I spent today recovering from KinkForAll New York City, which was an unbelievably smashing success. I’m so incredibly proud of what we were able to accomplish and so incredibly optimistic about the future, even if tentatively so. My tweet-stream from the day is now archived, and I’ve spent far too long reading and re-reading it already.
Organizing KinkForAll was a really new experience for me. I’ve never before seen a vision of mine that involved so many people so wonderfully executed. As I said during the discussion in the presentation Evan gave on Youth and Leadership,
There’s a fine line between leadership and control.
Now that the first event has been a success, I can feel much more confident that the idea I’ve had for it is one that’s proven. Many people didn’t believe it could work, and I know there are still many others who are dubious—even close friends, like one I spoke to tonight. The biggest sticking points are obvious: 20 minute presentations are “too short,” playspaces “should be part of the event,” and of course, “encouraging cameras is a bad idea.”
To each of these I say that the NYC event, which was even more strict with regard to the timeframe than I thought it would be, had absolutely no playspaces and lacked even an after-party (which is unfortunate, because I think a simple after-party would be loads of fun after something like this), and only 1 day later already has 53 Flickr photos from the event posted online, proves the format and the methods we used are sound. Not only that, but I recall multiple people stopping me in the hallways and saying things like, “You know, I thought I’d show up and hang out for a half an hour, but now it’s 3 hours later and I really wish I didn’t have to go!” Further, and even more encouraging, several people also told me, “I really thought that 20 minutes would be too little time to do what I wanted, but I really love this 20-minute thing!”
There’s no question that this kind of event is something the sexuality communities at large really need. It’s not just BDSM people, but poly people, transfolk, queers, butches and femmes, and everyone else who takes part in public, social sexuality-related spaces obviously want to see happen. I’ve personally already heard from folks in Washington DC and Toronto who are interested in replicating similar events, and through several other channels multiple people in San Francisco have also expressed interest.
So yeah, talk about a smashing, unexpected success…. If you missed KinkForAll New York City, or if you were there but missed my presentation, Audacia Ray—one of the event’s two sponsors—offered to video record it and has put the video up on Vimeo for the world, and you, to see (below).
Maymay on Gender, Technology, and the Idea Behind Kink for All from Audacia Ray on Vimeo. (Watch other KFANYC videos.)
Of course, with such success I’ve got a whole new set of challenges. I don’t want this idea to be something intricately tied to my person—that’s entirely hypocritical and totally defeating of the point. At the same time, I want Toronto and DC and San Fran to experience the same kind of thing as we did in New York City. There are still some people in those areas that believe presentations need to be allowed to go longer than 20 minutes, that a playspace should be a requirement, and that other issues make holding the event itself too risky.
While a KinkForAll event in these other places cannot be identical to the one in NYC, at what point does such fundamental variation become something that’s not KinkForAll? Not something that’s necessarily bad, just something too different to bear resemblance. As I said earlier, how can I lead, without exerting undue and unnecessary control? It’s a balance I’m going to be challenged to strike accurately; I’ve never done that before.
Interestingly, some of the people who contacted me about wanting to run their own local events have expressed a specific distaste for the same sorts of things in the sexuality communities that I’ve also expressed many, many times before. This is no surprise, of course, but rather it’s an immense point of validation. In Evan’s presentation that I mentioned earlier, for instance, he mentioned trying and failing to bring some of the ideas present in KinkForAll to Black Rose. Later, others expressed similar frustrations at KinkForAll New York City, and still later more from DC expressed the same frustrations.
I’m sadly not surprised that efforts to catalyze established BDSM organizations have failed. In my experience, scene organizations are especially resistant to change and very, very ego-centric. They tend to enjoy power struggles for power struggle’s sake, and they fail to seize obvious opportunities for technical improvement when they do this. Naturally, I despise egotism when it gets in the way of good ideas because it actively creates very negative spaces, hence the free and open and autonomous nature of KinkForAll.
To do what I can for the incredible potential that’s here, I’ve thrown my hat onto helping KinkForAll Washington DC by signing up on the wiki page with “advocate+assist organization” for my participation, but it really isn’t my show, just as KinkForAll New York City wasn’t really my show. KinkForAll is all about doing, not saying, it’s about individual collaborations, not organizations, it’s about newness and innovation, not regurgitation, and I want to make sure it remains an environment where actions and results speak louder than words.
To that end, I think the role of unorganizers like myself is really to make sure we exemplify that behavior. If we can continue to do that well, then everyone we recruit to help out will not only be much more helpful, but will also protect the goals and the methods of KinkForAll: flat organization, personal responsibility and autonomy, and results-focused behavior with a desire for creativity and positive social change in sexuality communities. I am unspeakably excited to see a KinkForAll Washington DC off the ground, so as my life begins to calm down, you can expect to see my activity in helping make the DC event a reality begin to ramp up very quickly.
I’m looking forward to it!