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162. Queering the Narrative of Psychedelics and Pleasure with Bia LaBate

Nicole: Welcome to Modern Anarchy, the podcast exploring sex, relationships, and liberation. I'm your host, Nicole. On today's episode, we have anthropologist, Bia Labate join us for a conversation about queering psychedelic healing and rewriting the narratives. Together we talk about ripping out the gendered ribbons. The intersection of our bodily autonomy, and how queers always throw the best parties. Hello, dear listener, and welcome back to Modern Anarchy. I am so delighted to have all of you pleasure activists from around the world tuning in for another episode each Wednesday.

And today's episode is such a joy to release for you, dear listener. You are going to learn so much from today's guest. I am coming up on the end of my second year of training at Sana Healing Collective. I have been training there in psychedelic integration therapy and being able to see the power of psychedelics for healing.

And it's been such a joy to be in that space. I feel so deeply. I am so deeply grateful and so deeply humbled to be learning about these medicines and these drugs and as I come towards the end of my second year training here, I have learned so much, you know, from when I first started to where I'm at now.

I have learned a lot. That is very true. And in that learning, I have also learned how much I don't know. It has been deeply humbling to gain knowledge in this space and that knowledge also showing me how little I do know about this topic at all, which is why I'm so happy to have guests like Bia from Chacruna.

to be able to come onto the show so that you and I, dear listener, can learn from her wisdom, from the many years that she has spent in psychedelic spaces as an activist, as an anthropologist, and as a part of the movement. And so, dear listener, I want to keep taking you on a journey. We are going to keep growing.

Learning, unlearning, and learning again in this space. And yeah, I just have so much joy in my heart to be here and to be learning alongside with you, dear listener. Alright, if you are ready to liberate your pleasure, you can check out my offerings to work with me and my resources at modernanarchypodcast.

com, linked in the show notes below. And I want to say a big thank you to all of my Patreon supporters. You are supporting the long term sustainability of this podcast, keeping it free and accessible for all people. So thank you. If you want to join the Patreon community, then you can check out the show notes below.

And with that, dear listener, please know that I am sending you all my very queer love out to you. And let's tune in to today's episode. Well then, the first question I like to ask each guest is, how would you introduce yourself to the listeners?

Bia: Hi, everybody. It's nice to be here. My name is Bia Labate and I'm a Brazilian anthropologist.

I am queer and I'm a recent immigrant to the U. S. I run the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines. It's a nonprofit based in Northern California and we have strong ties to Brazil and Mexico and I'm happy to be here.

Nicole: Yeah, I'm happy to have you here. Thank you. Yeah. Could you tell us a little bit more about, yeah, your work and what you do so that the listeners can understand a little bit of your background?

Bia: Okay. Um, I have been mainly an academic my entire life and in the last years I went kind of para academic with Chacruna. Traditionally, I have, uh, mainly been an, a researcher, a professor, a writer, a speaker. So I have focused on studying Plant medicines, shamanism, indigenous people, ritual, religion, drug policy, social justice.

And I was working in different universities in Brazil. I also lived in Germany and in Mexico and now in the United States. And since I moved to the US, I created this organization co founded with my partner, the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines. Our organization has, uh, three main programs, one that we call Indigenous Reciprocity, and so we have a branch called the Indigenous Reciprocity Initiative of the Americas, that we support currently 17 organizations with small grants.

And we're trying to advance this, uh, understanding, uh, that we should give back to Indigenous people in the psychedelic movement. So that's one of the branches of our work. The other branch is what we call psychedelic justice. And that is mainly trying to insert. Gender and race and critical, uh, concepts into the field of psychedelics or psychedelic science.

So we have created a lot of initiatives around elevating the voices of Indigenous people, Black folks, people of color in general. And women, queer people, people from the global south, disabled folks, and, uh, that's, that's what we call psychedelic justice. And we have published a book with this name, another book called Queering Psychedelics from Oppression to Liberation.

And we have been curating critical conversations as psychedelics go mainstream and trying to bring this critical thinking to the field. The third program we called Protection of Sacred Plants and Cultural Traditions. In that branch, we also have two committees, the Ayahuasca Community Committee and the Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants.

Uh, and we have done multiple actions as well in this. branch. So we have created, the Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants has created some guidelines on how to protect religious churches and what we call legal harm reduction. So we have this guide to religious churches. To the religious freedom restoration act and best practices.

We have supported the church of the eagle on the counter with some putting together their legal team and filing for your requests to different government entities. We have just filed an amicus curry in support of a, of a church. Tax and religious rights. And we have published a lot of articles on policy and created a conference psychedelic liberty summit.

We have different publications and articles and conversations about sacred plants, the dimension of conservation. We also have included, uh, supported people that are facing troubles with law enforcement and have helped them Protect themselves and created a series on the conservation of the plant species and things like that.

