Kink And The Cornerstones Of Trust


Over the last couple weeks, I have talked about various styles of kink and how it relates to people. Degrees of it vary as much as does people themselves. It can range from being an integral part of your daily life or used to just heighten an experience. Some are more suited to solo play, whereas others are imperative that you have someone else along for the ride. Kink is about the person more than the act, to see how it relates to people I have asked questions of one couple that is in the kink lifestyle and two single people. They will discuss their limits and may even share what gets them going. This will be done in a judgement free zone and only related to you how it was given to me, with a few minor changes for ease of reading. All names have been changed for privacy reasons.

For the last interview, I would like to introduce you to Trace and Taylor. Trace is 47, Taylor is 28 and both are gay cis males from the eastern side of Cleveland. They have known each other for seven years and were married in December of 2018. Their styles of kink fall towards impact play and BDSM. Trust is paramount in their relationship, knowing when to submit and when to put a limit on the play is an integral part in their sessions. Trace and Taylor would both be considered a bear and cub, though for their own reasons do not hang out with many in the Bear Community.

When did you first know you were into your preferences?  

Taylor – I think I knew from a pretty young age that I was into some “weird” stuff. I’ve never been afraid to try anything once, which has really helped to foster my own experiences.

What does kink mean to you?

Trace – Kink to me, means something other than ordinary vanilla or missionary type sex. Kink requires more thought or effort. Meaning, if my kink is bondage, there is more energy involved than just missionary sex. There is planning, gadgets and in many cases, manipulation.

Taylor – To me, kink is freedom. It’s being able to let your true desires be known without fear of judgement.


Do many people know about your kink side?

Taylor – Most people do. I’ve always been an open book and I’m not afraid to let my freak flag fly. I hope that by talking about kink, more people will grow comfortable with the idea themselves.

Have you ever been a switch or the opposite of your current role?

Trace – I have never switched, but I am versatile, sexually, with Taylor. I don’t consider him fucking me as being submissive. I love pleasing my husband and sometimes he just needs to be the ‘top’.

Taylor – I have before and I’m sure I will again! It gets old always being the one who gets whipped, sometimes you have to do the whipping!

What types of kink do you engage in?

Trace – Some of my kinks are bondage, piss play, age play, mutual masturbation or watching others masturbate, writing/reading age play erotica, objectification, 100% control over a true submissive… those are just some.

Taylor – A lot! I’ve dabbled in many, many things over the years, but BDSM has always been my favorite. Coming out young has offered an opportunity to experiment with things most might call bizarre.

What are some common misconceptions you have received or heard about kink lifestyle?

Trace – I’ve known several in the dom role, who never can just be ‘normal’. I believe there is a time and place and the ones I’m thinking of were comical. They would scoff at me for calling them by their name or not address them as Sir. It usually ended up with me calling them boy or pet, and they would walk away. Being a Dom is about trust and respect, which just isn’t given, it is earned. You see Taylor wear a chain with a lock, often. I bought it for him because we liked it. Others think it has a different meaning and has caused issues in the past at a few local gay bars.

Taylor – Most people seem to feel that those who embrace kink are “freaks” or “perverts”. The taboo that follows the lifestyle is extremely toxic and dissuades many from being able to embrace themselves.


Do you identify as a dom or a sub? If neither, what is your word choice?

Trace – I’m more of a Dom… not big on the word Master. Just because I’m more dominant doesn’t mean I’m always dominant.

Taylor – I predominantly identify as a sub, but I’ve also played the dominant role. It’s all about the chemistry and trust.

If you identify as dom/sub when did you discover your role?

Taylor – With me, it happened at avery young age. I grew up attracted to the stereotypical masculine man (hairy, bearded and muscled). And with that came wanting to be dominated and told what to do by a strong male figure.

If you are a sub, how did you discover your pain threshold?

Taylor – I’ve always been into pain, so finding the threshold is all part of the fun. And some nights, the pain is all part of the pleasure.

Do you have limits in the type of kink you would engage in? Why?

Trace – I’m not into blood, scat or vomit play.

Taylor – The list of things I wouldn’t try is very short and consists of things that are actual health concerns. No needles, no blood and no shit. I have a fun story about drinking piss from a martini glass, but this doesn’t feel like the right forum.

Do you engage in group sex or multiple partners? If so, do your kink preferences come up?

Taylor – I have in the past, but it has been a long time. Kink has never come up in group scenarios, but in the right setting I’d be more than willing to participate

inspired by Tom of Finland

Do you use safe words? If so,what and are there more than one?

Trace – I’ve played a Dom role with a few in my past without first discussing safe words. It didn’t end well and I was quite worried the police were going to come knocking. So, safe words are mandatory for us. Ours is pineapple!

Taylor – Pineapple seems to be the default setting for safe words. You need a good word that is never going to come up during play and I’ve never made a fruit salad mid-coitus.

Has anyone ever went over your limits? If so, how did you regain control?

Taylor – My limits have only been crossed a few times, and fortunately it has always been with men I trust. Regaining control is as easy as telling someone they went too far.

Do you think your you kink lifestyle will lose its appeal later in life?

