“They” and the Emotional Weight of Words

Language is the space in which we carve a place for ourselves, where we demand to be seen. A reflection point for culture, community, and family to acknowledge our existence on our terms. For decades, “butch” was the only identity and term available to those of us who identified as “masculine of center.” Like many others, I lived in that space. There was much about it that I loved: the community of brotherhood, the worship of femininity, the gentility of the old-school butches. Yet, like so many other words, butch failed to capture the full depth of my soul. Its White cultural origins and resulting denial of my Black body took its toll.

I went in search of myself. I took a detour on the road to law school and, instead, went to study gender at the London School of Economics. The lone student in my Gender Research program, I cobbled together stories, interviews, and research on how our gender identity and expression become language that makes us visible in the world. In the powerful piece from the disability justice movement, “Disease Is Not A Metaphor,” essayist and librarian Cyrée Jarelle Johnson argues that “there are not more important things to think about than words, because the things that you say are the substance of your thoughts, which become the things that you do and the biases you keep close to your chest.”

Over the past decade, young people of color have created an alternative conversation around identity that has since spilled into everyday lives. From social media to college campuses and community spaces, the emergence of terms like “boi” has challenged the language and imagination of people everywhere. Instead of he or she: “they.” And they are using multimedia platforms to push the boundaries of the understanding of masculinity and femininity. It’s hard work. The daily pushback against a world that is constantly trying to make you stay in a gendered box makes you resilient but incredibly tired. Doing it in a way that offers people the humanity they themselves sometimes deny to you requires grace.

Almost every day, whether at work or standing in line at the grocery store, we too often miss opportunities to meet someone where they are in their gender understanding and help them change the way they think about gender. Instead, we’ve made it perfectly normal to educate someone by “checking” them on their lack of understanding. This approach inadvertently creates a call-out culture that reinforces hypermasculine negativity. One of the most powerfully feminine things one can do is to create; it’s a courageous act. We should be encouraging people to create and build new ways of approaching language, not cultivating fear and shame around not knowing the right thing to say.

The way forward starts from a place of vulnerability and love. A daunting feat, yet, in my life and work, it has been profoundly moving.

It begins with relationships. Even in small interactions, we can create connections that allow us to challenge one another with a goal of greater understanding. At restaurants, I gently let folks know we don’t go by “ladies” and offer up “folks,” “peeps,” “homies,” and “fam” instead. When they inevitably apologize, I remind them that we are only just meeting. How would they know the language I choose to reflect myself? I have no expectation that they will know my preferred pronoun. The interaction makes it clear that they should not simply assume gender preferences and that asking is actually welcomed.

Pronouns can be the basis from which all of us learn to see and respect each other’s identity. “What pronoun do you prefer?” is always welcome. It shows respect, intention, and commitment to see me as I see myself.

The entire lexicon for how we understand gender is shifting. For many of us, it can be a weighty, disorienting experience. But for a handful of us, this is a moment of freedom. If each of us does our part to challenge old language that pushes us back into small gender boxes, all of us will be a bit more free. Eventually we will align language with the complexity and beauty of our bodies and our authentic selves.

 

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Cole wrote this article for Gender Justice, the Summer 2016 issue of YES! Magazine. Cole holds an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics and has worked as a community facilitator, strategist, and consultant for the past 15 years. In 2010, Cole launched the Brown Boi Project, the first program in the country to bring Trans men, Queer men, straight men, and masculine-of-center women of color together to build a new vision of masculinity. They work to change the way communities of color talk about gender in the United States.

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Unpacking Shame In Our Movements

At its origin, the HIV movement was based in the spirit of grassroots organizing and activism. The movement had an expressed commitment to LGBTQ people, people of color, substance users, sex workers and, most importantly, folks from within these communities living with HIV and dying from AIDS. Throughout the 80s and 90s, activists and organizers affected by HIV protested and demanded treatment and protections for people living with HIV at a time when discrimination towards poz people was legal and acceptable to the general public. This history influenced my entree into HIV advocacy and direct service and continues to fuel my commitment to this work.

Today, the mainstream HIV movement appears somewhat ambivalent towards movements for social justice and liberation. HIV and AIDS is big money and billions of dollars are spent worldwide to address the pandemic. In the President’s budget for FY 2016, he has requested $25.3 billion for domestic funding on HIV/AIDS.