So everything from academic research to multimedia materials and, uh, documentations of arrests, ethical issues, public safety, health concerns. We're, we're a big network of, uh, researchers, lawyers, activists, academics, and the ayahuasca community committee has also done What we call some kind of harm reduction for the globalization of ayahuasca and, uh, we have created this guidelines to raise awareness around the problems of sexual abuse in the ayahuasca community.

And we also have created another resource around the commodification of ayahuasca. We published a book recently on religious freedom and the global regulation of ayahuasca. So, all together, All of our activities, the main common thread is education.

Nicole: Yeah, such powerful work. Thank you for all that you do in terms of, you know, being a part of that movement and all these important areas that need to be explored, right?

And I think in terms of focusing today's conversation, given how expansive your work is, right? I know I had first seen you with the double blind. So, sex and intimacy summit on psychedelics. And so I'd love to dive into that area in terms of, you know, you had talked about queering psychedelics. What does that mean for you?

Bia: Yeah. That this is probably the branch of this work that is more personal to me, uh, as I have been a queer person on the closet and I was dating my partner for many years and had some, you know, secrecy and shame, I guess. relate to it. And we were kind of dating seven years without what people call here in the U.

S. being on the closet and finally decided to come out of that closet. I like to make this joke that it wasn't psychedelics that healed me. It was California that healed me. Because as you move here, you know, there's a strong activism. And people are not so patient for this. And there's, you know, the movement is very advanced here.

And so we decided to make a conference to celebrate coming out and bringing, uh, awareness around this. And also just my personal story is not, is not only mine is the story of so many people, right. And especially in Latin America is very, you know, Catholic and, and conservative and patriarchal. Not that it's not here, but you know, I think that fortunately the US has, uh, spaces that are more safe.

And so we created this conference that was in 2019 in the Brava Theater in the Mission, and it was really magical and powerful and we were very excited about it. And uh, just this year we did the second edition. Which was four years later, so 2023 in between, we created this book called queen psychedelics from oppression to liberation, uh, with a colleague of ours, Alex Belser and, um.

This book, this book is kind of trying to make a map of the entire field of all of the discussions that happen inside, uh, this topic. So I think we have helped Chacruna to really advance all, all, all topics related to this. Again, nobody really invents anything, but I do think we have a sort of pioneer role.

It's a fact that after our conference, multiple queer circles exploded throughout the country. I mean, queer circles talking about the intersection of queer issues and psychedelics. This is a kind of obvious. Intersection, isn't it? If you think about it. However, it was not it was not done. It was not out there.

It was not in the table. And it's kind of when you put something like this out, you're kind of a magnet to things that exist that are, you know, latent that are, you know, To emerge, so you help, you help catalyze and bring this to the forefront. And the conference trying to, you know, we started the first conference trying to really map some of the basic things that exist in this field.

So what are the specific needs of queer people for their work with medicine? Also, what are the specific gifts that queer people bring? to the psychedelic movement? And how can psychedelics help queer people that have high levels of all kinds of disorders and shame and internalized homophobia? Also, what are the historical intersections between the queer movement and the psychedelic movement?

Something that has not been looked at in detail and what are You know, what can we learn with Native traditions and their concepts, uh, about two spirits and other forms of gender and sexuality? What does that have to teach us? How can we bring people from the Global South and all this patriarchal, uh, Religions and, and traditions related to plant medicine, especially ayahuasca.

There, there needs to be a lot of conversations. There were a lot of really problematic patriarchal tendencies in this field. Also, how do you elevate and celebrate the intersection between pleasure Sex and psychedelics. That is also something that, you know, is common to a lot of people. Can we look into the African diaspora and religiosity and, uh, what are other forms of expression and ways of interacting that we can, uh, learn, you know, traditionally, and then more like what are harm reduction things needed in psychedelic festivals, specific to, uh, the queer population.

. And, you know, how can we face our own skeletons in the closet? As our colleagues like to call it, which was the early theories around conversion therapy that people were giving psychedelics to try to, to convert people, homosexuals to heterosexuals. And can we, we talk about this past and can we, uh, have some kind of accountability.

And how can we create LGBTQ plus affirmative psychedelic assisted therapies? What are some of the, uh, basic things that, that we need to bring? Is there something that one could call a transpersonal queer spirituality or, or sex positivity? Talking about things like the intersections with the kink movement, with polyamory, and then the whole, of course, sets of discussions related to transgender issues in psychedelic medicines, or also BIPOC, queer specificities within this movement.

I already mentioned, yeah, indigenous wisdom, traditions, and all of this pleasure. And, uh, you know, there's so much need to, like, train therapists to, to have some kind of sensitivity. You know, are they asking the pronouns and are they making people feel comfortable about it? Or research clinical trials? Are they collecting any data regarding the needs of this population?

Is there some kind of training to be able to, um, uh, be better, you know, have more cultural awareness around this, uh, needs of this population? And so forth.

Nicole: Yeah. I appreciate you sharing about your own, you know, personal lived experience with these things and, you know, the difficulty of coming out of the closet and the ways in which, you know, you referred to the healing nature of community, right?

