Posted on the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom blog, January 13, 2014.
2013 Advocacy Roundup
NCSF faced some difficult challenges in 2013, but the dedicated volunteer staff worked hard to advocate for the BDSM, swing and polyamory lifestyles:
Kink is Okay
The biggest news of 2013 was that the American Psychiatric Association depathologized consensual sadism, masochism, cross-dressing and fetishes in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). NCSF’s DSM-Revision project began in April 2008, to educate that the DSM criteria was being used against healthy kinky adults in legal settings, and causing significant discrimination and distress because of the social stigma the APA attached to alternative sexual behavior.
NCSF directly educated the media and the relevant members of the American Psychiatric Association, as well as presenting data through the DSM Revision Petition, signed by over 3,200 people including many mental health professionals, and in letters to the editor published in Archives of Sexual Behavior. Annual data was presented from NCSF’s Incident Reporting &Response program along with the results of two surveys on Violence & Discrimination Against Sexual Minorities conducted in 1998 and 2008.
The Archives of Sexual Behavior has also accepted NCSF’s Letter to the Editor “Kinky Parents and Child Custody: The Effect of the DSM-5 Differentiation between the Paraphilias and Paraphilic Disorders,” describing the decline in child custody cases reported to NCSF that involve discrimination against BDSM practitioners since the proposed DSM criteria depathologizing BDSM was made public in 2010.
NCSF’s Consent Counts discussions continued around the country on the “Consent Statement” that was launched on February 8, 2013 at the Annual Coalition Partner Meeting. This statement was based on Consent Counts discussions and on 4,000 responses returned on NCSF’s Consent Survey about the concept of risk and people’s attitudes about consent. NCSF also created a 1-page Summary “Policy Statement on Consent.”
In 2013, NCSF launched a Continuing Legal Education workshop as part of the Consent Counts program to educate lawyers and prosecutors about assault laws and how they are used against consenting adults. In addition, a new educational series was launched in Chicago at the Leather Archives & Museum with a presentation entitled “BDSM? Erotic Play? What Are the Legal Risks?” by Judy Guerin, Dick Cunningham and Judge Rudy Serra.
NCSF also created a number of new FAQs in 2013 to help victims and educate professionals about the difference between BDSM and assault “Consent and BDSM: The State of the Law” is a detailed examination of how BDSM activity, even where clearly consensual, is prosecuted under state criminal laws dealing with assault, aggravated assault, sexual assault or sexual abuse. NCSF’s “Statement on Power Exchange Relationships,” discusses both the ethical and legal concepts that are critical to understanding the meaning and importance of consent in power exchange relationships.
“The Guide for Groups” includes a suggested consent policy, how to deal with consent violations that take place at a group or event, and advice on how to revoke membership or entry to an event without liability. The FAQ “Is This Assault?” explains which consent violations may rise to the level of assault, while “Dealing With Assault” answers many of the common questions kinky survivors have about reporting assault to law enforcement, medical or social service professionals. NCSF also lists hotlines for kink aware victim services associated with the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects that are ready to help kinky victims of assault and abuse. And there is a wallet-card that explains BDSM vs. Abuse in terms of consent to help you explain kink to law enforcement and social service professionals.
NCSF’s Board Members and Education Outreach Project presented 22 educational programs in 2013, with a focus on consent discussions and Consent Counts information. NCSF also tabled at events around the country distributing literature such as “Finding Kink Aware Medical Care” and “Finding a Kink Aware Therapist.”
The groups and events where NCSF presented includes: APEX, Beat Me in St. Louis, BOLD Con, COPE, CPI Anniversary Weekend, DomCon/Atlanta, DuckStock (Alternative) CampOut, Evansville MAsT, GLLA, House of Decorum Leather Ball, Incognito Dungeon Facility, KinkLincs, Lifestyles Exchange, Macon Munch Group, Madtown Kinkfest, Nashville Pride, Smokey Mountain Power Exchange, Spanksgiving, Whimper Munch Group, and Winter Wickedness.
