Queering “Straight” Black Relationships: Navigating Sexual Behavior and Relationships with Black Heterosexual Individuals and Couples in the Southern United States (4CEs)


4 CEs

Presented by: Marla Stewart

Recorded workshop available via video on demand


The Southeastern of the United States, popularly known as The Bible Belt, has been a breeding ground for various repressions around sexual identity and behavior.  When it comes to navigating sexuality, the South has been notorious for shaming and stigmatizing people based on their sexual orientation, sexual identity, and/or sexual behavior.  This is commonly rooted in religious trauma from family upbringing, as well as identity tropes, such as “The Southern Belle” and the “The Southern Gentleman,” which cause identity strain and tension.

In this class, I aim to do 3 things:

  • Examine sexual identities and behavior with Black individuals and couples, especially as it relates to femininity and masculinity
  • Educate counselors, therapists, coaches, and sex educators around the nuances of Black sexualities in the South
  • Give practical techniques to help release religious and/or identity tension

As a sexologist, a sex coach, and a sex educator, I have seen many Black clients who have struggled with their identities, which ultimately affect their communication and behavior patterns.  This includes, but is not limited to anal sex, kinky sex, bisexual identities, and diverse (or alternative) relationship styles.  Using Intersectionality and Queer theoretical frameworks have enabled my success with working with clients who are not used to being understood, usually because of their heterosexual and patriarchal privilege, and I use these frameworks to open the dialogue that would otherwise be silenced. Although this takes a look at a particular population, the implications of this work can be used for other populations of color who have particular patterns of relating with regards to religion and other various pervasive identity tropes. By the end of this class, you should be adequately equipped to address the needs of your couples who have identity strain and have multiple layers of non-privileged identities.

Learning Objectives

  • Describe 2 common issues that plague Black heterosexual couples
  • Explain how to help your clients reframe their distressed identities
  • Demonstrate how to communicate and normalize “queer” sexual behaviors
  • Discuss sexual identities and behavior with Black individuals and couples, especially as it relates to femininity and masculinity
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