The new face of sex-ed: sexperts, sex-positivity, and the politics of pleasure – the who, why, where, when, how – and what does it all mean?
Sarah Sloane doesn’t just wear many hats – she OWNS (and knits) them: queer, poly, sadomasochist, sex-educator, writer, editor, and amateur knitter – she’s scheduled to teach at 15 different BDSM/sex-positive events this year, present for various other groups, and is competing for the title of International Ms. Leather this very week in San Francisco! She’s the Sex-Education Consultant and Senior Assistant Editor of EdenFantasys’ new sexual resource, Sexis, and she’s here to take your questions!
As an avid knitter myself, I want to ask you what's on your knitting needles right now.Actually, I have two projects on my needles - I'm working on a pattern called Slip Stitch Show Off Socks using Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Camouflage, for myself, and a baby hat for a dear friends brand new niece using Kollage's Corntastic yarn. I love knitting socks, and I try to keep a pair going at all times.
Just wondering if you've ever combined two of your passions: BDSM and knitting (not the needles! Ouch!)? Have you knit any cool bondage gear?Actually, I haven't! I have made lots of kink-related stuff, though - I have made leather pride socks for my leather daddy, and knit a boy pride flag-inspired scarf for my auction basket at IMsL. I am a total leather slut, so my bondage stuff tends to be more "formal". However - there is a great pattern online for a flick whip that converts into a belt, so that you can go out on a date with a nice outfit, then use your own accessory as a toy...I love that concept!
Re: Elizabeth Deos' too-fabulous radio show; re: Victoria's query; re: all the writers; re: the whole world
Am I THAT mean?
Be honest now.
What has it *really* been like working on SexIs, and working with the notorious, I mean, Snarling Misanthrope (aka Matthew)?Matthew is a good guy. Opinionated, brilliant, assertive, but totally willing to look at things from various points of view and willing to turn things over when it's the right time to do so. We work well together - I get to tell him he's full of it, and he tells me to stick a sock in it, so it's a sort of Edith & Archie Bunker arrangement - well, if Edith had a background in feminism!
Working on SexIs is a challenge, but a joyful challenge; I have the opportunity to influence how things are presented, and my voice carries weight when it comes to determining topics to be written about & ideas for future expansion. I'm really excited about having another forum where people can get positive, affirming, intelligent information about sex - with a sense of flair and fun!
If there is one morsel of sexual knowledge/truth you could impart upon the world with but a wish, what would it be - and to what effect?I really wish that everyone could truly believe that their desires are worth exploring consensually, and that their sexuality is a positive, affirming part of their lives. We, collectively, spend so much time shaming ourselves and others for being sexual creatures that we end up spending a fortune in money and pain trying to "fix" what isn't broken. If each of us could really internalize the concept that sex is good, pleasurable, life-affirming, and loving, I honestly believe that the next generation would be freed up from a lot of the dysfunction that plagues our generations now.
Sarah: How would you advise someone who is into BDSM and is entering into a new relationship to approach the subject with a potential partner? Just springing it on them the first time you do the deed together doesn't seem to be the best idea, but I'm not sure it's a subject to bring up on a first date, either.Honestly, it depends. If BDSM / kink is something that one can't imagine being without in a relationship, I'd say bringing it up gently during the getting-to-know-you phase isn't a bad idea - treating it the same as if you have children, or are polyamorous & involved in a marriage or other relationship, etc. This is one of the main reasons that I'm a big fan of meeting potential partners at kink-friendly locations, like events, clubs, and organizations (as well as online!).
If BDSM is solely a recreational activity, though, you can bring it up a bit more subtly. You could reference a hot scene in a movie where one person is tying the other up, or talk about the idea of dressing up in leather, or whisper a coy suggestion about roleplay in your partners ear over dinner. The key when bringing up anything like this is to say it gently, without any expectation of a particular response on the part of your partner, then listen not only to what they say, but how they say it. If they respond negatively, file it away and maybe ask why at another time; letting them know that their comfort is of paramount importance is imperative. You can always follow up by saying "I've tried XYZ and I enjoyed it; if you ever want to talk about it or are curious about it, let me know". Often, just planting the seed in their minds is enough to get some good conversations going down the road - and often ends up with both of you exploring kink together and having a lot of fun while doing so!
