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Wednesday, 08 August 2007 06:53

NCSF Profile: Leigha Fleming

Leigha Fleming, Interim Executive Director

By Lou Briquant

Whether you're a swinging couple, a quiet practitioner of SM, Gay/Les couple or single, or a member of a polyamorous relationship, there are people in this world who are looking out for your interests and your freedom to be who you are. Leigha Fleming is the Interim Executive Director of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, a volunteer post that is a lot of hard work with intangible but fulfilling rewards.

Ms. Fleming got involved in the NCSF over the past few years. She tells us that she is currently doing any of several related jobs within the organization. "I most enjoy managing NCSF's Constituency Services, which include our Incident Response Program and our Legal Education Outreach Program. The most important qualities for any volunteer, regardless of position, is dependability. You have to do what you say you're going to do. You have to follow through and be accountable. We have to listen to what our constituents want and need from us, and we have to have confidence and to believe in our mission and vision."

Fleming never planned to be an activist or advocate. She was very involved in the SM-leather-fetish community and, as her participation grew, her awareness of discrimination and challenges faced by those involved in alternative lifestyles grew as well. "I've always had very strong opinions regarding governmental interference in private lives of adults. As I saw friends lose custody of their children, and SM groups getting hassled by the police, I began to get angry. Anger is a great motivator for change!"

Fleming happened to hear about the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) about five years ago, when her educational SM group began doing outreach to the local police. An NCSF staffer heard about the successful meetings, and contacted her. NCSF was just beginning its its Legal Education Outreach Program

(LEOP), so she got involved at that time. She believed, and still does, that the NCSF will make a difference.

Holding down a fulltime job, in addition to the necessary duties, is taxing and extremely time-consuming. She spends three or four hours a day on average, dealing with NCSF-related issues. The most difficult aspect of the volunteer work, outside of the time, is making sure everything is coordinated and follow-up is properly done.

The struggle continues, against with anti-privacy/anti-First Amendment forces that want to curtail the ability of our communities to meet, attend events, and become educated. "We had numerous confrontations with religious extremist organizations like the Concerned Women for America last year," Leigha said. "Their attempts to shut down our events continue. Fortunately, we local communities are beginning to utilize NCSF as a resource for dealing with media inquiries and for working with their local law enforcement."

"Our lawsuit against the federal government over the Communications and Decency Act continues. The court recently refused to dismiss our case against the government and so that is moving forward. We have a dozen or more "incidents" pending involving child custody and divorce and we're currently involved in a criminal case involving SM."

NCSF is in a growth phase right now. It's in the process of transitioning from a grassroots-model organization operated by consensus, to a professionally run national non-profit organization. Fleming, speaking on the changes, says, "They're making that transition very effectively. I expect to add more workshops to our Legal Education Outreach Program and, with the help of its new director Robyn Friedman, recruit more qualified volunteers to train. We also will be expanding and strengthening our ability to respond to both individual and group incidents. In addition, we'll be improving the internal structure of the organization and positioning ourselves to be a viable entity for many years to come. We will be filling our Executive Direction postion with a paid employee soon."

When asked what obstacles is the NCSF able to overcome in the near term, Leigha responded, "Like many non-profit organizations, we've been hit very hard by the downturn in the economy. We need to place NCSF on secure financial footing. We also need to put in place a system that can track and manage all the wonderful folks who volunteer for NCSF. In addition, we need to recruit and train qualified volunteers for our LEOP and Incident Response programs."

Fleming is responsible for the day to day oversight of NCSF's budget and finances. She says they have done a remarkable job of eliminating debt over the last six months, as well as having reduced their expenses. Fundraising Coordinator Glenda Rider does what Fleming calls "a magnificent job" of soliciting on behalf of NCSF. "We're working daily on implementing processes that increase our structural integrity."

As for problems up ahead, Fleming believes, "Our greatest external challenges in the near future come from those groups who want to restrict or eliminate the right of consenting adults to freely assemble and learn from one another. Another significant challenge rests in getting the word out about NCSF, and what we do for our own communities."

When asked what she thought of the relative amount of lifestyle freedom in the United States vis-à-vis other nations, Ms. Fleming has mixed feelings. "In some respects the US is freer. Even other first-world countries place restrictions on the practice of religion, press, etc... However, I would argue that the US is signifcantly less free when than other first-world countries when it comes to attitudes about sexuality and alternative sexual practices. In addition, the US has made a dangerous shift since 9/11. Laws allowing the federal government to invade the privacy of Americans in the pursuit of perceived terrorism have a chilling effect on us all."

"The NCSF's lawsuit against the federal government regarding the Communications & Decency Act is a significant challenge to the notion that someone in small-town USA has the right and ability to govern what a person in New York City creates online. In addition, we are actively working to dispel antiquated beliefs about alternative lifestyles, both in and out of our own communities."

