Earlier this month Latonya Maley sat down with WBEZ to discuss some of her visions as Affinity's new leader. The brief conversation was rich covered Affinity's origins in direct action, pleasure-based approaches to Black LGBTQ women health needs, and the integration of Black Queer cultural arts in political and social justice work. Check out highlights from the interview here.
Latonya began the interview discussing how she's been inspired by Affinity's history with protest, community organizing, and using public platforms to take up space and demand structural attention to the needs of the Black lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer issues. Affinity volunteer peer leaders also engage in deep, long-term interpersonal relationship building to create safe spaces and networks of care to address the needs of individuals. Tonya credits this dual approach to advocacy that includes interventions at the public level as well as intimate spaces like peer discussion groups is a huge part of Affinity's longevity as a Black-led LGBTQ organization.
Pleasure-based approaches to addressing the health and safety needs of Black women, and trans/nonbinary people was also discussed. Tonya described pleasure based health care as "centering the things that make us feel good in our bodies and identities" and amplifying things that "protect, motivate, and inspire" health in the mental health and sexual health services offered by Affinity. The Holistic Living Mental Wellness program creates affirming access to mental health care by linking Black LGBTQ+ people with licensed Black LGBTQ+ mental health providers to reduce stigma and racism as barrier to care.