The internet has been a boon for people with niche kinks: unlike previous generations, young kinksters no longer have to go through the profound isolation of believing themselves the only person in the world with their particular interest. A kid growing up today only has to type “balloon fetish” into Google to find enough balloon-related erotic material to provide jerk-off fodder for years. They’ll also find chatrooms with the thousands of folks with the same interest, many of whom are proud of their kink and comfortable discussing it with partners.

And yet… kink-shaming is now endemic. YouTube commenters and cruel memes provide an outlet for trolling, bullying and vile prudery. And many kink communities so far only exist in a virtual space, which only goes so far to break through the isolation. Studies have shown people whose primary form of socializing is through online forums and social media are just getting lonelier.

Every now and then, though, a leader will emerge, intent on creating a real-world community that nurtures its members through face-to-face meet-ups. There are challenges to getting together, though: many are still anxious about being exposed for their desires. With uncommon kinks, geographical distances can be difficult to overcome. People are scattered all over the place. Some can’t see the benefit of f2f unless they’re going to meet the partner of their dreams, and in the hetero crowd, men still vastly outnumber women with the same interests. Straight women who share their interests may have had enough bad experiences with rude online behavior that they are reluctant to expose themselves in meetings. So unless a leader can promise a female presence, many guys will just stay home.

In 1999, I saw potential for otherwise small interest groups to bond together into a larger community based on shared themes. My very first kinkmap grouped together a bunch of fantasies related to the idea of growth:  Looners (fans of latex balloons); Macrophiles, who fantasize about science-fiction-level giant or tiny partners; Body Expansion fans, who enjoy the idea of body parts inflating to impossible size; and Feeders/Gainers, who imagine themselves or their partners growing measurably, visibly fatter. At the time, quite a few of the people I interviewed for these chapters expressed an interest in more than one of these related kinks. And yet only one or two of them had ever met in person.

So it was with great pleasure that, when researching the new edition, I learned about SizeCon, a convention devoted to fans of all of the above kinks. Founded by Veronica, a popular artist known on DeviantArt as Jitensha, SizeCon grew out of a macrophile meetup she organized back in April 2015 in New York City. She rented a studio space in SoHo and advertised on 4Chan, Reddit and Craigslist. More than 20 people showed up, including one other woman. People traveled from as far away as Delaware, New Jersey, Long Island, and Buffalo. “The meetups focused on relationships, self-care. It was a support group, not a place to exchange porn.”

Bryan, one of the guys who showed up at the first meetup, was so nervous he had to get drunk first. But once he got there, there was an instant relief and a sense of connection… “It’s like you know the funniest joke in the world and no one else gets it. Then finally you meet other people who get the joke.”  In his professional life, Bryan had organized corporate meetings, so he proposed to Veronica that they put together a convention. “Furries have their own cons. Horror fans have their own cons, why not us?” It was not an easy sell to the online community. There were doubters (there had been a notorious fraudulent Kickstarter promising a My Little Pony con for Bronies) and momentum was difficult to build.

Things took off when Veronica and Bryan decided not to focus just on giantess fans, but also include body inflation and any fantasies that relate to size-related transformation and power dynamics. Members of the feeder and weight gain scene reached out and wanted to participate. Partnerships were made, bonds were forged.

The Kickstarter did not reach its goal, but they did raise $9,000—enough for a downsized plan. They sold tickets at $40 through eventbrite. Anyone who paid the entrance fee could have a booth. VIP tickets included goodies such as custom artwork and videos, or meet ’n’ greets with special guests. SizeCon 2016 was held in Midtown Manhattan on April 23 in a photo studio. They had an overflow attendance of over 125 size fans, ranging in age from 18 to 70, with about 25% women. Bryan guesses there were about 15 gay women and men and a few trans people. Exhibitors included artists, movie producers and actresses who would model with attendees and sign autographs. They set up a green-screen area, where people could take a photo with a giant or giantess.

I finally attended SizeCon2017 last July at a hotel near LaGuardia Airport. Veronica and Bryan rented out three large meeting rooms, anticipating an even larger crowd this year. One room was used exclusively for panel discussions. I attended “Size Sisters” for women into the fandom (with a focus on harassment, both online and off, and how to respond to aggressive pressure and intimidation). I also sat in on “Relationships” where couples discussed how they met each other, and how they incorporate size play into their personal lives. Not all couples were the perfect kink match idealized by lonely singles: in a few examples only one member of the pair was deeply into size play. Veronica herself is in a committed relationship with a man who is happy to pretend she is a tiny girl—but it’s for her sake, that’s not his thing.  

The second room contained a bunch of fun props to play around with (a giant mouse trap, oversized stuffed toys and and 8-foot tall ruler) and a table used for a size-related Dungeons and Dragons game. There was a special modded Giant/Giantess version of the video game Saint's Row IV and smaller informal meetups for Furries, Gay Men, Senior Citizens, etc.

The largest room had the exhibitor tables. There were lots of extremely talented artists willing to create custom illustrations to your particular scenario. (A very hot one I saw was a tiny woman having her clothes cut off by a giant pair of scissors.) I got to hang out again with BustArtist and his now-wife JulieKat whom I had interviewed 18 years ago. I also met professional fetish models known for their portrayal of giantesses crushing tiny cities. I even tried on a VR headset where I could experience the POV of a tiny human being toyed with, poked and eaten by two seductive women.

Attendees were similar to any you’d see at ComicCon: nerdy t-shirts, furry ears and tails, an expression of absolute joy at being among like-minded folk. One table was selling a gigantic silicone chest-piece you could put on to experience having impossibly large breasts. One guy walked around wearing it, absent-mindedly fondling the nipples. I met a friendly couple, one an extremely tall man and his partner, an average-sized asexual cis male “tiny” who liked his partner to pick him up and make him feel even smaller. I also met a trans woman who was glowing with joy at being in a space where she felt safe being herself.

Not all exhibitors were obviously connected to the theme. One artist, who prefers a gender-neutral pronoun, had a display of its beautifully-crafted line art/watercolors of oversized, muscular, dripping tongues. First tongue kinkster I’ve ever met, but looking at those drawings certainly made it clear why they’re appealing.

Sadly, I missed the panel on “Welcome to the Dark Side” —a discussion about more intense fantasies of violence and death— and the screening of the original (and best, according to size fans) Attack of the Fifty-Foot Woman. The dance party and cosplay contest would have been fun, but by that time I was ready to crawl into my one and only purchase, a beautiful handmade necklace with a tiny cage pendant—perfect for holding your tiny partner (or imagining yourself climbing into if you suddenly feel overwhelmed by crowds of people, like I did after a few hours.)

With SizeCon, Bryan and Veronica set out to help size fantasy fans feel OK about themselves. “We wanted to relieve people of this burden, we wanted to get rid of that mentality that there’s something wrong with them.” From the look of joy on the faces of participants, it’s clear that Veronica and Bryan have achieved their goal.

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Katharine Gates has been collecting niche erotica since 1992. Her publishing company Gates of Heck was known for offbeat collaborations with artists like Annie Sprinkle (Post-Porn Modernist Playing Cards, 7 Men Inside Katharine), Joe Coleman (The Book of Joe), Gary Panter (Facetasm) and Art Spiegelman (The Narrative Corpse.) The first edition of Deviant Desires was published in 2000 by Juno Books. In 2006, Gates curated the year-long exhibition KINK:Geography of the Erotic Imagination at Museum of Sex in New York City. She has appeared on countless TV documentary shows such as HBO's Real Sex, BBC, and Discovery Channel. Her kinkmap has been published in College Sexuality textbooks.

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