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2013 Advocacy Roundup

National Coalition for Sexual Freedom

2013 Advocacy Roundup

NCSF faced some difficult challenges in 2013, but the dedicated volunteer staff worked hard to advocate for the BDSM, swing and polyamory lifestyles:

Kink is Okay


                The biggest news of 2013 was that the American Psychiatric Association depathologized consensual sadism, masochism, cross-dressing and fetishes in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). NCSF’s DSM-Revision project began in April 2008, to change the DSM criteria that was being used against healthy kinky adults in legal settings, and causing significant discrimination and distress because of the social stigma the APA attached to alternative sexual behavior.

                NCSF directly educated the media and the relevant members of the American Psychiatric Association, as well as presenting data through the DSM Revision Petition, signed by over 3,200 people including many mental health professionals, and in letters to the editor published in Archives of Sexual Behavior. Annual data was presented from NCSF’s Incident Reporting &Response program along with the results of two surveys on Violence & Discrimination Against Sexual Minorities conducted in 1998 and 2008.

                The Archives of Sexual Behavior has also accepted NCSF’s Letter to the Editor “Kinky Parents and Child Custody: The Effect of the DSM-5 Differentiation between the Paraphilias and Paraphilic Disorders,” describing the decline in child custody cases reported to NCSF that involve discrimination against BDSM practitioners since the proposed DSM criteria depathologizing BDSM was made public in 2010.

Consent Counts


                NCSF’s Consent Counts discussions continued around the country on the “Consent Statement” that was launched on February 8, 2013 at the Annual Coalition Partner Meeting. This statement was based on Consent Counts discussions and on over 4,000 responses returned on NCSF’s Consent Survey about the concept of risk and people’s attitudes about consent. NCSF also created a 1-page Summary “Policy Statement on Consent.”

                In 2013, NCSF launched a Continuing Legal Education workshop as part of the Consent Counts program to educate lawyers and prosecutors about assault laws and how they are used against consenting adults. In addition, a new educational series was launched in Chicago at the Leather Archives & Museum with a presentation entitled BDSM? Erotic Play? What Are the Legal Risks?” by Judy Guerin, Dick Cunningham and Judge Rudy Serra.

                NCSF also created a number of new FAQs in 2013 to help victims and educate professionals about the difference between BDSM and assault. “Consent and BDSM: The State of the Law” is a detailed examination of how BDSM activity, even where clearly consensual, is prosecuted under state criminal laws dealing with assault, aggravated assault, sexual assault or sexual abuse. NCSF’s “Statement on Power Exchange Relationships,” discusses both the ethical and legal concepts that are critical to understanding the meaning and importance of consent in power exchange relationships.

                “The Guide for Groups” includes a suggested consent policy, how to deal with consent violations that take place at a group or event, and advice on how to revoke membership or entry to an event without liability. The FAQ “Is This Assault?” explains which consent violations may rise to the level of assault, while “Dealing With Assault” answers many of the common questions kinky survivors have about reporting assault to law enforcement, medical or social service professionals. NCSF also lists hotlines for kink aware victim services associated with the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects that are ready to help kinky victims of assault and abuse. And there is a wallet-card that explains BDSM vs. Abuse in terms of consent to help you explain kink to law enforcement and social service professionals.




                NCSF’s Board Members and Education Outreach Project presented 22 educational programs in 2013, with a focus on consent discussions and Consent Counts information. NCSF also tabled at events around the country distributing literature such as “Finding Kink Aware Medical Care” and “Finding a Kink Aware Therapist.”

                The groups and events where NCSF presented includes: APEX, Beat Me in St. Louis, BOLD Con, COPE, CPI Anniversary Weekend, DomCon/Atlanta, DuckStock (Alternative) CampOut, Evansville MAsT, GLLA, House of Decorum Leather Ball, Incognito Dungeon Facility, KinkLincs, Lifestyles Exchange, Macon Munch Group, Madtown Kinkfest, Nashville Pride, Smokey Mountain Power Exchange, Spanksgiving, Whimper Munch Group, and Winter Wickedness.

