By Stella Harris

Portland has been called the kinkiest city in the country, so if kink and BDSM is something you are interested in, you’re in the right place. There’s an event of some kind almost every night of the week, so you are likely to have a harder time filtering than finding something to do.

When you decide to get involved, there are a few things to think about. The first one that comes up for most people is safety and privacy. Before you start that FetLife.com account with pictures of your face (or identifiable tattoos), think long and hard about any potential consequences to being outed as kinky. And although most events do not allow photography, a few do, so that is something to look at when deciding what events you would like to attend.

Other safety considerations are similar to any kind of dating or going out that you might do. Be careful not to give out too much personal information to people before you get to know them, and make sure at least one person knows where you are going, who you are with, and when you will be back or check in. This is often called a “safe call” and it’s a great system to have in place.

Think not only about what you want to do, but how you want to feel.

When you are diving into kink, you also need to make sure your communication and negotiation skills are well honed, because they are essential to BDSM safety. Look up yes/no/maybe lists online, read some kinky erotica, and talk to your friends. Try to get a sense for what you might like to try, and what is a definite “no.”

Negotiating a kink scene should go into a lot of detail. Think not only about what you want to do, but how you want to feel. Consider how much—if any—sexual touch you want as a part of your kink, and negotiate that carefully. Don’t forget to negotiate sexual safety (gloves, condoms, etc.) if sex is part of what you’re doing.

Stella. Photo credit: Joseph Robertson.

Be sure to talk about language, too. Let folks know what words you use for your gender and body parts, and find out about theirs. Terms like “good boi/y” or “good girl,” are common in kink spaces, so let people know if those work for you or not.

When you are first starting out, check out some munches. A munch is a social event for kinksters, usually at a restaurant or bar (hence the name) where no play occurs. Although there’s a munch almost every night of the week in Portland, there is also a queer-specific munch that meets every first Thursday at Radio Room. According to their description, “This munch is for anyone who identifies as queer and their partners. By queer, we mean gay men, lesbians, fags, dykes, bisexuals, pansexuals, and polysexuals along with transfolk, those who are genderqueer, gender flexible, gender fluid, and gender fuckers. If the word queer feels like home for part of you or all of you, you are WELCOME.” Fetlife: PDX Queer Munch; Facebook: PDXMunch.

To really be queer friendly it takes more than writing those words on your event description.

When you do decide to attend parties, that doesn’t mean you have to play. Simply attending as a voyeur is a great way to get started and get an idea of what you like. Also, be careful not to yuck anyone’s yum. Once you start attending events, you will likely see stuff you’re not into. It’s okay to just walk away.

Portland’s Queer Kink Events

In Portland, most kink venues, parties, and events are at least nominally queer friendly. But of course to really be queer friendly it takes more than writing those words on your event description. Luckily, we’ve got several events run by and for queer folks, also.

First up is Dirty Playground, which hosts an annual summer camp just outside of Portland. Megan, a co-organizer, writes, “We have been going for 6 years strong and started as a bi-monthly party for queer identified people who wanted a queer only space in the BDSM community to meet, play and build community. While we don’t have bi-monthly parties anymore, we do have an annual adult summer camp that is ridiculously fun and hot! We work hard to create a safe safe for all bodies, all experience levels, all genders and POC people to enjoy playing in the woods!” For more info, check them out on Fetlife: DirtyPlayground; Facebook: DirtyPlaygroundPDX.

Another local group, Bad Girls, “is an SM/Leather social and educational group for self-identified women as well as folks who describe themselves as butch, femme, dyke, boi, agender, genderqueer, and more, who are interested in BDSM. They offer workshops, discussion groups, socials, special events, play parties, and an online community.” Fetlife: PDXBadGirls; Facebook: Portland Bad Girls.

On the self-proclaimed wilder side is Pan-Demonium, described by party host Nikki Lev as “queer, genderqueer and the occasional ally performers in a drag/burlesque/strip show at the sex club ‘The Velvet Rope’ every last Friday of the month. The show presents different sexualities and gender variety to a crowd that is a mix of straight allies, trans folks and everyone in between…. Because The Velvet Rope is a sex club, the performances can feature full nudity. The afterparty that continues to 4 AM can veer towards a hedonistic mix of stripper pole exhibitionism, group and partner sex (public or private rooms) featuring many sexualities and light kink play. And pool games and socializing in the bar area for those who are perhaps not ready for the rest….”

Next up is How Queer! According to co-organizer Jax Black, this party started in 2016 ”to fill a gap in the Portland area kink community: while many of the existing events were queer-friendly, there wasn’t a specifically queer-oriented play party, thrown by queers for queers. A year & a half later, we’re a thriving monthly event that prides itself on being a friendly & welcoming space for all queer folx who are interested in (or curious about!) kink or Leather. Our venue offers plenty of space for socializing, a well-equipped playspace, and a quiet room for aftercare. [The event includes] a bootblack for keeping your leathers beautiful, a snack area for keeping up your energy, and wristbands you can wear to signal interest, or lack thereof, in playing. If you’re brand new, or on the shy side, our friendly volunteers are always happy to show you around, answer your questions, and sometimes even play matchmaker. If you’re a seasoned player, you know what to bring. If you’re new? Bring a good attitude and an open mind. We look forward to meeting you!” Fetlife: How_Queer; Facebook: How Queer!.

The monthly Deviance! party is open to everyone, but they have taken some tangible steps to be more welcoming to a queer audience. Party Host Mr. Cross writes, “The Deviance! party’s goal is to attract people from all sex positive groups. Despite being held in a space that is generally perceived as a lifestyle night club, we’ve done things to try to make the space feel more inclusive. For our party we’ve created two gender neutral bathrooms and converted the area that’s usually designated for couples and single women into a more gender neutral space by labeling it for couples and groups of any gender.”

I have seen small groups of queer folks host their own unofficial “takeover” of the Deviance! party by planning to attend as a group, and I think that’s always a great way to try something out for the first time. It’s the third Thursday of every month, if you’d like to check it out.

Sometimes the best parties are the ones you throw yourself.

You can also browse through the event listings on FetLife or on SPEEC’s event calendar for more options.

And finally, if you don’t see what you want, invent your own! Sometimes the best parties are the ones you throw yourself. You can curate the invitation list and set your own boundaries for what you feel comfortable with. If you ask around, you’re bound to find a few friends who are also curious. What often works is setting a topic to explore, like rope bondage, where people can learn, look at books, and watch videos, while practicing on each other. Often learning and practice can feel like a safer way to start than jumping into play. And because kink is risky, it’s also a great way to make sure you learn how to do whatever you are interested in safely.

Most of all, have fun! Your imagination is the only limit when it comes to ways to explore. So spend some time fantasizing about what you would really love to do, and then find some ways to make it happen.


Header photo: Stella & Valentine. Photo credit: Adom Leonetti.

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