Kinky and anonymous?
October 24, 2011 11:20 AM   Subscribe

Getting started in the local kinky / Fetlife community - with a real-life reputation to keep completely disconnected. How to do it?

29, male, straight, familiar enough with kinky stuff to make past girlfriends very happy. OKCupid works quite well at finding dates and girlfriends, but it's just a little too vanilla. I recently signed up on Fetlife and am getting familiar with the local (if fairly small) community. I'll be at the next munch in the area, that's for sure - going forward, getting involved as the schedule allows.

The issue is that I'm positive I'll run into people who know me. It *must* be possible to keep the 'real world' reputation untouched whilst enjoying what the community has to offer (and of course, what I can offer the community).

FWIW, there's zero connection between my username on Fetlife and anywhere else, and I've carefully ensured it would very difficult to impossible to ascertain who I am from that profile.

So, fellow kinky MeFi's, how do you enjoy yourself while keeping your anonymity?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (20 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
You might get good responses posting this on the "people from metafilter on fetlife" group over there. There are some MeFites over there who have not linked their fl and mf usernames, so you don't have to out yourself there.

(I can't really help with the actual question - I don't care too much beyond making a vague attempt to avoid an easily google-able link from my various online personae to my username on fl or okc.)
posted by rmd1023 at 11:28 AM on October 24, 2011


I'm wired for kink, but haven't done much about it lately due to life getting in the way.
Nobody asked for my real name when I went to a munch.

If there's a forum or mailing list for your local community, you can bring up the question there as well.
posted by luckynerd at 11:32 AM on October 24, 2011


This reminds me of gay guys who want relationships without having to come out to the world at large. The thing to remember is, you're basically asking everyone you interact with to keep your secret...which gets to be a major pain in the ass. If you really must maintain a squeaky-clean image, seek out other playmates in a similar situation.
posted by roger ackroyd at 11:36 AM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Most of the people who know you will also be invested in keeping their professional lives detached from their kinky-person lives. Therefore, people in the public BDSM scene who recognize you at a munch are not going to go to their vanilla friends and be all "OMG I saw Anonymous at the munch last night!" If it makes you feel more comfortable, you can also use a nickname at munches and the like (although I feel your play partners have a right to know your full name and address, for safety reasons, especially if you're new to your local community and nobody knows you).

I'd be more worried about being outed by Someone From The Internet than Someone From The Munch, were I you. If privacy is a big concern, make sure your FL username is different from other accounts on other social-networking sites, and tie it to an anonymous gmail account.
posted by kataclysm at 11:43 AM on October 24, 2011


This reminds me of gay guys who want relationships without having to come out to the world at large.

Except it's really, really not the same at all. Gay guys who want to hide a relationship are trying to hide a relationship. This is just about hiding sex practices. I'm a straight man. I date straight and bi women. I do so openly and I don't have to hide it. Now, maybe I meet my dates on okcupid, or at parties, or at munches, or in dungeons; maybe we're chaste and maybe we're into scat play and heavy BDSM. Maybe it's somewhere in the middle! That's what's private. That we are in a relationship is not a secret.

To go back to your analogy, you can date same- or different-gendered people, and that still has nothing to do with whether you're vanilla in the bedroom or kinkier than de Sade's weirdest fantasies. There are those who support "coming out" as kinksters, but for the most part, this really isn't an issue; somebody who's dominant or submissive or masochistic or whatever in bed is under no pressure from the kink community at large to "come out" to the general population in the same way that coming out as gay is generally seen by gay/allied folks as a Good Healthy Thing.
posted by Tomorrowful at 11:54 AM on October 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


There's a relevant line from The Producers:

Bloom: What if someone from the office should see me?
Bialystock: Then you'd see them, and why aren't they at the office?
posted by modernserf at 12:08 PM on October 24, 2011 [10 favorites]


I hope you see the irony of asking, from the anonymous account, people to respond with their actual username as to how they protect their anonymity.

Nth-ing taking it to the MeFi Fetlife group.
posted by hwyengr at 12:11 PM on October 24, 2011


At happy hours, I use my legal first name; online, I go by a screen name. I use a separate email address for communication and instant messaging. I haven't connected my real name to sexually-charged topics in any manner online. I keep identifiable photos accessible only to friends, and I only friend people I trust (e.g., people who have shared a similar level of personal information with me - surnames, professions, et cetera). I make it a rule that no suggestive images including my face or familiar surroundings are published online. If people from my professional life were to happen across my profile, they wouldn't be able to tell it was me; if they were able to ascertain my identity, they'd be outing themselves as Fetlife members or people into the kink community.

