By Susan Wright
The 2008 survey saw a total of 3,058 responses collected. Of those, 2,412 respondents resided in the United States (83.4%). Of the remaining 480 respondents, a total of over 42 other countries were represented. Where appropriate, the data is compared to the 1998 Violence & Discrimination Survey Against Sexual Minorities which collected over 1,000 responses to similar questions over the course of a year. The 1998 survey did not cover business or event-related experiences of harassment, nor did it ask about Internet experiences. The 2008 survey also included more questions about sexual activity and identity.
|Table 1. Gender||2008||1998|
|Table 2. Sexual Orientation
A total of 1,146 (37.5%) respondents indicated that they had either been discriminated against, had experienced some form of harassment or violence, or had some form of harassment or discrimination aimed at their BDSM-leather-fetish-related business. Of the respondents who reported some form of persecution,
(Sexual orientation, like gender, was a question which required some answer, but allowed respondents to choose as many as they felt might apply, so the percentage totals more than 100%.)
Of the 1,146 respondents who indicated that they had either been discriminated against or had experienced some form of harassment or violence,
(Sexual orientation, like gender, was a question which required some answer, but allowed respondents to choose as many as they felt might apply, so the percentage totals more than 100%.)
The sexual orientation of respondents who were discriminated against or had experienced some form of harassment or violence is compared in Table 6.1 to the total percentage of respondents who identified their orientation. It is interesting to note that Gay/lesbian, Bisexual and Other respondents have slightly higher rates of persecution than their average percentage of total respondents, while Heterosexuals are less likely to be discriminated against.
|Table 3. Sexual Orientation
In 1998, the survey asked: "Are you completely 'out' about your involvement in sexual minority practices? "62% stated they were not "completely out." That is statistically almost the same as the 59.5 and 59.7% of respondents in the current survey who said they weren't out to work and/or family.
11.3% (346) of the total number of respondents (3,058) reported being discriminated against by professional or personal service providers. That is 30% (346) of the respondents who were discriminated against (1,146). Those respondents could check one or more of the specific ways they were discriminated against (Table 8.), with 48.8% discriminated against by a medical doctor, and 39.3% discriminated against by a mental health practitioner.
|Table 4. Discrimination by Professionals|
|Mental health practitioner||39.3%|
|Police or govt. employee||25.4%|
|Other Professional service provider||8.4%|
|Other Personal service provider||6.1%|
In total, 203 (6.6%) respondents stated their business had been harassed or discriminated against.
Respondents could check one or more of the specific ways they were discriminated against
|Table 5. Business Discrimination|
|Negative media coverage||26.1%|
|Harassment by police/author||22.2%|
|Harassment by neighbors||20.7%|
|Harassment by organizations||20.2%|
|Loss of lease||17.7%|
|Refused credit card services||14.8%|
|Loss of business||13.8%|
|Refused insurance coverage||8.9%|
|Loss of occupancy certificate||4.9%|
When asked, "Have you curtailed your use of the Internet for fear of prosecution?" More than one-third of the respondents, 1,065 (34.8%) of the 3058 respondents, said "yes". Respondents could check one or more of the specific ways they curtailed their Internet use (Table 10.).
|Table 6. Curtailed Internet Use|
|Didn't post image||71.5%|
|Didn't visit website||45.7%|
|Didn't post text||43.4%|
|Didn't link to website||38.7%|
|Didn't join email group||31.0%|
|Posted 18-over warn||25.7%|
|Didn't add meta-text||8.0%|
9.3% of respondents, 285 out of the total returned surveys, reported that US 2257 had an impact on their use of the Internet. Of the 1,065 respondents who indicated that they had curtailed their use of the Internet regarding BDSM activities, 214 (20.1%) reported that US 2257 was a significant reason for that curtailment.
When respondents who experienced violence and/or harassment were asked, "Did you press charges?" 90% said no as compared to 96% of the respondents in the 1998 survey who did not press charges.
|Table 7. Reasons Declined To Press Charges|
|Fear of further harassment||41.0%|
|Fear of family disapproval||24.1%|
|Fear of job safety||22.2%|
|Fear of legal repercussions||21.9%|
|Fear of losing child custody||10.6%|
Copyright Susan Wright, Survey of Violence & Discrimination Agaisnt Sexual Minorities (2008)
When we applied for a street fair permit for an outdoor leather
festival, we were met with tremendous opposition from a very vocal
member of the local community board, implying that Leather people
belong behind closed doors and out of the public eye where children and
others could see them. Not knowing how to handle this, I immediately
contacted the NCSF for their help in this matter. After speaking with
Susan Wright at the NCSF, I was more than armed with important
information and a long list of our rights, feeling ready to face not
only the community board but the local press with confidence and
Because of a ten minute conversation the NCSF, not only were we awarded the street fair permit for the event, but the community board voted unanimously in our favor. In addition, the NCSF made sure they were on hand at the Leather weekend, meeting with the media, making sure we came off looking good in the public light.
