Where The Wild Heart Roams

So, I was having a moment of writer’s block and unsure what topic I wanted to cover next, it is still a good month before Pride season starts and didn’t want to burn that out before then. A new friend of mine suggested I write about her and her lifestyle, never wanting to turn down a chance to write about someone from the Cleveland area, I was a bit intrigued. When she shared with me her story, I admit I was a little hesitant. After all, this is something I only have passing knowledge of and isn’t specific to the LGBT people. Since I am more about capturing stories of the counter and subcultures of the area, I call home, I said why not. Let’s try it and see what we can do with it.

So, we are talking about furries and if you are like me, most of us only have a cursory knowledge of this subculture. We have seen them at Comic-cons, on TV shows, and have heard or even watched furry porn on PornHub. *No judgments here* But do any of us truly understand who they are and what they are about? It’s much easier to just go with what little information that we have about them. Thanks to the above-mentioned friend, I started doing some research into them and will share her story later. Let’s get a little groundwork out of the way first, shall we? The furry subculture is represented by anthropomorphized animal characters. That boils down to giving human qualities to animals. They are people who dress up in some form of a fur suit and become animals with human intelligence and facial expressions. From just wearing a tail and maybe ears to a fully formed animal suit that looks like the fursona. What is a fursona, you ask? Essentially, it is the personality of the animal that you are portraying, name, emotions, appearance, and behaviors of that animal.

Fred Patten, furry fandom historian, says that furries were born at a science fiction convention in 1980. A drawing from Steve Gallacci’s Albedo Anthropomorphicsstarted a conversation about anthropomorphic characters in science fiction. This evolved to groups meeting at sci-fi and comic- cons and progressed into fury suits paying homage to those characters. Though there are many who feel that this started much earlier thanks to works like (1973) Disney’s Robin Hood, Kimba, (1965) The White Lion, and (1972) Watership Down, this would date its origins to much earlier. The 1980s gave rise to the first furry fanzines and by 1989 there had been enough interest generated that allowed for the first furry convention to be held. This convention was called Confurence 0 and was held in Costa Mesa, California. The 1990s brought with it access to the internet and suddenly furry fans from all over were able to meet and discuss their love for all things furry. The first newsgroup for furries was created in 1990 called alt.fan.furry and later lead to the virtual environments called MUCKs.

When I first started to write about furries, I went under the impression that it wasn’t specifically tied to LGBT people. It is interesting to note that 1.8% of the US population self-identify as bisexual and 1.7% self-identify as homosexual, according to a 2011 study from UCLA. In furry fandom, by contrast, four surveys show that 14-25% identify as homosexual, 37-52% identify as bisexual, 28-51% as heterosexual, and 3-8% identify as alternative sexual relationships. It is reports that it is predominately male-oriented, with reports being roughly 80%. With these same surveys, approximately half identify as being in relationships with 76% of those being other furries. Sexual aspect of the fandom revolves around furry erotic art and cybersex. The term YIFF is often times referred to sexual activity or material, in the fandom. These same surveys are shown to report that roughly 94% of the male respondents have watched furry porn, while roughly 79% of the female respondents watch it .The media does tend to focus on the sexual aspects of being a furry more than those who do not engage in it.

Many furries agree that the community has been misunderstood and it is not about sex. According to an article on CNN.com posted on November 14, 2018, the furry community is largely annoyed about how they are portrayed in mainstream media. Most feel that the depictions of sex fueled parties of people in furry costumes is an unfair depiction. Most feel that it is about letting out a side of them that is often times held down by their day today. These same people want you to know that it is not all about wearing the fur costume. Rod Stansfield says that “If you honestly believe that furry fandom is about costuming, then you’ve missed the point, saying furry fandom is about wearing fur suits is like saying ‘Star Trek’ fandom is about wearing pointy ears.” Stansfield is the co-founder of Confurence and, himself, doesn’t own a fursuit. The median often depicts the bright colorful costumes as the standard for the furry fandom. Pocari Roo , Barton Fox, and Stormi Folf are some of the best known furries who host YouTube channels devoted to discussing furonas, affordable suits, and general knowledge of what it means to be a furry.

