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your beauty is safe here

We’re celebrating our newest service, Sacred Readings with candi dugas!

sacred reading general reading 6.22 youtube cover

Weekly we publish free, general readings on YouTube, and you may also order your own personal readings as well. This week only (through Saturday, 30 June 2018), all readings are 50% off in honor of this celebration.

Watch our latest general reading, “Your Beauty Is Safe Here.”

I look forward to hearing from you!

Best,

candi (claircognizant, clairsentient, empath)

the power of my (moving) hips

Whenever I offer an honest and sexy peek into the life of an African American woman – on stage or for the screen – responses from early audiences are largely, emphatically positive, grateful and welcoming.

“Thank you. We don’t often get to see ourselves portrayed in these ways.”

And especially for women over 40, as we find in my latest (9th, in development) stageplay, Wild + Free. Thewild and free fa profile image bronzed woman in this story is Sydney Augustine, a Creole shop owner in the fictional south Georgia town of Prairie Hills. The second half of life was supposed to be a smooth journey to retirement for her. However, after five years in this resort town, during the summer after 45’s election, smooth becomes bumpy. Sydney finds herself caught between an old flame and her current boyfriend – while the town’s white residents vehemently resist her plans of expanding her business, preferring to keep some historical secrets buried.

While I love feedback that lets us know we are doing valuable work, I am still trying to figure out why these kinds of stories are so rare. What is it about openly positive stories about sex (women’s sex) that causes such an uproar? And Wild + Free is not actually about sex! It’s about Sydney’s pursuit of what she wants in life. Sex happens to be just as integral in her life as it is in ours – and we do not make a big deal out of it – which can cause it to become a big deal.

What in the world???

I am excited about one of the takeaways from the recent hit movie, Girls Trip. HuffPost writer, Zeba Blay, celebrates that this movie allows black women to be raunchy and hilarious, creating an “exhilarating” experience that apparently resonates deeply with audiences.

“Black female sexuality has always been such a loaded concept,” Blay writes. “With Girls Trip, for the first time in a long time (perhaps not since 1995′s Waiting To Exhale), we’ve gotten a comedy that focuses entirely on its black female leads, that features black women talking frankly and openly about what kind of dicks they like, the hypnotizing power of their bodies, the healing powers of getting “your back blown out,” the occasional necessity of some good no-strings-attached sex. It’s not that no-strings-attached sex is inherently empowering. The depiction of black women over the age of 40 having agency over their own bodies, however, is.”

I am so here for that! (Read Blay’s entire article.)

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Table read cast + crew for Wild + Free, 30 July 2017

And I invite you to be here for Wild + Free as well. Like us on Facebook, learn more, consider making a donation to our 1st reading in the fall, and if you’re in/around Atlanta, check it out – let us know what you think!

“I will not be another flower, picked for my beauty and left to die. I will be wild, difficult to find, and impossible to forget.” ~Author Unknown/Sydney’s Life Mantra

(c) 2017 candi dugas, llc

a bishop’s legacy

What bothered me most when the story broke in 2010 that accused Bishop Eddie Long of forcing young men into sexual relationships was his arrogant response and misappropriation of the biblical story of David and Goliath. (1 Samuel 17)

While he was clearly the one in power, with emboldened arrogance rather than contrition or even compassion, he attempted to place himself in the victim’s position, the weaker party under attack. And the most loyal members of his New Birth Missionary Baptist Church congregation wildly supported him there. Quite troubling, but not surprising.

On the occasions when I visited New Birth, I was always struck, saddened and deeply concerned by how that community had created an environment that worshipped Long. I do mean every literal bit of that word, worship. In ethics classes and with so many other opportunities, as we are educated, trained and otherwise prepared for professional ministry, we are warned against ever becoming an idol or a god for the people. I do not doubt that Long moved some mountains for folks, that some can credit him for literally saving their lives – but we are called to worship One that is greater than we are, not one who is just as flawed and susceptible to mistakes.