When you have other people who can celebrate that identity and, and come together in that so powerful. And I would love to hear if you feel comfortable a little bit more about your own journey with these things in terms of, you know, we talked about. Pleasure and sex and psychedelics. I'd be curious if you're comfortable, right exploring how that's been a journey for you personally.

Bia: I come from a background that it's common, I think, both in Brazil and Mexico. So I'm Brazilian. I lived there until I was like 39 or something. And then I lived and worked eight years in Mexico. And so our countries are, you know, very, Like, have very specific gender roles and you're supposed to dress a certain way and behave a certain way if you're a woman.

And it's deeply internalized and I never really felt very, uh, adapted to this parameters and it was a kind of, you know, ripping off the ribbons out of my, at my head. And I like to, you know, I like to hang out with the boys and, and play soccer and this kind of thing. As an adult, I really never felt, uh, you know, super comfortable in heteronormativity.

I think, uh, many of us, it's not just about sexual preferences, it's about, like, gender roles, and so I think a lot of people feel that, and it's just something that is, is, you know, very ingrained, and then there's expectations about, uh, you know, creating a family and certain standards, I think it's, it's a lot of people grow with that, and, you know, your identity as a woman that you have to To be married to a man and have a child and that kind of thing.

And it's just oppressive because there's multiple ways of being in the world. And, uh, you know, there's multiple expressions of your soul. And also we change through time and everything is ever evolving. So in this regard, I, I feel that, um, you know, the, the queer movement in, in California specifically, has helped a lot to free us from that.

But it's, it's an ongoing work and people that are involved in this discussion know that the process of coming out is permanent and has a lot of, um, phases. And so it's something that is ongoing that you always have to work on yourself because, you know, there's systemic legacies of oppression and patriarchy and heteronormativity are Really oppressive rules of our world. It's the one thing that really has been across different continents and different traditions, some kind of stable force, men dominating women. And so we are about empowering ourselves as women. We're about celebrating our identity. as a queer couple and we are also allies to a lot of men because there's a lot of wonderful men and ultimately a lot of them also suffer from the pressures of heteronormativity which, you know, create this model of men that they also have to comply with and not all men are aligned with it and as feminism advances they a lot of them are having deep crisis because they You know, still feel that they need to be the provider and the, the giver and the, the strong one, the, the one in charge, but at the same time, they need to be fit and they need to, to have a good body and they need to take care of their health and they need to be mindful.

And, you know, they need to make millions of dollars and change the diapers as well. A lot of pressure on men as well as, you know, there is a critique of this model, but not a total like success of a new model, let's say. And so everything is, uh, subject of, of discussion. And we are trying to, to talk about how can psychedelics help us face these conversations and, and find more, uh, common ground and, and compassion and, and love, you know, be more kind to ourselves, more kind to others and more free.

More ultimately, uh, you know, liberated.

Nicole: Yeah, definitely. Definitely. We all suffer under the systems, right. In different capacities, depending on those intersecting identities. But you know, men are suffering too. Right. And I think that's an important part of the narrative to explore. And yeah, like you were saying earlier in your own.

You know, childhood when you're pulling out those ribbons, you know, it's ultimately such a paradigm shift, right? You, you were told, you know, and myself included, but in different cultures and lineages, right? Of the, you're a woman, this is what you do. You're wearing a man, you have kids, you do this. And so depending on when you started to deconstruct that, you know, you see your life out through that vision and to start to.

You know, deconstruct that and see something else is such a wild paradigm shift for most people, and it can create a lot of existential crises, right? As you start to realize, Oh, if it's not this very clear laden path, then what am I going to create? Right? And it creates all this space. To decide your future, which can bring its own existential crises.

Bia: But it's also wonderful. I feel very, you know, I feel in the peak of my life. I am feeling that I'm really in my mature years now. Going towards, you know, my elder phase. I have been doing work in this field since early nineties. And, I think it's beautiful to see, you know, on the one side there is a lot of opportunism and a lot of fake experts and a lot of people trying to ride this wave of psychedelics, but on the other there's so much good work out there and there's a lot of people committed to social justice and to rewriting these narratives of the field of psychedelic science.

Narratives that are also have a legacy in patriarchy and have also emphasized, uh, certain parts of the story and in detriment to others. So there is a current mainstream biomedical reductionistic, uh, narrative that is kind of spread around, but there's a lot of people trying to tell other stories. Kinds of stories.

So, you know, we all know about our own roots in the psychedelic history and how we have our own, let's say, sources of wisdom, but it frequently goes to our own traditions or to white men doing research on laboratories and how we have our own stories. And trying to advance the science, but there's always been other voices and other stories that are not so apparent.

So the Chacruna Institute is trying to elevate those other stories, help rewrite the narratives that this field tell itself. So one good example, uh, that also is, you know, something that we published about, we have a book in Spanish called Women in Psychedelics. We also did this other conference, women and psychedelics.