Taylor – I think it will only grow and flourish to something even greater than it is now. Sex is a journey, you have to appreciate every step along the way.


The trust between these two is evident in their lives, the way they move in sync and interact with each other. In moments of separation, Taylor’s personality goes through a small shift, to use his words, “my rock isn’t with me.” Trace’s demeanor as Taylor is apart is more of protector, always wanting to ensure that he is safe. There are not many couples I have had the pleasure of meeting that seem to resonate the kind of strength and bond they exhibit. Both are open in discussing who they are and what they are into. But as Trace has said, trust is earned. So, while they may offer up parts of their lives, it is never the deeper meanings, the softer sides. Those are left for those closest to them, those who share the same respect and trust towards them. Trace always exerts the air of confidence and control, quick to neutralize negative situations and foster pleasant ones. Taylor is the lighter side, always quick to offer a joke to defuse tense situations and to make you feel more at ease.

Trace pointed out that while kink is a part of their relationship, it does not define it. Sexual roles can be swapped without changing the power dynamic and it often reinforces them. Taylor points out about the freedom he feels from expressing his kink side, it allows him to open himself up to his inner feelings. For him, it is the surrender to allow himself to feel outside of the normal box. This is the point of learning about yourself, while you may not be into kink, learning those inner corners of your psyche and sexual nature can be freeing. Again, it starts from the open-minded point of view and the ability to see beyond the limits that are often forced onto us. Finding someone that can offer you the trust to open up is hard but rewarding in the process of healing and growing. If nothing else, that is what we can take from this couple, trust is the foundation it is all built on.

Lascivious Liz’s Pliable Proclivities


Over the last couple weeks, I have talked about various styles of kink and how it relates to people. Degrees of it vary as much as does people themselves. It can range from being an integral part of your daily life or used to just heighten an experience. Some are more suited to solo play, whereas others are imperative that you have someone else along for the ride. Kink is about the person more than the act, to see how it relates to people I have asked questions of one couple that is in the kink lifestyle and two single people. They will discuss their limits and may even share what gets them going. This will be done in a judgement free zone and only related to you how it was given to me, with a few minor changes for ease of reading. All names have been changed for privacy reasons.

Meet Liz, a 39 year old cis-female from Cleveland’s east side. Liz identifies as a pansexual/bisexual sub who rarely occupies the switch role. Her kink styles range sensation play to light bondage. Liz has been into the scene for a while now and while still learning, knows a lot about where she fits in to it all. Being a self identified pansexual allows her the freedom to not be tied to one specific scene play and still allow for growth in what she already prefers.


When did you first know you were into your preferences? In my 20’s probably. I discovered things through trial and error, mostly.  I would read or see something and think, “wow, that’s kinda’ hot,” but it took years for me to approach a someone about my thoughts. The first partner I experimented with, we just used ropes to restrain me during sex.  I learned that did really good things to my headspace. Later on, a partner introduced me to flogging and I realized that was also something that resonated well with how I felt.

The first time I saw fire play I thought it was the craziest thing I’d ever seen.  After trying it, now I’m the sort who loves fire massage. Same thing with impact play done with a hand to the face.  My first thought was, “who does that?” Well turns out when I’m with a Sir I trust pretty thoroughly, I’m a person that does that. I’ve learned to some degree the more visceral my nope is to it the more I need to sit with the idea and see if it is genuinely a nope or if it’s nope that intrigues and scares me all at once.  The second one is the one that tends to be interesting to explore.

What does kink mean to you? Kink is how I shorthand the dynamics between partners when we are playing with headspace or pain.  For me it’s more about the headspace, I mostly do not get off on pain. But letting Them take over and make decisions for me is my way to let go.  Though to be fair, it wasn’t until I encountered this question that I really gave any thought to what kink means to me. Most of the people I engage with, on any kinky dynamic, are more experienced than me, so it’s been more about letting them offer suggestions vs me having to think super hard about what I want.  That may also be a part of my sub nature. That’s a lot of words, so let me sum it up; kink is where I can quit being the one in charge and let someone else do my thinking(making certain choices). It is a space where I have to trust them, and they has to trust me, and we can see how far we can push each other’s limits


Do many people know about your kink side? A fair amount know about it.  I tend to be a resource for general dating and sexuality questions amongst my friends, so a fair number know a little bit.  While going through some adult sexuality classes through my church, we covered BDSM slightly. Within that group I was comfortable sharing what I knew, and a few approached me outside of class to get resources or firsthand advice.  A few friends have also seen me still coping with a drop, which for me means I’m a bit shaky and spacey, so I had to give them enough detail to reassure them it wasn’t anything bad going on. My immediate family also knows a fair amount. They are probably more aware of the polyamorous piece than the kink piece, but they know some.

