Drew Cordes

Kinksters: Our sexy allies

Filed By Drew Cordes | October 25, 2010 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: BDSM, kink, queer

For us LGBT'ers, there's another community of significant size that often goes unrecognized as a welcoming ally and home away from home -- the world of kink.

kink1.jpgDespite the scary misconceptions of BDSM groups as full of predatory leather-clad sadists, sex offenders and emotionally damaged masochists, the kink community can be a hospitable place where "normal" people safely explore their not-so-normal sides. All the shuttered characters of the everyday world come out to play in full light. It's a twilight zone full of crossdressers, trans men and women, gay men and women, butch girls, femmy men and bisexuals everywhere you turn. While those in or searching for hetero relationships make up the majority, queers are very comfortable there.

The social contract in this situation is simple: Respect others' interests and they do the same for you. This creates an atmosphere in which LGBT folks feel at ease.

Add to that the genuine interest many members have in helping and educating their peers, and the usual social pressures are defused even further. Straight men often will play with the queerest, genderbending-est men to simply indulge curiosities such as how it feels to be worked over with that deer-skin flogger, or tied up and suspended from the ceiling. There's no uneasiness at playing across one's defined sexuality; there's no fear of judgment. It's simply one person doing a favor for another - a friendly offer of goods and services.

There is more to it than respect and helpfulness, however. Queers feel welcome for reasons beyond kink groups' tolerant attitudes. Like a lot of us, many kinksters grew up confused by their feelings, ashamed of their desires. Granted, those feelings and desires often relate to tying people up and hurting them, but the principle is the same. They lived in their own closets. They felt "not normal;" and as such, they grew up questioning the norm. When in an environment where being oneself is encouraged, they have that shared experience with the queers present. There is true empathy between kinksters, straight and queer.

In kink world, everyone fits the term "alternative sexuality," and the resulting bonds can be just as meaningful as those we find in the queer community.


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I think this is awfully simplistic

Sure, some kinky people can be immense allies and wonderfully understanding - but I have encountered no small amount of homophobia, heteronormativity and strict gender roles among my fellow kinky people - in fact, I'd say I've run in to at least as much in kinky circles that made it clear they were STRAIGHT kinky circles not for gay kinksters like myself


They can certainly be wonderful allies - but I think it's awfully simplistic and glossing over an awful lot of homophobia to assume that kinksters are natural or usual allies

Sorry to hear you've encountered homophobia in the kink world. (For the record and in case there's any confusion, I'm speaking of kink/bdsm groups, not swingers groups.) It's a safe bet there'll always be a few homophobes present in any subculture, but I must say I've been in the kink community for years now and have explored groups and events all over the Northeast. The queer contingents are always high, and I've yet to meet anyone straights whom I didn't find accepting. Perhaps, I've just had better luck than some.

Integration of gay men is sometimes an issue in the kink world, often because gay men have their own separate kink scene specific to them. At the events I've been to however, it's an issue people are aware of and working to rectify. At one event, the few gay men that came were greeted exceedingly warmly and even approached by organizers to hear how they could better attract and serve the gay male community.

I've spent more time in the gay male kink community (and yes, predominantly S&M) but a lot because I have had so many horrendous experiences in the straight kink community. And some great ones - but more than enough bad experiences to remind me that just ebcause someone's a kinkster, doesn't mean they're not any less homophobic than any other straight person

I've come across innumerable gender role policing - a lot of men who believe only women should be submissive and men who do so are lesser men - especially if those men are gay

And surprisingly commonly and frighteningly to me, I found a lot of straight men who are very very eager to be a dominant over a gay man in an S&M scenario, enjoy hurting gay men while using anti-gay language - and are completely disrespectful and dismissive of gay men even outside of the scene - maybe especially outside of the scene.