                NCSF also exhibited at the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) Annual Conference on June 5-9th in Miami, Florida. NCSF organized the AASECT Alt Sex Special Interest Group Munch that took place Friday evening at the Hilton Miami Downtown hotel that was attended by over 40 AASECT members who were interested in finding out more about BDSM, polyamory and swinging.

                Jim Fleckenstein was the lead presenter on What Do Polyamorists Want? A National Survey of an Underserved Population, a workshop discussing key findings from the Loving More and NCSF survey. Susan Wright was the presenter on Understanding Consent in BDSM Practices, a workshop presenting data from the NCSF Consent Counts Survey about consent in a BDSM context.

                NCSF also assisted in setting up a BDSM Panel Discussion for AASECT’s Summer Institute in St. Louis by enlisting Coalition Partner STL3, which provided a diverse and knowledgeable panel that discussed aspects of BDSM, community ethics, and related safety and consent issues.



Media Outreach


                The media team broadened NCSF’s reach into social media, with NCSF’s Facebook page getting 1,000 likes and over 6,500 followers on Twitter. 42 interviews were given to reporters from mainstream media to blogs, including the Associated Press, New York Times, Esquire, The Atlantic, Maire Claire, GQ, the Village Voice, Details, US News & World Report, and two Huffington Post Live appearances. Susan Wright was featured in the E! Entertainment Special, “The Real 50 Shades of Grey,” that aired around the world during 2013.

                As usual, NCSF provided media back-up for Folsom Street East, which had to be canceled this year due to the construction project on the block. NCSF also continued its media training program for groups and individuals who wanted to learn how to talk to reporters about kink, polyamory or the Lifestyle. To follow the NCSF Media Updates or get the Media Update Digest, subscribe to NCSF’s newsletter on the website:



                NCSF Coalition Partner TTB Ventures - Touch of Flavor fought the biggest public battle in 2013. NCSF consulted on their legal and media response, and TTB Ventures handled the media storm with professional excellence. They pursued their case in court and succeeded in getting a settlement that is important for all kink events, proving once again that we can win against discrimination and persecution. Coppermine Field House LLC, the manager of the Clarence "Du" Burns Arena, also issued a statement correcting "any incorrect impressions" about Touch of Flavor and acknowledged that TTB Ventures notified the original management of the nature of the event when the contract was signed.

                NCSF also supported Leather & Grace’s efforts to educate Unitarian Universalist ministers, directors of religious education, and congregational leaders about the BDSM communities, the ethical principles, and issues of discrimination and prejudice. Silent Sunday was just one of Leather & Grace’s activist opportunities in 2013.

                Though there were problems with NCSF’s Incident Reporting & Response program in 2013, and much of the data for this year has not been recovered yet, some of the cases NCSF assisted on included: providing DSM-5 info for child custody cases, writing a letter to a city attorney on behalf of a swing club, referrals for expert witnesses in cases involving BDSM, advice on getting permits for events, answering questions about organizational issues such as corporate ownership of a 501c7, doing outreach to local police pre-event, and how to deal with someone taking photographs at an event. There were also people looking for lawyers and information on laws dealing with civil and criminal issues including: pro-dommes asking about state prostitution laws, a kinky community center that ran afoul of zoning regulations, and arrests for Domestic Violence that involved consensual BDSM.

                The Kink Aware Professionals database is updated on a continual basis, and added nearly 100 professionals in 2013 to bring the total up to 1,224 kink aware professionals that people can directly access when they need help.  




                NCSF upgraded its website at the end of 2013 to incorporate a new membership function and to upgrade the Kink Aware Professionals database, in particular the search function to make it easier to search for what you need. The KAP database is the most-visited part of NCSF's website and is a hugely valuable tool for people looking for assistance from a doctor, lawyer, therapist or other professional. 