Have you ever been a switch or the opposite of our current role?  I have one partner that I occasionally get a little bit of a top/Dom with. He will get completely into taking direction and doing his best to make me happy.  And for whatever reason he is the only one I can relax with while giving direction. Thanks to that particular dynamic, I’ve sort of learned to not get so hung up on titles and roles and just go with what feels right

What types of kink do you engage in? Note, all definitions are how my partners and I agree to various things. Impact play, meaning I get hit with floggers or various other implements and the occasional open hand.  Sensation play, meaning we play with ice cubes, open flame, textures, basically see what gets a reaction. We’ve used restraints, to inhibit arm movement. Also, have very rarely tried some breathe play, but that is harder for me to trust a person with.


What are some common misconceptions you have received or heard about kink lifestyle? That’s a tough question because I’m sure, with the exception of the abuse part, everything that is a misconception for me rings 100% true for someone else. That said, neither of my kink partners live with me, so we don’t exist in a D/s (Dom/sub) dynamic 24/7.  Even if they did live with me I think we wouldn’t go that far. I need space to be me without taking direction.

“Safewords must be used or you’re doing it wrong.” My partners and I don’t use any official safe words.  If we are getting into anything that feels intense on my side I tend to lose the ability to make words. So, we go with a simple stop, easy, or no.  If my hands are free and I can’t speak I’ll grab His wrist and that’s a sign I need a couple moments to regroup. I’ve seen various BDSM activities conflated with abuse more times than I can count.  Yes, with one partner of mine there is impact play, meaning he hits me with an open hand. But, if I say stop or easy he shifts his approach. In an abusive dynamic the one being hit does not have that control. Similar opinions have been levelled my direction about the control I give Them over certain aspects, usually having to do with my appearance or behavior.  Again, they get that control when I agree to give it. I have the power to stop the scene or not start it at all.

Do you identify as a dom or a sub? If neither, what is your word choice? I identify as a sub, almost 100% of the time.  To date there is one partner I top with because he likes being told what to do and his demeanor is to soft for me to be able to give in to him.  So, with him, I end up on the Dom and he willingly gives in to me. To one Sir, I occasionally will be a little bratty. And he has me follow his directions exactly to the letter. Being resistant and trying to find a way through his direction means he has to think harder on how he directs me and make me pay attention.

Do you have limits in the type of kink you would engage in? Why? Yes, I do.  Right off the bat I want to avoid things that are going to leave marks above my collarbone or below my elbow.  That just cuts down on the questions at work. I try to avoid things that are going to spill body fluids, cuts down on exposure risk for both parties. Beyond that I try to make sure I’m doing things that both my Dom and I know how to do safely. Wrist restraints done poorly can cut off circulation or impinge nerves leading to a decrease in function that can linger after a session.  Even a smack to the face, which seems simple, needs to be done with care. Landing a finger into an eye or a hand over an ear can cause injury that might need medical attention. So, my limits are more about what we both know how to do safely and what risks are we willing to take.


Do you engage in group sex or multiple partners? If so, do your kink preferences come up? My kink is mostly one on one. I don’t have the brain space to sub for more than one person at a time nor can I sub to one and top another.  One of my Sirs has zero interest in group sex or exhibitionist kink. The other very much has an exhibitionist streak, we just haven’t been able to play with that piece much. Within my vanilla dynamics, my tendency to give in and go with the flow in bedroom shows up a little bit.  Helps that even with my partners where we don’t engage in overt kink they are mostly wired Dom. So, I guess it’s always a piece of my dynamic, it just varies on how big or overt of a piece it is.

Do you use safe words? If so, are there more than one? What do you use? My safe words are very simple if I need to change or end things I just use easy or stop.  When I utterly let go and let Him take charge my ability to words gets weak., both of the ones I engage in overt kink with know this.  So, watching for my reactions is a must for them. Hard flinching will bring about a check in, as will me being either more still or moving more than normal.  That is something that was less specifically negotiated and more something that came about with time and practice.

Has anyone ever went over your limits? If so, how did you regain control? I don’t know if over is the word to use or if it’s more about finding my limits. My one Sir is allowed to smack me in the face, this is a thing that we can both handle even repeatedly. The first time he smacked me repeatedly while having a hand on my throat was when  I found a limit. I managed to get out “stop, enough”, and he immediately switched to check in mode. I was more than a bit shaky at that point, so he basically just held onto me until I could talk and decide what, if anything, was going to continue that session.

That last bit is the important piece.  When I realized I couldn’t handle what was going on and expressed that to Him, he immediately switched to caretaking.  Because he makes sure I end up put back together is why he is allowed to push things with me. We tend to “wing it” in a lot of ways, meaning we don’t always discuss trying new things.  Again, it didn’t start that way, we learned to talk about things and to read one another.


With Liz, we see some vast differences than Thomas’ take on how kink affects their life. Liz’s approach is about the disconnect, getting out of her head. It is a means of escapism from the day to day stressors that can build up on it, it is her means of blowing off the steam before it gets to a cracking point. There are schools of thought that say this pleasure/pain response releases dopamine to trigger the pleasure from pain response. Whether this is exactly what happens for Liz is not for me to speculate, however we can see in her answers that there is a fair amount of pleasure derived from her experiences. It falls back to the Power Dynamic I mentioned previously (insert link), to give in to someone completely, to let them be the controlling factor and get out of your head for a short time.

