Thoughts from FemmeCon

This post is about my experience of the 2012 Femme Conference.

First thing on the first day there’s a kinky femmes workshop. There’s no description in the program book, but I am looking forward to being around other kinky femmes. I want to say this thing I’ve been thinking about that no one ever seems to say: that being kinky doesn’t always mean getting to do kink. I am thirty years old, and kink is vital to me, but it’s something I’ve never really had in abundance.

The session turns out to be a panel: four kinky femmes talk about how they do kink; we ask the questions, and they have the answers. I’ve spent the better part of the past eight years hearing about how other people do kink, and I can’t really bear to do it here now. I write a note to the friend I’ve come in with and slip out the door.

Where I go instead turns out to be my favorite workshop of the weekend. Kim Crosby‘s analysis of the world is so keen and expansive and intersectional that for the duration of the session (presentation available here), I almost don’t notice that no one is talking about kink.

But there is sexual tension everywhere. We are, after all, a group of queers who have come together for a weekend. On the first day, there is a speed-dating session (scheduled, aggravatingly, against a workshop on trans-misogyny). On the second day, there is a play party, but it’s far away, physically inaccessible, and costs $15 on top of the conference registration fees – besides which, the kind of erotic community I’m looking for is something I rarely find at a party). At one of the keynotes, someone shouts, “I want to get fucked at this conference,” and people cheer. I hear it in private conversations: hooking up, making out, who’s cute. I’ve thought it myself vaguely and privately: It would be nice. I don’t know if I’m ready to touch or be touched this weekend, but it’d be nice if I were and I could.

I run into people I used to know from the kink scene. “Where have you been?” one asks. “It’s been ages.”

I tell them I haven’t been to a kink event in years. “I’m kind of mad at the kink scene,” I say, honest but trying to keep it light. I talk about how it takes me time to want to connect with someone, how kink spaces always seem to be urgently about doing play right away, right now.

“That’s a good thing to know about yourself,” my old acquaintance answers. It’s the kind of answer I’m used to hearing from players in the public scene: the problem isn’t the scene, it’s you. At the kink panel, my friend who stayed tells me, someone said that if you don’t act like you belong, you never will.

If those are the rules, then I don’t belong. But outside of kink space, I miss the way that desire is understood as important, specific, variable, worth exploring, negotiating, making time for. I miss trusting that the community around me understands that we don’t all fuck the same way, that we don’t all fuck, period. When I walk into a space–yes, even a queer space–I assume that I’m not sexually compatible with most people in the room. And in a space like the Femme Conference, where the story we’re telling ourselves is that everyone wants to hook up (and we all basically know what hooking up means), I feel alienated, left out, afraid.

I want kink spaces that care about access: physical, financial, emotional. I want queer spaces that care about kink, and I want social justice spaces that value desire. At the end of the weekend, another person I know from the kink scene tells me they wish the conference had been more kink-informed. I roll the word around in my head. What would it mean for an understanding of kink to be integrated into the conference? How does kink fit into an intersectional analysis? What—as a friend wisely asked me—do I even mean when I use the word kink?

One week later, I’m still thinking it through. What about you? What do you think?

Numbers

A few numbers that don’t sit well with me: This month makes two years since I’ve had sex or play in my life. I’m turning thirty this summer. It’s been twelve or so years since my high school abusive relationship ended, which makes about eleven years I’ve been throwing myself into the work of trying to make sex feel safe and generative and good.

I am proud of the work I’ve done, of the person I’ve become and am still becoming. I am proud of knowing what I want (emotional intimacy, D/s, to give touch more than receive it, to balance alone time and togetherness), and I’m proud of saying no when I’ve needed to say no.

And, I am heartsick. For eleven years, I have wanted this thing. I couldn’t have put a name to it at first, but what I’d call it now is abundance. I want sex and play, and the particular kind of emotional connection that comes with them, and I want enough. Enough that there is time and space to learn and explore and grow and try things and make mistakes. To meander into different corners of my desire. To surprise myself by liking things I didn’t expect. To watch my edges shift, to move with them. To have kinds of play that feel comfortable and easy, and others that challenge me. To do things wrong and learn to pick up the pieces.

By and large, I haven’t had this. And today, I am filled with sadness for the things I haven’t done and for the ways I feel alone now.

