We Are the Hidden People

My kink secret is like a massive bell hanging from the ceiling of my lounge. I spend a great deal of my life crouching underneath it and slipping past it. One wrong move and it would let out a clanging racket the entire neighbourhood would hear. I must hide the noise, and so I keep my toys in unidentifiable boxes and don’t open my Fetlife window in polite company. I dodge references to one of the most important facets of my life with much hand waving and many generalisations.

“I can’t come over because I’m going to a party. No, you can’t come because… because… you won’t like the people. No, it’s nobody you know. There’s nothing untoward happening here. Where did I meet the host? Well, through my blog. What? No, I don’t share my blog with friends because… well, I just don’t, and it has nothing to with distrust. I just…”


Sometimes, I feel as though I’m being tied into knots, which is apt, I suppose, since this is BDSM doing the tying.

We’re the world’s hidden people. In a society that’s still becoming comfortable with bisexuality and polyamory, we hide our floggers and rope in dark rooms. There’s no getting around it. BDSM loses custody hearings, ends jobs, and destroys families, so we must learn silence without adopting shame. We must leave our stories untold without feeling as though they should be untold. We must stay silent to avoid judgement without thinking too much about the fact that our truth would attract judgement. We are exiles, and that has consequences.

They say shame dies on exposure. Tell your secrets and the acceptance you receive will kill your shame, but sometimes, the opposite is true: a lack of exposure can breed shame. Fetlife is my exposure. It gives me a small space for bringing my secrets out into the sun. Here, I can feel normal, and that’s more therapy than money can buy.

I’ll tell you a secret, though: sometimes, this site is not enough, and I wonder if my love of pain is a sickness; if my submission is a sign that I’m eating too much patriarchal bullshit; if I’m using degradation as self-harm. Sometimes I wonder if it would be healthier to vanillafy my life.

I always return to this: Kink is healthy. BDSM is not an illness. I have this study and these seven sets of statistics to prove it, so I return to the beginning of the cycle where I accept my sexuality.

But then I catch myself crouching under a noisy bell asking myself why that’s even necessary. Surely it’s because vanilla is healthier?

I cycle through the same damned pattern constantly. If I didn’t, I probably would have stopped using this site a long time ago because I wouldn’t need the exposure. I would hold off the shame without your help. I depend on you to keep the sickness out of my kink and to keep me from thinking of my kink as sick.

Harvey Milk said that the system that judges and kills is the true perversion, that “rights are won only by those who make their voices heard.” He’s right, of course, but I always return to silence. The bell in my lounge isn’t that hard to crouch around anyway.

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