Race, racism and swinging

Most people aren’t going to feel comfortable with this. Neither do I. I am very aware that I am the wrong person to be writing this post. I’ve passively sat on it for over two years, hoping that someone else would write it for me.

There are a few problems with this:

-Expecting POC (People of Colour) to carry out the work of educating others is white privilege.

-Saying nothing supports white supremacy by complicit silence.

woman in black and white dress with a black bag over her head
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I know I’m going to screw this up. I’m trying to educate myself, but a world of books isn’t going to give me the insight of a lived experience. So I’m going to try anyway, and I’m going to call myself out in brackets whenever I’m falling through the cracks. I’m going to miss a lot. You’ll find others.

I know the swing scene is not, compared to other things, important. It’s a microcosm and a reflection of the wider world, with it’s prejudices, problems and issues. It’s a sped-up sandbox of emotion and action, where everything is excusable as a fetish, people decide under the banner of private members’ clubs who is, and is not, desirable and every non-PC depiction of stereotypes exists. Yet this is the world I write about. So it’s time. It’s overdue.

broken mirror reflecting the hand of a white man
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I’m going to start by explaining a little bit about this (making it all about me, defensive, apologist – feel free to skip this whole section) and why I’m doing it now. I know I’m not there, not ready. I’m not going to have the bad taste to cruise trending hashtags (apologist, virtue signalling), but rather it has come to my attention that I’ve largely, over the last 3 years, written what could easily be deemed a lily-white Arian fantasy life. I’ve done this is a few ways:

The things I haven’t said

I have not highlighted that the black and other POC who have made up so much of the book and blog are in fact, not white. My descriptions have been fleeting- focussed on sensual aspects – but rarely, if ever, highlighted or clarified ethnicity. I can rationalise this as leaving it to the readers’ imagination, ensuring confidentiality, or in some cases it was even at the subject’s request, yet I know – and I’ve always known- that unless you describe the ethnicity of a written character people will assume they are white. This is effectively black and minority ethnicity erasure from the media (hypocrisy, moral cowardice).

Torn paper with multi coloured drawing and box of coloured crayons on the floor
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Though I have, over the last year especially, tried to include more images of POC, as well as different sizes, ages, seen and unseen disabilities, sexualities and gender identities, religions and styles of appearance, this has been restricted by that which is freely available online (apologist). As the blog is non-commercial, I rarely arrange photo shoots, and when I do it’s volunteers (expecting POC to work for free, tokenisation, virtue signalling).

In a world where I have pushed back against and railed about misogynistic attitudes, fetishisation and dismissal of bisexual women, campaigned against ‘selective’, discriminatory or ‘elitist’ clubs and events, I’ve not once raised the massive issue that is there everywhere. The issue of racism (making it all about me, apologist).

For all the talk of community, I’ve never once taken a stand on this issue on here. That’s largely because of ‘racial discomfort’ – a really white-privilege thing to be able to escape. It’s also because cognitive dissonance is a really effective shield.

I may wish to be in a kinky swinger utopia where race isn’t important (colourblindness, apologist, dismissal of lived experience of others). Where people are people, everyone is their best self and is accepted and loved for who they truly are. Even on the swing scene, this is not the case. Even if it were, everyone has lives in the wider world once the lights go up and we churn out into the street at 3am, ready to make our way home. I’ve never once been stopped by the police after a night out. If I was, I’d never expect them to be violent with me. That’s a whole different reality for many of our sex-positive community.

police car parked at night in the street with christmas lights in trees and bars around
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The lives people live, the way they are treated from birth, their realistic expectations in the world they are born into, is simply not the same for everyone. To pretend it is, and that all strife and unfairness can be glossed over and forgotten by making a new, better community, would be really unjust. We are the clay that is moulded by the whole of our lives. And that, my lovely libertines, is not a story that I can tell or do justice to on this issue.