Someone asked me recently if there was “anyone special” in my life. I answered that there were many—the housemates I live with, friends near and far, but as for “special” in the romantic way, no. “And you’re okay with that?” she asked, sort of marveling at it. And the truth is I’m not, really. It’s not what I’d choose for myself if I had the choice. And the other truth is that I am. It is what it is, and I’m proud of choosing to be alone rather than accepting partners (romantic, sexual, play, etc.) who are wrong for me.

But it hurts. It hurts to lack some fundamental kinds of intimacy. It hurts because I am someone to whom desire and intimacy matter deeply, and there are parts of myself that I can’t fully access alone. It hurts because it feels like it’s so often been this way, that I’ve spent so much of my adult life alone. It hurts because I feel alone in my aloneness, even though I know I’m far from the only person who’s spent most of her twenties unpartnered, and certainly not the only person who feels alone right now.

And yet, in so-called sex positive and kink communities, which in some ways are communities to which I feel connected, aloneness seems to be unthinkable. Every play party seems to assume you’ll either bring a date or pick one up there. Most skills classes seem to assume you either have experience doing whatever the class is about or that you’ll have somebody to practice with after. Most casual conversation in kink circles seems to assume you either have experience doing x, y, or z or, if not (and if it’s the sort of thing you might like to do someday), priority number one is to try it. For me, priority number one is to take care of myself. I’m not going to play with a partner I don’t trust (experience tells me that leaves me worse off than not playing at all), and I don’t build trust easily.

And it hurts. It hurts to watch communities grow out of these spaces (parties, classes, etc.) that feel fundamentally inaccessible to me. Sometimes it feels like everyone is moving forward and I’m the only one standing still. And yet, I know I’m not alone in this, even though it feels like I am.

As I write this, I am anticipating responses. I am imagining that someone might read this and feel compelled to tell me that my aloneness is my own fault, or to tell me how to fix it. If this is you, I ask you to step back, to not share those things with me. The truth is, some factors are within my control, and some aren’t, and I reserve the right to be sad about the aloneness I feel whether or not I’ve made every possible effort toward finding abundance.

This is what I would like you to share: I want to hear from other people who feel alone, or who have. I want to hear from other kinky folks who feel like they don’t have access to kink. Tell me a story about being alone or alienated from desire, tell me what it feels like for you, tell me how you take care of yourself, or just tell me that you’re out there. Maybe we can be a resource for each other. I hope so.

On Defaults, Roles, and, Finally, Flagging

Sometimes I hear people talk about kink and sex as if there is “regular sex” and kinky sex, and kink is a sort of extra or add-on. I’ve heard kink discussed as a kind of gourmet approach to sex, as if there is “meat and potatoes sex” and then in contrast, an exquisite, rarefied set of pleasures for the discerning palate. Underlying these approaches is the assumption that there are at least some sex acts that serve as a default, sex acts that everybody does. As someone who doesn’t do many of the acts that get considered default, and as someone for whom kink is at the center of my desire, I find this assumption both alienating and anxiety-producing.

A while back, I was talking to a group of people I was getting to know with whom I hadn’t extensively discussed sex. The conversation turned to sex, and in particular, the group started boisterously bantering back and forth about a particular sex act in a way that assumed that everyone did this thing, and it was a source of delight and humor and levity for all. I wanted to be able to talk to my new friends about sex, but I could find no way to be part of this conversation. They were discussing a kind of sex I rarely choose to have in a joyous, rapid-fire way, and it felt like even naming that I didn’t share their experience, or naming that that particular act was connected to trauma for me would have changed the tone of the conversation drastically.

Norms around dating also imply the assumption that there are acts everybody does. At least in the queer (but not explicitly kinky) communities that I’m currently connected to, there are no widespread norms about establishing erotic compatibility. Some of us flag, some don’t; some announce our kinks on dating websites, some don’t, and while you might hear a murmur about whether so-and-so is poly or dates femmes, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a conversation about whether someone bottoms or does D/s.

The implication here is either that erotic compatibility is assumed or that it’s not very important. And yet as someone with reasonably high chances of not being erotically compatible with someone I otherwise find attractive, I do find it important in choosing partners. Moreover, I value knowing about what sexuality looks like for the people in my life, and having people in my life who know what sexuality looks like for me. I find it puzzling to be part of a community that sees information about the general shape of each other’s desires as either too personal or too sexual to be expressed outside of explicitly erotic relationships. Or that assumes our sexualities are similar enough not to be worth mentioning, except in a moment of raucous bonding over (presumably) shared experience.