Note that this is only really relevant if you're not a celebrity. Non-celebrities don't typically have people following them around ready to pounce on any opportunity to leak a sexy photo.

Many of us in the community shy away from people who refuse to open up about what they're like outside of the bedroom. There is such a thing as being careful to a fault. If I and other kinksters don't feel we have to hide our off-hours happy hour activities at all possible costs, we may not be interested in getting to know someone who does.
posted by theraflu at 12:31 PM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I gotta tell you, the fact that my old accountant is kinky and that I know he's kinky because I bumped into him at a munch, has never once come up in conversation. Ever. With anybody. Including the many people in that town I have referred to him professionally. The community is by definition intimate and I never found it to be anything except discreet. I think of it like AA. Even people who are out about AA would never, ever out their fellow members.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:02 PM on October 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


Make sure the people you're getting involved with are decent people aside from their kinky interests. Every scene has its drama queens and people who are downright unstable. It can be hard to judge from appearances, and I suspect it's doubly so when the person you've just met also hits all your kinky buttons. Try to be objective and protect yourself.

I say all this because I've known of unstable people in "the scene" who have attempted to blackmail others when the relationship didn't go as the blackmailer wanted.

Associate with others who are mature enough to understand why you want to keep this part of your life separate.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 1:08 PM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


One thing I do think is worth mentioning is that (in my experience) expectations around privacy can be heavily regional, seeming to depend on local laws and taboos around kink, and also on common industries in a region.

I've known people in the Bay Area to give out their (non-kink/sex related) business card at events and discuss their latest work project with strangers at the bar, but in the DC metro area that kind of thing just didn't happen, and asking anyone what they did for a living would be totally unacceptable, as would acknowledging someone you only knew through the scene if you met them in some other random public or work situation. There are people I knew for years on the east coast who I still don't know a thing about beyond their scene interests, and people I met once on the west coast whose full personal and work info I could find online in ten seconds if I chose. Both levels of disclosure normal in context, and not ok out of it.
posted by crabintheocean at 1:11 PM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think it's often less of a big deal than we make it out to be. I mean, there's a person I work with who is crazy perverse, even by my skewed standards. Everyone knows about it (because the person isn't particularly discreet), and no one cares. In person I keep quiet about what I get up to in the bedroom, but things sometimes come up in conversation, and again, no one cares.

(The big exception is if you have a job that you think makes you vulnerable to being outed. Maybe a public school teacher in a particularly conservative place? Politician? But in that case, it's going to the munch that is risky, not the kinky sex, and you'll need to be careful in other ways, too. Very few of us are actually vulnerable that way, happily.)

I'm not into the munch thing; I've been to a couple and decided it wasn't for me. But even in my limited participation, it was obvious that the potential mutual awkwardness of meeting someone you didn't expect to meet is easily outweighed by the advantages of being in a community.
posted by Forktine at 2:46 PM on October 24, 2011


From what I gather, any established Kink community is rather protective. Meaning, there's known codes of conduct at the majority of events and any jerk-like behavior is eventually outed because it hurts the community at large. It's also known that people have varying levels of how much they want to disclose their involvement in such activities. There are those that are obviously out and about it, some that sort of mention it, and those that totally live separate lives.

Chances are very well that if you meet someone you know IRL at an event, they won't mention it outside of the community. If you already never mention it in your public life, they will probably get the hint. I believe the community has a lot more to lose if they tolerate any jerk behavior than to be very protective and prohibit any troubling people to stay. Even among participants have a vetting process for safe play, so I really doubt anyones going to try to "out" you, and even if they tried to, if you brought this up to any respected member of the community they would retaliate back to this behavior.

Anyone feel free to correct me if I'm incorrect in these assumptions.
posted by xtine at 5:12 PM on October 24, 2011


If you know you're going to run into people who know you from other contexts, then it's not possible to be completely anonymous unless you plan to wear a ski mask. Just roll with it. I wouldn't be at all concerned unless you're a pastor or a politician. Nobody cares.

My own experience (as a dominant female) - I use a different username on FetLife. While people could connect the dots between that name, this one and my real one, it's never ever happened. Conversely, at munches I give my real first name and sometimes my FL username. No one has ever asked my last name or where I work (a general "so what do you do" is fine).

I've run into people I knew from high school, people I work with, people I slept with a long time ago... seriously, no one cares. You'd have to really go out of your way to piss off the local sociopath for it to become some sort of weird situation.

And honestly, even at a munch you don't have to disclose that you're into fisting on trapezes or whatever. Generally the only people who will ask you what you're into are people that want to sleep with you, so you can just let others believe whatever you want.
posted by desjardins at 7:02 PM on October 24, 2011


This reminds me of gay guys who want relationships without having to come out to the world at large.