Our event could not have happened without the experience and support of the NCSF and we are very thankful an organization such as this exists.
New York Leather Weekend
As Director of one of the largest BDSM/Fetish educational events in the country - The Floating World, I have had numerous occasions to work with people from NCSF in assuring the event goes off with minimal friction. They have offered invaluable advice on dealing with municipal authorities and have been very helpful in dealing with an always-prying media. Susan Wright of NCSF has been our media relations expert from the beginning, and has done wonders in keeping us out of the media circus spotlight.
One particular case was when a reporter from The Star Ledger newspaper decided our event was excellent human interest material, even though we explained clearly that we wanted no press. Susan spent much time on the phone and in person with this very determined reporter and managed to expertly turn the focus away from us. She did her best to get the story canceled, but when the Editor wouldn't have it she did excellent damage control, injecting positive elements into the story and delaying the release of the article until AFTER our event, avoiding a flood of curiosity seekers and other media looking for their own stories.
What could have easily been a media disaster became a manageable issue, and her help meant I could focus on keeping the event on track and protecting the privacy of our attendees.
Director - The Floating World
Planning a larger kink event like Winter Wickedness is stressful enough, without adding in efforts to shut it down by the Radical Right. Although we recognized an effort such as this is largely based on misinformation and people’s fear of the unknown, we had invested significant amounts of time, effort and capitol, and were unwilling to be swayed by biased attempts to cancel the event.
With two weeks left before opening day, we heard that a local Christian radio station had done an inflammatory story on our event. Subsequently, the host hotel began receiving a smattering of calls from the listeners demanding the event’s cancellation. We initially contacted the NCSF to consult with their specialists as a preparatory step, in case this was picked up by the mainstream media.
A week later, the Radical Right had discovered their efforts were not producing the desired effect. They stepped it up and began contacting the mainstream media, the local authorities, including the health dept, the fire marshal, the local police dept, etc – in an effort to bring more pressure. We again reached out to the NCSF, which had Susan on the case, and Robin coming in for the event. Between the coordination of the Action Alert e-mails, Robin on the ground as the local media spokesperson, Susan keeping the heat on, and calling in to offer the media another voice – we had the NCSF as an invaluable ally in maintaining our sexual freedoms.
Although what it is that we do (WIITWD) is legal, safe, sane and consensual and had been given the go ahead by the local and state authorities; the radical right’s sensationalism, grassroots efforts and pointed innuendos implying inappropriate behavior, can create enough fear to jeopardize a venue. The NCSF has proven to us, beyond any doubt, that they are willing and able to fight back the bias and discriminatory efforts against us. The NCSF is a valuable asset to the Kink, Leather, GLBT and Alt Sex lifestyles. Adventures In Sexuality (AIS) is proud to be an NCSF Coalition Partner and will continue to bring the NCSF to all our events.
Barak & Sheba
Owners – Adventures In Sexuality
Adventures In Sexuality
Susan Wright of NCSF held the positions of Public Relations Director and Media Spokesperson for TES Fest 08, a 700-person weekend event over the 2008 July 4th weekend hosted at the Radisson Hotel in Piscataway NJ. This TES event, like the previous one, had the challenge of establishing a working relationship with a new venue and a new town. Susan continued to be a great ambassador for us as she met with the hotel, police and fire departments and did a spectacular job with helping us to forge a new set of relationships. She also, along with her vast resources at NCSF, helped research all relevant laws in the new town we were in to ensure that our event was in total legal compliance. In particular, she also performed admirably at-event in interfacing with the local law enforcement personnel which we hired as auxiliary security staff. We owe Susan a hearty "Thank You" for a series of 4 TES Fest's that were trouble free!
Director, TES Association
Executive Director, TES Fest 08
Susan Wright of NCSF has helped Paddles, the BDSM nightclub here in NYC, tremendously in the various issues we have encountered over the last few years involving all applicable laws/policies and interfacing with the local community. With NCSF's resources and her own years of expertise, she has worked diligently with us to research the health code regulations in NYC and how they affect an alternative sexuality nightclub such as ours. She has also done extensive work with us towards the goal of the city removing and/or amending its "anti-sex club" policies which has created an environment which makes it challenging for Paddles, a legal BDSM nightclub establishment, to operate in. She has also helped us understand and stay in compliance with all other regulations that would affect a club such as ours. Susan is a great asset to have "on our side" who is always available to lend us assistance. Thanks for all the help, Susan!
