The Society of Janus Mentoring Program is a supported and loosely structured six-month mentorship for people who are finding their place in the BDSM community. SOJ recruits and vets qualified mentors and hosts an event where mentors can match with applicants seeking mentorship. Mentors and mentees then meet at least twice a month during the six-month program to work on the mentee’s goals for deepening their understanding of BDSM and how they wish to participate in it, and connecting with the BDSM community.
Mentors for the program are chosen for their active participation in our Bay Area kinky communities, their clear understanding of consent and community ethics, and their sincere desire to support their community and help mentees find their own place and explore their own passions. Their role is to provide you with a role model, a listening ear, and a personal connection into kinky communities. Mentors are not experts in every kind of BDSM play and the program is not primarily intended to teach technical skills. A mentor is not, for example, your personal flogging tutor but, rather, someone who can recommend good flogging classes, introduce you to flogging experts, and help you figure out whether flogging is the thing on which you want to focus your time and attention.
Aside from their personal qualifications, Society of Janus prioritizes recruiting mentors who represent a broad spectrum of diversity within our community. It is our goal that anyone who applies for mentorship be able to find a mentor with whom they can connect and feel comfortable.
Finally, mentoring is not a dating or play opportunity. A mentor might point you in a good direction for finding the kinds of play you’re looking for, but it is not their role to play with you themselves.
How it Works
To qualify for the SOJ Mentor Program, as a mentee, you must:
- Have participated in at least six kinky community events. These need not be SOJ events—any kinky munch, discussion group, happy hour, or party will do—and attending the same regular event multiple times counts.
- Have volunteered or otherwise contributed beyond simple attendance at least once.
- Be a current SOJ member.
- Be able to attend the matching event (see below).
The resources of the mentors and the Mentoring Program are limited, and these requirements are intended to focus those resources on applicants who’ve demonstrated a sincere interest in kink and kink community.
If you’re a newcomer to kinky community and do not yet have these qualifications, don’t despair! The event calendar is full of events to attend, and our play spaces, party hosts, and organizations have all kinds of volunteering opportunities available. Come out and get a taste of what our communities have to offer, see enough and learn enough to know some directions in which you want to explore, and you’ll be in a good position to have a great mentoring experience.
If you meet the qualifications to be a mentee, you may apply for the Mentoring Program online. Part of the application is describing your goals for the mentor program. Knowing precisely what you'd like to achieve during this experience will prove invaluable for developing and sustaining an effective mentorship.
Conversation with Program Staff
Within a few weeks of receiving your application, the staff will contact you to arrange a time to talk either remotely or in person. Staff will talk with you about your goals and expectations to clarify them and confirm that the program is an appropriate place to get them met, and will want to hear about your interest and involvement in kink and kinky community to gain confidence that you’re likely to honor a mentor’s investment of time and energy by remaining a positive contributor to our communities after the six month program has run its course.
The Matching Event
To match mentors and mentees, the program holds a speed-matching event. Everyone who’s been accepted to the program will be invited to attend whenever a matching event is scheduled. If you are unable to make it to a matching event, you can remain on the list to be contacted for the next one.
The format of the event will be familiar to anyone who has tried traditional speed-dating: Mentees will rotate between mentors, getting a few minutes to talk with each one. You’ll share your goals and your interests in BDSM community, and ask whatever questions will help you decide how well you’d fit with each mentor. The program will provide some suggested questions and guidelines for making a good choice of mentors.
At the end of the event, each mentee turns in a sheet ranking the mentors with whom they’d most like to work. Mentors don’t rank mentees, but do inform the program staff if there are any mentees with whom they do not want to be matched.
The program staff then takes everyone’s preferences and create the matching of mentors and mentees that gives the most mentees their highest preferences. If that leaves anyone unmatched, the program will reach out to those individuals and see if they might be open to working with one another.
Meet with Your Mentor
Once you’ve matched with a mentor, the commitment is to meet at least two times a month for six months and to work toward the goals you set yourself. This program is intended to be a serious commitment, so please be certain that you are available for it before applying.
If you are super busy and hardly have time to spend with even your closest friends, consider that this might not be the right time to undertake mentorship. If your schedule is tightly constrained to particular times, be sure to raise that topic during the matching event to ensure you select mentors who can work with your schedule.
The Mentoring Program provides support throughout the program. The mentor program staff will:
- Contact you a few weeks after the matching event to make sure you’ve been able to schedule a first meeting with your mentor.
- Contact you again a few months into the program to check that you are making progress on your goals.
- Reach out one final time after the program has completed to find out how it went for you.
The program checkins are intended to provide some friendly accountability to help both mentors and mentees achieve their goals. Program staff can also help mediate any minor hiccups in the mentoring relationship, and can work out a reassignment if a mentoring relationship simply isn’t working out.
At the end of the six-month program, you and your mentor take a look back at your goals and celebrate the progress you’ve made toward achieving them! If both of you want to continue to maintain a mentoring relationship, you are welcome to do so as long as you like. Or perhaps it will evolve into being one more solid friendship within BDSM community. Or maybe you’ll shake hands, thank one another for the experience, and walk away. That’s all up to the two of you.
Becoming a Mentor
The program staff recruits mentors by asking the SOJ officers to recommend people other than themselves who they believe would make excellent mentors. Our goal is to find those who are seen by others as being good role models and guides for newcomers to our community. This means that there is no way to directly nominate yourself to be a mentor with the program. If you are interested in mentoring with SOJ, talk to an officer who knows you well enough to recommend you.
Finally, this program is new and all of these rules and processes are experimental. We will be seeing how it all works in our first cycle and taking feedback from applicants, mentor and mentees; and any or all of this structure may change!
Credit Where it's Due
The model for this program was originally developed by the Leathermen’s Discussion Group and was also in use by Queer Sphere before the launch of SOJ’s version. Both of those organizations generously gave their blessing, support, and materials toward the SOJ starting our own program.