I knew I’d been invited to a convention for sex therapists but my God! I could not believe my eyes. Stalls meant to educate, elucidate, and lubricate human intercourse were set up everywhere. “Contraception,” “Viagra,” “Gender Bend.” I watched a middle-aged mom demonstrate a seesaw contraption with dildos attached. It was called, she said, “The Monkey Rocker.” She explained that, yes, you can certainly sit in either direction for anal or vaginal penetration. I ambled about timid and titillated. That all these folks were chatting with the greatest of ease about sex was a rather fabulous surprise. And all so early in the morning.
I found coffee, a bagel and a table. A man sat down across from me. His floppy paper plate was stacked with chunks of honeydew. We nodded at each other.
“Where are you from?” he asked.
We exchanged some basics. He was a therapist and I explained that that I was an actor there to present a one-man play I’d written.
“Oh, that’s the sex abuse play, right?” he asked.
I cringed and stopped myself from launching into an explanation of how my solo play, The Tricky Part, was oh so much more than that “Yes. That play,” I replied.
“You going to go to the dungeon?” he asked.
“There’s a field trip Saturday night. The local BDSM community has invited any therapists who would like to, to come and observe an evening session at their dungeon.”
“Yes. Everyone’s talking about it. You should sign up.”
Before heading back to my room to shower, with a curious quickening of the blood, I made my way to the appropriate desk and promptly added my name to the list.
A tall man in blue jeans and cowboy boots greeted us at the door His nametag read, “Master John” It occurred to me that Master might be a misspelling of Mister but upon entering the premises I spotted many more nametags affixed on the shirts of friendly fellows (and women)—Master Greg, Master Steve. Most of the tags included a one- or two-word designation printed below the name.
Folding chairs had been set up on the perimeter of the main room which had loft levels and very high ceilings. We quietly took our seats. A man with long black hair came forward. He looked to be, perhaps, Native American. His voice was lovely, his words laced with an intoxicating cadence that I could not pinpoint. Spanish? Mexican?
“We all want to welcome you and thank you for coming. We want you to feel safe and taken care of. That’s how it is here. It’s a safe place and we take care of one another.”
He spoke of his work in education, his part-time job at a local ranch. I was struck by his eloquence and humor.. He talked about the reason, the importance, for this evening’s event. As best as I can recall, he said something like this:
“We are here to show you, to share with you in the mental health industry, who we are. We are teachers and lawyers and ranchers, just plain folk from all walks of life and we comprise what we lovingly call our Kink Community. It is our aim to help you understand what might be your prejudice about our community and communities like ours. Some of your own clients back home may well be part of their own kink community and we hope that you don’t automatically think of us, of them, as someone with a disorder. For many of us, our exploration of power dynamics and BDSM is our path to a deeper connection. It is simply a part of who we are and we feel open and healthy about it. Perhaps tonight we can dispel some fears or biases. You’ll notice that we’ve all worn nametags so that you can identify us by name and ask any questions related to what we are into. We are here to answer your questions openly and honestly. Once the demonstration is over, please feel free to stay and we can all talk. We’ve put together a nice potluck. Remember: if at any time you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, just know that you are free to step out. There’s coffee and tea in the lobby.” ...
As part of NCSF's website re-design, we've put together a fairly comprehensive survey that is designed to get the most feedback we can from the various people who visit our website. We need to know if the information and resources that NCSF offers is readily available to everyone.