Sadly these are just some of many of the tropes I found in straight kink circles that made me wary - not more wary of kinksters than vanilla straight people, certainly not - but as wary of them as I am any straight person until I am sure I am safe

I've spent more time in the gay male kink community (and yes, predominantly S&M) but a lot because I have had so many horrendous experiences in the straight kink community. And some great ones - but more than enough bad experiences to remind me that just ebcause someone's a kinkster, doesn't mean they're not any less homophobic than any other straight person

I've come across innumerable gender role policing - a lot of men who believe only women should be submissive and men who do so are lesser men - especially if those men are gay

And surprisingly commonly and frighteningly to me, I found a lot of straight men who are very very eager to be a dominant over a gay man in an S&M scenario, enjoy hurting gay men while using anti-gay language - and are completely disrespectful and dismissive of gay men even outside of the scene - maybe especially outside of the scene.

Sadly these are just some of many of the tropes I found in straight kink circles that made me wary - not more wary of kinksters than vanilla straight people, certainly not - but as wary of them as I am any straight person until I am sure I am safe

There's another issue that comes up for lesbians in straight-kink settings, that as a gay man you may not have encountered: straight men who come on too strong to women they perceive to be "available" -- which, sadly, often includes women on the arm of another woman. (No, I mean that in the non-sexual way, you dirty-minded guy you ::g::.) Many of my dyke friends refuse to attend pansexual play parties because of this problem.

Janet, In my first reading, I assumed you were responding to Sparky, the one person speaking from a gay male perspective in the conversation. But the more I re-read it, this truly sounds like a response to Drew here. Could you clarify?

AMouseNamedAnon | October 26, 2010 1:39 AM

Yes, I'd like to agree, this is a huge oversimplification of the kink community. I'm a trans member of the kink community, although albeit a largely misunderstood, uncool, and rejected part of said community (the abdl world). I'd have to say, without a doubt, the kink community is one of the more exclusionary, and conservative groups around. They may be on the surface, queer positive, but its mostly in a subverting, porno-ized version of queer positivity. Rife with misunderstandings and hard heads.

Me: I'm a trans baby girl.
Typical kinky Dude: A what?
Me: I'm a baby girl, but also a transsexual.
Typical kinky Dude: So you're a sissy?
Me: no, i'm a transsexual.
Typical kinky Dude: Were you born with a penis?
Me: Unfortunately, yes.
Typical kinky Dude: Dude, your a sissy, just get over it.

rapid butterfly | October 26, 2010 7:32 AM

Janet, did you just refer to Ms. Cordes as a "gay man" - e.g. "There's another issue that comes up for lesbians in straight-kink settings, that as a gay man you may not have encountered".

That's a major bummer - not only to Ms. Cordes, who I am sure will handle it with class and grace - but to many trans women. Of all the erasing comments that that thrown my way, the "you're just a gay man" always hurts especially badly. Not because I have anything against gay men, but because I am not a man at all (also, I happen to be lesbian identified and partnered).

Ms. Cordes is also not a man, and it's ironic that in your comment, Janet, about straight men hitting on lesbians (which I've observed and it is annoying, especially straight male would-be dominants who assume that lesbians just haven't met the right top) - thus not respecting the identity of the lesbians involved - ended up disrespecting the identity of the trans woman who wrote the post to which you responded.

Yup, I have issues with saying "members of this group are our allies." That's painting with a big brush and just not very helpful. There are some people in the kink community who are transpositive and some who are like Janet.


Oh yes, and I agree, Janet, you're a nasty transphobic creep. You can dress yourself up as a queer womyn/dyke/lesbian/possible feminist, but really you're a hater of the worst kind.

It certainly is difficult to make direct statements about whole communities. I imagine that cis and straight kinksters are probably in general better allies than cis and straight journalists, politicians, or police. Or possibly even cis and straight school teachers, Democrats, or youth. But getting deeper into things there's definitely complications, as have been pointed out.

But let's address the LGB and the T separately for a moment here. I can say that in my community, I know a lot of straight kinksters who are quite queer friendly, and are trans inclusive enough that a good number of them have been involved with trans people. But I don't know if I'd ever see them at a rally or giving a presentation at a school. Some could possibly write a letter to the editor. So I guess it depends on how much you expect from your allies.