What are some of your most memorable presentations / workshops and why? I am guessing that you have some pretty funny and amazing stories to tell.I have a blast when I'm teaching - there tends to be a lot of humor, a lot of bad jokes, and a lot of great informational exchanges. Two of my favorite memories:
-My friend and I were teaching an anal play class a few years back, and I lost the coin flip to decide who had to "take one for the team". I'm ass up on the spanking bench, and he's using fingers on me to get me more opened up. He reaches over for the plug, and because he's already got lube on his fingers, everything gets slippery. He has a hell of a time trying to get a condom over the plug (because of the lube), so it became a bit of a comedy of errors. Finally, when he tried to put the plug in, it slipped out of his grasp and hit the floor...and he said "I give up".
-I have been squirted on twice during fisting demos. You'd think I'd know better by now...but no. I keep standing in the squirt zone! I should just start wearing ponchos......
There is an opinion that modern S&M play proliferated into the masses from the lesbian separatist movements of the late 70s (in particular from the Van Dyke group of lesbian activists:The New Yorker article).
The article claimed basically that in a women-only community, the same type of social domination arises over time, just as in the hetero community (almost exclusively male dominance). S&M play was a very popular sex activity in the latter days of the Van Dyke movement. The article hints that S&M could have become a way of expressing dominance otherwise prohibited by the all-are-equal proclamations of the feminist movement. Do you agree or disagree with this?Interesting synopsis in the linked article, but I don't see that the things that you feel the article hints at actually existed. My reading of it was simply that one of the women introduced the concepts of S/M to the rest of the women, and it (S/M) became a bone of contention in that group, as well as it was in the greater lesbian & feminist communities in the 1970's and 1980's.
In reality, modern SM play hails from a number of influences; the heterosexually-oriented houses of prostitution as far back as the Victorian era (offering "English Discipline", naturally), as well as the gay men's leather community (which has it's origins in post-WWII, ex-military fraternity). In fact, S/M groups that catered specifically to women who play with women don't even show up with any other than rare frequency until the 1970's...well after men-only (both SM & Motorcycle Clubs) and heterosexual groups (Janus and TES, for example) were already in existence.
If you're interested in further reading about the history of SM in the last half of the 20th century, I highly recommend the following books:
Leatherfolk - Radical Sex, People, Politics, and Practice, Mark Thompson
Urban Aboriginals - Geoff Mains
Coming To Power - Writings & Graphics on Lesbian S/M, Samois
Different Loving - The World of Sexual Dominance & Submission - Gloria Brame
Under current projects you discuss creating new classes. What is involved in this process? How do you write curriculum for new course studies and evaluate resource materials that will be used?This is a great question! As an educator, I try to do as much listening to students and attendees as I talk; I listen to a lot of amazing conversations both in person and in online forums, and I end up with as many questions as I have answers.
When I hear the same questions asked over a period of time, or I notice that people say "Someone should talk about XYZ more often", that's my first clue that it's time to consider that topic. I don't try to teach classes that I don't feel some connection or passion about, topically; if the topics I keep hearing about are ones that I feel I can contribute something positive to the global discussion about, I'll sit down with a few friends & mentors and talk to them about what information can and should be put into a class. I do a good deal of both informal, interpersonal research, as well as any necessary physical research needed to ensure that I don't give out any harmful or inaccurate information.
Once I've determined what I want to cover in a new class, I often will talk through the class a few times to see if the information flows well, and using a combination of personal outlines and class handouts, I "block" the class to make sure it fits. Once that's over...I just wait for someone to ask me to present it
Couple of questions on roping, please:
I have seen a lot of beautiful photographs depicting people in extremely elaborate rope bondage. I’d assume that this sort of rope work takes a great deal of time to complete. Is this considered part of the bondage paradigm – is it sexual? Or is it looked on as more of an art form?
Safewords: Is there any way to untie a roped person promptly? For example, if the person experiences a panic attack because of the motion deprivation or total loss of control, is there a way to quickly end the scene?
Thank youPeople who practice intricate rope bondage - often called Shibari, though that is technically the term for Japanese rope bondage - look at it both as a sexual expression as well as an art form. I know when one of my partners, who is a rope aficionado, ties up someone, he's definitely turned on by it, even though the tying can take a long time to do! I like to think of it as foreplay - you spend lots of time either sensually or uncomfortably tying up a partner, and once you're done, they're at your mercy!
