"The younger generations won’t accept bigotry, transphobia, and racism as the status quo. It’s not to be swept under the rug or whispered behind closed doors. And there are enough of us to create some pretty magical experiences to replace toxic ones without hesitation."
Earlier in June I attended an event in Atlanta where a roundtable discussion was held regarding women, leather communities, and how we (the women/feminine identified people) could bring about the futures we imagine for our local and distant communities.
Due to another engagement at the same time I missed the first 30 or so minutes of the talk however once I got there it quickly became obvious that tension and emotions were high due to recent incidents regarding community leaders and the groups/events they lead, but that isn't where our focus is for this article.
After sitting through the rest of the discussion the moderator put forth the question of "what are you taking from this room/discussion?" The answers ranged from single word answers like "hope" to statements like "we've got a lot of work to do." The most profound was (paraphrased) "now what? Where do we take these feelings and what do we do with them? Or do we let them die here, in this room?"
When it came to my turn to respond I had had the ability to sit and monitor the room for 45 minutes. In a room of roughly 35-40 people there 5-6 BIPOC Leatherwomen/Femme Leatherpeople, and roughly the same amount of people under the age of 35, many of whom were in the BIPOC group. Granted it involves a fair amount of assumptions to come up with those numbers without formally interviewing each person, but the low numbers were what influenced my response of "disappointment" to the moderator's question.
It's disappointing to travel to areas around the country only to find other young people who are interested in Leather or pursuing something more in the kink communities only to give up after older generations tell them they're doing it wrong, or to see an absence of BIPOC, disabled people, and so on because events and spaces aren't welcoming. When it comes to building communities and what Leather looks like for your community, intersectionality must be at it's core or all we're doing is continuing the systemic problems that spread and fracture our communities.
So why is this a problem? As "well-meaning" white people we're taught to look at a room of 40 with 5 people of color as a success in diversity because "hey, at least we have some!" In reality though, 5 people of color in a leadership discussion in F*CK'n Atlanta, is a gross under-representation; the same being true for lack of age representation. (Atlanta's racial demographics show Black Americans as 51.4% of Atlanta's population and the age brackets of 19-34 and 35-74 as 42% and 58% respectively. [Census.gov]) It became a bit more disappointing when someone else in the room said they'd be leaving with "hope" because they saw the room as incredibly diverse. I see this less as a reflection on them, and more as a reflection on just how easily even the most well-meaning white person confuses tokenism for diversity. That meeting should have had easily 10-15+ BIPOC and TNG age range people respectively. We've got to stop taking the presence of a few as something worth congratulating ourselves on and instead focus that energy on ensuring that EVERYONE feels welcome to those spaces.
As brought up by another powerful leader in the room: "now what?" How do we figure out how to be more aware of Tokenism vs Diversity, what do we do to create more equitable situations?
The best I can figure at the moment:
How else do you think you can help? Comment below!
PS: The event name, class name, and names of those involved were intentionally left out so we can focus on the issue at hand rather than the people. Please keep it that way unless absolutely necessary.
Over the past few months things have been hard, harder than anything I've been through (that I can remember).
At first the promise of finally having health insurance again was a HUGE relief because I could finally start seeing the doctors I've needed to get questions answered. The beginning of the year started with just that: lots of doctors. At that point the specialists I needed to see included: pain management, neurologist, rheumatologist, orthopedist, chiropractor, gastroenterologist, and a psychiatrist. Now I've had to add a cardiologist, pulmonologist, and a hemotologist/oncologist.
Oddly enough having access to insurance somewhat lead to my recent cardiac and pulmonary issues; no it can't be proven but it makes sense. Without insurance I wouldn't have gone to the hospital for what felt like a persistent anxiety attack and ended up being a tachycardia issue that required surgery. Follow up hospital stays continued to happen because of knowing that there were heart issues that needed monitoring.
During all of this I've been trying to make being an educator a sustainable field of work, keeping up with leather orders that have been getting harder and harder to do (physically and financially), applying for disability, and trying to see if there was a "regular job" that I could do without losing everything I've been working towards. In other words financial stability seemed far from within reach, which made all the medical stuff harder. In the meantime it seemed that we may have found an opportunity that would make things all finally fit, but it too fell to pieces.
The "last straw" (that I'm willing to put out into the world) was that our landlord for the past 4 years decided that they didn't want to renew our lease again because they wanted to raise the rent by 50%, something we had no way of making happen. The news came just over 30 days from the end of our lease, which could have been fine if it was the only issue going on. Unfortunately the move-out date was right in the middle of my medical flare-up where I was in no shape to look for new places let alone pack a whole house. So, we spent the next month with me in and out of the hospital and essentially telling the landlord that they can evict us if they'd like, but there was no way we'd be out by the time they wanted us out.
