Submit_Party_NYC

Submit to Your Kinks at NYC’s Queer Sex Parties

Queer kink parties like Submit are spaces where safety, fetishes and consent are prioritized. Oh, and also, no cisgender men allowed.

Around 9 p.m., on an evening toward the end of every month, you can find a table packed with queers at the back of a pizzeria in an unassuming area of Brooklyn, the kind of neighborhood one might declare culturally void if they weren’t in the know. The pizza is okay at best, but that’s not what people are really there for anyway. This, commonly referred to as a “munch,” is only the precursor to the main event.

People slowly change out of their civilian clothes and into leather harnesses, lingerie, latex or whatever they feel comfortable in, and get down to business.

Then, at around 10:30 p.m., everyone packs up and heads a few blocks down the street to an unmarked building. We pay $15 in cash to the bouncer and descend into a basement dimly lit in red, pop music gently pulsing in the background. A seemingly normal club setting, save for the giant leather pride flag hanging on the back wall. It seems a bit dead at first, but as the evening wears on, people slowly filter in, change out of their civilian clothes and into leather harnesses, lingerie, latex or whatever they feel comfortable in, and get down to business.

There’s a maze-filled with rooms and peepholes in the walls where people can watch (and be watched). Some rooms have slings, some have beds, some just have a bench or a chair, but nearly everything is draped in leather. The maze connects to a central room with a few St. Andrew’s crosses, where people can frequently be found tied, flogged, spanked and whipped, as well as a bed in the middle from which people alternately observe or fuck. Finally, the back room contains more slings and beds, some of which are contained behind bars. And on the TVs throughout the basement, hardcore queer porn plays on repeat the entire night.

Are you a cis man who is sometimes feminine? Cheers! But you can’t come to SUBMIT

This is Submit, a party where people come to play in public, “play” referring to BDSM/kink-related activities, regardless of whether or not they involve actual sex (though plenty of that happens here too). That’s why gatherings like this are commonly referred to as “play parties” within the BDSM community–a seemingly innocent designation for something far from wholesome.

While play parties are certainly nothing unique in New York City, Submit is one of the few public parties that is specifically geared toward women and trans people. Their gender policy states that all individuals assigned female at birth (i.e. cisgender women, trans men/transmasculine folks, etc.) are welcome at Submit, as well as trans women. Cisgender men–those who were assigned male and birth and identify as men–are a no-no.

“Are you a cis man who is sometimes feminine? Cheers! But you can’t come to SUBMIT,” reads the statement on the website.

 

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Though BDSM and kink have been experiencing a mainstream moment, “lesbian kink” still may seem like an oxymoron to most, especially to those who might have become more familiar with these subcultures through media like “50 Shades of Grey.” And even when people acknowledge queer kink, it’s usually associated with cisgender gay men.

LSM’s website contains a section detailing the crucial differences between BDSM and abuse.

But queer women and trans folks have been instrumental in these subcultures for decades–Submit’s website claims they’ve been “keeping NYC hot for over 15 years.” Lesbian Sex Mafia (LSM), a closely affiliated organization that runs the munch before Submit, has existed since 1981, and holds regular workshops on topics such as bootblacking, rope bondage and bloodplay.

Consent, however, is paramount. LSM’s website contains a section detailing the crucial differences between BDSM and abuse. Submit, as with all play parties worth their salt, has designated “dungeon monitors” patrolling the space throughout the evening, ensuring that all play is safe, sane and consensual. In other words, a far cry from the mainstream, “50 Shades” portrayal of these subcultures.

Beyond just sex and play, spaces like Submit also provide an opportunity for queer people with shared interests to build community.

If anything, kink and BDSM can often be reclamatory for queer and trans people. “After leaving an abusive relationship I gravitated towards kink due the explicit consent and negotiation related to BDSM,” said M, who has been regularly attending Submit for six months. “Especially in a queer kink space like Submit I feel safe knowing that no one touches me unless I want them to. Kink to me means freedom and playfulness; it means autonomy and consciously subverting power dynamics that exist in my life.”

Lesbian erotica author Lia Meyers agreed. “A lot of people don’t believe it’s possible to have a non-normative model of sexual expression and still be an activist,” said Meyers. “And what kink means to me as a nonbinary disabled person is that… having a relationship to my gender and pain and power that looks different from the mainstream isn’t bad, it’s just different, and differences should be accepted!”

Sometimes the vibe can be dead serious as people watch a master (or mistress, or Mx.) at their craft.

Beyond just sex and play, spaces like Submit also provide an opportunity for queer people with shared interests to build community. “Some of my most memorable moments are volunteering there and becoming closer with the organizers and the staff,” said M. “Essentially a queer/trans family backbone is what keeps Submit alive and it’s beautiful to watch the level of interaction and support.”

Around 12:30 a.m., when the party is at its apex, there’s usually a demo of some sort in the main room by a seasoned professional, ranging from roleplay to waxplay. Sometimes the vibe can be dead serious as people watch a master (or mistress, or Mx.) at their craft; sometimes it’s a costume contest, as was the case at the Halloween party. It’s this mixture of lighthearted fun and raunchy queer sex that makes Submit so special.

“The level of playfulness in the space to be incredibly refreshing,” said M. “There is, of course, an air of seriousness and underlying physical tension, but when people flog to the beat of the music or the demo consists of laughter-fueled kissing, it can be an amazing place to see the full gamut of human expression and joy.”

 

 

If you’re interested in attending Submit, more information can be found on their website

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Cover picture by Kristel Jax (Flickr Creative Commons)

James Factora is an LA-born, NY-based writer and musician.
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