Home » Queer Community » BDSM Communities and the Intersection of Queerness

BDSM Communities and the Intersection of Queerness

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Safe. Sane. Consensual.

These are three words that may or may not associate themselves with an easily overlooked cultural group. These adjectives are the calling of many people who partake in BDSM lifestyles and sexual relationships. BDSM–bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism–is often depicted as a sexual deviation rife with Village People-esque men in assless leather chaps and pro-Dominas (1) in high latex boots and corsets. Of course, assless chaps and latex are certainly elements of BDSM culture, but what is frequently overlooked is that it is a culture, one that binds together communities and has history within its practices. In major cities all over the US, leather and BDSM groups became supportive groups for many considered “sexually deviant,” and this included a very large group of queer kinky folks honoring the creed of safety, sanity, and consensual play.

People have been deploying many elements of BDSM in their sexual relationships for as long as people have been having sex, and any person can think of sexual experiences where there has been a clear dominance and submission between partners. But for many people whose sexual proclivities were considered fetishistic (2), they kept their lifestyles cloistered for fear of retribution. During World War II, the large draft of men for the war effort lead to an increased amount of contact between homosexuals who may have otherwise lacked interaction with other gay men. After the war and during the stifling 1950s, many of these soldiers rejected normative assimilation, purchased low-price surplus motorcycles, and created homosexual biker gangs. This was the beginning of what would be known as gay leather/BDSM in the 1970s, and although it was decisively set outside sexually normative behavior of the day, was regulated by a strict set of regulations and rules (following Old Guard teachings, very different from “New Guard” lifestyles[3]). Often, these clubs were exclusive to queer men, and interaction with women and non binary genders was limited.

More involvement and creation of new groups, as well as the emergence of a kink pride culture, became more apparent in the 1980s due to the rapidly spreading AIDS virus among homosexual men (4). Pat Califia is credited as one of the forerunners of lesbian and trans* inclusion in kink communities, and was also a major intellectual figure in anti-pornography feminist discourse, challenging many anti-pornography stances and the idea that women and non binary gendered participants were harmed by BDSM relationships. Now, a significant number of support groups and other resources for kinky queers of all genders exist throughout the United States and abroad.

For those who are currently interested in the kink/BDSM scene locally, there are many different parties, resources, websites, and friendly people within the San Francisco Bay Area. One person of note is Courtney Trouble, a local queer pornographer that films almost exclusively queer and kinky sex scenes. In Trouble’s pornographic film Trans Grrrls (5), performer Hayley Fingersmith describes her love for simultaneously kinky and queer sex, explaining how every scene she does with another non binary identified person is inherently a kink filled “gender-fuck” when viewed through a normative lens. For her, kinkiness and queerness intersect at the point of rejection of normative sexual ideals.

So how do kinkiness and queerness intersect? This is a hard question to answer, particularly because there are so many definitions of what is considered queer and kinky, especially on a personal level. One similarity between the two, however, is the persistent pushing of boundaries. Whether pushing the boundaries of what society considers gender or fighting for greater legal rights to practice your sexuality as you choose, both queer and kink identities constantly push the boundaries of what is considered “normal,” or rejecting the paradigm of normality altogether.

Besides a litany of queer adult entertainment produced by queer folks for queer folks in the Bay Area, there are other queer-friendly resources to explore or further community involvement, mentioned in the Resources list below.

1. Pro-Domme/Domina: What many vanilla readers consider a “Dominatrix,” or professional dominant woman in a BDSM interaction. Derived from Latin meaning “Mistress,” Domme/Domina is title of respect, and always capitalized to emphasize the position of power the mistress holds.

2. Fetish: A fixation, particularly in a sexual context, on objects, actions, or body parts. Fetish as a term is used fairly lightly in the common American vernacular, often to state a “propensity for” some object or action, whereas here a fetish is used a sexually specific term to describe a non-normative sexual interaction between people and between people and objects.

3. Old Guard v. New Guard: Old Guard refers to an older generation of leathermen and women that adhered to strict sexual policies within the BDSM community. While a central component of their lifestyle was education and training, sexual roles were rigid, i.e. tops were never bottoms and there are certainly no switches. New Guard is a younger approach to leather, and much more flexible in their BDSM practices. See also http://www.evilmonk.org/a/notetrad.cfm

4. http://leatheralliance.org/about-us/

5. http://transgrrrls.com/

Resources

1. fetlife.com/ A social media site for BDSM enthusiasts. Like Facecboook for kinksters!

2. http://www.black-rose.com/cuiru/ The Cuir Zine. A zine produced about BDSM lifestyle and culture, often featuring works of prominent figures such as Gayle Rubin and Pat Califia.

3. http://www.wickedgrounds.com/ Wicked Grounds Cafe and Boutique is San Francisco’s first and only BDSM dedicated cafe. A great place to meet like-minded folks and eat delicious food and coffee.

4. http://www.indiepornrevolution.com/indie-porn/ Indie Porn Revolution is the homesite of Courtney Trouble. It is queer pornography created for the queer gaze. Features a wide variety of personalities and bodies, and has many related site links for other queer adult entertainment.

5. http://www.sfcitadel.org/ Most famously known for the site of kink.com filmings, The Citadel also has a bar and hosts community events.

6. http://www.powerexchange.com/ A public sex club in San Francisco.

7. http://www.renegadesbar.com/ A bar in San Jose, they often host kink munches.

8. http://www.mr-s-leather.com/ Amazing leather gear for your naughty closet.

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