Black Honey Collective's Queen Bee series features influential women that show excellence in their areas of work to gain insight into their relationship experiences as it relates to their success and personal growth.
Black Honey Collective was honored to speak to the creators of Queen Moves. In a long-distance call between Minneapolis and New York, Guerdley Cajus and DHQ BRAT shared best practices to secure the bag, live fearlessly, and heal from past relationships to pursue the ultimate love of self.
BLACK HONEY COLLECTIVE: What is Queen Moves?
QUEEN MOVES: Queen Moves offer dance services for professional artists and unique workshops to empower the everyday womxn. We know that every womxn has a story to tell and we just want to tell it in body language. Our goal is create movement that motivates the inner queens of the womxn we create with and perform for.
BHC: How did you get into your current role?
GUERDLEY: We’ve always been dancers that do our thing in all capacities. I’m from Boston and BRAT is from New York and spent some time in Chicago. At the time, we were repositioning our lives into the New York scene. I was building myself up as a choreographer. I had clients that wanted to work with me, but the reality was that I didn’t have a network because I was new to the New York dance scene. So, I went on Craigslist to try to find some help. I was scared as hell. I was like, “This could be so sketchy.” This was back before the Instagram community was the way it is. I told myself, “You have to search a little bit more for the help that you need.” This was like 5 years ago. BRAT responded to my post.
We had a lot of similarities, the same birthday, and passion for dance. So, if I were to get a project, she would be the first person I would holla at. We had a reflective relationship in that regard. Eventually, we ended up working with an artist named TIFA and I feel like through her, our relationship really started to flourish. She hired BRAT and I to be her background dancers, we spent a lot of time together, traveling in vans.
During that time, we had a creative intimacy that built the foundation for our relationship.
We had many very personal conversations. There were times when we would cry in the back of the van talking about things like, “This is how I’ve dealt with my daddy issues” or the fact that BRAT just recently broke up with her fiancé to follow her dream. Both of us had these really life changing issues, and we used dance as a crutch to navigate our way through life. For the simple fact that we were strangers and we had so much that brought us to this point, we realized that other women may be in need of this. Other women have a relationship with dance that helps them articulate things that are too painful to say. We wanted to create a space for other women to have these conversations. That’s the intention that gave birth to Queen Moves.
BRAT: We started with workshops to see how the community would respond to our idea. We did that for a good year and a half. Then, we applied for the Girl Boss Grant to help us take it to the next level. We won it. We went out to Cali in April to receive it and also taught a workshop there. From that point, we’ve been able to build it up more as a business.
BHC: What advice would you give someone aspiring to be in your position?
BRAT: One piece of advice I would give is to have no fear. Something my best friend and I came up with is, when you feel fear, literally say, “No fear” and then give yourself a high five. If something is scary to me, I feel it in my gut. I’ve learned it's only scary because it's new and you don't know how it’s going to turn out. I make myself do the thing I’m fearful of. That’s the only way you’re going to push forward and get to the next level. It works for me.
GUERDLEY: I would say to represent for yourself. Not just the parts of yourself that are celebrated, but all of it: the difficult parts, the ugly parts, and the parts that you don’t like to deal with. Bring them forth because you’re your only true representative. People that are like you, that are ashamed of the qualities that you currently are presenting, need a representative too. That’s something that I’ve had to learn about myself. For years growing up, I was the only black girl in my class. I learned very quickly what was acceptable and what was not in the eyes of society. I realized that I spent a lot of my time not expressing parts of myself like my looks, my natural beauty, and even my laugh. I had to suppress these things to make other people comfortable. I had an obnoxious laugh that just felt like it was just too big and black and sometimes the way that I smile, I have big parts of my gums that are black. Even with how I choose to dance, I’m a very, very sensual person. I used to be scared to embrace that sexy side of myself. It took me a long time to get to this point as an adult and say,
“I have to honor the way that I choose to express myself regardless of how other people may read it.”
It’s allowed me to grow.
BHC: At BHC, we’re all running a business on top of our regular 9 to 5 jobs. We’re trying to find the balance between hustling and surviving. Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs or anyone that is trying to pursue a passion outside of a 9 to 5?
First off, secure the bag.
GUERDLEY: I would say, first off, secure the bag. I know a lot of people will say, “Quit your job! Follow your dreams!” It’s not easy to follow your dreams when you’re broke. It’s not easy to follow your dreams when you can’t hop on a train or take the classes you need to stay growing in your craft. Second, hang on to people that are to the left and the right of you. Don’t worry about moving up. Work laterally and work with people that have your passion and drive, and people that you can trust. Trust is important when it comes to building any kind of art. Do whatever you can to not compromise that. Also, understand that when you’re working with passionate people, they can be sensitive. Be prepared for creative differences, and if those things aren’t happening then you’re in the wrong company. Continue to collaborate with people. Collaboration equals growth. Don’t be scared to reach out. Go out and meet people in real life and not just depend on the internet.
