I get they/them’d a lot.
Everywhere I go: the library, shops, social events, restaurants—so many people are keen to refer to me as “they/them” or as a “person”. Whether they’re speaking to someone else and referring to me in my presence—or speaking directly to me—it’s been whole lot of they/them, lately.
It’s almost as if I’m witnessing people become fatigued with their own wokeness. When it seems too extravagant or inconvenient for people to ask me my pronouns, they will simply default to they/them, and leave it at that.
I have been repeatedly misgendered throughout my adult life, with adults and children approaching me to ask whether I’m a boy or a girl. I have also on a few occasions, been told I look like a dude, or outright mistaken for being one. For the most part, these mistakes, observations, and curious inquiries have been genuine, and they haven’t been accompanied by harassment or hatred-even when it’s happened in countries where homosexuality is illegal. So, in most cases I have not taken offense, or interpreted it as something negative.
I also have never felt the need to correct people when they are uncertain or mistaken about my gender. If it’s a man, I probably won’t engage with him at all, for my own self-preservation. But when it’s a woman or a child, I like to keep them guessing. Sometimes, when it’s a child who asks what I am, I’ll engage her critical thinking skills and respond with a question, “What do you think?” And I’ve always received the same response:
“I think you’re a girl,”
“Okay,” I’ll nod.
So when people they/them me without a hint of curiosity, I give a similar response, which is usually on the spectrum of nothingness. I keep to myself, let people think what they want, and remove myself from the situation.
I don’t fussily raise my hands up and say “OH NOOO, I’m a SHE/HER! You can’t call ME a they/them/he/him! YEW misgendered me! This is violence! Black Lives Matter! Wo0o0o I’m gonna make your life miserable if you don’t do what I say!”.
I don’t have the sense of entitlement that a lot of trans-identified males have in public spaces. Most of the time, I am just trying to protect my energy in these situations, and get through my day. I understand that people’s usage of they/them pronouns for me is based on their own fears and projections, that it can be ‘well-intentioned’, and it’s nothing personal.
I also understand that in the Western world, the word ‘woman’ and all qualifying words and pronouns such as ‘she/her’ and ‘mother’ have become akin to slurs when they are used to reference actual women. This cultural shift is often reinforced by women.
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A lot of transformation had ensued within my first couple of years as a Pole Dancer. For the first few months, I was dancing barefoot. Then, about 6 months into my journey, I bought my first pair of heels, and began to explore the Sensual side of Pole. Exploring my body and sexual energy in this new way felt powerful and liberating.
When I began to share my movement practice with the world via social media, I experienced a lot of mixed messages from subscribers and old friends who had been following me. Pole wasn’t as popular and known for its “upper-body strength” as it is now—it was still very stigmatized back then. I got a lot of push-back. A few people cracked jokes and didn’t take me seriously.
I had long since broken up with the person who gave me the idea to pole dance, and was in a new relationship. My new boyfriend was cool with the athletic side of Pole, but he felt threatened once I strapped on the heels.
“You dance better without those shoes,” he said one day. As a new dancer who was just learning how to move in my heels, that comment really hurt my feelings. But he contradicted himself by getting turned on when I wore them and sat on his lap. He was just possessive, emotionally abusive, and always insecure about my attractiveness to other men. I was relieved to get him out of my life, even though my family and the police had to get involved.
Speaking of which, my family was really uncomfortable with my heels as well. At first, I introduced my Pole Dancing to Mom by showing her my barefoot-dancing videos. After she digested those, I shared a few videos of me dancing with my stripper heels—but in a more balletic and acrobatic way. I never showed her my sensual movement, because I didn’t feel safe—I knew she would view it through a derogatory lens. Regardless, my heels raised a few hairs.
For years, Mom would share her reservations with me in a hushed tone: “I’m just worried because I think those shoes are for Men’s pleasure.”
The idea of my Stripper Heels being for male pleasure just erases all the pleasure that **I** get from wearing them—from how they look, to how they make me feel when I’m dancing. It’s also much harder to dance in heels than it is barefoot, and it really takes a lot of training to develop good technique.
Mom was always concerned about how men viewed me and my body, and what message I was sending them by being a Sensual Pole Dancer. I’ve always found these comments to be very disrespectful and ignorant, because it suggests that my sexuality solely exists for men. Within those statements, there is also an assumption that I am not aware of myself and what energy I’m giving out. Neither are true.