And so there's a lot of work there. So everybody talks about Hoffman and his first, you know, LSD experience, but there's another woman that was there. What is her experience? What did she have to say? And then there's all these other, you know, researchers that were doing, you know, all kinds of investigations from the 50s to the 70s, and we see them, but often these researchers were followed by their wives, their partners, who helped interview the, the candidates, who helped clean the place, who helped, uh, Give support and care and sometimes who help the husbands as well, because guess what?

They were also scared and they also had issues and it's, uh, you know, they also helped create the, the design of the research and, and discuss through the results, but then their names don't appear in the final publications because they were the wives. And so they are like not, There, and so there's also a lot of women that were doing their own things, and this didn't get a lot of visibility, and it's our stories that are much, much less known.

So we are trying to elevate, uh, those stories, and so we're trying to, um, expand this knowledge. Again, a lot of. Black folks or queer folks or women were helping these other people have their experiences or heroic doses and were taking care of people and they don't have their, uh, voices recognized so much.

We were trying to, to help, uh, give visibility to all of that.

Nicole: So, so important and I guess it's not shocking, right? That these stories and these narratives are left out of the history of all this. And so, you know, it's so essential to be doing that work that y'all are doing to bring these stories out into the light and hold space for them to to bring the history back.


Bia: Yeah, because the history is also a narrative. It's, it's how you tell. It's even if you, if you, if you do a trip and you can tell this trip in different ways to a different person, what is it that you're going to pick and elevate? And what are the forces that help you pick and elevate and create certain narratives and give priority to certain aspects of the story in detriment to others.

And so there is a kind of hierarchy in things of what we consider more important or more legitimate. It's also the same thing with the idea of like healing So healing is more important than everything else. And the science and the medicine around healing is what really matters. But we know that healing is a much more holistic affair that involves a certain, you know, a series of things.

All other disciplines are important as well, and not just biomedicine. And so we are very much a group of social scientists, including anthropologists, historians, sociologists, political scientists, cultural studies that are trying to bring our flavor to this field.

Nicole: And it's needed. So thank you for the work that you're doing.

Bia: Cool. Thank you. Yeah.

Nicole: Again, one of those parts that is lacking, or at least from my understanding, uh, is Sexuality and pleasure, right? Like, where is the discussion on that in psychedelics?

Bia: I think one thing that we can Like start just by acknowledging is that in this mainstream narratives of healing, the idea of pleasure, aesthetics, or fun or joy is really excluded.

Mm-Hmm. as, as if this was not part of the healing, as if this was some sort of like weird side effect or something. And I think it's about putting back the pleasure at the forefront as a legitimate. Uh, you know, central part potentially of people's experiences. So just acknowledging that pleasure is important and pleasure matters, uh, is something that I think it's a gift that the queer community can bring to this movement.

And so, uh, can we talk about, about this aspect of the psychedelic experience and why is this so important for queer people? Also, we know that one way of Bounding in the queer community has to do with having pleasure and feeling the body and embracing the body and not also the separation between mind, body and soul.

And that the body is also central because we have also this emphasis on the visionary, the mental, the visual, uh, the kind of flashy, you know, think that, you know, uh, paradoxically some seems to give more importance to. So certain kinds of aspects that involve the, the sense of the vision that is one of the most elevated senses that has more attention among us.

And sometimes we neglect the body of understanding that this is a holistic experience that involves also your body. And you need to be able to feel that body and to come back to it, and to love it, and to feel joy, and to celebrate. And that also includes celebrating a non heteronormative side of yours, which is maybe your body has fat, maybe you have cellulite, maybe your ass is too big, maybe your boobs are too big, or maybe they are too small.

And And does that matter? Really? And can you love yourself for what you are? And can you love others for what they are? And again, everybody can be pretty revolutionary and think they're on top of it, but this things go deep, deep in our past, deep in our traumas, deep in our senses of identity, of self esteem, of self love, of self appreciation.

This goes All hand in hand with trauma and how we have our, you know, own internalized problems involving relationship and sexuality. And so psychedelics can help us expand like we have a different understanding of what is the self. And what is time, what is space, what is the future, what is the past, what is mind, what is body, what is soul, what is you, what is the other one.

Just as much as you can have this expansiveness around your gender and psychedelics is this expansiveness around, uh, your sense of self. So, you know, we started actually before we did Queer Psychedelics, we had this one, uh, panel, which was a panel on queer issues in our first conference in 2018 that was called cultural and political perspectives on psychedelic science.

And that conference we had, uh, we brought, uh, a speaker, Beth Williams, that later on published her own book and she wrote a pretty cool article. It was called psychedelics are queer just saying, and she was exploring. the commonalities between the psychedelic movement and the queer movement and this idea that you are always on the margin, you're always on the side, but hey, those are the folks that throw the best parties.

You know, nothing like a very queer party that to have a lot of fun and, you know, all my respect to the straight folks and queer people are famous to be able to create really nice parties and, and dance and have fun and enjoy and celebrate. It's about talking and also the power of community because queer people have been so oppressed so stigmatized it's such a moral stigma, stigma and dogma with religious foundations which is kind of about as bad as it gets, you know, in terms of making you feel bad and having guilt and shame.