There is also a Kink Aware Professionals (KAP) survey that will determine how NCSF can improve this important free directory. Both surveys will last from September 6-13: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NCSFWeb
The section on deviant desires, to take one example, is denounced by advocates for alternative sexuality as stigmatizing those whose lusts, no matter how unusual, are harmless, or those whose erotic play, no matter how unsettling, is consensual. Should a man with a foot fetish be branded as mentally ill? Should a woman who finds ecstasy in being elaborately bound and enduring denigration or pain? Should such people be labeled with psychiatric diseases, though the rest of their lives have no serious dysfunction? Until 1973, homosexuality was among the D.S.M.’s disorders, and critics of the present chapter point to the condemnation the volume once inflicted on gay men and lesbians — condemnation that both reflected and bolstered the prevailing cultural perspective — by way of arguing that the current manual, the D.S.M.-IV, is full of unfounded and damaging sexual judgments. Many on the panel, which probably won’t, in the end, do much in the way of deleting conditions, maintain that the chapter on sexuality and gender identity doesn’t brand people too readily with disease. They note that, aside from exceptions like patients with pedophilia, only those who are distressed meet the threshold for diagnosis. In turn, the critics respond that such distress stems not from within the individual but from the infliction of societal standards, from the culture’s disapproval and aversion and therefore, in part, from the D.S.M. itself. This, they emphasize, was why the A.P.A. finally removed a last remnant of the homosexuality diagnosis — what was known as “ego-dystonic” homosexuality — in 1987.
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 in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V), then the Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders Work Group won't make a meaningful change.
You can make your signature anonymous on this secure petition site so it doesn't appear on the Internet or when the petition is delivered to the APA.
"We, the undersigned, support the American Psychiatric Association's (APA) own goal of making its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) a scientific document, based on empirical research and devoid of cultural bias. A diagnosis of a mental disorder can have a severe adverse impact on employment opportunities, child custody determinations, an individual's well-being, and other areas of functioning. Therefore we urge the APA to remove all diagnoses that are not based upon peer-reviewed, empirical research, demonstrating distress or dysfunction, from the DSM. The APA specifically should not promote current social norms or values as a basis for clinical judgments."
To find out more about the DSM and the Paraphilias section, read the NCSF & ITCR: The Foundation for NCSF's "White Paper on the DSM Revision" at www.ncsfreedom.org
Catalina Loves, maven of Best Sex Bloggers, Fetlife and her own blog Catalina Loves writes a personal story of her experiences with the injustices facing the alternative lifestylers and the support she received from the NCSF:
My relationship with the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) began like many others do. I was neck deep in a conflict that was based in my free expression of my sexuality through my writing. I was asked to leave my teaching position, an agreement was reached and I left quietly without creating a scene. I used to teach in a small, private school in North Carolina, where my daughter also attended school. When I left my teaching position I was assured that it would not affect her last and final year of middle school.
Months passed, and we were within days of her returning to the 8th grade when I received a call from the Head of School that he had decided to rescind his offer to allow her to go to school there. After heated debate, he agreed that she could attend school, but if and only if I could secure a $1,000.00 expense fee to cover her field trips and lunches in advance. It was a bullshit fee, to be honest. It's not required of any other parent. He knew that we would not be able to come up with $1,000 in a matter of days. This was his way of keeping her out without risking litigation.
So I wondered what led this man, elder in his church, who had given me his word that my child would be unaffected, to suddenly revoke something that we had agreed upon? He said that based on an email to my husband, he had changed his mind. I looked at Marky, while still on the phone, and asked, "Did you exchange any emails in the last month with the school?" Of course he had not. Well the school made a terrible error. They contacted my ex-husband, not my husband. They contacted someone who has no legal custody of our daughter, and based on that conversation had decided that I would no longer be welcome in the parent community.
This happened, I'm sure by no coincidence, at the same time that I received threatening emails from my ex-husband, who suggested that due to my deviant behavior she should come to live with him.
I reacted immediately. First, I raised the money in a raffle that was initially supported by Lochai and quickly built into a huge CommUNITY movement of kinksters who were outraged. Secondly, I contact NCSF and accessed professional advice and consultations through their Kink Aware Professionals (KAP) listing. With the help of the community and the NCSF I felt prepared for battle.
Now, coming full circle, I am honored that my PR firm, Quid Pro Quo, will be working with NCSF on the launching of a new blog. We are doing the work pro-bono to show NCSF our appreciation and to give back to an organization that protects all of us. It feels really great to be in a position to give back. So do us a favor and help us help them. We'll be asking people to repost and tweet links and I hope you'll consider it your way of giving back to such an amazing organization.