There are many variations of kink to consider, in the world. They may seem extreme to others, but a closer look at them opens up a dynamic that so many of us are already aware of in our lives. It is about a balance of power; the balance is achieved by one surrendering while the other accepts. Neither person, truly gives up or accepts full control. You may let others take control of the situations, but you still remain in full control over your experience. If you’re not in that balance of power, then you are probably in the wrong relationship. Each of you should sit down and outline your limits and your safe words and follow them to the letter. Be safe and be open, you may just have fun.



Kink and the Open Road


Over the last couple weeks, I have talked about various styles of kink and how it relates to people. Degrees of it vary as much as does people themselves. It can range from being an integral part of your daily life or used to just heighten an experience. Some are more suited to solo play, whereas others are imperative that you have someone else along for the ride. Kink is about the person more than the act, to see how it relates to people I have asked questions of one couple that is in the kink lifestyle and one single person. They will discuss their limits and may even share what gets them going. This will be done in a judgement free zone and only related to you how it was given to me, with a few minor changes for ease of reading. All names have been changed for privacy reasons.

Meet Thomas, a 32-year-old man from Ohio. Thomas identifies as sexually fluid and more about being open to the situation, as opposed to being locked into one type of kink. Being sexually fluid, he cares more for the quality of the person as opposed to their gender. As fitting with many aboriginal cultures, a person can be made up of more than on gender and therefore to limit your experiences with others is a way of going against the nature of things. As such, his sexual life is as open to new horizons, as well.

When did you first know you were into your preferences? I had always had interest in the “abnormal” things that people do. However, I was able to experience it more when I was in my early 20’s

What does kink mean to you?Kink is anything that is considered out of the norm. Although everything can be included in kink.

Do many people know about your kink side?I don’t embellish much about my life to anyone.

Have you ever been a switch or the opposite of our current role? I don’t have a current role that limits me.

What types of kink do you engage in?I used to think I leaned towards the Leather fetish, the more I find out and hang with different people/crowds the more I learn that I don’t have a singular place.


What are some common misconceptions you have received or heard about kink lifestyle? Kink shaming is the biggest thing that anyone could and does deal with. We are always so judgmental on what someone else is into that we forget that the things we may like may be weird or unusual to someone else. We shield ourselves from seeing that someone else’s “kink” is just as normal.

Do you identify as a dom or a sub? If neither, what is your word choice?I don’t see either because I haven’t explored that as much as I would like. I guess I would be somewhere in the middle due to liking aspects from both sides.

Do you have limits in the type of kink you would engage in? Why? I only limit myself to what I know already. I try to experience everything at least once before making a decision not to participate. Although, not participating doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it.


Do you engage in group sex or multiple partners? If so, do your kink preferences come up?I have before. Kink, again, isn’t something that I have discussed much, unless it was a primary thing we talked about prior or have interest in.

Do you use safe words? If so, are there more than one? What do you use?There is always a need for someone to allow others to know when you need them to do something. Whether it is a stop word or for them to know that just because you make a certain sound or noise doesn’t mean you aren’t enjoying it, or you want them to stop.

Has anyone ever went over your limits? If so, how did you regain control?I like to plan beforehand and make it known what my limitations are. If it has ever come to the point of reaching a limit, it is stopped and talked about before it goes over the edge.

Do you think your you kink lifestyle will lose its appeal later in life?I hope not. I like seeing the possibilities of new things. However, I have strayed away from what I liked and have wants of getting back to it.

choices decision doors doorway
Photo by Pixabay on

What Thomas shows us is that he believes his life isn’t limited by a set of rigid standards. He sees kink more of a road map to possibilities. A means to heighten experiences shared with others. Life often gets in the way and can change our experiences and even put them on hold. That doesn’t change how we feel about them. Thomas’s view about kink and his life isn’t different than what most people feel and shows how exploring our sexual natures can enhance who we are and introduce us to new experiences we haven’t felt before. After all, sex is about the experience and feelings it creates. Those feelings are heightened by the freedom of the act and how much you surrender to the other person. It comes back to the power dynamic, we already do it, on many levels, and don’t realize it.

As Thomas says, all things can be labeled as kink, it’s all about perspective. What is your perspective? How open minded are you? Where does your kink level lie? It only requires you to detach from your current perceptions and open your mind to the may experiences that are out there for us, as souls, to witness Choose your door wisely.





What’s Old Is New Again


So many times, things fall to the annals of history and seem to disappear, leave gaps in what once was. But with LGBTQ, many things that had become passé have come back around and fallen into favor, even if slightly changed. Then there are times that new things spontaneously come into creation and burn bright. Since I have been discussing fetish and its relation to our history, I thought this one fit right in there. I do not endorse and suggest any of these, only open up to you about what is out there. But, at the same time it is important to point out that any of these topics covered here or previously are not bad by nature alone.  It is for you to decide what is good and healthy and what is fun and arousing.

