“Kink at Pride is bad for all the young people there-!”
When I was 15. When I had just barely started to realize I wasn’t straight. I was also realizing that certain things were appealing to me. Things that weren’t discussed in health class. Things that my friends didn’t talk about. Things that I didn’t see portrayed ANYWHERE except in negative context.
At age 15, I was convinced that something was deeply wrong with me because I liked the idea of being tied up. Of wearing a harness or cuffs. Of wearing a collar. Of having someone put a collar on me. The only things I EVER saw about kink were things like “This is bad” or “Abnormal sexual desires” or “This is abusive.” And I thought that I was fucked up because, well, I wanted to be “abused” and do all these things that were “wrong”.
If I could have seen just ONE kinky adult. One person in a harness. A leather pride flag. A pup mask. One expression of non-normative sexuality that looked even an inkling like what I was feeling drawn towards, it would have saved me years of guilt and shame about what I was into. If I had resources about kink and BDSM that explained what it was, it might have saved me from going into something toxic and abusive disguised as kink. If I had the tools handed to me to know that yes, it was okay to be interested in that and here are some safe ways to explore, I could have had a fulfilling, healthy entrance into my sex life.
Instead, I spent my late teens and early 20s thinking that I was a degenerate freak (not helped by the fact that I was called such for watching very vanilla porn) who wanted bad, evil things done to me. And that made me, by default, messed up. I spent my first years as a sexually active person being afraid to ask for what I wanted, being afraid to explore what I liked. Even the little things like trying different positions or exploring my own body. Because of the narrative that anything even remotely related to kink was bad.
I’m lucky to have learned, to have had supportive friends and partners. To have a supportive and loving wife who is just as happy to learn and explore as I am. But I’m 26 and just starting to touch on things I have wanted for years. And a lot of people end up waiting even longer.
As a young queer person, I would have benefited SO MUCH from just knowing that there were other kinky people out there, and that they were marching in parades and having a blast just like all the other LGBT+/Queer folks. That they were openly expressing themselves and they were happy doing so. That I wasn’t doomed to be unhappy forever, that I could try things I wanted to try. That I was allowed and able to engage in my wants and needs.
And just for funsies- I had the EXACT same experience with figuring out I was bisexual as I did with figuring out I was kinky. Exact same process of shame and guilt and fear.