Fleming has met with groups spanning the spectrum of consenting adults' lifestyles. "I've learned a number of things: First, I've learned we have a lot in common. Swingers, poly folks, and those in the SM-leather-fetish communities all face the same kind of discrimination. We all have the same challenges with our clubs, with educating others. Second, I've learned how much we tend to segment ourselves from one another. When we first included swingers and poly folks in our mission statement, I was so surprised to hear people say, "But we're not like them!" The SMers professed disdain for the swingers. The poly folks didn't think they had anything in common with the SM people, and so forth."

Fleming feels that our greatest challenge is uniting across our lifestyle lines, without engaging in fragmentation that could weaken or even destroy the advances now being made. Working together can help ensure safety and freedom for everyone.

**NCSF thanks Leigha for all her hard work and continuing support of our coalition.

Monday, 06 August 2007 00:30

2005 Incident Response Report

NCSF Supports Your Rights

In 2005, the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) again took the lead in defending the rights of individuals and groups in the SM-leather-fetish, swing and polyamory communities. NCSF's coalition of over 40 educational and social groups is committed to creating a political, legal, and social environment in the United States that advances equal rights of consenting adults who practice forms of alternative sexual expression.
 
NCSF's Incident Response team is directed by Director Leigha Fleming. In total, over 700 individuals, groups, attorneys, prosecutors, and businesses contacted NCSF for help in 2005. Each incident sometimes required only one or two phone calls, but some evolved into much larger projects.
 
NCSF received 726 distinct inquiries/requests for assistance. 327 required more than one contact/response to resolve, often requiring multiple contacts.
  • 31% were requests for referrals (criminal, divorce, custody, zoning, etc…)
  • 18% were requests for NCSF support regarding group/club/business formations
  • 15% were custody/divorce related
  • 9% were media driven/press related issues
  • 9% were employment discrimination
  • 7% were regarding harassment/domestic violence assistance
  • 7% were other/misc.
  • 4% were criminal in nature
Of the inquires NCSF received:
  • 58% were driven by SM/leather/fetish issues
  • 22% by poly
  • 17% by swing
  • 3% by other

It is difficult to categorize many incident requests as clearly falling into one camp or another. Many overlap in categories. For example, many of our custody/divorce related issues involve at least 2 of our core constituent groups (i.e. SM/leather/fetish and poly for example). In trying to do a statistical breakdown of the requests, we placed it in the category it most clearly matched.

2005 saw an increased number of requests around criminal and employment issues. NCSF worked with more than 2 dozen attorneys representing defendants in criminal cases. The vast majority of these criminal cases revolved around domestic abuse or consensual sex/play issues. There is a clear need for education within our own communities about the role and limits of consent and for education to police authorities about the differences between SM and abuse.

Employment related discrimination is increasing as well.

The largest category of requests were for referrals. NCSF's addition of the KAP resource should in time lower the number of requests for referrals that need to be handled by a person since we’ll be able to refer people to the KAP database. It will be extremely helpful to us to be able to set up some kind of system or way to track the where/why/who of the users of the KAP database.

The next largest group of requests for assistance came from groups, businesses, and other support organizations who wanted information about how to operate legally, do law enforcement outreach, file for non-profit status, deal with the media or the press, do hotel/event outreach, or do research around zoning or other legal issues.
 
The next group of requests for assistance involved parents who were engaged in child custody and divorce cases. Parents continue to experience difficulties gaining child custody due to their interest in SM, swing or poly activities. NCSF worked with a number of attorneys representing parents accused of being unfit because of their alternative lifestyle interests. In many cases, because of information we were able to provide, the courts decided that alternative sexual expression alone was not cause to impugn a parent's ability to be a good parent.
 
2006 incident response statistics are currently being compiled. As of August 2006, more than 465 distinct requests for assistance have been processed.
 
NCSF is here to help you -- the SM, swing and polyamory communities. If you have a problem with discrimination, persecution, or harassment because of your sexual expression, please call NCSF for assistance. You can visit our website on www.ncsfreedom.org or call our office at 410-539-4824. If you have a media-related incident, you can call 917-848-6544. To find a lawyer, psychotherapist, or doctor who is kink friendly, go to: www.ncsfreedom.org/kap
 
Please support NCSF in our effort to change the political, legal, and social environment in the United States. We are committed to making a difference. Join NCSF as a member or please hold a fund-raiser and donate to NCSF!
Monday, 06 August 2007 00:26

2004 Incident Response Report

NCSF Supports Your Rights

In 2004, the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) again took the lead in defending the rights of individuals and groups in the SM-leather-fetish, swing and polyamory communities. NCSF's coalition of over 40 educational and social groups is committed to creating a political, legal, and social environment in the United States that advances equal rights of consenting adults who practice forms of alternative sexual expression.
 
