Voices of kink

We asked over 500 kinksters how the pandemic impacted their experiences with the BDSM community, play partners, and their own kinky identity. This is what they said . . .

Q

What was your experience as a kinkster during the pandemic?

I learned how large and all-encompassing kink and BDSM are during the pandemic. Before I felt it was hidden in the shadows and you were only invited to events if you had an in. Now I know I can join local communities and engage with people. I’ve virtually met so many people from around the world and learned a lot about different ways to practice.
I had my first experiences with both submission and polyamory online during the pandemic. It actually felt safer to tiptoe into things online than it might have in person, and now I feel much more confident in community events.
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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. This is concerning because our ability to keep newbies safe and weed out predators has been hampered by the lack of in-person meets.
Online community definitely helped me learn about and understand boundaries better. I learned more about red flags, the signs, how to identify abusive and toxic behavior, and how those tied into my last relationship. A lot of misconceptions were cleared up and really opened my eyes.
I met my current long-distance dominant. It is the first D/s relationship I’ve ever had that was not romantic and not sexual, and it’s taught me so much. Without this pandemic, we may have never met. It’s odd to think about it when I phrase it like that. I can’t imagine my life without him now. Finding the silver linings is important to me, and the biggest ones were meeting my Sir and deepening my level of submission. I also deepened my understanding of myself and what I enjoy.
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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!
In my local community, responsible people stopped hosting events for safety reasons. This created a vacuum in which those who put less value on consent and responsible play thrived. All of the new folx who came into our community during the pandemic got introduced to irresponsible people and behaviors. The current community culture is no longer one many people feel safe engaging in.
I was always kink-curious. The isolation of the pandemic gave me the opportunity to spend time learning more and get passively involved with online kink community. My current partner is also kinky and we plan on getting involved in the local community, which I never would have felt comfortable with before the pandemic.
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I got really into erotic audio with a focus on monster fucking, D/s dynamics, and breeding.
My dominant side has grown as well as my understanding of kink and the critical role it plays in my life as my sexuality becomes more and more defined by kink rather than any gender or genitals.
I’m an online video producer. With everyone in lockdown business was booming! It was stressful to interact with all the people flooding my inbox and fulfilling the increase of custom videos I received. I can't complain too much because I didn't have to worry about my income. But there's only one of me and I allowed myself to be stretched far too thin.
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I started listening to lots of educational podcasts during the pandemic! I researched plenty before but being isolated from in-person community and newly single allowed me to dive-in in new ways. Also, my like-minded friends (including long-distance ones) definitely became more intimate and open during this time, and conversations about kink became more commonplace.
I would not have felt comfortable attending live kink events prior to the pandemic. Having things move online gave me the option to attend a lot more classes with a bit more anonymity and comfort. I hope they continue.
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During lockdown, there was more time to be introspective about every aspect of myself, including kink. That introspection has helped me express myself more and be more “myself” in the online world. I’ve brought those lessons with me now that we’re back to more in-person events.
Engaging with the community IRL is what helped me work through internal biases and moral dilemmas. Plus, it helped me find the sides of online communities that are more in touch with fetish history and tradition…which is a relief because most online spaces are heteronormative and honestly VERY out of touch.
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Having online communities outside of FetLife was SO beneficial. Fet can be hard to navigate and to find genuine people with experience. I learned a lot from Kinktok about safety, vetting, and etiquette. Also, that boundaries are important and to be respected. It was a pool of information, both on the platform and recommendations for outside resources.
The pandemic severely limited my access to community while I was still new to looking for a play partner. Without that support network or knowing about red flags to look for, I got myself into a very toxic relationship just because I was eager to explore this other side of myself. I wish I’d had access to or known about more online or in-person communities before.
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Curious about the rest of the results of our State of Kink Survey? Check out How The Pandemic Made Us Kinkier.

Kink is deeply integrated into my entire life. During the pandemic, I’ve been very isolated and my mental health and sense of self have suffered. As I slowly feel comfortable returning to events, I am rediscovering myself through kink and community again, but it is a process. No one is exactly the same as they were before.
I discovered kink online at the start of the pandemic and have been learning ever since. I’ve gone to a couple of in-person events now that restrictions are loosening. I’m so lucky to have found the community when I did because it allowed me to learn and explore in the safety of my apartment alone without fear of people physically harming me, stalking me, or even family/friends judging me. It was incredibly freeing.
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Watching people ignore social distancing just to have parties during the height of the pandemic was hard and made it difficult to want to go back to in-person community. Because of the pandemic, I’ve considered creating a house just to be able to have kinky fun with safe individuals.
I attended lots of Zoom classes but I miss live events. My community lost its physical space because of the pandemic. Who knows how many friends floated away and will never find their way back. And we're all so emotionally damaged, I fear the next two years will be as challenging as the past two years, just in different ways.
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I learned my kinks are nothing to be ashamed of & I can explore with my partner as long as we both consent. My taboo kinks were validated as I learned more about consent, safety, and not being ashamed to talk about them with my partner. I was empowered to explore new kinks I never thought I would be into and ended up liking. It’s difficult to find reputable sources online so finding an actual BDSM community on Discord and Reddit really helped.
I met my current long-distance dominant. It is the first D/s relationship I’ve ever had that was not romantic and not sexual, and it’s taught me so much. Without this pandemic, we may have never met. It’s odd to think about it when I phrase it like that. I can’t imagine my life without him now. Finding the silver linings is important to me, and the biggest ones were meeting my Sir and deepening my level of submission. I also deepened my understanding of myself and what I enjoy.
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I’m in my sixties, so I’ve been very careful not to get covid. In-person events seem too dangerous even now. I hope to get back to them soon. I attended at least one major event per year and at least one meeting and/or play event per month.
In my local community, responsible people stopped hosting events for safety reasons. This created a vacuum in which those who put less value on consent and responsible play thrived. All of the new folx who came into our community during the pandemic got introduced to irresponsible people and behaviors. The current community culture is no longer one many people feel safe engaging in.
I was always kink-curious. The isolation of the pandemic gave me the opportunity to spend time learning more and get passively involved with online kink community. My current partner is also kinky and we plan on getting involved in the local community, which I never would have felt comfortable with before the pandemic.
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I feel the pandemic brought to light a lot of topics people felt alone in like subtle racism within the kink community.
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22-year-old submissive, Lulu, began exploring BDSM after stumbling upon #KinkTok in 2020. She now documents her kink journey on TikTok. “Yes, I did [get kinkier] … I define kinkier as having more knowledge and experience of kink than I did previously.”

Nix discovered BDSM community during lockdown. “I got ‘kinkier’ [during the pandemic] because I’ve learned to accept others’ kinks as valid. As a result, I’ve been able to expand the things I’m willing to try. I don’t think acts themselves make me kinkier, but my willingness to try out new things enthusiastically.”

Maurice interacts with kink community on Twitter Spaces. “I have an account on FetLife that’s vastly underused. I don’t remember my password or the last time I logged on. The site is slow and cumbersome and the layout and design have a hard time holding my interest. I’ve never really messaged or talked with people on the site.”

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