I can call my lover “Master,” without anyone giving me funny looks. I can nibble his ear, even as his other slave pats his butt, and the majority of the people surrounding us don’t see this as anything weird. They only see an affectionate poly triad.
If I show up at breakfast with bite marks on my neck, the waitress might blink, but if someone at a nearby table even notices it, they just know that I had a grand old time last night. All those people around us, most of them wearing black and looking a little hung-over, don’t mind if they overhear me saying, “I really would like to have the shit beat out of me tonight, Sir.”
I can wear clothes that I rarely get to wear, like my favorite t-shirt from Dark Entry in New Orleans that features a bare-breasted winged woman in fetish gear. I can wear the t-shirt that says, “I only hurt the ones I love, but only if they ask real nice.” I can wear my big silver chain collar with the big heart-shaped lock.
Now, I know I could wear my collar anywhere, really, and I could wear those t-shirts to the mall if I really wanted to, but the fact is, I’d feel weird doing it. I’d feel as if I were pulling up my skirt and showing my panties to the world, because the world just doesn’t get it. The kinky world gets it. They get me.
At conventions, there is a part of me that feels just a teeny bit like a Girl Scout cookie on a plate of chocolate éclairs. Just a little outclassed, just a little bit out of place.
Why? Hell if I know, though I have some guesses.
Part of it is that I will always, always, always – deep down in the darkest recesses of my heart – be that painfully shy, chubby, four-eyed adolescent who never felt like she fit in. It doesn’t matter that I was never really the outsider I felt myself to be; that girl is lodged inside me like an ancient splinter. Put me in a large group of people I don't know, and I can feel her shuffling around nervously inside, whispering, “Can we go home now?”
People who know me now never believe this about me. All they see is a rather loud-mouthed attention-whore who is pretty entertaining when she’s not on the downswing of the bipolar rollercoaster.
Another part of it is really very superficial and, well, stupid. I worry about what to wear at these events.
Yeah, I have several corsets in leather and other assorted fabrics, but I can’t stand to wear them for more than an hour. There is a reason women stopped wearing those things, and a reason why only we masochists keep buying them. They are damned uncomfortable.
I have the four-inch stiletto heels and thigh-high boots, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to cripple myself hobbling around in misery until I lose all feeling in my toes. Yeah, fishnet stockings and garter belts are so sexy, but they get so easily twisted and you have to keep pulling them up and trying not to snag them on something….
I’m too old for this shit — not for the fashions, mind you, because I can still rock that look when I choose to — but too old to put up with that kind of discomfort without a vibrator between my legs. This is true of my wardrobe choices everywhere, all the time, now: fuck vanity, be comfortable. I’d wear pajamas to work if I could get away with it. I’ve thought about doing the whole Little thing just so I could wear flannel PJs and bunny slippers to a play party.
Maybe age is another reason I sometimes feel a little out of place. It doesn’t matter that part of my brain still thinks I’m thirty, the rest of me is fifty-one. I’m old enough to have given birth to many of the attendees. I no longer have the energy or desire to be beaten for hours while strung up like human macramé, and then fuck all night long doing alternate shots of Red Bull and Jagermeister.
While interviewing Laura Antoniou for KinkyCast, the issue of heterosexual insecurity came up. Maybe this is another possible explanation.
I’m straight, damn it. Mostly. I identify as heteroflexible, meaning I prefer dick but I’m not adverse to being fisted by a woman if the chemistry is right.
But I would be so much cooler if I were a lesbian, or at least enthusiastically and sincerely bisexual. At these conventions, what I really want to be is a gay leather man, because then I would truly be one of the cool kids.
Don’t think I don’t know how stupid and possibly offensive this sounds. I will never know the kind of hate, fear and ignorance that gays and lesbians have to fight through to find acceptance, sometimes even in their own hearts. And when they have to add kinky on top of that? That’s gotta be a hard road to walk.
