July 21, 2020
Sexuality Superheroes: Michelle Hope
Michelle Hope is not your average Sexologist. We met at a coffee shop in Brooklyn by chance a few years ago and I’m so grateful she came over to say hi. She is a trailblazer and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her hosting her own big-brand TV show in the upcoming years.
A passionate edu-tainer, Michelle combines her love of pop-culture, entertainment, and sexuality into opportunities that educate and motivate. Holding a master’s degree in Human Development and extensive post graduate training in sexuality, Michelle applies an awareness of the holistic implications of sexuality on one’s life and presents information on the many different ways it intersects with various social identities: race, class, gender, sexual orientation.
She has also created a unique language to help people identify how sexuality is impacting their day to day interactions. As a veteran speaker with over 10 years of experience, she has delivered lectures across the country, working to help contemporary urban professionals understand those intersections and make connections in their pursuit of success.
“A lot of you who follow me don’t know my whole story, you don’t know the nuances of my trauma, you don’t know my commitment to community, and you don’t know the pain I feel…. well all that is about to change I am tired of the niceties and I’m about ready to pull fucking receipts. Far too often as a collective we have put people on a pedestal who have never ever done #socialjustice work.
We have aloud celebrities to get on television and speak for us although they do not know us. They do not know the pain we live in every day, they are only celebrities because we made them such. I’m tired of turning on the news just to seeing another social media influencer, radio personality or actor speak on behalf of the black community when they’ve never actually worked in our communities.
When will you be tired?”
We asked Michelle what advice she has for young people exploring their sexuality. Check out what she has to say below.
Why do you work in the field of sexuality?
I have always had a curiosity about sex ever since I was young, growing up with a lesbian mom my household did not resemble that of the other kids in the neighbourhood. My mother was not out and it was made clear that we could not speak of her girlfriends in public for safety reasons; Indiana in the 80s was not kind to the LBGTQ community and my mom was always fearful that child protective services would come to get me if anyone found out. Love was love, that is all I was taught there was very little discussion about sex itself. As a teen, I was often assumed to be older than I was and refereed to as sexy; which I never really understood and only made my curiosity grow.
Coming of age in Indiana in the late 80s and early 90s amidst the AIDS epidemic, gay liberation, and the glorified objectification of women’s sexuality through the emerging internet porn sites and publications like Playboy it seemed that conversations about sex swirled around me with very limited context. I can remember discovering Dr. Ruth though radio, then later becoming a huge fan of Love Line with Dr. Drew. I enjoyed the way they both would explain sex to their callers so matter a factly with no judgment, yet I wondered why there wasn’t anyone like that who looked like me (Black) in positions of authority on sex. So from about middle school on, I knew I wanted to become a black Dr. Ruth, to provide perspective from the lens of being a person of colour. Fast-forward through years of awkward, nefarious and sometimes painful self-discovery I ended up in grad school studying Human Development with the same ambitions of helping people of colour more deeply understand sexuality. It became clear in school that people needed practical and applicable information that would improve their relationships and thus would lead to healthier sex lives. Today, I am happy to say that I do believe I am living the dreams of my childhood, helping people to normalize their questions, concerns, and personal kinks around sexuality and relationships. I can honestly say, that I am loving what I am doing and it is worth all the fuck ups I have experienced along the way!
What is your best piece of sex advice?
Throughout my personal journey and professional career in the field of sexual wellness, I have come to conclude there are two major keys that I like to provide as advice. The first is that communication is at the heart of a great sex life! That communication I am speaking is not just how you communicate to other people what you want sexuality but more importantly; how you communicate your sexual desires with yourself. I often remind people that the first relationship starts with self and if that is off all other relationships will be off as well. It is important that we can be honest with ourselves about how we understand sexuality so we can be honest with the people we choose to engage with sexually.
The second piece of advice I would give is that we must accept that sex and our sexuality is like the ocean, there are high tides and low tides. Meaning that in essence our sexual desires, appetite, and understanding will change during different times in our lives. What you might have really gotten off to in your teens and twenties might not be as hot in our thirties and forties and that is totally normal and ok. In addition to that, this ebb and flow of sexuality might change day-to-day and that is totally normal. In fact, anything that two consenting adults agree to explore together is totally normal and that we should not judge ourselves sexually based on what others say or do and we for sure should not judge ourselves based on public opinion as what is good for some is not workable for other. Sexual exploration is a journey, not a race and we should take the time to enjoy it as much as possible as every stage without judging ourselves.
Michelle Hope is a dedicated Sexologist, educator, and activist with a Master’s degree in Human Development and extensive post-graduate training in sexuality. As a veteran speaker, Michelle has over 15 years of experience delivering impactful informative lectures and training across the nation. She believes as though her work, in marginalized urban communities, has provided her with deep insight and comprehension of the holistic implications of sexuality on one’s life.
Michelle has dedicated her career to understanding and communicating to the masses the complex intersections of various social identities: race, class, gender, and sexual orientation, through a Reproductive Justice lens. She has taken deliberate actions in exploring and developing a unique language to speak to communities about all things concerning sex, love, and relationships. Michelle feels as though her experience in working with various urban communities, along with her understanding of holistic sexuality has shaped her perspectives on the direct connections between sexuality and our everyday lives. Her passion and commitment to sex education combined with her interest in pop culture, entertainment, and lifestyle have provided her with a unique style that has the ability to captivate and educate across various populations.