And so community has been really important for the queer movement and a lot of people have literally been thrown away from home for being queer, uh, and have chosen families as their means of support and other families, you know, that have, it's not the mother, the father, the two dogs and the, the two kids eating, you know, a nice breakfast together, but it's other forms of family, other mixes.

And so this idea of community is really important. And that is also related to socialization, parties, celebration. And so all of that comes into the mix. And all of that has to do with queer healing. To conclude, you know, the power of erotic forces. It's really big one and it can be a big way to explore yourself, to explore relationships, to explore your ties to a certain community and for healing and for, um, having, you know, other notions of how it is to be happy and alive.

All of this, there's much to be said, you know, I'm still learning myself a lot. There's a lot of people talking about other things. Um, for example, the kink movement and polyamorous movements. There's other related discussions because it's very interesting that there's a lot of parallels, which is this idea that you have to have sovereignty over your body.

And it's not really up for the state to be the mediator of that relationship. And this crosses a lot of discussions regarding drug use, abortion, psychedelics. Yeah, you know, certain practices that involve adults that have consents, and they should be able to engage in these practices, uh, and practice their sexuality and gender expression.

And I want to say that, uh, you know, this intersection, There's a lot of commonalities because our populations that have been marginalized, that have been stigmatized, a lot of this comes from moral, religious dogmas, and a lot of, uh, this common repression to queer people or people that use drugs have this common source, moral and religious dogma.

And then the way that these movements have tried to resist, a commonality has to do with this idea. that you should have autonomy. It's not up to the states to control your ability to program yourself, uh, chemically and to do the kind of, of sex that you enjoy. We are still running behind in the psychedelic movement and communities like polyamorous and kink can teach the psychedelic about, uh, concepts such as consent and relationship.

And so forth.

Nicole: Yeah. As a queer kinky, non monogamous person myself, right? This is the area that I dance in. This is my community. This, yeah, this is my community of people who are navigating these intersections of what it means to, uh, live in a society where it is so controlling, where it is always trying to, um, say there is one way to do love and connection and we're writing new narratives and a lot of, um, what I do here started from my work where I was volunteering as a sexual assault counselor and decided that I wanted to go into clinical psychology to do that sort of healing work only to get to the field and realize there was no sort of education on sexuality at all. And so I realized that that, you know, the healing narrative of sexual trauma was really on that first, only like you, you said, right, only cognitive, what's your trauma narrative, that sort of piece, but never going into that, you know, extension into pleasure and never even tying in that connection to the body. And so it became such a focus for me in terms of my own clinical work of, wow, this is a huge area.

That's. And at the same time, you know, I have my own identities in the space of navigating these various things. And the more I go into these spaces, I've had a lot of different conversations with guests where you just start to see how deeply they cross over, right. Even when I'm working with clients who are opening up their relationship, right.

I've worked with clients and, you know, preparing for that first threesome that they're going to have. I use a lot of the same tools. skills that you would prepare for that first psychedelic experience, right? What's your intention? What's the expectation? All these sorts of things. What's the integration afterwards, right?

There's so many ways that I can see these movements, you know, supporting one another in terms of how we move through paradigm shifts, right? Whether it's on the medicine and you have the walls start to crumble, or you're quite literally. Engaging in sex with multiple people and your paradigms of what purity and love are, you know, shifting.

And there's just so many ways they cross for me.

Bia: Yeah. Thank you for sharing your experience. The need of preparation, need of a safe space, the need of a common understanding on notions of consent, the need of taking care, not of only how you go into it, but What follows afterwards and everything to, to integrate that experience.

I, I had myself a chance. Um, I was, uh, on a kink, uh, SM series of days and I was very fascinated. I'm personally not a kink or into SM, uh, but I was really interested in seeing, you know, The need for, to have certain rituals, certain techniques and, and the commonality is again, that you create some sort of ritual that needs to, to have a beginning and an end and has a kind of climax that, you know, it's bringing people together to do some big adventure in a healthy way in a safe way.

And, you know, And the amounts of community and care that existed, it was really impressive and it was very powerful. And also just the diversity of people. Can we sell them, you know, different people and different ways of being in the world. So people that have disabilities, people that are, you know, not the standard gold looking one that is going to be on the cover of that teenager handbook, you know, that are just, um, The sacredness of diversity.

Yeah. And of, there's space for all kinds of people. And I also want to, to talk about the fact that you don't need to be, you know, into kink or into polyamory or being gay or being this or that. To have a kind of sex positivity and a kind Yeah. Uh, acceptance of this. So it, you don't need to go have sex with somebody of the same sex to feel that.

Uh, you are inclusive of this and also the importance of allies and being an ally and what does that mean and we suffered a lot that when we were creating that our conferences and we had so much hate in social media saying oh you guys are into the cult of you know lgbt and you think you're special and you think you're different you think you're superior and you're just a bunch of uh, you know, very Arrogant people, or you're bringing Marxism or, you know, all kinds of things.