I am tempted, at times, to miss some of the norms of the queer bdsm community. There, it was rarely assumed that two people were compatible without knowing the kind of play each did. And there, knowing the kinds of play someone did or the kinds of roles they took up wasn’t considered any more private or intimate than knowing, for instance, the gender(s) of their partners. But I’m not suggesting that my community replace a system in which a default sexuality is assumed with one in which everybody identifies with a particular role (top, bottom, dominant, submissive, etc.) or a particular set of acts (bondage, flogging, etc.). In queer bdsm communities that did the latter, I felt just as unseen and presumed upon as I do outside of them. What I’d like to see both inside and outside of queer bdsm communities is space for the unknown. You can’t know what my desires look like by simply assuming they’re similar to an imagined norm. You can’t know what my desires look like simply by knowing that I call myself a top (though it’s a start).

This is why when I flag (in case you’ve been wondering), I flag “it’s complicated” on the left. I use a fabric scrap with a pattern that isn’t covered by any hanky code I’m aware of and hope that what those who notice take from it is 1) that I top and 2) that there is always more to the story than can be communicated at a glance. For me, flagging “it’s complicated” is a way of making space. In communities that presume a set of sexual defaults, it marks my sexuality as something different; in communities that invite me to declare a role and repertoire of acts, it conveys some information while leaving the rest opaque. My hope is that anyone who wants to know more will engage me in conversation—not the raucous kind based on presumed shared experience but an intimate, curious kind with room for nuance and complexity.

Specificities, Elisions, and Romantic Love Narratives

I’m no lover (if you will) of romantic love narratives. I hear the word “love” thrown around without much critical analysis about what it means and used to obscure and mystify real-world power dynamics and the specificities of desire and affection.

The word scares me. Not because of the depth of feeling it is supposed to represent, but because of its vagueness. I imagine erotic and romantic relationships like a prism with eroticism, passion, power, affection, caring, desire, intensity, intimacy, and attachment (to name just a few) as facets. One word couldn’t begin to describe the shape, weight, and lustre of the prism, and I for one wouldn’t want it to. I am far more interested in perceiving the specifics of a relationship than in matching it to an archetype.

And that’s what the romantic love narrative is to me: an archetype. A generalization, and often an idealized, sanitized imagining of what relationships look like. I see the idea of love gloss over and obscure the realities of intimacy and power, and its erasures often feel dangerous.

The other night, I read an erotic story. In the 9-5 world, the two parties were employer and employee. When they met in a club by accident, they found their roles somewhat reversed. As I read, I was acutely conscious of the ways power and consent were playing out between the parties. I waited for the author to address the vulnerability of the employee’s position, or the sinister audacity of the employer’s advances. Instead, the author resolved the tension with a reveal that was both deeply familiar and utterly unsatisfying: each party had been in love with the other the whole time; the employee’s initial refusals had come only from the fear that the employer did not feel the same way.

What strikes me about this resolution is first how typical it is to the genre—so often the resolution to a romantic comedy is that unacknowledged love is the source of everybody’s confusing behavior and that acknowledging that love leads simply and easily to a happily ever after. The reveal also undercut the story’s erotic tension. What was compelling about the story came from the specificities of the two parties’ shifting power dynamic; the “love reveal” replaced those specificities with a common and boring trope. Notably, the two parties’ being in love did not actually resolve most of the numerous questions about power and consent that arose from the setup. And yet its being offered as a resolution suggests that their being in love was supposed to have been both justification and roadmap enough.

The romantic love narrative also glosses over the particulars of sex. Partly because romantic sex gets assumed to be gentle and power-neutral, while D/s and s/m are assumed incompatible with or incapable of expressing the kind of deep feeling and caring that gentle, power-neutral sex is supposed to. But also because the converse of the idea that you should only have sex with someone you love is that a kind of deep emotional attachment is all one needs to make sex okay.

My eroticism is rooted in specifics; my trauma is rooted in elisions. [Trigger warning for the next 2 paragraphs, which describe sexual coercion and unwanted sex.]

As a teenager, I believed in the romantic love narrative. I entered a relationship and believed, because the signs were there (kissing, interdependency, a swelling in my chest when I thought of her), that our relationship measured up to the archetype, and so I used the idea of love to guide my decisions. She was in love with me, so of course she asked (and asked and asked) for sex. I was in love with her, so of course it would be beautiful and transcendent. I said yes because she pressured me, but I also said yes because the romantic love narrative told me I was supposed to.

