Kink: A Coming-Out Story
I remember watching the Leather Contingent go by in the parade at my very first Pride. As the leather-clad sadists, masochists, and human ponies went by, whips cracking, a hush fell over the spectators. The vanilla gays, heterosexuals, and tourists had no idea what to make of these proud perverts, and seemed afraid to clap or cheer.
I was afraid, too, as I watched. Afraid and hungry.
I still have a hard time believing what happened next.
A splendid-looking old leather daddy broke off from the parade and walked over to the railing where I stood. He wound his flogger around the back of my neck, and kissed me on the forehead. Then just as suddenly as he had appeared, he was gone.
Understand that I was not yet the pretty gay boy that I am today. At sixteen, I looked for all the world like any baby dyke, there at my very first pride with my very first girlfriend. There was no reason for him to pick on me.
If that guy somehow happens to be reading this, I want him to know that his simple gesture planted a seed. He helped to create the monster I have become.
That first tiny taste of kink was so heady to me that I spent most of the rest of the parade seated on the concrete, too weak in the knees to support myself. I spent that time telling myself that I wasn’t “that way,” that it was sick and wrong.
Just months later, I found myself browsing the internet late at night, looking for information on “sadism” and “masochism.” These search terms tended to bring up clinical results that told me that I had a mental disorder. Eventually I discovered better keywords, like “BDSM” and “kink.” I didn’t have my own computer; I had to use my mom’s. Every five minutes, I religiously cleared the browser history.
I learned a lot. The first thing I learned was that, as a minor, I was not supposed to access what one might call “higher sex education.” Only one site, Scarleteen, provided me with information on kink free of legal disclaimers. I learned about safewords and negotiation, about tops and bottoms, about doms and subs.
The more I learned, the more alienated I felt. There was a whole world out there of which my peers knew nothing. As one of two out queers at my school, I already felt enough like a freak. Now I felt like the only pervert on the planet. I became severely depressed. At the end of 10th grade, no longer able to relate to my friends, I dropped out of school. Though I didn’t know it at the time, I’d learned an important lesson: that it was useless to surround myself with vanilla folks.
At least my girlfriend knew. She wasn’t into kink like I was, but my heart nearly broke with gratitude when she said “Well, we could try.” What we did was quite tame, but still beyond anything I had ever experienced before. Nevertheless, after three years together, I finally learned my second hard lesson—that for me to attempt a vanilla relationship was futile.
My 18th birthday came around. I celebrated it at Burning Man. The day I came of age, I headed to a bondage-themed camp, finally legal and free to truly explore. The people I met were nothing like the cold, pretentious “Masters” and “Mistresses” I’d chatted with online. Instead they were warm, humorous, and kind of geeky. After a rope bondage class, they passed out cookies. I felt more at home than I had anywhere in my life. I knew from that day that I had found my tribe. That night, I came back for my first play party, and from then on, I never looked back.
It has now been almost three years since that day, and things have changed. Quite aside from transitioning, I have played a lot, made a lot of friends, and started to take on responsibility within the kink community. I’ve even fallen in love with someone whose collar I am proud to wear. Now I am about to turn 21, and am poised to start a whole new exploration into the world of leather bars, though for a straight-edge kid like me that exploration may prove brief. In three years of kink, I have not tired of it, and show no sign of slowing down. I have gone from scared and ashamed of my sexuality to proud of it, from watching on the sidelines to marching in the parade.
This fall down the rabbit hole has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. No matter what else life may bring, I will always feel good about the fact that I wasted little time on self loathing. I look forward to many years more of friends and play.