Continue growing and stay curious, never feel like you’re the master of your craft or the expert on your topic. Stay smart. Stay reading what’s going on in business journals and magazines as well as technology advances in your industry.
Don’t be scared of the word no. It’s only two letters.
BRAT: I used to work at restaurant, work at a night club, and teach at two schools. The kid had no time to do anything but, the things I felt were important, stayed important. So, for instance, I have been doing yoga since I was 17. Before I went to high school, I’d get up at five in the morning and do yoga and ballet. Yoga kept me sane. Ballet was training. Even though I had all these other things going on, please believe, I made time in the mornings to do my ritual so I could make it through my day and still know I did something towards my career. When I got home I’d just take my little 5 minutes and put my legs up the wall to have my body feel like it was one piece again. Then, I would listen to music. I thought, “Let me do something creative so I can add to my work.”
The second you stop is the second you start going backwards.
Do something every day in the direction of your business or your creative aspiration because even though it doesn't seem like a lot, it adds up like you wouldn't believe.
BHC: How would you two describe your relationship statuses?
GUERDLEY: I’m in a monogamous relationship with my partner that I’ve been with for the last 3 years. So, I’m bae’d up.
BRAT: I’m in a poly relationship and I have three partners. It’s been a different time frame for each one. I can say I’ve been doing this for three-plus years.
BHC: What experiences brought you to your current relationship status?
GUERDLEY: I was in a relationship beforehand with someone that I actually thought I was going to marry. After a while, I started to suspect that maybe my feelings were more than his and it made me feel very unsafe. At the time, I didn’t understand why. Now that I’ve been through therapy and had a lot of time to reflect while also being fueled by the good loving of a man that actually cares for me, I can articulate the reason why I was even in that relationship. I think that I normalized that type of “love” because of an estranged relationship that I’ve had with my father growing up. I felt like I had to beg for his attention. He would come over and visit and I would hide his keys so he would stay longer. We would go maybe a year without talking on the phone and when I’d call him, the first thing I would hear is, “What took you so long to call me?” I would actually apologize. I would say, “I’m sorry, I wish I called sooner.”
I internalized a lot of those feelings, thinking if I don’t try hard enough, then I cannot have a successful relationship with a man.
I thought I had to put my absolute best foot forward and be perfect, work overtime to keep his attention to sustain a relationship. I was putting that energy into this past relationship.
It was a series of events, but pretty much, I came to a point where I realized I couldn’t do this anymore. This was not right and this was not what love should feel like. This was not the type of love that I was deserving of. So, that’s when I became celibate. I realized that these dudes weren’t worth it. I thought, “I’m sitting here carrying all this pain. They’re leaving here whistling after I just gave you, at the time what I thought was the best of me, and it’s still not enough for you to even value me.” I knew that there was something really messed up with my perception of myself, love, trust, value, and my body.
I had to get all that straightened out and I needed time and space. So, I spent a year being celibate. It was on New Year’s Day that I started it and it wasn’t until the next New Year’s Day that I broke it. Within that time, I was dating other guys. Well, I was entertaining, not necessarily dating because dance was the love of my life. I wasn’t checking for these men but, I did meet one guy. He was so cute. He wanted to date me and he just kept courting me. I was just like, “Whatever, you’re not going to want to deal with this once you understand what I’m really on. I’m not giving up nothing right now so we can both put this game aside.”
I told him I was celibate and he was like, “I’ll wait for you. I’ll wait for as long as you want me to.”
That blew my mind because I did not think that men came like that. I didn’t understand that me just living in my own skin would be enough to sustain a man. My past relationship with love looked completely different. Here I have a man saying, “No. You and the package that you come in is good enough.” That changed my perception of love and myself and a whole lot of things. After the year, you know, we started doing the damn thing and we’re still together.
BRAT: Well, I’ve had three serious relationships before these ones. Two of them ended pretty badly. By the third relationship, which was the guy that ended up being my fiancé, I felt like I had learned most of the lessons that I needed to learn. Our communication was bomb, there was never a question of love or loyalty or any of those things. In those aspects, I was like, “Oh this man is like my road dog. I see this.” Even when he asked me to marry him, I was shocked because first of all, I’ve never been someone to subscribe to the traditional path of getting together, getting engaged, and then getting married. If I never get married or engaged again, it’s not going to phase me. That’s not something I really care about. So, when he asked me to marry him, I was like, “Oh you must really dig me!”