No one told me what would happen to my cunt. No one told me what do to with my hands while I lay there, naked, willing my body not to betray me with sounds and motions I did not wish to share. I’d searched myself for weeks before agreeing to have sex, wanting to be sure it was love I felt. It had never occurred to me to consider my body, to imagine the realities of hair and fingers and sweat and smells. We were in love. We were supposed to transcend all that.

[End trigger warning.]

On a day devoted to celebrating romantic love, and to hawking the most genericized tokens of affection in every drugstore, flower stand, and pink-bannered storefront, I feel profoundly uneasy. I know there are many in my life who have reclaimed the idea of love or found ways of suiting it to their own complex purposes. Myself, I still find the word both dangerous and unnecessary. Rather than use that one fraught word as a shorthand for my feelings, I choose to celebrate those who are important to me in words and gestures that reflect the specificities of who we are to each other and why that matters. And rather than imagine that romantic relationships are always to be celebrated, I choose to recognize intimacy and vulnerability as potential sites of danger. A swell of feeling between us is not enough; tell me how we navigate power, consent, desire, and our bodies, and I’ll tell you—in detail—what you mean to me.

Why I Write About Sex on the Internet

My dad called me last week to tell me he’d read this blog. He’d found it through a series of Google searches after spotting that I was using a different name (this one, rather than my given one) on Facebook. I’m too angry, uncomfortable, and, frankly, afraid that he’s still reading (though I asked him not to) to go into much detail about my reaction just now.

But I do want to talk about why I write about sex on the internet.

A few of the people I talked to this past week seemed to take the stance that I’d brought this on myself. I was the one who decided to write about my sexuality on the internet, where everyone can see it. My old profession would have felt similarly. I remember back when my coworkers and I were all adding each other on Friendster, then later on MySpace, Twitter, and Facebook, I mentioned to someone I saw as a mentor that it was hard to know what to say about myself in front of my coworkers. His response was breezy, as if it were all laughably simple: “Just don’t say anything stupid.”

In other words, don’t talk about the abusive relationship that was formative in my life; don’t talk about the joyous, healing series of flings and discoveries that came four years later; don’t talk about my ongoing relationship with the bdsm scene, even though I was spending most of my mental energy there; don’t talk about my emotions; don’t talk about the fact that not talking about any of this poses any kind of hardship.

Before you assume I was some sort of corporate shill, let me explain: I was a youth librarian. I cared deeply about my work. I was making a difference in the lives of teenagers, or at least I hoped I was. And there was a sense among my colleagues—the ones I saw every day and the ones I only saw online—that we were all in this together. Of course we wanted to talk to each other outside of work. Who else would understand the maddening business of advocating for teens against a hostile administration? Who else would appreciate the thing that one wiseass kid said that had everyone in the room in stitches in spite of ourselves?

It took a while to notice all of the things I wasn’t saying. And by the time I did notice, it was too late. I’d invited my colleagues into practically every corner of my online social life. Now I was stuck with them. The weird thing was, none of them seemed to mind. “I just let it all hang out,” a colleague once told me, when I asked how she felt about sharing her online presence with other librarians. And sure, our colleagues didn’t much care when she posted a picture of herself with a wineglass or live-tweeted episodes of Glee. I suspect they’d have felt differently, however, about me RSVP-ing to a bladeplay workshop or linking to a blog post about trauma and D/s.

I remember how much work it used to take to find appropriately bland things to say about myself, how constantly I felt the surveillance of my coworkers, how, eventually, every friend request from another goddamn colleague felt like one more violation, cementing more and more the demand for me to show up in these ostensibly social spaces in business casual drag, unrecognizable to the queers, kinksters, and radicals with whom I’d begun longing to be in community.

Not that I wanted the queers and kinksters and radicals to see me, not like this. I came to dread the moments at kink events when fellow attendees would ask me what I did in the rest of my life. I didn’t want to tell them I was a librarian for fear word might somehow get back to my colleagues that I’d been here. And I didn’t want to be fetishized (as often happened when I did reveal my line of work) as a “sexy librarian.” There was nothing sexy about my work with teenagers, and besides, librarianship was the force in my life that insisted I have no sexuality at all.

