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Thank you, Preston, for agreeing to be interviewed for the Polish multi fetish community. It has been a while since your last visit to Warsaw, Poland. How do you remember your last visit? How have you been since then?
[Preston] - I have nothing but the deepest love and passion for Warsaw and for the fetish community in Poland. The last time I visited was for a quick stopover in 2018, and I felt just as welcome as I did when I judged Mr. Rubber Poland in 2017 and emceed Mr. Rubber Poland in 2018. Though nothing will match the first journey I took to Poland and my involvement in the inaugural Mr. Rubber Poland and Oscura events, I know that I’ll be welcomed again with open arms upon my return.
Since the Mr. Rubber Poland 2018 event, my experience in the fetish community has been quite mixed. In 2019, I finally opened up about my experiences with anti-Asian racism and white supremacy over the years, sharing stories from my travels throughout Europe and the United States, where I encountered significant abuse and violence, even culminating in physical assault at Folsom Europe in Berlin and an anti-Asian hate crime at Mid-Atlantic Leather in Washington, DC. These incidents of racist violence went well above and beyond the anti-Asian racist slurs and microaggressions I had been accustomed to since entering kink spaces for the first time.
Instead of the support I expected from a community that ought to understand the lived experiences of dehumanization and marginalization as people in the LGBTQ+ and fetish communities, I instead received death threats and hate mail for daring to come forward with my personal encounters with racism in the global kink community. Eventually, the hate mail and threats of violence from predominantly white European members of the kink community, including one memorable note that told me that my next time at a fetish event wouldn’t “end well” for me, I withdrew for my own psychological safety and well-being. Only in late 2020 did I feel comfortable returning on my own terms to a community that has not meaningfully addressed racism and white supremacy in the gay kink world through formal policies and processes. Now, with a new wave of anti-Asian racism cresting, culminating in violence against and even murders of people of Asian descent around the world, I’m somewhat happy to see non-Asians working to understand the unique oppression and violence Asians face, though this learning process comes too late for the victims of the shootings in Atlanta and Indianapolis.
In December 2020 and May 2021, I was the victim of two anti-Asian hate crimes mere blocks from my home in New York City. In the first, I was assaulted by a man who yelled racist slurs at me and punched me repeatedly in the chest, resulting in serious injuries that required a month of recovery, much of it in bed. In the second, an attempted hate crime, a driver in a car threw a brick at the back of my head as I walked on the sidewalk, missing me by only a few centimetres.
[PRESTON] The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging time for the gay fetish community, resulting in the cancellation of countless events that represent our primary means of finding family and community as multiply marginalized people. Nonetheless, I found the pandemic lockdowns and isolation to be a welcome reprieve from the racism I and others routinely experience at fetish events.
I’m glad to see fetish events cautiously return to holding scheduled in-person activities, though I often wish they took as much care with addressing hate and violence in their spaces as they do with COVID-19 precautions. I just recently returned from Mr. Rubber Mexico in Mexico City, one of my utmost favorite events, where I emceed the contest I co-founded and reunited with friends I hadn’t seen in years. My new goal with fetish community events is to focus on those places and communities, like Poland, where I know I will be welcome.
[PRESTON] - Many white or otherwise privileged and “conventionally desirable” members of the fetish community often don’t understand the extent to which discrimination, and specifically violence rooted in discrimination, is a fixture at kink events. For people of color, especially Black and Brown fetishists and Asian fetishists, we’re often dehumanized in sexually charged spaces because we tend to be members of a highly visible minority that is seldom featured in kink and queer media in desirable ways. As a gay Asian man, for instance, I’ve been sexually assaulted in kink spaces by older white men who “just wanted to see if the stereotype was true.”
This sort of behavior, which runs the gamut from overt violence and sexual assault to microaggressions and ostracization in kink spaces, makes many fetish events a deeply unwelcoming and violent place for people of color and members of other minorities. I’ve often had to explain to gay friends who don’t experience discrimination that I frequently feel safer in straight bars or non-kink spaces than in gay bars and kink spaces solely because of the racist abuse and violence I encounter on a regular basis.
