Getting out into your local community can be one of the scariest parts of BDSM. Many kinky people come into the lifestyle under the cover of anonymity and never come out of it for fear of the whole world finding out. Jobs can be lost, families can be torn apart, and some might even face legal action. Believe me, I understand the fear.
As a friend of mine - who's originally from the bay area of California - once said to me that I don't just live in the Bible Belt, I live in the buckle of the Bible Belt. The area I live in is known for its evangelists and extremely conservative way of life. Because of this, it took me twenty years to truly get out and find my local community. Once I did though, I found that I began to truly bloom, not just as a submissive but as a person. My local and online communities have given me the confidence to run this blog and to mentor other submissives, hopefully sparing them some of the horrors that I have lived. These people have become my friends, confidants, and teachers.
Taking that first step into the local scene can be an overwhelming one. Many people don't know where to even begin. I recommend getting on FetLife and finding the groups that are local to you there. In my experience, this is the best resource for such things. If you are feeling shy but that computer screen gives you some level of comfort, you can begin to ease your way into the community by simply interacting in the group threads and discussions there.
Hopefully, the time will come when you are ready to join your community in person. Many local groups will host a munch, which is basically just a meal at a local restaurant where kinky people gather to discuss the lifestyle, that is open to new people. This is a wonderful first step. You get good food, and you can feel out the members of your local community.
I am so shy at first that it's best to just throw myself into the pool and figure out how to swim, so that's what I did. Daddy and I, along with my lifelong best friend (who is also a little), ventured forth and huddled at our end of the table and waited for wolves to descend. They never did, of course. By the end of the night, we were each in a different corner of the room deep in animated conversations about varying topics.
We found everyday people just like ourselves, with jobs and bills and families of their own, who could relate to those weird kinky stories and sometimes top them.
There are people new to the lifestyle looking for a place to learn and grow, there are veterans who have been at this long enough to have knowledge they want to share with those newer people, and there are practitioners of different dynamics and kinks. Sure, there may be one or two people who seem a little left of what feels comfortable for you, but by and large, these people are as normal -- or not -- as you are.
Once you have a few munches under your belt, you may feel comfortable enough to delve a little deeper into your community and attend a play party. Most play parties are for vetted members of a group, just to keep everyone as safe as possible.
Play parties are, in my opinion, where you really begin to see other dynamics and especially other kinds of play in action. Most are held in a playspace or dungeon of some sort. There will always be a dungeon monitor to make sure everyone is playing by the rules. Here is where you get to see the different kinds of play, from floggings on the St. Andrews cross to suspension and beyond.
My local groups like to do classes of some kind for about an hour at the beginning of our parties. The play that is presented may not be your thing, but it is always nice to know about what is available and how to do it properly. Bring your big kid pants, though. If you aren't comfortable with seeing other people in various states of undress (yes, you still have to treat them with the same respect you would if they were fully clothed), you aren't ready for this type of event. You can dress or undress as you like, play or just socialize. Most of the time, it is a very relaxed environment. Our play parties tend to also include a massive table of food and snacks, a cooler with water and drinks, and for those of us who are caffeine oriented, a coffee pot. Sometimes there is a theme, costumes, or pajamas; it's very fun.
It was at my first play party that I finally felt completely at peace with myself, as though I had finally found my tribe and no longer had to put on a mask to hide myself away from the world. I was surrounded by people being flogged or trying electric play for the first time, discussing kinky experiences, approaches to BDSM and everyday life all at once. Some of them were completely nude and others fully clothed, and no one was being judgmental or mean-spirited. No one was arguing over who was right or who was wrong, and no one was acting better than anyone else. It felt like coming home.
Once you have found your tribe and made a home in your community, you can take things even further by going to conventions and events nationwide. Networking is never a bad thing. This blogger has only attended one small event due to lack of finances, but boy, what an experience that event was!
Conventions are often play parties on a much bigger and more structured scale. There are classes, dungeons, social events, and shopping to be done. This can be overwhelming your first time, so I don't recommend going solo. Take your partner or a kinky friend or even a group. Having others with you can help you to pace yourself and not burn out. Bringing others along will also help you to feel more secure if you are newer to the community.
My first event was amazing, there were corsets and floggers for sale, exhibits of flogging as well as needle and fire play, even a fashion show! I mostly just knelt on the floor and watched everything around me, knowing if I let myself run, I would get overwhelmed way too fast for my own good. There were people from all over the country there, some in full leather gear, some in everyday clothes, and even nude submissives! I loved the diversity; from the paycheck to paycheck blue-collar types to the high-rise business folks, everyone was mingling happily with no attention paid to race, earnings, or station in life. just this one thing that we all had in common. I honestly can't wait to attend another one.
Conventions are not the only form of networking, though. There is also our old friend the internet! After getting involved with your local community, you may feel better about reaching out online, get involved in that chat on Kik, or actually offer advice in a thread on FetLife, perhaps even becoming a member of national organizations or starting your own venture into blogdom (let me know if you do so I can read it, too)!
At the End of the Day...
Finding your community and getting into it can be a very important part of your journey. Having kinky friends and a kinky support system is invaluable. Whether you start online or just jump in with both feet, once you get moving there is no limit to how far you can go in finding your tribe. Get involved, ask questions, make friends, learn something new, help others along their paths. Not many of us would have gotten far in this lifestyle without others to guide us. We are many, my friends, and we cover this world with our diverse beauty!
As always, remember: This is your life; live it your way!