QPOC rethinks kink, hosts event alone for first time

QPOC rethinks kink, hosts event alone for first time

On Friday, March 8 Grinnell students gathered to celebrate Kink Gardner. Queer People of Color (QPOC) ran the event with an eye on expanding what the concept of “kink” can mean. In the past, the Sexual Health Information Center (SHIC) has co-hosted the event but was not involved this year after undergoing restructuring. 

QPOC treasurer and co-leader Angel Arroyo `26 said that although kink has historically been a space for people to explore and “get risky,” there is room for it to develop into a space for more experimentation.  

“I think it can definitely get weirder, it can definitely get more like, you know … more gender fuckery or like sexual deviance,” he said. QPOC co-leader Chikako Inoue `26 added that QPOC’s involvement brings a space for exploring gender, and more specifically the performance of gender to the event. 

Micho Adler, assistant director of intercultural affairs and LGBTQIA+ student specialist wrote in an email to The S&B that although event planning was entirely the work of QPOC, they are excited for the event because of the close ties between queer history and kink.  

“Kink and BDSM have long been an integral part of radical Queer history. Our Queer Black ancestors, our trancestors of color, sex workers and deviants have fought against the violence of the white cis-hetero patriarchal hate machine in order for our community to have the agency to live our lives and express our sex and sexuality freely and without shame,” Adler wrote. 

Organizers focused heavily on decorations, which included kink pride flags, and the event’s soundtrack — QPOC member Marie Reyes-Alvarez `26 said she wanted Kink to be a place to explore queer subculture, and especially to create an experience like that of kink, BDSM or goth clubs. Alvarez said that the first half of the evening offered a lot of industrial music and remixes often heard in the aforementioned clubs, but that the second half of the night transitioned into more “sexy pop,” so that there was something for everyone. 

Initially, SHIC and QPOC were set to co-host the event, but when SHIC declined to participate after major restructuring, QPOC resolved to host the event alone, Arroyo said. They also pointed to the fact that this year, Arroyo and Inoue are focused on expanding QPOC — and specifically QPOC hosted events — after dwindling leadership last year. 

Libby Eggert `25, former SHIC employee, wrote in an email to The S&B that much of this shift occurred when SHIC began to work more closely with Student Health and Wellness (SHAW). Maria Kazembe `26, former SHIC co-leader, said that events became much harder to host because of stricter protocols.  

“I think … the main idea was just that we’re not the best people for this and we want it to be as good as possible, and QPOC was better and was willing,” said Sasha Fine `27, a current SHIC employee. 

“And I think in that way, it’s really nice that we get to do it because I really want to solidify ourselves as a radical … agent of change,” Arroyo said. 

Kazembe also said that the restructuring of SHIC led to a shift in focus. “There was a complete shift into reproductive health, which is necessary, but … our focus had always been, at SHIC, on sexual expression and exploration, and none of that was there anymore,” she said.  

Eggert wrote, “For me, SHIC was a radical space that pushed the boundaries and went above and sort of counted on that lack of administration presence (except as necessary) to make students feel safe. Kink/Fetish was one of those radical events.” 

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    libby eggertMar 9, 2024 at 12:35 pm

    I’m so excited Kink is under QPOC now and don’t think SHIC is the right host anymore due to the heavy administrate hand. I hope class of 2027 enjoyed their first experience of Kink. As Micho said, kink and fetish communities are integral to queer history and a place to resist white cis able bodied spaces.