Checking-In, Part One; Embodying my Sensuality.

Hello dear one, I’m writing the beginnings of this check-in late at night, in bed cozied up under the covers with a bright phone screen illuminating the dark.

I was watching some “wlw tik tok compilations” on Youtube, and stumbled across “Izzy and Clara’s Relationship Compilation” from A-Typical. I’ve never watched the show, just this sweet sweet clip, and my heart is so warm and so grieved at the experiences that my queer inner-child-self didn’t even realize they could have.

During quarantine (season one haha *sigh*) I realized I’m a lesbian/sapphic (1.). As an Igbo non-binary person, this means a lot of things to me. For simplicity’s sake, this means that men do not have room in my sexual/sensual/romantic pleasure spaces. I knew I was queer before, but getting even clearer on my desires feels good. I’m happy for myself. Really really happy actually. I’ve always thought Black lesbians were the coolest people in my life and had dreaded a reality where I’d end up with a man. When I realized “wow! that reality actually doesn’t have to exist!” I was relieved. This self-confirmation has brought up a lot for me, including my relationship to my sexual embodiment.

I am admitting that my libido has been loooooow. like nonexistent. like not even really that interested in touching myself recently. And if you relate, that’s okay. (Message for myself: that’s okay <3 ) (2).

I think that there’s many reasons why this low-libido is coming up right now, but I think the collective trauma we are facing in late-stage-capitalism-pandemic-fall-of-US-empire, would put a damper on most people’s arousal. I would also like to say that expecting our sexual energy to always function in the same way,full-force, regardless of the changes in our heart, is a capitalist mindset; nature exists in cycles of change, therefore our desires also exist in cycles of change.

That being said, this low libbido coinciding with my lesbian revelation is... not ideal timing lol. It’s impacted my desire for sex, and also my ability to feel sexy. It’s been hard, and confusing, and making me doubt myself. I mean, shouldn’t I be feeling sexier than ever now that I’m coming more authentically into my own? I was thinking to myself.

However, I’ve been doing a lot of healing work this year, including working on my (sexual) embodiment, and I finally realized something: my relationship to my sexual embodiment has shifted because my relationship to my identity and patriarchy has shifted.

Let me explain- I’m a lesbian (yay!) and so I have no use for men (yay!!)

Even before realizing I was a lesbian, my allegiance to patriarchy was very low and I didn’t really keep men in my social circles either (3). My Black feminist politics and my general feelings (of uncomfortability and rage) towards men made my allegiance to patriarchy pretty negligible to start. But still, in dating men and grappling with compulsory heterosexuality, there was a performance I was playing that I’d learned from the patriarchal gaze. I knew what it meant to be “sexy” or “alluring” because patriarchy teaches you how to be; through movies, music videos, etc. Part of the gender construction of womanhood is the approval of men. Those who have been socialized as women, are taught to feel sexy because men say we are. The litmus for sexual embodiment therefore becomes an external one- not a very good base for authentic embodiment right?

Like I said, my allegiance to patriarchy was low before anyway, however I was used to performing sexiness and confidence I didn’t feel, because patriarchy gave me the script. But, there’s no script anymore. There’s no lines. I’m coming more and more into my own as a non-binary saphic; I was queer before but I feel like I’m becoming more and more authentic. I’m so proud of myself for this! But also confused as hell! Lol. This is raising new questions for me around my relationship to sexual embodiment. Lesbian relationships and dating are so different. I feel that the people I’m seeing now, just like me because I’ Not because they want me to perform what I don’t feel. Folks in my life love my authenticity, so how do I feel authentically sexy?

When I’m no longer performing, a lot comes up; childhood standards of beauty/politics of beauty I’ve been taught, trauma, etc etc. The goal here isn’t to shift from performing sexiness for men to performing sexiness for gender-marginalized people of course. Instead, my goal here is to find my sexual/sensual energy intrinsically. Without approval of others. God, I’m so excited to discover/build that for myself. The realization of my sexual identity has pulled a veil from over my eyes about how fragile my “confidence” was before. I felt that already, but I’m starting to understand why and which behaviors do and don’t feel at home in embodying my beauty. Now, what am I going to do about this?

This article is the first of two exploring my relationship to my confidence after coming into my own (gender-wise and sexuality-wise). In the follow-up to this one, I’ll talk about what practices I’ve been using to help me find my sexual embodiment. Like, subscribe, and follow for part two!

In the meantime, I have some questions for those reading this:

  1. If you’re a gender-marginalized person, in what ways have you learned to perform your sexual energy for patriarchy? If it was safe for you to stop this performance, what would you want instead?

  2. Are there any spaces where it is saf(er) for you to stop this performance? Can you create them? If the answer to both is no, that’s hard and I’m sending you love <3 I’m not judging you for this; performance can also be a survival tactic.

  3. Cis+straight women… y’all boughta get your own article, but to start; in what ways are you putting yourself in allegiance with patriarchy in your dating practices? I’m not judging, I’m asking. Y’all are in contact with men much more often than me or any of my chosen family will ever be (thank the lord!) so even though you are also oppressed by patriarchy, are there ways you let patriarchy slide for romance/affection? For survival? Are there areas of your relationships with men, where you can better divest from patriarchy? Would it be safe for you to do this? What kinds of relationships and resources do you need in order to make it safe to do this? What does your sexual embodiment look like outside of performance? Think extra hard about this if you are a thin cis+straight whte woman-- your allegiance to patriarchy often overlaps with your allegiance to racism.

  4. For everybody: what would intrinsic, healthy confidence look and feel like to you? Who in your life embodies this? How would it feel to walk around as you imagine this person to feel?

  5. What behaviors and relationships in your life would change if you felt intrinsically valuable? Perhaps you already do feel intrinsically valuable, what advice can you offer in the comments section below for those of us who are struggling to get there?

As always,


Sarah (Nnenna-Loveth/Umelo)


Foot Notes

1.) (thanks lesbian master-doc! and other Black sapphic friends)

2.) I think that because I hold workshop-space about sexuality and pleasure-healing, people assume I’m always “ready to go” and like, no. Pleasure-healing includes dealing with the “not-fun” parts too. Naming here that assuming sexual educators and healers are always sexually available is harmful.

3.) I also attended a college with no men so this helped.

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