NCSF's Incident Response team is directed by Director Leigha Fleming. In total, over 740 individuals, groups, attorneys, prosecutors, and businesses contacted NCSF for help in 2004. Each incident sometimes required only one or two phone calls, but some evolved into much larger projects such as the CUFFs group incident. Cuffs, a nonprofit SM club at Iowa State University, was called before disciplinary council in March, with their SM demonstrations cited as assault. The media coverage was nationwide. NCSF sent out two press releases on the rights of college students to have access to free expression and educational forums on SM during this incident.
 
2004 saw an increased number of requests around criminal and legal issues. Individuals, businesses and groups consulted with NCSF on: the legality and definition of obscene materials, guidelines for posting sexually frank information on websites, the law regarding private parties, allegations of false rape, alleged domestic violence, and dealing with law enforcement.
 
The largest category of incidents involved parents who were engaged in child custody and divorce cases, as well as an increased number of employment related incidents. Parents continue to experience difficulties gaining child custody due to their interest in SM, swing or poly activities. NCSF worked with a number of attorneys representing parents accused of being unfit because of their alternative lifestyle interests. In many cases, because of information we were able to provide, the courts decided that alternative sexual expression alone was not cause to impugn a parent's ability to be a good parent.
 
Group incidents decreased in 2004, with only a few requests from local groups to assist with hotels and media to help resolve their issues. This may be due to the fact that religious political extremist groups appear to have been busy in 2004 opposing gay marriage. NCSF received one call in January from a Michigan newspaper asking about gay marriage in regards to how it would affect the legality of polygamy (the answer - not at all).
 

Discrimination

In March, NCSF sent out an Action Alert about the Georgia House of Representatives banning genital piercings for women. The bill outlined punishments for female genital mutilation, making it punishable by two to 20 years in prison. However a last-minute "Heath Amendment" to the bill made no exception for adult women who gave consent for their own genital piercings. The bill was blocked in the Senate because of this amendment, and was reintroduced in Jan 2005, allowing adults to receive genital piercings but not minors under 18.
 
A number of complaints continued to come in regarding Paypal and E-bay about their discriminatory practices. Paypal continues to close accounts without warning for allegedly violating their policy against selling adult/pornographic items. When Paypal closed down the website of The Baronness who sells rubber clothing, Lisa Napoli, Senior Reporter for NPR’s Marketplace covered the story, with Susan Wright giving an interview on behalf of NCSF.
 
In October, NCSF contacted New York City Councilwoman Lopez regarding the alleged Quadracci incident. Councilwoman Lopez sent a letter to the District Attorney requesting that he investigate "an illegal SM club" in Mr. Quadracci's apartment. This incident was featured heavily in the NY Post and Daily News. Councilwoman Lopez stated to NCSF, "I believe in privacy rights for consenting adults," and that as long as "it's a private individual doing private things in their own home," then she has no problem with it. The legal case was eventually dropped against Mr. Quadracci.
 
Job discrimination continues to be a problem for individuals. NCSF helped more than a dozen people draft and file formal complaints with their employers regarding employment discrimination claims.
 

Media Summary

Altogether, NCSF staff members gave over 65 interviews with the media in 2004. Media Spokesperson Susan Wright gave 34 interviews throughout the year. A number of interviews were inquiries about the NCSF-Nitke CDA lawsuit, primarily with adult news media outlets like YNot, X-Biz and TheAdultWebmaster.com. Mainstream coverage of the case increased in the fall as the oral arguments commenced. Barbara Greenfield with Time Out NY interviewed Barbara and Susan for a feature to coincide with trial.
 
NCSF worked extensively with Time Magazine on an article by John Cloud about the SM community. Time published a thoughtful, positive article for the SM community in January 2004. In October, Primetime Live, ABC News Magazine, aired their survey on "American Sex Lives," by Holly Gordon. Susan was interviewed for this episode, and the coverage of alternative sexual expression was positive. Susan also gave interviews for two documentaries about SM.
 
Swing Spokesperson Sue Gould gave over 30 interviews about swinging and the Lifestyle in 2004. One of the bigger swing interviews for 2004 was with Detail's Magazine, explaining the importance of NCSF's work with the swing community. NCSF also released a statement supporting privacy rights when Jack Ryan, a Republican running for the Senate, was outed and vilified for attending swing clubs with his wife, actress Jeri Ryan. The reporting of the details in their divorce papers was highly sensationalistic and soon thereafter Ryan abandoned his bid for a Senate seat.
 
NCSF provided six media trainings for groups and events this year. Susan was also asked to look at over a dozen websites to give advice on what content would draw media and/or law enforcement attention. Susan also assisted one of NCSF's Coalition Partners in dealing with a local reporter who wanted to join their group and e-mail list.
 