Online, getting friend requests from queers and radicals felt almost as as bad as getting them from colleagues. I didn’t want them to see this watered-down version of me, didn’t want them to think that librarian was all I was. I was proud of my work as a youth librarian, had done some activism within the profession that I was glad to share with friends and colleagues alike. But in the parts of my life I couldn’t show publicly, I was aching for connection. Allowing people with whom I thought those connections might be possible into a space where those parts were once again made invisible was almost too painful to bear.

The bitter irony here is that my desire to work with teenagers was in large part animated by the abuse and sexual coercion I’d experienced as a teenager myself. I wanted to be a boundaried and trustworthy adult for the teens I encountered in my work. I wanted to help create spaces and communities that made their lives bigger, treat them with care and respect, and connect them with information, resources, and stories that would matter. But I found I could rarely do more than toe the party line. Like my coworkers, I listened to the teens when they came and talked to me, brought books and comics and magazines into the library that spoke to the teens who were there, and introduced a number of new teens into the citywide community of adolescent geeks, queers, goths, and gamers that was growing in our little library space.

And, like my coworkers, I let a lot of things slide. I didn’t speak up when security guards harassed the teens on their way into the building. I never had a larger conversation with the teen manga fans who complained about “those ghetto kids” who shared the library space. I never addressed the profession’s insistence that there were “girl books” and “boy books.” I never, at least not in any meaningful way, spoke to the boy I heard unleash upon his girlfriend string after string of verbal abuse.

I didn’t then have the skills to address those admittedly thorny and deeply rooted issues, but I believe I had the capacity to learn. After my abusive relationship in high school, after all, I’d spent a year teaching myself how to recognize and understand my own feelings. The years I worked at the library, I was constantly educating myself. I read book after book on kink, went to class after class, wrote journal entry after journal entry, trying whatever I could trying to heal that aching rift between myself and my desires.

I’d like to think I could have applied similar efforts to my work with teenagers, but I also know, looking back, that it felt impossible. My sexuality, at the time, was a black hole of unmet need. I was lonely, hurt, and unable to fathom devoting my energy to anything else—in part, I imagine, because of how cut off I felt from community and support. Not to mention that after a while, just thinking about the library outside of work became painful. The library was the place where I didn’t get to be me.

Let me be very clear. I am not suggesting that the solution here would have been to share information about my sexual practices and process with my colleagues, or (god forbid) with the library teenagers. What I am saying is that I needed space. The demands of the library profession—coupled with the particulars of social networking and the cultural stigma around sex—made it impossible for me, an abuse survivor still struggling with sexuality, to access the resources and support I needed. In fact, the demands of the library profession recreated the conditions that made my abuse possible. When I was a teenager, I was lonely and isolated. I had few resources around sex, and nobody in my life even acknowledged—maybe nobody believed—that sexuality was an area where one might need resources. Now, here I was again, cut off from support networks, enmeshed in a community that saw attempts to talk publicly about sexuality as simply “stupid.”

I write about sex on the internet because I want things to change. I can no longer stand to be told that this part of myself that is hungry for community and connection, this part that is a site of work and joy, struggle and healing, is not worth attending to. I write about sex on the internet to create a resource: to share the work that I’ve done and to start conversations about the work that others are doing. I write about sex on the internet because it matters, and I am no good to anyone when I pretend it doesn’t. I write about sex on the internet because I am tired of feeling alone.

And, yes, I am taking a risk in writing this publicly, even under a different name. My colleagues could read it, more family members could read it, even one of those library teenagers could read it (though I’d like to think they’d find it either too boring or too icky to read very far). But I write about sex on the internet because I can’t afford not to. I’m glad my writing is out here, ready to be found by those who need it. I only hope that those who don’t want to see it, who find these topics trivial, tacky, titillating, or just plain unpleasant, will have the decency and common sense to keep their distance.

I Just Wanted to Say…

I’ve been blogging a little more regularly lately and promoting this blog a little more widely, and I’ve been really surprised and touched by the responses I’ve gotten here and elsewhere.

Ever since my high school abusive relationship ended, sexuality has been central to who I am, what I care about, and how I approach the world. Such that you couldn’t really know me without knowing how much work I put into both healing from trauma and exploring and celebrating my desires.

