Herbivore Botanicals is proud to feature Ms. Briq House in honor of our 2019 theme: the Year of Self Love. Self-love includes intimacy, so we’ve inquired with this inspiring expert for guidance. We admire Ms. Briq House’s work as an intimacy instructor, burlesque performer, and creator of BIPoC safe spaces to heal and explore, like Sunday Night Shuga Shaq, Mystic Melanin Meetups, and recently, Quink. Read on to learn more about this magical high femme:

Tell me about your new event!

“Quink Social Club is a kink-friendly social event, and it’s exclusively for people of color. And it is amaaaaazziiiing! I knew it was going to be successful but I was blown out of the water by the response.

“It’s such a healing space, so loving and happy and friendly and fun…and it’s literally a party, and then in addition to that there’s someone teaching you how to tie up somebody you’re having fun with, or [teach you about] wax play, or how to approach your trans lover’s body…There’s all kinds of really great educational moments during the event.

“It’s a play party but it’s also an actual party…so folks who don’t want to play at all are still able to dance the night away with their friends. It’s an exploratory event.”

How do you define intimacy?

“Intimacy is about the act of being seen and seeing. Allowing [someone] to see you—flaws and all—and looking at them, flaws and all…witnessing each other being broken and beautiful at the same time. It’s making the choice to still move closer to each other even though things may not be the most exciting or fun, emotionally.”

Tell me about being an Intimacy Instructor. When you’re working with couples, what does that look like?

“Usually when I’m meeting with couples I’m getting them through the process of opening up to themselves…because it’s always a ‘you’ thing before it can be an ‘us’ thing. How can you be more real with yourself in a way that, with partners, you can also move forward and get closer to them? Sometimes folks want to work with me individually before they work with me as a couple.

“My rules is: no negative talk. I ask people to rephrase negative comments. There’s a difference between saying ‘I’m so ugly’ and ‘I’m feeling really uncomfortable, maybe I don’t feel very pretty today.’ When we’re actively trying to move [towards each other], positivity is easier to move forward with than negativity.”

Do you have any tips for those seeking more intimacy?

“A seed I would plant is: you are never too old and it’s never too late to learn. As a person who’s been divorced and as a survivor of sexual assault, I know that it is never too late, and it’s never impossible.

“When I do sexual healing workshops, I remind folks that sexual trauma in your past is a part of your story—it’s a valuable part of your story, and in addition to that, there are many other chapters. It may be a little more difficult for survivors [to be intimate] but it’s not impossible.

“Also, you’re totally worthy no matter what happened. Intimacy is a gift that everyone can have and you don’t need another person—or to be in love—to have intimacy. I’ve had dating relationships that are far less intimate than some of my friendships. I think intimacy is connected to safety.”

How can fans support you?

“To my White friends, allies, and supporters: Pay it forward, because there is so much healing work that needs to be done in the [BIPoC] community, and we don’t always have the resources to get to the things we need. Support monetarily, and also share the things you see that I’m doing.

“To the POC community: COME SEE ME! You are worthy, you’re amazing, you are loved…and I want to give you so many hugs and kisses (**laughs**) because I’m such a mushy person.”

You’re a lover!

“I believe consensual touch. I especially believe in the power of consensual nonsexual touch. Especially for people of color, who are constantly having our spaces invaded on multiple levels, whether that’s exoticizing us, or treating us like animals, petting us, or challenging us in some weird way…I think having a consensual exchange of touch just for the sake of human connection and nothing else is really healing and beautiful…for those who enjoy consensual touch, that is.

“I also think that you’re entitled to keeping your touch and your space to yourself, and that’s beautiful too. I think a lot of us—especially those who were assigned female at birth—were taught that our touch is not our own, so keeping your touch to yourself is just as radical and healing.”

How do you ask for consent?

“It depends on the situation! (**laughs**) There are situations where you and a person are very familiar and you have a kind of implied consent. Then, it could be a look, a color, a mood, or a combination of things. I personally enjoy a combination of things.

“My go-to, when we don’t have familiarity, is to have direct conversations about everything. What is happening, how are we feeling, if or when we’d like to move forward, what words we’d like to use, that sort of thing. Some people use physical cues like taps. I know that a lot of survivors have a hard time using words, so it is better to use body language to communicate in some circumstances.”

And how do you ask for consent to touch in nonsexual interactions?

“I like to say, ‘Would you like a hug?’ ‘Are you into hugs?’ or, ‘Would you like one right now?’ ‘Do you do hugs or high fives?’

“I make sure not to move in a way that assumes the answer. I let them know I’m open, but I also let them know that I’m not going to move toward them unless they say it’s okay.”

Have you had any guides?

“Yes! Jet Setting Jasmine! She’s a beautiful dom goddess who is also a licensed therapist, and she does sexual healing work. I’ve worked with her in a sex work capacity and also a sexual healing capacity. [She and her partner] are sexy as hell! They’re revolutionary and beautiful!”

Tell me about your self-care.

“I spend a lot of time masturbating! I do a spa day once in a while (especially at places where sweet people send me gift cards to). I love to soak, I love facials, I love massages. Doing the emotional work: going to therapy, breaking my patterns, setting boundaries even though as an empath, it’s very hard to say ‘no.’

“Also, working for myself: entrepreneurship is way better for me, both emotionally and spiritually.”

Thank you for putting your work out there!

“Yeah! It’s really important for folks to see that there are way more options than the ones we’re given. Seeing representation really changed my life, so that’s what I want to offer people. People assume that you have two choices: be really sexy—or be a mom. And that’s not true at all. You can be it all!”

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