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Activist Resources

Media coverage plays a large part in defining public perceptions toward alternative sexual expression. You and your organization can help shape media attitudes by speaking to the press about sexual issues that concern consenting adults.

For additional information, contact Susan Wright at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 917-848-6544 

Click to download Tips on Meeting with Elected and Appointed Officials— It’s Easier Than You Think! Setting up and participating in meetings with an elected or appointed official is not difficult. In almost all cases, they will welcome meeting with people who can educate them and their staff about an issue. And the views you express can have a significant impact. Issues important to our communities are on the front burner for state and local elected and appointed officials across the country. Those officials—legislators, governors, mayors, county and city councils, school boards, zoning and ABC boards—want to hear what we think about those issues. We can all write letters, and we should certainly do that, but actually meeting with your elected or appointed officials can have a major impact. And this is something we all can do. Monitoring Developing Issues It is important to be aware of developing issues on which lobbying can be useful. Getting in for a lobby visit early in the legislative or administrative process is the best way to affect the outcome. Monitor your local press for new issues of concern to our communities. Also, legislatures and administrative agencies have web sites on which they often (but not always) identify issues they will be considering and give timetables for such consideration. Monitoring & Participating in the Committee Process Almost all legislative proposals are considered by a Committee before being voted on in the Congress or state legislature. The staff of the Committee (which may be different than the staffs of the individual legislators) will do the necessary research, prepare a draft of the legislative measure and brief the legislators who are assigned to be members of that Committee. It is important to monitor the Committee process to identify new legislative proposals at an early stage. Most Committees—certainly all Committees of the U.S. Congress—have websites that identify proposals under consideration and set forth the schedules for Committee hearings, Committee meetings and Committee votes. NCSF can help you find the right Committee and point you to its website. Meeting with Committee staffers early in their development of a proposed piece of legislation can be effective, particularly on issues relating to BDSM and other non-traditional sex practices. Staffers will generally know little about the real practice of BDSM or other non-traditional sex practices and are likely to have adverse preconceptions that are important to dispel. You should try to…
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You need to develop your own sound bites in your own words. These are suggestions that you can use to build your own set of sound bites to discuss non-monogamy, polyamory and the Lifestyle. Sometimes there is no graceful way to segue into a sound bite. The point is that you are setting the tone of the conversation, not the reporter. Don’t answer any question you don’t have a prepared sound bite for because likely that is the answer they will pull to use in their article or piece. Out of a 1/2 long interview, you will only see one or two quotes in print, or be on the air for about 10 seconds. So don't ad lib because the off-the-cuff remark is the one the reporter will use. Relationship Enhancement Millions of adults are looking for a way to add a bit more spice to their sex lives. Everyone involved needs to be able to state their limits freely, and have their limits respected. Couples discuss what they want to do before doing it to make sure that it is mutually satisfying. People who are non-monogamous must learn how to communicate exactly what they want with their partners. Couples who are in a non-monogamous relationship are better educated about safe sex, sexual responsibility and communicating about their desires and limits. Having an open relationship can meet more emotional, intellectual, and sexual needs through accepting that one person cannot provide everything. Couples who decide to open their relationship to include others must be secure in the strength of their partnership bond, and comfortable in developing relationships with new people. Jealousy is a natural emotion and is a signal that additional communication and negotiation must occur in order to keep the relationship healthy. Of course, many people prefer monogamy and aren't interested in developing intimate relationships with more than one person. Adults should be able to live how they choose, and no one has the right to dictate our personal choices. Education for Adults Like the gay and lesbian community in the 1960-70’s, people need a place where they can get the support of their peers, and they don't have to be ashamed or afraid of who they are. Workshops about sexuality are held every weekend in communities around the country without any incidents. Colleges that offer sex weeks are providing much-needed education for young adults to learn about safe and…