You're, you're, you're bringing this has nothing to do with psychedelics. Of course that, um, the people that are involved in this, the minorities, they always understand the importance of having space for minorities. And they always understand the importance of this communities. There's a level of, uh, tension that it gets to be exhausting, but it's part of moving this paradigms, as you say, in any case, we are not trying to speak for this small group of people. We are trying to speak for a group, not, not so small, by the way, if you consider the new surveys, I think among young people in the United States today, one out of five identifies as some kind of diverse, gender diverse, or have sexual preferences that are not just heterosexual. But anyway, we're not just speaking for a certain population, we're speaking for everybody, because it does take everybody to make a change. And also, I think, as I said, straight folks, they can learn a lot from these populations, and they can stand in solidarity. And also people, Uh, that are not into kink or polyamorous, they can learn about how to have more healthy sex lives and more healthy relationships based on abundance, on community, acceptance of diversity, on understanding that there's space for different ways of being.

And again, all of this takes a lot of time, but I do feel hopeful that there is progress and I, I want to come back to myself here. I have built a lot of progress in me, and I still wanted to progress more, and I'm still hoping to learn more, and I see this as a path that we're always walking in, that we're always trying to evolve, and that we're always trying to, to become better.

Nicole: Absolutely. And it takes all of us, right? Like you said, it's all of us to hold that space. Again, like you said, the diversity of the human experience, the diversity of pleasure, the diversity of connection, and being able to honor that for everyone's own path is so important in this movement. And I'm sorry that you've had to be at the center of that, like, whiplash between, like, how you navigate those spaces.

And I think that's been really Frequently something that happens within these spaces, right, is we're trying to move and then someone feels left out and then we have to navigate that and, and grow together, learn, unlearn, grow, you know, and, and go through that. Yeah. Yeah. Yes. So, yeah. So thank you for, you know, being a part of that movement and for, for leading that and, and calling people into deeper community and deeper support for, yeah, again, the diversity of the human experience and pleasure.

Bia: Yeah. Thank you for your work too. I'm curious to learn about the series. I want to also say that we have published a resource, which is a call for action for people, you know, are some of the things that we feel that that need to happen in this field. So there's a lot of things that still need to happen.

You know, some kind of accountability in this field, you know, the, the psychedelic movement has to grapple with, and I'm going to just read the titles of this. Calls for action. One confronts structural hetero cis and trans transphobia at every level to retire the male female diet and replace with gender neutral diets.

Three acknowledge that sexual minority stress causes this disproportionate harm. to LGBTQ people. Four, research the question of differential responses between LGBTQ individuals and a heteronormative population. Five, create new affirmative therapies by, with, and for LGBT people. Six, do psychedelics lead to any change in sexual orientation?

Do we make straight people less homophobic? Does psychedelic experience increase self acceptance? Pursue sex and sexuality research. Seven, eight, ally and get intersectional. Nine, access queer wisdom. 10. Queer the mystical experience. This is also very interesting because a lot of the research obviously is created by white researchers and straight biomedical references.

And then the questionnaires that they create to access the experience often leave all these other aspects of the body out. So, uh, these aspects of pleasure as we were saying, and senses and things that are often excluded from accessing or qualifying your mystical experience. And so it's important to queer this science to create other sources of evaluation and knowledge of the science.

And then this topic of creating, uh, you know, empowering a whole new generation of LGBTQ people as therapists, to be able to be better potential healers for this community. And so there's a whole set of work that needs to be done, both in training regular therapists and in creating a generation of new queer therapists, or empowering the queer therapists that exist to be more familiar with LGBTQ uh, with this whole discussions and provide therapy. So there's a lot that needs to be done in the world of research as well. That is something that I didn't talk very much here that I feel is a whole other sets of, of worries. There has been a lot of discussion in this male female dyad. So, uh, originally, you know, you didn't have a male and female, and it could be random.

It could be different kinds of combinations. The male female diet was created as a sort of attempt to be more progressive in response to also potential sexual abuse. So you would always have a man and a woman present. But I think there was a lot of good Will and intention in this, but, you know, with more conversations, there's a feeling that this is really also stereotyping gender roles and you have this famous mommy and daddy, and, and, you know, this is the, the way to go.

And that as if people can project that into a male or female therapist, and it's much more complicated than that really critiqued that, and I think still. You know, there's a lot of studies that need to be done on, on how LGBT people still have real high rates of depression, anxiety, panic disorders, and, uh, all kinds of problems.

