not their thing, they're not into it. And now you know, then what you do with that?


Eric

Exactly. Because beforehand, you don't know. But now you have the answer, so now you can decide for yourself what to do with that.


Rafaella

Yeah, and it can be really disappointing to say, well, I guess we go our separate ways or. We have to figure something else out. But I think for the most part, that's what we want.


Eric

Yeah, because the alternative is to stay in something that's not working?


Rafaella

Yeah, be miserable. I mean, we're not going to lie, that people do choose that, right?


Eric

Yeah, I'm just saying, but is that the choice you want to live with?


Rafaella

Yeah, and it's not the choice that we have to live with. Sometimes we have a mindset of feeling like this is the best that I can get. Maybe sometimes people are working through their ideas of their own self-work and what they're deserving of. So we have to challenge that as well. You deserve pleasure. You're worthy of pleasure. And remember you don't have to do a single thing to earn it. You don't have to work a certain amount, earn a certain amount, go through a certain amount of trauma and pain for you to be able to say, I deserve to feel good and to have pleasure and to rest. You should be able to rest because you woke up. Go back to sleep, take a nap! I need more of those in 20...


Eric

Yeah, yeah, in the next year. I really appreciate that and I think it just speaks to this ongoing importance of not having the scarcity mindset. And through sexual liberation, we're saying actually, I want the most expansive experience that I can have within the context that I want to have it.


Rafaella

Yeah. And it's not greedy. I think that's another thing too. People may feel like hedonists. And they can feel some shame around it. Like, oh, this is too much. It's never too much. If it's pure pleasure, that's joyful and consensual, I don't think it can be too much. If it starts to cause some other pains or issues with other people, then I would challenge if that's pleasure. It may be something else.


Eric

I love that. Okay, well with that, I think we're going to take another break and then we'll come back to wrap up the show.


Rafaella

Alright, let’s do it.


Rafaella

Welcome back! So we are now at the point of the conversation to really start thinking about and talking about what sexual liberation looks like. Really how do we get there? What's realistic? So what are your thoughts?


Eric

You know, I think for me, and we've talked about it, but I think it's now like, this is what we need to start doing right. And I think for me it goes to how do we start to identify the messages in our lives that are telling us that it’s wrong? How do we start to recognize what is coming through our brains? What's being repeated? I'm often like, Ru Paul talks about the inner saboteur, that voice in our heads, what is that voice saying to us that's telling us that this is wrong? Right, how do we start to actually recognize it, make it inventory if you want to. If you're someone who's like, okay, I'm going to sit down and just, all the things that come to my head, I'm going to list them out. But you can do that right, but spending that time to really work on understanding what are the messages that are coming through your head that are telling you it’s wrong? I think that's like the first step.


Rafaella

Wrong, scary, sinful like whatever the messaging system is that is kind of coloring your thought belief around it, to identify that I think is really important. Because what you start to realize is that this doesn't come from me, I don't own this. I can stop the inheritance. Some of these things are inherited. We could say, oh, I don't want this anymore. Disinherit it.


Eric

It’s like the red pill, blue pill. I don't remember which one's which, but the red pull is all the things that you've been told and you’re believing in it. The blue pill is like actually, I don't need to. And it's like an active daily thing of choosing. We have to choose. We have to make a choice. We have to make a choice.


Rafaella

We have to make a choice. We cannot stand still.


Eric

No, because that's also choice, which tends to just leave us where we are.


Rafaella

Yeah, status quo, taking a neutral stance is not really getting us forward. So I definitely agree with that piece of understanding, being really intentional with identifying where these messages are coming from. And then being able to also reflect on how it's impacted you. So take a hard fast look of like, okay, this is the message I've received about this identity presentation, this sexual act, this…whatever it is. And how has that colored your life? Or you know taken color from your life if you like living in a black and white version.


Eric

Oh my god it's like Pleasantville.


Rafaella

So that's really, really important because it also gives you so much space to start to imagine and envision what it is you really want. It may not always be the polar opposite, right? It may not be, OK, I thought this, was taught this. So now I'm going to go all the way to the other side of the spectrum. Because you might also be surprised at the things that you don't want to let go of. It could be for a variety of reasons. Maybe you do like it, maybe it's cultural, maybe it connects you to something you want to stay connected with and it's actually not harmful. So, you know, I guess in that sense also just all the messages. What are the things that have already been affirming and laboratory, what are the things that have been challenging and oppressive? Put everything down and then kind of look at it. Where did you learn it? That can also show you like, oh, I tend to get these really affirming messages from these type of people or these type of spaces or these type of resources and the negative harmful ones from these type of spaces these type of people. You can start being a little bit more intentional about where you spend your time and who you spend your energy with.


