I have long had a love/hate relationship with “The Community“. It began when I first discovered there were other women like me (who liked to be in charge) and men who found that desirable. That community was an online community (based in Second Life) and it was pretty good! It gave me a sense of belonging, the knowledge I wasn’t quite the oddity I’d long assumed, and a place to learn from others.
So I joined FetLife within the first few months of its existence (yes, really) and found out there was a LOCAL Community. Who had a munch fairly near my house. So I went. And THAT Community was pretty good. It gave me a place of belonging outside of the online world, the knowledge there were others like me (although precious few dominant women and submissive men, there were a few), and a place to talk to and learn from others.
Yes, that Community was good…until three months later, it wasn’t. There was infighting and long-standing feuds I’d been blissfully unaware of and the “Community” imploded and dissolved until it simply wasn’t.
I continually tried to venture out into various iterations of “The Community” for the next eight years. Every single time, there was Drama (with a capital D), long-standing feuds I was blissfully unaware of, and eventually an implosion that either dissolved the Community or fractured it into tiny sub-communities, each of which held the other(s) in contempt. That was bad.
But it happened over and over and over.
Yet I kept trying, and I found a new and more vibrant Community when I returned to Second Life after a year’s hiatus. And when I moved to New England in the fall, I sought out the existing Community.
Now I kept asking myself (for all of these years) just WHY I was making such an effort to be involved in The Community. After all, I much preferred to be by myself. While I play a very convincing extrovert, it saps my emotional and psychological energy and I need recovery days after bouts of socialization with groups of people. I also have never been a huge fan of scening in public. So the play parties were never a huge draw. Yet I’d go … and go to the munches, and the classes, and even the conventions. While I enjoyed the conversations and the classes and most of the conventions, I still didn’t have a clear understanding as to why I kept attending these things, why I felt it was so important.
Oh sure, I’d give lip service to the idea that folks new to things need welcoming places like munches. I found a new and supportive Community on Twitter. I DID (and DO) learn a lot from classes, but it never really crystallized for me like it did this past weekend at the NELA Winter Fetish Fleamarket (aka “the Flea”).
You see, I took a newbie to the Flea. A man I’d met a few months prior at his very first munch. I made him feel welcome, I took him under my wing, showed him a few things, taught him a few things and cautioned him to be careful and read a lot and go forth and meet people. He screwed up the courage to go to the Flea and graciously offered to accompany me when I lamented my lack of demo bottoms for classes there.
He was like a kid raised by wolves set loose in a candy shop. Everything was shiny and new and everyone he met was a potential new friend of source of information. We talked later about the importance of Community and was utterly clear just how huge a role The Community had played/was playing for him and his journey. He spoke about how huge it was to feel like he was a part of the Community – of something larger than himself.
Without Community, there would have been no munch for him to go to and meet friendly local folks.
Without Community, there would have been no Flea, with no Welcome Wagon Session, with no Intro to New Bottoms/Submissives by Midori; no lengthy chat over lunch with a fellow submissive man; no opportunity to see so many other people who were comfortable with who they were and with their kinks and fetishes; no opportunity to truly see he wasn’t the “freak” he’d suppressed for half a century.
The impact my new-found Community had on him was palpable and nothing short of amazing. Truly life-changing for him.
I was suddenly immensely proud of The Community I was a part of.
On further reflection, I realized the opportunities The Community has given me (through munches, rope meets, and the Flea) to welcome new members, to offer guidance when asked, to be an example of how I approach and live D/s.
When it’s functioning, when rational thought and mature adults prevail, the Community can be a wonderful thing.
When it allows in-fighting and feuds, hurt feelings and divisiveness to prevail, it becomes its own worst enemy and nobody gains a thing.
I recently started a group and a munch because I saw a need and others agreed. I recently taught a couple of fun ties at a rope meet. And now, after seeing the truly amazing impact the Flea had on so many this weekend, I’m considering becoming even more involved with the Community.
What an amazing gift to be able to show people that they are not alone and to help them accept themselves for who they are and love the journey they’re on.