NCSF On the Front Lines

NCSF is here to help you -- the SM, swing and polyamory communities. If you have a problem with discrimination, persecution, or harassment because of your sexual expression, please call NCSF for assistance. You can visit our website on www.ncsfreedom.org or call our office at 410-539-4824. If you have a media-related incident, you can call 917-848-6544. To find a lawyer, psychotherapist or doctor who is kink friendly, go to: www.ncsfreedom.org/kap
 
Please support NCSF in our effort to change the political, legal, and social environment in the United States. We are committed to making a difference. Join NCSF as a member or please hold a fund-raiser and donate to NCSF!
Monday, 06 August 2007 00:23

2003 Incident Response Report

NCSF Supports Your Rights!

In 2003, National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) once again took the lead in defending the rights of individuals and groups in the SM-leather-fetish, swing and polyamory communities. NCSF's coalition of 38 educational and social groups is committed to creating a political, legal, and social environment in the United States that advances equal rights of consenting adults who practice forms of alternative sexual expression.

Leigha Fleming directs NCSF's Incident Response team. In total during 2003, NCSF responded to more than 500 cases, with more than 1,300 contacts between NCSF and individuals, groups, attorneys, prosecutors, and businesses that requested assistance. Some incidents required only one or two phone calls, but many evolved into much larger projects such as the attacks by religious political groups against SM conferences.

In 42% of the incidents, NCSF assisted individuals. The largest category of incidents involved parents who were engaged in child custody and divorce cases. Parents continue to experience difficulties gaining child custody due to their interest in SM, swing or poly activities. NCSF worked with a number of attorneys representing parents accused of being unfit because of their alternative lifestyle interests. In many cases, because of information we were able to provide, the courts decided that alternative sexual expression alone was not cause to impugn a parent's ability to be a good parent.

We also helped families dealing with child protective services because of their alternative lifestyle interests.

NCSF saw a sharp rise in the number of requests for help from individuals experiencing employment discrimination because of their involvement in alternative lifestyles in 2003. Individuals also consulted with NCSF on a variety of other issues, including: the legality of obscene materials, guidelines for posting sexually frank information on websites, the law regarding private parties, criminal cases, dealing with law enforcement and dealing with personal media exposure.

In 2003, NCSF also opposed zoning and other local regulatory measures against those who practice some form of alternative sexual expression. NCSF assisted the swing communities in Illinois and North Carolina by working with them to fight back against punitive zoning restrictions. In addition, we extended our outreach to the polyamory community in 2003 by working with individuals impacted by discrimination against their relationship style.

Conventions

Opposition to SM events based on religious concerns continued in 2003. The host hotel for My Vicious Valentine (February 14-16) received calls from Concerned Women for America at the end of January. The CWA attack against My Vicious Valentine fizzled out, in large part due to the extensive education about SM events that NCSF did for local authorities in 2002. Only one reporter called NCSF from the hotline number posted on MVV's website.

The Tribal Fire conference (April 4-6) in Oklahoma was again targeted by religious groups who took out ads in the local papers denouncing SM practices and threatening to picket the event. Tribal Fire's organizers met with the police detective and the hotel to ensure the event would go on as planned. However four Mennonites held a prayer vigil in the hotel lobby for 72 hours. NCSF staff members attended Tribal Fire and spoke out about the importance of standing up for our rights.

When Concerned Women for America attacked International Mr. Leather (May 30-June 1) they quoted the Illinois State Health Department as saying there is a higher rate of STDs in homosexual men. CWA proclaimed that IML was therefore a danger to employees and guests at the host hotel. Susan Wright contacted the Illinois State Health Department, and the AIDS/Infectious Diseases department declared they would speak to any media outlet to debunk the CWA's absurd claims. IML was held as planned.

The Black Rose conference (November 11-14) was forced to move from Ocean City, Maryland, back to their former host hotel in New Carrollton, Maryland when two churches in Ocean City led a grass-roots movement to prevent the event from taking place in their rural resort town. There was a great deal of initial confusion regarding Black Rose's media response, and as a result, there were many misrepresentations and prejudicial and inaccurate descriptions included in the articles in the Maryland Coast Dispatch and the Daily Times of Salisbury which inflamed the situation. NCSF attempted to mediate the situation by providing accurate and unbiased information on SM/leather/fetish to the local media.