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image: wallpapers.brothersoft.com

The thing is, though, given his power and position, Long’s mistakes caused deeper harm with a reach beyond any average parishioner.

Now, he certainly wasn’t the first clergyperson to abuse his power and never apologize for it. Unfortunately, he will not be the last either. And the issues around the allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct do not live outside of the context of the larger issue of the Church’s woefully anemic approach to sexuality and spirituality. When the Church does not educate responsibly, authentically and truthfully around this intersection – along with promoting doctrines and practices that exclude people based on their sexual identities, orientations and behavior – it creates a rich environment for leaders to hide their true selves and harm others, as well as themselves.

Then one day, it all ends in a tragic death, of one kind or another.

So, today the man called by God to preach the Gospel and to heal the souls of his community leaves behind a legacy that is forever compromised by accusations that he settled out of court with a huge sum of money. It’s all quite sad. My heart continues to grieve for all the various kinds of pain folks are feeling now with the news of Long’s death. My prayer is that we may recognize, sense and commune with G~d’s all-knowing, merciful and gracious presence – always, in this and all matters that involve and affect humanity.

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image: positivepsychologyprogram.com

The silver lining? Well, the Church could determine that enough is enough. The Church could take this opportunity to address human sexuality with at least some common sense, if not critical and spiritual scriptural (re)interpretation. The Church could renounce its own arrogance, apologize and repent. But it won’t, no more than Long did under pressure and threat to his empire.

Next steps? We, the people, the other church, must continue to create our own safe, relevant and truthful spaces that feed our holistic well-being. The greatest thing about the Gospel is that it is and makes G~d accessible to us all. And there are enlightened faith communities around that will do for us what the Church never will. Such un- or under-traveled paths require a bit more effort and work on our part, but I think G~d is pleased with this reality. I think G~d has been waiting on us to be more (pro)active with our spirituality and relationships with ourselves, G~d and others.

Could this, then, be Bishop Eddie Long’s legacy???

(c) 2017 candi dugas, llc

all the voices

all the voices

 

No justice or equality movement has ever succeeded without the voices that come from the “other side.”

Christianity had the Apostle Paul. Abolitionists and the Civil Rights Movement had “white” people. The Feminist Movement had/has men. The war on poverty still needs the wealthy and transgender folks need more help from gays, lesbians and straight people.

I was a bit suspicious at first and I cannot say that I’m utterly convinced now, but I’m at least encouraged by what I hear coming from Pastor E. Dewey Smith as he continues to publicly share that he’s rethinking his theology about sexuality and faith. His conservative voice bearing witness to what liberals and progressives already know, is priceless.

pastor e dewey smith

Pastor E. Dewey Smith and congregation praying for Singer Angie Stone at House of Hope Atlanta. Image: joy105.com.

Last weekend he participated in a gathering at Princeton University via its Black Church Studies program, “Love Thyself: Black Bodies and Religious Space.” The gathering was inspired by the viral hashtag, #BlackChurchSex.

During the conference he said in about 4 years, some studies report that 50-55% of African American women will never get married. “Do we really expect these women to lead celibate lives?” Then he challenged that the way we currently read the bible enslaves women and reinforces a pimpish theology. Pastor Smith offered that our churches must begin to give people space to grow, think and recognize that the bible doesn’t have the answer to all our questions. WOW! How’s that for ‪#‎BlackChurchSex‬??? (as reported by a Facebook friend of mine that attended the conference)

We don’t listen to every voice. Having as many different kinds of voices as possible that can advocate a realistic message of freedom in a grounded context of faith will greatly assist the church – the Black church – in having meaningful conversations which improve our holistic health as followers of Yeshua.

(c) 2016 candi dugas, llc

why listen to bey instead of mom* or g~d?

why listen to bey instead of mom* or g~d?

