Well, you did it. You finally took the steps necessary-you found a munch, made friends, joined a dungeon and it happened. You fell in love. Not with a certain someone, but with your community. It happens to a lot of us lifestylers. We immerse ourselves in our dungeon, our dungeon friends, "our world." Then, we fall in love with the community.
For some of us, this love is like a crush. It is intense yet fades over time. For others, it is the beginning of a true love that will last for years. I have friends who have "given back" from their early days and still have just as much to give, even after years have brought new faces, new locations, and new personal relationships. I also have friends who, gave back strongly at first, then time and other demands gradually pulled them away from the public scene. Neither scenario is bad, life happens.
Ok, now what? What do you do when you find that you do have a love for your community? If you are like me, you give back. I have always believed that we should support those who support us; that we should support our passions. From the moment I was a teenager, I have "given back." I have worked with groups including, but not limited to, Camp Smile-A-Mile, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and the Birmingham Area Metropolitan Arts Council.
When I entered the BDSM lifestyle, that desire to give back kicked in once again and I wanted to do something to support my local dungeon-The Red Chair (TRC). Now, almost three years after entering "my world," I am the Special Events Coordinator at TRC. My events are designed to offer a little something different and sometimes, we incorporate fundraising into an event. But, I am lucky. The Leadership Team at TRC recognized my desire to do more and they created my position for me.
So what do you do when you want to do more? There are a few things...
- DO-talk to the leaders in your local group and let them know you want to help. Most people running clubs are super busy and appreciate the help. You may start out with small tasks until you prove that you are capable or and ready for handling more.
- DO-go above and beyond at your dungeon-go through Dungeon Monitor(DM) training, help set-up or clean up at parties. Again, ask the group leaders, if they need help, they will give you something to do.
- DO-befriend the new people, it helps to have someone to talk to when you are new to the club and probably nervous.
- DO-prove yourself. Integrity and honor go a long way. If you say you are going to do something, do it! You can't give back if you can't make time. Most groups can let you help as much or as little as you like.
- DO-talk to your partner about your desire to give back. It reflects poorly if you are talking to community leaders and your partner is clueless about what you are doing. Communication is key!
- DO NOT-take on more than you can handle. If you commit, follow through. We all get tired but I have found, despite my worries that I am going to crash and burn, I love every minute of what I do.
- DO NOT-try to reinvent the wheel. Most groups have been in existence for a while and have a handle on running things. If you see something you can truly help with, contact the group leader/s privately. No one wants their group business posted on FetLife or discussed publicly.
- DO NOT-think you have to mentor/guide/advise everyone. If you have been in the community for a while, you probably know a thing or two. As such, if someone mentions that they want to experience needle play, you are likely to know the person they should talk to. Refer to others when you need to and do not act like you know everything-that is annoying to everyone else and it could be dangerous.
- DO NOT-play matchmaker. Come on, does this really work most of the time, even in the vanilla world?
- DO NOT-abuse your position. Ever. For any reason. This world is small and word gets around.
In time, you will develop the experience that makes you an invaluable member of your community. You may be in it for the long run or for a short time. But, the time that you do give back will benefit not only you but the community and lifestylers in your area.
Laney is a bottom from Alabama who has been an active participant in the BDSM community for two and a half years. She is the Special Events Coordinator for The Red Chair in Birmingham and is a greeter on FetLife. She has a fondness for shiny things and loves to play with staples, scapels and knives. You may find her on FetLife as LaneyDoll.