This past weekend we finally hit that date of no return, we HAD to be out or else. So, thanks to a small handful of people, and burning through a good portion of my medication for the month, we were able to pack up 99% of our home and put it into storage. We took the necessities and are now staying with some fantastic friends who had a spare room and have been simply trying to recover, but life wasn't done with us yet. Less than a month from finally having a functional car again, the car broke and needs repairs. The final cherry? Our TV got damaged during the moving process and no longer works either.
At the end of the day I'm grateful for the friends who helped get us packing materials, who drove over an hour to help us pack in the middle of the night, who took in our pets that couldn't come with us to our temporary new place, who opened their home for us so we could avoid homelessness, those who checked on me and reminded me to check my heart rate, and those who have been understanding when I've had to cancel appearances.
So what now?
Currently there's a great deal of just trying to stay on the positive side of the dirt, everything one day at a time, but lately it's been a bit harder to achieve than usual. No, I'm not at risk for hurting myself, but I'm also not perfect either.
I need people/friends to help me feel less lonely, whether that means trips to the mall, a road-trip buddy/co-educator, or something else entirely. Mainly I just need connections for the medical and non-medical part(s) of life, a reminder that I matter.
Thanks again to those who have stuck by me through all of this (and those who spent the time reading all of this post). Y'all seriously make it easier to make it from one day to the next.
Thank you. 😭
It's giveaway time and right now I've got TWO tickets available for two fantastic kink events:
Both events are ones you can find me teaching at AND Kink+ will make an appearance to do interviews with fellow educators, event producers, vendors, and more!
Trust me when I say you don't want to miss out on these events!
Enter using the panels below. You must be at least 21 years old to win.
Hey #Kink Folks: Let's stop pushing the idea that not providing aftercare as a top automatically makes someone abusive.
There's a number of things wrong with this statement, so let's break it down.
1. It assumes that it's solely the top's responsibility to provide aftercare and removes any responsibility from the top also receiving aftercare. Scenes aren't a one way street, aftercare shouldn't be either.
2. Not everyone needs or wants aftercare post-scene. Some people can play and just want to be left alone, or they simply go about their own business and don't need much recovery time.
3. Scenes vary from person to person, and from encounter to encounter. What needs aftercare one day may not require it on the next, and vice versa.
4. Bottoms are just as responsible for bringing up their needs for aftercare as the top is for mentioning their needs. If a bottom can forget to mention it, then it's fair to assume that the top could have forgotten as well.
5. If a top says that they can't provide aftercare, it doesn't automatically mean abuse either. They may be physically, mentally, or emotionally unable to provide that care themselves, but offer to have someone else provide it.
6. Abusive behavior is often determined by a pattern. Someone not liking to provide post scene cuddle time isn't necessarily an end all proof to abuse.
We like to assume that giving aftercare means having empathy and that a lack of empathy means abuse, but that isn't always true.
In the end it's everyone's responsibility to make sure that their needs are being met. If you come across a potential partner who can't meet your needs (different than "wants") then perhaps they aren't the right one for you.
I get that we spread ideas like this in an attempt to help give newbies red flags to look for, but instead we end up creating more issues that later have to be unlearned and removed from our colloquial expressions.
Ask any kinkster and they're likely to agree, negotiation is vital to setting up consensual kink play and even an important basis for dominant/submissive relationships.
Before we get into different styles, what is negotiation?
Most often "negotiate" is a word we see when it comes to business deals in the non-kink world which means "to obtain or bring about by discussion." In the kink world negotiating is the discussion we have before play, forming relationships, or other related activity to make sure that all sides involved are able to get what they want out of a situation. This is where we obtain consent for things to come.
How negotiating things to come depends greatly on the negotiation style used, the main two being "Inclusive" and "Exclusive."
At a glance: Exclusive Negotiating is where you list the things you're not interested in and everything else is fair game.
What is it? Why use it? Exclusive Negotiation, as shown above, is a more open-ended form of negotiation where you set the discussion up with the play, rules, and so on that you don't want included, leaving everything else as fair game. For a while this was the main negotiating style for many within BDSM and kink communities because so much emphasis in negotiation was put on making sure to name all of your hard-limits from the start.