Eric

That's so true and it made me think of as you're then doing that, finding the places that continue to affirm you, continue to inform you, continue to help you reshape and reimagine what it is that you want your sexual liberation to look like. I know for me, I still remember, this was probably like 5, 6 years ago at this point, but there was this article that was called like Decolonizing Desire. And it was all written by this Black gay man and him coming to terms with, and unpacking his attraction to, white men. And that was like such a big thing for me because I was like I'm right there with you babes. I felt seen in his words and that made me want to start to challenge what it is that has told me that this is the ideal beauty standard. I think of how important is to find those things in our lives too, that can help us in the process.


Rafaella

And there's so much out there. So we have to be really intentional, mindful. And this is why we have conversations with other people so we can get an idea of where to go, where to look. Because it can be really intimidating or it can just feel like such a deep hole. Where we’re trying to get started. And it's like, who do I read? Who do I listen to? Where do I go? There's so much. So being able to connect with folks and say Oh yeah, you know the other day when you told me that you were really struggling with masturbation shame? What helped you with that? Maybe they have some podcast episodes or some books or a workshop or something that they attended. So the more that we say this stuff out loud, we slice through that silence that creates shame. Then we can also increase our access to different routes towards liberation.


Eric

I’m with that. That's the community care piece, right?


Rafaella

The community piece is essential. Right, again, we need community. We can't be liberated alone. We can't just rely on individuals to step up and work on dismantling things. Like we also have to be in it together and say oh yeah actually I will no longer shame someone for this type of behavior or act or experience. We have to own that.


Eric

Okay, what else? What else do you think of when you are thinking of how we operationalize sexual liberation?


Rafaella

How do we get there? So as you start to figure out what it is you want more of, then you need to start accessing those things to the best of your ability. So say you know you're exploring your gender identity. What does that look like? Who do you know that maybe looks like that? Dresses like that. Who can help? Yeah, I think people need queer mentors. We need exposure and ideas, and that's when we can be seen. How many times people say I've never seen someone who looked like me on TV or whatever the case is and if we depend on where we grow up, in small areas, rural areas or whatever the case may be. It may take a while for us to get somewhere and say, oh, I didn't know people could show up like this. I've actually always wanted to show up like that. And it's possible. Right? It let’s us know that it's possible because it exists. Even though we exist already? Sometimes we have to see it somewhere else. So whatever it is, if it's queer sex, if it's dressing a certain way, how can you start to engage with people who are doing the thing or at least engaging with the content? That shows that thing. So that's the next thing is you have to start dipping your toe in and take it easy like there's again there's no rush, there's no urgency in this you know, don't try to feel like your identity is questioned if you don't have it all figured out or if you're not doing the thing already. Something I like to remind people of, this is kind of an aside, but this is related. So people tend to say like, Well, if you've never done XYZ, how do you know that you like it or that you want it. Right. This tends to come up in BDSM/Kinky situations and more specifically queer attraction, identity. Has that ever happened for a heterosexual or straight person? No one ever says. Well, have you ever? You've never tried it. So how do you know you don't like it? Because I just know. You just know. Color me surprise. Better yet, when say someone's never had a sexual experience with someone else, no one ever questions, oh, how do you know? You've never done it. But when it comes to a queer person who maybe has not had a sexual experience with someone else right, like they question them. But it’s like…so, you know, it's just a ploy to kind of challenge you or shame you. When really you know how it works. You know you like what you like because you like it. That’s it. You don't have to have had tried it or tasted or whatever or worn it already. You just have a feeling. And so, feel free, be free to pursue that feeling. Maybe once you get there you're like, oh actually you know like mine with sprinkles. I thought I would like it like this, but I think I like it like that. And it goes back to that freedom of changing your mind. And really being exploratory. Give yourself permission to figure it out. Give yourself permission to not know. There's so much fun in that. There's so much freedom and not being pigeonholed into one, any specific thing. I think that's really, really, really important and going back to creating space so. We're all doing this work together. We've all been influenced and impacted by the powers that be. Patriarchy, compulsory sexuality, compulsory heterosexuality more specifically. Right? All the things. And it's going to take all of us to get somewhere else. It’ll be a good number. I mean, it's going to take time. We've been at this game for a long time. So it's not going to change immediately, but we don't have to wait. Let's get started. It's always that idea of like, oh, I'm the only one. Oh, no, not I’m the only one. What is my one vote going to do? Well, a lot of people have that thought. A lot of people feel like, well, it's just, I'm just by myself. You're not. You are not by myself. You're not. You are not by yourself. So many of us are trying to figure this out. So many of us are trying to figure this out. So many of us are trying to figure this out. So many of us are ready to dip our toe in, some of us are getting ready to jump off the diving board, but we're scared because we feel like we're alone but we are not alone.