Fetish in the Fall (November 20-23) scheduled to take place in Kenner, Louisiana (part of metropolitan New Orleans) was moved after it was attacked by the Kenner police chief. Police Chief Nick Congemi urged hotel managers to decline any request to hold the event in any Kenner hotel. In his letter and press release to the media, Chief Congemi stated that "allowing the event to take place would seriously jeopardize the family atmosphere for which Kenner is noted." Congemi had already announced his run for mayor of Kenner (election held in March, 2004). For many years prior to this, Congemi had allowed his police officers to work as off-duty security for the adult swing conference in Kenner, N'awlins in November, produced by the same company that produced Fetish in the Fall. NCSF was called in immediately and was able to generate positive media coverage of this incident.

Clubs

NCSF also opposed zoning and other local regulatory measures against those who practice some form of alternative sexual expression. NCSF assisted the swing communities in North Carolina and Illinois by holding open-forum discussions about how to affect zoning regulations and current litigation against lifestyle clubs. NCSF also worked with the Gay and Lesbian Activist Alliance (GLAA) to lobby against the Washington DC's Alcoholic Beverage Control regulation 905, which has been used to prohibit SM play in local establishments with liquor licenses even when liquor isn't being sold or consumed. In response to an Action Alert created and distributed in conjunction with D.C. Sexual Minority Advocates (DCSMA), NCSF received over 130 cc'ed letters from community members stating they were concerned that this regulation will prevent SM community spaces from existing in Washington D.C.

The Labyrinth in Denver, a community SM space, was shut down by a restraining order because of zoning violations. The undercover investigation took many months. The Denver community organized an ad hoc group called COSMA (Colorado SM Advocates) to fight for their right to have an SM club. NCSF conducted multiple interviews with the Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, Lakewood Sentinel, Channel 7, ABC affiliate, and KHOW 630 AM radio during this incident.

Media Incidents

NCSF gave 67 media interviews in 2003, with Susan Wright, Spokesperson, giving 49 interviews and Sue Gould, Swing Spokesperson, giving 18 interviews. Clubs and businesses regularly contact NCSF to receive media training for incidents or prior to holding an event.

NCSF began working with John Cloud, a reporter with Time Magazine in November 2003 on an article about the SM community, its history and practices. NCSF assisted in locating appropriate people in the SM community to be interviewed. Several SM conferences considered allowing the reporter into their event, but concerns over privacy prevented that. The positive article was published in January 2004.

In Indianapolis, a female professional dominant gave an interview with the local newspaper and Channel 6 News in May. This caused serious problems for her because she was located near a church-school and ran a home-based business (a D/s and role-play salon) with no business license or permits. The media and police received an anonymous tip about her illegal business operation. NCSF encouraged her to seek proper zoning, educated her about dealing with the media, and responded to media inquiries for her.

In March, NCSF was contacted by concerned community members about the Black Party's promo image, which showed a young man with a black eye and split lip. NCSF protested to the producers of the Black Party in NYC that this image doesn't portray SM but rather shows abuse. The NYC Anti-Violence Project, the National Coalition against Violence and other groups joined in this effort, writing to the producers protesting this image.

In one media incident, a nonprofit club in Muncie, Indiana, was threatened with closure along with a nearby strip bar until the media was educated about safe, sane and consensual SM. NCSF also gave media assistance to a swing club in Connecticut which was closed because of zoning issues.

Another media incident involved Nerve.com when they published a series of articles in June entitled "Letters from Leather Camp." The Nerve reporter infiltrated a private event, Leather Retreat. Leather Retreat didn't have a clause in their release form preventing reporters from writing for a commercial media outlet. Susan Wright negotiated with Michael Martin, Editor-in-Chief at Nerve.com, and sent out Nerve's statement and apology in NCSF's Media Update covering the articles. The comments section of Nerve.com was reinstated so SM community members could respond to the articles, and the articles themselves were purged of their most reprehensible comments.

Discrimination

Job discrimination continues to be a problem for individuals. NCSF helped more than a twenty people draft and file formal complaints with their employers regarding employment discrimination claims. One West Virginia woman lost her job because she belonged to a leather club. One Texas woman was sexually harassed by her supervisor when he found her website on the internet. She was initially terminated from her job when she complained about the harassment. NCSF worked with her and her husband to draft a formal grievance and helped her find a sympathetic attorney. She was rehired.

A number of discrimination complaints continue to be made regarding Paypal and E-bay regarding their policies for dealing with adult oriented vendors. Paypal and E-bay are deleting accounts that sell adult oriented merchandise. NCSF has contacted the parent company, E- bay, regarding their discriminatory practices. These companies continue their "no-adult content" policy in large part out of fears of prosecution for obscenity.

Criminal Cases

NCSF was contacted by individuals, attorneys and prosecutors on a variety of criminal cases, including: several cases of false rape, three different cases involving death of a participant, and two murder investigations. NCSF also made referrals to resources and the appropriate authorities in several domestic violence incidents. In three cases, NCSF was able to help the victim obtain protective orders and find appropriate counseling.

