Author: Alexandra Gold

Elements of Culturally Competent Care: Diverse Populations and Relationships in Kink

Intersectionality is widely known as the interconnectedness of social categories such as race, class, and gender and how these factors create overlapping and interdependent systems of stigma and discrimination.

Intersectionality within the context of kink refers to how kink identification and involvement overlap with other stigmatized or marginalized social identities.

Kink play allows for the awareness of current societal and political power structures and inequalities. Kink overlaps with multiple identities including but not limited to sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, ethnicity, geography, trauma, physical ability, mental health, and SES. Continuing to fight the stigma and stereotypes surrounding alternative sexualities means fighting for all those in the kink community. Everyone deserves a safe space to play.

Thus. when we address play spaces as safe, we must consider—safe for whom? And who has access to such spaces?

For lower-income folks, accessing trainings, classes, and community events may be a challenge. The majority of empirical studies find that their samples of kinky folks are well-educated, often including (frequently costly) higher education. This correlates with a lack of accessibility, shaping kink spaces that are perhaps not representative of a greater kinky population.

To create an atmosphere for non-judgmental care, it is important that clinicians are dedicated to lifelong learning.

The client is not in the teacher role and should not have to educate their clinician regarding their intersectional identity—when a client must educate their clinician it may create further stressors for them. Clinicians must commit to social justice practices and listen to underrepresented communities in kink and beyond. This necessitates ongoing self-reflection.