Furries are more than just dressing up in fursuits, though that is a big part of it and those are called fursuiters. There are conventions, dance events, and more. The growth of the community has even gotten to the world of academia. There are continuing research projects at furscience.com that tracks attitudes and backgrounds of the furry community. They have even developed their own terminology:

Greymuzzle – older member of the furry community

Bronies – a subset of the furry community that are fans of the My Little Pony franchise.

Therian – someone who feels an intense spiritual identification with a nonhuman animal.

Babyfur – someone interested in age play, young, or childlike characters

Milfurs – furries who are or were members of the military.

A large percent of the furry community are gamers (video, board, and computer), into anime, science fiction, and fantasy. There are bars that host furry parties and yes there is even talk of the new LGBT inclusive bar, All Ax’s in Willoughby, have a furry/cosplay night.

As within the LGBT community, many of the members of the furry community come from a bullied background. In essence, their fursona allows them to detach from their reality to one which they control how they feel and interact with others. It mirrors a lot of the kink subcultures, as well. It is a means of healing the psyche, a way to compartmentalize their pain. It becomes a means to heal the trauma they have in their lives. It allows them to retake control from a life where they may feel they do not have the needed control. It is also a means to step away from who you are and express a side of you that may not be as easy to show. The furry world is without boundaries, in it any creature can exist as long as the mind can create it. What that character is like strongly depends on the person that is part of it. It can personify the best qualities of who we are or the more repressed. As there are few boundaries, furries, in part, are more accepting that their human counterparts. As such, it becomes a place that many feel they truly belong and have no fears of judgement.

Many times, our perceptions are clouded by the notions of others. Media can shape our views before we have a chance to learn about it. It is a safe bet, that for many, furries fit into that prejudged mold. Since many hide who they are from those they do not trust, you may never know that someone is a furry. We are all people and have the same driving need to belong and feel safe. This transcends sexuality, gender identity, and subculture. It is a basic human need and if not given can create negative behaviors in a person. It is as essential as the need for touch and love. Point is, don’t judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their fursuit. Inside each of us beats a heart that is wild and wishes to roam with those just like us.

Newbie Notions for Better BDSM Play

So, we have spent the last couple weeks looking at kink, how it is defined, types of play that are out there, and interviews with Clevelanders who participate in the various forms. The bigger problem is where to find information that is positive and healthy, if you want to venture into this type of play. Often times, people will venture to clubs to see what options there are and can get caught up in what is going on before they are ready to try anything. It is good to have someone help you navigate those waters, show you where to begin, introduce you to the options so you have a better idea of what is out there. This article will try to give you a starting place and offer some beginnings into the scene. Hopefully, create a foundation on which to start.

First, we will look at a couple videos designed for the newbie. Someone who has limited or no knowledge into what may be out there or all the terminology. As with everything I post, I ask you to view it with an open mind and without judgement. While these are narrated by heterosexual presenting people, the information is still valid. This first video is about common misconception new people have about BDSM.

This video shows three women (two bottoms and a switch) and some common misconceptions they have seen new people make when entering the scene. They also have a n array of social media to help you out and their informative YouTube Channel.

They next video shows the Top 5 types of play for beginners; this list is based on the opinions of Evie Lupine.

Evie Lupine also runs her on YouTube channel that discuss various topics of BDSM/Kink. She touches on aspects that people may not think is dangerous and explains them in a no-nonsense fashion to be informative as if you were talking to your friends about it.

It is also important to note that while you may be into this type of play that you may encounter people in your life that are not. Or on a different side, have much different kink that you do. How do you handle that, what kind of discussion should you be having? Here is Watts the Safeword and a video he put out called Kink Discordance with Dan Savage. Dan is a well-known sex columnist (Savage Love) that is featured in Scene magazine, here in Cleveland. Take a look at this video for some helpful advice on how to handle the times that your kink doesn’t seem to line up.

