"We sat in a corner and stared at each other. Without dropping his gaze, he took my drink and placed it carefully on the table.
He held my face in his hands.
He stroked the length of my neck, and kissed me with his mouth wide open – his tongue snaking in and out.
His other hand slid up my skirt and found the edge of my pants. I gasped.
'Let’s play a game,' he whispered. 'Take off your underwear.'
I headed to the ladies and did what I was told."
I write risqué stories to titillate, because for many of us, reading sensual material can be just as erotic as viewing it. Sometimes even more so, as written material allows more space for imagination. However, my vision goes further than just titillation (as important as that is). I also want to educate all readers about their sexuality, bodies and desires.
We’re lucky to live in a world where lots of us are free to be who we want to be, sexually. We have access to a lot of raunchy material. But raunch is very rarely combined with useful information about the actual sex. As a sex-positive woman of colour (WoC), I also very rarely see myself reflected in the media. Take, for instance, the following commercial smash hits: Sex and the City, The L Word, Secret Diary of a Call Girl, Girls, Catastrophe, Fleabag. Apart from all being smart and diverting depictions of women’s sexuality, they only really feature Caucasian people.
So I launched my own web platform, Kayleigh Daniels Dated, which subverts the concept of 'sex sells' by pairing beautifully illustrated sexy stories with informative health features by expert writers, to encourage and normalise free and frank discussion about sexuality.
Kayleigh Daniels is a 30-year-old fictional character, whose dating exploits – written by me – are published monthly. She’s a darker-skinned WoC who dates lots of different physical and socioeconomic types of people. It’s important for readers to understand that not only does Kayleigh have lots of great (and sometimes not so great) sexual experiences, but also that they are with all different kinds of people, who are all into her. So far, she’s dated people who range in age from 26 to 61 and have occupations that include an estate agent, acrobat and aristocrat.
The accompanying information features expand upon a theme in the dating story – such as cystitis, polyamory and consent – and are all commissioned out to professional 'sexperts'. In the UK, women of colour experience negative reproductive and sexual health outcomes, in addition to barriers accessing sexual and reproductive healthcare. Some of these include: difficulty negotiating condom use, increased rates of domestic violence, language barriers, concerns about confidentiality, and cultural stigmas.
To tackle some of these issues I’ve brought in doctors, therapists and facilitators from the fields of gynaecology, sexual health, sex therapy and psychiatry – the majority of whom are women of colour – to demystify some of the taboos surrounding women's sexuality.
One of the most well known examples of erotic fiction is the Fifty Shades of Grey series by E.L. James, originally published in 2011. The stories are marketed as BDSM romances, when in reality, all they depict are abusive sexual relationships. The Grey character coerces, controls and stalks his submissive, Ana. This message is toxic and damaging.
Evidently, we all still have gaps in our knowledge about sexuality, sexual health and the spectrum of desire. And unfortunately, comprehensive sex education is still a long way off. But it really doesn’t have to be like this. Which is why I launched the web platform, to centre the experiences of people like Kayleigh, people whose journeys through sexuality aren't often acknowledged. I’ve always enjoyed discovering the latest trends in erotica but would love to see more people having open and honest conversations about all this stuff without embarrassment, stigma or shame.
The Kayleigh Daniels Dated team is currently crowdfunding to raise £10,000 needed to complete the pilot season. Do pledge if you’re able, and spread the word, as it’s vital for us to continue reaching people like you and me, to promote a more inclusive and representative conversation around sexuality.