Issue number 26
Thursday, June 12, 2003
Our Need for Community
by Jack Rinella
I recently visited a chat room and had a discussion where I typed
something about the importance of finding a community before you find a partner.
That remark drew a few questions so I had to go on and explain what I meant. Let
me share my thoughts with you.
In the final analysis what I love most about being kinky are my
friends,some of whom have become so close and so important to me as to be
regarded as family. That's not to say that I don't love the sex I get, as I
Sexual gratification will probably always be the reason we seek and join
with others in our fetish-based lifestyle. Getting off is lots of fun and I'm
not going to write otherwise. Yet sex is seldom an isolated event and better sex
is "better" because it is within the context of a relationship.
Indeed I could even write that it's better within the context of
relationships (note the "s").
We have for too long thought that having a partner is the end-all and
be-all of what we want. I disagree. Having relationships is more important. We
are social beings before we are sexual ones and it is the fact that we are
social that accounts for the greatest part of our success as humans. Because we
cooperate, support one another, and share
information, we are more than we would be as isolated individuals.
In many ways, to paraphrase, it takes a village to build a dungeon.
Community provides resources, especially as regards shared spaces and
shared knowledge. It is the community that teaches us technique, style,mores,
and its (our) unique symbolism.
So you think you want kinky sex? First find a community that will teach you
how to enjoy it and wherein you are most likely to find a partner.
Over the years I have spoken or written to hundreds of people, mostly horny
guys, who admitted to being confused and doubtful about what they wanted. To a
person they craved some kind of kinky activity but were paranoid as to how to
get started, where to go, whom to trust, etc. Their state, as far as I can tell,
was primarily caused by their isolation from
those who can best, by word and example, help them out of their dilemma.
You know, when they write "There are no masters in LA" or NY or SF or
Chicago, I know they are loners, seeking on the Internet what can only be found
in real time, face to face. It's like the guy whom I met on-line, then met in
person in Oklahoma City. When the weekend was over, he admitted how strange it
was to have to meet a guy from Chicago (me) in
order to find folks in OK who were into kinky sex. Like many he thought he was
the only one.
Ironically, some of the kinky folk to whom I introduced him, he already
Community also provides protection. Nearly every case of abuse, violence,
and deception is perpetrated by loners, by those who prey on single folk they
find, or bring, outside of the community. It's for that reason that community
membership is such an important reference point, meaning that it is the
community that gives the best references as to a person's
In fact, domestic abuse is often characterized by the fact that abusers
isolate their victims from others, be they relatives or friends.
Communities educate. Even small communities can do so, though it is the
larger communities that provide the widest range of educational opportunities.
National events such as Black Rose or the Leather Leadership Conference would
never be realities except for the joining together in community of dozens, if
not hundreds of supporters, workers, and volunteers. International Mr. Leather
has hundreds of people who volunteer to work at the event, joining their
energies for the weekend with that of the "parent" community, the Renslow
Communities support relationships as well. For centuries it was the
communities of extended family and of legal and ecclesiastical jurisdictions
(their own kinds of communities) that supported and maintained the reality of
the partnership we call marriage.
As anyone who's been married successfully for any length of time will tell
you, it is the support of their community that has helped their relationship
weather many a storm. Likewise it is our community that supports those in
relationships within it.
For years I have acknowledged that "I get by with the help of my friends."
All who see my success as a writer are seeing the invaluable assistance
of my partners, their encouragement, their emotional, physical, and financial
support, as well as the same from every reader, everyone who buys my books,
every community that invites me to teach them. Indeed, there would
be no "Jack Rinella" without the community we call Gay Chicago Magazine.
Ralph Paul and his staff have formed a community for more than 25 years,
and for 12 of those years they have supported me as a columnist. It takes a
community to accomplish a record like that.
In reading the above, you can easily substitute the word "group" for
community. I recognize there is a distinction between the two but if nothing
else, groups evolve into communities.
Can't find a group? You're not looking hard enough, not asking enough
questions of enough people, not willing to move a bit further out of your
self-determined comfort zone. You will succeed if you but try.
I am reminded of a woman I met last Saturday in Kansas City. The single
mother of six children (I think that's what she told me) had traveled an hour to
come to the Kansas City Leather University. Living in rural Kansas, even she
could find a community. You can too.
I understand the argument that not all groups are as accepting, as open,
and as welcoming as you would like. I recognize, as we all need do, that
communities are human communities. They are filled with the same faults and
foibles that plague our species. There is no getting around that fact.
Remember that we are human and you will be better prepared for our human
Is there no group that really fits your needs? I would first ask "Why not?"
Why are your needs so narrowly defined that an almost good enough group isn't
good enough? Why can't you belong and help it grow and expand?
What in you makes you aloof, perhaps even judgmental and superior?
Alternatively, why not start a group? It only takes a room, an ad, and a
time. Two or three like-minded people, meeting on the same evening every month
(like the second Friday when MAsT-Chicago meets) will eventually form a kinky,
supportive, and enjoyable community. It is as simple as
Let the attendees supply the refreshments, the agenda, and the education.
Among yourselves, you'll find you know the people to invite, the speakers
to sponsor (even if it's one another), and the means to grow. Give it a try. You
have nothing to lose but your isolation.
Have a great week. You can leave me email at firstname.lastname@example.org or
visit my website at "http://www.LeatherViews.com".
Copyright 2003 by Jack
Rinella, all rights reserved.
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