First, we want to give a quick reminder to everyone here in the San Francisco area: Tomorrow is the first Tuesday of October, and that means that we’ll be gathering for the Godless Perverts Social Club at Wicked Grounds once again. If you’re all rested up from Folsom, or whatever you did this weekend, we strongly encourage you to join us. It’s a night of heresy, mixed with caffeine and munchies, in a kink-supportive environment. As we always remind people, the event is free, but we really, really want you to spend money at the front counter. Wicked Grounds is a huge asset to the San Francisco alt-sex communities, and we want to make sure they stay in business. Plus, we’ve started to get a reputation as good tippers among the staff there, and we want to keep it.
Although the Godless Perverts Social Club is a lot of fun, it’s really serious business to us as well. You’ve probably noticed that there’s been a lot of media chatter about atheist groups starting their own equivalents to churches.1 Although I personally find the idea kind of pointless, and counter to what’s great about being atheists, the fact that some people like the idea points to something that we have to acknowledge: one of the most devastating things that people lose when they leave religion is not the sense of morality, or eternal reward after death, but the sense of belonging to a community. It’s also one of the reasons that people are often suspicious of atheists: we’re perceived as people who have cut themselves off from the community.
And so, the Godless Perverts Social Club is an attempt to at least partly fill that need. The feeling we want people to go away with is that they are accepted for their godlessness, their queerness, or their perviness.
Towards that end, it is very important to us that people of all genders, identities, and sexual orientations feel comfortable hanging out at the Social Club or any other Godless Perverts events. We’re bringing this up not because we’ve had any problems so far, but because this has become a huge problem in the atheist and skeptic communities at large, and we want to make sure that it doesn’t become a problem for us.
So let me just say this: although we don’t have a formal harassment policy yet, we will not tolerate harassment or unwelcome sexual advances at our events. If you’re at a Godless Perverts event and are made uncomfortable by someone or something, please tell us. You can approach any of our people in charge, or contact us through the website. We’re also interested in hearing more general feedback on how to make Godless Perverts a better environment. We aren’t opposed to people managing to hook up at our events, but keep in mind basic consideration: if someone indicates that they’re not interested, or that they’re uncomfortable, then back off.
These are just a few elementary thoughts, and as we grow, we’ll expand on them and develop more specific strategies. But for now, know that we’re committed to growing a community that’s accepting of atheists of all genders, races, orientations, and identities. If you ever think we’re fucking up on that goal, let us know.
Update: I think I over-stated my own cynicism about the Sunday Assembly idea, and would like to make the point that it’s based on my own feelings about church, rather than a collective one. But on the whole, I’d rather not see atheism mimic all the structures of standard religion, and instead seek out its own forms of community building. I for one spent years going to Episcopal services as a lad, and found the whole process dry and dull, and not inspiring at all. Certainly, there are some who will find the Sunday Assemblies helpful. I wish them good luck; we all need to build support and community in any we can. But for myself, I feel like I’ve been down that path once already. ↩