As a female who identifies as a submissive and tends to be a little nervous around new people, joining our local community was a challenging experience.
The first time I went looking for it was back in early 2000. I had a kinky partner and we were interesting in learning more, but the only advice we could scrape up at the time came in the form of “check for postings or information at your local adult store that sells BDSM gear.” Well, our kink store had an amazing back room full of leather and cuffs, clothes, clamps, floggers, crops, rope and all sorts of high-quality delights. You had to know it was there and a staff member had to accompany you if they didn’t know you. It seemed obvious that they would know where we could find others like us.
Perhaps they did and chose not to share, but more likely, the others who frequented that room besides us didn’t give them that information. We never saw anyone else back there besides us, but magical new things would appear, like sex swings and tail plugs, and others would be gone when next we’d visit. We never did find the others.
Fast forward to 2017. When Daddy sent me out into the great wide world of the internet searching for others, this time I was a lot more successful. I found Fetlife, which helped me get an idea of what events were offered in our area, and was able to figure out how to meet up with that first munch and progress a little more deeply into our local community.
At first I made individual friends. I met people at parties and munches and once I found a female (because kinky male strangers still made me very nervous) I could converse and relate with, I’d focus on that person and build the beginnings of a friendship. I wasn’t interacting with my community yet much through my writing, and it felt very peripheral.
Once I started writing more of my journal entries online, I began engaging with the online Kink Community a little more actively, though I still held them at a distance in my life. At some point, the exhibitionist in me blended with the helpful parts, and my writing became more personal. I began predominantly using Fetlife as my social media of choice. I found that the conversations I wanted to have and the interactions I desired could occur there, when places like Facebook still struck me as more disingenuous, with sugar-coated moments in time preserved for internet eternity.
But it wasn’t until I began using chat apps that I really connected with the community and made it my family.
The first instance was with three other women I admire, and while our chat had a specific purpose, we found that we often allowed personal and kink-related conversation to be an equal part in it, really helping to bond us all together. I began learning from them, and as I shared myself with them, I believe they also learned from me. I felt connected in a way that I hadn’t before, but since none of them were local, it still limited our interactions.
I found even more community when a nearby friend began a Kik chat with a vetted group of other local community members. The formation of that group was such a positive experience. Every member is personally vetted by chat leaders so that everyone can feel safe sharing as much or as little as they are comfortable with, up to and including photos. As people began to interact with one another, small plans for play began to form. Negotiations happened, sometimes in the group, sometimes separately. The group policed itself and kept members safe. People could experiment and make plans to play together at group events. It was amazing and inspiring to watch.
I attended some community events, not just for this group, buy with other external groups, and discovered I was running into people from this chat rather frequently. I found myself in awe of this organic creation. Somehow this group had managed to overcome my introvert tendencies and I felt comfortable when attending events with them. This was a completely new level of immersion in the community. I found myself less engaged with online kink, but would not miss a day of checking in with the group.
I think for people looking for local friends, mentors and partners, these kinds of chat groups provide opportunities to learn from others. I absorbed so many helpful things from members who had experience in things I hadn’t yet done to help me play more safely. They helped me meet friends who have ended up at our Thanksgiving table and increased my comfort level at opening our home to small events.
I don’t know how many local community groups utilize these apps in those ways, but I can certainly say they have made a huge impact on my personal journey.
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