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Yeah, I'm kinky... is that a problem?
October 2, 2010 7:49 PM   Subscribe

Should I come out of the BDSM closet?

I'm a middle-aged guy who's relatively inexperienced with sex and dating. Although I'm certainly turned on by vanilla sex, what really gets my boat floating is the idea of being physically restrained, tied up, held down, and generally dominated by a woman. Except for a few sessions with a professional dominatrix, I've kept these proclivities to myself.

Lately, though, I've been wanting to make connections with like-minded people in my city, by attending some BDSM-oriented events (munches, rope bondage exhibitions, etc.). The problem is that most of these events take place in the "hip" part of town where I'm liable to run into friends who have no idea I'm into this stuff, and who have made disparaging, mocking comments about it in the past. On the one hand, I feel like it's none of their business how I choose to get off, but at the same time, if I'm going to lose some friends because of it, maybe it would be better to get it over with on my own terms.

I'm in a fairly precarious place right now, both financially and emotionally, and really don't want to lose the few close friends I have... but hearing them speak so ignorantly about something that is a big part of my life, increasingly makes me want to confront them about it. What to do, what to do?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm in a fairly precarious place right now, both financially and emotionally, and really don't want to lose the few close friends I have... but hearing them speak so ignorantly about something that is a big part of my life, increasingly makes me want to confront them about it.

Key word is "ignorantly." Plenty of people just don't know much about some of the more niche topics about sexuality. (I'm sure there are fetishes out there that would have even most of us supposedly savvy Mefites taken aback.) I doubt your friends would castigate you for any of your sexual preferences if they realized that it's a serious thing. They probably just don't know much, haven't bothered to get educated about that particular subculture (after all, they're under no obligation to), and are satisfied just naively making fun of it.

As for the mocking -- I think it'd be fine to confront them. But don't do it angrily at all; just lightly point out ... whatever it is you think they should know, remembering they're probably more clueless than malicious. You could do this with or without saying, "Ah, you know, I actually like some of that stuff." Whatever you feel comfortable with.

The more important thing is whether this holds you back from having the sex life you want to have. Do what you want to do in your sex life. Not what you might imagine your friends would want you to do. Not based on who you might run into downtown. If you're in a "precarious place . . . emotionally," that's all the more reason not to deny your genuine desires.

I wouldn't assume you're going to lose any friends; I would assume you aren't going to lose any friends. If they can't accept you pursuing a sex life that makes you happy -- a notion they would surely be aghast at if anyone directed it at their sex lives -- then they're not worth having as friends anyway.
posted by John Cohen at 8:14 PM on October 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


It sounds like you have two different possible rationales for coming out. One is a concern of being unintentionally outed if you happen to run into friends while attending a munch or other kink event. The other is that hearing your sexuality badmouthed makes you uncomfortable, and you'd like to stand up for it.

If the first concern is really the primary one here, I think I'd advise against coming out. For one thing, it seems unlikely to actually be a problem -- it's not like they hold bondage demos in the middle of popular cafes, and munches are less obviously kinky. I know the feeling of being paranoid about seeing someone you know while you're at a munch, but I don't think it's a good reason for coming out if you don't have other motivations. And if the unlikely coincidence of being spotted does happen, you are still very much "on your own terms" if you take control of the situation in the moment. Just try to avoid looking like a deer in the headlights or a kid with their hand in the cookie jar. Running into someone you know while at a kink event is as good a time as any to bring the "Yeah, I'm kinky...is that a problem?" attitude.

But it sounds to me like the second reason might actually be more important to you here. If you feel a desire to defend your sexual tastes, I would be more on the side of going for it. I'm all for educating people about kink, and almost all of my close friends know I'm kinky. For what it's worth, all of my coming-out stories are total non-stories; certainly no one has ever given me a hard time about it. I think that one reason I haven't had trouble with it, though, is that I have a personal policy of only coming out to people with whom I would already be comfortable discussing my sex life. And by that I really mean talking about the DETAILS of MY OWN sex life, not just sitting around making generic jokes about sex and stuff. If you come out to people who you don't already have this kind of relationship with, I think that you run the risk of them being put off not because they have a problem with BDSM, but because it's just plain TMI.

Have a great time as you venture out into the kink community! I've always found it very welcoming and I hope you will too.


tl;dr: Don't come out just because you're scared of getting caught. Do come out to defend your sexual preferences. Don't come out to people who just don't want to think about you having sex of any kind.
posted by ootandaboot at 8:33 PM on October 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


I agree with John Cohen, a simple "to each their own" response to the rude comments is more than acceptable.

Also, if you're running into them in the area, you don't need to explain to them where you've been, and if they're hanging out in front of the venues then I don't think there's much to worry about either way.
posted by addelburgh at 8:36 PM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Having just recently come out into my local BDSM community, all I can say is yes, yes, and yes. If this is truly something you're interested and invested in, I cannot recommend it enough. I have met some really fantastic people, and everyone has been extremely open and welcoming. You'll be amazed at how much you learn, and how good it feels to be around people who share similar desires and aren't ashamed of them.

I also agree with what everyone else has said about defending your own sexual desires to your friends. There has been plenty of good advice offered about this, so I'll just add my own two cents: if "outing" yourself to friends by saying, "Hey, don't make fun, perfectly ordinary people like me are into this, you know!" is too big a step for you right now, I would recommend even more strongly that you connect with people who are in the lifestyle. The fact that you'll quickly have another social circle who not only accept but encourage such behavior may help you to just roll your eyes, think, 'Oh, if only they knew what the hell they were talking about,' and keep your mouth shut with in other social situations.

