It’s been two decades since I got into the kink scene for the first time, and so much has changed. Sit back, relax, and let me tell you younglings about how things were back in the day.
In the 90’s, religious groups would advertise fake kink meetups so they could prey upon anyone who showed up. It was mostly Mormons, but Christians did it too. I grew up in Arizona, and there was a kink group called Arizona Power Exchange, or APEX. They advertised their meetups with fliers at popular counter-culture hangouts like The Graffiti Shop on Mill Avenue. Unfortunately, they couldn’t stop Mormon prayer groups from putting out fliers for fake events, and then telling any “sinner” who showed up how they needed to be saved.
This is how I came to understand that kinky people were discriminated against by society, and it’s also how I came to hate Mormons. I actually wish Hell was real so those fucks could burn in it.
However, it wasn’t just Mormons and other religious nut-balls who preyed upon us. There were a lot of physiologists who saw kink as a disease of the mind. They claimed that things like rape fantasies made you “sick” and “dangerous.” They tried to lure people into special counselling groups and get them on medication, while lying to them about how unusual they were.
The cat is out of the bag, thanks to the Internet. In a new book called Everybody Lies, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz explains that Google searches show us for who we really are, and most of us have rape fantasies and dream of violent sex. So kinky people were not persecuted for being different- as we had always been told. Rather, we were persecuted for doing something that everyone secretly wanted to do, because we were actually doing it.
It’s ironic, because I remember fellow kinksters saying things like: “They’re just jealous; they wish they had sex like us!” Then we all laughed because it was a joke to us to imagine those bigots being in touch enough with their sexuality to negotiate a scene and play it out. And yet, it turns out it was true. They were always just jealous.
These days, BDSM is no longer in the DSM as a mental disorder. Psychologists and medical doctors are instructed to treat us normally. Sometimes, they actually do.
We got to enjoy the era of CollarMe.com and Fetlife.com and the rise of munches and fetish proms in every city. We got to enjoy kinky people simply going about our lives and being treated with only mild disdain, instead of being thrown in prison. And those younglings who came into the community during this time of openness and acceptance might not realize how dangerous it used to be to be kinky.
However, our freedoms are under attack. Now that we are threatened, we need to remember what it was like before we were free to meet and be and who we were. We need to look back at our history, and remember that there are people in prison right now for things like having rape fantasies. (Yes, I know one. He was convicted back when kink was still seen as a disorder and we were still considered dangerous.)
They are taking down websites. They use the excuse that these websites “could be used for sex trafficking,” but we all know that is bullshit. My Facebook profile says I am a guy, and I get TONS of spam from hooker-bots on Facebook, so any website can be used for sex trafficking. If I can buy a hooker on Facebook, I can buy one anywhere (since Facebook is where all the old grannies hang out.)
In Congress, they just decided that it’s okay for states to ban gay couples from adopting. This is in spite of all the studies which prove that gay couples are often better parents than straight couples (since they don’t have their kids by accident.)
If you are a youngling that never lived through a fake kink meetup put on by religious people who blocked the door to keep you from leaving and shouted hateful shit at you, then you might not see the writing on the wall. That is why I am telling you: Attacks on marginalized people like sex workers and gay couples are attacks on us. They are coming at us one subgroup at a time, and they are working hard to criminalize everything about who we are.
What we have built over the years is something I am so proud of. The kink community used to be full of exploitative Doms and abused women. And yet from that, we built a healthy community full of supportive networks of people. We built websites and clubs and spaces where kink could be safe. I am so proud of us and of all the things we have created for safe, sane, and consensual kinky sex.
Seeing the government begin to attack us again is terrifying. Having someone like Mike Pence in the White House is probably the scariest thing I can think of. I know everyone focuses on the buffoon in the spotlight, but he is deeply irrelevant. Pence is the one who is part of the Quiverfull Movement (a group of religious extremists whose ultimate goal is to force all women into the home and to force Christian values and straight vanilla sex on us all.) All the dangerous legislation against us is coming from Pence. And this is something we need to be talking about.
If you are kinky, then politics needs to matter to you. I know it’s easier to avoid it and to just not talk about it, but we can’t do that. We have to fight for the community that we have built, and fight against those who would take our freedom to fuck in fun ways away from us. You might think it can’t get that bad, but it was that bad twenty years ago. It can be again.
Please vote. Please write to your elected representatives. Please talk to people about the community and how we are just normal folks like them (as opposed to terrifying criminal sinners.) Be open about who you are and how you follow laws. Remind people that CONSENT is our biggest rule.
And as an aside, I wrote a trilogy of books to humanize us. They are modeled after a vanilla romance novel (I read about 30 vanilla romance novels before writing them to get the formula right.) However, the main character is kinky. She starts out a little kinky, and then evolves into a polyamourous dominatrix. The point of the series is to teach vanilla people about consensual kink and how normal and non-threatening it is.
So, if you know a vanilla person who might need that lesson, please buy them The Jamie Johnson Trilogy. It’s not anything super-special to us kink folks (all the kink scenes are pretty tame and standard.) But that is because it’s intent is not to shock. Rather, it is to lull the vanilla folks into a sense of security because we’re just normal human beings who have a few whips and chains in our closet, and it’s not a big deal.
You probably don’t have time to write novels, but any form of activism you choose to do is equally valid. Just fight. Please. We all need to fight for our right to be kinky!