NCSF: On the Front Lines

NCSF is here to help you -- the SM, swing and polyamory communities. If you have a problem with discrimination, persecution, or harassment because of your sexual expression, please call NCSF for assistance. If you are contacted by the media, please call NCSF immediately so we can assist in educating the reporter about SM, swing or polyamory.

And please support NCSF in our effort to change the political, legal, and social environment in the United States. We are a volunteer organization committed to making a difference. Join NCSF as a member or please hold a fund-raiser and donate to NCSF!

Monday, 15 February 2010 10:37

DSM-V Revision Project

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 Paraphilic Disorder.

 

“The APA has made it clear that being kinky is not a mental disorder,” says Susan Wright, Spokesperson for NCSF. “That means people no longer have to fear being diagnosed as mentally ill just because they belong to a BDSM group. We’ve already seen the impact – NCSF immediately saw a sharp rise in the success rate of child custody cases for kinky parents after the proposed DSM-5 criteria was released three years ago.”

 

NCSF would like to thank everyone who participated in signing our DSM Revision Petition and for telling the APA about their own stories of discrimination and persecution. NCSF also thanks every member of the APA Paraphilias Subworkgroup for responding to our concerns, and drawing a hard line between consensual adult kinky sex and those who willfully engage in nonconsensual or harmful activities.

 

NCSF is proud to build on the work of kink-aware professionals who have come before us, including Race Bannon and Guy Baldwin, who helped make seminal changes in the DSM-IV in 1994.

 

The following are some statements about the various paraphilias in the DSM-5. Although highly clinical in language, they show the APA’s intent to not demand treatment for healthy consenting adult sexual expression:

 

 “A paraphilia is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for having a paraphilic disorder, and a paraphilia by itself does not necessarily justify or require clinical intervention.” p. 686

 

“In contrast, if they declare no distress, exemplified by anxiety, obsessions, guilt or shame, about these paraphilic impulses, and are not hampered by them in pursuing other personal goals, they could be ascertained as having masochistic sexual interest but should not be diagnosed with a sexual masochism disorder.” p. 694

 

“Many individuals who self-identify as fetishist practitioners do not necessarily report clinical impairment in association with their fetish-associated behaviors. Such individuals could be considered as having a fetish but not fetishistic disorder.” p. 701

 

“Clinical assessment of distress or impairment, like clinical assessment of transvestic sexual arousal, is usually dependent on the individual’s self-report.” p. 703

 

To support NCSF, go to www.ncsfreedom.org. NCSF relies entirely on your donations to advance the rights of consenting adults and to do advocacy like our DSM Revision Project. Please donate now!

 

The Atlantic recounts how NCSF, Race Bannon, Guy Baldwin, Charles Moser and Peggy Kleinplatz fought to make the APA acknowledge that BDSM is a healthy form of sexual expression! Read the Full Article

 

 Normal or Not? A Sexual Attraction to Objects

 

The DSM-5 marks this transition by attaching the term "disorder" when an unusual sexual interest crosses these boundaries. So, hypothetically, someone who simply uses shoes to masturbate or whose partner accepts his unusual interest in shoes could be diagnosed with fetishism, but not a fetishistic disorder — unless the fetish crosses the threshold in one of the ways described above.

Whips, chains and full of life: BDSM practitioners 'healthier and less neurotic' than 'vanilla' peers

 Along the same lines, Wismeijer also suggested that accepting one's unusual sexual preferences and choosing to live in a societal niche like the BDSM community might involve huge amounts of psychological work, which could translate into positive mental health.

Friday, 26 June 2009 19:00

Current NCSF Coalition Partners

Adventures in Sexuality (Columbus, OH)

Albany Power Exchange (Albany, NY)

Alternative Community Educational Society (Bremerton, WA)

Baja Arizona Leather 

The Board of Education (the BoE)

Boulder Center for Sexual Health (Boulder, CO)

Castaways Travel (The Woodlands, TX)

Catalyst Art & Cultural Space (Portland, OR)

Center for Sex Positive Culture (Seattle, WA)

Central Iowa Power Exchange (West Des Moines, IA)

Club 616 (Grand Rapids, MI)

Collette Clubs

DC Rope (Washington DC)

DC Sub Club

DeGiotto Rope 

Dirty Things (Baltimore, MD)

FetLife.com

Ft. Wayne Munch (Ft. Wayne, IN)

Frolicon (Atlanta, GA)

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House of Decorum (Greenville, SC)

House of Two Wolves

Impact of Memphis (Memphis, TN)

Jacksonville TNG (Jacksonville, FL)

Jeffrey Sumber, LCPC, PC

Knights of Leather (Minneapolis, MN)  

Latex Catfish 

Le Fleur De Lis Club (Readlands, CA)

Leather & Grace ~ Unitarian Universalists for BDSM Awareness (Boston, MA)

