Getting to know Sarah Sloane

CHICAGO – The one thing I noticed right off about Sarah Sloane is that the more you get to know her, the more you want to ask her! She is one person who never takes a moment for grass to grow under her feet.

Just when you think you know all you can know about her, there is more to discover. But since I am not writing her memoirs but merely a small tidbit of a chat, I will give you the beginner’s version of who Sarah Sloane is, how she got her start and what she is up to today.

I sat down for coffee with Sarah on a Thursday evening not long ago to find out a bit more about her. I knew she had been a sex positive educator for some time and I knew she had moved to Chicago, but other than that I did not know a lot about her except that the few times I had interacted with her she was  joyful being who was innately. Sarah has been a figure in the Kink/Pan-sexual/BDSM/Leather presenter’s circuits for some time and is very active in those communities as a sex educator.

Before moving to Chicago, Sarah lived in Northern Virginia, though she grew up in Richmond. This is where she got her start.

It was during her divorce at age 28 that she discovered that there were people who actually did the things she had fantasized about. Sarah says she had always been a “kinky little freak” before she got married, but that she changed when she got married in order to ‘be the right person. She says she left (the marriage) for her (not because of him) and as a result she found herself. She also found out that her fantasies could become realities by someone she met online in Arizona who was kind enough to recommend she find a local gathering and community and get involved. She did and found the local groups very welcoming, learning a lot.  She felt as if she was finally where she belonged in the world.

Sarah became a part of two Virginia communities, one in Charlottesville called C.U.F.F., which stands for Charlottesville Underground Fetish Fellowship. She intimated, with levity, that “when you start a group, it has to have a spiffy acronym. And if you have a fetish, you have a flag. As long as you have a flag and a snappy acronym you’re golden.” The second group was a Richmond Leather Club. The Richmond club was all leather men when she began going, but they eventually suggested she pledge. She was one of the first 2 women to pledge and join the club.

She began her kinky teaching career in Virginia when she was told she was going to teach a cutting class. The Richmond Leather Club and Sarah had similar beliefs as far as giving back, feeling it is an extremely important thing to do. Not just important but one of the number one things a person should do. She was told she was going to present the first time by elders in her community at the time. Beginning by teaching needles and knife play, because she had learned those, and eventually learning and teaching much more.

It was after her first presentation that she felt “this is something I can do,” and she knew she had found her place in the world. Her first class was in the year 2000. In 2003 she moved to Northern Virginia. She also became active in the Black Rose in her earlier years, which is one of the longest running clubs in the United States dedicated to the pansexual and BDSM communities with emphasis on education and giving back.

At the time that she chose to move to Chicago (something she says she is still in denial about), she was self-employed. Realizing that she could live anywhere she wanted and having friends and a partner here, she decided to “try it out.” She was ready for a change. She was not planning on settling down into a regular job, if you can really call her job regular, but then she saw the ad for the Pleasure Chest and applied. Upon getting the job, she says she again felt as if she had found the right place in the world for her now. The job was a perfect fit for her skill set. She says “I can be exactly who I am, out as a leather woman, and accepted by my employer.”  With her sex positive resume there truly are very few jobs that would allow her to actually be herself. The one she has at the Pleasure Chest gives her that opportunity, for which she says she is very fortunate to have.

When asked if she believed there is something else out there which offers up such wonderful opportunities, she shared that she has a “deep personal Spirituality and if I stay out of my own way, my higher power will get me where I need to go.”  Though where she needs to go is not always where she would have chosen for herself, it always ends up to be exactly what feels right to her in the long run.

Sarah stated that she is so glad she can give back in other ways than she used to do while she was teaching. Then, she traveled a lot and taught on a variety of different subjects, but was not in one place long enough to devote the kind of time she can devote now. She says she is enjoying doing stuff in the back ground and the opportunity for it to not be about her but about something else … something bigger.  She is also enjoying being able to connect to those who have the same shared interests and ideas as herself in Chicago. She is able to continue to use her educational experience at her new job with free workshops covering not only BDSM and kink, but a wide range of sexual experience.

It is refreshing to hear someone who is a leader in our community talk so humbly about herself, what she has done and her future goals. Sarah herself indicated that she never wanted her head to get so big that she thought she was above reproach. That is something which can happen, according to Sarah, to those who put themselves out there in the limelight of our community. Not that it will or always does, but that it can. And when someone gets a big name or large following, suddenly no one begins to question their character any more, and when others know of something that is not right, such as actually harm being done either to an individual or our community as a whole, others don’t feel they can do or say anything about it. She says she is very glad for those about her who helped (and still do I suspect) to keep her grounded.

Sarah told me her role models are Vi Johnson and Laura Antoniou . She says she sees them as amazing leather women and that she strives to be like them, never forgetting her responsibility is to the community who raised her. She feels they represent what a leather woman should be strong, forthright, full of compassion, and have a wonderful sense of humor. I have to say, if those are her goals, then she has met them.

For now, Sarah looks forward to attending some events as a “civilian” rather than working one and as for giving back she hopes to do that from behind the scenes as well, as she is currently running for secretary on the board of directors at the LRA. I am sure the members will give her the chance to do just that.