Experiencing all of this pushback from the outside world while simultaneously exploring my sexuality, was incredibly vulnerable and challenging. I was naked, both physically and figuratively. But, those experiences made me more adamant about preserving my freedom to do as I pleased. I began to assert myself even more, and explore other erotic arts, such as modeling for nude photography and art classes.
I wouldn’t say that Pole Dance by itself was healing and empowering—but it definitely helped me develop a very intimate relationship with my body and my femininity, which led me to a greater awareness of myself. I had begun to notice how sexually and emotionally unfulfilled I felt in my relationships, and how much trauma I was subconsciously acting out from sexual abuse. Deep down, I knew that I deserved healthy love, amazing sex, and to feel whole and empowered within my body. More than anything, I wanted to find a pathway to healing.
This was an excerpt from my memoir, “N3VLYNNN: My Path to Healing & Creative Liberation.”
Chapter Title: Through The Looking Glass.
Read Full Story & Purchase Book here.
It wasn’t my first Merry-Go-Round with Stripping. For the past few years, my relationship with sex work was like an abusive boyfriend—a dark shadow that followed me everywhere I went, always luring me back to that same old life. Every time I sniffed the scent of desperation, the idea of sex work would reappear as a friendly foe, sweet-talking me back into its devilish embrace.
…And I felt vulnerable to its call.
I had worked as a webcam model for a few months back in Brooklyn, and I considered doing other things, including Escorting and Stripping—but it never quite worked out. In my experience, there was too much trauma on the job as a webcam model for me to sustain a living. It wasn’t worth it.
Okay. I don’t give a damn what sex workers say about it being “empowering”, “real work”, blasé blah. Like yes—of course sex work is real work. In fact, it’s labor and it’s draining as hell. Do what you gotta do to live, but maintain perspective and don’t try to glamorize it just because it’s stigmatized. The Life ain’t cute! I recognize that there are levels, nuance, and meaning to everything—and just like literally any other life experience, sex work can play an integral role in people’s survival, and even personal or spiritual development.
However, at the end of the day, Sex Work is rooted in a toxic industry that reproduces unhealthy human relationships. The clientele who visit sex workers are trying to fill big, gaping voids within their hearts, bodies and spirits through a fantasy transactional experience. And it doesn’t heal—because its rooted in one person serving an idea of their sexuality to satisfy the desires and projections of another, in exchange for money. It’s not love.
I always felt deeply drained in any form of sex work, because I had to numb myself out in order to work at full capacity and maximize my earnings. I always knew that I would have to backpedal my healing journey in order to make room for sex work in my life. And yet in times like this, sex work constantly made a haunting appearance, asking for just one more dance. There was something strangely alluring about it—like an addiction.
To be very honest, I felt like my relationship with sex work was karmic. Born from the trauma of this life, and beyond.
I swear I was a hooker in a past life. I needed to get this ho’ing out my system.
Given all of this background, it’s easy to say that I was deeply conflicted about my choice. But in terms of employment, that was truly my best chance. I began to research all the Strip Clubs in L.A., narrowing my options down to the ones that were most accessible by public transportation. Then, I made a schedule to audition each one.
The night before my first audition, I dreamt that I had walked into an empty, dimly lit Strip Club for my audition. The manager, a frumpy middle-aged Latino guy, informed me that I was going to learn a lesson from my experience there.
“Oh you’ll learn alright,” he said.
This was an excerpt from my memoir, “N3VLYNNN: My Path to Healing & Creative Liberation.”
Chapter Title: Heart of Babylon.
Read Full Story & Purchase Book here.
This memoir is dedicated to me. Throughout the journey of writing my story, I have profoundly deepened my love, respect, and appreciation for myself.
As I’ve gazed back into my darkest hours, I have extended a loving hand to my former self, held and hugged myself with the utmost compassion, crooned and tended to my old wounds with the same loving-kindness I would offer a lost little kitten.
I have reaffirmed myself in the moments that I’ve felt so deeply unseen and unheard along my path—that my voice matters, my Art matters. I matter. I’ve watched all of my pain and hardship be transmuted into power. I have written that transmutation into existence.
I have fawned over my own beauty.
I have adored my former selves.
I have admired my courage, tenacity and resilience.
I have honored my truth.
I have seen myself all over again.
This was an excerpt from the memoir, “N3VLYNNN: My Path to Healing & Creative Liberation.”
Read Full Story & Purchase Book here.
It has been a long time coming for me to write and share the rich history behind my Hair.
I was particularly inspired to write this story because—after a long, intensely personal and transformative journey, I have come to receive a lot of attention for my Dreadlocks on a daily basis. Over the years, many people have come to identify me—and my beauty—through my hair.
