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Guest Blog: Being Out as a Kinky Person of Color,

on Tuesday, 06 February 2018. Posted in Front Page Headline, NCSF News

Why I Started Perverts of Color

by Jaki Griot

 

When I began attending local kinky event around 2006, I was often one of the only Black faces in the dungeon. I knew I wanted to learn about rope and kinky power dynamics because I read every book I could find. I was eager to gain real-world exposure to the Kink/BDSM/Leather community and naive about how to establish peer relationships. Looking back, I believe that many people in the kink communities are open-minded but their intentions doesn't always translate into action regarding how they handle cultural differences or racism. The first event I attended had an odd start when the hosts tried to convince me that I was at the wrong location, “Are you sure this is where you belong? The NAACP meeting is down the hall.” I remember feeling unsure if I should stay partly because I felt like I was alone. This experience may be unusual for others exploring kink but it remained with me. It's sometimes scary to explore a world if you are unsure you will be welcome. Sub-culture groups may believe they are open-minded yet can send different messages when an attendee shows up and looks different than they expect. Luckily for me, I am the right mixture of stubborn, naive and extrovert to show up anyway. Yet I have met other people who stopped coming to events because they felt uninvited. I believe finding ways to make kink events inclusive and diverse across racial, gender and sexuality populations is how to create a stronger community for everyone.

As a person of color, I personally felt uncomfortable if the hosts don't acknowledge all the guests. As an organizer, I believe it is a simple to acknowledge everyone with a quick hello. Yes, it is time-consuming and often tedious. If any attendee paid to enter an event but no one even said hello, don't feel surprised if they won't return. There is a safety element where I expect a host or organizer to have spoken to everyone in the space because it establishes everyone as included. It also allows DMs to have a face to go with names in case of any behavioral concerns. If the hosts only speak to their friends or popular people, it can establish a cliquish environment for others. Part of the job of a host is greet everyone thoughtfully. Unfortunately some places I've visited have felt openly hostile to new people of color. At times, when I mention the need for small changes to make people of color welcome, my words are taken as aggression. This also fuels my resolve for change.

I am dedicated to finding tangible ways for people like me (racial minorities) to find each other and grow networks of support. Through the years, kink representation for people of color continues to evolve from Dark Connections online message boards to leather clubs like ONYX and ONYX Pearls. Events like BlackBeat and Weekend Reunion thrive because there is a need that is fulfilled when people of color feel included in BDSM communities. Larger lifestyle events have begun to hire more diverse staff and to add programming to be more inclusive to racial, gender and sexual minorities. I believe there is still room to grow.

After discussing these concerns with my Leather family for years, I was met with an ultimatum. “What are you going to do about it?” On February 3rd, 2018, I started Perverts of Color Zine as a way to celebrate the diversity of people in kink, BDSM and Leather communities. I procrastinated about the Perverts of Color zine project for six years because it seemed too big. We all wrestle with our decisions about how public to be with our kink journey. It reached a point where I was scared to create the Perverts of Color zine because it would feel like outing myself again. As a Black queer woman, I wanted to pause before adding another identity to my worldview. I reached a point where I realized that the reason there is so little kinky representation is that many people of color like myself are still grappling with how their kink, their sexualities and their racial identity connect. Even among the kinksters of color I know, we are still hungry to see more kink because there is often a very normative view of sex that is shown in our racial communities. For me, #BlackLove looks different if I got exactly what's in my happy sadomasochist fantasies. Yet, if I wasn't ready to do it, I couldn't complain that other people of color weren't willing either. I had to become okay with being a pervert of color, publicly and with conviction. Seventy two hours later, the first edition of Perverts of Color Zine is born. POC Zine is an outlet for people to see diverse expressions of alternative sexuality. I believe representation of people of color exploring sexuality is beneficial to all communities. There is not one way to do What It Is That We Do. POC Zine is dedicated to challenging the stereotypes others project onto our lives while celebrating the diversity of our perversity.

More information about the zine can be found at their website, www.etsy.com/shop/KinkArtBlack.You can also follow Perverts of Color (not safe for work) on Tumblr for Zine updates, www.pervertsofcolor.tumblr.com or JakiGriot on Instagram.

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