I was reading Usenet in the California office, and saw a message on alt.sex.bondage from someone who said he enjoyed introducing visitors to the local leather community. I dropped him a note, and after a bit of email he offered to pick me up from the office and take me to the burgermunch, a local gathering of kinksters. That happened on May 7, 1992, and it was my very first introduction to the kinky community.
Two days later I went to my first playparty. I was scared to death! I didn't really know anyone there, I had no idea what to expect, and I felt like I was completely out of my element. OK, I was completely out of my element-- I still had a lot of the stupid baggage that comes from being raised Catholic, and going to a sex party was one of the wildest things I'd ever done. I was also dreadfully curious! I arrived at the venue, a house on the peninsula, then drove around the block three times while I talked myself into parking the car and getting out.
(As I write this, it occurs to me that it will almost certainly be read by more than one person who was at one or both of these events.)
I mustered all of my resolve and walked into the party, where I encountered nothing like I'd ever seen before. People were naked, sometimes casually so and sometimes not. They were in fetishwear. They were tied up. They were in happy piles of people, spanking each other, and doing all manner of things that I had never seen, some I'd never heard of. I was as social as I could be, then sought refuge in a corner where I spent the evening chatting with a few people. I was fascinated by what I saw and curious to learn more, though I couldn't really see myself doing most of the things I witnessed.
That week was the start of an extremely dramatic change in my life-- a complete reexamination of my sexuality, my ideas about relationships, and even the way I wanted to live my life. What a slippery slope!
Oh, the person I exchanged the initial email with? He became very influential in my life, mostly in good ways though also in a couple of bad ones. We had a ten-year friendship, though sadly we both did a pretty good job of demolishing that a few years ago.
I wonder what the person I was then would think of the person I am now. I think she'd be surprised, amazed, and delighted at the transformation, and proud of the way that she'd managed to get over her fear.
And so, happy fifteenth leather anniversary to me.