Michelle Politiski

In the Den: Essays on BDSM & Queer Healing

Mentor: Trish Fancher

“In the Den: BDSM and Queer Joy” will explore my experience with BDSM and non-monogamy as critical support structures for discovering my capacity to heal from trauma, deepen my bonds with other people, and overcome shame associated with my own sexuality. BDSM, which stands for bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, and sadism/masochism, has long been used as a way for people to consensually explore rewriting social scripts and traumas while accompanied by supportive partners. BDSM or “kink” also has a history of being proximate to non-monogamy/polyamory; people may have “play partners” who are separate from their romantic partners, or friendships in which they practice kink. BDSM-oriented non-monogamous relationships tend to act as chosen families for people who lack a supportive biological family structure, which I want to research further to see which advantages I find in my own chosen family. I am specifically interested in how negotiated, consensual power exchange—whether for one night or for the duration of a carefully contracted D/s relationship—can act as a safe space of healing, including when there are multiple partners.

Read the preface to Michelle’s essay collection In the Den