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Activist Resources

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 e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 917-848-6544 

A detailed look at effective techniques to get your points across regarding the polyamory community. Usually there is no graceful way to segue into a sound bite. That's fine, reporters are used to nonsensical conversations when they give interviews. Whatever the question, respond with one of your sound bites. Repeat these sound bites over and over. Out of a 1/2 long interview, you will be on the air for about 10 seconds or quoted once or twice in a newspaper. So don't ad lib. Keep repeating these sound bites below, as well as any sound bites you and your organization agree to provide to the media about your event or local group. You don't have to get all these in, sometimes it's best to pick a few and keep repeating them in different ways.   General Sound Bites on Polyamory   Polyamory is the desire for and conduct of responsible, non-monogamous, consensual, romantic relationships with more than one partner. Polyamory is different from cheating because of the honest communication between partners and lovers about their relationships.   Polys say theirs is a relationship orientation and an aspect of personal identity just as monogamy is a relationship orientation and an aspect of personal identity for others, whether they are involved with anyone at a particular time or not.   Poly relationships take many forms. They may be open relationships where a two primary partners agree to have relationships outside their committed primary relationship, or they may be group relationships consisting of three or more people. Some group relationships are cohabitating relationships, others are not.   Poly relationships are formed between adults of all ages, races, genders and sexual orientations.   Polys focus on love, commitment and family just as monogamous people do.   Millions of Americans are looking for ways to spice up their sexual and emotional lives and get more of their needs met than is possible for them through traditional monogamy. The polyamorous lovestyle can be a consensual, safe, and gratifying way to strengthen healthy, caring, committed relationships and realize a greater abundance of love and companionship for all concerned.   Poly families often have more assets to support their families. More adults in the family means more income, less housing cost, and more help with child care and household chores. If a partner is ill or elderly, there are more adults available to help care for them.  …
Our legislators work for us. They want to know what we think about issues on the local, state, and national level. You can always write letters and should but actually meeting with your elected official is easier than you think.   Our legislators work for us. They want to know what we think about issues on the local, state, and national level. You can always write letters and should but actually meeting with your elected official is easier than you think.   What is a lobby visit?   A lobby visit is a meeting where you tell your elected representative what you think about a certain issue or bill. Whether it is a City Council Member or your Congressional Representative, as one of their constituents you can ask them to take action on an issue or legislation. You can find the office of your local and national elected officials in your area. Some Members of Congress have more than one office in their congressional district, and permanent staff members are usually available for you to meet with.   Requesting Your Meeting   Make your request in writing and follow up with a call to the Appointment Secretary/Scheduler.   Suggest specific times and dates for your meeting   Let them know what issue or legislation you wish to discuss.   Make sure they know that you are a constituent. Prepare for Your Meeting   Contact the NCSF to help you decide on your talking points, and get information that you can leave with your elected official.   Decide who will attend the meeting. Bringing more than four or five people can be hard to manage   Agree on talking points. Your goal is to make a strong case for your position, so don't disagree in the meeting. If a point is causing tension in the group, leave it out   Plan out your meeting keeping in mind that time is limited. Decide who will start the conversation, and which points each person will make   Decide what you want achieve. Do you want your elected official to vote for or against a bill? Do you want them to support your issue or oppose a restrictive ordinance? Ask them to do something specific.   During the Meeting   Be prompt and patient. Elected officials run on very tight schedules.   Keep it short and focused. You will have twenty minutes or less…
Guidelines intended to help law enforcement and social services professionals understand the difference between abusive relationships vs. SM. 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. consensual sadomasochism (SM). SM 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.   SM 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 SM-Leather-Fetish communities recognize the phrase "Safe, Sane, Consensual" as the best brief summary of principles guiding SM 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…
Guidelines for how to discuss the subject of sex with the news media. This document offers some simple suggestions on approaches to discussing sex, particularly as it relates to common situations that the executive directors of activist organizations may encounter. It was prepared with input from executive directors about issues affecting them and those knowledgeable about how to deal with GLBT issues surrounding sex effectively.   General Techniques That Work Effectively:   First, in any situation, it is important to gauge the "intent" of the individual making the comment or asking the question. Is this an ultra-conservative publication, reporter, or politician, or is it someone who is sympathetic to the issues? Be proactive about introducing the subject first or bringing up "onerous" topics once the subject has been introduced into conversation and it seems likely that the other party is moving to "attack". This takes away the "shock value" the other party has in introducing the topic in an inflammatory manner first. Simply stated, "The best defense is a good offense." Using direct, confrontational responses to insensitive and inappropriate comments or attacks related to sex and/or sexuality. This is usually best done in an "off the record" conversation with media (when possible, of course), or by taking the conversation "off-line for a minute" with politicians and others. Making the other party feel "small" or embarrassing them for trivializing or minimizing issues of civil rights by sensationalizing sex. This technique is particularly effective in public speaking or live media situations involving inappropriate comments, jokes or attacks. Disputing the incorrect and faulty research used by the radical right to perpetuate myths. Be very comfortable talking about issues of sex and sexuality and maintain a sense of confidence and sense of humor, which is often helpful in a public discourse on sex.   Suggestions on What to Say About Sex   The pluralist argument: Americans take a pluralistic stance in religious and political choices. We say we believe that each religion has a right to its way of practicing its faith and that each political party has a right to its specific platform and legislative goals. You may think one religion or party is better than another is, but you would never try to have your choice taught in the public schools and imposed by law on everyone. Such a pluralistic approach is considered a fundamental part of our constitutional rights in this…
