A birthday too!
I just gotta also give a shout out to Peanut on her birthday today. For those who have yet to meet my red haired pal, she is one cool chick. Of course I always feel an extra bit of pride when I see her at events, she as come a long way since she showed up in the Abbey one sunny day many years ago and nervously told me that "I think I like rope". Griffin (my very first employee and close friend) and I adopted her that day and did what we could to help ease her entry into the kink world. While sometimes we may have acted a bit like over protective big brothers, she made her own way and carved out her own place in the community.
I think, in many ways, this is one of the parts of being a sexual "other" that the folks on the outside do not get. Most of us, when we make those tentative steps into a subculture like this are doing so alone. With no guide posts or markers along the way it is easy to become either frustrated by it all or worse, jaded to it after interacting with one too many assholes and leaving all together. While far from perfect, I do believe that we try to take care of our own and it is the responsibility of us who are established in our communities to take the time and make the effort to open some doors and help those just starting out.
Remember, we were all once newbies.