Leather SINS (Chicago, IL)

Les Bon Temps (Alabama)

Long Island Leather N Roses (Long Island, NY)

MAsT: Boise (Boise, ID)

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MAsT: San Luis Obispo

Menages (Nashville, TN)

Merisa K Bowers, Attorney at Law, LLC

MetaCity

Minnesota Kinky Youth (St. Paul, MN)

Minnesota Marketplace (Minneapolis, MN)

Mob New England (MA)

National Leather Association Dallas (Dallas, TX)

New England Dungeon Society - NEDS (New England)

New England Leather Alliance - NELA (New England)

New Mexico Leather League

Northern Lights (MN)

NYC TNG (New York, NY)

Oahu TNG (Oahu, HA)

Oak & Associates, LLC

One Common Community (Clearwater, FL)

Pittsburgh Bridge (Pittsburgh, PA)

Poly Columbus (Columbus, OH)

Purple Rose Society (Akron, OH)

QPEX: Quincy Power Exchange 

Realistic Expectations

Riverbound

Sacramento We Stand

Sanctuary for Lifestyle Arts (Dallas, TX)

Satyricon (Madison, WI)

SF TNG (San Francisco , CA)

SLOLOCK

smOdyssey, Inc. (San Jose, CA)

STL3 (St Louis, MO)

TES - The Eulenspiegel Society (New York, NY)

The Mark by CPI (Nashville, TN)

The Private Affair (MD)

The Red Chair (Birmingham, AL)  

Trans Ladies Mutual Aid Sisterhood

TTB Ventures LLC - Touch of Flavor (Westminster, MD)

Tulsa Dungeon Society (Tulsa, OK)

University of Minnesota Queer Student Cultural Center (Minneapolis, MN)

The Woodshed Orlando (Orlando, FL)

 

 

Friday, 03 August 2007 08:16

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Tuesday, 31 July 2007 01:14

Sound Bites for the Polyamory Community

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.

 

Poly people are your friends, neighbors and co-workers--doctors, lawyers, bus drivers, and teachers--and there is no scientific evidence that polyamory is unhealthy for relationships or affects parenting skills. Polys are committed to their partners and consider the partners of their partners to be extended family.

 

Many Americans, even those who are married, structure their sex lives differently today than 50 years ago. Most adults are not married, and many families don't include two married heterosexual parents anymore.

 

The fact is that millions of Americans practice polyamory, and it is the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom's mission to make sure that they can do so without fear of harassment, violence, or discrimination.

 

Latest research on Polyamory

Blumstein and Schwartz (1983, cited in Rubin & Adams, 1986) noted that of 3,574 married couples in their sample, 15-28% had "an understanding that allows nonmonogamy under some circumstances. The percentages are higher among cohabitating couples (28%), lesbian couples (29%) and gay male couples (65%)" (p. 312).

 

In 1976, Knapp administered a battery of standardized psychological assessment measures to a sample of polyamorous couples (Peabody, 1982). No significant differences were found between the couples in her sample and the general population norms. "That is, neither group was particularly neurotic, immature, promiscuous, maladjusted, pathological, or sexually inadequate." (p. 429).

 

Rubin & Adams (1986) found that after several years, there was no significant difference in marital stability (i.e. breaking up vs. staying together) between those couples who had been polyamorous versus those whose marriages had been exclusive. Similar proportions of each group reported happiness versus unhappiness, compared to the earlier sample. Additionally, "the reasons given for breakup were almost never related to extramarital sex" (p. 318).

 

In many cultures, polyamory is the norm, and many benefits of this lifestyle have been reported. For instance, in Nigeria it is said that "the sharing of responsibilities among members may greatly dilute the burden, financial or otherwise, of care for members with problems" (Makanjuola, 1987, p. 366). Venezuelan Yanomamo women who choose a poly lifestyle may not need to work as long on household and child-care tasks as their monogamous sisters do, due to co-operation between co-wives (Hames, 1996).

 

Is polyamory immoral?

Polyamory is the complete opposite of irresponsible promiscuity. Polyamory involves couples or groups consensually sharing playful loving life experiences--sexual and otherwise.

 

Research shows that most Americans support privacy rights for consenting adults to choose and practice safe, sane and consensual sexual loving relationships, regardless of marital status.

 

Of course many people prefer monogamy and aren't interested in developing intimate relationships with more than one person. Poly people aren't trying to convert anyone. We are adults living our lives how we choose, and no one has the right to dictate our personal choices.

 

What is the affect on Children?

If parents are happy in their intimate relationships, it helps the family. Happy families are good for children.

 

Some poly families are structured so that one parent can be home to care for the children while two or more other adults work outside the home and earn an income, thus providing a better standard of living for all concerned.

