I get avalanches of e-mail from novice kinky people, and they're often asking me the same question: I'm kinky—how do I find a partner with similar tastes? I have answered this question so many times that if I had a concussion and you asked me how many fingers you were holding up, I'd probably start telling you how to find BDSM resources where you live, what kinds of social events are generally easy to access, and how to get involved with the BDSM community.

Some people take the information I give them and run with it, and I've observed something about them: They're usually different in some way aside from being kinky. Like pagans, or poly people, or—especially—queer people. Queer people have often already gone through the process of finding and participating in the queer community, and they know that when you have a nonmainstream sexuality, you're going to structure some of your life choices around it. So my advice makes sense to them.

You know who often are not very accepting of my advice? Straight people. I don't just mean heterosexual; I mean people who are down-the-line "normal"—except that they're kinky. These folks don't yet understand what it means to be sexually other. "Oh, no, no," they say. "I don't need to go to public events. I don't want my whole life to be about this. It's my private business. I just want one partner to do it with."

Well, if you're just a very occasional slap-and-tickle player, this may be true. But if being kinky is hard-wired into you the way it is into me, then you need a community. Because you may not think your kink defines you, but I assure you that kink-negative people do. And there are a lot of them. Keeping significant aspects of your life a close secret is more work than you think. Lying once or twice is easy. Lying every day of your life, over and over, and never slipping up—that's tough.

I'm not saying it's impossible. I've been editing conversations with my family for my entire adult life, and it works because they don't want to know just how kinky I am. But I would have gone crazy if I hadn't found a community of people with whom I could be my complete and unabridged self. It's important to have a place where you can experience acceptance of who you are. It recharges your ability to keep the mask on in other parts of your life.

So is your kink your private business? In one sense, yes. But other people can decide to make it their business. Aside from nosy friends and family, the scenarios in which your sexuality suddenly becomes of interest to, say, a cop or a CPS worker or a judge are too numerous to name. Hopefully that won't happen to you, but there are smaller stresses to being a sexual minority, and like-minded friends get you over those rough spots. Whether you like it or not, you're in the club. You might as well get the benefits as well as the drawbacks.

matisse@thestranger.com

Kink Calendar

FRIDAY 4/13

COLUMBIA CITY CABARET

This week's show features Sylvia O'Stayformore, Heidi Von Haute of the Von Foxies burlesque team, the juggling duo from Pure Cirkus, and Tamara the Trapeze Lady. Columbia City Theater, 4916 Rainier Ave S, 605-9920, www.trapezelady.com, 8 pm, $20, 21+.

SATURDAY 4/14

PANSEXUAL BDSM NIGHT

Play party for all genders and orientations. The theme is "Raw!" Low lights, loud music, and nasty energy. Wet Spot, 1602 15th Ave W, building E, 270-9746, pansexual@wetspot.org, 9 pm—3 am, $15/$10 if you are in fetish wear (blue jeans and a T-shirt do not count), members only.

SATURDAY 4/14—SUNDAY 4/15

LITTLE RED STUDIO ART-A-THON: 24 HOURS OF ART-MAKING MADNESS

Twenty-four consecutive hours of erotically fueled art and performance to excite your senses. Model for an artist or a body painter, or sit down with your own sketchbook or canvas. Commission a dance, an aerial piece, or even a piece of music! Little Red Studio, 328-4758, www.littleredstudioseattle.com, starts Sat at 8 pm, $25/$50.

SUNDAY 4/15

NORDIC KNITTING CAFE

Head on down to the Nordic Heritage Museum for a kinky yarn-bondage session with the Odin worshippers and gloomy Danes. Extra points for purl-weave bondage. Nordic Heritage Museum, 3014 NW 67th St, 789-5707, 3:30—6 pm, free.

S/M 101

Do you find yourself wishing your lover's soft caress would turn into a spank? Learn common S/M vocabulary and basic safety, take a tour of the S/M toy collection, and sample some safe, sane, and consensual sensation play. Babeland, 707 E Pike St, 328-2914, 7:30 pm, $30.

PARADISE POOL TIME

A clothing-optional "swim and be social" event at an indoor pool. The Longhouse in Redmond, pool@wetspot.org, 270-9746, noon-—4 pm, $10, RSVP required, members and their guests only.