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Image from recent article from Kaiser Family Foundation.

My attempts at finding data on the amount of profit pharmaceutical companies stand to gain from HIV care and treatment were unsuccessful. But the recent scandal involving Turing Pharmaceuticals’ 5,000% increase of Daraprim, a medication used by people living with HIV/AIDS, is a glimpse into the motivation of some of these companies which Martin Shkreli (Turing’s CEO) clearly stated is profit. As capitalism drives this movement, there becomes a financial incentive for people to continue to become infected with HIV. I know this may sound harsh or like a conspiracy theory to some of you, but whether or not this is conscious or intentional, it is true. I have been disappointed at the lackluster attempts to speak to the root causes that increase black folks risk for HIV. The inability of these movements (HIV, racial justice, gender justice, etc.) to work at the intersections of these overlapping issues are having the greatest impact on queer, trans, and poor black folks, as well as black people living with HIV.

In my work outside of the field of HIV, I have had opportunities to work with leaders in LGBT Justice, Gender Justice, Racial Justice, and Reproductive Justice. This past year, I have attended multiple gatherings focused on boys and men of color, and have not heard HIV mentioned even once. LGBT, Gender, and Reproductive Justice organizations tend to have an analysis around HIV that is more sophisticated and often focused on criminalization and violence. Mainstream organizations from these movements tend to lack the same level of sophistication around anti-blackness in their work. None of us are perfect (myself included) and neither are our movements. We are constantly growing, developing, and learning from our mistakes and some of us have an expressed commitment to transform even when it hurts. However, given the level of urgency for black people affected by HIV and AIDS, we need to do much more to shift the differential impact HIV has on our community.

The fear of black sexuality surely contributes to the radio silence around HIV in our social justice movements and in black communities in this country. As a people, we have been hypersexualized as a way to justify repression and violence by those who uphold white supremacy. The stereotypes of “jezebel” and “mandingo” have led many black folks to project and encourage sexual piety and chastity to combat these messages as a way to re-assert our humanity. HIV – which has long been associated with sexual deviance and addiction – is an ever present reminder that indeed, some of us are actually having sex, outside of marriage, with people of all genders and with more than one partner (heaven forbid). Some of us (in fact many of us) are also having sex without using condoms, prophylactics or contraception. And what does this say about us as a people in the eyes of white supremacy? This is the often subconscious question that is at the root of our sexual repression and denial. This is why I can attend a conference for black sexologists and clinicians in 2015 and there is little to no conversation around HIV/AIDS, but there is a workshop on young black women becoming a born again virgins.

The need or desire to appear “respectable” to dominant society will never lead to our liberation. You or someone you care about can do “all the right things” and still contract HIV because it does not come from black people’s amoral behavior, but from the innumerable consequences of anti-black racism and poverty as well as the complicity of our silences. We need our movements for racial and gender justice to draw the connections between how issues such as police brutality, gender based violence, and lack of housing, jobs, education and healthcare all create the context for black people to continue to have the highest rates of HIV in the WORLD! We need to address the rampant homophobia and transphobia that exists behind our collective shame around HIV. We need the field of HIV to support the leadership and work of radical black HIV positive folks who are combatting anti-blackness in HIV organizations and services across the country.

Where do we go from here? The last part of this series will lift up practices, policies and frameworks to address the intersections of anti-black racism and HIV/AIDS in our movements, communities and organizations.

Erica is a healer, activist, trainer and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who works in communities most impacted by the prison industrial complex and HIV/AIDS. She is a founding member of Power Inside, a harm reduction organization in Baltimore city that serves women who are survivors of gender-based violence, incarceration and abuse. She has done extensive work with youth, people of color and the LGBTQ community providing direct services and advocacy rooted in social justice and self-determination. She believes that using harm reduction strategies and community organizing will lead to healthy and powerful families and communities. Erica also works with HIV Education and Prevention Project of Alameda County and the Downtown Youth Clinic providing clinical supervision and consultation for a new project focused on expanding sexual health services for young queer men and trans people of color.