The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) is a national advocacy organization promoting tolerance of consenting adults who practice safe, sane and consensual alternative forms of sexual expression. NCSF represents the millions of Americans who suffer discrimination and persecution because of their normal interests in some form of alternative sexual expression.
Some Quick Facts:
What is SM?
Overview of S/M as a sexual orientation, contrast between SM & domestic violence & more
SM vs. Abuse
Guidelines for distinguishing between safe, sane & consensual SM & abuse
Interview Contact List
Individuals from the SM-Leather-Fetish community available for interviews
What is the Lifestyle?
Overview of demographics of swingers, and social and sexual attitudes
What is Polyamory?
Overview of demographics of polyamory, benefits and types of relationships.
Lawless cops are a threat to everyone in America
NCSF joins state and local representatives in urging everyone to file a complaint if they were present at the Eagle on September 10th, when the Atlanta police illegally detained 62 patrons and 8 employees and searched them without a warrant, reasonable suspicion, or probable cause. You can file a complaint with the Atlanta Police Department and the Atlanta Citizen Review Board which is investigating the raid:
CONFIDENTIALITY IS GUARANTEED UNDER ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGE. If you ask a lawyer for legal advice, the lawyer can't reveal anything you tell him, including your name: the police can't require it, your name can't be subpoenaed, and the court can't demand it. If a lawyer breaks attorney-client privilege, he or she will be disbarred.
"It's so important that our patrons come forward," says Richard Ramey, co-owner of the Eagle. "Everyone needs to hear how badly our civil rights were violated."
"Please call today!" urges Susan Wright, spokesperson for NCSF. "This is a clear human rights violation. If we don't speak up, they won't stop persecuting us. We are the only ones who can fight for our rights."
To read more about what happened at the Atlanta Eagle, visit http://AtlantaEagleRaid.com
National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) is funded solely by donations. Please visit our website to make a donation and help support this ongoing work: www.ncsfreedom.org
Please distribute this Action Alert widely (filed November 3, 2009)
National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF)
The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom is committed to creating a political, legal, and social
environment in the United States that advances the equal rights of consenting adults who practice forms of alternative sexual and relationship expression. NCSF advances the rights and advocates for consenting adults in the SM-Leather-Fetish, swing, and polyamory communities. We pursue our vision through direct services, education, advocacy, and outreach in conjunction with our partner organizations to directly
benefit these communities.
National Coalition for Sexual Freedom
Media hotline: (917) 848-6544
Office: (410) 539-4824
NCSF Condemns the Atlanta Police Department's Raid on the Eagle
September 15, 2009 - On September 10th, the Atlanta Eagle was raided by local police who used excessive force and voiced anti-gay slurs while handcuffing 62 patrons and 8 employees, forcing them to lie face-down on the floor for over an hour. The strong use of force included the presence of the "Red Dog unit" which typically deals with crimes such as gang violence.
Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington held a press conference yesterday afternoon stating that the gay leather bar was raided because of anonymous complaints that came through the mayor's office. One undercover officer stated in a September 11th report following the raid that it was the "conclusion of a several week investigation involving indecency and the club was providing adult entertainment without the proper permits to do so."
"It's a clear violation of the civil rights of those who were detained without cause," says Susan Wright, NCSF Spokesperson. "Instead of making an arrest at the time of the alleged offense, the Atlanta vice squad spent many hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer's money to raid the gay leather bar and persecute Atlanta citizens."
NCSF demands a full probe into the alleged misconduct and the allocation of resources by the Atlanta police department. NCSF also joins state and local representatives in urging anyone present the night of the arrests to step forward and file a formal complaint. Please contact NCSF for additional assistance to ensure that this matter is investigated in an open process.
A rally on Sunday at the Eagle drew a large presence in support of the victims by the LGBT community. Another rally is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, September 19, 2009.
The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) is committed to creating a political, legal, and social environment in the United States that advances the equal rights of consenting adults who practice forms of alternative sexual and relationship expression. NCSF advances the rights and advocates for consenting adults in the SM-Leather-Fetish, swing, and polyamory communities. We pursue our vision through direct services, education, advocacy, and outreach in conjunction with our partner organizations to directly benefit these communities.
To contact our media spokesperson, Susan Wright, (917) 848-6544
To contact our office directly: (410) 539-4824
Stop the Arrests in New York City
March 10, 2009 - The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) is a proud member of the Stop the Arrests Coalition. Spokesperson Susan Wright has participated in organizing meetings and spoke out at the Sheridan Square Rally on February 21st, 2009, against the false arrests of gay men and professional Dominatrices for prostitution.
