with an in-person component? If so, how will that affect education, safety, consent, and the values that are cornerstones of the BDSM lifestyle? Some survey respondents wondered the same. “The pandemic brought our local events to a complete halt. People drifted away from the online communities too. They found no point in connecting with others they couldn’t meet in person.
For others, isolation was difficult to cope with. “It was hell not being able to dominate in person, over 20+ yrs in the BDSM community, I’m old school, online doesn’t do it for me!” Another shared, “It was a horrible time for me. I used to attend munches and events several times a month. Since the pandemic, I’ve only been to one event and even then I didn’t scene because the energy felt off.” Others stepped away altogether. “Between stress and depression killing my libido and having to isolate, I’ve essentially stopped interacting as a kinkster.”
Approximately two-thirds of those surveyed prefer face-to-face community. Almost half also believe in-person communities and relationships are more genuine than their virtual counterparts. On the flip side, many are thriving in the virtual BDSM scene. Over the course of the pandemic:
- 61% discovered new online kink communities and spaces
- 59% explored a new kink/fetish
- 46% engaged in remote online play or D/s dynamic
- 54% believe online is just as or more genuine than in-person interaction
- 44% attended an online BDSM class, munch, or non-play social event
- 53% consider the internet their primary access point for kink community
Does this mean in-person BDSM community is going the way of the dinosaur? Not necessarily. To put things in perspective, community kinksters are a small slice of the kinky pie. A 2015 study published in the Journal Of Sexual Medicine found that the vast majority of kinky people practiced BDSM at home with only 4.4% going to clubs or other community spaces.
The lockdown-triggered online BDSM community boom may have another explanation. 70% of adults have BDSM fantasies but only 20% act on them. The phenomenon of the virtual pandemic kinkster could have been fueled by validated fantasizers and at-home dabblers who accidentally stumbled upon digital kink spaces. While they value community support, education, and play, they’re also less likely to seek out in-person connections. The silver lining is that lone kinksters and curious newbies now have access to BDSM resources and guidance they wouldn’t otherwise.
As for our local communities, they may have yet to go through a period of recalibration. Just as we’ve done before, however, we’ll adapt and carry on (remember when we were convinced that Fifty Shades kinksters would tear the fabric of our kinky universe?). Some online-only folx will eventually join local communities. Like Lulu and Nix, many will bring in fresh new perspectives and work to keep our communities safe, strong, and fun. Others will remain happy just as they are, connecting in cyberspace with newfound friends, D/s partners, and chosen kinky family around the world.
However it shakes out, I’m certain that the resilient, creative, adaptable BDSM community at large will not only survive, it will thrive. As they say,