Erica is a healer, activist, trainer and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who works in communities most impacted by the prison industrial complex and HIV/AIDS. She is a founding member of Power Inside, a harm reduction organization in Baltimore city that serves women who are survivors of gender-based violence, incarceration and abuse. She has done extensive work with youth, people of color and the LGBTQ community providing direct services and advocacy rooted in social justice and self-determination. She believes that using harm reduction strategies and community organizing will lead to healthy and powerful families and communities. Erica also works with HIV Education and Prevention Project of Alameda County and the Downtown Youth Clinic providing clinical supervision and consultation for a new project focused on expanding sexual health services for young queer men and trans people of color.

It Is Time to Combat Anti-Black Racism in Mainstream HIV Service Work

by Erica Woodland

I came into the social justice movement by way of harm reduction and work in the fields of HIV prevention and the prison industrial complex. After college, I returned home to Baltimore (one of the few remaining Chocolate cities) and began volunteering at Power Inside, an organization that works with women impacted by violence, the prison system, and HIV. I was guided to this work because of its explicit focus on healing for black women, poor women, lesbian, queer and trans women. Direct service work rooted in the core understanding that “risk” for HIV and incarceration are deeply tied to poverty, white supremacy, and patriarchy.

Mainstream HIV work continues to deny the ways that these systems of oppression are set up to feed black bodies into the HIV and prison industries. With coded language such as “racial disparities” and “disproportionate minority confinement”, we are allowed to distance ourselves from the real legacy of genocide and slavery that are the basis of this country and the so-called health care system. Baltimore continues to have one of the highest rates of HIV in the country and in 2010 was ranked number 3 for the rate of people living with HIV*. Having privilege and access to even a few basic resources in this city may mean the difference between going to college or jail; and most definitely influences how much you are affected by HIV and AIDS.

I only later learned how close to home HIV was to me and my family. Silence, stigma, and isolation surely contributed to this. Growing up, my mother had a very dear friend named Russell. At an early age he was one of a few consistent, nurturing and beautiful men in my life. What I remember most is his deep devotion to my mother and her children, the emotional and likely financial support he offered her, and visits to his house, which was reminiscent of Studio 54 – black and red velvet, mirrors, all gold everything and dim lighting. He would take my brother and I on outings probably to give my mother a much needed break. Recently I found a photo of him at my mother’s baby shower a testament to their long-term friendship.

In my early 20s, my mother and I were having a rare conversation about homophobia amongst black folks. She shared that Russell was gay and that after a long period of time of losing touch with him, she found out that he had passed away. His family did not inform her or likely any of his other friends but only told her that he had “cancer”. She knew that he had died from AIDS and regretted not being able to see him before he died or attend his funeral. As with most grief-laden topics, my mother only mentioned this to me once and we never spoke of it again.

Since then I have worked with many HIV positive people – primarily black folks who are also poor and LGBTQ. I have had dear friends get diagnosed and struggle to navigate accessing healthcare and healing resources while maintaining a sense of dignity. I have worked in social justice movements that rarely mention HIV or AIDS as an issue that impacts people of color and I have engaged in HIV prevention work that is disconnected from national and global movements for racial and gender justice.

This series is my attempt at bridging this gap. To honor and celebrate our black poz ancestors, as well as black people living with HIV who have pushed me to think about these intersections in my own work; to use my privilege and access to support movements for justice that will lead to substantive change and healing for black people most directly impacted by HIV. This series builds on the work of other black people transforming the field of HIV and the movements for gender and racial justice who know that until we bring intersectionality into this work we will never be free.

*Most recent data available: http://www.jhsph.edu/research/affiliated-programs/AIDS-linked-to-the-intravenous-experience/_documents/New_HIV_Rankings_for_Maryland.pdf

Erica is a healer, activist, trainer and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who works in communities most impacted by the prison industrial complex and HIV/AIDS. She is a founding member of Power Inside, a harm reduction organization in Baltimore city that serves women who are survivors of gender-based violence, incarceration and abuse. She has done extensive work with youth, people of color and the LGBTQ community providing direct services and advocacy rooted in social justice and self-determination. She believes that using harm reduction strategies and community organizing will lead to healthy and powerful families and communities. Erica also works with HIV Education and Prevention Project of Alameda County and the Downtown Youth Clinic providing clinical supervision and consultation for a new project focused on expanding sexual health services for young queer men and trans people of color.