And yet, somewhere along the line, I think I had internalized the message that this thing about me, this thing that is core to me, was something icky and unseemly. Something that had at all costs to be hidden from work, family, and all but a few vetted friends. And you know… I don’t really want work reading what I write here. I’m not really ready to discuss it with my family. And there might be real-world consequences if the wrong people find out. (Not too many for me at this point, as far as I know, but I don’t want to minimize the ways that there can be consequences to being publicly visible as kinky or make presumptions about how other people should handle this stuff.)

But the past couple of weeks, as I’ve written more and shared more openly, I’ve felt some of my loneliness start to ease up. The other day, an old acquaintance, someone to whom I hadn’t spoken in years, whose relationship to sexuality I know nothing about, followed a link to this blog on Facebook and commented sweetly and positively about it.

I literally wept in my hands. All I could think was, all these years, I’ve kept this stuff hidden… at great cost… and for what?

I’m still figuring out exactly how open I want to be (you may notice that I’m not sharing much about the context in which I’ve made these choices), but I’m feeling really gratified and inspired and moved by what’s happened so far. And I hope that it’s also been useful and meaningful for you.

 

When Play Is a Party, I’m Not Invited: On Kink Events and Party Culture

For a while, when I had a little more disposable income and a little more optimism about the possibilities therein, I was going quasi-regularly to a few weekend kink events.

I haven’t gone in probably a year. And though I miss the idea of having community around kink, I don’t much miss the events as they were. The events didn’t feel like they provided community. I often felt like the one person there who wasn’t insisting they were having the best time ever.

Typical interaction at a kink event:

Acquaintance: Are you having the BEST TIME EVER?

Me:

Acquaintance: I’ve had, like, seven playdates so far.

Me:

Acquaintance: I just got staples!!!

Me (relieved to have a socially acceptable conversation topic): Oh, really, how was that?

Thing is, I often don’t have a great time. For a number of reasons. Maybe I arrived unpartnered and most nights there’s nothing to do besides play. Maybe it’s been a hard week, or someone said something fucked up, or I can’t find the queers, or a class was triggering, or a speaker assumed that people like me don’t exist or aren’t here. Or I got sick and now I’m coughing mucus out of my lungs and don’t want to touch anyone. Or I went through a heartwrenching breakup the week before. Or people here are touching me without my consent or making assumptions about how I play or who I partner with, and I feel not seen, not valued, not among anything like the community I wish for.

But there isn’t much room for admitting when things are hard. “Are you having the BEST TIME EVER?” isn’t really a question that tolerates a “no” answer, or even a shade or two of nuance. At the last event I went to, which I attended primarily to support my friends who were organizing, teaching, and speaking, I made a point of answering questions about my weekend truthfully. “It’s been nice,” I’d tell the enthusiastic questioners. “Low-key.”

This too was the wrong answer. I got back looks of bafflement, incredulity, affrontedness. Didn’t I know there was a huge dungeon, plus pool parties, a vending floor, a sex lounge, and hey, a hot scene starting in like twenty minutes—maybe I could join in?

Yeah, I guess. But the party atmosphere—this constant, frenzied flitting from one good time to another—isn’t really how I do my kink, or my community. The play I want is based in connection and intimacy, and often the kinds of connection and intimacy I’m looking for build slowly over time. When the expectation is that time is scarce and we have to cram in as many experiences as we can over the course of a day or two, building those connections becomes next to impossible. Sometimes I’ve been lucky and connected quickly with somebody, but that’s the exception to the rule and not something it makes any sense to count on.

Besides, it’s not just about getting to play. What I wish for from kink community, more than finding partners (though often, that too would be nice), is to connect with people who value the work of intentionally co-crafting our sexualities and our relationships, who can share skills and experiences and approaches to doing specific kinds of play or relationships, who can celebrate when kink is rewarding and joyous and pleasurable but also make space for it being scary or challenging or hard. I want to stay up all night sharing stories about who we are and how kink fits into our lives. And I want to maintain those connections long after a weekend event is over.

My suspicion is that plenty of people who go to kink events would be up for many of these kinds of connections. But the culture of events is not one that facilitates intimacy, at least not for me.

In a way, that’s just as well. Ultimately, I don’t want the community I build to be—as many of these events are for many of us—financially and physically inaccessible. Nor do I want it to be bounded so strictly by time—something that exists for a weekend, then disappears for months. But deciding party-style kink events don’t work for me means back to the drawing board as far as how to build the community I wish for. Which is a step in the right direction, but sometimes a little dispiriting.