I wear this necklace in daily life, and sometimes it sparks conversation. I am quite adept at opening up conversation without creating any pressure. People who ask are curious, and I find it a lovely way to conduct outreach, even as I’m buying my favourite cupcakes, waiting for a flight overseas, or riding the 7 home to Queens.
I am out. As out as out can be. Whether I am telling a story about very edgy play for the RISK Podcast, or being quoted in the New York Times, or any other number of places, I use my full name. I’m me on FaceBook…twice…on FetLife, Twitter, my blog is my name. I know that it is my choice, and I am comfortable with…well, no. Past comfortable. I am happy and proud to be able to do so. Most kinky folks cannot. The risk to income, family, job, career, reputation, what have you, is often too great for folks to be out. The risks are very real. And I believe that, as I can be a representative for those who cannot be out, so I oughtta step up to the motherfucking plate.
I’ve paid the price, but one that seems a small one to pay. I have had some friends – universally all kinky folks who don’t want to be associated with me, an openly kinky person – disassociate with me specifically because of my outness. Is that a word? If not, it is now. Thank you, English. Social media can be wonderful, and can bring people together, It can also sting when a friend, or even a former lover or play partner, decides to divorce themselves from any connection to you. Asks you to pull photos, shrugs and says they do not want their friends to know they even have kinky friends.
And so it goes.
I know that my being out can be daunting for potential partners, too. As out as he was, The Dominant Guy chose to add a layer of anonymity even within the BDSM / Kink / Leather Confederacies and kept a modicum of privacy that way. It is already tough for me to meet potential partners…some days I wonder if my choice to be as out as I am further alienates someone who might be interested in a relationship, but doesn’t really dig being under a microscope.
But I wouldn’t change that. Not one bit. I fervently believe that those of us who are comfortable being out, those of us who can do so, are conducting a peaceful protest. We are able to stand for those who cannot. We are able to say “Look, we’re here.” and represent. A small and peaceful war of attrition against ignorance and fear. Is it scary? Yes. There’s no going back. And sometimes it is tough to keep my head up. But inasmuch as I cannot hide the fact that I am Black, inasmuch as I am glad to represent as a cisgendered bisexual woman, I do not want anyone to miss that I am also submissive, I am also a slave, I am also a Pervert, I am also proud to be so. My pride emboldens others. It draws to me the people I love fiercely, and who love me back. Being out thickens my skin while keeping me vulnerable. It is a source of pride, but cracks me in the face with humbling blows. It helps me stay grounded, and it helps my spirit to soar.
I’ll say it loud. I am out and I am proud.