NCSF also exhibited at the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) Annual Conference on June 5-9th in Miami, Florida. NCSF organized the AASECT Alt Sex Special Interest Group Munch that took place Friday evening at the Hilton Miami Downtown hotel that was attended by over 40 AASECT members who were interested in finding out more about BDSM, polyamory and swinging.
Jim Fleckenstein was the lead presenter on What Do Polyamorists Want? A National Survey of an Underserved Population, a workshop discussing key findings from the Loving More and NCSF survey. Susan Wright was the presenter on Understanding Consent in BDSM Practices, a workshop presenting data from the NCSF Consent Counts Survey about consent in a BDSM context.
NCSF also assisted in setting up a BDSM Panel Discussion for AASECT’s Summer Institute in St. Louis by enlisting Coalition Partner STL3, which provided a diverse and knowledgeable panel that discussed aspects of BDSM, community ethics, and related safety and consent issues.
The media team broadened NCSF’s reach into social media, with NCSF’s Facebook page getting 1,000 likes and over 6,500 followers on Twitter. 42 interviews were given to reporters from mainstream media to blogs, including the Associated Press, New York Times, Esquire, The Atlantic, Maire Claire, GQ, the Village Voice, Details, US News & World Report, and two Huffington Post Live appearances. Susan Wright was featured in the E! Entertainment Special, “The Real 50 Shades of Grey,” that aired around the world during 2013.
As usual, NCSF provided media back-up for Folsom Street East, which had to be canceled this year due to the construction project on the block NCSF also continued its media training program for groups and individuals who wanted to learn how to talk to reporters about kink, polyamory or the Lifestyle. To follow the NCSF Media Updates or get the Media Update Digest, subscribe to NCSF’s newsletter on the website: www.ncsfreedom.org
NCSF Coalition Partner TTB Ventures – Touch of Flavor fought the biggest public battle in 2013. NCSF consulted on their legal and media response, and TTB Ventures handled the media storm with professional excellence. They pursued their case in court and succeeded in getting a settlement that is important for all kink events, proving once again that we can win against discrimination and persecution. Coppermine Field House LLC, the manager of the Clarence “Du” Burns Arena, also issued a statement correcting “any incorrect impressions” about Touch of Flavor and acknowledged that TTB Ventures notified the original management of the nature of the event when the contract was signed.
NCSF also supported Leather & Grace’s efforts to educate Unitarian Universalist ministers, directors of religious education, and congregational leaders about the BDSM communities, the ethical principles, and issues of discrimination and prejudice. Silent Sunday was just one of Leather & Grace’s activist opportunities in 2013.
Though there were problems with NCSF’s Incident Reporting & Response program in 2013, and much of the data for this year has not been recovered yet, some of the cases NCSF assisted on included: providing DSM-5 info for child custody cases, writing a letter to a city attorney on behalf of a swing club, referrals for expert witnesses in cases involving BDSM, advice on getting permits for events, answering questions about organizational issues such as corporate ownership of a 501c7, doing outreach to local police pre-event, and how to deal with someone taking photographs at an event. There were also people looking for lawyers and information on laws dealing with civil and criminal issues including: pro-dommes asking about state prostitution laws, a kinky community center that ran afoul of zoning regulations, and arrests for Domestic Violence that involved consensual BDSM.
The Kink Aware Professionals database is updated on a continual basis, and added nearly 100 professionals in 2013 to bring the total up to 1,224 kink aware professionals that people can directly access when they need help.
NCSF upgraded its website at the end of 2013 to incorporate a new membership function and to upgrade the Kink Aware Professionals database, in particular the search function to make it easier to search for what you need. The KAP database is the most-visited part of NCSF’s website and is a hugely valuable tool for people looking for assistance from a doctor, lawyer, therapist or other professional.
The NCSF Fire Recovery Fundraiser in the first half of 2013 brought in $9,233 that went straight to the NCSF-Foundation to fund the purchase of new brochures totaling nearly $4,000. Replacement banners still need to be purchased as well as NCSF’s T-shirt inventory. At the end of 2013, the Board also drafted new Financial and Control Policies for both NCSF and NCSF-Foundation and broadcast them to the Coalition Partners for approval at the Annual Board Meeting in Nashville on March 15-16, 2014.