History is often repeated, but there are occasions where new things can be created from previous incarnations. Roleplay isn’t new to the kink scene, but it has taken on many variations over the many years and even has been escalated based on technology. One such variation is puppy play. Now, ok, I know you are going to say that there has always been a kink scene where people have acted like animals to a master before. They may anal plugs with animal styles tails to create the illusion, but as I said technology has allowed some to go to a whole new level. Puppy play is a healthy mix of BDSM, furry, and role playing. It became a rage in the gay scene in about 2015 and has really escalated since and moved over into the heterosexuals, as well.

So, let’s drill it down to some basics, keep in mind I do not partake in it, so this is an observational view. Puppy play is when one person takes on the role of a pup and the other takes on the role of a handler. The pup, literally, acts like his biological counterpart, while the trainer treats the pup as if he was training one. There are no requirements for special gear, if you choose not to, or can be as elaborate as you would like. Many pups start out with a tail (small anal plug with an outward curved in resembling a dog’s tail), a pup mask (a leather, usually, mask that covers the face and looks like a dog’s snout), and a leash. Some include a harness as well and even have a trainer that may collar them, at some point. After that, it is more about letting go of who you are and getting in touch with your inner animal side. Turning off the cares and concerns of your day to day and responding on instinct and what feels good. Some describe it as turning off your inner monologue, slipping out of who you are, and becoming your alter ego canine.

The key thing to remember here is that this type of play is not driven by sex, in fact there are many pup/trainer relationships that do not involve sex. In many of the same veins that Dom/Sub relationships go, it is about letting go and surrendering, to become vulnerable and open. Our society teaches us that those feelings are signs of weaknesses and so are not wanted. Many who view it from the outside pass a judgement on how silly it may look or weird to their view of normality. But let’s take a different look, how awesome would be to just be? Think about being with someone who actually knows your secrets and will never judge you. You have the ability to play and have fun, without worrying about what bills are due. The ability to have someone give you reassurance and be open enough with them to enjoy each other for the joys you feel with them. These are all things that pups and trainers say they experience. Want to see what it looks like? Check out the Leather Stallion tonight and tomorrow night (Mach 22 – 23, 2019) for the Ohio Pup & Trainer event.

Ok, this one falls in the outskirts of kink and only really fits it due the way having multiple sexual partners or group sex can be considered kink. And it is definitely one that was once really popular, fell by the wayside, and made a resurgence in gay male circles. If you haven’t guessed then let me clarify, we are talking about Gay Bathhouses. Public bathhouses date back into history and were common place in many cultures. Gay Bathhouses, a place where men congregated to engage in male to male sex date back, at least recorded, to the 16th century. First recorded in America was in New York in 1903 where police conducted the first ever raid on a gay bathhouse. They became vastly popular in America through the 1920s and 30s and probably hit their heyday in the 60s to early 80s. Many famous celebrities got their starts performing in bathhouses, and not sexually. Take Bette Midler, she was known as “Bathhouse Betty.” Her cabaret performances in the, then, Continental, in New York city is what gained her iconic status with the gay male population. During this time, she also had backup by pianist Barry Manilow.

During the 60s and 70s, they were fully licensed ran and owned gay establishments and where the quintessential place for gay men to go and be with other gay men, no judgements only carnal desires. Before I proceed, let me say that not all men who frequent bathhouses then and now are gay. This is where the kink can fall into it. There are many heterosexual and bisexual men who come here to throw off inhibitions and conduct in sex that is outside of their normal predilections. Bathhouses took a decline in the 80s as the HIV/AIDS epidemic continued to rise, exponentially. Safe sex practices in bathhouses were almost non-existent and since the disease was new enough that most people hadn’t heard of it, or when it was called GRID, if gave a means to spread quickly. Once “barebacking” and promiscuity were shown to be a large cause of the spread, many people left the bathhouses. As with most things, Gay men aren’t easily swayed from our habits.

The bathhouses of today are vastly different than those of the days of yore. Gone are the days of the many dark, cavernous buildings, many have switched to a high-end spa appearance. Modern amenities and memberships create an air of elegance in the trysts we chase. Take a look at Flex Spas, they have four locations in the United States. Here in Cleveland you can find Flex in the old Art Deco Greyhound building and boasts as being the largest private alternative men’s club in the world. You will find rooms have been decorated as extensively as high-end hotels, they gym/weight rooms are all the most up to date equipment, and the pool spa areas brightly lit take away the old day’s stigma of dark and dank sex clubs. Don’t let all the trendy decor and weight machines fool you, there are fully function playrooms to fill your wildest desires. Find someone you prefer to get a bit more one and one with, they do offer rooms, as well. This creates a modern day luxurious getaway that caters to your every desire. They even offer memberships for more frequent visits. It takes away the stigma of doing something that seems base and dirty and replaces it with a feeling of experiencing what makes you feel good.

Humans have this amazing ability to derive pleasure from so many sources. We can have lives where we can experience our own versions of best version of life and sexual satisfaction. The only true limits are respect, mutual consent, and our own comfort level. If you have the desire, explore your inner nature and see what you may be missing. At the very least, maintain an open mind about what others like and makes them who they are, remember it is their journey as much as it is yours. Above all other things, love yourself for who you are and without judgement. Lighten up, you may just have fun!

