Tuesday, May 17, 2016

BDSM: a Sexual Orientation

Hi guys :) 

Today is the International Day of Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, so it's time for the annual Hop for Visibility, Awareness and Equality. That's the old Hop Against Homophobia, which then became Hop Against Homophobia and Transphoba, which then became Hop Against Homophobia, Bi- and Transphobia. With the new, all-inclusive name, I don't foresee any more changes ^.^ I stepped away from hop management from health reasons this year and handed the torch over to Cherie Noel and co,  

What I want to talk about today is BDSM as a sexual orientation. I know. Most of you are probably furrowing your brow right now and getting ready to hit the back button, but please hear me out. First off, not all of the people who practice BDSM or some other fetish or kink are BDSM-oriented. Some are just doing it for fun and it's not deeply rooted in their internal selves. It's a hobby, something to spice up the sex life, and a way to meet new people. But then there are the others...

Late last year, Iceland finally removed BDSM and other fetishes/kinks from the list of mental disorders, following in the footsteps of the other Nordic countries. After 50 Shades of Grey, this didn't really shock anyone. What surprised people was that the group, BDSM in Iceland, sent in an application to become a member association of the Icelandic National Queer Organization (Samtokin 78). The younger generation of equal rights fighters (indifferent of actual age) was all for it, but many of the people who first founded the organization were dead against it. They didn't see how BDSM people had anything in common with gays and lesbians (a lot of the same people are still not happy about bi, pan, trans, intersex, and asexuals being allowed to enter their organization and always refer to it as The National Gay and Lesbian Organization). At first glimpse, they seem to be right. I even had a problem with it at first, because I'd never considered it as an orientation before. 

This caused some BDSM oriented people to step out of the closet to explain how it's an orientation to some, like I will explain to you how it's an orientation for me:

I have two kinks. One of them is bondage. I was six years old when I started having fantasies about bondage. That was the age I knew that people "hopped up and down in bed". I didn't know more details, but in my daydreams, one of them was tied up. I have no idea how those fantasies started. I don't remember seeing pictures of people being tied down during sex. This was before the internet and if there were ever porn magazines at home, I never found them. Of course, I'd seen old westerns where people were tied up with rope and it was interesting to me, but there wasn't anything sexual about it. I've never been sexually abused, and I have the world's best parents and family members. This seems to have come out of the blue. 

Of course, I never talked about it. I drew pictures of it, but hid them (I found one of them not long ago and hope that Mom never saw it >.<). Somehow I knew this wasn't natural and I repressed it for 32 years. Even in my 17-year relationship with my ex, who's a very open person, I barely dared to entertain thoughts of bondage because I didn't think it was natural. It's just like how I barely entertained the thoughts of me being anything but heterosexual, even though I later accepted that I'm pan. I was ashamed of my kink, I didn't choose it, and if given the choice I wouldn't have it. 

The other kink is something I've had since my teens. It's not something I'm willing to discuss publicly, because I feel it's more private than the bondage. I'm still very much in the closet with this one because there's so much more stigma. They didn't cover it in 50 Shades of Grey, after all. 

So I was in the closet about these two kinks that I didn't choose. They were always on my mind. Always. Especially after I became sexually active. But I suppressed them until I met the people in BDSM in Iceland and saw how perfectly normal those people were. I honestly expected to see them walk in in leather and chains and masks and leashes. But they showed up in jeans and knit sweaters and were so nice. And these people, who had very similar tales to tell were being discriminated against in a very nasty way. That's when I decided that maybe it was okay for me to be me - to fully be me - and step out of the closet. I stopped suppressing who I was and I now embrace both kinks with other people. I now know that I'm not abnormal and this isn't something I need to be ashamed of. I've embraced myself as I am internally. I feel a lot more confident as a result. Maybe one day I'll be able to step fully out of the closet and reveal that other kink, but then maybe people don't need to know the specifics. 

The naysayers fussed over the term BDSM orientation, saying it was something BDSM in Iceland made up to try to get in. They're wrong. It's a term that has been popping up for the past few years as more and more people are realizing that this can indeed be an orientation. I always explain it by saying that even when the term "homosexual" and "transgender" didn't exist, homosexuals and transgender people still existed. The term BDSM orientation may be new, but the orientation isn't. 

