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 I love sex. The sound, the look, the feel and the submission of the act. Learning about the possibilities of BDSM (Bondage, discipline (or domination), sadism, and masochism (as a type of sexual practice) took sex and consent to another level for me. Here’s how it went down.

Consent has been a major topic of discussion these last few months. The “Me Too” movement has created a forum where women have expressed countless gut-wrenching stories of being harassed and violated by men in the workplace, at home or even by friends and family. I understood. I was molested as a child, so consent is something I wasn’t given during some of my early sexual encounters. With a lot of work, I was able to move forward and embrace my sexual desires, and identity, on my own terms. My first realization? I managed to have a hearty appetite for sex. If I wasn’t having sex, I was watching movies and reading books that had sex scenes because the act itself intrigued me. So, it wasn’t surprising that I was instantly attracted to the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy when it hit the scene.

The book’s dialogue around consent, the juicy sex scenes with flogs and nipple clamps and contracts outlining the expectations of both parties excited me to no end. Unfortunately, when I drew up a contract for a guy I was “seeing” at the time, he avoided me for weeks. Some of my trusted cohorts speculated that I probably scared him, especially because BDSM isn’t perceived as a thing “Black people do.” I felt defeated. I gave up on the idea and proceeded to have vanilla sex (intercourse that takes place between two naked people in a bed and involves no toys, props, costumes) until I met a tall Caribbean man named *Michael.

I pryingly asked him about his current dating life. After much hesitation, he said, “I’m into BDSM.” My face lit up. I told him I’ve always wanted to explore the lifestyle.

At first, I wasn’t interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with him. But by chance, he caught me on my way to a friend’s house and offered to give me a lift. During the car ride, we asked the typical “dating” questions: What are you looking for right now? How was your last relationship? Why did it end? Emboldened by indifference, I pryingly asked him about his current dating life. After much hesitation, he said, “I’m into BDSM.” My face lit up. I told him I’ve always wanted to explore the lifestyle. He smiled and began telling me about some of his experiences as a Dominant or DOM (a sexual participant who takes on the role of the superior and often controls the other participant (sub).

He picked me up from my friend’s house later that day and we spent most of the evening together. Although we didn’t have sex that night, our interaction was hot and heavy. So much so that I didn’t see his hand come toward my face. Then, BOOM! He slapped me twice. The first one shocked me. The second one excited me. “You like that?” he asked. “Yeah. Do it again,” I replied with a smile. “I can’t wait to break you in as my sub,” he said with a devilish grin. A sub (or submissive) is a sexual participant who willingly gives up some or all control to a dominant partner.

We had a few sessions, one involving knives and the other involving a harness, but our situation ended as quickly as it started. One day, after the dust settled on that situationship, I was out with friends for dinner and my experiences with Michael became the center of table talk. One of my gal pals revealed that she was building her business as a sex coach and by the end of our conversation, she invited me to a kink party.

A few days before the kink party, I purchased a laced onesie that snapped at the vagina, long earrings and a choker. I also kept daydreaming that I would meet a man with dreadlocks.

A kink party is a space (whether it be someone’s house or venue) where people allow their sexual desires to run free. In other words, people let their freak flag fly. I didn’t know what to expect, but thankfully she gave me some guidelines before attending.

  1. You can be as naked or clothed as you want to be.
  2. If someone wants to play with you or if you want to play with someone say, “Hi, do you want to play?” If they decline, say, “Thank you for taking care of yourself,” and leave them alone. If anyone violates this understanding, they will be escorted out.
  3. If you see someone you know, do not avoid them. Ask them how they would like to approach what happens at the party and outside of the kink setting to avoid awkwardness and crossing boundaries.
  4. You don’t have to participate to enjoy yourself. You can just watch. Either way, you will still have fun and learn about yourself.
  5. Be yourself and if you have any questions ask.

A few days before the kink party, I purchased a laced onesie that snapped at the vagina, long earrings and a choker. I also kept daydreaming that I would meet a man with dreadlocks, so I told a close friend of mine up until the event that I was going to meet the man in my daydreams. I felt excitement and anxiety at the same time.

When that fateful day finally came, I put on my new lingerie (underneath my club clothes of course) and strutted my stuff into the party. When I walked in, I immediate felt entranced. A mix of techno, rap and rock played loudly. I saw women walking around in their lace bras and thongs. I saw men with their shirts off and long dark pants with collars. Some women had whips and some men had flogs. There was even a man who rolled up in a carpet by the bar with a sign over his head that read, “Women feel free to step on me,” with a smiley face.

I was extremely out of my comfort zone, but then I remembered my friend’s guidance. “You don’t have to participate…” and, “If someone asks you to play you can say no.” With that, I spotted her, spoke to her for a few minutes, took off my club clothes to reveal my lingerie and started to enjoy the moment. A Latina with long black hair, a floral print shirt and black panties caught my eye. Nervously, I walked up to her, introduced myself and asked her would she like to play. She smiled and said yes.

We both took turns discussing what was going to be done. We both wanted to be spanked and agreed to let each other know if we hit too hard. I was first. She spanked me a few times and caressed my body. When I told her some of her spankings were too hard, she softened her touch. When it was her turn, I asked if I could pull her hair or spank her anywhere else. She said I could spank her ass and pull her hair, but I couldn’t touch her face. After we completed our session, I went back to my friend who smiled at me and asked, “How did that feel?” “It felt great,” I said beaming as I looked for another play partner.

As I observed the room, I noticed more people were present. When I walked further towards the back of the room, a man started a conversation with me. He indirectly asked me if I wanted to play, but I respectfully declined. He left me alone the rest of the night. To my delight, I found a Black man with dreadlocks. He wore mesh shorts with a small black ping pong paddle in the back of his shorts. I smiled, walked up to him, introduced myself and said, “Hi, my name is Chelsea. I hope this doesn’t sound strange, but I manifested you. I told a friend of mine I was going to meet a man with locks and then I see you.” He smiled, repeated my name and said, “My name is Terrance. Let me pick up my drink from the bar, I’ll be right back and we can play.” I smiled and nodded.

We found each other a few moments later. As we discussed the do’s and don’ts, he asked if he could use his paddle on me and I really wanted to test my limits. I kept it 100. “I’m a little nervous about the paddle so can we work our way up to that?”

Before we finished the session, he said, “I have to go but before we end, I’m going to spank you three more times. After each spanking, I want you to say thank you.”

He replied, “Sure, I’ll use my hand and we’ll go from there.” Now, I don’t know if it was the fact that I was being spanked around strangers or the fact that I was being spanked by this gorgeous looking guy with locks, but I was in heaven.  We kissed between spankings and when he finally worked his way up to using the paddle I screamed in utter bliss. Before we finished the session, he said, “I have to go but before we end, I’m going to spank you three more times. After each spanking, I want you to say thank you.” When he administered the final spanking, I screamed out thank you and had a great, big smile on my face for the rest of the night.

The next day, I felt free and sexy. I realized I felt safer in that space more than I have felt walking down the street, at clubs or even house parties. This experience helped me understand the pleasure of consent and my own value. No meant no and boundaries were honored. I felt respected. Although BDSM has a few stigmas and negative connotations associated with it, especially in communities of color, I believe when practiced with the utmost consent, understanding and responsibility, it can be one of the most liberating experiences a woman can have in her lifetime.

*Names were changed.

Chelsea A. Hamlet is a freelancer for CASSIUS.