There are many paths into BDSM, but perhaps the most common way people are introduced to kinky play is through a partner who suggests a spanking or handcuffs “to spice things up.” Once an enthusiasm for kink is discovered, many (if not most) confine their BDSM interests to the privacy of their own bedrooms. That’s what my husband and I did after stumbling into a passion for Dominance and submission (D/s) and all the erotic explorations that go with it. Even though we quickly came to consider power exchange the most important part of our relationship — and a defining aspect of our sexual identities — we kept our BDSM adventures a “secret” just between us. For four years.
In those first years, holding this secret felt light and easy; we were in our own private community of two, sharing the thrill of constant discoveries. But eventually our D/s journey hit a luIl, a feeling of coasting along, with nowhere new to go. I longed to talk to someone about the ups and downs of our efforts to go further into D/s, and so, I nervously went online looking for other kinksters. Within a matter of hours, I had a personal invitation to a local munch. My darling Daddy and I were unsure whether it would be worthwhile to go, but decided to give it a shot. Walking into that first munch wasn’t easy, I felt very uncomfortable to emerge from the safety of anonymity. But we were soon grateful we took the plunge. In fact, joining the BDSM community changed our lives nearly as much as our discovery of BDSM did.
I had no idea how satisfying, or how important, it would feel to introduce myself as a “submissive.” To feel that I could be my authentic self with other people for the first time, a self who was not judged for what I liked and who I wanted to be. Of course, I have long known how important it is to positively embrace one’s sexual self in order to experience wholeness and well-being, yet I was still surprised by how sweet the feeling of liberation. I also had no idea how much fun it would be to hang out with a bunch of kinky people who laughed boisterously about sexual subjects, and who didn’t feel the need to edit themselves for ‘respectability.’ Most exciting, as we made more connections, more friends, and went to more events, workshops and classes, our personal D/s journey was fueled anew. In less than a year we had committed to a more 24/7 way of living, and happily took part in a collaring ceremony with a gathering of our new kinky friends.
It’s now been two years since we joined our local community, and we have discovered a whole host of benefits, including:
Once you’ve made the decision to take the plunge and join the BDSM community, how to go about it?
The first step is to log onto FetLife, the essential online hub for the BDSM community, and create a profile. (There are other BDSM community sites, but most are geared toward hookups and dating, and none are as universally populated by kinksters as Fetlife). Next, click on “Groups” at the top of the Home page and look for your city/area. You will find a list of local kink groups you can join. Smaller cities may only have one group, while larger cities may have several. Most groups post an event calendar with classes, events and, most important, regular “munches.” I live in a fairly small county population-wise, and yet I am able to choose between five regular munches each month in different towns within an hour’s drive of me.
A munch (usually featuring a meal at a restaurant), or a slosh (usually just drinks), is the basic entryway into your local community. These events are non-kinky social mixers attended by kinky people for the purpose of making new connections or catching up with friends in the community. If one is on the shy side, walking into a munch to meet people can be a daunting prospect. But every munch has a host who will usually make an effort to introduce new people to others, if they so desire. In my experience, kinky people are incredibly warm and welcoming to new members, and try hard to be inclusive and integrate new people into the local community. (You can find more information on what to expect at your first munch here and here.)
For many, attending munches is a mainstay of their BDSM life. One academic survey of over 1,000 BDSM practitioners on FetLife found that as many as 65 percent report going to a munch at least once a month. But attending munches is not required, nor the only way to become part of the community. Attending workshops, classes or support groups also opens the door to learning more, meeting people in a non-pressure environment, and finding a sense of belonging.
While most kinksters will agree on the long list of benefits of joining their local community, and say they can’t imagine their lives without being part of it, they will probably admit to a few complaints as well. Like any community of unique individuals, personality conflicts happen, group leadership can be out of step or prone to power struggles, or a generational divide can pop up. Still, the spirit of openness of the community, the emphasis on clear communication and the sharing of laughter usually goes a long way toward smoothing conflicts. And, because its members share such a uniquely intense common interest, requiring such trust in other members, the sense of fellowship within the BDSM community is simply like no other.