Swinging Down South- Reflections of a Year Of Open Living in a Red State
Where we live, it doesn’t snow, ever. It’s a red state with the most terrible sex stores along the highway, and more strip clubs than theaters, but it’s home. When we decided to dip our toes in the non-monogamy waters, we had no idea how it would work in a conservative state.
Needless to say, at first it was awkward. I attended Girls Uncorked (swinger mixers) at houses that had entire walls dedicated to artsy crosses, and gone to Kasidie bar crawls in red neck locales. Having previously spent years living in a state above the Mason-Dixon line, it sometimes still shocks me at how outwardly conservative people are actually really kinky, sexually sophisticated and yes, sometimes even downright reckless when it comes to their sexual lifestyles.
I have learned that I can still judge my wine on the label, but I can’t just the people I drink it with based on the same premise. There is always time to be surprised when you swing.
Back when we lived in the north in the urban centers, there were feminist bookstores and really amazing sex shops. There were polyamory meetup groups and plenty of sexually open spaces and communities you could find a place to hang, and plenty of cultures to interact with. Rarely, was I ever surprised by anything in my former life. It was northern, it was urban.
In the South though, you find a lot of teachers, nurses and police officers who likely vote red and play very very blue. A lot of the swingers we’ve encountered are older than us (40’s to 50’s) and have been at it for a lot longer, so they already pretty much know everybody.
In the first year of swinging, there were times you felt like the awkward kid at a new school trying to break into a clique at parties, and other times it meant we got unwanted attention at parties. We were new, generally younger than the party goers who invited us along, and for some, it meant we had some aggressive couples who wanted to push their way right past out boundaries to ensure they got to us first. Hands all over us in the hot tub, showered with attention and terribly unnerving.
We’ve only been swinging for a year, and while we don’t really get into political conversations at swinger parties, I still wonder how many people manage their deeply closeted lives- perhaps that’s why they’re able to let loose in ways I never have after a few drinks in the hot tub.
While my partner and I are very much in the closet, I would like to think that my voting record aligns with my private life. Though I’m not gay or bi, I can’t help but align and wish to support the LGBT community. We’re in the closet, and considered deviant- yet we have the privilege of being able to choose when we come out. 90% of the time, we can pass as vanilla and we can easily blend- not everyone has had the privilege of anonymity while providing connection that the lifestyle provides.
While I know personal politics are forged from a lot more in life than sexuality, it does seemingly make my head spin sometimes that someone can vote against their own interests (i.e. Planned Parenthood, LGBT rights and bathroom bills) or anything that can help promote sexual freedom, safety and inclusion.
Needless to say, I still struggle on a personal level on how some folks can be super conservative by day, and host swinger parties by night- but I think it has something to do with having an immense amount of privilege in these circles and that privilege means you get to have your cake and eat it to.
You get respected like a normal functioning member of society, but you still can afford to be sexually deviant because you can afford hotel rooms, swinger trips to Vegas and club memberships. Privilege means your identity can be hidden and played when you want it to.
In one year of swinging, we’ve had to learn how to find balance since finding connections can be time consuming.
Balance is tough- with everything going on in life, swinging can feel like a second job. Finding other swinger couples on dating sites can be totally time consuming. We’ve rolled Kasidie quite a bit in the beginning, and even went to a club, but I found it to be exhausting. We had more success finding the connections we wanted, without the pressure you sometimes feel on a 2×2 date, by going to Girls Uncorked and attending house parties.
After a year of exploring swinging, we’ve had to figure out how much time we can invest, and what we’re looking for in play partners. We both decided we wanted deeper relationships than one night flings, and people we could hang out with in vanilla settings, or just grab a beer with- so that’s what we’ve been focusing on in the last few months.
One thing I wish I could have told myself to avoid frustration a year ago- would be to pace yourself. Do what you can do, and just like making new friends in a new place, not all connections will pan out. At first, it felt like we were dumping a lot of time into Kasidie, finding avenues that didn’t work out- but after a year, we’ve found our groove.
Things take time, and with the ebbs and flows of life, you might not always have time to invest, but opportunities will always be there when you come up for air. Relax, sister.