The Cultural Impact of Tom of Finland

Touko Valio Laaksonen, better known as Tom of Finland

One of my favorite things that expresses the BDSM/Leather subcultures of LGBTQ is Tom of Finland. His highly masculinized homoerotic art really lent a lot of influence to gay culture in the late twentieth century. Many of you have probably seen his images in places before and not recognized the artist. They ranged from the stylized clothed Castro Clones to the full-on hardcore pen and ink drawings. His art has inspired the adult industry from videos down to sex toys. So, let’s take a look at the man behind Tom of Finland and some of his images.

Touko Valio Laaksonen was born in Finland on May 8th, 1920 and died November 7th, 1991 and was best known as Tom of Finland. Joseph W. Slade, cultural historian, has called him the most influential creator of gay pornographic images. He has created over 3500 images that are known to have overly endowed primary and secondary sexual characteristics and either wearing very tight clothing or appear in some stage of undress. By the early 70s gay porn and male nudity had become decriminalized and rapidly overwhelmed the market, it was during this time that Laaksonen saw his change to start mass producing books of his images. By 1973, three short years, his artwork had become so popular that he gave up his office job in Helsinki with an international advertising firm and focused solely on producing his images. He was quoted as saying, “Since then I have lived in my jeans and lived on my drawings.”

Tom of Finland’s fame came at a time with body and sexual glorification was at its heights. This was the time before the AIDS crisis and gay porn had just became legal. There was a sense of reprieve among the gay male population, a time for us to fully embrace the masculinity of what we are and act on it. However, this “clone” model was mostly found in urban centers of larger cities, that same sense of freedom wasn’t granted to the more rural gay male, so these sketches gave a smaller sense of that liberation. This style of art created a dress code for an entire subset of the gay male population and became THE way to identify and advertise your sexuality to others. His artwork also inspired another artist G.B. Jones who went on to create “Tom Girls.” Her work typified strong punk girls and sub-culturally identified women. Jones’ work showed these women other throwing the authority figures that tried to oppress them. Jones and Laaksonen did many exhibits together, as their work played well off each other.

The same style that Tom of Finland inspired went on to inspire more characters. Paul Hopkins was cast as Michael Tolliver in the 1993 adaptation of the sex and third books of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City because of already mustachioed persona he already had. Freddie Mercury even adopted similar dress styles to the masculine creations of Laaksonen. When Laaksonen came to America to do an exhibit of his work, he was shocked to see how much his artwork had already inspired groups of people. As he tended to take inspiration for photographs and real life, this gave further inspiration for his future works. This style carried through the 80s and still maintain large popularity well into the 90s, with the Leather/BDSM groups of the LGBTQ community.

I mentioned in a previous post (insert link from post) taking about my first adventures into gay bars and trade nights at the bar I frequented. From there I was entranced with the dress style of Tom of Finland and the leather community. I mimicked it in my ways, adopting leather pants, chaps, harness, hat, tank tops, and cutoff jeans. As I moved away from Virginia and into North Carolina, I was exposed to a whole new type of gay bars. I went to the Woodshed and the Charlotte Eagle. The Woodshed was a Leather Bear bar and the Charlotte Eagle was like every other Eagle, Leather/BDSM bar. These places took the leather fetish wear to a whole new level. Here I saw larger trade shows that included props like St. Andrews Crosses and barber chairs. Things that seemed literally ripped from the artwork of Tom of Finland.

inspired by Tom of Finland

Being introduced to these images early had already fed my lustful desires and when I was seeing them carried out in living color in front of me, only added to them. The dress style fascinated me, and the acts being shown caused immense intrigue. While I, myself, may not be a fully participating members of the BDSM community, I do appreciate the aesthetics of the culture. As the years have progressed it does seem that the influence of Tom of Finland has waned, somewhat. The leather community has gotten away from many of the aesthetics and only kept the basic core. It is why I feel it so important to remember the roots from which we came. May Tom of Finland and Touko Valio Laaksonen continue to be fuel for young and old masturbatory fantasies alike. If you have never experienced his artwork, there is no time like the present to become a fan.

**Trailer for the Tom of Finland Movie**




Fetishism Fun For ALL


In the last post, I talked about the Hanky Code and some of their meanings. Boiled down to basics, it started as a means for gay men to recognize one another and to quickly ascertain the types of sexual activities they liked. Most of which speaks to fetish, in some way or another. At quick glance it would also give you the ability to know whether they person you were cruising was a top or a bottom. For the most part, the Hanky Code has fallen by the wayside, but you can still remnants of it. Men will wear red jockstraps or harnesses outlined in a specific color that others will recognize. Again, pointing towards the fetish arena. After all, it is nice to know that you can identify someone that has similar interests as you by simply looking at them and what they may be wearing.

Fetish is “a form of sexual desire in which gratification is linked to an abnormal degree to a particular object, item of clothing, part of the body, etc.” Merriam Webster defines it as “an object or bodily part whose real or fantasized presence is psychologically necessary for sexual gratification and that is an object of fixation to the extent that it may interfere with complete sexual expression.” We do know that fetishistic behavior is normally in men and 30% of the men polled report fetishistic fantasies. Studies also show that the largest percentage of fetishism surrounds feet coming in at 47%.

