"We work to validate and actively support the experience of ethnic minorities as they navigate their sexual health."
Black Fly Zine is reworking the ways in which sexual health and self-pleasure are discussed for marginalised Black and Brown people. Run by four womxn ranging between their early twenties and thirties, Bui Mushekwa, Veronica Amon, Ella Frost, and Monique Todd came together to spread educational messages of sensual support. Through their zine publications and offline/online workshops, BFZ advocates for better-informed conversations regarding the world of sex.
With their call out for the second publication of Black Fly Zine in full swing, Sassy asked Bui Mushekwa to tell us more about the motivations behind their project, and the discourse they are encouraging.
Hello BFZ. Could you tell us what inspired the creation of your collective community and zine?
Black Fly was primarily known for the publication. However, we have also carved a name for ourselves by formulating radical, original workshops that foster collaboration with forward-thinking individuals and organisations to further support our ethos and agenda. We work to validate and actively support the experience of ethnic minorities as they navigate their sexual health within the context of oppressive historical and colonial structures that often hinder the wellbeing of black and brown people across various identities.
Our bodies are home and, unfortunately, when you’ve lived and experience life in a Black, Brown, Queer, differently-abled, or any kind of ‘othered’ body, navigating sex - desires or health - comes with layers of invisibility.
In a way, BFZ exists to educate, spread knowledge, hold space for black and brown bodies. Our sexual health and wellbeing is a foundational part of being in a body. Our bodies are home and unfortunately when you’ve lived and experience life in a Black, Brown, Queer, differently-abled, any kind of ‘othered’ body, navigating sex - desires or health - comes with layers of invisibility. Whether it's society's margins, or ourselves feeling invisible. BFZ aims to illuminate all that, we aren't invisible. We want to give space to have these conversations within our communities.
As a collective, there appears to be a consistent undertone of educational, intellectual awareness within every topic you approach. What has been the process of developing Black Fly Zine's identity and voice?
Spreading knowledge is what we’re here to do. We’re a newly formed collective, with a different approach for 2.0. So far we’re learning about the yearning for knowledge, and not just information, aligned with gracious vulnerability. We’ve affirmed this is the work we are here to do. We aren’t really about being palatable or nice. We honour our work, we honour and stay true to the message we want to send out. Check out our manifesto!
How do you hope to inspire, teach, and engage people who may be shy to the idea of discussing sex, sexual health, and sexuality?
Some of us in the collective are former shy people who felt they had to hide certain things (a distinct memory of being surrounded by a group of friends discussing how they thought blow jobs were disgusting and needing to hide how much I enjoyed them). In workshops and in our social media interaction we reinforce that this is a no shame space. We remind people that your sexual health, and knowing parts of your body intimately, alone first, and then with others only enhances the human experience. We draw a lot from mediums like visualisation, mind mapping, meditation. Appealing to as many senses as we can, because shyness can be routed a lot in shame; we reject those ideas. We stay open, and we’d never force anyone to talk/interact if they’re not comfortable- so long as they know they can keep coming back to us as a reference as they gain more questions, and feel more comfortable.
We remind people that your sexual health and knowing parts of your body intimately, alone first, and then with others, only enhances the human experience
Many of the BFZ workshops have focused on masturbation and self-pleasure. What is the motivation behind running these workshops?
We want to encourage “normalised” discourse around self-pleasure. We strongly believe that if you ~master~ masturbation, you learn what gets you off, you know what feels good. Sex is so conditioned to be about the other person when really, all of it starts in the mind, with you. It can’t do any harm when practiced safely and approached as a part of wellbeing, it’s a meditation of sort.
You've opened submissions for the 2nd issue of Black Fly Zine. Can you tell us about the zines brief and what you hope to be receiving?
We all know that our bodies are going through a lot. The great mother Earth is going through a tumultuous time and we’re being directed to listen to her. What’s the salve you’re using through this metamorphosis, whats the goo that's lubricating your joints smell like? How deep do the trails of your tears go? What are the gross and brilliant parts of how you’re living through a crisis?
Finally, what do you hope to change and encourage within society through all the work BFZ does?
We want people to know and reference our manifesto.
We want our communities to approach Black Fly as a noun, adjective, and verb.
We’re interested in building solid, healthy roots in our communities first.
We want to show society that we can heal, look after, create, be kind to each other, and our bodies.
There’s space for us all.
Photos and artwork by Black Fly Zine
Keep up to date and respond to the Black Fly Zine call out via IG @blackflyzine