By Greg Hernandez
Usually when Chaunte Wayans is center stage, it’s at a comedy club. But the stand-up comedian shared a different part of her story during a recent visit to the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Intensive Day Outpatient Program.
The intensive abstinence-based program meets for three hours, five days a week. Facilitated by professional substance abuse counselors, it’s designed to help clients with mental health challenges and substance abuse problems, including alcohol, cannabis, crystal meth, and cocaine.
Wayans was invited as a special guest speaker to share about her substance abuse and how meditation has played a key role in her sobriety.
“Being LGBT and being able to share my story is important,” Wayans said following the meeting. “I was able to experience something that even put me in a better place. Sometimes you forget what you can do to change things in the world.”
A member of comedy’s famous Wayans family (In Living Color), her uncles are Keenan Ivory Wayans, Damon Wayans Sr., Shawn Wayans, and Marlon Wayans, her aunt is Kim Wayans and her cousin is Damon Wayans Jr.
“Having my last name allows people to know that everyone is just human and everyone has problems,” she said. “We’re all human and trying to figure this all out.”
Wayans shared that she was sexually abused growing up and also felt like an outcast because she is a lesbian.
“I just held everything in,” she explained. “So when I started drinking, I started lashing out. I’d say everything I wanted to say. I was an adult, but I was crying like that five year old kid.”
Now sober, Wayans now feels “my pains became my greatest strengths. Now I can try and be that person who can try and help somebody who maybe can’t get through it the way I did. I get the pain, I get the struggle.”
“I wasn’t drinking but I still wasn’t happy.”
But becoming sober was only the first step. Wayans also embarked on what she describes as her “path of inner-healing.”
“Even though you can be sober, you still are dealing with the things you were brought up with,” she explains. “Those things can bring you back to even a more evil place. I wasn’t drinking but I still wasn’t happy.”
To help heal, Wayans has embraced meditation and brought Tiara Krissti, a spiritual healer who is also her partner, to the meeting. Krissti introduced the group to sound bath meditation which uses sounds from such things as bowls, drums and chimes that make it easier to experience a deeper meditation.
“Working with meditation and working with sound really brings you back to a zero point, your natural state where you can really see the truth and kind of unmask and unload your baggage you’ve been holding,” Krissti explained.
Facilitator Forest Colstrom said the group is eager to have Wayans and Krissti return.
“Chaunte came from a place of personal empowerment and personal growth, and this resonated with the group members,” Colstrom said. “At the end of session, everyone commented on how much they related to Chaunte’s story and about how emotional the sound bath meditation experience had been. It was a very positive experience for the group.”
Best known for the sketch comedy series Wild ‘N Out and the films Fifty Shades of Black and Dance Flick, Wayans can currently be seen on Laff Tracks and has also appeared on Laugh Factory and Trading Spaces.
If you’re struggling with substance abuse, the Center has programs and services to help. These include confidential, one-on-one therapy and therapy groups run by professional substance abuse counselors. The Center is also home to a wide variety of 12-Step group meetings. Go to lalgbtcenter.org for more information.