What ended up happening was dance, people don’t realize how much time it takes. One day, he was just like, “I miss you a lot but I don’t want to take you away from your work. I feel like we should just kill it.” It broke both of our hearts. We didn’t talk for a very long time. During that time my dad had passed, I felt like the two men in my life, besides my brothers, who I thought would always be in my life had left. I wasn’t celibate, but I’d say I took a sabbatical from men as in creating these bonds of the heart.
When I was ready to enter the world again, I realized that something I did when I was in relationships was, if I had an attraction to someone, I wouldn’t engage in it because I felt like it was cheating. Even if we clicked or there was chemistry, I can’t hang out or be on the phone with you. I’m blind to you. You don’t exist in my land. When I started going back into the dating world, I was like, “Why should I feel like that? Why am I like that? Am I doing this for someone else or is this for me?”
I felt like I shouldn’t allow these men to take away my ability to trust.
I started questioning all of these structures we have around relationships. When I was in college, I went to a very liberal school. There were a lot of people that were either in triangles or polyamorous relationships. I was like, “Oh I want to explore this.” I was in love someone but were both in relationships so we stayed away from each other. We happened to find each other again and he was already in a polyamorous marriage and I was like, “This is cool. I can start exploring this with you.” So, we got together and over time I acquired my two other partners. None of them live in New York, so that’s always an interesting thing. It’s time management times one thousand. It is a struggle sometimes, I can’t even lie. I like having three different dudes who I love and they love me and just being able to be open.
BHC: What’s the most asked question you get about being poly?
BRAT: Do you get jealous? There are legit books about working on your jealousy and not letting it overtake you. I’m not naturally a jealous person, but that doesn’t mean I don’t experience jealousy. For instance, one of my lovers was talking about the body of his other woman and the experience they had together. None of my lovers live here so unless I acquire one here, there’s going to be times where I just don’t have sex or don’t feel physical touch. I was like, “I’m jealous of you right now. I wish I could be doing what you’re doing.” I’m very vocal about how I feel. I can tell them when I’m jealous. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to call you or hold it against you. You can be jealous, just don’t act out your jealousy and that’s what’s really important. Communication is also really important.
BHC: What is one piece of love advice that you would give to your younger self?
GUERDLEY: I would tell my younger, silly, foolish self that I’m worthy. I’m worthy of a partner that is going to take me as I am and if somebody doesn’t, it doesn’t need to be drama. It doesn’t need to be anything. It just needs to be what it is. Don’t take it personally or internalize it. Understand that people are just jigsaw pieces.
We’re all shaped mad funky but there’s going to be one piece in this big ass puzzle that fits perfectly for you, maybe even three pieces depending on what shape you are.
I just wish I understood that at a younger time. I would also tell myself that I am super-duper sexy and beautiful and it has nothing to do with how I look. It has to do with my essence and the spirits that are inside of me.
BRAT: It’s crazy. I would tell my younger self to listen to my younger self. I feel as if my younger self was so uprooted from all the crap that I acquired growing up. Her love was so pure and understanding. She had it. Legit, I felt like the more I experiences I had, I lost her. When I had to strip down, she made the most sense to me. Don’t let these experiences mess up your thought process. You had it on the nose when you were young.
Listen to yourself and don’t let anyone intimidate you or make you feel as if you are not correct just because you’re young.
BHC: Is there anything that you would like to add?
BRAT: Take yourself on a date. I’ve been doing this for years but I feel like when people hear me say that they’re like, “What do you mean?” Enjoy your own company. I feel like people don’t do that enough and it gets lost. What you give during a date with someone else, give that to yourself.
BHC: We’re all single at BHC. Sometimes marriage can be thought of as a major goal and we’re told that our only accomplishment is to find "the one". Do you have any comments on that?
GUERDLEY: I would just say chill. They try to put a lot of pressure on women. Like anything in life, you have to do things when you’re ready. If you do them before, sometimes a good thing won’t survive.
Something that is actually meant for you might not be successful because you weren’t ready for it.
Take this time that you’re single and do the work that needs to be done so that when it’s time to have a partner, you don’t walk in there with trust issues, baggage, or unlived dreams of what a polyamorous lifestyle could be like, or what it’s like to take yourself on a date, or what it’s like to date someone of another sex. Just do you while you’re single because, depending on the type of marriage that you enter, those opportunities might not be there. You don’t want to enter a situation where you feel like you’re longing for something else. Don’t let that whole biological clock situation or traditional life to pressure you. You just have to be ready for it.
BHC: You guys are so dope. We learned a lot. Thank you.
Learn more about Queen Moves!
Share your story with Black Honey Collective! Learn more.