[PRESTON] - As I’ve written extensively on my blog at mirubberxx.com and other places like Recon Magazine, the only way to prevent discrimination and violence rooted in desirability politics and white supremacist notions of desirability is to implement effective and robust policies and processes that actively prevent that abuse and hate from occurring in the first place. As an organizer of conferences in the technology industry, I have years of experience with codes of conduct, anti-harassment and active consent policies, and clear enforcement. I recently consulted with Melbourne Rubber and their Slick event in Australia to produce ironclad rules and procedures that will prevent abuse and violence in their spaces.
[PRESTON] - I wrote my Spend Guide in response to a massive need in the kink and fetish community for an impartial and objective evaluation of major kink events and fetish vendors in terms of their commitment to safe spaces and specifically protecting marginalized individuals from abuse. It’s the first time there has ever been a clear-eyed guide to fetish events rooted not in marketing gimmicks or quotes from famous attendees but rather from anonymous incident reports and published policies. Many people have written to share that they wished they had a resource like my Spend Guide when they were first starting out in the kink community.We need a Spend Guide like this not only for newcomers who oftentimes enter into kink spaces that aren’t safe for them and suffer abuse and violence there, but also for members of marginalized groups who are frequently targeted and victimized at gay kink and fetish events. I reached out to many of my contacts and friends who are women, transgender, disabled, gender non-conforming, and people of color to learn about their lived experiences and what they would value in a guide such as this one. If you are a member of a marginalized group or new to the kink community, I encourage you to consult my Spend Guide to make educated decisions about which kink events truly deserve your hard-earned money.
[PRESTON] - These days, my expectations for a perfect fetish party are very low, but still seemingly difficult for many organizers to reach. A perfect fetish party for me is not about the attendees or the play or the gear or the music. For me, a perfect fetish party has three things: a code of conduct, an anti-harassment policy, and clear enforcement of both of these. Without all three of these things in place, a fetish party cannot be deemed safe or welcoming to everyone, especially and most importantly for members of marginalized communities.
[PRESTON] - For many people in the fetish community, the pandemic has been their first encounter with navigating risk in kink events, but we people of color and members of marginalized groups have dealt with this sense of risk and danger from the very beginning at kink and fetish events. Though it is an airborne pathogen that’s the threat rather than the persistent possibility of racist violence or hate crimes, there is no zero-risk event. I’m gravitating towards events that have effective COVID-19 policies in place, such as vaccination requirements, while also understanding that vaccine inequality and vaccine hesitancy remain serious problems. As someone who identifies as demisexual, not engaging in physically intimate contact isn’t as much of an issue for me as it might be for others.
[PRESTON] - This is the sort of question that should be answered by the code of conduct, anti-harassment policy, enforcement procedures, and other important documents that fetish events need to have in place. Many policies outline reporting processes and how to alert an organizer discreetly that an incident has taken place. They also stipulate how incidents of abuse and violence should be treated, including an expulsion or permanent ban of the aggressor.
In the absence of these policies, however, we are often on our own in handling incidents of discrimination and hate at kink events. If you witness someone attacked in a hate crime or victimized by abuse or violence—whether it is racist, transphobic, ableist, or misogynistic in nature—there are several things you can do. If you feel able to, being an upstander rather than a bystander is important; place yourself between the aggressor and the victim and guide the victim away to a safe place. If there are organizers available who are supervising the event, ask the victim if they feel comfortable with making a report, and then discreetly approach an organizer to alert them to the aggressor’s act. Any fetish event that truly believes in inclusion and a welcoming space will respond swiftly to ensure the victim is safe. Otherwise, ensure the victim is safe and well taken care of before leaving them alone.
At a higher level, the most important thing we can all do as members of the kink and fetish community is to demand better of the communities and events we attend. Every fetish event should make it clear to every attendee before they pay for a registration how they will address reports of abuse, harassment, hate crimes, and violence. Without clear policies, fetish events are leaving their participants vulnerable to danger and harm, which reflects extremely poorly on the larger kink and fetish community to those who are new and marginalized.
[PRESTON] - I'll once again be rejoining my fellow organizers of Mr. Rubber Brazil for a second edition of the first-ever rubber contest in South America, and you'll also find me at Mr. Rubber Mexico in Mexico City in October and Mr. International Rubber in Chicago in November. I'd love to come back to Mr. Rubber Poland soon and to return to one of my favorite non-fetish events from my title year: Taiwan Pride in Taipei.
Wywiad przeprowadzony w 2021 roku. Autoryzowany w 2022 r.
Zdjęcia wykorzystano za zgodą autora.