There is good news from a meeting on March 6th with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly pledging to curb the stings against gay men (see articles below). NCSF is continuing to press for a cessation of arrests of professional Dominatrices, and has written to Commissioner Kelly to ask for a meeting about the NYPD's change in policy after 14 years of legal operation, which has resulted in a number of arrests of Dominatrices and owners of BDSM houses since Fall 2007.
NCSF opposes the prosecution of pro-dominants under prostitution laws. Consenting adults engaging in safe, sane, consensual SM, fetishes, and cross-dressing services do not pose legitimate health or safety issues for local communities. What these adults agree to do in private is no one else's business.
Members of the Stop the Arrests Coalition include: Queer Justice League, Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, Sex Workers Outreach Project, Urban Justice League's Sex Worker Project, and FIERCE New York.
KELLY CURBS 'GAY' STINGS
by Larry Celona
New York Post
March 9, 2009
Following accusations that vice cops were making dubious arrests of gay menat pornography shops, the NYPD has decided that similar investigations will now have to be approved by the department's higher-ups, sources told The Post.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly called the head of the department's OrganizedCrime Control Bureau, which oversees the vice squad, and others to Police Headquarters after protests outside Mayor Bloomberg's home over the arrests.
Protesters said undercover vice-squad cops were flirting with customers in Manhattan shops and offering to have sex for money - which the activists said amounted to entrapment.
The department had said it was not targeting gay men but was ratherconducting a nuisance-abatement operation in response to neighbor complaints.
As a result of the talks, it was decided that all such operations would haveto be cleared by OCCB head Chief Anthony Izzo, the sources said.
Click here for more information on this story.
Manhattan DA Pledges to Investigate Gay Men's Prostitution Arrests
by Duncan Osborne
Gay City News
March 8, 2009
Activists who met with Robert Morgenthau report that the district attorney said he would investigate the 2008 prostitution arrests of at least 30 gay and bisexual men in at least six Manhattan porn shops, and may dismiss the cases against five of the men who are contesting the charges.
"The first thing Morgenthau said was, 'We are going to investigate all these cases,'" said Joey Nelson, coordinator for the Queer Justice League and a member of the Coalition to Stop the Arrests. "That was the first thing out of his mouth."
The March 6 meeting lasted roughly an hour, and included coalition members, elected officials or their representatives, community groups, and Leroy Frazer, the executive assistant district attorney for governmental affairs and community relations.
"They were going to go back and start looking at all the individual cases," said Robert Pinter, also a coalition member and one of the men who was arrested last year. "They really seemed genuinely concerned that something wrong was happening here."
The arrests, which were later cited in lawsuits seeking to close the shops brought by the city against five of the six businesses, are widely seen as false arrests in the gay community.
"They weren't trying to cover things up or hide," Pinter said. "Morgenthau himself brought up that he has prosecuted police over 300 times in his career."
Morgenthau's office could quickly dismiss the charges against the five men who pleaded not guilty, but Pinter and Nelson said no promises were made.
"He said that those would be easier to act on, but there was no promise of automatic dismissal," Nelson said. "He said they would investigate those cases and that those would be the first that they would investigate."
Morgenthau's office may already be doing that. At court dates, the district attorney's office has
repeatedly adjourned the cases saying they are not ready, leading defense attorneys to speculate that the prosecution is letting the time limit it has to bring the cases to trial run out so the cases will
have to be dismissed.
Activists asked that Morgenthau reopen the other cases in which some of the men are known to have pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and received minor sentences. Those dispositions should be vacated, the charges dismissed, and the cases sealed, activists said.
Morgenthau cannot do that on his own, though he might not oppose such motions. Those men convicted would have to ask that their pleas be vacated.
"Those cases would have to be brought forward by the individuals," Nelson said. "At this point, we
should be doing an all-points bulletin that people who have been arrested should be contacting the district attorney's office to ask if their cases can be vacated."
The meeting was convened by State Senator Thomas K. Duane who, activists said, was an effective advocate.
"I thought Tom Duane was very, very strong in putting out the lay of the land," Nelson said. "He called it homophobic... He said it was a set-up."
Duane, who is openly gay, represents Chelsea where some of the arrests happened. State Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, an out lesbian who represents the West Village, was also praised by activists.
"[Duane] was really forceful and Deborah Glick chimed in a really forceful way," Pinter said. "They were just very outspoken."
Other attendees included Assemblyman Dick Gottfried, who represents Chelsea, Brendan Fay, a coalition member, and staff from the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project (AVP).
Activists had a February 11 meeting, organized by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, an out lesbian who represents Chelsea, with senior police officials who said they had paused in their efforts.
"The message, at least in the DA's office, was heard really loud and clear," Pinter said.
To comment on this story please click here.
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.