The portrayal of Alice Hunter as the epitome of white privilege

This was completely unintentional, and something I only realised today. As one may possibly have an inkling, I don’t actually spend the majority of my days lounging in a hot tub with nubile young admirers, like a bloated bisexual Hugh Hefner in heels and marabou dressing gown. Alice Hunter started simply as a nom de plume, and narrator character for the book. Since then, she seems to have developed a life of her own. She wasn’t planned or scripted- she was a parody cougar, combining a number of recognisable comedic characters to serve a function. She wasn’t vetted for virtue (apologist, all about me).

woman with dark hair facepalms
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In fairness, I’m sure the many smart and capable POC I know well could have pointed this out to me years ago. They didn’t. And I applaud them for that. I’d have been defensive, dismissive, and ultimately not seen it. Now, I suddenly see it. The irony is, some of the black women I know have achieved a life much closer to Alice Hunter’s semi-fictional (or at best, sporadic) one than mine actually is. Am I jealous? A bit. Did they work their butts off – harder, smarter, longer, to achieve it? Absolutely.

black woman as a queen in a golden woodland landscape
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So I’ve screwed up. I’ve missed a number of opportunities to raise a voice against much of what is still wrong in the world. The swinger world is a small microcosm- a reflection of the world at large- be it warped, fetishised and ultimately outside of the moderating forces of legal progression. So, fellow white-presenting people, this bit is for you. I’m going to quote the wonderful, iconic Samuel L. Jackson (apologist, virtue signalling, appropriation, removal of focus from POC).

 “I saw some sh_t this mornin’ made me think twice.

Now I’m thinkin’: it could mean you’re the evil man. And I’m the righteous man. And Mr. .45 here, he’s the shepherd protecting my righteous a*s in the valley of darkness.

Or it could be you’re the righteous man and I’m the shepherd and it’s the world that’s evil and selfish. I’d like that. But that sh_t ain’t the truth.

The truth is you’re the weak. And I’m the tyranny of evil men. But I’m tryin, Ringo. I’m tryin’ real hard to be the shepherd.”


woman's hands with pink fingernails writing
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My first draft of this post actually ended up just being me discussing all the things that gave me a sense of racial discomfort (all about me). My efforts to find other pieces looking at these issues in the context of the swing scene (expecting others to do the work) just brought up a lot of biracial porn sites. I therefore went to my old favourite, FabSwingers app, and spoke to some people who were willing to do so about their own experiences as POC in the swinger and casual sex world. Needless to say, I was totally wrong about most of it, and had missed the points that were actually most important to the POC I spoke to. Nonetheless, I’m going to include them as I’m guessing that maybe a lot of other white swingers have got them wrong too.

Things I thought were a bit racist that actually didn’t bother the POC I spoke to:

Ethnicity Filter

In the news yesterday, Grindr removed its controversial ethnicity filter. Grindr was hardly alone in having one. The ability to shortlist potential matches by race is widespread on swinger and sex apps. What does this do? This validates the notion that it is okay to express a sexual preference against certain ethnic groups.

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The trouble with sexuality is that you can’t tell anyone who to fancy. Nearly all the filters are based on physical characteristics that are not easily adjustable- height, weight, hair colour, age. Our sexual attractions are outside of our conscious control. Some swinger sites go beyond this. They have (and I kid you not) profiles that say at the top ‘no Blacks no Asians’. This is permitted. Because people have the ultimate right to say no to anyone. Yet I worry about the message it sends (racial discomfort, expectation that I understand the feelings of POC). Is this a timesaver, or does this re-enforce notions of white supremacy (they are nearly always white profiles).

The POC I spoke to actually didn’t mind this- they felt it saved them time. Some said the ethnicity filters were even helpful in attracting play partners due to the positive stereotyping black men receive as well endowed, strong and sexual alpha males.

Two strong black men in an embrace
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Then we have the fetishisation of ethnicity.