Eric

And I think that's be so like the other piece for me, “How do we build a network in our sexual liberation that's going to support us too?” How do we find, tap into those mentors, tap into our peers, our friends who are affirming, how do we find those people in our lives and situate it so that those are people we can go to along this journey. You know they can also be that source of support or resources or just love when maybe even you're feeling hard to love yourself. How do we build that for ourselves so that that can help sustain us through this process.


Rafaella

I would definitely say as you start having this conversation more boldly, you can find out who those people are. In the meantime, online is a great place. Even if it's you just engaging with stuff one sided, like maybe you're not in a support group or something like that. Maybe it's just following some positive pages that speak to your identity and what you're exploring that can just be so informative and affirming. So maybe you start there and that's okay. And then within that space you can start branching out. Okay. There are people doing this stuff because I'm following them, I'm seeing them. They're figuring it out too. Maybe that empowers you to say some stuff out loud to folks in your life and you see where they stand. But yeah, again, it's risky because you don't know. Some people are still operating in the fear of loss so they may respond poorly. They may respond in a way that just doesn't feel good, that's quite disappointing. Maybe they'll come back around, but at least you did your part. And then from there, maybe, you know, you can see a therapist or a counselor of some sort. Someone who has a shared identity or at least specialized in this area to help you navigate the many questions that you have and that will come up over time.


Eric

I think that's a great piece of that too, in terms of that network of care, finding a professional who  like this is their job. Because I also want to preface for people, like let's not treat friends as therapists all the time. Turn to the people who are doing this work and also care to want to work with you and go along with you in this process, I think is really important. And also it can be nice that there's someone that's a bit, a little distant.


Rafaella

Because you are going to tell your business. And quite frankly, because of the fear, because of the potential disappointment, sometimes you're not there yet and it's OK. It's okay that you're not there yet. The hope is that you get there, where you can say the hard thing and figure out exactly how do we navigate this. But in the meantime, maybe you do go to a therapist who can hold more space that is not judgmental and can also point you in the direction of other resources and maybe in communities. They may know, oh yeah, there's a support group. Or there's a queer group or there's a BDSM group, whatever the case is, they may be able to point you in that direction where you can start building more community and skills.


Eric

So where's this video?


Rafaella

Yes, there are some.


Eric

We love it. So, okay y'all. So this is the end of our first episode. And I already am feeling so many good emotions. This was just so fun just sitting here and you know talking through this topic with you. And I think this brings us to the point where we want to be a little bit different than maybe some other podcasts or we want to offer you all resources. So you heard us talk about this inventory taking, right? We want to give that to you all to actually do. It's not enough to just talk about it, theoretically. We have to put the work in. And so we want to give you all the opportunity to put the work in. And so we want to give you all the opportunity to really think about like how do we take inventory of all the things that are coming through our minds that either affirm or deny the sexual liberation that we all are seeking. And we also want to, in the help of creating an idea of that network, really thinking and taking time of like who are the people, the places, and the things that will support you in this journey of self-discovery. So we're really excited for you all to utilize them. You can find them both at healingxchg.com. That’s spelled h-e-a-l-i-n-g-x-c-h-g-dot-com.


Rafaella

Thank you so much for breaking that down for folks. I look forward to doing it myself because this is an ongoing process and the beautiful thing, with any of these types of resources, is that you can revisit them. Because you do change. That's how you also give yourself permission to change is you put it on paper, you’ll be like, “Dang, nine months ago, I was really into this and right now I'm not.” So anyhow, we've been talking about sexual liberation and the different things that influence the way that we show up in the world, the way that we understand the world. And I hope that your biggest takeaway from this episode has been your sexual liberation is unique. And it requires your intentional work to figure out how you want to show up in this world as a sexual being. Knowing that there isn't one way and that way can change and will change and actually, I encourage you to change it.


Eric

Let's be like, share with all the errors.


Rafaella

Exactly. It's a beautiful process. And the more that we accept the fact that we can change, I think we also create so much space for other people to change. If it's true for us, it has to be true for other people. But let's do it in the positive way. Not in the negative, “I had to struggle, so you should too.” It's, “I'm free, come join me, we're free over here.”


Eric

You hit a lot of points, right? I think that if I could add anything, I don't think I can.


Rafaella

Well you heard it here. That's a wrap. We're really excited to have you join us again on this beautiful exploration through this podcast. And we invite you to come back next week, when we discuss what it means to be bound and limited in our sexual orientation, “That doesn't make me gay.” See you next time.


Eric

Bye.


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