 

More adult caretakers means more people available for child care, help with homework, and rides to soccer practice.

Children thrive on love. The more adults they have to love them who are part of the family, the happier and more well-adjusted they are. 

 

There is no evidence that growing up in a poly family is detrimental to the physical, psychological or moral well being of children.

 

Recently a legal case was heard in which a young child was removed from a polyamorous household after her grandparents petitioned for custody, on the grounds that the home environment was immoral according to the Bible. No evidence of child abuse or neglect was found, and mental health professionals found that the child was well-adjusted; but the child's family still had to fight a court battle in order to have her returned; and even then, the child was only returned on the grounds that one of the three parents move out (Cloud, 1999).

 

Benefits of Polyamory

People involved in polyamory in general, are better educated about safe sex and sexual responsibility. Often polyamorous social events offer educational programs about consent, communication, as well as safe sex education.

 

Polyamorists consider the practice of safer sex to be essential to the practice of responsible non-monogamy.

 

People involved in polyamory tend to get a lot of experience with communicating their desires, feelings, and boundaries. It's well-established that good communication builds healthy relationships.

 

Polyamory can meet more of one's emotional, intellectual, and sexual needs through accepting that one person cannot provide everything.

 

Positive elements to polyamory: increased personal freedom; greater depth to social relationships; the potential for sexual exploration in a non-judgmental setting; a strengthening of spousal bonds; a sense of being desired; a feeling of belongingness; added companionship; a greater abundance of love; increased self-awareness; intellectual variety; and the chance for new aspects of personality to emerge through relating to more people.

 

Challenges of Polyamory

People 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.

 

Polyamorous unions are not typically recognized by church or state, and spousal health benefits are not available for one's non-married partner(s). Many of the discriminations that the gay community faces are concerns for the polyamorous community as well.

 

Poly people often remain "closeted" about their relationships because of the social stigma involved, as well as fear of threats to job security and child custody. Poly people fear discrimination and persecution, so having to keep such a secret can cause stress in their lives.

 

Attacks on Polyamory

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 instead of interfering in our lives.

 

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 Supreme Court recently abolished Sodomy Laws because they violate Americans' fundamental right to privacy.

 

References:

 

What Psychology Professionals Should Know About Polyamory
by Geri D. Weitzman
http://www.polyamory.org/~joe/polypaper.htm#Demographic

 

Working With Polyamorous Clients In The Clinical Setting
by Joy Davidson, Ph.D.
Journal of Human Sexuality
http://www.ejhs.org/volume5/polyoutline.html

 

 
Tuesday, 31 July 2007 00:32

Interview Contact List

Individuals from the SM-Leather-Fetish community available for interview

 

Liz Highleyman

Journalist
Medical Writer

415-305-0821
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cecilia Tan

Publisher (Circlet Press),
Author

Boston, MA
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
(617) 864-0492

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Bill Henkin

Board Certified Sex Therapist,
Clinical Sexologist, MFCC

San Francisco, CA
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
(415) 923-1150

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

John Warren

Author,
Diversified Services

Boston, MA
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
(617) 787-7426

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Janet Hardy

Publisher (Greenery Press),
Author

San Francisco, CA
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
(510) 652-2596

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Jay Wiseman

Author

San Francisco, CA
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
(510) 652-2596

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Trevor Jacques

Publisher (WholeSM),
Author, Researcher

Toronto, Canada
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
(416) 962-1040

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Susan Wright

Policy Director of NCSF,
Author

New York, NY
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
(917) 848-6544

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Mistress Lalique

Professional Dominatrix,
Community Organizer

Centerville, MA
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
508- 420 - 9045

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

 

Tuesday, 31 July 2007 00:28

BDSM vs Abuse

The following Principles and Guidelines are intended to help law enforcement and social services professionals understand the difference between abusive relationships vs. consensual sadomasochism (BDSM). BDSM 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:

  1. Was informed consent expressly denied or withdrawn?
  2. Were there factors that negated the informed consent?
  3. What is the relationship of the participants?
  4. What was the nature of the activity?
  5. 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:

  1. Are your needs and limits respected?
  2. Is your relationship built on honesty, trust, and respect?
  3. Are you able to express feelings of guilt or jealousy or unhappiness?
  4. Can you function in everyday life?
  5. Can you refuse to do illegal activities?
  6. Can you insist on safe sex practices?
  7. Can you choose to interact freely with others outside of your relationship?
  8. Can you leave the situation without fearing that you will be harmed, or fearing the other participant(s) will harm themselves?
  9. Can you choose to exercise self-determination with money, employment, and life decisions?
  10. Do you feel free to discuss your practices and feelings with anyone you choose?

These guidelines were created by activists and leaders at the Leather Leadership Conference in 1998.

 

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About Educational Outreach

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