Any rope top worth their name will keep a set of EMT shears in their toybag (I don't do much rope, and I keep one in each of my bags). When a bound person needs to get out of rope in a hurry, there is just no safer or faster way to do it. It's also important to make sure that any supporting equipment is rigged to release in a hurry if needed. Many people prefer to do weight bearing rope work (including suspension) in play spaces that are set up with the right equipment for the job, including having wrestling mats available to break a fall, should one occur. The most important thing for a top to do is to look at what can conceivably go wrong, and plan for the worst case scenario - that way, if (heaven forbid) something does happen, their partner will be less likely to sustain injury or emotional / physical distress.
What are the important personal qualities that make a good Dom or a good sub/slave? Which role is more psychologically taxing: the Dom or the Sub?Really, it's the same set of basic qualities that make up a good partner in any relationship - a willingness to take personal responsibility, to communicate honestly and compassionately, to make and stick with commitments, to be willing to work together with someone else. The one that I see most often forgotten is that, regardless of what role the person is in, they are able to manage their own life outside of the relationship, rather than expecting someone else to manage it for them.
Both roles can be challenging, in very different ways. For someone who is in the dominant role, there is a significant level of responsibility for the overall guidance and direction of the submissive, and a concurrent need to be sure that their well being is of primary importance. Many submissive people feel very responsible for their assigned duties, as well as for ensuring their partners happiness. Then again, the same thing could be said for people in any relationship!
I’m a novice to BDSM play. It looks to me that the Dom/Sub divide can be rather black and white – are there other shades between these two extremes? What are they? What designations or self-identifications do you most often see?Dominance and submission is only one small aspect of the encompassing BDSM community...in fact, there are many people that do not subscribe to either of those terms, and even more people that use the terms fluidly based on their interactions.
In general, someone who calls themselves a dominant wants to control the direction & appearance of the relationship, and someone who calls themselves submissive wants to give up the control in the relationship and allow the dominant to lead. Unfortunately, these are also used to describe roles during a play scene or role play, so the use of them can be very individual and often misleading.
Many people call themselves switches, or versatile. These people can be flexible between two ends of the spectrum, depending on the activity, the person/people involved, or their desires of the moment. For example, it's not at all unusual to find someone that is dominant, yet enjoys being flogged; likewise, there are a number of people who identify as submissive that enjoy doing the flogging.
There are a number of non-relationship terms out there - top, bottom, switch, versatile, sadist, masochist...and the list goes on and on. I would have to say that I know more people who switch, or move between and among various terms, than I know people who only use one term to describe the whole of their orientation.
What challenges have you faced in your personal relationships due to your schedule and the nature of your work?The nature of my work hasn't posed a problem, thankfully; all of my partners know exactly what I do for work (and are kinky and polyamorous, as well), so they are very supportive. The challenge has come primarily with my schedule; I was away from home for a total of four months last year (once you count the weekends and full weeks away), and that is a pretty difficult thing to schedule many relationships around. Currently I have a pretty amazing group of friends and lovers who are understanding of my schedule, and willing to work around it & be creative when it comes to finding face to face time together. I don't think I could do this if I had a child, or other significant family responsibilities, but for where I am in my life right now it's workable!
How has your family reacted over the years to your career path, interests and relationships? Were they always supportive or did it take time and work on your part and theirs?The only family I have right now is my mother, and she lives in a different city entirely. She knows that I do teaching, and that I write, but that's all she seems to want to know ... I don't feel the need to force her to understand my life, I'm just glad that she loves me and trusts me. She does know that I "date more than one guy" but I think she's only okay with that because she's still hoping for a grandchild
My current "live with" partner and I have had a lot of discussions about my career path; his input has been a huge part of my decision making, and he's been 150% supportive of my desire to educate. He and I have been together for over six years at this point, and I trust that he's got my back (as I have his). My other partners are all amazingly supportive people, and they often give me constructive feedback (as well as the occasional "What the hell are you thinking, Sarah??" reality check).
I've come to the realization at this point in my life that I deserve to have people in my life that love, support, and believe in me, and I'm proud to say that I have exactly that. I don't know how I got lucky enough to have them in my life, but I'm awfully grateful for it!
And then, as IMsL, what sort of responsibilities, time, social and otherwise, do you need to fulfill? Is it a paid or a volunteer position? PS - I am seriously crushing on you right now...