Fetishisation of race

This one may be purely my own racial discomfort. It may not be. The idealisation- reduction- stereotyping- of an ethnicity to play a fantasy role is extremely commonplace. Do people mind this? I’ve had mixed opinions. Though many people love to embody an extraordinary sexual fantasy, ultimately I’ve known people to develop a sense of resentment when they are pigeonholed into this. Though this pigeonholing (the lascivious old cougar, the exotic Middle-Eastern belly dancer, the dominant black woman, the womanly plus-sized BBW) can be a fun role to play short term, with obvious sexual benefits, when this translates to an expectation to remain as a remote sexual fantasy rather than progress intimacy as a human being, it can leave a sour taste. It is race stripped of humanity. Is this harmful? Is this playful? How do people feel about donning these roles?

black woman and white woman bite a seed head
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The POC I spoke to actually enjoyed the fetishisation of race and biracial role play. Provided it was playful in nature, it didn’t worry them. Within the context of the swinger world, it was just a fetish of an attribute like any other. They didn’t mind their race being highlighted to them. They were already well aware of it. It was an opportunity to make part of how they identify into a sexual fantasy.

Do you like the BBC?

Another aspect that gives me racial discomfort (all about me again) is the BBC. Now, I’m aware that many black men have a BBC (or a subjectively BBC. Or sometimes an LBC.)

What I’m not sure of is why this phrase so often comes up in text conversation. Or a profile. Or even on the profile title. Many are the times when I’ve had a polite introductory message from a great-looking black man who seems to tick all my boxes and shows no red flags. Then a few sentences in, I get asked if I ‘like the BBC’.

Now, I’m not a fan of anyone dropping conversation about their genitals into the first few sentences. I’m a ‘whole package’ kind of girl. Beyond this, I feel like I’m being propositioned as someone who is assumed to be looking for a stereotype and to fill a role. Of course, they might just be trolling me hard. Yet I’m not the only one. Have we created a world where sensible, intelligent black men find it their best approach to present themselves as a racial genital stereotype? Of course, it’s not only black men. Plenty of men of every race think it’s a great idea to open with a disembodied dick pic. Pretty sure nobody cultivated a society where the latter assumption was accurate.

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The POC I spoke to were very proud of their BBC. Presenting themselves as sexual beings, they felt they were highlighting a special desirable attribute that made them stand out from the crowd. One told me it was more about the ‘big’ than about the ‘black’. Turns out I was just being a bit of a prude.

‘Black bull’ and biracial nights

One of the specialist niche swinger options is the black bull. This is, basically, a night where white couples come to meet a black man, who then has sex with the woman while the husband watches. Of course, some women simply have a taste for black men. Why not? There are many delectable, toned, sexy and charming black men on the scene. In the UK swing scene, black men and Asian women are possibly the most prevalent, desirable and fetishised racial minorities.

My concern (or racial discomfort) with this is where it might stem from. It seems a cry back to the depiction of the black man as savage- primal and dangerous. Even the slave caught with the mistress of the house. Is that a fun image? Maybe for some people. Is that something I personally feel entitled/comfortable enough to enjoy? It is not. Maybe someone can explain this kink in a better way than I can.

eye of a bearded black man
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The POC I spoke to who enjoyed ‘Black bull’ events did not see it this way at all. They found it empowering to be sought out, desired and sexualised, and obviously they get to be the star of the action to have great sexual frolics with the sexy wives they might normally consider out of bounds due to their marital status.

Dreadlock bans & appearance selection policies

There are a few places I have noticed in London that have entry criteria that may be considered exclusionary or unwelcoming. One place in particular had a ‘dreadlock ban’. This also seemed to only apply to men.

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Photo by Jermaine Ulinwa on Pexels.com

This actually did concern the POC I spoke to- not so much this specific ban but the wider issues of selectivity. Ultimately, any event that vets on the basis of appearance is going to be subject to the overt or discrete prejudices of those doing the selecting. Even in London, this most diverse and cosmopolitan of cities, the vast majority of commercial swinger events are owned and run by white men. Why is this? This is, almost certainly, because due to a lot of history, they are the ones with the money, connections and assets in place to set it up.

There are black and other POC who run events. They tend not to be the larger and more commercial ones. Rather than being designed to spin a nice little profit from the uptick in acceptability of sex parties, these are events that have been set up by people who live the lifestyle, have spent a great deal of time and effort building their niche community and have done it for love rather than profit. They are, in all honesty, the best events.