Some people think my Free-Form Locs are a hairstyle that I intentionally created and spend a lot of time maintaining.
Some people just think it looks “cool”.
Bless their hearts.
Walking on Earth with this masterpiece of nature —a godly force—is an experience unto itself that deserves to be given voice and heard. I could not allow time to pass—for this body to expire—and have my Crown be reduced to Ornamental Folly.
In other words…
We aint goin’ out like datt.
I understand that I was incarnated on Earth into this black female body as an expression of Spirit. To experience certain rites of passage-to grow into myself from a particular perspective-in a way that is most purposeful to my own Spiritual Expansion. To Our Collective Intelligence.
This body that I am housed in—with my brown skin, kinky hair, pussy, piercings…my worldly perspectives, sexual tastes and preferences—is just as real as it is a costume.
This delicately malleable set of adornments do not define me—but they are tools of authentic physical expression that provide meaning for greater Understanding. At the end of this Era, I must shed it all and move onto another frequency.
My intention through these words—is to pay homage to my Dreadlocks in this 10-year time capsule that we have experienced together. To the inner-growth and expansion I’ve experienced through growing, carrying and nurturing my Sacred Antennae.
To immortalize this expression.
This is my story.
⎮ ≒ Part I ≓ ⎮
May 11th 2009
Just one day after my 19th birthday, I discovered my reflection through the fluorescently-lit mirror of my college dorm room, furiously ripping out my weave.
I was angry.
My fingers clenched into the intricately woven tracks that encircled my head, as I violently unraveled the stitches from my cornrowed braids. My arms thrashed about in a manic rage, as each piece of nearly-bone-straight human hair delicately floated to the ground.
“Never Again!” I screamed over and over in my mind, affirming each internal mantra with another cathartic rip.
Each painless tug and pull made way for the burgeoning open-air landscape of my scalp — my pores breathing long-awaited oxygen into my Crown Chakra, lightening the weight upon my head. Absorbing my Liberation.
It had been a very transformative year.
That prior Autumn, I had entered my first year of Boston University off the tails of a Long Lost Summer. For those few months before my first initiation into “Adulthood”, I had spent most of my time and energy partying. Drinking. Smoking. Shopping for fancy clothes. Shopping for suitors.
My hair aesthetic at the time was—let’s just say—inspired by White Girlhood. I rocked super thin micro-braids that were plaited only a few inches down to the length of my natural hair–leaving a full mane of human-hair-weave cascading down my back like an Auburn waterfall.
I dolled myself up every day and effortlessly attracted a steady rotation of men who could buy me nice dinners and take me interesting places in their cars and motorcycles. Anything to stave off the ennui and turn my attention away from myself. I got a rush out of petty rebellion, and made a habit of disregarding laws that hadn’t earned my respect—whether it was the rules set by my parents, or those of society.
I had no sense of purpose and nothing to give f*cks about.
I was the Black Paris Hilton.
I got my hands on anything and everything that could distract me from the well of pain that had been growing inside of me. I was so involved in the whirlwind I had created, that I was not even aware of my pain—much less the source of it.
Until I had an experience that amplified it.
Thank you for reading an excerpt of my story. Wisdom Tree is one of the most vulnerable and richly heartfelt stories I have ever written. At 50 pages, it is also my longest finished piece to date. I am very proud to have climbed this mountain and reached a place where I can share with you.
Wisdom Tree is in currently the process of publication via E-Book Format. The finished version will include the entire story, photographs which were specifically captured for this Memoir, and selections from my archive of photos and youtube videos over the past 11 years.
I would like to learn Indesign so that I can personally design and self-publish my stories, and freely share my voice with the world without bounds.
If you would like to support this work, please consider making a donation to my Writer’s Fund.If you donate €10 or more, you will receive a free copy of this ebook upon its release in 2020. Please feel free to donate here.
I have other writings available in my Shoppe, which will also be released via ebook format, including another memoir I wrote this year, Divining Willow. Please include a note if you would like to order any of these stories.
Thank you for your support.
Credits : Photos captured by Alexandria Pierre Etienne
March 4, 2018 – ¿Infinity->…
I clearly remember the day I met Willow. It was a melancholy Sunday in Los Angeles. I had an emotionally challenging week, and was in need of rejuvination.
That day, I slept deeply into the early afternoon. Upon my awakening, I felt called to travel far outside of my normal routine.