A gorgeous, wealthy pop star

without impressive traditional credentials – like an Ivy League degree

 

has never been embraced

by conservatively valued members of our community

 

as a worthy role model

to influence the beliefs and actions of our young people

 

– or even ourselves.

So, why should Bey experience anything differently?

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Image: vulture.com via Beyonce/YouTube . View “Formation” at Beyonce.com.

I am not surprised at the antagonistic comments I’ve read on social media over the weekend. Defiant even. “She will not take the place of my Jesus!”

I chuckle at comments like that – for a couple of reasons.

1.

I don’t know Beyoncé, but I seriously doubt that she’s interested in becoming anyone’s savior.

2.

I believe such adamance is an expression of a shamed and uncomfortable attraction to her work.

“Thou doth protest too much …” ~Hamlet

Even for women of faith who have great relationships with their moms and love the lessons that they’ve passed down still can find other voices beyond family and the bible, church, etc. to be relevant and valuable to their experience and goals.

Bey brings to the table an unapologetic sexy sense of empowerment that we sorely need. One Facebook friend posted that we’ve been looking for a black leader to rise up. We thought it would be Obama and it turned out to be Beyoncé.

Mrs. Carter is all of who she is. Surely, we can say that her wealth allows her to be, but she wasn’t always this financially wealthy. This daring and confidence began developing long before she had paper. In fact, these intangible qualities make what we can see and feel happen. In this way, Beyoncé is a worthy model for us to follow. “I see it; I want it. I stunt, yeah, little hornet. I dream it; I work hard; I grind ‘til I own it.” (sung by Beyoncé)

We don’t have to dress like she does or dance like she does (though that would be great if my body could still absorb the intensity of those moves), but we can certainly allow her witness to inspire us to be unapologetically free in who G~d created us to be. She’s leading in ways that traditional interpretations of G~d are not, do not. She’s able to say what most moms don’t feel free enough to articulate to and for their daughters – than we are able to pronounce for ourselves.

That’s why we listen to Beyoncé, sing with her and do our best to keep up when dancing with her.

“OK, ladies, now let’s get in formation!”

*mom – While we know that dads are present in our lives, for the purpose of this post as a response to online comments about how Beyoncé doesn’t trump a mother’s advice, we are only referring to “mom” as the parent.

© 2016 candi dugas, llc – Featured image: spin.com.

sexuality + spirituality

sexuality and spirituality: doing it differently

Each Sunday in October – live in person and online

Impact’s 2015 “Sexuality + Spirituality Experience Series” builds upon the wildly successful one that we produced in 2010. Five years ago we shared that God created sex to be good for creation and that we will not prescribe to anyone how they choose to engage or not in sexual activity. So, how do we make these decisions, the kinds of choices that help us to live with integrity within ourselves, before God and with others? Impact helps us all make these determinations by providing the tools for each person to make her/his own informed, educated and spiritual decision(s).

For further understanding, we invite you to join us this October as we unpack, affirm and celebrate what it means to be a whole, integrated person in God, one who is simultaneously and beautifully sexual and spiritual.

We are excited to share the good news of God’s love for all with our community – where all means ALL. Impact always endeavors to create safe and relevant space for worship of God and service to the world. We look forward to your joining us every Sunday in October – 8am, 10am, 12noon – in person or online (http://www.impactdoingchurchdifferently.org/live/)!

*Some content may not be suitable for all audiences.

your thoughts: feminine sexuality & spirituality

the women of black history month 2014

the women of black history month 2014

At sexNspirit you may always share your thoughts regarding feminine sexuality and spirituality. Yet, today you may share them with a chance to win a $25 gift card to the retailer of your choice*!  Visit here to complete a brief survey and enter the drawing.  (NOTE: The survey is for adults only – 18+ years old.)

You may also want to check out our latest newsletter that features a collage of all the women highlighted on our SoulSpace blog during February’s Black History Month.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

best,
candi

*The gift card must be available to purchase in Atlanta, GA or online.

(c) 2014 candi dugas, llc

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