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So you want to get kinky at pride? Heres how to do it safely

So you want to get kinky at pride? Heres how to do it safely

two men in leather at a folsom street fair
David Tran Photo/Shutterstock

Whether you're a novice or have some kinky experience under your belt, we've got you covered!

Forget the tired debate about whether kink belongs at Pride—spoiler alert: it does, and it's here to stay. Instead, focus on how to get kinky at Pride in a way that is safe and will leave a smile on your face when your fave month is over.

There are easy tips and tricks to staying safe while living out your queer kinkster dreams at Pride, but if you're brand new to the kink scene, sex educator and writer Midori recommends dipping your toe in the kinky waters before jumping into playing at Pride. Midori is an alternative sexuality, BDSM, and Shibari coach, a co-director of Kink Informed Certification for Sexual Health Alliance, and author of Seductive Art of Japanese Bondage.

"You essentially have a situation where somebody who might be considered a tourist is coming into a subculture celebration," she tells PRIDE. "It's not fair to anyone. First of all, it's not a learning environment. It's a party environment."

"I want them to get the knowledge, but a party environment—a festival—is not the place for that," she explains. For novices, inserting yourself into the kink community at Pride means that you'll likely end up putting an "unrealistic expectation for education on somebody who's just there to have fun."

While LT Hawk—a Black, trans-nonbinary, queer, radical pleasure-based sex educator, artist, kink performer, and activist—agrees that Pride Month is a tough time to get kinky for the very first time, newbies are still welcome but should consider sticking to attending more causal gatherings. Hawk says that it's also important to be honest about your experience level and to not push yourself past your comfort level in an attempt to prove yourself because "there are inherent risks that cannot be removed in kink play," they explain.

Puppy play is part of kink at Pride


Asking the people you want to play with about safety and harm reduction—especially when you're inexperienced—isn't something you should feel shy or embarrassed about. "It's okay to ask that," Hawk says. "It's not a buzzkill. It's not going to ruin the mood. Anybody who's an experienced person is going to appreciate that you're having an open conversation."

For those who have at least a little experience under their belt, cultivating a friend group within the kink scene you're into can be a way great way to protect yourself and also give you an outlet to talk about all of the fun experiences you're having. Midori recommends asking a trusted friend to be your "safe call." Then, tell this friend where you are going and ask them to come and track you down if they don't hear from you by a specific time.

"Have a safe call, have a buddy, not just when you're in trouble, but let's say you have a really awesome kink hookup; you want to have somebody to talk to," she explains.

Related: What to do if you're not kink-compatible

You can also tap into the collective knowledge and experience of this community of kinky friends when vetting potential play partners. If there is a new party you want to go to or a new play partner you want to get kinky with, run it by these friends first.

When vetting people, Midori warns you to trust your instincts and don't "get all like swoon-y for skill and surface hotness" because how they treat you and the level of respect they give you is more important.

"With something like kink, somebody can get a reputation for being really awesome at flogging, or medical scenes, or bondage, and they're probably really good at that," she says, but warns that "they could also be an absolute a—hole."

You should also be wary of people who demand that you call them "Mistress" or push your boundaries in other ways before you've negotiated and given consent. If that happens, Midori says it's best to walk away.

For those traveling to a new city during Pride, Hawk cautions that while you can't eliminate risk—especially when getting kinky—you might want to steer clear of "more obscure underground events because you don't really know many people in that space."

If you're going on what Midori calls a "kink and f—king tourism" trip to celebrate Pride in a city you've never been to before, she recommends getting a second phone number and separate email address to use for hookups and party plans. Not only will this protect your digital security, but it will keep your personal life separate from the kinky activities you love. "[A person] might be totally fine being an absolute out queer freakazoid, but you work, say, in a school district, or a corporation, or whatever—you want to have the information security."

Shibari Japanese rope art kink at Pride

Monstar Studio/Shutterstock

Once Pride is over and your kinky celebration must come to an end, Midori explains that you'll likely experience a "come down"—similar to the "sub drop" submissives experience after an intense BDSM scene—that could leave you feeling lonely, tired, lethargic, irritable, agitated, and scattered even if you had a fantastic experience. "After such events, there's a comedown, whether it's vanilla Pride or Pride laced with leather, there's going to be a comedown, there's going to be a drop." Whether you feel that drop immediately after you get home or the day after, it's crucial to take of yourself and know that your feelings are normal.

Related: Paulie Calafiore reveals his spicy kinks in the bedroom

"It's like coming down from a big party, or coming down from sports, [you] know that that's likely going to happen, so after Pride, or after a big kink hoopla, make space for easy landing," she says. People need the time and space to emotionally recover.

Hawk agrees that aftercare is essential, regardless of whether you participated in a challenging kink scene or attended an event where you didn't participate. "What I would want to say to someone is give yourself grace and be patient with yourself if you have a lot of different thoughts and ideas that come up."

Midori offers one more practical piece of advice she wishes someone had given her before her first Folsom Street Fair, but it also applies to Pride celebrations: Wear sunscreen. "I had a really sexy outfit that was mostly fishnets," she recalls. "I burned my legs so bad. Peeling fishnet off of sunburned, blistered skin, it kind of looked like fish scale." Hawk also had practical advice for kinky Pride goers: Stay hydrated because you aren't "just going to a dance party."

Stay kinky and stay safe this Pride season!

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

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Ariel Messman-Rucker

Ariel Messman-Rucker is an Oakland-born journalist who now calls the Pacific Northwest her home. When she’s not writing about politics and queer pop culture, she can be found reading, hiking, or talking about horror movies with the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network.

Ariel Messman-Rucker is an Oakland-born journalist who now calls the Pacific Northwest her home. When she’s not writing about politics and queer pop culture, she can be found reading, hiking, or talking about horror movies with the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network.