There are sure to be rides, swings and play to be had, but not the type you’d expect.

Because this space is a free canvas for me to talk about whatever I feel like, I’m gonna use it to plug one of my friend’s projects (that also involves its fair share of plugs).

Toronto has an unfair share of enticing conferences, gatherings and conventions. If there’s something important to you there’s a high likelihood it’ll be important to others. If it’s important enough to others, someone might hire a hall, hotel or convention centre to share their love of the thing they adore. In this case, I’m talking about something often important to many types of love itself. I’m talking about the Playground Conference.

It’s about intercourse, sex, play, fucking and finding pleasure in all the best NSFW ways, but that’s hardly all it’s about. It’s about ethically navigating consent, discussions around gender, sexuality and the fluidity within those spectrums. It’s about engaging in kink in an aware, supportive space. It’s about examining and reconsidering potentially problematic issues within the media you consume and the life you lead. It’s about showcasing sexual preferences you may never have heard about, but are all types of fascinating. It’s about learning more about what makes you tick, what makes you hard, what makes you wet, what makes you yearn, what makes you drool.

Playground is all of these things and more (and if you call in the next 10 minutes…). Playground is a well curated, excellent space for understanding the things that resonate with you, or those you’ve never understood that resonate with others. It’s a superb place to meet people who are conscious and considerate of the feelings of others. It’s rare for any “othering” behaviour to be a mainstay and if it is, people would be quick to apologise and correct their actions. Playground offers grounds for those outside the mainstream to have their voices heard, considered and respected.

Also there are a shit ton of sexy things and people. Experts in their field (some might use the term “sexperts”, but it’s one of the rare portmanteaux I’m not a fan of) or just enthusiasts. There are international authors, speakers, porn stars, advocates and those who simply want to learn more all under one roof.

I feel like saying most of this would be enough to put most “ordinary” or “normal” people off. Fuck that, nobody is ordinary or normal, we all have our little weirdnesses, eccentricities and isms that make us exceptional in every sense of the word. I met and befriended a ton of lovely people last year. People who I don’t define by their sexuality, but applaud for their openness. I’m sure to most people it sounds like a bunch of sex freaks all trying to fuck each other. It’s not. It’s a showcase of the diversity within a very human activity and interest. I had many of my views expanded, boundaries challenged and pushed, none of which I regret. Nobody is there to force anybody into anything they’re not into. It’s a supportive safe space. There’s respect and affection permeating the conference. It’s engrossing to learn about a multitude of activities and preferences you may not have even known to exist. Moreover, it’s fun as fuck.

To give a hint at the kind of programming and diversity you may expect at something like this, cast your eyes over last year’s schedule.

There’s a lot of love, time and money that goes into putting on something of this scale. It’s something that’s of unfathomable benefit to a humming sex positive community like Toronto. It’s no large corporate entity, but a grassroots operation that spares no attention to detail. Knowing the organiser personally, it’s something she does at a lot of personal expense of every kind. That care and attention reverberates throughout the event. I felt just a little bit tingly to be surrounded by the types of people I met. People who all felt so fortunate that something like this existed. Especially feeling the absence of the Feminist Porn Conference this year, Playground 2015 is one of the big red dots on my calendar I can’t wait to attend.

Also, if you call in the next 10 minutes (for real this time)- or two days, rather- you can get in on the ground floor. Super duper early bird tickets for $50+bf are available, with a growing cost as the event looms closer. I’ve already got my ticket. Am I gonna see you there?

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