I met Sean Grey about ten years ago when I was regularly attending TNG munches at the public play space hidden in the warehouse district of Dallas. There was a change of leadership, and Sean was taking on the role of facilitator. There are chapters of TNG, or "The New Generation," all over the United States. The group serves as a welcome mat for new kinksters ages 18-35 who are still finding direction in the community. If there is a group that really needs strong leadership, it's TNG. These are the pups, kittens, and babes of kink - and like all new life it can spin out of control if you don't keep close watch over it.
Sean was one of those people who almost immediately made himself a reputation based on ethical, knowledgeable play, and a passion for skilled rope bondage. People looked up to Sean for his commitment to our community, willingness to teach, and unwavering ethics. So when the facilitator stepped down from TNG, it was only natural for Sean to take that lead.
Since then, Sean has continued to facilitate groups, teach safe play, and be a voice of comfort and reason for members of the community. Most recently he was the education coordinator for Bondage Expo Dallas, an annual fetish event produced by homegrown Dallas rope artists and performers that has become a national attraction for kinksters and kink educators. As a BDSM photographer, educator, artist, Sean's lifestyle is both tightly interwoven and sharply in contrast to his history as a minister in a family of ministers.
I've written about leadership in the kink community, and how we keep people accountable, a couple of times on this website. I've brought the issue up at national sexuality education conferences for the last year. Last year I participated in a panel at CatalystCon Midwest on consent culture and abuse awareness in alternative sexuallity communities. The People of Kink Podcast asked me to speak about building the type of authentic kink communities I wrote about in Counterfeit Kink. Everywhere I go, people have responded by echoing the concerns I am writing about. The only people who have distance themselves to me, as you might could imagine, are people in positions of power within the kink community.
So when I asked Sean to do an interview with me and talk about leadership, there was a part of me that worried I wouldn't like the answers I got. I have a bad habit of hero-worshiping. It's gotten me into trouble before. Let me be clear when I say I trust Sean Grey to be a safe, knowledgable, and worthy leader in the Dallas community. But even so, I asked around. There were some people who had concerns about the age of the women Sean dated in his past, something he brings up in the interview himself - but the concerns seemed to based more on what is appropriate and not with a consent violation.
I don't think I would be wrong to say that Sean and I shared a general reluctance to make waves in our home community. The social groups, knowledge bases, and access to safe space are things I don't think Sean or I could live without. I also think Sean and I share a desire to keep people safe, and to make sure that everyone around us also has access to the same groups, knowledge, and space that we need so much.
And to that end, Sean Grey has been leading through dedicated service to his community for over a decade. I am so grateful that he gave his time to tell me his thoughts on what leadership as a service, what makes someone a good leader, and how to keep our communities safe.