Sometimes I’ll be in the middle of a discussion with other leatherfolk or kinksters and the topic of “who belongs” in certain kink environments comes up. This seems to arise more often amid people who identify with leather as opposed to those who identify as kink, but it’s still a common area of discussion in both camps.
This is always a tricky discussion because I see it as almost always situational. In other words, it truly depends on the specific kink environment you’re discussing. Leather bar? Public dungeon? Private play party. Kink conference? Classes? And so on.
However, that’s not entirely the point of this post, but I felt the need to bring up the “who belongs” discussion first because it relates directly to the actual point of this post. Which is…
Should we as a set of leather and kink communities be actively promoting through outreach into non-kinky communities with the hopes of attracting more kink community members, or should we instead simply allow attraction to bring people into the fold by them finding us through their active explorations of their own sexualities?
I think this is sort of a big deal question and at least tangentially relates to a lot of other hot topic discussions going on within the leather and kink scenes.
As some pertinent background, a past post of mine, Are Our Education Efforts Backfiring, in part discusses the historically somewhat newer effort to do outreach education to those outside of our kink networks to bring them into the fold.
In that post I make the case that spoon feeding the general public kinky scenes or detailed information outside of an understandable context isn’t wise. Yes, we can make educational and learning opportunities known to the public. But if someone doesn’t have the motivation and drive to expend at least the effort it takes to show up at a more private, controlled event, do we really want them in the scene in the first place?
Anyway, back to promotion (outreach) versus attraction.
I’d like to make the case that our scene should generally err on the side of attraction and not promotion. I think there can absolutely be some value and benefit to being visible, out, and claiming our rightful space amid other sexualities or identities. But in what way does active promotion beyond that really benefit our scene? I contend little. And not only may it not add to our scene, it might indeed detract.
Perhaps we attract some otherwise non-kinky person to join our ranks. They enjoy the social aspects of what we do without necessarily really understanding the internal lifeblood of what we do and who we are. Some of those people might even become integral parts of the scene socially, with some even attempting to elevate themselves in prominence and power through leather contests, club and organization boards, and so on.
I know it’s not a perfect analogy, but I liken it to a non-LGBT person running an LGBT civil rights organization and determining what’s appropriate behavior, what values should be enshrined, and crafting goals and objectives. That doesn’t make a lot of sense. Yes, “maybe” the rare individual can empathize fully with the camp of which they are not actually a member, but are the chances good for that to occur? Is it worth the risk?
Now, some of what I’ve said above is moot because the leather and kink world gates have already swung open widely in many arenas. I’m not sure we can necessarily put that genie back in the bottle in all cases. But if we keep in mind that the leather and kink communities are not necessarily always places for everyone of every stripe and persuasion, maybe we’ll experience less drama and conflict within our ranks.
At least that’s one of my theories. Or maybe I’m full of shit. I certainly think it’s worth putting out there as food for thought.