And there's still, you know, the field is, is not something like you have, I think, more awareness towards. Race elements than gender and, and sexual things when collecting data and advancing the research. It's something that still has been very little done. And again, creating not only researchers, but also heroes, you know, uh, people that we can look upon, help elevate this voices that are queer idols that, you know, maybe a queer kids somewhere in a very conservative state in the middle of the country can look upon and feel hope and feel that there is a space for him and feel that there is a, you know, a chance to follow this and be somebody and be legitimate and not be always running behind or left out. And again, how can psychedelics help us heal that? And I would just want to quote my own wife, uh, that Clancy and I met because she was doing a study about, um, how could ayahuasca help gay people, and whether, you know, they would have better perceptions of themselves. or not and whether that would bring some healing. So she reproached me because I had a newsletter and I was an ayahuasca researcher. That's the base of, you know, my main research so far has been on ayahuasca. This is like, I don't know, 14 years ago or something.

And I put out an announcement in our newsletter trying to recruit subjects and she interviewed different people and she got all kinds of cool stories. You know, people have encounters with angels that told them that they were beautiful and that told them that they were, you know, wonderful and that they were perfect.

There was nothing wrong with them. And still, you know, At the same time, you have a cultural context that can be quite oppressive, quite patriarchal, like the ayahuasca settings, where you, uh, you know, have some of the branches that are proactively trying to convert people to be heterosexual, and say that, you know, the only family that exists, the only legitimate family that exists is a man and a woman, and even the union of the vegetal, the UDV.

has a statement that they read that they are against homosexual relationships because they are concerned with the future of humanity and whether we're going to survive as a species, which is really a real problem, right? We're seven billion and we're just almost disappearing. Uh, and is it, you know, queer folks couldn't have children and, uh, it's just really backwards.

And we have another, you know, sociologist that published an article. There's a lot of discussion in the ayahuasca community. Oh, that's cultural, you know, as if this is a kind of excuse. To say it's okay. And so this, this sociologist that I interviewed, uh, trans man, Pietro, has also played with this like, what is sacred about, you know, is it sacred to ayahuasca to try to, Repress, uh, gender diverse people is, is this a sacred teaching of ayahuasca?

Like to blame on culture is not enough at this point, uh, and we have to be more critical. And we also bought a real big fight with Jacques Mabie from Takiwazi, which is a really cool center that promotes healing with ayahuasca in Peru and has been an entrance door for many of us, including myself, you know, in 1997, did my first trip to Peru.

Went to Takiwazi and Takiwazi is a nice combination of like indigenous shamanism and western psychotherapy, but it took a really weird turn and they they brought in a priest and Jacques Mabie went real rogue on on his views about things and, you know, published some problematic articles equating, uh, Queer people to, to insist and to pathology, to like intergenerational trauma, like medicalizing and pathologizing going really backwards towards what the D, the DSM itself had really said.

And we took a real issue with that. And we started a big campaign. You know, we also started a lot of campaigns around this. The issue of sexual abuse and the coverup that exists in the ayahuasca world is real strong still. And we still have a lot of sexual abuse happening and the rhetoric is quite scary.

Like, you know, it's a weird combination of victim blaming and, and, and religious stuff, for example, saying, you know, dark spiritual forces invaded her and she was hitting on the shaman. And then that's why he, you know, couldn't fall. The temptation, but now let's do a collective work to clean this dark forces that are trying to attack our community and put us down.

So like the guy can't control his own penis and you know, the person is blamed and the whole community has to clean up that mess. And then there is a whole Attempt of saying, you know, the levels of like spiritual bypassing and of lack of accountability in the ayahuasca movement can be really overwhelming.

And just, you know, the rhetoric of, Oh, you know, he's just a human. Everybody makes mistakes or, Oh, I'm for forgiveness and we should forgive. And, Oh, he shouldn't be judged because he's just a man. He's not a God. Oh, you know, the woman really, uh, uh, seduce him and, you know, he fall like almost if you have to console the abuser, uh, it's so problematic.

And so there's still a lot of work that needs to be done Yeah. In all of these areas. And raise awareness. Again. I had a lot of hate. I had also one guy making. a whole video against me because we were raising the issue of sexual abuse. And so a lot of people also want to protect the movement, especially as it is underground and there is a lot of gray area.

On these issues, because people say, well, you know, you're going to expose that and it's going to take all the potential of ayahuasca and all the healing of ayahuasca and all the benefits of ayahuasca and all the goodness that ayahuasca can bring. Uh, we're going to alienate people from that because you're talking about this.

It's going to shed light on really bad stuff. And then we, our answer for that is not, no, it's not. In fact, we are much stronger as a movement. If we are able to talk about that, if we're able to address it, if we're able to confront it and self regulation is the only good way to go, because if we don't control ourselves, if we don't regulate ourselves, we're going to have top down regulations that are probably going to be much more expensive, much more bureaucratic and much more pointless and much more or less effective. And so the, the way for us to go is to educate ourselves as community. And again, I don't want to say that Chacruna invent everything can do everything, but I do want to take some pride that I, I think that we have incredibly helped change the landscape because back in the day, when I, I gave my first lecture about the topic of sexual abuse, I think it was, uh, in the woman's visionary Congress, a very cool organization here in the Bay Area.