My best friend had invited me to skate with her that day at Venice Beach, but I had been training Pole all week, and Sunday was dedicated to rest. I didn’t feel like working my body on skates.
After spending fifteen minutes pacing the width of my closet, contemplating if I was prepared to mute my feelings and lug those heavy boots on my shoulders…my heart weighed in.
I finally released the skates from my grip and reached for a folded square of beautiful African print fabric.
Gazing at myself in my full-length mirror, I slowly tied my abundant mane of freeform dredlocks into an updo, and strategically began to wrap the fabric around my head, Nefertiti style.
For the first time in years, I was wrapping my hair.
Head-wrapping has become a very Spiritual process for me. Along the 9-year journey of carrying my free-forms, I realized how much God-energy they emitted into the world.
My hair being integrated with my body, I understood that my physical presence in its rawness made people feel something deep inside their hearts…and I was not always Emotionally or Spiritually prepared to handle the sheer volume of attention, questions or energy that came with being so visible.
My hair-wrapping was a Way of attuning myself to my own energy, and pulling my Crown Chakra inwards. It was my practice of conserving this part of me for my own observation.
I dabbed golds and fuschias onto my eyes and lips, adjusting to my subtle beauty without my Thick n’ Wilds framing my face. Affirming my own presence, I slipped on my chuck taylors and chose to spend the day in revival. Where would I Like to Go?
Somewhere lush and cozy and luxurious.
I instantaneously entered the name of my favourite vegan cafe into my Uber app, filled the Stained Glass Goblet on my altar with Water (I like to leave an offering for myself upon my home arrival), and walked out the door.
I was heading to Venice.
.4.I slept inside her bosom like a sweet newborn.4.
The ride to Destiny from the San Fernando Valley was its own special experience.
The post-rain clouds softly diffused the reliably boisterous Los Angeles Sunshine–creating a subtle grey that reflected my inner-space. As we cruised through the peculiarly free highway, I took in the bold presence of the Mountains standing protectively beside our tiny rolling machine as we floated on thin air to nowhere in particular — and dozed off into a light sleep, re-awakening twenty minutes later to the bright, colourful stuccos that are characteristic of Venice.
We were almost there.
I was looking forward to settling down to a warm Ayurvedic Latte and a far reaching daydream.
The cafe was mellow and lightly populated. I checked in with the waitstaff, pleased to see some familiar faces, and chose to seat myself in a cozy little corner booth, with a wide open view of the restaurant and outdoors.
As soon as I nestled my sweet little buns down into my seat, I gazed up from the menu and looked straight ahead. There she was.
Willow Smith was sitting just a few tables away, directly across from me–chatting with a friend. I sat in a clear moment of stillness, as my gaze widened from the inside out.
It was true.
I have been celibate for two years now.
My lips have not brushed against another’s…
My body has only been kissed, cuddled and caressed by my own hands, fingers and lips.
I make love to myself.
Some years ago, I came to a stark realization of my subconscious patterns. I was calling in sexual experiences which offered limited pleasure, freedom of expression, and expansion.
They were basic.
It was like eating a basic meal. One which took very little time or thought to prepare. It contained some simple nutrients and—sometimes satisfied my momentary hunger, but always left me wondering what it would be like…
To sit down to a candlelit dinner and be served a gourmet feast with the finest ingredients.
A gratifyingly sensual and soulful experience—catered specifically to my tender delights.
I was always left yearning for more. More Pleasure. More Connection. More Intimacy.
Heightened Orgasmic Experiences.
My sexual wounds from the past were haunting me and blocking my capacity for pleasure.
It was difficult for me to fully let go and surrender with a sexual partner.
Although my sexual experiences were increasingly selective, few, and far between—the rare encounters I did have, I still attracted people who were not ready to receive me on a deeper level.
My partners in some manner–just used sex as a means to get themselves off. Where my pleasure was included, they approached it as a means to their end.
They were unaware. I sensed every bit of it.
They were often kind and loving humans in other ways—but this is how we both– had been conditioned to relate to our sexuality. And conversely, with each other.
We needed to learn a new way.
I needed to Call myself back Home.
So I fell back into what has always been–my natural state of Celibacy.
Only this time—I am using this space and time more Consciously.
I am not sitting on my haunches waiting for someone to show up with the magic key to my pussy.
I am Delving into my own Element.
Exploring my own Authentic Sexuality.
And learning to to be my own Lover. First.
My Lover(s) are in Creation too.
We are creating ourselves to be attuned towards one another.
Slowly vibrating towards each other.