Some other things that may have played a part in why Exclusive Negotiation was so popular for so long are: public play wasn't as common, the same being said for having multiple casual play partners; there was more emphasis on the idea that submissives should inherently trust dominants to know what's best; and it could even be argued that play has gotten more complex over time since we now have access to more education and play styles thanks to conventions.
Currently Exclusive Negotiation can still be a viable style, but it does seem to be done more by established partnerships rather than casual pick-up play.
Non-Kink Example: Dave is having a hard time deciding what he'd like for dinner so he checks with his partner to see what sounds good. Being in a similar mindset his partner Bo says that they're open to just about anything except pizza or salad.
While it may not have resulted in an exact decision, the use of excluding those two food options helped give Dave information about Bo's preferences. From there they can continue to exclude more options that don't sound good until they find common-ground or find a restaurant that serves multiple options other than those two. This could have also been useful for food allergies or similar intolerances.
Kink Example: Jasmine and Amanda are trying to decide what to do while at the local dungeon. Amanda suggests they do impact play which causes Jasmine to perk up responding "so long as you don't use that whip today!"
In this example Exclusive Negotiation works well for a couple that seems to have known each other for a length of time and have trust built up between them already. The assumption is made that Amanda will use any of the impact play related toys/skills, but not the whip as Jasmine has requested.
While many who engage in this type of negotiation nowadays are those who know each other well, it's not to say that you can't successfully use this type of negotiation in more casual situations, it simply may require listing a whole lot more of the "off limit" options depending on your play style and comfort.
At a glance: Inclusive Negotiating is where you list the things you're interested in and anything not listed is off limits.
What is it? Why use it?: As stated above Inclusive Negotiation is a form of negotiation where you include the play, rules, what-ifs, and so on into the discussion before anything starts; anything that doesn't get stated (again play types, rules, etc.) is left off limits and not part of the negotiations. This doesn't mean that things can't be asked about while still negotiating for clarification, but it does help steer the conversation in a direction rather than leaving everything out in the open.
The idea of using Inclusive Negotiation seems to be a fairly recent method in the kink world that is gaining popularity as the conversation of consent becomes more present in people's minds. This has happened because it puts more emphasis on making sure that each play type/style is accounted for BEFORE play happens rather than leaving things up to interpretation mid-scene based on a whim, whereas Exclusive Negotiation does not.
Non-Kink Example: Sue is about to have a medical procedure so her doctor tells her that she can eat jello or clear broth only for 12 hours beforehand.
In this case the purpose of the inclusive style prevents the doctor from having to list the thousands of food possibilities that Sue is not allowed to eat in exchange for the ease of stating the 2 things she's allowed instead. It's a faster and more all encompassing method of communicating her new limited diet.
Kink Example: Steph decides they want to offer their skills as a bootblack for the local charity auction at the leather conference. When they fill out the form they list "non-erotic bootblacking and leathercare" as the skill available and turn the form back in.
While some may try to ridicule Steph for not filling out the hard-limits section and poke fun that they're leaving themselves open to anything, Steph points out that the agreed upon exchange was non-erotic bootblacking and leathercare; anything outside those parameters would be a violation of the negotiations.
This is another example of where inclusive negotiation is used to help curtail what could end up being a long list to include all of the things someone is not allowed to do. While some clarification can still be done to ensure that everyone is on the same page, it rules out someone randomly breaking out a rope and bondage gear as being "part of bootblacking."
How do I choose which method to use?
When trying to decide which method works best for you and your partner(s) it would be a good idea to sit and look at how you currently communicate and whether or not that method is effective. If what you're currently using has worked and created positive results, then it's suggested that you maintain that method.
If you analyze your current, or previous, communication methods and see that there is room for improvement then take some time and test out some more deliberate negotiations. Often times when there's an issue in our negotiation it's because we aren't intentionally taking the time to detail things out as much as we need.
As far as deciding which is best for you, take time to list out your hard limits vs the regular play styles that you participate in (if possible), or compared to the play type you're interested in engaging in at the moment. If the hard limits out number the things you're interested in, it may be worth using Inclusive Negotiation so that only the things you're interested in doing are done. If you're open to most things being done, then Exclusive Negotiations may work instead.
As with all things kink related, take time to make sure you're happy and comfortable with what's going on before proceeding. Your safety and comfort always come first.
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Conferences, conventions, expos, and exhibitions, we're used to seeing these large-scale events for a range of attendees from professionals to anime and comic book fans. On the schedule you're sure to find lectures on the latest technological advancements in the field, or panels about your favorite pop culture characters, and a main hall full of vendors ready to sell their products and services relevant to the conference.
Did you know that you can also find events about kink and BDSM?
