Embodied facilitation can loosely be described as a process that allows the bearer to hold space in a conversation in such a way that an audience, or recipient, feels empowered, seen, heard and balanced. It takes cognisance of the notion that we are spiritual beings who have found expression in the physical. Through this process, participants are made aware of their bodily reflexes that are a manifestation of mental and emotional inclinations; why and how these happen. Michelene Benson brought this methodology to life with a group of about 22 participants at IAM’s Training of Trainers convening which took place in the last week of July 2022.

Boasting representation from Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe; this cohort was truly representative of the diversity and richness that the African continent has to offer in terms of thinking, experience and Queer activism. Now in its 4th year of existence, IAM uses this platform to train partners and leaders in the methodology of facilitation and dialogue to reach a broader spectrum of communities, denominations and identified target audiences. Through accompaniment, capacity building and resource development in a consultative process, IAM endeavours to strengthen its network of regional partners and amplify knowledge-sharing among partners.

This process guided participants to lean in on conversations pertaining to: reflection as a tool for dialogue and facilitation; using discomfort and silence as a tool of transformation; understanding diversity and the power of one’s own narrative; recognising one’s own body as a gift of diversity; silent meditation and reflection as a tool to deconstruct normative practices and “stuckness”; contextual Bible reading that led to understanding the origins of the text and the context of the Biblical narratives; and reflection and free writing as tools for transformative conversations and to sustain impact of narratives in practice.

Through sharing our most piercing vulnerabilities with one another, we learned to dream anew in building a world that is free of prejudice and discrimination meted out on LGBTIQ+ persons, but we also healed parts of ourselves that had become casualties of the war against injustice. We sang, held one another with tenderness, plotted and planned and prayed each other back to some semblance of wellness.

Following four days of intense engagement, we parted with the understanding that although the work of activism is cut out for us, it cannot continue if we aren’t wholly well and sustained. We set out on working towards this ‘utopia’ by repositioning and re-committing ourselves as allies and change agents; and co-creating communities of care. All of this while shielding ourselves from the harsh complexities of our contexts and realities while maintaining momentum for this movement that needs all our might. Because, Queerness is, after all “the warm illumination of a horizon imbued with potentiality.”