We often look to the heavens for answers. Yearning to know we are not alone, and some of us reach far enough that we become in tune with the connection between here and above. This piece represents heaven to earth here at BGIO. Practices, prayers, and rituals get us closer to what we’d all like to obtain: inner peace. Our beauty for March embodies this theme in all her majesty. Oya Mae Duchess-Davis is a Santeria practitioner, playwright, and disabled femme.
Oya has been practicing Santeria for four years; searching for that connection and inner peace. Her path has led her to the Orishas and the ability to dig inward and connect with her truths. Her plays give a glimpse into the lives of black women, black men, disabled folks, and those practicing non-traditional forms of spirituality. Find her on Instagram at theoyamae.
Who are you?
Oya Mae Duchess-Davis: I am a pansexual, disabled [Multiple Sclerosis], four souled playwright who practices Santeria from Minneapolis MN. Four souled means I have four beings inside me; myself Oya Mae (she|her), Tino (he|him), P Ghede (they|them), and Oshun (she|her). I was born November 1st 1992, so I am a Scorpio.
What is your intention for the year?
Oya Mae Duchess-Davis: My goal for this year is to just be. That means many different things to me. For a long time, I hid who I was from the world. Part of the reason was that I wanted to be normal. When I was a kid, I loved being different, and as I got older that changed. Now I believe that there is beauty in being different. There is a beauty that comes with not fitting into the norms of society when it comes to race, class, sexuality, and gender. Different spaces call for different energies. Sometimes I feel like I need to be Tino, who is a man; sometimes I feel like I need to be P.Ghede who is very similar to me, but can handle stress a lot better. When I say I want to be, I mean I want to be able to go from soul to soul without fear of being judged. There are not a lot of spaces that are made for black queer people, so by just being, I feel I am able to own every space I am in, even if it’s not for me.
You are a #BGIOBeauty, which means you embody BGIO. Let our readers know: how do you embody the Om?
Oya Mae Duchess-Davis: I believe I embody the om through my spirituality. I have been practicing Santeria for almost four years. When you say “Om,” it’s almost like breathing in fresh air. I believe my spirituality is like a breath of fresh air.
What is one piece of advice you want to give?
Oya Mae Duchess-Davis: Find things that make you feel whole, whatever wholeness means to you, then embody that wholeness.
Oya Mae Duchess-Davis: My book would be about finding the beauty in yourself after overcoming some sort of trauma. I have faced a lot of trauma in my life, trauma that made me hate myself and the world around me. The world can be a scary place, but also can be beautiful. One of the scariest things that have happened to me thus far was being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I believe that watching my body change and become sick was a very traumatic thing, but at the same time getting MS helped me slow down. I used to be a boxer, and because of this I would walk down the street prideful, and in a hurry to get where I was going. MS made me slow down a little bit. I still walk the streets with pride, but because I use a walker or a cane I am significantly slower. I feel that getting MS has forced me to stop and smell the roses. There is always beauty around us; there are a lot of things that have happened to me that I can’t find beauty in, but by creating beauty within myself, I may not be able to change the past, but I can still create a beautiful future for myself.
Thank you for your gifts, Oya! We are so grateful for your presence and having you as our March #BGIOBeauty.