In fact, there are roughly 3 main types of kink conventions, though the number of events is steadily growing into the hundreds around the U.S. alone, with new ones popping up each year. Three of these types of events include: Generic Kink, Fetish/S&M, and Leather Contest.
1. Generic Kink Event
What It Is: A Generic Kink Event (GKE) is an event that covers kink in general. Sometimes they can be specialized to specific play types like rope, or to kink relationships, but overall they are meant to cover a wide range within the kink and BDSM worlds. As far as our 3 main types of kink conventions are concerned, GKE’s are fairly middle ground. You can be a newbie, an experienced kinkster, or anywhere in-between and still get quite a bit out of these events because they’re made to cater to everyone.
What to Expect: These conferences will usually be held at a hotel over the course of a weekend with room blocks set aside to give attendees a discounted price so they can stay on site for the event. During the daytime portion, usually 9am to 6pm, there will be a number of classes, panels, discussion groups, and so on available so attendees can learn about chosen topics.
Depending on the focus of the event as a whole you’re sure to find classes on nearly any topic you can think of. For events geared around relationship dynamics expect to find classes on strengthening the bond between you and your partner(s) all the way up to how to handle messy break-ups and so on. Play based events will focus more on skills for BDSM play such as rope bondage, using paddles, and even advanced classes like needle play.
Also available during this time-frame is the dealer/vendor room where attendees can shop for a variety of fetish gear; anything from floggers and paddles, to fetish clothing and accessories, and so much more can be found amongst the booths inside. If you forgot to pack a favorite toy, or are simply looking to expand your toy bag, be sure to save up some money!
Once it gets to the nighttime portion of the day, most GKE’s are likely to have some kind of social event or party each night, except for the final day when everyone is likely to have gone home. It’s also very common for events to have a dungeon on site for attendees to engage in practicing their newly learned skills during the classes that day, or to simply enjoy within the set rules. What is and isn’t allowed in the dungeon at each event varies from hotel to hotel, so be sure to check the rules before you go in!
2. Fetish/S&M Event
What It Is: Fetish events, sarcastically called S&M (Stand & Model), are typically the closest thing to what you’d imagine a Fetish Event being based off of what you see on tv and in the movies. While some will run the full weekend at a hotel like GKE’s, typically Fetish Events are equivalent to being over-sized parties in a bar/club or similar feeling location. Compared to the other 2 event types, Fetish Events are a bit more geared towards newbies wanting to dip their toes into the kink world for a single night out of the year. The more experienced people who do attend these events are often times volunteers to help the event run smoothly and safely, educators to give demos, or they’re the hired entertainment.
What to Expect: Fetish events are dubbed “Stand & Model” events by more experienced lifestyle people because these are typically the events where everyone dresses to the nines and socializes. The Fetish Events that do run a full weekend are likely to have classes available, like GKE’s, but often at a more 101 level rather than advanced play. If it’s one of the events that only runs one day and night, they may still have classes during the daytime portion but they’re usually closer to being demos so attendees get a quick idea of what things feel like rather than the full “how to” experience.
At night, this is when these events really come to life. People bring out their fetish finery, decked out in full latex or leather outfits, and are there to mingle. There may be a dungeon setting, but the rules are usually a bit stricter as alcohol may be allowed here, whereas GKE’s often keep play and inebriation far from each other.
All in all, it’s usually fair to expect these events to feel like “Fetish Night” at the local club.
3. Leather Contest Events
What It Is: Leather Contest Events (LCE) are very similar to GKE’s in that they are usually held in a hotel during the weekend, have daytime classes, and a nighttime dungeon and/or parties. Compared to the other two events, LCE’s can be a bit less welcoming to attendees who are brand new to kink and BDSM however because the majority of the attendees have been involved in the BDSM lifestyle for a fair bit of time and tend to stick together with their groups and chosen families.
What to Expect: Leather Contest Events again are very similar to GKE’s with classes held during the day and a dungeon space or parties at night. One of the major differences is the addition of a contest. Leather Contests operate as essentially a kinky version of the Miss America pageant. As silly as that may sound, it’s the truth. Contestants usually have to compete in roughly 4 contest sections: a short (2 minutes) speech, an interview/Q&A session with the judging panel, a non-spoken performance (called a “fantasy”) to demonstrate one of their favorite fetishes, and a pop-question section to test their ability to think on their feet.
So, what’s the purpose of these contests?
