I really want to write about the trip I just took to Mexico. Not just to flex (although it is pretty awesome), but to share my feelings about the community I encountered while on the trip. I’ve been stuck, though. I don’t know if I actually have writer’s block, or whether I’m dealing with what Quincy Jones often calls “paralysis from analysis”. Maybe they’re the same thing? I’m gonna try and push through. Apologies if this is long or unstructured.
I became involved with a podcast called “Life on the Swingset” maybe five years ago? I very quickly went from being a fan to being a guest to co-hosting the podcast. The topics of the podcast generally center around swinging & polyamory-two topics that are pretty taboo to the average human. For that reason alone, this podcast is important, because it gives voice to people who might be feeling a certain way in their romantic/sexual lives and gives them a sense of not alone-ness.
The “Swingset” podcast hosts a getaway for its patrons and listeners every year at a resort in Mexico. While on one hand it serves as a chance for people to have fun and sexy times in paradise, it also, again, takes people who might feel ostracized in their individual communities and gives them a sense of belonging. Imma keep coming back to this part. The getaway/takeover of the resort also changes the culture of what couples’ resorts common M.O. is, specifically in regards to queerness. I’m sure there are resorts that cater to gay men (actually I’m not so sure, but I’m making an assumption). There are clearly resorts that cater to straight couples. There may be a resort that caters to gay women? But woman/woman play is a lot more accepted in “straight” circles than man/man play. Swingset offers a welcoming home for all forms of sexuality, and I’d like to think that out of the 220+ folks attending this year’s event (the first in two years-because we all know what happened last year), more than half identify somewhere on the queer spectrum (which probably aligns perfectly with the rest of society, but you don’t hear me though…)
Anyhow, let’s back up for a second. I abdicated my Swingset hosting duties in late 2018. There were a lot of reasons for it, but the primary one is that I felt a fair amount of impostor syndrome. I don’t consider myself a swinger, and while I am definitely sex-positive, and also definitely geared towards polyamory, I’ve also been single and fairly sex-less for the last few years. You’ll have to help me figure out why that is. But it felt weird to listen to the other hosts talk about their teeming romantic lives and multiple relationships while I refreshed my OKCupid profile and went to NYC poly events, coming up with zeros. And that’s no disrespect to the lovely folks I’ve become friends with through six years of involvement in NYC’s poly community. I am extremely grateful for your friendship and couldn’t imagine my life without some of y’all. At any rate, I left the podcast, but have always maintained a line of communication with the hosts. Or rather, they’ve done conscious work to keep me in their circle (thanks Cooper and Dylan and Ginger and Ryan!). When we shut down for COVID in spring 2020, I started making my way back into the fold, and that ultimately led to an offer to join them on their resort excursion this year.
Y’all, seriously…I thought of a million reasons why I didn’t want to go. I couldn’t find a partner to go with (you’d be surprised how many people turned this trip down). I thought I’d feel weird as (presumably) one of the only POC AND one of the only men on resort that was a gay-leaning queer. I’ve never been good at accepting gifts, so I wasn’t particularly comfortable that I was asked to attend without contributing something. I wasn’t ready to navigate airports and airplanes again. Also, this was the first capital V VACATION I’d ever taken as an adult (to my recollection, anyway). Sure, there’ve been long weekends in Richmond and on the Cape and in upstate New York. But I’d only been out of the country once before as an adult (also because of Swingset!) and the thought of being completely separated from New York, the U.S., my job, my life, my cat for a whole week was scary. I mean, 25% of it was scary good, but the other 75% was scary SCARY. So I spent a lot of time thinking of ways to back out, but ultimately I didn’t. And I’m grateful for that. Because I had a fucking amazing time.
The two words that stick out the most for me when referencing the trip are community and acceptance. What the Swingset folks have done with their podcast (whether intentionally or not) is to create a community of somewhat like-minded people who, over the years, have grown to know and appreciate one another. So, cast aside what you may think about a takeover at a “couples resort” in Mexico, ‘cause this wasn’t it. Well, seeing as I have no frame of reference, this very well may have been “it”, but I have on good authority that it wasn’t. As weird as it is to say about a sexy vacation, the vibe was almost family like. Things were less about wanton hedonism and more about connection and warmth.
And that ties into the acceptance piece as well. I get the impression (again, based on the experience of others) that trips like these are usually very white and heteronormative. Not a place for a queer black dude to be (especially for a queer and single black dude). I never felt anything less than acceptance during my time there. Part of that might be due to whatever notoriety I have for being a co-host/friend of the podcast (sidebar: I was actually recognized by someone on the trip as the host of Detoxicity, and that person had no idea I was part of the Swingset crew. That was trippy.) But I’d say that during this trip the intention was to create a place that was inclusive of all races, sexualities, gender expressions, body types, lifestyles and personalities. And although I would’ve loved to have seen more ethnic minorities in attendance (I’d say brown folks comprised maybe 7% of total attendees?), I do feel like an effort was made, and I’ll certainly be making a push for more POC to attend in the future.
Being at an all-inclusive resort was new to me. When I was in elementary school, I remember going on trips to Aruba with my grandmother and staying at resorts (because she’d been a hospitality worker when living there, so I feel like she was either given aggressive discounts or completely comped on those trips). In my mid-twenties, an ex took me on a trip to Disney although I can’t remember offhand whether that was actually an all-inclusive. At any rate, free food? Free drinks? Access to bars and pools and hot tubs and a beach? I was gonna add gym access to this, but Imma keep it real for y’all—while my intention was to work out regularly, I didn’t see the inside of the gym once. It’s certainly a place only people with a certain level of privilege can access, and I’m cognizant of that privilege. Still, it was fun.
And the free whiskey and French toast was secondary to the connections and reconnections I made. Beautiful folks from all over North America— Toronto, Vancouver, Western Massachusetts, Atlanta, Texas, the Pacific Northwest, Chicago. Black folks, white folks, trans folks, Latin folks, Asian folks, men, women, fully queer people, folks questioning their sexuality, folks leaning into bisexuality for the first time; I left this trip feeling like I made friends. People that-distance be damned-I’m determined to keep in my life one way or another. People that are somewhere on a journey to self-discovery that so many are afraid to take (or aren’t aware that they need to take). People trying to live their lives as authentically as possible. People who aren’t afraid to step slightly out of their comfort zones. People who have incredibly interesting life stories; ex-Mormons, ex-Mennonites, ex-Christians, people raising queer kids, taking care of elderly parents. People looking to connect in ways that went beyond the obviously carnal (not that there’s anything wrong with that). For any of those who may still have the idea in their heads that this takeover was basically FuckFest 2021, I’ll overshare the fact that I didn’t orgasm once this entire trip (although I had my share of sensual encounters and felt more desired during this week than I’d felt in YEARS) and still had the time of my life.
The hardest part about writing this, I think, is trying to figure out what to do with all of the information I gathered about myself and others, a lot of which I don’t even think I’ve processed yet. After two years of social distancing, and a lifetime of worry about whether I fit in to anything, this felt like a Utopia (also—220+ inhabitants and not one positive COVID test. How ‘bout that for taking care of your community?) I recorded several podcasts while down there and one of the most poignant/pointed questions I heard (I can’t remember if I asked it or if someone else did) was “what can you take from this trip, and bring back home?” I’m still trying to answer that fully, but I think it centers around community, and finding/knowing/keeping my people, and being intentional about the relationships (platonic and non) that I pursue and cultivate. And taking the spirit of what the founders of this trip have created and making sure it goes beyond just one week in paradise.