I am a highly sexual being.
I experience deep desires. Yearnings. Callings.
I still feel sexually attracted to others.
Attraction for me is rare, but when it happens it is powerful.
What celibacy has given me is space to observe that hot, wild, and seemingly uncontrollable energy inside of me.
That delicious fire of excitement that runs upward from my pussy through my womb and belly and heart…
The tensions inside.
When I feel attraction with another person, I am able to ground myself in my body.
I practice acknowledging and honoring those strong feelings of attraction rather than pushing them away.
And then I just observe.
Attraction is a very enjoyable feeling. I love the vulnerability that comes when I feel a mutual attraction with someone.
Our body language, speech, and intonations are soft and subtle code for
“I really want to fuck you.”
As a highly intuitive and sensitive being, I can always tell…When someone deeply yearns to fuck me.
It is something that cannot be hidden.
The gift of celibacy has allowed me to ground myself in these attractions and provide myself space to meditate on my inner tides and waves, and gain clarity on what they mean.
What is it about this person that I am drawn to?
I envision myself sharing my life with them. Making love. Sharing my whole being. When inspired, I fantasize about them while I pleasure myself…
And I also ask– Is this person in a space to cultivate the type of partnership or sexual relationship that I truly want?
I have walked a very long way on this journey. Is this the first person I want to share my body with after all of the time and energy I’ve invested into cultivating and loving myself?
If not—where am I standing within my emotional body in this moment that is attracting me to this person, and how can I use this energy to further cultivate myself?
I am always guided back home to me.
I’ve learned to enjoy, observe, and appreciate sexual desire as a natural part of the human experience.
I no longer feel that sexual attraction—even if it is strong—means that it is appropriate to fuck.
There are other foundations which must be in place within our own selves—in order to build and expand on that raw primal desire. To cultivate true richness and expansion in our intimacy.
…I just want it to feel as Special and Raw and Godly as I.
This evening, I found myself sinking very deeply into an unexpected feeling of sadness and emotional doom. I appeared to be so chipper and friendly to everyone–my roommate, the clerks at the grocery store. And beneath it all, I was rapidly sinking into my emotions like quicksand.
“When I received that email, something stirred deeply inside of me. It was that feeling when I encounter someone who doesn’t see me as the beautiful, gifted being that I am—and in fact, they let it be known that they certainly do not love or believe in me. With all the work I’ve done to love myself, it’s rare that I encounter such people—but when I do, it is literally a slap in the face.”
I recently screened my film, Reflections Unheard: Black Women in Civil Rights at Millersville University. I clearly remember the months and weeks leading up to this event. The elderly black woman who proposed the screening event was so short with me from the beginning that I actually wrote the entire thing off, due to bad vibes. I figured it wasn’t worth the hassle and went about my business.
Then a couple of months later, I received a surprise call from her assistant. They were indeed still planning the screening event, and they were offering me the funding which I requested, which was a lot of money. I knew then more than ever how important it was for me to take that opportunity so that I could move onto the next chapter in my life…so I obliged.
Over the next few weeks, communication between myself, my host, and her assistant was so disorganized, that I felt like the entire event was resting on a flimsy foundation. Most of the time, it was me reaching out to straighten out basic fundamentals.
The tables were turned. I was invited as the honorary Guest, yet I was doggedly pursuing these people as if my life depended on it.
It didn’t feel good.
The scattered communication continued throughout the very day of the event, with plenty of (literal) last-minute demands placed on me to provide information for tax forms, addresses, schedules, and general things that should have been dealt with months before on their end.
I stayed consistent, feeling annoyed but never complaining. I had given up on the glamour of being treated as an Honorary Guest. This was purely Biz-Ne$$. I needed to get mines.
When I finally made it to Millersville, I breathed a deep sigh of relief. It was finally happening, and I was getting paid to do something I actually enjoyed—share my story as an Artist with new faces. Everything fell into place.
I sensed from the beginning what kind of crowd I might encounter at this event, and gauged how I should dress, accordingly. Having lived as a free woman in Los Angeles for the past year, I was accustomed to dressing sensually. I thought of wearing my favorite booty shorts and high socks with a frilled English blouse.
Nope. It was the NAACP—that definitely wouldn’t fly. So, I decided to wear something that was still stylish, yet a little more conservative. The last thing I needed was extra hassle over my wardrobe. As it worked out, the weather was chilly enough to justify my extra layers. Still, I questioned the reasoning behind my initial motives.
Am I wearing a mask to please others?