Erica is a healer, activist, trainer and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who works in communities most impacted by the prison industrial complex and HIV/AIDS. She is a founding member of Power Inside, a harm reduction organization in Baltimore city that serves women who are survivors of gender-based violence, incarceration and abuse. She has done extensive work with youth, people of color and the LGBTQ community providing direct services and advocacy rooted in social justice and self-determination. She believes that using harm reduction strategies and community organizing will lead to healthy and powerful families and communities. Erica also works with HIV Education and Prevention Project of Alameda County and the Downtown Youth Clinic providing clinical supervision and consultation for a new project focused on expanding sexual health services for young queer men and trans people of color.

Masculinity, My Son, and I

After several minutes of looking through my son’s passport paperwork, the clerk felt it important to mention that I was listed as the “father” on my son’s birth certificate. I quickly pointed out that father/parent was my only option. It was the only box I could check off and there was no distinction between the two options. “I am his parent,” I said firmly.

She knew that his mother was already listed on the birth certificate, so in her mind, I could only be his father. She looked deeply into my eyes with such a lack of caring. I couldn’t look back at her. I found myself catapulted into a sea of emotion that I drowned in that day. There are not enough words to explain that moment in time.

As a parent who is queer, brown, and a masculine of center ladyboi, the complexity is real. My need for validation is necessary, and often at the cost of my truth. I negotiate what is real for others when they see me, at the cost of my spirit. And I answer all the questions, at the cost of my dignity.

This is survival for me. This is survival for so many queer parents that are redefining masculinity, for those queer parents that are propelled by the masculine power and beauty of wearing your baby closest to your heart in the face of ignorance, for those of us who will model what love looks like, feels like, and sounds like to our children in the face of contention.

I dig deep. I dig so deep that I find myself moving through an out of body experience that reminds me to return to my tribe. I return to the masculinity that centers and grounds me and makes me feel proud.

When I look in the mirror, I can understand what I see but I don’t look too long; I fear that the internalized pressure of  the gendered box I live in may cloud what I see, and it does. I begin to imagine the hair on my face disappearing, fueled by my desire to validated as a parent to this beautiful son of mine. By looking away from my reflection, I can return to the masculinity that resonates in my breath as I sing to my son. I return to my lead role in the dance we shared together. I return to the moments where I share my full self with him.

More importantly, I remember that these are the moments that will surround my son for the rest of his life. When I look into his eyes, I see love that grounds me in my truth, my spirit, and my dignity. I see love. I see love that is worth surviving for. Our stories must be shared. They must live beyond me and the mail clerk. They must evolve as we embrace masculine of center identified parents. Our survival depends on it.

Bio: Patty Barahona is a ladyboi who lives in West Oakland. An educator, creative thinker, and passionate trainer who works in the non-profit, youth development field. She is a the proud parent of a 2 year old names Myles.

Bio:
Patty Barahona is a ladyboi who lives in West Oakland. An educator, creative thinker, and passionate trainer who works in the non-profit, youth development field. She is a the proud parent of a 2 year old named Myles.

How I’ve Loved Him

Sometimes our bodies didn’t know what to do with each other
-this is how it started:
my hand reaching for yours;
your entire body flinching
because they saw us.
Torn between loving each other
and thinking that we could die.
Believe me,
my heart also stopped beating
until I felt your fingers
bending inward,
lacing through mine.
Sometimes your fingers feel like oxygen
entering every single one of my cells
all at once.

I said, “I don’t know how to do this
… but we can figure it out.”
The way we figured it out that first time I kissed your knuckles;
our bodies understood something
our minds had never felt permission to give in to.
The way our bodies found each other’s mouths.
I’ve lost count of the times you’ve breathed me in.
I swear, there must be pieces of me lodged inside your lungs.

You loved me
before I even had a language for how to love myself;
lost in my own misplaced accent marks;
my process of learning how to say my own name
without smearing my lipstick,
without losing the taste of you
from the tip of my tongue.
We learned ourselves as we learned each other.
Every time our bodies met
I never knew who would do what
or where
I only knew I would be safe there.

Our bodies had to learn how not to let go
-to keep the warmth of clenched palms
on the sidewalks
where they greeted us with fists.
How we turned a pile of sheets and pillows into a bed
that bed into the nest
that became our home
every place we went together
every sleeping bag
every church floor
every gym
every air mattress.
My home became the nape of your neck
The space behind your kneecap that that I curl myself into
Ribcages pressed so tightly,
I couldn’t tell which heartbeat was mine
Which one yours.