So, what exactly is involved in competing to be IMsL?International Ms Leather is a competition that involves in person interviews, a "fantasy" production number, public speaking, and heart and soul, all judged by a team of people who have been active in various parts of the leather community long enough to have formed an opinion on the community as a whole and what is needed in the community to make it stronger. Over the course of a weekend event, the event participants do a lot of socializing, team building, networking, and practicing to give the crowd (and the judges) the best competition possible! I did not win IMsL this year (though I did come in first runner up) - the new IMsL is Lamalani, from Seattle, WA. During her time as IMsL, her job is to represent the women's leather community at a variety of events geared towards the major sub-groups in the kink community - pansexual groups, men's groups, women's groups, Master/slave conferences, regional, national, and international groups - and to talk about topics that she feels have a direct bearing on the growth of the leather community as a whole. She'll be on the road quite a bit, doing a number of personal appearances and education...and no, she doesn't get paid a dime to do any of it!
And thanks for the note about crushing on me ... I'm blushing
Could you explain the difference between Safe, Sane, and Consensual (SSC) and Risk-Aware Consensual Kink (RACK)?I'm tempted, because I know you, to tell you that they're both not edgy enough, but a serious question deserves a serious answer.
SSC was an acronym that was developed a few decades back to describe the necessary qualities of BDSM play - that it is Safe (not doing any harm or damage to participants), Sane (involving decisions made with a healthy, clear mind), and Consensual (agreed upon by all participants). SSC developed into a public term, and has been especially useful in describing to non-kinky people that what BDSM'ers do is not the harmful, exploitative, risky activities that they may initially imagine (severe whippings to the point of requiring medical attention, or engaged in by people who do not have the choice to say no). However, some people in the community feel that SSC is vague and limiting - after all, there are those in the legal community that say that no sane person could agree to be beaten - and so the acronym RACK has arisen.
RACK - Risk Aware Consensual Kink - focuses on the concept that BDSM play that is healthy to engage in requires that all parties agree to the play that they will engage in, and that all parties are aware of the potential risks that they are taking. It allows for more room in play activities - essentially, if you and your partner(s) know what you're getting into, and you have the ability to agree to it with a clear head, then your actions are appropriate. This allows people on all parts of the spectrum - people who play heavy, people who play lightly, and everyone in between (and beyond those levels) to have a sense of when BDSM activities are undertaken in a healthy manner.
Which STDs do you think get the least amount of news that should be being talked about?Surprisingly enough, I think it's HIV. Nobody really talks about it anymore...we vaguely get the message that it's a bad thing, but there are medications to help with it, right? Nobody dies from it anymore, so it's not a big issue. Unfortunately, the newer generations didn't grow up (like many people my age did) during a time where we were watching the numbers of those who died from AIDS skyrocket daily. I recently read in the Washington Post that the percentage of people in DC who test positive for HIV is 3%. Three Percent. That means, walking down the streets of the city, three out of every hundred people that you pass are HIV positive. That is beyond epidemic levels. And that's only the people who have actually been tested - not the thousands of people who are HIV positive and don't know it yet.
No, AIDS is not an immediate death sentence anymore...but if you ask anyone who is being treated for HIV, you'll find that it's a life sentence. They can't just take their health for granted anymore; their well being relies on expensive medications and therapies that they have to take in order to live. Their health will dwindle; they will experience problems for as long as they live. There is no cure; there is only treatment, and that treatment isn't going to give you a life that is as rich and full as it could be.
STI rates across the board are going up - especially herpes, gonorrhea, and syphilis - but we are all in danger if the truth about the current state of HIV doesn't get out there into the media, and into our educational system, more effectively than it does now.
What do you feel is your favorite part of teaching on the topic of BDSM - do you enjoy the interaction with people, or just sharing your craft? And also, since I'm into BDSM myself, what sort of course matter do you cover in your BDSM courses? Technique to further pleasure and get the result that you're aiming for, or tips as to not accidentally hurt your partner in a way that wasn't intended?I love the interaction; I love seeing the "ah hah!" moments that happen during and after my classes, when attendees get that moment of understanding about the topic at hand, or the creative spark that means that their BDSM play is going to be even more fulfilling to them. Those moments make my day.
