Some readers may be thinking, “This sounds like the raid of the Atlanta Eagle last September,” and they would be right. In all likelihood every cop at the Eagle did exactly what he or she believed to be within the bounds of the law at the time. Even being kept face down on the floor for an hour isn’t a violation of anybody’s civil rights if there is a legal reason for keeping them there. But the reason the patrons were kept there for so long is because that’s how long it took to do criminal background checks on them, and not all of them were suspected of criminal activity. Some of them were just playing pool and listening to music, and that’s according to documented statements by an undercover APD officer.
Klawdya: What affect do you think Marriage Equality will have on issues that face NCSF’s constituents?
Susan: As more states embrace the right for all adults to marry the partner of their choice, the gay rights movement is accomplishing the goal of eliminating discrimination based on sexual orientation. The next milestone is the right to openly be in the military. This is important for the sexual freedom movement-- we have always taken cues from the gay rights movement, we learn from their strategies and rely on their help when attacked- their progress ensures our own.
Sadly, traditional gay rights groups don't defend sexual freedom. Many decided to leave the issue of sex behind as they fought for equal rights. So we have our own un-trodden path to walk. If you have sex differently than the mainstream you are at risk – whether hetero, gay, bi or other. We are the next battlefield, we are already fighting the fight, whether we like it or not, NCSF will be largely on our own because no other organization is dedicated to protecting BDSM, swing and poly practitioners.
KR: Who do you think opposes us the most? Religious or Political groups?
SW: The sexual freedom movement continues to be attacked by religious political extremists and political conservatives. Politicians on both sides of the aisle make hay when a sexual scandal arises. Things that should be private – like extra-marital affairs – are actively used to discredit individual politicians, even parties. Find a politician who will stand up for sexual freedom, and I'll work on their next campaign. As far as I know, there isn't anyone out there.
But our real enemies are the religious political extremists. These people rely on stirring the pot to raise money and gain prestige for their groups. They seek out our events, sneak in to take photos, and compare us to pedophiles and predators – when in reality it is our constituents who are the victim of their tactics. They run boycotts on businesses that support our events, inciting sensationalized media against private events. Its a fight, but NCSF is discrediting these individuals and tiny organizations run by the handful of people who claim to represent the majority of America. As long as they continue to slander, we have to be vigilant.
KR: You recently stated that some of our biggest threats may be within our community, the “Dangerous Insiders”. Can you elaborate?
SW: Yes, one of our biggest threats is the dangerous insider. Sadly, our own don't realize the damage they do to our community as a whole when they publicly attack each other and our groups. I know some may have a legitimate gripe with an individual or group, and feel their problems haven’t been dealt with as they should. But when one of our own complains to the media or the authorities, they don’t address the real issue, instead they attack our entire community. The negative publicity outweighs any good they may feel would be accomplished.
One example was a member of a BDSM group who wasn't allowed to send a message to the entire group complaining about board practices. He filed in court for a membership list. It didn't matter whether or not he had a legitimate complaint – the members freaked because they would be outed if their information were released to this person. This would have meant lost jobs, child custody, and worse. One angry self-righteous person threatened an entire group until the court settled the issue and denied the list to this dangerous insider.
Another case, in NYC, was a woman who went to the District Attorney to video tapes her former master made of their scenes after he refused to give them to her. The DA raided his apartment and found her tapes and also tapes of other scenes, some which were extreme, and the DA decided to arrest and try him for assault even though it was clearly consensual. NCSF with local gay groups and an agreeable politician coordinated a huge effort to force the DA to back down. It would have been disaster if that big public trial determined, for example, that caning to blood was illegal! Good thing we had the organizational resources or else this incident (which few have heard about) would have been front page news for months and affected all BDSM activity in NY for decades. The sub was very upset by the chaos she carelessly created, so much so that she submitted a letter to the DA asking them to NOT pursue the case further.
KR: What can the community do to strengthen and arm ourselves?
SW: We are already defending ourselves successfully. We have to assess each incident, and seek ways to stop religious extremists in their tracks. We have to do the leg work to make sure that hotels and authorities understand our sexual practices, so we can have social spaces and educate our community. We have to be vigilant, on-call every moment, as NCSF is. The NCSF is "kinky insurance" – if the community doesn't help, we may not be there when you need us.
KR: What are the landmarks of hope we can claim and expect?
SW: The success of the gay rights movement indicates we are winning. Privacy rights are more respected than the old "moral majority" which tries to dictate what people can and can't do in their own homes. Americans seem to agree that adults should be able to do what they want as long as it doesn't harm anyone and is consensual. It's a fight every step but we are winning.
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