Gay rights have reached an all-time high level of support among all Americans, but when it comes to gay sex, many people—including members of the LGBTQIA+ community—still operate under a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
After noticing the absence of meaningful conversation surrounding sexual wellness and self-care, Maleke Glee and Edwin Exaus, co-founders of Boy Box, launched their company geared towards providing products and programming for healthy, consensual, and radical sexual pleasure for gay Black men.
We spoke with Maleke and Edwin regarding the creation of their company, Boy Box, and how they are working to create a safe space of healthy dialogue surrounding sexual wellness.
Pivoting from women to gay Black men
Before Boy Box came to life, it was originally meant to be for women. While gaining insight from different women regarding sexual wellness, Maleke and Edwin noticed these conversations were expressive and less taboo in nature when compared to gay men.
“While planning that business, we realized the absence of such thoughtful conversation among the men in our lives caused us to pivot to orient the business toward gay men,” Maleke tells Very Good Light.
This pivot allowed them to launch Boy Box with a goal to remove the serious and repressive tones that surround queer sex.
The Boy Box vanity kit creation process
On the Boy Box website, you are met with a plethora of different vanity kits containing a curated selection of products that correlate with the theme of the kit. The essentials for safe, pleasurable, and exciting sex are all bundled into each package.
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Every vanity kit contains condoms, lubricant, a protective face mask, a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush, toothpaste, body wipes, a pamphlet on navigating sex during COVID-19, and a vibrating cock ring, “The cock ring is there to say that safe sex doesn’t have to be boring,” Edwin tells Very Good Light.
Through the vanity kit product curation process, Maleke and Edwin ensured each of the featured brands were affordable LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC sex brands.
“It is very important to us that we create products and offer services that are for us, and by us,” says Edwin.
Healthy dialogue surrounding sexual experiences
Society has portrayed queer relationships and sexual experiences as something that should be done in secret, behind closed doors. Even in educational environments, it is uncommon to gain information surrounding queer sexual wellness and relationships. Within the LGBTQIA+ community, first experiences are often repressed due to fear of judgment.
“Not being able to tell the stories of your first kiss, or love, can take a huge toll on a person and proceeds with future sexual encounters or romantically,” Edwin says.
Through repressed emotions, experiences, and lack of education, most LBGTQIA+ community members, “…learn through experience, often experiences firstly introduced through trauma, coercion, or absence of radical consent,” says Maleke.
Boy Box is working to provide gay Black men with a platform to share their experiences, support radical self-pleasure, and foster “honest and relatable conversations,” Edwin says.
Boy Box fosters a space of vulnerability and openness for gay Black men to share their sexual experiences through their mini-series on Instagram titled “My First____Experience.”
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As a result of repressed emotions and societal expectations of manhood, it is uncommon for gay Black men to have expressive conversations surrounding their first sexual experiences. “A lot of people DM’d us sharing personal accounts of how they never felt it was appropriate for them to share these experiences,” says Edwin.
This mini-series looks to expand the conversation and allow people to be vulnerable by encouraging gay Black men to fill in the blank of their first romantic or sexual experiences.
Celebration of Black queerness
Boy Box provides gay men, specifically gay Black men, with a vulnerable, open, and positive space to share their experiences and celebrate their sexual journey.
“Our explicit celebration of Black queerness and removing such a serious and repressive tone to queer sex is a positive shift for the culture,” Maleke tells Very Good Light.