Except it's really, really not the same at all. Gay guys who want to hide a relationship are trying to hide a relationship. This is just about hiding sex practices.


Tomorrowful, you've completely missed the analogy's point. Gay guys who don't want to come out to the world at large are not trying to hide a relationship; they ARE trying to hide sex practices. EXACTLY what the OP is worried about.

OP: I've only known one kinkster in my life who was derisive when she found out my kinks. Openly derisive. Only thing is... she was so messed up no one who'd been naked with her would ever mistake her rants for reality.

Everyone else, some variation on: "Hey, that's cool." Or "Wow, that's sexy!" Or, "If it works for you, I'm game!" Or, "Cool. Myself, I like ___." Or, "Have you tried The Toy Box on 5th & Vine? They have these great rubber bodysuits..."

If you're playing with kinksters, let your fucking freak flag fly already! And be respectful of everyone's "public" lives... They'll do the same.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:53 PM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


(BTW, with "straights" - people who pride themselves on their lack of kink - all bets are off. Get to know the person before you can assume they won't tell tales behind your back.)
posted by IAmBroom at 7:54 PM on October 24, 2011


It *must* be possible to keep the 'real world' reputation untouched whilst enjoying what the community has to offer (and of course, what I can offer the community).

As others have suggested, it probably depends as much upon what sort of "real world" you inhabit as anything about the Community itself. To some extent, certain careers/professions seem to keep greater distance between work and personal life (of any kind). Put another way, in some professions colleagues are nosier about such matters or the possibility for some sort of accidental cross over might be greater. Like many things in life, perhaps it comes down to balancing between competing risks: the risk of being "outed" in some way vs. the risk of not being who you are at a deep level (which has a whole set of consequences of its own).
posted by 5Q7 at 9:44 PM on October 24, 2011


You can be involved in as many ferocious kinks as you want in public scene, and as long as you practice them safely and responsibly, those people who know you in the professional world who witness you in the scene will have their opinions of you heightened and reinforced. Learn, listen, respect, avoid drama and contribute to the community and your professional contacts will see you're responsible and good in all areas of your life.

Seriously...even whipping the shit out of folks or calling them humiliating names or having these things done to you will not faze scene members. It's how you conduct your kinky life that matters.

Discretion is fine, paranoia is not. People want to be sure you're not cheating, not know your work title and address!
posted by By The Grace of God at 5:23 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's necessarily as simple as some folks are making it out to be. This gentleman for example, went through hell (and handled it admirably, and chose a route of being pretty open about his personal life, although my understanding is that he chose that out of necessity rather than preference).

And I believe that as a dominant man (a role that's seen as "natural" even by people who think SM is gross and wrong) he had a much easier time than if he'd been a submissive or a woman with any kind of preference.

I know a submissive woman who works with mental health patients at a VA hospital. Not being "out" is clearly a safety issue for her. So I'm just saying YMMV and so may your local community.
posted by crabintheocean at 11:58 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


YMMV, but I've been involved for 15 years, and 15 years ago people were much more careful regarding privacy, to the point of not even publicly recognizing or saying hi to someone they knew through the scene unless they explicitly knew that was ok.

As more and more people move to things like Fetlife, the attitude seems to be "What's the big deal?" You'll probably run into a few folks like that, no matter what you do.

Your best options are: Keep your Fetlife account separate (which you said you do), and do not post pictures, not of you or anyone you're involved with (Oh, hey, I saw that girl with this guy I know...). And make sure that people you meet know that you wish to remain anonymous to the world at large. I don't know anyone who would disrespect specific instructions not to blow someone's cover. Some folks who remain semi-anonymous post only pictures of body parts: back, legs, etc. I think that's unwise if you desire anonymity. Stranger things have happened than someone recognizing you from your stance, or your legs. If you're specifically trying to get dates online, that might make things a bit more difficult, but you can always send get someone's attention with a fantastic email and then send a picture after a few emails. This too, is an iffy practice, because you never know when someone will turn out to be a jerk...with your photo.

Personally, I would lean more towards the physical community (munches, parties, meetings) rather than online community if I wanted to protect my community. I'm more likely to trust someone to respect my wishes if I see them in person. In general I think any place like Fetlife is a really bad idea for someone who desires anonymity. I've recognized people before from tiny details in their postings. And that stuff sticks around a lot longer than in-person presence. It all depends on your risk assessment and exactly how important anonymity is to you.
posted by thelastcamel at 12:54 AM on October 28, 2011


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