I grew up with swinksters (70s and 80s), and the groups of friends they had were incredibly varied in gender, race, age (college towns), and personality.
Then, I “came out” into the scene in NYC in the 90s. A huge city, tons of people, the variety was wonderful and heady.
However, once I started going to local events in other, smaller towns in about 10 years ago, I noticed they weren’t the same.
•POC were missing
•Trans folk were missing
•Gay peeps were missing
Hell, except for me, often anything other than white male dominant with white female submissive who is sometimes bi and sometimes a switch (on command) was often missing.
Not that that ^^^^^ is wrong in any way. Just… not my scene.
And this was not in proportion to the overall populations. There were POCs, there were trans folk, there were gay people. They just weren’t represented in kinky spaces and events.
And I wasn’t sure why.
And I talked with people about it. And I’ve seen people talking online about (more recently), and a common response was, “Well, _ people just don’t join the community,” or Why don’t more _ join community events, then?”
I didn’t have an answer except that I had a feeling that it didn’t really work that way.
I was right.
Since then, I’ve realized that every event/group is informed by it’s leadership, and many people in kink who run things are not really leaders, but people who do it to spend time with friends.
Which is fine.
It does leave out “not-friends” and people who don’t look like friends, IE “people who don’t look like me,” or “people who intimidate me,” and etc.
A gay friend said to me, “I just felt slighted, not included,” about a munch.
He chose not to go back. And I supported him.
Two munches later, another young gay man showed up. I made a point of speaking with him (no one else did, until I introduced him around), and later he said essentially the same thing. No one seemed actively homophobic, but no one (except me) seemed to make an effort to make him feel welcome, either. He didn’t feel like he fit in.
People come to events to meet people.
They don’t come to events to spend time pushing for equal treatment, trying to carve out a safe space, or for politicking for intersectionality.
When they are slighted (for reasons of role, orientation, gender, race…), they often don’t come back. The next person like them who shows up sees no one like themselves, is not welcomed and SEEN/understood, and so they leave, and so on, over and over.
And the group/event never reaches a tipping point to creating a cultural critical mass for variety.
It’s an issue. It’s been an issue. It will continue to be an issue for a long time as far as I can tell, because:
1.People refuse to see it as an issue.
2.People see it as an issue, but it’s not THEIR issue.
3.People see it as an issue, but it’s not their issue to solve.
I’m not currently hosting in-person events.
I do host online events 15+ times per month. And I love the variety of people we not only attract, but retain. The people of all races, genders, sexual orientations, and beliefs that we gather together for learnings and socializing about kink.
I’ll keep doing that.
And when things open back up, I’ll continue to support those groups I know of that make every effort to include people and give them a strong feeling of welcome.