Coming out kinky

If there was ever a time to be open about being kinky than now is probably that time. BDSM has become fairly mainstream. Even before ’50 Shades of Grey’ could be found in any charity shop (seriously, take a look) BDSM was becoming more acceptable to talk about and engage in. In 2002 the film ‘Secretary’ showed that anything, including “four peas”, can be erotic, in 2011 Rihanna sang about S&M in her imaginatively titled song ‘S&M’ and gone are the days when you would have to go to specialist shops or use your imagination to get your sadomasochistic needs met. It seems that everyone is dabbling in kink these days so why is it something I sometimes find difficult to talk about?

It isn’t shame that has led me to avoid mentioning it but I do fear judgement. People are fairly comfortable with the idea of a little light bondage, nipple clamps and role playing but what if your interest are more extreme? What if BDSM isn’t just something you sometimes incorporate into your sex life? What if kink is a sexual identity rather than an optional sexual practice?

I don’t remember how I found out about BDSM or when I first heard the terms submissive and dominant. I don’t remember when I realised I was sexually masochistic. I don’t remember exactly when my interest in kink began any more than I remember exactly when I realised I was straight. What I do remember is turning 18 and actively seeking out kinky sex. It was something I was drawn to for reasons I didn’t, and still don’t fully, understand.

I have a few friends who know I’m kinky and who I can speak openly about it with. They are mainly people I was friends with when I first ventured into the world of BDSM. We had known each other since we were eleven. We had grown up together. We’d shared our excitement and anxiety over every aspect of teenage life. It seemed natural for me to tell them. I knew I could trust them not to judge me but to be honest negative judgement never crossed my mind. It never occurred to me that over seven years later I would find myself hiding it from people or struggling with it because I couldn’t speak openly.

What I didn’t know at 18 was that the laws around BDSM are complicated and not everybody is able to understand that BDSM isn’t abuse. As I read more about the legal issues surrounding kink I realised it was something I would need to be careful to keep quiet about in certain situations. I realised that although kink has become quite mainstream, certain practices are still taboo. I’m sure I could mention to my GP that I enjoy a spanking and get nothing more than an awkward mumble but I’m not sure I could talk about things which come under the umbrella of edgeplay without setting off alarm bells.

You might be wondering why I would want to discuss kink with my GP or other health professionals. I’d like to be able to discuss it for the same reason anyone would discuss any aspect of their sexual and romantic life: for my health and wellbeing. The fear of repercussions means I am not able to ask questions which could help make my sex life safer. I’d like to be able to ask my GP whether my medical conditions increase the risks in certain practices. I’d like advice on how to manage the risks and prevent serious injury. I’d like to be able to see my GP when I am ill rather than having to wait for marks to fade so I don’t get an interrogation about my injuries. Being able to be open about my sexual inclinations would make my sexual practices safer.

As well as the physical risks of BDSM, there are times when I would like to be able to discuss the psychological side. I don’t remember having any kinky desires until I was 17, until after I was raped. That was my first time and it included pain, fear, loss of control and feelings of degradation. These are all things which feature heavily in my sexual practices now. Although I am generally comfortable with my sexual identity, I find the thought these preferences may be a result of rape unnerving. I don’t feel guilty for enjoying what I enjoy anymore but I think it would be helpful for me to be able to speak about it and, perhaps more importantly, to speak about why I can’t enjoy sex when it is ‘nice’. It is not only in the bedroom where I have issues with affection and emotional intimacy but to speak about relationship issues while leaving out or lying about my sex life doesn’t seem likely to be helpful.

In general day to day life there is no reason for me to disclose my interest in BDSM any more than there is reason to talk about preferring one sexual position over another. It just isn’t relevant. There are very few people I speak about my sex life with at all because sex isn’t a topic of conversation. I don’t talk about BDSM because we don’t talk about any aspect of our sex lives. The only people I talk about it with are the people I sleep with, my older sister and a few close friends because sex and relationships are topics we discuss. Those people all know about my interests but I still hide certain aspects from some of them because I am not sure how they would react.

Perhaps the strangest place I keep quiet about my sexual identity is with people I know from the alternative community. Being kinky is very common in the alternative community but I have always been cautious about disclosing my interests because what I get up to in the bedroom isn’t any of their business. My sex life is a topic for conversation with close friends and sexual partners. It is an intimate topic so it only gets discussed with people I would talk about all areas of my life with. I have done such a good job of keeping my interests to myself that recently when a friend found out I briefly worked behind the bar at a members only BDSM club when I was 18, she was in shock. She saw me as a reserved and very vanilla girl so finding out that wasn’t true came as a big surprise. I didn’t tell her where my interests lie beyond saying I have been involved in BDSM for years but do not play in public.

Being kinky and single can be difficult. One night stands aren’t really appropriate for kink. There needs to be a good level of trust and you need quite a lot of discussion. You can’t really do that when you have just met someone at a club that night. I’m lucky that I have had a few longer term sexual partners to indulge my interests with and I am extremely lucky to have D, a guy I have known since I was 18. He has been instrumental in helping me to embrace my kinks without the shame that was holding me back. In the past year I have become more comfortable with my body and my sexuality. I’m enjoying sex, learning more about myself and no longer feel like I have to shut off or at least limit this aspect of my identity.

As my confidence and self-acceptance grows, my willingness to take (healthy) risks has also increased. I’ve regularly been going to munches for the past year and I have tried a few things I swore I never would (and enjoyed them!). I find myself being more open with friends and in turn, they are finding it easier to be open about their sexuality. Coming out kinky isn’t about wearing a badge to identify you or telling every person you know, it’s about being free from shame.

If you are kinky, how do you choose who to disclose it to? Have you ever spoken to a medical professional or therapist about it?

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    • Screw Taboo
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