Kink in exile

Notes from a kinky nomad

Create awesome or Create cliques, your choice

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending KinkForAll Denver.  I had been following the organizational efforts via the email list and so I knew that there was a bit of political chatter, but politics rarely bother me.  When it comes to speaking about sexuality, activism, or frankly most topics on a systemic scale I have a lot of faith in people’s desire to leave petty infighting behind and create awesome together.

KinkForAll Denver had a bit of pushback from the BDSM community.  Because KinkForAll is all ages and many sessions are recorded or live streamed this is not exactly unusual, however the nature of the clashes in Denver were perhaps different. I had hoped to find a gentler word, but honestly, I found the whole thing sophomoric.

KinkForAll is not a BDSM event, and given the sheer number of BDSM events already on the calendars of most metropolitan cities I have a hard time giving credence to cries of exclusion and oppression from within the BDSM scene. Furthermore, KinkForAll is a participant created event, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept it’s really quite simple: the people who do the work own the conference. Wanna own the conference and make it into your vision?  Do the work, book the space, fund raise, build relationships with sponsors, create the wiki and web presence, call community groups to invite them, get price quotes from printers, set up live streaming, beg borrow or steal graphic design and web templates, acquire and set up projectors, talk people into speaking, talk people out of speaking too much, be yelled at by everyone who thinks participant created means 5 dudes do all the work while everyone else critiques, support people who want to do shit but don’t know how to or need permission to through that and all the millions of other little things you may have been too busy throwing yourself a pity party to notice happened.

I describe myself as a moderate, and in most situations I am, but when I hear the BDSM community talk about feeling unwelcomed at KinkForAll, and after speaking with some members of Denver’s BDSM community, all I can say is “good.” BDSM practitioners did attend KinkForAll Denver, I’m one of them, but the noise created by a few people having an emotional reaction to not having their privilege card stamped at the door, a rare experience I gather, wasted time and energy that could have been better spent building, dreaming, creating, and sharing together.

Outside of KinkForAll I listened to members of Denver’s BDSM scene tell me how special and different Denver is.  The same way I’ve heard members of the NY, Boston, DC, and SF scenes tell me how special and different their scenes were.  Right now, I’m too disenchanted with The Scene to imagine a scene that’s not steeped in its own dogma, I haven’t heard it described yet.   But I learned something else, something that starts a glimmer of hope, it’s not BDSM that I’m finding hurtful and convoluted, it’s the scene.  And this makes sense, the scene is a structure, an organization that will, perhaps by necessity,  be bound to organizational maintenance, cliques, and egos.  BDSM, I am learning, doesn’t require dealing with the leather and latex crowd, it’s about having the sex you want with the people you love in the ways you enjoy.

So fuck the scene and the strife, forget the cliques, instead, take a look at these amazing KinkForAll Denver presenters and create more awesome!

Written by kinkinexile

February 27, 2012 at 11:46 pm

Posted in community, politics, work

Tagged with ,

8 Responses

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  1. Well said.


    February 28, 2012 at 1:08 am

  2. Um, wow, this is really painful for me to read, because it sounds so dismissive of the work that I and other local folks have been doing to make KFADEN happen. I *have been* at the planning meetings, I *have been* encouraging all my activist friends to present sessions, I *have been* flyering and talking to potential sponsors, and so I *do* feel a sense of personal investment. Of course, I realize that my own contributions pale in comparison with those of Rebecca, or maymay, or Maya, or the Metro Feminist Alliance… but it’s still hurtful and a little baffling to be accused of just sitting back and throwing myself a “pity party”, you know?

    Ben K

    February 28, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    • Beyond the Facebook post I made this morning, I’ve been making a conscious effort to stay quiet in these discussions, but I do want to go on record as saying one thing:

      I believe he’s too humble to say so (even when he’s feeling hurt and unappreciated), but Ben K made the biggest single contribution of actual hands-on work to KFADEN of *anybody* involved in the planning process. He was primarily responsible for finding, booking, and securing sponsorship for the space. He not only attended *every* planning meeting, he *hosted* organizational activities in his home. I believe that he passed out more fliers and talked to more people than any other individual involved with KFADEN, including myself or maymay.

      These are just some of the tangible ways that Ben contributed to making KFADEN happen, not to mention intangible investments of passion, vision, and care. If the people who do the work own the conference, then KFADEN was arguably Ben’s conference more than anybody else’s. Up to this point, I’ve been feeling like KFADEN was a success. But if Ben is disappointed with the way the event turned out, then I’ll feel like we failed.

      That’s all. Thanks.


      February 29, 2012 at 3:46 am

  3. Ben, thank you for both your work for KinkForAll Denver, and for your feedback on this post. Honestly, while I know you deserve an answer I am unwilling to give any more power/time/energy to this conversation.

    I really enjoyed connecting with you over coffee on Sunday, and I’m sure the bridging role you’ve been playing has taken it’s toll on you as well. Lets focus on the structural rather than the personal for a bit, shall we?


    February 28, 2012 at 7:13 pm

  4. Just a terse note to say I saw this; I certainly don’t feel like I’m owed a response or anything. I also really enjoyed our conversation over coffee and I look forward to continuing it here or over email or whatever.

    And thirdxlucky I certainly don’t feel the event was a failure; I’m so happy and awestruck that you all made it happen. And, um, thank you for the nice compliment.

    Ben K

    February 29, 2012 at 5:31 pm

  5. “the noise created by a few people having an emotional reaction to not having their privilege card stamped at the door, a rare experience I gather, wasted time and energy that could have been better spent building, dreaming, creating, and sharing together.”

    This seems like a false dilemma to me–wanting the pillars of our local community to be present and involved with an otherwise cool event is PART of the dreaming of, building, creating, and sharing a better scene, no?


    March 10, 2012 at 10:16 pm

  6. Max, the idea of establishing *pillars* in a community is itself the problem when trying to empower people to be the experts on their own experience and learn in peer-to-peer ways rather than through top down established channels.


    March 11, 2012 at 12:06 am

  7. That still seems like a false dilemma, I guess. Is it really too much to ask to have our local networks AND peer-to-peer education?


    March 11, 2012 at 1:30 pm

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