It Takes a Community

As this year comes to a close, it is a time for reflection and gratitude. Most of us begin our lifestyle path not knowing exactly where we will end up. There are places within our community that not only help us make sense of our desires but offers the opportunity to socialize with other like minded people.

Each year there are a lot of people that work behind the scenes (no pun intended) who help the BDSM community come together for education, socializing and lots of kinky fun. From organizers to volunteers, to activists and sponsors, they devote all of this effort on behalf of the community. They do this for the sake of the community, so that we have a safe haven to meet, learn various things and be with other like minded people.

The efforts of these individuals help the lifestyle community work though the obstacles, to expose the ignorance, and reveal that we all have the same issues, no matter how we chose to live our life. Let’s face it, it’s difficult to practice the lifestyle when we’re surrounded by the vanilla world. We all face the same problem, as do the volunteer, program people and activists. The exception is that these people put a lot of their life on the line for the sake of these meetings, going out into the vanilla world to make arrangements for a meeting, a play party or a bdsm event. They face the vanilla world’s opinions and sacrifice on behalf of the community.

We live a lifestyle that takes a lot of commitment, learning, and responsibility. There are people who work hard to help us grow and learn in this lifestyle. And although they do all this hard work for the mutual cause we all have – living our lifestyle freely – these dedicated folks still get a lot of criticism. There are some people who complain and are generally not supportive about anything that the group does. Even as complaints mount, tensions grow, and opinions get aired, many of these hard working people get burnt out or become disillusioned that the community does not appreciate the effort, dedication, and personal sacrifice for the sake of even having a community where we can meet and gather. Unfortunately that creates an unnecessary stress point coming from the very community that these volunteers are trying to provide for. With the vanilla society poised and ready to judge our every move, we don’t need that kind of thing going on inside our own community. If a particular group’s vision and direction doesn’t fit what you believe or goes against your ideals, then there are other groups out there that may fit within your ideal better. But even if you don’t agree with the philosophy, it’s important to realize see the larger picture on behalf of the community. Naturally, we are all free to agree or disagree.

Even though we are all unique in our philosophies and opinions, we are still apart of the larger lifestyle community. This is not a suggestion that folks should censor their beliefs or be able to express their concerns about the direction of a group. But there should be some appreciation to those who manage, work and deal with a huge program all the meanwhile protecting the values and spirit that guides the community. Therefore, we would like people to give praise, a big hug or a heart-filled thank you to all of the hardworking activists, organizers and volunteers.

This year we would like to encourage everyone to think about how much work it takes to keep the community up and running. Things that we don’t necessarily think about such as putting on 12 months of meetings, creating a monthly newsletter, designing and maintaining a website, plan and implement a play party, organize and work a BDSM weekend event from top to bottom. It is not easy work to come up with people to speak, find fresh topics to present, locate speakers to do new demos and still be able to do the monthly upkeep of putting on play parties, meetings and gatherings. It takes a lot of work to keep everything fresh and new. We have wonderful people in our community that want to keep it alive and work hard to keep pushing forward with it.

In keeping with this excellence, what better way to give back to the community, by becoming involved beyond the level of the spectator. Run for a position on a board, become a volunteer, or ask anyone in these committees to see how you can help and contribute to the community. Even if you’re new, or have been around for years, everyone has something they can contribute. You may volunteer a night to be a dungeon master at a play party, set up a table with brochures, or help prepare and set up food and drink at meetings. Whether you are a greeter for newcomers, offer your knowledge as a speaker at a meeting or for a weekend BDSM event, or even if you merely make a suggestion for a topic, each person does make a difference.

So, in a season where we give thanks and have quiet reflection of the year that has gone by, we’d like to thank everyone who have defended, contributed, and participated in the community. The success of this lifestyle largely depends on the quality of the population it contains. With all of the dedication and resolve it takes to make the lifestyle community a successful effort, thank you

© within Reality: Michael & danae 2003 – all rights reserved