I mentioned in a previous post (insert link) that one of the most important facets of BDSM is aftercare. It is oftentimes not discussed or simply over looked. This part of play is what helps reinforce the trust a sub has to the dom. It provides stability and the needed disconnect to allow their minds to process the sensations they are going through. Again, I give you Watts the Safeword and his video Aftercare – (After Kink Care).

The last video I will leave you with, for the weekend, is a 10-minute documentary about BDSM. This video is produced by Danni Bear and the only reason I hesitate to include it is because it does depict some very intense forms of BDSM kink play. If done inappropriately it can hurt someone very badly. Please do not attempt unless you are with someone who knows what they are doing, have a safe word in place, and trust your partner. Use this video as a form of information into the history of BDSM. Ultimately, I am not held responsible for any information or acts depicted in this video.

Sexuality isn’t a topic that, we as Americans, talk about very much. In school it is glossed over in our Sex Ed class, which is primarily left with the biological functions of sex between a cis male and cis female. The emotional responses are never fully explained. Types of sexuality and orientations are left out of the core curriculum with hopes you will get the information somewhere else. Most of what we learn about our sexual natures are left to hurried furtive discussions with our friends, movies that are always jaded to one aspect or another, and the limited knowledge our parents have and comfort levels of sharing.  That leaves us guessing and trying to understand the best way we can, and we fail in our attempts. There is no solace, no one to pick us up and offer us our aftercare. As a society we need to learn to be more accepting of ourselves so that in turn we can be more accommodating to those different from ourselves. Sex and sexuality are as beautiful as they are complicated, it is meant to be experienced and navigated from a place of trust and safety even though it isn’t always safe. We focus on the negative, so I leave you with this statement. Sex is messy, sex is good. Don’t be afraid to explore who you are and what you like, do not let others dictate where your desired should fall.  Get out there and have fun.

Kink And The Cornerstones Of Trust

fetishism

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

fetishism

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.

pansexual

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

fetishism

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.

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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.

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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.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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.

 

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The Balance of Power

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Each person reacts differently to the stimuli they are given in a particular environment. At early ages we start to react to specific things different than our peers, what we like, and dislike varies completely. Often times, those learned behaviors or responses are done at such a young age, that changing them is hardly an option. These responses and behaviors will affect the foods we like, colors that are appealing to us, how we handle grief, anger, and even love. And in line with the topics of recent, it affects our pleasure centers and what may drive our desires.

Before we start to dive into this any further, I want to point out that kink/BDSM do not specifically fall under the Queer umbrella and as such do not specifically make it an LGBTQ issue. That being said, many LGBTQ people do partake in the kink lifestyle. As such, it isn’t all that different than someone who has red hair, green eyes, and being gay. It is all part of the package, not one specific trait that makes it. As often does, because they do not fit into a heteronormative situation, specifically, they are automatically called queer. Huckmag.com states why this could be an issue, “Considering being kinky as something similar to being queer ultimately means continuing to equate queerness to the sex you happen to enjoy having, which would be a mistake.” While queer is a huge umbrella term that can represent anyone going against a specific norm, it was also used for years as a means of vilifying anyone who was not part of the heteronormative culture. It is also good to remember that being kinky will not, specifically, put you on to any government sponsored census or even get your fired from a job, while being LGBTQ can. In some parts of the world, the assumption that you are gay can still get you murdered. We have people in our government wanting to sterilize transgender people before giving them the dignity they deserve by recognizing them for who they are. Being kinky may induce quiet whispers in conservative crowds, but rarely do they react as vehemently as they do to anyone LGBTQ.

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As previously, we are going to discuss kink as opposed to fetish. If you are unsure as to why, let me summarize the main differences between the two. Kink refers to a very diverse grouping of consensual and nontraditional sexual and sensual behaviors. Whereas, fetish focuses on an object to derive pleasure, like someone shoes, underwear, fabrics, smells, and so on. Kink can include fetishism and fetishism can be described as kinky, but they are different. According to PsychologyToday.com, there are five phases of kink identity development.