(Or it may make you a BDSM Activist and Educator, but that's awesome too-- and if you want to do something good for the kinky community, there's nothing like putting in a sane word about it to the vanilla world.)
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:44 PM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


While you are thinking this through, come visit the Mefites at fetlife. You aren't the first person to have grappled with this, and it sucks to be having to figure it out in isolation.

As others have said, you are conflating two somewhat separate issues. One is what happens if you are outed as kinky -- if someone you know spots you at a bdsm event and drops you as a friend or tells everyone. And the other is how to respond when friends talk trash about a form of sexuality that is important to you.

It's hard to give advice for the former -- it depends on how small of a place you live, how conservative it is, and whether if you are outed there could be professional consequences. None of us can know those things. I will say though, that even in quite conservative settings people tend to end up knowing bits and pieces about other people's deviant sexualities, and by and large there's a don't-ask-don't-tell policy at play. I may know you go to swinger parties, and I may have fun laughing about it behind your back, but that won't automatically turn into a Big Deal.

Whereas for the latter issue, about your friends making crappy comments about bdsm, that's honestly probably more a reflection of how bdsm is normally presented in popular culture than anything to do with you or your friends. Mostly bdsm shows up in movies and tv shows as a joke or as something connected with depraved serial killers, not as something that a normal, cool person would do as a normal part of their life. So it's fine to call them on it, but you might or might not get very far with it.
posted by Forktine at 11:17 PM on October 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


The problem is that most of these events take place in the "hip" part of town where I'm liable to run into friends who have no idea I'm into this stuff, and who have made disparaging, mocking comments about it in the past.

Do those friends need to know why you're in that part of town, specifically? Why are they in that part of town? Does being in that part of town necessarily equal OH NOES KINKY SEX?

It just seems like you're getting ahead of yourself and equating attending events with friends finding out about your private sexual preferences with losing those friends over this. Does it have to work that way? My guess is probably not.
posted by judith at 11:19 PM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't know your friends, but you might be exaggerating the problem here. My friends do things that I find silly and sometimes I mock them for it, and they mock me for things I'm into that they find silly, and nothing ever comes of it. If I found out one of my friends was into BDSM I would definitely make fun of him, but there's no way it would end our friendship -- that's just insane. But you have to judge for yourself exactly how disparaging their comments have been.
posted by creasy boy at 1:46 AM on October 3, 2010


Munches are pretty discreet. Short of meeting someone you know there (brilliant but unlikely), how are your friends going to know? Walking through town to a bondage exhibition doesn't tell people where you're going — you get to decide if you do that.

Tell your friends whatever's relevant or interesting. If they're mocking something that's important to you, tell them. Hopefully they'll show interest by asking questions. If they say 'ick,' you probably don't want to invite them to the next BDSM event you're going to, but gently explain that doesn't mean you can't still go dancing.

As in everything to do with sex, real life is way better than the internet.
posted by westerly at 4:32 AM on October 3, 2010


I think there's a big difference between making jokes about tying people up, pegging, etc., and being seriously prejudiced against BDSM. I suspect that most of your hip friends who make jokes about whips and chains, etc., if you actually asked them seriously about bondage as a personal lifestyle, would agree that everybody deserves to get off however they want to get off. So I don't think you need to take the jokes personally or spank your friends for being intolerant.

I mean, c'mon. Sex is funny. Kink is funnier. Doesn't mean anyone's actually looking down on your sexual identity. They're just having a laugh.

As far as going to munches -- a munch looks like a bunch of people having food. People don't go in garb, and they don't get kinky in a restaurant. They get kinky at private events.

I wouldn't come out to your friends unless it's relevant, any more than you would tell your friends that you like to have sex on rooftops, or that you're a swinger, or what sort of lube you use. It's TMI. People probably wouldn't mind knowing that you're kinky, but they would be uncomfortable if it's such a big part of your lifestyle that it intrudes into every conversation.
posted by musofire at 7:08 AM on October 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I mean, c'mon. Sex is funny. Kink is funnier. Doesn't mean anyone's actually looking down on your sexual identity. They're just having a laugh.

This.
posted by John Cohen at 7:15 AM on October 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


When you say "I'm in a fairly precarious place right now, both financially and emotionally"

this makes me wonder if you feel good being dominated because of that (at least partially).

Been there done that in the worst possible way. Only made me feel worse.

Ideally, people should be emotionally well when forming a relationship, kinky or not.

Lots of people don't "get" kink and probably never will.

If I met a 'friend' at a kink get together I would feel relieved. The cat's out of the bag for both of you so what's the big deal.

Personally I wouldn't tell my 'friends' I'm into kink if I had a lot of friends. I only have a small circle of friends and they get it - that's why they are friends.

Its like why tell them you like country music, they'll make fun of you and who needs the grief of defending yourself.
posted by simpleton at 11:06 AM on October 3, 2010


Ok, I take back some things and think 'educating' people and removing the ignorance is a good idea.

I'm just saying certain types of people simply won't 'get' it and be more of a pain than anything else.

It really depends on the type of friends you have in my opinion.
posted by simpleton at 11:11 AM on October 3, 2010


From the OP:
Thanks, everyone, for your very thoughtful replies. I do feel very invested in this, and I'm going to stop coming up with excuses to not attend my first munch! I think the risk of being inadvertently outed will be far outweighed by the positive effect of perhaps finding a community where I can truly be myself. Probably my main reason for coming out to my vanilla friends would be the desire to avoid feeling like I'm living some kind of double life. Ultimately, though, keeping them on a need-to-know-basis about my new adventure seems like the best course of action. If it somehow comes up, then I'll just choose to own it... otherwise, yeah... TMI.
posted by jessamyn at 9:10 PM on October 3, 2010


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