So, let’s take a look at some of the more common fetishes; Fetishism is when you become aroused by something that has been in close personal contact with another person. This could be clothing, electronics, or any other object. Katoptronophilia is the fetish of having sex in front of a mirror. Perfect for those who seem to be too focused on themselves. Knismolagnia is the fetish of gaining arousal by tickling sensations. A vastly popular fetish, voyeurism is where one derives sexual joy by watching others engaged in intimate acts. One quick search on Google will show you how popular it is. And if you are Googling your desires then you may actually have the fetish of Pictophilia, where porn or pornographic images are what gives you sexual arousal. Try swinging a stick and not hitting someone with varying degrees of that one. Mentioned above, if you have a thing for feet then you are known to have Podophilia, where you are aroused by licking, sucking, nibbling, and caressing someone’s feet. The last two we will mention are much more common than many would like to acknowledge. The first is Urophilia. This is your fetish if you like giving or receiving golden showers. And lastly is, Swinging. Pretty self-explanatory, you get aroused and get off by being with other consenting adults, couples.

Now for a few that aren’t as common as those listed above. Cuckolding/Cuckoldry is the fetish where one receives sexual arousal by watching their partner being aroused by and having sex with another person. Part of the allure comes with associated feelings of humiliation and/or rejection. My Little Pony Sex is a fetish where “bronies” are males who sexualize the TV show as well as watch character inspired cartoon porn. Or, to go even further, dress up and roleplay sexual scenes as My Little Pony characters. Pedal pumping/Revving is a subset of the foot fetish where one is sexually aroused by someone wearing boots, high heels and pumping a gas pedal in a masturbatory manner. I once knew a guy who always wanted to watch me drive my jeep and kept begging me to pump the gas pedal. I never got the understanding of why flooding my engine was so climatic for him.

Typically, fetishes do not have a preference to sexuality and are found in LGBTQ and Heterosexual people. That being said, there are subcultures of fetishism that are popular in the LGBTQ community, but in more common tongue would also be called “KINK.” Kink is more about how you have sex as opposed, specifically, to what causes your arousal. Kink uses props, where fetish replaces with props. With gay men, many of the kink fetish scene revolves around a subset of clothing fetish. Here you will find Leather, BDSM, underwear, cowboy, spandex, and rubber. It should be noted that wearing leather does not automatically make you part of the BDSM culture. For many, the act of wearing leather is what exhibits power for them. The smell, look, texture, and how it feels offers a sense of heightened masculinity or the appropriation of sexual power. BDSM can include leather as well as spandex and rubber, from there the specifics can go even further to types of BDSM like mummification. Mummification is where someone is placed into a cocoon of sorts, using products like a body bag, duct tape, saran wrap, pallet wrap, or any other movement restricting substances. Gay men aren’t the only ones who partake in BDSM, though they are the most visible, there are many lesbian and transgender BDSM groups out there. Pat Califia was the first transgender to openly identify with the leather community in 1978. Califia was a co-founder to Samois, a lesbian-feminist BDSM organization in San Francisco from 1978 – 1983.

Under the Leather/BDSM umbrella, there are three types of fetishes we commonly see together, bondage, underwear, and orgasm control (better known as edging). Bondage tends to be more of a dominant/submissive type fetish where one partner restrains the other. It can be accomplished as easily as with the belt you are wearing or more elaborate utilizing St. Andrew’s crosses, straps, and gags. Once bound, you can incorporate other fetishes like orgasm control. Your partner is help in restraint and unable to prevent you from edging them to close to climax and stopping multiple times. Underwear fetish is the sexual excitement caused by the view of person intimate garments such as panties, jockstraps, stockings, underwear, bras etc. It can be two men being close to one another only in their underwear while viewing each other and other forms of stimulation, which in turn can also lead to things like orgasm control. This fetish includes fresh undergarments as well as used ones and for gay men, it seems to have a larger audience around jockstraps. Watching men put the on or take them off, wearing them in some state of undress, and as well as used jockstraps.


More recent times has shown a growth in a fetish dealing with masturbation. Many clubs are popping where men come together with other men, heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual, to share in the experience of mutual masturbation or just being around other guys having one off. A quick internet search showed that there are also groups of women who enjoy the same sensations. There are organizations all over the country that cater to people who want to enjoy this type of experience, take the group Cleveland Jacks. They are an all-male group who create a safe environment for men to do what comes naturally. If you are looking for leather and BDSM, check out the Leather Stallion Saloon, the oldest operation gay bar in Cleveland, Ohio. They have been the home bar for the leather and bear communities and host for many social clubs, groups, and sports teams. And if you are just looking to see what all kinds of kink/fetish is out there you may want to have a look at The Academy – Cleveland’s Premier BDSM Dungeon and Playspace. The Academy was created as a gathering & play space for ALL of the kinky people and groups in N.E. Ohio and surrounding states – ages 19 and over. It is a safe place to show your freakier side and not worry about judgments from others. You can be as mild or wild as you like, clothing is optional (in the appropriate places). Come out and give them a good once over.