In my own relatively safe little life, it was difficult for me to stand up and say, to myself and my closest friends, “Why, yes, I do like to lick a man’s boots and be used brutally like a cheap whore for his pleasure!” While that may have, at some point, made me question my sanity, or cost me a relationship or two, my sexual orientation and fetishes have never made me fear being beat to death in some alley. I have never feared being openly discriminated against with the kind of malice so often aimed at the gay community in general, and the gay leather community even more so.
There are those among the gay fetish community who say they just don’t take heterosexual kinksters seriously. They say we’ve never had to fight the way they have, that we have not really earned the right to be kinky. Some point to how we can blend in and “pass” as “normal” so much more easily. Our closet is much nicer than theirs. We can marry and breed and adopt and hold hands with our partners in broad daylight without provoking physical violence. Our suicide rates are much lower, too.
I know that not all gay and lesbian kinky folk think this way. Or maybe they do, how the hell would I know? I’ve had a few say it to my face (or to my Fetlife and Facebook accounts), but maybe more have thought the same thing.
I don’t blame them if they do. And that’s the heterosexual insecurity talking, right up there with “white guilt.” I feel deeply and intensely sorrowful about outrages perpetrated on other people that I, purely by virtue of my skin tone and attraction to the opposite sex, have always been exempt from. I just thank God/Fate/the Flying Spaghetti Monster that I’m not a man, because then I’d have to feel like shit over centuries of patriarchal misogyny as well.
Why else are heterosexual kinksters so ridiculously enamored of the Old Guard myths, if not because we want to prove ourselves worthy in a lifestyle where the gay community blazed the trail? No, they didn’t invent BDSM, but they certainly got a jump on the branding.
I find myself thinking some of the same things about the youngsters coming along behind me now. I have been a sick, twisted bitch since about age five, but it took me until my late thirties to get up the courage to go looking for what I had always wanted.
Up until that point, I really thought BDSM was something the porn industry had made up, that real people didn’t actually do any of that stuff. I had more than one person who claimed to love me turn away in disgust when I told them what aroused me.
Being older, I’ve had a lifetime of friendships, family relationships, and a career fossilized in the vanilla world that I now have to balance very carefully with my “secret” life.
Then I look at the “Next Generation.” I look at how easily they can find the community in the first place; BDSM is on the checkout stands at the supermarket, for Christ’s sake, and all over the Internet. They are still at a point in their lives where exploring their sexuality isn’t going to tear a twenty-year marriage apart, or cause them to lose custody of their children. They mostly still work at jobs where tattoos and nose rings and big black leather collars are not necessarily the deal breakers they are for a bank manager in his forties.
Even more so, they simply don’t carry the same amount of Puritan baggage that we older folks do. People talk about sex more now, and there are so many outlets for information that they don’t dwell so long in darkness and self-loathing for being “weird.” They actually embrace weird!
I am so fucking jealous. Oh, if only I had found the community in my twenties. I would have been so awesome. You'd all be hearing the legends about me now.
Yet all this makes me question whether these youngsters value the community and these experiences as much as we old farts do. They haven’t had to carry that longing and uncertainty for so many years in secrecy. Many simply visit Kinky World as just one stop on their Grand Tour; it’s not even a destination for them.
So many of them don’t seem to grasp the concept of discretion, or the importance of privacy. Most of them don’t need it the way we did and many still do.
I know I’m wrong to judge them. What do I really know of what it’s like to come of age in this world, or of their personal journey? I really don’t want to be that old lady hollering, “You kids, get off my lawn!”
It would really be nice, however, if they didn’t look at me and see their mothers. I'm no soccer mom. I've done stuff. Some really nasty, edgy shit. So there.
Even with all this navel-gazing angst, I still enjoy the conventions enormously. It’s so nice to be the majority for a change.
Then you get in the car for the drive home, and you have to remember that fisting probably isn’t something you should discuss at a Gas-n-Go in Skunk Lick, Tennessee.
Oh, well. There’s always another convention right around the corner.