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One of the issues that was raised by the POC I spoke to (that I hadn’t even considered) was how it felt to show up to a lily-white room of guests, being the only or one of very few POC there. This did not feel empowering. And this is something, realistically, that anyone hosting an event, party or social of any size can take a moment to examine when planning. Obviously, with small events sometimes people drop out, things change last minute and you don’t have complete control of your attendees. But just as when planning a play party we take the time to examine ratios of gender, the puzzle pieces of mutual attraction, sexuality, age range and play styles, we could have a look at whether we have made it welcomingly racially diverse. There are no shortage of POC on the swing scene- if our groups of preferred guests and friends don’t reflect this diversity, then we really need to have a good long hard look at why. We worry about whether there are snacks for vegans, gluten-free options and latex-free condoms in different sizes: how can we honestly overlook this?

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What can we do?

Select events to attend that are hosted by POC. Unlike the larger, commercial, lily-white events which have been built on Daddy’s money and vague reference to school chums who married well, the black party hosts have made better events. Whereas a Person of Colour may feel token or unwelcome at a largely white event, the POC who have built their swing and kink events up from the ground know how to make it good. It will be racially diverse. It will be inclusive. You won’t feel out of place. They have done it because they love the scene, they know it and they haven’t just set it up as an easy way to skim money from a crowd of horny libertines. Their inclusion criteria will be fair, behaviour-based and make for the best night. Let’s change the narrative.

Start educating yourself. It’s a daunting task. Rewriting in your mind a thousand things you learned in curated history classes, what your parents said, how you’ve seen people treated and what you’ve been comfortable with up to now is the work of a lifetime. What is the payoff for this? They payoff is your journey and taking a step closer to not being a part of the problem. If you truly want to see a world in your lifetime where you have the luxury of complacent colourblindness, where our utopia doesn’t need us to yank ourselves from our reverie with little reality slaps, we need to fix the issues that are here, now. Seeing and having to face the minor casual acts of racism that exist every day is uncomfortable for the privileged. But community doesn’t just mean you are there for the sunny days and sexual frolics. It means taking an interest in the welfare of each other, even when it gives us a sense of vague guilt and awkwardness.

Support the work of People of Colour within the scene. There are so many wonderful opportunities- burlesque dancers, BDSM tool artisans, professional dominants, venue managers, dungeon owners, writers, shibari riggers- the list goes on. The truth is that one has to work twice as hard to be thought half as good. These are your experts. These are your cast-iron, tooth and nail gods of their arts. This is not patronising apologism or charity – this is smart purchasing.

Stop supporting venues that don’t have a good ethnic mix. The swing scene is diverse (more so than wherever you live), and if the venue is not, it’s been made that way on purpose. Put your money where your mouth is. Feedback to the host that you were disappointed with the diversity. Go somewhere else.

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Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

A correction for what I haven’t said before

I’d also like to point out and highlight some of the wonderful People of Colour who have contributed to this blog, with thoughts, photos and by running awesome events, where I have not taken the opportunity to do so before:

https://unicornhunting.blog/book-signing-in-london/ – at the social hosted by two amazing black women

https://unicornhunting.blog/swinging-and-politics/ – vocals by a talented black performer, who gave his time for free

https://unicornhunting.blog/the-new-age-of-decadence-event-review-lustful-creatures-as-a-single-woman/ – event run and hosted by an amazing black woman

https://unicornhunting.blog/erotic-hypnosis-and-bdsm/ – concept introduced to me by a beautiful mixed-race woman

https://unicornhunting.blog/lam-review-london-alternative-market-kink/ – featuring photo and video with, and stories of my adventures with, one of my best friends, who is a Muslim and POC, who has also contributed hugely with quotes, thoughts, and other work on the blog, and is one of my favourite people to party with

https://unicornhunting.blog/events-review-friday-night-at-future-parties-as-a-single-woman/ – very inclusive event hosted by two amazing black women