Guidelines intended to help law enforcement and social services professionals understand the difference between abusive relationships vs. BDSM. Drafted in 1998 at the second Leather Leadership Conference. The following Principles and Guidelines are intended to help law enforcement and social services professionals understand the difference between abusive relationships vs. BDSM, which includes a broad and complex group of behaviors between consenting adults involving the consensual exchange of power, and the giving and receiving of intense erotic sensation and/or mental discipline. BDSM includes: "intimate activities within the scope of informed consent that is freely given." Abuse is: "Physical, sexual or emotional acts inflicted on a person without their informed and freely given consent." Principles The BDSM-Leather-Fetish communities recognize the phrase "Safe, Sane, Consensual" as the best brief summary of principles guiding BDSM practices: Safe is being knowledgeable about the techniques and safety concerns involved in what you are doing, and acting in accordance with that knowledge. Sane is knowing the difference between fantasy and reality, and acting in accordance with that knowledge. Consensual is respecting the limits imposed by each participant at all times. One of the recognized ways to maintain limits is through a "safeword" which ensures that each participant can end his/her participation with a word or gesture.   Guidelines Informed consent must be judged by balancing the following criteria for each encounter at the time the acts occurred:  Was informed consent expressly denied or withdrawn? Were there factors that negated the informed consent? What is the relationship of the participants? What was the nature of the activity? What was the intent of the accused abuser?   Whether an individual's role is top/dominant or bottom/submissive, they could be suffering abuse if they answer no to any of the following questions: Are your needs and limits respected? Is your relationship built on honesty, trust, and respect? Are you able to express feelings of guilt or jealousy or unhappiness? Can you function in everyday life? Can you refuse to do illegal activities? Can you insist on safe sex practices? Can you choose to interact freely with others outside of your relationship? Can you leave the situation without fearing that you will be harmed, or fearing the other participant(s) will harm themselves? Can you choose to exercise self-determination with money, employment, and life decisions? Do you feel free to discuss your practices and feelings with anyone you choose?  . These guidelines were…
The following sound bites are meant to help you create your own sound bites in the way you naturally speak. Work out how you want to say certain things before hand so you’re prepared when you speak to a reporter. Sometimes there is no graceful way to segue into a sound bite. The point is that you are setting the tone of the conversation, not the reporter. Don’t answer any question you don’t have a prepared sound bite for because likely that is the answer they will pull to use in their article or piece. Out of a 1/2 long interview, you will only see one or two quotes in print, or be on the air for about 10 seconds. So don't ad lib because the off-the-cuff remark is the one the reporter will use. Don’t think of this like a BDSM 101 class and don't give any lessons on technique. Most of the people in your audience are NOT kinky and never will be, so it just confuses them to explain things the way you would to a newbie who is interested in kink. Some of the most effective sound bites talk about issues of discrimination and injustice against our communities. “Stimulation” and “sensation” are great words to use—it is clear and non-threatening unlike kink-specific language like "flogging" or "spanking," etc. Safe, Sane and Consensual Thirty years ago, a community-wide ethic was established known as "safe, sane and consensual." This creed has permeated the BDSM subculture far beyond the organized community. RACK is also used as a creed – “risk-aware consensual kink” and focuses on personal responsibility and informed consent. The educational and social kink groups constantly discuss issues of consent, which is the basis of safe, sane and consensual sexual education. If They Want Specific Definitions: 1. "Safe" is being knowledgeable about what you are doing. Each participant must be informed about the possible risks, both mentally and physically. 2. "Sane" is knowing the difference between fantasy and reality. Knowledgeable consent cannot be given by a child, or if you impaired by drugs or alcohol. 3. "Consensual" is respecting the limits imposed by each participant. One of the ways to maintain limits is through a "safeword" - in which the person being stimulated can withdraw consent at any time with a single word or gesture. Safe Words Safewords are one way of communicating to ensure that everything stays…
Giving an Interview on Diverse Sexualities Consider the media outlet Is it radio, television or print media? Is it a local news station or the alternative weekly paper? Some media outlets are naturally more conservative, while others are looking to sensationalize diverse sexualities, so you have to craft your message to counter the inherent bias with each media outlet. With print media, you have to be very careful because they’ll only pull one or two quotes from what you say, so only say what you really want to have included. For radio and podcasts, you can have more of a conversation. You don't have to answer the interviewer's exact question You rarely see the question in TV or print interviews, only the response. So feel free to pick out one word or phrase in the question and respond to that. If they ask about how people stay safe and protect themselves in the BDSM community, you can say, “The BDSM community is all about education, and that’s why so many people volunteer their time for groups like ours, to help teach people how to be responsible about their sexuality.” Keep repeating your sound bites It doesn't make for a stimulating conversation, but that's the way professionals get their point across. The reporter will ask their question several times, trying to get you to expand on what you're saying, to get a more sensational or off-the-cuff quote. Just be firm and keep repeating your point. They will respect you for it and will print the information in the sound bites you give them. Flag your most important sound bites This is done by saying, "The most important thing to remember is that the kink community educates adults about safe, sane and consensual sexual practices." Or "A key part of consensual nonmonogamy is communication in order to understand each others’ limits and desires." Or “One thing you always have to remember is that this is about honesty and building trust through talking about your feelings and desires.” Don't repeat nasty or inflammatory phrases For example, if they ask, "What do you think when people say you're eroticizing violence?" give one of your sound-bites: "Kinky sex is consensual because at any time the participants can stop what's happening." Don't repeat, "We don’t eroticize violence because..." or "Swinging is not cheating..." That makes their point for them. Universalize the questions If the reporter says…
