hile scrolling through Facebook one night, a still from Rihanna's S&M music video caught my eye. The image was the cover photo for a Femmes of Color BDSM and kink play party. I had never attended a play party but was curious to attend. I figured a space for queer femmes of color would be the safest space for me to begin exploring my kinks.

I was still on the fence about attending even though I had already purchased a ticket. Being the huge nerd that I am, I began to do some research as to what a play party was like and how I should behave at one in order to decide if I could commit to going. Armed with my newfound knowledge, I made the decision that I would actually attend.  

The day of the play party, I was extremely anxious. I did my makeup, one my favorite femme ritual’s of self care:  a black smokey eye and a matching black lip. I dressed in one of my favorite teddies and fishnet tights. When I drove up to the dungeon, I hesitated. I sat in my car trying to decide what to do. At the very least, I knew that if I felt uncomfortable I could just leave. That’s one of the reasons I love going to events on my own -- the option to leave whenever you want is not to be underestimated, especially in moments like this one.

As soon as I walked into the party, I began receiving compliments on my attire. This much I could appreciate because the accolades were coming from other femmes. Besides myself, they are who I dress and do my makeup for. Their affirmations and the friendly demeanour from others at the party helped ease my anxieties.  

Once the doors closed we all gathered in a circle to share our names, pronouns, and of course, our desires. This is where my heart began to beat faster and my palms began to sweat. I had never shared my desires in front of a group this big, and honestly, I did not know what I wanted to get out of the night. Nervously, I shared that it was my first play party and that I was open to play but mostly just there to watch. The hosts of the party were very reassuring and talked about the importance of consent. They let everyone know that it was alright to be a voyeur and not participate in any play if that was not desired.

Play began right after we had all introduced ourselves. Mostly, I watched as people negotiated scenes and played. I listened as people talked about their hard limits and what they wanted out of the scene. I witnessed attendees get flogged and spanked. Play ranged from the giving of lap dances to people having full-on sex. That night I began to realize the wide variety of activities that exist in the world of kink.

After watching people have so many intimate and beautiful experiences, I decided that I wanted in on the scene. The party was almost over and there were only about 15 people left in the dungeon by the time I mustered up the courage to walk across the room toward a beautiful 5ft tall Black femme domme to ask if she would spank me. My hands were shaking from nerves, but to my surprise, she agreed to play with me. We negotiated first, and then I bent over on a spanking horse and waited for her to begin. As I felt the sting of her hand across my ass, I realized how much I was enjoying the sense of pain, pleasure, and intimacy that comes with choosing to play with someone. The adrenaline rush that came after the spanking kept me in a feeling of bliss for several hours. The next day, I had the most beautiful bruises on my ass and that is how I learned that I love getting those, too.  

Through kink I am learning to set boundaries in and outside of the bedroom. I am reclaiming my power, reminding myself that I am allowed to say no and yes -- that I can share my body and spirit with others without feeling drained and used. I am learning that healthy human interactions and relationships are possible as long as I am willing to have those vulnerable and sometimes awkward conversations.

Growing up as a fat femme of color I have always struggled to see myself as a sexual being. Kink has taught me that I am desirable, but also how to name and claim my own desires. Before, my fears stopped me from being openly sensual. Now I comfortably dress in a provocative ways and often post nude or nearly nude photographs on Instagram. People praise me for my “confidence” but the reality is that I am still working on that.

In the year since attending this play party I have grown tremendously as a sexual person. The act of negotiating a scene, where desires and boundaries are discussed before play begins is one of the most vulnerable yet empowering things I have experienced. Through kink, I have learned to advocate for myself, reminding myself to use my safe word when I no longer feel comfortable in a scene. I have learned the importance of knowing my own limits, but also the value of expressing them as openly as I express my desires.