November2011

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Shame, Kink, and Privacy

Leatherati has had some interesting articles lately on kink shame; and I’ve seen a (somewhat obnoxious) video floating around espousing the basic tenets of coming out as kinky to friends or family. And then yesterday rauber wrote a personal post about his own tussle with privacy over his kinky interests. So it all got me to thinking about my own perspective on kink, privacy, and shame.

Ever since I accepted that I was gay, I’ve not felt ashamed of myself. That didn’t mean I instantly came out of the closet, though. I have a life-long policy of not debating fundamentalists, or really even listening to them, so I didn’t outright tell my family not for fear or shame, but because I didn’t want to deal with their judgmental ignorance. But that was a mistake, because my being gay isn’t a phase, or a choice, or a passing interest. It’s my identity. Who I love is who I am. And those I loved deserved to know that. Today, I don’t exactly leave a glitter trail wherever I go, but I don’t shy away from describing my husband. This is a part of my identity, and I’m not ashamed of it.

But the fact is, I don’t apply the same standard to my kink. Yes, being a kinkster is a part of who I am, but I don’t feel the same need to announce it to everyone who passes by. Kink, leather, submission or BDSM do not make up the whole of my identity. What I do — in the bedroom, dungeon, conference, hotel — is not who I am. For most people, it’s none of their business. I don’t ask my family how they like to have sex, and I don’t think it’s anyone else’s business how I like to have sex. But if I was ever asked, or if the concept of kink and BDSM came up with friends (because it just never would with family … it just wouldn’t), I would defend it and describe it for those who are uninformed. Because I do believe that the kinky community is misunderstood and often maligned. And I would freely admit my interest, in context, because I’m not ashamed of it, I just enjoy my privacy.

Scene Names
In his article on the topic, Loren Berthelsen brings up a lot of concepts in a very short article. How do we deal with events, say, if going to IML and being asked why you’re traveling to Chicago. Do we just say “a convention” or do we describe exactly what IML is. And for that matter, what is IML? I think for those of us who travel to events like that, we are choosing to shed some of our right to privacy and have that responsibility to educate those who might be interested. But there’s a difference between being open and educational and ramming it down people’s throats. Just as those of us who wrestle with dual gay-Christian identities have to disassociate our love from our sex for the sex-obsessed fundamentalists, we kinksters need to be able to describe the community and enthusiast aspects of our events without leading people to being that kink-cons are just great big orgies (even if they are great big orgies … it’s all about proper messaging).

(more after the jump)

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