Guidelines for making your letter to the editor a powerful advocacy tool! It's easier than you think! Why should I write a letter to the editor? Letters to the editor are an effective way to convey a positive image of alternate sexual practices such as BDSM, polyamory and swinging. Letters help to de-stigmatize negative social myths and misconceptions about these types of practices. These letters help achieve the advocacy goals of NCSF because they: Reach a large audience Are monitored regularly by elected officials Can introduce new information not addressed in a news article Foster an impression that there is widespread support for or opposition to an issue We also suggest that you send copies of letters that you write to members of Congress to your local newspaper editors. These letters are often published to highlight a specific issue in the editorial section. Tips on Writing Letters to the Editor Keep your letter short and on one subject. Newspapers typically have strict space limits for the editorial section and limited space. Keeping your letter short helps your chances of getting the letter published in its entirety, without important points being edited by the newspaper.   Make sure your letter is legible and words are spelled correctly. Your letter may be simple and short, but make sure that spelling is correct and handwriting (if typing or WP in not used) is legible.   Include your contact information. Newspapers sometimes call to verify a person's identity or address and will usually only publish letters with complete names and addresses. It is recommended that you also include a telephone number, if possible. Newspapers keep this information confidential and usually publish the person's name and city only.   Reference the publication and article. Many newspapers only print letters referencing a specific article. Include the specifics such as "As a concerned resident of Baltimore, I am writing in reference to your article in the latest issue of (insert publication name), dated July 23rd titled "BDSM and the Law."   Describe what you liked or didn't like about the article. NCSF sometimes includes a recommended response on important topics stating our position, which can be easily tailored to fit your personal use.   Personalize your opinion with the news article. Use examples that reference your own experience. Examples are: "As someone who has experienced job discrimination because of my alternative sexual practices, I feel strongly that·",…
In light of recent attacks by religious and political extremists, here are some suggested guidelines for protecting your event and attendees, including website issues, spokesperson training, and community response to an incident. NCSF Suggested Guidelines There are many considerations organizers must contend with when planning a large event. Large events include educational and social conferences, leather contests, weekend play parties, vendor markets, and club runs. In light of recent attacks by religious and political extremists, here are some suggested guidelines for protecting your event and attendees.   BEFORE YOUR EVENT NCSF recommends that you do outreach to local law enforcement. We can not stress enough the importance of doing so. There is no way to fly under the radar if you are hosting an event with a few hundred people that is being advertised over the Internet! Approach the Community Affairs Officer for the precinct in the jurisdiction where the event will be held. Law enforcement can tell you the local and state laws you must observe at your event. Make sure you investigate local and state obscenity laws. If you are hosting vendors at your event, you run the potential risk of violating state obscenity laws and/or state laws on certain items. Many states criminalize the sale of erotica that depicts bondage, sadomasochism, penetration or ejaculation. Additionally, many states also criminalize the sale of certain "toys" often found at event vendor fairs including throwing stars, certain styles of knives, police memorabilia (like badges or handcuffs) and so forth.   YOUR WEBSITE Many religious and political extremist organizations have made a point of gathering information from our own community websites before they attack educational and social events. This information then gets distorted, misquoted and often ends up in the larger media. The mainstream media exposure can be problematic for groups.   1. Be careful about the amount of detailed information you have on your website about your event. It may be prudent for your organization to restrict access to descriptions of classes and presenters to paid attendees or group members only.  2. Layer and password protect the website. Have pages with more information available to those who have registered and paid 3. Do not use explicit language in the areas the general public can gain access to. Do not use words like dungeon or bloodsports or torture because the mainstream doesn't realize that our definition of these words refer to…

How You Can Help

    • Work to change antiquated laws
    • Work to change the social climate about sexual issues
    • Promote acceptance of safe, sane, and consensual alternative sexual practices among consenting adults
    • Oppose censorship of consensual sexual expression
    • Fight for freedom of academic expression about sexual issues
    • Help communities and individuals facing the threat of prosecution or legal action
    • Support the right of adults to express their sexuality, gender identity and orientation freely and openly without fear
    • Learn more about NCSF

Why You Should Care

Because your sexual expression...
  • Can result in discrimination, prosecution, and even violence against you
  • Can cause you to lose your children
  • Can cause you to lose your job or your income
  • Can lead you into a maze of antiquated laws and regulations you never even knew existed
  • Is arbitrarily criminalized by state and local authorities
  • Is used by the radical right to marginalize minority groups
  • Can result in the invasion of your privacy by the government, both within your own home or in educational, social and group environments