Moreover, though, is the problem of trans-friendliness combined with trans-ignorance, among both cis straight and cis queer kinksters. Especially so among cis queer kinksters who've met and played with a few trans people and assume that they are such good allies that they can explain trans issues to trans people, explain their pet theory for what makes us trans, why we're not exactly the same as and shouldn't expect to be treated exactly the same as "real, sorry I mean bio, sorry I guess I mean non-trans," men and women.

And let's not forget the infamous and slowly dying cis women only parties, all the "compromises" where trans women can come but can't be fully naked or are prohibited from experience genital pleasure, and so on.

So there are definitely issues of homo- and transphobia. Still, I'd rather have a random kinkster then a random journalist, and I'd rather have a random cis queer kinkster than a random vanilla cis queer.

But we can't be associated with the kinksters! We just want to get married and live normal lives and be respected by the most conservative straight/cis people out there.

Speaking as a hetero cis kinkster, not only would I agree with the above caution not to overgeneralize about any community, but I would add that much of the kink community is far more self-correcting than other groups. That is because of the diversity of people we draw and welcome. We are more willing to listen, pay attention to and learn from the various people who come into kink and share their experiences -- good and bad.

Hi Sparky and Drew,

Well in Sydney the kink scene that I have been part of for over a decade, id quite healthy and very supportive of GLBTI people, and we do have some crossover events that really do bridge communities.

Sydney Leather Pride is a queer org and there are strong gay and lesbian leather BDSM communities, but the panssexual scene here is quite inclusive and not hostile to difference. Which is great because the richness of shared experience is what makes events what they are, and you can learn a lot from workshops, events and shows that involve more than one point of view.

My experience was that I was able to embark on the path of transition supported by my BDSM community, and the friends I made then I still have now. So I am happy to be able to run events and put back into the community and do my share of support in return.

I think one of the things important to the queer BDSM community is the idea of tradition, and the connection to our roots. The subculture and dependance on structure, respect and protocol centred around D/s is something that today is sadly overlooked in the pursuit of hedonistic pleasure, and the want-it-now generation.

I would like to see more community building, more outreach, more support and networking, something that gave the community and its members strength through 'family' links. The importance of solidarity founded by disparate people's shared interest or focus, is something that should be imparted to newcomers into communities but the downside of a connected world is just anyone can join by clicking on a link, and there is no period of learning or developing.. 'earning' a place if you like.

And so the fabric of what makes up our subculture has been weakened, becoming mainstreamed means the very things that made us welcoming and strong get diluted by an influx of those who don't know about the other side of how things work and don't really want to learn about it.

To me, without the respect, honour and trust among the community built up by shared experience and the knowledge of where we come from and why, and knowing those around you have learnt safe methods of play and the other 'rules' of interaction, we're just a bunch of perverts in shiny clothes.

There are always those who bring their own agenda, like those womyn-born-womyn ratbags who 'just don't get it' and homphobes from the suburbs who can't bear to inhabit a room with two men kissing yet think they can stand and ogle me kissing my girlfriend. But they don't enjoy much tolerance from the community at large and are viewed as a destructive element and will rapidly be called on their shit - if they persist they can go off and form their own little lunch clubs but they just are not how the rest of us roll.

But because the queer presence is strong, supportive, beautiful and creative, and such a big part of the community here, I don't think the BDSM scene would exist without us.

Other states' scenes may be a bit different but then the communities are smaller and so larger events have to be inclusiveness in order to get the numbers to make it happen. So, we all come together more than if we were in way larger cities, and this encourages better understanding of others.


Some great points made by Tobi, Alex, Desmond and Laycette. This is great discussion. I'm sorry to hear more people haven't shared my experiences of an accepting kink community. Not everyone's an ally, but don't let a few bad apples spoil the whole kinky bunch.