A detailed look at this effective technique to get your point across. Usually there is no graceful way to segue into a sound bite. That's fine, reporters are used to nonsensical conversations when they give interviews. Whatever the question, respond with one of your sound bites. Repeat these sound bites over and over. Out of a 1/2 long interview, you will be on the air for about 10 seconds or quoted once or twice in a newspaper. So don't ad lib. Keep repeating these sound bites below, as well as any sound bites you and your organization agree to provide to the media about your event or local group. You don't have to get all these in, sometimes it's best to pick a few and keep repeating them in different ways.   General Soundbites about Swinging People involved in swinging in general are better educated about safe sex and sexual responsibility. Often these social events have educational components about consent, communication, as well as safe sex education.   Millions of Americans are looking for a way to add a bit more spice to their sex life. The Lifestyle can be a consensual, safe, and fun way to strengthen and build healthy, caring relationships.   Most adults who engage in swinging keep their sexual practices private. Unfortunately these people have experienced persecution, and even discrimination and child custody challenges because of the way they express their sexuality.   The fact is that millions of Americans engage in swinging, and it is National Coalition for Sexual Freedom's mission to make sure that they can do so, without fear of harassment, violence, or discrimination.   You really have to wonder what motivates people who would go to such extraordinary lengths to sensationalize someone else's private life. It's obvious that sex makes some people uncomfortable, and we think that these people should deal with their own issues.   Lifestyle Clubs As long as it's consenting adults in a private space, it is no one else's business.   This is not about sex, this is about a threat to our most basic constitutional rights - freedom of assembly and the right to privacy. (The 1st and 9th Amendments - the 9th grants freedom not specified, and numerous court cases in the past 40 years, including Lawrence v. Texas have confirmed an individual's right to privacy)   If one group can shut down a private, legal…
A detailed look at this effective technique to get your point across to the media. Usually there is no graceful way to segue into a sound bite. That's fine, reporters are used to nonsensical conversations when they give interviews. Whatever the question, respond with one of your sound bites. Repeat these sound bites over and over. Out of a 1/2 long interview, you will be on the air for about 10 seconds, which is usually one or two of your sound bites. Or you get one quote in an article. So don't ad lib. Keep repeating these sound bites below, as well as any sound bites you and your organization agree to provide to the media on local issues. You don't have to get all these in, sometimes it's best to pick a few and keep repeating them in different ways.   Safe, Sane and Consensual This is a must! Say it over and over and over like a mantra. "Over fifteen years ago, a community-wide ethic was established known as "safe, sane and consensual". This credo has permeated SM literature and lore far beyond the subculture of the organized community." Or "We constantly discuss issues of consent, which are the basis of safe, sane and consensual sexual education."   If They Want Specific Definitions: "Safe" is being knowledgeable about what you are doing. Each participant must be informed about the possible risks, both mentally and physically. "Sane" is knowing the difference between fantasy and reality. Knowledgeable consent cannot be given by a child, or if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. "Consensual" is respecting the limits imposed by each participant. One of the most easily recognized ways to maintain limits is through a "safeword" - in which the bottom/submissive can withdraw consent at any time with a single word or gesture. The Need for Educational and Social SM Gatherings It's important to emphasize the contributions our educational and social groups make to society. We teach people how to do SM safely and consensually, and that takes hands-on instruction and community discussion. Say, "Our group has existed for 10 years as an educational and social group, teaching people how to do SM safely and consensually." Say, "Our group is only one of over 500 educational and social organizations that exist in America for SM-Leather-Fetish practitioners." Or "Like the gay and lesbian community in the 1960's, the people…
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. For example, if they ask, "What do you think when people say you're eroticizing violence?" give one of your sound-bites: "Safe, sane and consensual sexual expression is not violence because at any time the participants can stop what's happening." For example, if they ask, "What does your husband think about you cheating on him?" give one of your soundbites:   Don't repeat nasty or inflammatory phrases. See the above question - and don't repeat, "SM isn't eroticizing violence because..." or "Swinging is not cheating..." That makes their point for them.   Universalize the questions. If the reporter says something like, "You people who beat each other up..." or "You people who have sex with other people..." then respond with, "We, like you and everyone else in America, believe we have First Amendment rights to express our sexuality in any way that is safe and consensual."   Use standard terms rather than "scene" language. If you start saying "scene" and "munch" and "leather" and "vanilla" and "top" and "bottom" etc. then people won't understand you. Use vanilla terms as much as possible, or very rarely use terms and define them as you use them. ie "The top, that is the person giving the stimulation, must respect limits."   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 quote. Just be firm and keep repeating your point. They will respect you for it, and will print the sound bites you give them. Check out our recommended sound bites for the SM, swing and polyamory communities.   Flag your sound bites. This is done by saying, "The most important thing to remember is that sadomasochists educate each other about safe, sane and consensual sexual practices." Or "A key part of having engaging in polyamory is communication prior in order to negotiate both partner's limits and desires."   Don't do anything sexual on camera. In this case, a picture is NOT worth a thousand words. Don't let reporters take pictures of your…
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 SM, 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 "SM 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…

Incident Reporting & Response: We're Making a Difference

  • Helps hundreds of people every year who need assistance because of their consensual BDSM, swinging, or polyamory interests and activities.
  • Connects individuals, groups, and events with resources that can help them including other NCSF programs like KAP, Media Outreach, and the Educational Outreach Program.
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About Incident Reporting & Response

The NCSF Incident Reporting &  Response (IRR) program provides assistance to individuals and groups within the alternative sexual expression communities who become victimized because of SM, leather, fetish, or swing practices.

Program Goals:
NCSF's Incident Reporting & Response
was created to provide assistance to individuals and groups within the BDSM, swinging and poly communities who are experiencing discrimination or needs assistance because of their interests and activities.
Contacts:

Incident@ncsfreedom.org 
Request For Assistance Form
Emergency Number: (410) 539-4824

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