Or, how I came to understand LGBT people through my kink.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be tied up. Before it was sexual, before I even knew it was weird, I knew the restriction felt good and that I wanted more of it. I watched television and movies and figured out early why some ties were problematic. I mean, it’s no fun if you can just squirm out of it, right? And that gag in Indiana Jones? Pfft. Way too easy to talk or scream through.
When I was caught tying myself up outside – god only knows what my mother thought of me that day – I retreated to my bedroom and did it in secret. Mom might not have said much about my activities, but it was clear that what I was doing was a Bad Thing.
I didn’t speak of it again for years.
In the meantime, I would often see gay people on television defending themselves by saying things like, “I was born like this – I didn’t choose to be gay.” It was the era of the emerging AIDS crisis so there were plenty of people attempting to dispel the myth that being gay was a sin.
That didn’t go over so well in our Regular Baptist household.
But in the deepest recesses of my mind, I knew I understood. I couldn’t tell anyone. Admitting to such thoughts would be tantamount to coming out about my own desires and I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t even put proper words to the connection. “It’s like those things that I want,” I told myself.
Those things. Those very vague things.
At least being gay was something you got to talk about on television, I reasoned. No one got on the news to defend being kinky. The things I wanted were more likely to be associated with heinous crimes like murder, kidnapping, and sexual violation.
Nope. Best to keep such very vague things to myself.
And yet, I grew up understanding what it was like to have a desire you had no control over. I understood not having a choice in what I wanted or what turned me on. I understood not being able to change it no matter how hard I tried.
Disclaimer – I know now that not every gay person goes through this period of self loathing. The lucky ones are able to embrace it early and I think that’s wonderful. Same with kinky people – I greatly admire people who come into the community in their 20s who have fully come to terms with themselves. I wish I had.
But that wasn’t my experience. So when I met really real gay people in really real life, especially those who had taken some time to discover their real selves, I found myself empathizing more easily than I might have otherwise. I heard my own feelings echoed in their words.
I’m not sure what the point is here. Maybe it’s that you can’t run from who you are. Maybe it’s that who you are is okay. Maybe it’s that you aren’t alone, no matter how much you may feel like you are. Maybe it’s about the importance of speaking our truths because you never know whose life you will touch.
Maybe it’s all of these things.