Like the Miss America pageant, the goal of these contests is to find a representative for their community that may have to compete at larger region contests in the future, such as a national level (Miss America after gaining the Miss Florida title), or even an international title (such as Miss World). The people holding these titles usually travel to different areas to represent their region, assist in judging other contests, and often participate in fundraising for various charity groups. Keep an eye out for a future post containing more about these contests and the different views on them.
A visibly noticeable difference between LCE’s and GKE’s is that there are far more people wearing leather clothing (boots, vests, covers/hats, etc) at the LCE’s than GKE’s where people dress either fairly casually or in a range of fetish gear. If you do a quick Google image search for “leather men” you’ll see the average look for LCE’s.
Lastly, LCE’s are built and run around ideas relating to Leather subculture whereas GKE’s may have some leather people in attendance, the event as a whole is not part of the Leather subculture. To find out more about Leather as a subculture, check out this Wikipedia article. While not perfect it helps give at least some insight about the differences.
Now that you’ve got a basic understanding of kink/BDSM related events, it’s time to go participate in one! Check out this link for a list of various kink/BDSM events to find one in your own area or find one further away and use it as vacation!
it's giveaway time!
Check out all this great gear donated by some of the vendors who attended F.I.R.E. 2018!
Adrenalize Leather - Mini Dragontail
Agreeable Agony - Wax Play Candle
Facebook: Agreeable Agony
Craig's Cutting Edge - King Cobra Knife
Fireheart Fantasies - Glow-in-the-Dark Plastic Flogger
Southeastern Whip Shop - Nylon (Brass) Knuckles
Facebook: Whips N Things
Top Hat Designs - Ambrosia Maple & Black Walnut Paddle
About 5 years ago I was sitting with a friend and we somehow got on the topic of sexual identities. They started telling me about how they identified as "Grey-A," which like many others I had no idea even existed. Prior to our conversation I assumed the label of "bisexual," knowing that it didn't quite fit, but without an alternative what was I supposed to do? As I sat intently listening to their explanation it suddenly felt like I had found this little part of me that I didn't know was missing.
Wait, Gray-A? What's that?
Grey-A (also known as "greysexual") is an identity that belongs on the Asexual spectrum. Yes, that's right, asexuality has a spectrum. Just like homosexual, bisexual, and heterosexual are part of a spectrum, asexuality is also variant. You can be completely asexual with having absolutely no sexual attraction to anyone up to being sexually attracted (typical sexual attraction) to people. That area of typical sexual attraction is where the hetero-, homo-, bi-, pan-, etc. spectrum comes into play. Greysexuals fall in that middle ground or "grey" area that is neither sexual nor asexual. For some this can require a more personal connection, like demisexuals, for others it can be harder to pinpoint what might cause attraction.
Just to make things a little more confusing, or hopefully clear things up, there is also a range for romantic attraction that falls within (maybe parallel?) to the ace spectrum. The romantic spectrum helps give vocabulary to people who, like me, might not be sexually attracted to people but are romantically attracted to people. For example, someone can be heteromantic and asexual; this means that they don't experience sexual attraction at all, but they are romantically attracted to people of the opposite gender to themselves.
5 years later I now identify as a greysexual, panromantic person, in other words I rarely experience sexual attraction to anyone and have a romantic attraction to people of any gender. If we really draw it out though I'm a greysexual, panromantic, cis-gender, leatherwoman who is married, in a monogamous relationship, with a heterosexual, cis-gender leatherboy (whew, what a mouthful! and no he's not a child, it's just a title); unfortunately what that looks like from the outside though is that I'm a woman in a heterosexual relationship man trying to attend Pride events. While we've thankfully never been met with outright hostility, we do tend to get a lot of side-eye from people we don't know.
Over the years I've found my voice and my place enough to not let most of it bother me, but "most" isn't "all." It took years of identifying as bisexual, still not feeling like I belonged at Pride, and now years as an ace person to finally feel like I belong, and I'm still met with side-eye and people trying to appropriate the A in LGBTQIA+ as "ally" instead of the intended "asexual/aromantic."
I wish I could say I had a simple solution for my fellow new/struggling aces, but I don't. The solution I've found to finding community is going out and making it happen. Connect with groups locally, or online, that can help you build connections with other queer people and queer support groups. Our path may not be easy, but that's because we're still paving it.
To our fellow QUILTBAG+ people, please help us stop ace-erasure. Stand up for our right to be in queer spaces. We all have to start somewhere and with the state of things being as they are right now, if we can't count on each other, who do we turn to?
I'll be at Pride. I hope to see you there too!
Ignixia is an international kink and alternative sexuality educator. The following blog entries range from educational information and resources from her classes to daily musings had on things occurring in the world.