a Barak & Sheba Article

Notes on Etiquette - Part 1 - "Don't Out Anyone"
Monday May 26, 2014

It really was wonderful to see so many new people at the Meet N Greet and at the AIS Big Bash party this past weekend. Both of us are amazed at the influx of people who are discovering their desires, and then seeking out and joining the kinky side of Columbus.

In past times, the kink community was much smaller, and less open. It took someone a little while to find, and then gain access to a kink party. First, you had to find someone who knew about it. Then, you had to spend some time with them, or go to some gate keeping activity... such as a munch, a meet n greet, or some informational meeting. Finally, after a meeting (or in some cases a bunch of 'em) and the involved people had gotten to know you... that someone might offer to bring you to a party.

This wasn't just because it was some kinda secret. It was, but that wasn't the main reason. Primarily, kinky parties such as these were in the basements of people's houses. Occasionally, the party was most of the house. Discretion was the prime directive. Not only the privacy of the attendees, which was really important, but of the homeowner. These hosts were in essence laying their lives on the line. Exposure could possibly jeopardize their residence and their livelihood.

Being brought to the party was just a start. Frequently the person who brought you acted as a chaperone, taking on the role of "guide" or "mentor". This wasn't because they had any form of ulterior motive, in fact it was the opposite. Traditionally they were a similar role - D-types for D-types and S-types for S-types. There was a level of culpability that they had for your attitude and behaviors. So they made sure to share the basic etiquette, house, and scene rules with you, prior to your ever stepping foot into the party. Because if someone they brought to the party acted a fool? It reflected poorly on them also - and reputation was (and still is) a very important thing.

I recall the person who first brought us to a kink party - we spent quite some time on all the potentials of discretion. Thinking back on it... most of these guidelines are still applicable today. We are going to do this as a multi-part article, so we will start with the first one he shared with us -

Don't out anyone.

Seemed pretty basic at the time. "Outing", in this case, refers to the potential of exposing a person's kinkiness (or any private information) to people in their life who may or may not know about their penchants. People can be "outed" in a couple different ways. Some seem pretty innocuous at the time, others can be quite obvious. Let's go through a couple scenarios of how "outing" could happen.

Let's start by taking you for example, Barak. I know you are an ER Nurse. But no one else does, unless you tell 'em. Let's say someone else at the party was a nurse. Then, let's say I introduce you to them by saying, "This is Barak, he's a nurse, too". What's the first thing they are going to say? That's right. They are going to say, "Oh? Where? How long have you been there? Etc..."

Now there is a sense of social obligation to answer the questions. In any normal social situation, if you don't respond it would be considered rude, would it not? You are meeting these people for the first time, you want to be honest and genuine, don't you? But if you answer honestly, and disclose this information - you change from another party goer with an anonymous scene name to someone who's private/professional information is now public. Also, there is the potential to be easily triangulated and outed, right?

Well... perhaps you also missed the "nurse, too" part? Not only did I out you by saying it... I also outed them! Are you starting to see how easy this could happen? I wasn't being malicious, I was simply being social and attempting to smooth the familiarity process between you.

He then continued. Many people aren't out. Or... they may only be out in a couple of avenues in their lives. Their spouse may participate with them, or not. Their work may or may not know. And their family? All depends on the relationship they have and the information they have shared with those they love. The point is that their information is theirs to share with you or not. Just like your information is yours. It's not mine to do so. Get it?

Let's chat about another area of possible outing. Say you and Sheba are going shopping. While walking down the frozen food aisle at Kroger, you see someone you met at the meet n greet last week. At the time, you really hit it off. So you walk straight up to them, say Hi! How are you, Kajira? (which was the name she gave you) The older woman standing next to her turns and says, Honey, who are your friends, and why are they calling you "Kajira?" "Kajira" suddenly turns 50 shades of red, takes her mother's hand, and storms off without another word.

What do you think happened there? Aside from the fact she will have to figure out a way to explain how both of you were obviously hallucinating? You have just created a situation where she has been possibly outed to her family - in more than one way. The rule of thumb when meeting people outside of the kink setting is to err on the side of caution. You can do this by observing and then mirroring their behavior. If "Kajira" had glanced your way, and then promptly ignored you? You can mirror that behavior, and not attempt any interaction at that time. Most likely, she will explain at the next meet n greet.

Another way to "out" someone is to describe a distinctive attribute. Barak, I see you have a tribal band tattoo of all white ink on your forearm. Let's say that I was having lunch at a busy restaurant downtown. I began talking with my lunch companion about this great kinky sex scene I had. I was describing how incredible this big goateed guy was at cocksucking. How he forced me down, put his knee in my chest, tore open my jeans and gripped my rising cock so tight I almost whimpered. How he had this sexy white tribal armband on his right forearm. How I had never seen anything like it.

You might think that could be vague enough to skate by. But... look at the whole picture - "Big Guy, Goatee, White Ink Tribal Armband. Not very common, is it? Let's say that the person at the table next to me was a vanilla work acquaintance, who happened to have a prejudice against Kink and Male on Male sex, and heard the entire conversation. Guess what? Now you have someone who has a work connection, who now has private information - and can use it.

It only takes an inkling that someone is doing something outside the norm - such as kink - to pique someone's interest. And if a supposedly private occurrence is disclosed and overheard? That interest can become an investigation - and a subsequent "witch hunt". Why risk another's' privacy by sharing information that might not be yours to share? If you have to describe a scene or something, make sure that you don't include any identifying factors.

this last one is updated, as back then it was MySpace and then Facebook - and now it is Fetlife for social networking. This example will also be used in the "Why taking audio or video is prohibited - unless approved by the group leaders" section"

I think you are getting it, but let me illustrate one of the last ones. Let's say you are at a meet n greet. You are taking selfies with your Andriphone and posting them on your Facebook Profile. Later, when my workmates happens to see my face in the background of your selfie...? They ask me what I am doing at that bar, with "those people." When that picture clearly identified the picture as "It's me at this kinky meet n greet."

Even what might be considered an innocuous photo can lead to outing. It may not even be of a person. Once there was someone who liked a particular picture at an event hotel in a different city. The name of hotel was purposely not disclosed, as there had been some threats by the radical right to expose and picket the convention if they found out where it was. This someone arrived a night early and took a snapshot of this picture, the wallpaper and the hotel name on the frame and posted it on MySpace. The next year? The radical right launched an all out campaign against the hotel, causing the event to get shut down.

These are only a couple ways on how someone can be outed. It might sound like this is all a stretch. It might even sound paranoid. However, it only takes one coincidence for your privacy to start to be torn down, unravel or to be disclosed. One chance encounter, one time for someone to put two and two together. Are you willing to risk your livelihood that it won't happen? Are you willing to risk someone else's?

When we out someone, either by accident or by negligence, not only can it be devastating to them - but also to our reputation. After all, would you invite someone to your house if you knew they had just caused someone to be outed? Would you share any information that wasn't already posted on Broad and High? Would you trust them with your "secret identity?" I know I wouldn't. And if I vouch for you... my name is associated with that too.

There will always be pieces we forget. However, we can do our best to maintain the privacy of our parties, our meetings, and the people in the community. This can be best summed up with the adage, "Leave it where it happened," kind of an adapted, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas". No matter what happens, remember that discretion is still one of the most valued attributes in the community. Let's each do our part to keep each other's trust and faith.

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Barak & Brat_Sheba

©2014 Barak & Brat Sheba

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