Herukhuti, Ph.D., M.Ed.
Professor, Goddard College
Founder and CEO, Center for Culture, Sexuality and Spirituality
(His)stories like our first lovers can be very seductive when we engage them from the place of nostalgia and memory. What we remember or don’t, the highlights and the gaps in memory tell us so much about the person(s) engaged in the telling of the history/story. The Conference on Current Issues in LGBTI Health Research started today with a keynote address by Dr. Eli Coleman, director of the program in human sexuality in the department of family medicine at the School of Medicine of the University of Minnesota.
He dedicated much of the time of his powerpoint presentation to sharing with us his story of LGBT movement history, health policy, and culture in the United States. The story was, he admitted, primarily Eurocentric and middle class. With a few keystrokes in Google Search, one can engage and consider the stories of the role of African-Americans in the Stonewall Riots and the response to HIV/AIDS. Dr. Anthony Silvestre, professor of infectious diseases and microbiology at the Graduate School of Public Health of University of Pittsburgh, in the afternoon keynote address provided a surprisingly similar understanding of the history of LGBTI health research.
Nestled between these talks was a presentation by Vivek Anand, executive director of Humsafar Trust (Mumbai, India). Based upon his presentation, Humsafar Trust appeared to be a study (as in exemplar) in indigenous mobilization and community-based participatory action-research. Drawing upon ideas from the West but honoring their knowledge of their own local context and retaining their commitment to indigenous control, Humsafar Trust has been working to address the opportunities and challenges they face.
Inspired by the stories of the presenters and having the value of knowing my history, ancestors, and genealogies reaffirmed for me in the absences present in several of the presentations, I want to create space in this article to name those people of African descent who have contributed to my understanding of sexual health and justice:
- African people who created the concept of the Divine as a source of love and pleasure in the form of Hetheru and Oshun
- Paschal Beverly Randolph who published his research on sex magic in the mid to late 1800s
- Audre Lorde who articulated a theory of the Erotic
- Ibrahim Abdurrahman Farajajé who has articulated theories of erotophobia and decolonizing, intersectional analysis of sexuality and spirituality
Who are the ancestors, elders and role models that contribute to your genealogy of understanding sexual health and justice?
Dr. Herukhuti is founder and Chief Erotics Officer (CEO) of the Center for Culture, Sexuality and Spirituality and editor-in-chief of sacredsexualities.org. He is also a member of the faculty at Goddard College. Follow him on Twitter and Tumblr and like his Facebook Fan page.