So this isn’t a very cheerful post for Valentines Day (for that, see here and here), but it’s important, and it’s been on my mind. See, my sweeties and I are headed to a big kink conference this weekend. I expect it will be a lot of fun. It’s pretty much the perfect way to spend Valentine’s Day, as far as I’m concerned. But I am also painfully aware that there are people I care about who no longer feel safe going to such events. And that’s a huge problem. And yet it is often an invisible one. Regardless of the context, people tend not to keep track of those who leave their communities. People leave, and they just…disappear. Maybe you look around and everything seems okay with the people you meet. But what about the people who are no longer the room? Why did they leave? What can we learn from them?
It’s not always easy to answer, because when people leave a community, they tend not to talk about it. For starters, they may not want to or feel able to tell their friend in the community, because of fear of–or actual experiences of–being silenced or shamed or told “it just isn’t a big deal.” And they may not feel able to talk to people outside the community, especially if revealing their former membership could have negative social consequences–as is often true for kinksters. So maybe you have things that you want others to hear, but don’t know how to talk about it. And we so need to talk about it. There’s a battle going on in kink communities around consent (as I’ve written about a bunch). Yet some of the voices who have the most to contribute aren’t present.
Blogger and activist Motley Mayhem is out to change that, and I want to signal boost her work. She’s started a project to collect and aggregate stories from people who have left BDSM or kink communities, and their reasons for doing so. You can go fill out the survey form here. There is a FAQ post about it, and a follow-up here.
More thoughts on the survey, on scenes and communities, and my own experiences, below the fold.