https://unicornhunting.blog/event-review-sunday-afternoon-at-rios-naturist-spa-as-a-single-woman/ – the manager I met is a beautiful, friendly and delightful black man

https://unicornhunting.blog/how-to-get-strong-mentally-and-physically-with-sadistic-coach-female-empowerment/ – This strong, positive and inspirational woman is African-American

https://unicornhunting.blog/saturday-night-at-little-black-book-parties-as-a-single-woman/ – this event (not currently active) was hosted and staffed by wonderful, consent-aware, kinky and gorgeous black men and women

https://unicornhunting.blog/naked-interview-london-bi-panda/ – this group is strongly dedicated to equality and fighting injustice for POC. The article was provided from a beautiful, well educated and truly excellent performance artist who is a queer, Muslim POC.

https://unicornhunting.blog/the-naked-interviews-interview-with-a-london-sex-party-host/ – written by a beautiful, well spoken and charming black man (for free)

https://unicornhunting.blog/the-naked-interviews-interview-with-the-unicorn-hunters-unicorn-hunting-podcasters-from-the-usa/ – written by Unicornhunt3rs – one half of which is a beautiful Latino woman

https://unicornhunting.blog/what-actually-is-unicorn-hunting-anyway/ – the photo session used here (and video used on YouTube for the novel Shibari work) featured people of different ethnicities and religions, including a beautiful Jewish woman, and a beautiful black woman (for free)

https://unicornhunting.blog/cougar-bait-sorry-maam-does-your-son-have-id-younger-men-with-older-women-why-is-it-taboo/ – the photos were used with the consent of people of different ethnicities, including a delightful man of mixed Indian Heritage and a beautiful black woman (for free)

https://unicornhunting.blog/unicorn-interviews-1/ – interview with a beautiful black woman

https://unicornhunting.blog/unicorn-interviews-6-the-poly-unicorn/ – by a wonderful woman of colour (for free)

https://unicornhunting.blog/nothing-but-the-horn-unicorn-stereotyping/ – quote by a beautiful and successful black woman

https://unicornhunting.blog/female-motivation-in-mff-threesomes/ – story by a beautiful black man

I could probably go on examining the hundreds of old posts for areas where I’ve missed an opportunity for ages. Most of the posts I have done have involved the work and thoughts of POC in some way. I just never said so. And I thank them for their work. And I am sorry I blindly wrote their colour, and hence their history, out of the story. They are the story.

As I said at the start, I’m the wrong person to write this. Without expecting others to do the work for me, I’d like to invite you to do the following in the comments, should you wish:

suggest better ways we can support and include People of Colour on the swing scene

-ways we can stop showing accidental and unexamined racist attitudes

-Post the link to social media of a swing/kink/sex-positive related business that is run by a Person of Colour

-Post an article written on this topic that is actually by a person of colour. It will be better than mine.

*All posts will be moderated (so no porn site links, swearing or abusive attitudes). That being said, I’ll post things you’ve found here where I’m wrong, where your own experience is different or I’ve missed something. I’d like to open it to positive suggestions and actions for how our tiny microcosm of the swinger scene can do better. This will be a safe space for positivity, not trolling.

5 comments

    • Watched this last night and the two awesome men talking about their experiences candidly was really thought provoking. They took their time to do this in front of a huge group on zoom, in intimate detail and I thank them for it. One of the most interesting aspects that has left me thinking was the discussion of fetishisation as a double edged sword. And it struck me that not having to choose between portraying yourself as a sexual being and a respectable human is still the sole preserve of cisgender, hetero white men. And that really sucks.

  1. Oh, dear… I could regale you for hours about everything I’ve experienced as a swinger… and most of it ain’t pretty. From people with bad cases of “jungle fever” to being outright told that being Black is an instant deal breaker. Having white couples tell me that I can drop off my wife for them to enjoy… but I can’t participate or even watch – just leave her with them and go on about my business.

    • Swingers have, as a society, not shone the light of inclusion and decent humanity we might wish to imagine. In a general sense, we have just enacted and highlighted every prejudice that already exists in society. We need to do better. I’m sorry you’ve had such crummy experiences. X