Each of us are wired differently and each of us have things that get us to a point of enjoyment. As long as it does not cause psychosocial distress for the person or persons involved, it can be a healthy addition to your sex life. As with all things, moderation is the key. If you are just starting out in any fetish, be sure you set and follow your limitations. If you are engaging with someone else, make sure there is trust and they know your limits and when to back off. A good resource to check out if you are new to BDSM can be found over on Submissive Guide. As with all things, have fun and practice safe.



Here, Borrow My Hanky


So, my last post was about my own struggle with body positivity and how I have started trying to deal with it. I think the next step is to talk about being sex positive. To do so, we will have to look at several topics and even revisit some history. It is important to think about because I feel the LGBTQ community often times goes down a dark avenue when it comes to sex. It is used as a means of bypassing connection for the physical feelings it provides. It’s time we take sex back and approach it from a health mentality. Before I go that far, I want to dive into some view on fetishes and how we used to identify one another. So, my dearies, set down, pour yourself a glass of your favorite beverage, and let’s talk.

First stop into fetishism is the Hanky Code or flagging. Now some of you might be thinking “what the heck is he on about,” well Mary, the hanky code was used as a means to identify homosexuals and the sexual proclivities at a quick glance. See a hot guy walking passed in a pair of tight wranglers and you happen to notice that he has a light blue handkerchief hanging out of his left back pocket you would be able to quickly ascertain that he preferred to receive oral sex from his partner. If you happened to be someone who preferred to give oral sex, you knew you already had an in. Neat huh?


No one really knows where or how the hanky code started, some say that it originated in San Francisco shortly after the gold rush era. It was a time when women were in short supply so during square dances one man would wear a blue bandana as a signifier that he would be the male or lead during the dance. Then there would be a man wearing a red bandana that would be the female or follower in the dance. They would be worn around their arms, hanging from their belts, or in the back pockets. It is also believed that the modern version of the hanky code started in New York around 1970 or 1971, a journalist of The Village Voice joked that instead of wearing keys to signify someone was a “top” or a “bottom” that they should just use different colored hankies. Others say it started in San Francisco at adult stores. However, Alan Selby, owner of Leather ‘N’ Things in San Francisco, claims he wrote the first hanky code. Selby says, “their bandana supplier inadvertently doubled their order and the expanded code would help them sell the extra colors they had received.” So, he created the first hanky code, printed them onto cards, and gave out with each purchase.

From the first cards printed, color meanings have expanded to include just about every color or style of cloth imaginable, Where you wear the hanky is as important as the color, Typically, any hanky worn in the left back pocket indicated you were the “top” or the “aggressive”, whereas the right pocket meant you were the “bottom” or the “passive.” Think giver and receiver, if the terms still leave you a bit left out. The hanky code was very popular for the BDSM community but as it relates to fetishism, it was found in all aspects of our community. For example, a lavender hanky meant you were either a drag queen or into drag queens. There is not one definitive list and it has changed a lot since its first appearance. What we do know is with the advent of the internet, the hanky code has grown and expanded because people have become much easier about discussing their fetishes with others of like minds, online. It has also progressed to include accessories to show the same meanings, like harnesses or singlets.

According to  the hanky code is a perfect example of the theory called Symbolic Interaction. It is defined as “Symbolic Interaction is defined by applying meaning and value to people, places or things. It is a counterpart of instincts where we are born knowing certain information. SI is learned through experiences.” It basically means we put meaning to specific things to give it a value for us. It is not limited to only the hanky code but can be seen in religious iconography or even brand specific merchandising.

I am sure you are wondering how in the fuck do I know so much about this topic, do I use it, or am I just a weird freak. Well that would need a little history lesson to explain some of it. When I came out and started going to the bar near my hometown, I was unbelievably naive. If you asked me about leather culture and gay men, my knowledge would have been limited to what I had seen in Police Academy when they always seemed to end up in the Blue Oyster Bar, so needless to say it was lacking. The bar I visited was called The Park and the last Saturday of every month used to be Trade Night or Leather Night. It was when the BDSM group would come out with their boys on leashed dressed in leather chaps, harnesses, and jockstraps. You would see hankies tucked into their waistbands or belts of a wide variety of colors and often more than just one. As arousing and provocative as it was, I had no clue to the meaning, other than it was fueling my lustful desires. Thankfully, after I started dating, I had someone I might be able to ask what the hell was I seeing. I was embarrassed when I asked, but I had to know. My boyfriend at the time did have a bit of knowledge about it, due to some of his particular fetishes, so he schooled me and then promptly took me to the gay bookstore the very next day. Forever more my world was changed. As for being a practitioner, the answer is no I do not participate in the hanky code. That being said, I should probably wear an orange hanky in my back-right pocket since it indicates “not now, just cruising.”


Take a look at the code and see what trips your fancy. If you want to put it into practice, grab the hanky of your predilection and head on down to the Leather Stallion on a Saturday night. Just be ready for what may happen if you are advertising. At the end of it all, it is about fun but always be safe. Make sure you tell your partner you are just testing the waters and not ready to jump double fisted into the deep end. And always, play safe.