Originally posted 14 November 2011
I’ve been told that someone is telling newbies that the kink community is all about butterflies and flowers. So I thought I would give you an idea of what the community is, what it is not, and a few pointers on how to interact. This is probably going to be a long post. You have been warned.
Disclaimer: What I am going to say mainly applies to the Atlanta community, because that is where I am based and “grew up” a long time ago. Parts, at least, will apply to your community. Some bits may not. Your best course of action in finding which is which is to get active in your community, watch, listen and think.
Also, this is for dominants, submissives, slaves, switches, tops, bottoms, etc, etc, of any and all genders. Being a particular orientation or a particular gender doesn’t make you immune to newbie-itis.
The Community – What Is it?
At its base, the community is simply a bunch of people whose sexual expression or preferred way of living fall outside the accepted norm. Our kinks may be similar, or they may not. We may get off on beating or being beaten, or we may not. We might thrive in a controlled d/s environment, or we might not. We may be polyamorous, or we may not. We may perv on discipline or bondage or humiliation or sensation play or electricity, or we may not.
We are simply a group of people who are often marginalized by society in some way and we come together for support, education, friendship, and/or sexy times. The public community is a great place to learn or experience flogging, fireplay, rope, needles, wax, singletails, rough body play, spanking, and almost any other physical type of play you can think of. It is not the best place to learn about d/s. For that, you need to find individuals who practice d/s. They can be found in the public community, but being as d/s isn’t as welcome in public settings, they often play it close to the vest. You will have to look closely and pay attention.
We have professional folks, blue collar folks, healthcare workers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, students and pretty much every other profession you can think of. We have our share of crazy people – both dangerous and harmless. We have predators and prey (both the fun kind and the dangerous kind, again). We have victims and abusers. We have people who start groups and munches in order to gain popularity or validity. We have people who start groups and munches in order to help themselves and other people become better than they already are.
We don’t have leaders.*
Let me repeat: We do not have leaders.
We have people who know a lot about their subjects and are amazing to watch. We have people who know a lot about their subjects and teach it well to others. We have people who know a lot about their subjects and can’t teach worth a damn. We have people who think they know a lot about their subjects and can fake it well if you don’t look too closely. We have people who think they are smarter than the average bear. We have people who are smarter than the average bear. You can tell the difference because the latter doesn’t try to tell you or show off every time you see them.
We have incredibly generous people who give help when it’s asked of them. We have people who donate food, money, clothing, to those who’ve experienced tragedy — or who just need a helping hand. We have people who will come out to support their friends even if they don’t really like the event in question. We have people who offer professional services at a discount to people in the community. We have people who help others move, repair damage to their house, remodel new places and old places. People who offer their homes for meetings, demos, social events.
We have every aspect of society at large represented within our community.
The Community – What Is It Not?
The community is not utopia. You will not find Prince Charming here. You will not find your Fantasy Woman here. (Neither of those can be found out there either as they don’t exist.) You will not suddenly have the perfect relationship because you’ve discovered kink.
The community is not utopia. It is no more (or less) tolerant than the outside world. People in the community still have the same biases they do outside the community. People still judge. People disagree. People fight. People are still cruel and mean.
The community is not utopia. You will be welcomed. You will be taught if you wish to learn. You will not be any safer here than anywhere else. You will still need to use your brain and your critical thinking so you know from whom to learn, who to allow to guide you. Not all people are trustworthy.
The community is not utopia. Mental health issues do not disappear with the discovery of kink. Physical issues do not disappear with the discovery of kink. If you are bipolar, have BPD, PTSD, eating disorders, anger management issues, addiction, childhood or adult trauma issues you will not be cured, healed or otherwise blessed. Keep seeing your doctors, taking your meds, going to your groups.
And in case I was too vague or subtle (because people say that about me): the community is not utopia.
Advice on how to “survive” the community
The first suggestion has already been mentioned:
Use your brain.
So many people — especially women — seem to forget all the tools they used in the outside world in order to decide who to trust and who is a fucking moron. You get that weird feeling in your gut that something’s wrong? *Listen* to it! Someone’s story doesn’t quite match up? Pay attention and do some research.
Don’t gossip. Don’t believe everything you hear.
If you don’t have first hand knowledge of something (ie – you were there), don’t talk about it like you do. Do refer those looking to the people involved or who actually witnessed what happened. Also, don’t assume that when someone tells you about an incident that it means they were there. Critical thinking is important. You know how the world works. Don’t forget those lessons you learned the hard way “out there.” They still apply here.
Don’t jump at the first dom/sub who catches your attention! For fucks sake, don’t do that. Learn how New Relationship Energy feels in this new environment.
The first time you control someone or are controlled by someone, it’s easy to feel like they were meant for you. As if the gods of kink had smiled down upon you and the leather-clad angels sang the song of Solomon in lilting voices.
Sure, some people are still with their first partners, just like some high school sweethearts are still together. But most of us aren’t. They are the exceptions, not the norm. And the chances of your very first partner being your “One” (if that’s what you’re looking for) are slim. Additionally, since you’re just now venturing out, you don’t even know what you really need out of a relationship. You don’t know what you like, what you hate, etc. But you have time. If this person really is your One, that’s not going to change in a year’s time. Slow down.
Just because someone runs a munch, or looks great throwing a flogger, does not mean that person is more trustworthy or in any way elevated above others. They are just people who run a munch or look good with a flogger, until you learn more about them. Do your due diligence when it comes to play partners. Remember, we don’t have leaders.
No one else is responsible for your happiness or your safety. That is all you. Understand the situations you choose to get into, realize that as you go through life with this new path, you are going to learn more and more about yourself. Learn how to be safe. Think for yourself. Figure out what you need in order to be safe, to be happy. These are things that will change over time and that’s okay. Don’t just have one or two sources for anything, including education. Learn from everyone.
In the end, the community is just a bunch of people. It’s no safer than any other community. It’s no scarier than any other community. It’s no more trustworthy than any other community. Use your brain, your critical thinking, your logic. Understand yourself and the people you play with.
Don’t assume just because you found the kinky community, that now everything is going to be butterflies, flowers and cute little kitties.
Well, we do have cute little kitties. But I think you get what I mean.
* The term “leaders” in this post refers to the idea of “community leaders,” those who are chosen or viewed as people who actually lead the community in a certain direction. There are very fiew kink organizations who have actual leaders. Some, with a board, do, and those people lead that board. That doesn’t make them natural leaders of the community. Just like running a munch doesn’t make someone a leader in a community. To find the real leaders, you have to watch and listen.
Cross-posted from Fetlife.