  1. Early EncountersBy age 10 the early signs of kink will start to show. They could be a simple as always wanting to the one who was captured when playing games like “Cops and Robbers” or “Cowboys and Indians.” This early stage is not attributed to any form of sexual desire.
  2. Exploration with SelfBetween the ages of 5 – 14, one starts to fantasize and start to search for kink media. This is where masturbation and exploring the physical feelings one obtains from their kink start to happen.
  3. EvaluationThis stage happens between 11-14 years of age and is when one would start to actualize how they feel about the kink identity. This is also when a person is already going through identity conflicts and this usually leads to isolation and feeling they are truly different than their peers.
  4. Finding OthersThis is much easier in modern times than it was in the past. After age 11, the individual will start to search out those that may have similar desires as they are having. This can also be the time when one starts to develop a more positive image of their kink identities, as they are meeting others and realizing they are not alone.
  5. Exploration With OthersIt is usually after the age of 18 that the kink person will start to seek out and engage in a kink relationship with another individual. However, many times one will experience these stages without realizing that it falls into any type of kink. It is only later that they realize their desires are of a different nature.

What drives people, when it comes to BDSM, can be very different. For some it is very sexually charged, while others are more of a power dynamic. They can overlap but are more often separate. In regard to the power dynamic, it can stem from a very early age. Usually found when one is very wrapped up in the imagery of being saved by the hero type, someone very powerful. Either they fantasize about doing the saving or being saved. All of which revolved around a power exchange. You can see the power exchange dynamic in a Dom/Sub relationship where the Dom(inant) may order the Sub(missive) around, leading them by leash, restraining them in some fashion, or by some form of punishment. As mentioned, a Dom/Sub relationship isn’t always about sex. Some may have very simple rules, such as asking about doing things on a specific day. Still others can have extremely complex sets of rules that guide every aspect and situation of any time frame.

When we talk about this power dynamic or the surrendering of power from one person to another, what does it actually mean? In the theory of it, it would refer to the submissive surrendering power to the dominant in an act of letting go of control of the situation. It varies person to person and group to group, for some it can be a change of attitude and for others it can go as far as being told what to wear and when to do things. Sure, you will have images of 50 Shade of Grey coming to your mind or any host of images that romanticize BDSM, but dress style isn’t what is important, it is the dominance asserted by the Dom. This assertion comes from implicit trust between the individuals. That trust also has boundaries that must be adhered to for a healthy relationship to exist.

  1. Revocable Consent– while the Sub willingly surrender control to their Dom, they also have the right to revoke that consent at any time and the Dom must agree.
  2. The Power to Submit– one cannot surrender power they do not have. Meaning the sub must have power over themselves first, in order to surrender.
  3. Rational Boundaries– while a dom may get extreme in the control exerted, it must not intercede into real life situations such as work and relationships outside of the dynamic.

Ultimately, it may seem that the dom has all of the power in this situation, the actuality is that power is shared in the means that subs have full control over how far things can go and just how much they are willing to give over. The dom is asserting control over the situation, reinforcing the power that the sub still holds, shaping it to the situation.

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How does one know if they are a dom or a sub? It may sound a bit cliched to say, but you usually know which you may fit into. You need to get rid of any preconceived ideas you may have about how doms/subs work. There are many people who function in highly stressful jobs, captains of industry, people managers, leaders, and so forth that you never see as being submissive. They are the ones that are controlling everything, but when it comes to their personal life, they want an escape. It is there moment to surrender their control they have over their worlds and to allow someone else to exert control over them. To bring them back to their center. And the opposite can be said for someone who has a life where they feel they have no control over what goes on around them, they, too, can become a dom to be able to exert that control on someone with implicit trust. It is about releasing your holds on your reality and accepting something different.

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.

 

What’s Old Is New Again

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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!