I haven’t always known what I was doing
Sometimes I still don’t
But I find the answer to every question
in that scent when our chests touch
the way your kisses feel against my shoulder blades
the ways we break the silence
at the same time
falling into each other
I could cry, or laugh, or gasp for breath
Instead, I cling to you
Knowing that through the jumble of motions
we’ll find each other;
Relearn the meaning of love
The meaning of being
here
still
alive
still
and absolutely
breathlessly
in love with you,
whether or not
they ever understand it.

Isabel Sousa-Rodriguez is a Doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Isabel conducts qualitative and ethnographic research on the identity struggles of undocumented youth in their transition to adulthood and of the impacts of legal status on mothering strategies. Isabel's research is rooted in their own experience as a formerly undocumented immigrant that fled Colombia seeking, and being denied, political asylum in the U.S. They are gender non-conforming, national recipient of the Freedom From Fear Award and currently serves on the national selection committee for the DREAM.US Undocumented Youth Scholarship Fund.

Isabel Sousa-Rodriguez is a Doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Isabel conducts qualitative and ethnographic research on the identity struggles of undocumented youth in their transition to adulthood and of the impacts of legal status on mothering strategies. Isabel’s research is rooted in their own experience as a formerly undocumented immigrant that fled Colombia seeking, and being denied, political asylum in the U.S. They are gender non-conforming, national recipient of the Freedom From Fear Award and currently serves on the national selection committee for the DREAM.US Undocumented Youth Scholarship Fund.

The Feminine Masculine

by Chavelita from da Block.

The concept of transcending masculinity and femininity is still confusing to me because, I’ll be honest, the binary of thinking and internalizing identities and expressions is still something I grapple with regularly.

But there has been a shift.

These expressions of femininity and masculinity operated in isolation in my head. I had clear distinctions of what was what and what I’d perform to be just that. These beliefs were embedded both on a conscious and subconscious level. Although I felt so radical, my ego boasting in “consciousness” it was all clogged with the same heteronormative bs that I was claiming to be against. The political arguments that I was part of included all these convoluted words that I hadn’t come across before heading to college. I was reciting what I’d learned as oppose to embodying the transformation that I sought.

Months prior to graduating, I met my partner. This transformed and challenged me in so many ways. It shook my foundation, rooted in deeply strict forms of being. I was with a woman. Who was gonna do what? And who was gonna play what role? It’s actually really amusing to think back about how incredibly confusing that was and, at times, can still be. The internalized ideas of performing masculinity and femininity were so deeply attached to the person who “looked” the most masculine. “Naturally,” I assumed she would play this role of mainstream masculinity rooted in her being this strong, desensitized provider of unconditional economic and emotional support. I expected all these things from her. In contrast, I was to embody the femininity that my mother had taught me; to be a lady. This meant that my appearance was to be graceful, that my demeanor gentle, my voice less coarse, be friendlier, a little sweeter, that I’d comb my hair, polish my nails, and shave my legs. In a sense, I’d been performing that version of femininity for a while. It made me happy to feel beautiful in the way my mother has felt beautiful, pretty, girly and feminine but there was more to me. I was blocking myself from being me without really knowing or understand what or why.

I really came to understand more of myself as both a masculine and feminine embodying person through my partner’s involvement with Brown Boi. Through her own deconstruction of masculinity, I began to reflect on my own understandings of my gender and performance. I began to disentangle the complexities of my very existence, understanding that I operated in multiplicity. The very fluidity that I’d rejected, yet simultaneously craved for, was coming into practice and fruition.  I learned what it meant to be honest with myself. Through that journey, I started to uncover my fears, the very ones that had stopped me from being my true self. These fears were really rooted societal expectations of my being. I realized that I also performed and possessed masculine energy and that, ultimately, that was okay.

In some ways I embodied a deeply traumatic form of masculinity that I had learned and inherited from my experiences dealing with power and trauma. I wanted to exude power and be powerful, not for reasons that established connections or positive transformation, but the kind of power that would keep me safe by distancing anything that could hurt me. I can see myself standing there, wearing a body hugging ensemble, hair flowing and larger than ever, lips stained red, embodying a type of feminine appearance, yet my demeanor was an aggressive form of masculinity in which my words were used to release power that left me intact and the other person belittled. In this sense, I presented femininity but emanated masculinity while simultaneously rejecting traditional notions of femininity, sweetness and gentleness, in order to prove that I was a powerful woman. I began to ask myself, “What was I really shielding myself from?” “How did this type of masculinity really protect me?”

