This Queer Somatic Sexologist Wants to Help You Find Your “Erotic Self”

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I first read Audre Lorde’s seminal text, Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power, during my sophomore year of college. At the time, I was teaching sexual health education courses in high schools across Los Angeles, and couldn’t help but feel that our work, while important, was missing something critical. Sex, I was beginning to learn, could be about so much more than STI tests and condoms. It was one star in the wide constellation of “the erotic,” or being in touch with the power of our strongest desires.

When we listen to that part of ourselves, she writes, we have “the energy to pursue genuine change within our world, rather than merely settling for a shift of characters in the same weary drama.”

Today, a new generation of Black, queer activists have taken up that call, including authors like adrienne maree brown, whose 2019 collection Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good expanded Lorde’s work to include a wider spectrum of gender and sexual identities, as well as disabled folks and sex workers. Other disciples of Lorde’s are bringing the writer’s ideas into direct practice. Enter Mx. Lena Queen, a clinical somatic sexologist whose work focuses on “Healing the Erotic Self.”

For almost a decade, Mx. Queen has helped queer and trans people navigate the rich territory of their own sexualities through “somatic sex therapy,” to help deepen the mind-body connection. As an outpatient psychotherapist who specializes in sexuality and gender, they help clients notice the “defaults,” or social expectations, that keep them stuck in cycles of dissatisfaction, self-neglect, and shame. In a culture that forces queer and trans people to question everything about their desires, Mx.Queen says redefining our relationship to embodiment as seeing our queer and transnes “as the answer [when] we have been taught that we’re the problem.”

Another of these “defaults,” of course, is Valentine’s Day, which traditionally centers monogamous, heteronormative love. When we spoke a few weeks ago, they shared that they are eschewing the holiday altogether and declaring February “Self Love Month.” Out with Hallmark, in with defining holidays on our own, revolutionary terms.

Through hosting workshops, organizing wellness retreats, and penning workbooks, Mx. Queen is helping survivors, queer, and trans people learn how to identify and embody the erotic “yes” within themselves. Below, we discuss tools to call forth the erotic self, challenging commodified notions of self-care, and the importance of being gentle with oneself while navigating the choppy waters of modern dating.