Generally, if I'm teaching a "101" or intro level course, a good chunk of time is taken up by discussions of what is safe and what isn't. My general suggestion is that once you know the rules, what to do and what not to do, THEN you can move forward to start injecting creativity into your play - you know what you can do, and when, and how, to stretch the boundaries a bit. I try to balance those classes with enough "do this and you'll get this amazing result"... nobody wants to come to a lecture on fisting and not learn about how to get someone off while doing it!
The majority of my classes are more theoretical / "advanced" topics. In these, I encourage a LOT of attendee participation; I really like to have people share their own tips and techniques, their experiences and stories, while I'm sharing my own thoughts in a framework that encourages learning and exploration. The best part is that often, people will end up networking with each other and finding mentors / play partners / lovers in the same room!
You have taught in both the states and overseas. How have any cultural differences impacted your work? What have these differences taught you about the sexual nature of humans despite their cultural or ethnic backgrounds?I've had more cultural challenges in educating here in the states than I have overseas. In New Zealand, the BDSM community is much more similar to the US & Canadian communities than I imagined it being; they do not have the level of regional involvement that I have seen in the US, but the population is much smaller (approx. 4 million people). I have noticed tremendous sub-cultural variances in the US though; there is a difference in expectations, language, and mores, especially when you get into the swinger, trans, pansexual, leather, and other sexual minority divides.
Pretty much though, everyone has similar focuses - we all want to have better sex, and we all have challenges with communicating about it. There are some groups that have more of a sense of cultural silence around sexuality, and there are groups that reinforce gender stereotypes, which make it more difficult for people who are socialized in those groups to step forward and talk about their needs and wants. Additionally, people who are socialized as males in our society often have difficulty talking about desires to submit or desires to explore their sexuality with other men, which can hamper both communication and self-acceptance. Finally, most everyone struggles at some point with claiming and accepting their own sexual desires; hearing that they're okay, and natural, and normal can go a long way towards creating a fulfilling and rich sexual life.
Other than BDSM/sex-positive events, have you ever presented information at colleges or other academic locations?I haven't; partially because I haven't specifically targeted academic locations (I am degree-less!), and partially because the few times I've been approached by colleges and universities, we just haven't been able to make it work out. I'm hoping to explore that more in the coming year; I would love to talk about sexuality, safer sex, and sexual expression to college students.
It sounds like you come to the sex-education realm from a different background. Have you experienced any bad vibes from more "mainstream" sex-educators that you have interacted with who might not agree with your methods or topics?Actually, I haven't. Most of the mainstream sex-educators I've met acknowledge that sexual education needs to happen in a variety of ways, on a variety of levels, and in a variety of locations. I teach at kinky events and to smaller groups around the country; other people focus on more academic locations, and still more teach private classes and do individual counseling. Every topic that you could want to learn about is covered by some teacher, somewhere - nobody can teach everything, and nobody tries. I rely on the work of other sex educators, mainstream and otherwise, in my own teaching - for example, I regularly reference the work that Betty Dodson has done in the areas of woman's body awareness and orgasms. I'm sure there are some people out there who disagree with the topics I teach, but I truly do believe that it takes all kinds of voices sharing all kinds of ideas in order to really make a difference in the sex education field.
Gender is one of the buzziest concepts in sexuality today: in certain circles, complete freedom of (if not from) gender is celebrated; yet as a society, we still cling rather fervently to cookie-cutter gender roles which are backward-looking at best, and archaic at worst. How do you educate about gender to a more mainstream audience?We're all more comfortable when we can put a label on something - straight, gay, republican, male, female. It's challenging to get people to think outside of any binary - look at the Libertarian party, for example - it's not strictly liberal, or strictly conservative, so a lot of people don't "get it".
I try to educate on gender in a number of ways:
- I try to publicly use terms that are gender neutral, even if I'm teaching to a group of cisgender* people. For example, I may use the term "surgically created vagina" or discuss the effect of hormone replacement or suppression therapies, so that I'm using correct terms for the physical bodies that I'm talking about.
-I try to ask people what pronoun that they prefer to use if I'm unclear on it. I also try to include discussions (even if they're very brief) in my classes to remind people that not everyone that identifies as male has an attached penis, and not everyone that identifies as female has a vagina.
-I encourage people to ask questions after class, or use "ask-it baskets" so that they can be anonymous. I also encourage transfolk & genderqueer people that I know to be gentle when faced with someone who may use incorrect terms or not understand, and to use those as moments to compassionately educate others about the wide range of identities that exist.