As time went on, I began to uncover the shield of masculinity that I was hiding behind. This was all to protect myself from a type of pain and trauma that extends beyond me. As I learned and allowed to be my real and true self, I began to see the shields and superficial performance slowly melt away. I no longer had to operate as one or the other or perform both in their gender role extremities because I could really just be me as oppose to what I thought was expected of me. I relearned how to be both masculine and feminine in a positive way, one that is for the fulfillment of my self as oppose to the protection of self.

At the end of the day, it is difficult to be true to yourself when most places push you to be somebody else. I still have a difficult time just being. I’ve learned to say that it’s okay, that I have nothing to be afraid of. Although we know that there’s much of the world that expects you to be somebody else, there is also beautiful and nourishing communities that encourage and support finding our true selves and remain who we are even when we are in the places that expect us to be otherwise.


Chavelita from da Block is a 27 years-wise, depending on what mood and day, glam-fabulous or chilled out lipstick wearing kinda gal. Thinking about social justice, children, art, food, colors, glitter, make-up, equity, fashion, family, love, hair, music, community, the motherland, and hustling for that $$$ every day.

She’s a TRUE gemini. Double-dose of REALness. But she’s really a cry-baby softy.

 

Shiva, Shakti, BBP and an Ethic of Love

by Niralli D’Costa

In my spiritual tradition, Shiva (the divine masculine) falls at the feet of Shakti (the divine feminine) in full surrender and devotion. He is unconditional awareness and absolute love and She is the dance of creation and destruction that is the continual unfolding of the Universe. One cannot exist without the other.  On a social level, love is expressed as justice. Justice reflects a balance in relationship to various parts of a whole. In the realm of society, the divine masculine principle can be seen as promoting balance through justice while the divine feminine is expressed in the diverse manifestations of individual identity, roles, and expression.

At a time in our culture when both masculine and feminine energies have been distorted to reflect human ignorance and greed, we see the manipulation and commercialization of the feminine in the form of life negating standards of beauty and the exploitation of Earth’s resources, and the abuse of the masculine in power imbalances resulting in inequality and injustice. Under these circumstances it can be easy to feel angry and want to deconstruct the systems that are responsible for so much suffering. As a result many of our social movements excel at critiquing the social structures and norms that cause so much pain and suffering for us all, but seem to have forgotten the essential link between love and justice.

The Brown Boi Project draws this connection between love and justice by building transformative relationships based in mutual reciprocity at the crossroads of the gender justice, racial justice, and lgbtiq social movements.  Relationship based social change is at the core of Brown Boi’s work of generating new models of healthy masculinity. Brown Boi asks people to examine the privilege they hold because of their masculinity in our male dominated society. This kind of reflective work requires the kind of love and awareness that Shiva as a representative of the divine masculine represents.

Brown Boi works with people of color that identify with masculinity across a spectrum of gender identity and sexual orientation including straight cisgender men, queer men, gender non-conforming and trans men, and masculine women. This inclusivity reflects an embrace of the divine feminine manifest in the diverse range of human experience and expression. Brown Boi’s gender justice framework is rooted in the understanding that transforming masculinity lies in coming into right relationship with the feminine both within and out in the world. If you have ever been in a BBP space you have felt the sense of inclusiveness and embrace of the continuum of gender expression and racial identities. Beyond that there is a feeling of safety knowing that your challenges and shortcomings will be met with authenticity and love. BBP invites us to show up with all of who we are, knowing that without full acceptance, transformation is not possible. Just as Shiva does not exist with Shakti, the BBP knows that the work of social transformation does not exist without relationships based in love.

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Niralli D’Costa (MFT #54007) is a Holistic Psychotherapist and founder of the Oakland Holistic Psychotherapy Center. Niralli teaches people to access the wisdom inherent in their bodies and in 2013 launched the experiential workshop series Moving Through the Chakras. To learn more about Niralli’s work visit her website at http://www.nirallitara.com

Photo Credit: Vay Miko Hoang, March 2011 Cohort