If I'm not wrong, perhaps in 2012, and it was super beautiful and I got like a standing ovation. And after I finished that lecture, all these women came to me and said, Oh my God, that happened to me as well. I was talking about a shaman that I used to work with. That was a big heartbreak for me, uh, that we found out he was having all these relationships.

And I confronted him and his relation, his relationships with the patients in the context of that healing container. And I confronted him and his response was really bad. And we had a whole period of a lot of people protecting him, which was extra bad. It was the harm all over again and multiplied. After I gave that lecture, you know, a few women came up to the point that the local organizers decided to do a, uh, like collective container thing to talk about it because there were so many stories.

Wow. So that was like, you know, 10 years ago. And more recently I saw this woman. I'm not sure if she was from the Czech Republic or where. She, she went to a, to an ayahuasca retreat and the stories are horrible, the amounts of abuse that people do in context of vulnerability. And of course they have an extra good sense to get the people that are vulnerable and that have also sometimes coming from context of sexual violence and trauma.

And so this woman, you know, put out a video. And the amount of support that she got was overwhelming, and the center was shut down, and the guy had to give all kinds of explanations. And also when I was critiqued, you know, when Chacruna was critiqued for bringing up to the forefront these topics of sexual abuse, and these things are spread in Facebook groups and, you know, over the social media.

And some people come with this more reactionary discourse that want to cover up The abuse and we got a lot of support and it's also something that people are aware these days. You know, sometimes you do something and you, you help advance a cause and you get a lot of backlash, but I want to tell you don't get down because that's normal.

And that's part of the work. And with time, things do change. And I don't think we should be skeptical. It's not good for us if we're skeptical, then we are, you know, creating our own path of unhappiness and of failure. And the world is really problematic. And these are really hard times to be alive. And we all have a lot of challenges, but we can all make a difference in small ways in or in big ways.

It all depends on how much energy and, you know, how much you can put into these things. So I really want to invite everybody to, to join Chacruna's membership if you want to support our work. And we need a lot of help. We also need donations. If you are in a place you are able to donate, you can donate through our website. And we need volunteers, and, and we need all people. We need all kinds of people, and there's a lot of room for growth. This movement is in a Central moment that we can really decide which roads we're going to take. Are we going to go super commodified, super mainstreamed and super biomedical reductionists? Are we going to be repeating the same mistakes of the past and, you know, shutting all diversity down? Or are we going to celebrate, elevate, honor, protect, uh, and, uh, Strengthen minorities and their stories and their narratives and their needs. We have different paths we can follow as a movement. This is an ecosystem and there is needs for education, uh, for conversations around indigenous reciprocity, around psychedelic justice, around plant medicine, around shamanism, indigenous knowledge, and there's much work to be done.

Nicole: And thank you for all of the work that you do. Truly, thank you, right? Sometimes just in my own lived experience, like going through. queerness and coming out to my Mormon family. I felt all of that and the judgment and the society, sure. But the more I get into, like, I've, I've built such a queer, kinky, polyamorous community in Chicago that sometimes I even forget because my world is so all in this space of liberation pleasure that, like, I forget we're still having, like you said, people that are, you know, saying this is the one way to do relationships and it is a man and a woman and.

And to be combating those spaces is such important work. And to be creating more space and to discuss the realities of sexual assault that, uh, that occur in these spaces is also so important. And I think the same thing is needed in kink spaces, right? It's, it's a beautiful space, a great play space, but it's also a space that has sexual assault.

Being able to talk about. Both is so important and, and all the stories that you were able to, you know, create space for. I mean, like you said, it's a part of the movement that we all need to collectively join.

Bia: Thank you, Nicole. Thanks so much. I'm going to look for your other episodes and I think, in fact, you'll know much more than me.

But thanks for having me. Of course. I appreciate it. Yeah.

Nicole: I want to ask you one closing question that I ask every guest on the podcast too. Yeah. And that is. What is one thing that you wish other people knew was more normal?

Bia: I think to feel insecure. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, everybody, I think, you know, everybody feels insecure and everybody feels not good enough.

It's just like, we're all under pressure.

Nicole: Yes, normalizing that could do a lot for humanity, right? We're not alone in that. I appreciate your vulnerability today and everything that you shared and the work that you're doing with your movement. And where can listeners find you and connect with all the things that you were mentioning?

Bia: Personally, I am on Instagram in Labatebia and also in LinkedIn. We have three sites, Chacruna Latino America, Chacruna Institute in English, and the Indigenous Response Initiative of the Americas. And we also have three Instagram accounts for these three things. I suggest you go to our website and register to our newsletter chacruna.

net. It comes normally every Monday and it's free and it's pretty cool. And thank you everybody for listening. Thank you for having me. Thank you for joining us today.

Nicole: If you enjoyed today's episode, then leave us a five star review wherever you listen to your podcast. And head on over to modernanarchypodcast.

com to get resources and learn more about all the things we talked about on today's episode. I want to thank you for tuning in and I will see you all next week.


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