                 The NCSF Fire Recovery Fundraiser in the first half of 2013 brought in $9,233 that went straight to the NCSF-Foundation to fund the purchase of new brochures totaling nearly $4,000. Replacement banners still need to be purchased as well as NCSF’s T-shirt inventory. At the end of 2013, the Board also drafted new Financial and Control Policies for both NCSF and NCSF-Foundation and broadcast them to the Coalition Partners for approval at the Annual Board Meeting in Nashville on March 15-16, 2014.

DSM-V in the News

DSM-V in the News

  • The DSM-5 Says Kink is OK!

    The DSM-5 Says Kink is OK!   The American Psychiatric Association has depathologized kinky sex – including cross-dressing, fetishes, and BDSM – in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Now the paraphilias are considered to be “unusual sexual interests,” while those who have sex with children or people who haven’t consented, or who deliberately cause harm to themselves or others, may be diagnosed with a…

    Tags: DSM
  • Press Release - DSM Update 2/16/10

    The APA Paraphilias Subworkgroup Agrees: Kinky is NOT a Diagnosis!

    Tags: DSM
  • Press Release - Kinky is NOT a Diagnosis 02-02-10

    Press Release - Kinky is NOT a Diagnosis

    Tags: DSM Kinky
  • Action Alert - DSM Petition 10/15/09

    Kinky is NOT a Diagnosis Help make history by signing the DSM Revision Petition now! The diagnoses in the DSM-IV-TR still subject people who practice BDSM, fetishes and cross-dressing to bias, discrimination and social sanctions without any scientific basis. We need 3,000 signatures, but we only have 2,200 now. If you don't speak up and call on the American Psychiatric Association to adhere to empirical research when revising the diagnoses…

    Tags: DSM Leather Fetish
  • Press Release - Sweeden Takes Sexual Behaviors Off Their Disease List

    Sweden takes sexual behaviors off their disease list November 25, 2008 - The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare is declassifying sexual behaviors as mental illnesses to avoid strengthening prejudice against the behaviors, the Swedish news service Tidningarnas Telegrambyra reported last week. The diagnoses which will soon disappear from the disease registry include sadomasochism, fetishism, fetishistic transvestitism, transvestitism, gender identity disorder in youth, and multiple disorders of sexual preferences. NCSF…

    Tags: DSM Sexual Behaviors
  • Press Release - NCSF Marching Forward

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE National Coalition for Sexual Freedom     Marching Forward: NCSF proactively advocates for sexual freedom   November 19, 2008 - NCSF is proud to be the only group in the country with a national mission committed to changing the political, legal and social environment for those involved with the BDSM, swing and polyamory communities. The new board of NCSF was voted in at the annual Coalition Partner…

    Tags: DSM Incident Response KAP Media Outreach EOP
  • Action Alert - Religious political extremists attack The Task Force for "Leather Leadership Award"

    February 13, 2008 - The American Family News Network posted an inflammatory article condemning the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force for honoring Guy Baldwin with  their Leather Leadership Award at the 20th National Conference on LGBT Equality:  Creating Change, on February 6-10, 2008 ( According to the February 7th article: Peter LaBarbera, executive director of Americans for Truth commented that he is  not sure if he is more surprised…

    Tags: DSM Creating Change Conference Task Force Award Leather LGBT
Learn More about DSM-V
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DSM-V: We're Making a Difference

  • Over 3000 signatures on DSM-V Revision Petition submitted APA
  • NCSF Letter to the Editor published in Archives of Sexual Behavior
  • NCSF has helped successfully lobby for the new proposed changes to the DSM-V which depathologizes BDSM

About DSM-V Revision Project

The DSM Revision project is attempting to depathologize BDSM in the APA Diagnostic and Statistic Manual.

The goal of the DSM-V Revision Project is to keep people from being discriminated against and persecuted because the current APA guidelines say BDSM is indicative of mental illness.

Susan Wright
NCSF Board Member
Director of the DSM-V Revision Project.

GIVE Now - Support NCSF DSM Revision work
Help fund education efforts to the APA and therapeutic professionals
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Join NCSF and help support our work to depatholigize BDSM