There are many things I can’t write about on this blog because they would put me, my partners, my friends, and larger parts of my queer BDSM community here in Europe at too much risk of exposure.
Because this community is tiny. Our biggest international event has about 250 participants, our munches and workshops have around twenty guests on average, and our play parties usually have about 25-50 attendants. The overall number of queer perverts who are in touch with one or more parts of this queer BDSM community is of course bigger, but still: Compared to similar events in the straight-centered kink world, these are ridiculously small numbers.
This community is also intensely interconnected. Most of us are non-monogamous in some way, many of us have an extensive network of kinky friends that reaches across several national borders, and lots of us travel to queer BDSM events all over Europe. Like many other marginalized communities, we tend to have strong friendship ties even across different subgroups. We mostly value inclusion over separatism (even if that means we’ll keep running into all of our exes forever). We also remember each other’s faces, no matter for how many years people disappear before they come back, sometimes with a new name, set of pronouns, gender identity, degree, job, child, partner, disability, and/or kink identity. Compared to straight-centered BDSM contexts, it’s much harder to hide in an anonymous mass of people because the mass just isn’t there. Neither is the anonymity.
What is usually a benefit when it comes to community-making and (the good kind of) social control, is also a risk when it comes to unwanted outside attention. Since there aren’t very many of us, we’re easier to identify even by outsiders to this community, individually and as groups. And while some forms of BDSM have become a lot more accepted in mainstream culture in recent years, people can (and do) still lose their jobs or child custody, or get into trouble with their landlords, neighbors, family, etc. over being outed as practicing sluts and perverts. So the need for privacy still remains for many of us.
Aside from the stigma that comes with engaging in BDSM, literally all of us in this community are also marginalized by way of being queer, female, non-binary, and/or trans. Many of us don’t have even the vaguest veneer of presumed “don’t ask, don’t tell” cisheterosexuality to hide behind if we need to or at least one solid connection to a cis dude who can look intimidating if he wants to if we need to scare away annoying/potentially dangerous people. (Which is why the specific type and lived experience of someone’s queerness often still matters in assessing our realities of risk and access, even if we don’t believe that there are different “degrees” of queerness.) Not to mention that many of us are also disabled/chronically ill, neurodivergent, Black/people of color, sex workers, and/or poor and already experience discrimination and violence because of that, and not just outside our own community.
With the general right-wing backlash that’s happening in many European countries (and beyond), all of us (as individuals and collectively) are at risk of increased state scrutiny (e.g. the overly nitpicky attention that police and government agencies have paid to various queer sex/kink venues in Berlin and led to the Still-ongoing, months-long temporary closing of one of them), hate group attacks both online and offline (e.g. the trans-hostile attacks on London Pride last year as well as on the London Porn Film Festival last week), and multiple anti-sex/anti-queer internet regulations (e.g. last year’s Tumblr anti-porn policy that made large parts of queer and/or kinky self-expression and sex education invisible; or the upcoming British porn block). Not to mention the many supporters of the far-right parties who are still gaining parliamentary seats all over Europe and whose destructive actions unfortunately aren’t limited to “just” saying horribly inaccurate things about sexuality and gender (and related educational programs) to a public that still thinks it’s a good idea to offer them platforms to do just that. And then we still haven’t even started to look at how inequalities around race, class, disability, etc. further put queer and kinky people at risk and exclude them from the community support structures that exist.
So, to protect this beloved community and all of its members (including myself) from even more discrimination and violence, I don’t write about a lot of things I see other sex/kink bloggers write about all the time. I don’t mention the names of the kink events (such as munches, play parties, conferences, workshops) I go to. I don’t promote any of the workshops I’m giving in offline spaces. I don’t mention places, venues, dates, and try to remain vague even on countries. I don’t describe how people I interact with look in any detail. And I most definitely don’t post any pictures of any of us (including myself), not even with obscured faces (because in a community as small as this, our freckles, birthmarks, scars, tattoos, and piercings can be used to identify us just as much as our faces). And that’s not a risk I’m comfortable taking, especially not when it affects more people than just me, most of whom I can’t ask for their consent, if only because that would compromise my own anonymity and the partial security that comes with that.
I often regret having to make this choice. I often would like to be a lot more open. I often want to write about the whole range of topics I come across in this community (and give credit to the people, events, and/or FetLife discussions that inspired my thinking), to share details of the amazing events I go to (and create more of an archive of this community), to attach my face and legal name to this blog (and stop worrying whether I’ve told a personal story to too many people already to still feel comfortable with posting it — or vice versa), and perhaps even to link to the kink-educational work I do outside of this blog. I often worry that leaving out all this detail, all this joy, makes me sound aloof, inapproachable, or even fake. But I also know that there is no way back into the proverbial closet, so I want to be very careful with the bits and pieces I show of my own life and of the larger queer BDSM community on this continent (and in several of its countries). I do engage in risk-aware, consensual kink after all.
So I guess we’ll all have to live with this dissatisfying reality and my resulting hesitation to share information as generously here as I often share it in offline spaces or as I would like to share it in an ideal world. After all, I come from a line of queer and otherwise marginalized people whose names were put onto lists by actual Nazis (and whose names are put onto lists by actual Nazis again as we speak), who have found reasonable safety in obscurity (even if the price for that always was that we were harder to find for others like us), and who have good reason to be distrustful of the corporations that own social media and do highly questionable things with our data, the governments that make laws that criminalize more and more things related to sexuality, sex education, sex work, and/or LGBTQIA+ issues, and the actual Nazis (and other hostile assholes) in our very own neighborhoods.
Apparently, the sexual is still very political indeed.
(Edit: P.S. If any of you other sex/kink bloggers want to talk to me about your own risk management strategies, especially in relation to what I’ve said above, please feel free to comment here, use the contact form, or get in touch with me on Twitter.)
This week’s topic for Wicked Wednesday was ‘unmentionable.’
This post marks my return to blogging after yet another absence during which I made shit happen offline which I unfortunately can’t write about for all the reasons spelled out above. Unmentionable indeed.
Image source: Pixabay