-I recommend basic gender informational books, like Kate Bornstein's books, My Gender Workbook and Gender Outlaws, as well as deeper emotional accounts like Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinstein and Whipping Girl by Julia Serano. Regardless of one's own identity, these books can create a better understanding of transgender experiences and the questions that lead up to the decision to transition, as well as challenging traditional concepts of gender role & identity that can block our understanding of gender as a wide spectrum rather than a binary concept.
*Cisgender - a term that means that the gender that one identifies with "matches" the body that one was born with & the "expected" gender expression.
Do you believe that BDSM play is sometimes more about psychologically-compensatory satisfaction rather than sexual gratification? If so, have you seen or heard of other kinks/fetishes that can culminate in orgasm? Can a person derive sexual gratification from the ordinary or mundane, like food, clothes, or a good book?I believe that calling BDSM play "psycho-sexual" is the most accurate way to put it, actually. BDSM at it's best involves the body, mind, spirit, and emotions working together...it's part psychodrama, part foreplay & sex, part intimate connection with another person.
Frankly, I think that if the triggers are there, anything can culminate in orgasm; however, most of us need some sort of direct stimulation in order to get there! It's amazing to me how everyone is wired; people who fetishize clothing and shoes are a great example of people who derive sexual gratification from objects that are not, in and of themselves, sexual. I can easily see how people can get that feeling from a variety of different objects...again, it really comes down to how we're wired for it!
Can you give us a brief history of how your path toward Ms. Leather including how you started into sadomasochism?In the very early days (my elementary school years) I was already having vaguely kinky play with my friends, as well as fantasies that were not of "vanilla" concepts. When I became sexually active in my late teens, one of my first partners introduced me to some of the lighter "bedroom" kink - being tied to the bed, rough sex, that sort of stuff - and it felt very right for me, and definitely had the benefit of fitting into the general vein of my fantasies. I ended up meeting a guy in my early 20's that I had a rewarding, yet vanilla, relationship with, and towards the end of that marriage I realized what I'd been missing about my sexuality - that the "kinky stuff" was really the way that I most enjoyed being sexual, and that I felt like part of my sexuality had been stuffed aside for years.
As the marriage came to an end (not because of my desire to do kink), I decided to reclaim my sexuality and spirituality for myself, and as a result, I found some local BDSM organizations - mind you, until my introduction to the 'net, I didn't realize that there were groups of people who did this! I had a chance to explore through conversation and safe play, and over the next few years I found other groups of people that exemplified what felt right for me - mostly in the pansexual & queer communities, and in the traditional leather community. I was encouraged to start teaching back in 2000 by my fellow club members, and over the past 9 years I have taught well into the hundreds of classes on a wide variety of topics.
Over the last five years, since moving from my hometown to DC, I've had a chance to meet people from all over the world as part of my involvement in the BDSM community; each of them has contributed in some way towards my education, growth, and my ability to reach out to others. I am continually being shaped by the people I know, the people I meet, and the people that I use as role models. I hope that my path in that direction continues; I know that as I walk forward, I can be of more benefit to the community at large, as well as to the greater sex education needs in the world.
You've just returned from the International Ms. Leather pageant. Can you give us a little insight as to what that experience was like, both as a competitor and as an observer?First of all...it wasn't a pageant. Nobody said the words "world peace"
As a competitor, it was stressful to be 'on call' at all times - to know that how I interacted with people was being noted, to be on a pretty tight schedule throughout the weekend, and to keep my energy up the entire time (I'm actually much more of an introvert than a full extrovert, so going without private time was rough). However, it was an amazing chance to meet some incredible people that are involved in the IMsL event - producers, assistants, coordinators, "den daddies", runners, volunteers, security crew, production superstars - and to work alongside five brilliant, smart, talented, funny, vivacious women as the other IMsL participants. I got to meet people I'd admired for years, make connections with other educators and pervy people, and hopefully I represented my community well.
From the observer standpoint ... I am grateful that there are spaces where we can all be exactly who we are, without fear or prejudice, and where we can learn, grow, and love together as a community. To be a part of an event that is into it's third decade of bringing together women in the community who play with other women...and to see the changes in that community (a larger trans presence, a change in the way that queers play together, lessening strictures on personal roles) was an opportunity for me to both be grateful for all who came before me, and to be joyful that the community is flourishing in ways that I couldn't have foreseen ten years ago.