During Pride, Please Don’t Forget That The BDSM Community Was There, Too

This year marks a very important occasion for the LGBTQ+ community. It is the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, when members of the gay community overran the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York City on 28th June 1969 and demanded the right to peacefully and legally coexist without fear of persecution. 50 years on, we have come a long way in recognising various sexualities and understanding that they exist. Indeed, the LGBTQ+ has done a lot to show with the world how they wish to be treated.

The beauty of Pride is in the representation of various sexualities, the representation of gay, lesbians#, bisexual, transgender, queer and all of the others I haven’t listed. Not only can we see openness and acceptance, but we can also see diversity.

Unfortunately, what many a modern LGBTQ+ folk seems to fail to understand is that, 50 years ago, the BDSM folk were there, too. Where is our right to peacefully coexist?

Cast back again 50 years ago, when the world was a dark and dreary place that had only just evaded nuclear obliteration, the gay community was not known for rainbow colours and extravagent displays. Gay men largely wore biker leathers, they wore studded collars and rode motorbikes. Some gay men practiced BDSM, with the bottoms serving the tops every whim.

In the 80s, heterosexual people began to explore and understand BDSM. Although still very misunderstood, it was known to exist. The people who were into such a lifestyle were, just like the gay community, ushered away into underground clubs and spaces and treated like a dark and dirty stain on society.

In the 90’s and early 2000’s, BDSM communities were still more of the same. Sure, there was an online presence, but it was still not something widely spoken about and done largely in the privacy of your own home or at private sex parties. Just like there was for the gay community, there was still largely a sense of secrecy and shame.

In the 2010’s, life changed for the LGBTQ+ community when Barack Obama called for laws for members to be able to marry legally. A lot of European countries, fearing another uprising, followed suit. Today, members of the LGBTQ+ community are entitled to the same rights and acceptance as everyone else.

Sadly, this isn’t the same for the BDSM community. While being gay is a sexuality and being queer is part of one’s personality and identity, being kinky just means you like rough sex.

You cannot be kinky by sexuality, it’s not possible, it’s not need to know.

You cannot be Dominant or submissive because you are exposing minors to an inappropriate and unacceptable lifestyle, and sure, while I think leading a partner around on a collar and leash is a step too far, I don’t think being able to wear a visible collar is too much.

BDSM folk need the right to be allowed to coexist, too. We need the right to be able to say “this is who I am, wholly and completely”. I am not me without my collar. I cannot be me without the rules and protocols that we have in place. It would not be our love without our Dominant and submissive relationship.

My husband not only loves me in spite of our BDSM relationship, but our love and trust is ever deeper because of it. Is that something to be repressed? Really?

A gay man can marry a gay man in this modern day, but do you know what has no legal status? A BDSM contract or a collaring ceremony, between members of the BDSM community. For many kink people, a collar is, if not more important than a wedding ring. Rather than symbolising a a legal marriage, it honours the true extent of our commitment.That person (or people) only, their rules, always. Our contracts are not like signing the documents for your car, but like a marriage certificate, pledging that you will honour and care for this person, as you have agreed in ther terms.

It saddens me in spite of our support, the BDSM community are now largely forgotten and unrepresented at Pride. Heterosexual people practice BDSM, too, and there are plenty of people, like me, who regard their desire for a dominant or submissive partner to be their sexuality. If we need to accept that a man or woman can be attracted to a male or a female, then the world needs to accept that some people desire a partner who prefers to take the lead.

Even today, fashion collars exist. They symbolise Neko, Goth, Cybergoth, Punk, Emo and more…. but what they cannot symbolise? BDSM. As soon as a fashion statement symbolises an exchange of power between two people who love and trust each other, suddenly it becomes taboo. Why is that?

Whoever you are, I ask you, please, please do not give those of us who enjoy BDSM a hard time. It is who we are and it is what we do. If we don’t attack you for your race, religion or lifestyle, please don’t feel the need to attack us.

And for the LGBTQ+ community, please accept us, please love us and recognise that 50 years ago, we were part of you- misunderstood, misrepresented and denied existence in the world. Please, rather than shun us from Pride, please accept us, hug us, dance with us and celebrate our collective success and the efforts we still have to make for acceptance for all. If you embrace us then you will have thousands of allies in the BDSM community for many, many years to come.

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