Despite BDSM-oriented people coming out with their stories, naysayers still insisted that this clearly couldn't be an orientation, because it's about sexual behavior instead of who you love. But again they are wrong. People who are BDSM-oriented and are not suppressing it are more likely to be in a relationship with another person of the same orientation, because they can be themselves. If said couple are Dom/sub, their relationship sometimes reflects that. They are also less likely to identify as hetero, because their orientation is about the connection they get through BDSM (which is not only through sex, by the way); not the gender of the person they're with. A study showed that most BDSM-oriented identify as bi or pan, because it's about the BDSM connection; not the gender. If you ask a hetero person who's BDSM oriented if they could choose to have vanilla sex with a person of the opposite sex for the rest of their lives, or BDSM sex with a member of the same sex, it's not unlikely that they'll choose BDSM with a same-sex person. It's not because they're too perverted to choose the vanilla with a person they're naturally attracted to, it's because this is how their sexuality is wired. What attracts, for example, is the dominant or submissive or kinky personality; not the gender. 

The Leather Pride flag, also used for BDSM.
I know, it's still hard to understand if you're not oriented like this. But I'm certain that in fifteen years or so, this sexual orientation will become as accepted as all the others. They're already ahead in Norway, where BDSM has been a member of the Norwegian LGBT Association for 20 years now. I'm hoping that BDSM in Iceland will be welcome within the Icelandic National Queer Organization. The naysayers are yet again trying to find a legal ground to null and void the decision to let BDSM in Iceland become members of Samtokin 78. This will be the second time, if they succeed, so we'll need to vote for the third time. It's weird that we're fighting for acceptance within the LGBTQ+ crowd, not the people standing outside - who are now beginning to wonder why the older generation of equal rights fighters are so vehemently discriminating against the BDSM-oriented people. And that they're using all the arguments that were used against them to do it. It's stressful, it's ugly, and it's hypocritical. Here are some of the arguments:

What about the children?
It isn't natural. It's sick. It's perverted. 
It's all about the sex.
We don't need to know what you do in the bedroom.
It's sexual behavior, not an orientation. 
It's a choice. 

Sure, buddy. My choice is whether or not I embrace and practice my kink, but that I have it is not my choice. I didn't choose this, just like I didn't choose to be pan, or have blue eyes. 

Wait a second... It's fetish. It IS all about sex. No, it's not ;) When I practice my secret kink, I don't necessarily get orgasm. This isn't about the orgasm for me. Some BDSM-oriented people are left tied up in a corner and stay that way for a lengthy period and don't get an orgasm, because it's not about the sex for them. They get into a different state of mind when they're tied up like that. People in Dom/sub relationships may have sex, but then there are periods where they don't have sex but still maintain the Dom/sub aspects of their relationships. A person gets high from being spanked but doesn't get orgasm. A person gets high from spanking but doesn't get orgasm. BDSM orientation is so much more than just the sex, just like homosexuality is so much more than just the sex and, heterosexuality is so much more than just the sex. Now that I've embraced myself fully, I doubt I'll go into a relationship with a person who isn't BDSM oriented, or at least who's willing to let BDSM be a part of the relationship - and not because the bedroom will be vanilla (I sometimes like vanilla), but because that connection I get with a person through BDSM would be missing. It's extremely hard to explain, but it's time to start trying. 

So, yes! Prize! I almost forgot. I'm going to do a tongue-in-cheek and offer up an ebook version of 50 Shades of Gay (that's GAY not Grey), by Jeffery Self. Just because. I'll also throw in an e-copy of one of my books. What you have to do to qualify is comment on this post and leave me a way to reach you (email, or facebook link). The contest runs from May 17th to midnight on May 24th. I will draw and contact a winner on May 25th. 

But there's more. Check out all these participating blogs, read their stories, and win their prizes. Happy hopping ^.^

>>Disclaimer: The photos that go with this post are purely meant as humor. I really don't think that every person who is against BDSM in Iceland becoming associated with S78 is a prude. <<


  1. That was really interesting and makes perfect sense if anyone wish to actually think about it


  2. Hi Erika! Thanks so much for bringing the Hop to life over the past few years and also for your courageous personal story. It's interesting that you mention the split between old and young generations in terms of attitudes toward BDSM inclusion. I guess I'm somewhere in the middle as a post Stonewall Gen Xer, but I've always been intrigued by the history of the LGBT movement, which began with a similar split, not related to age so much, but related to vision.

    I think that the original Gay Liberationists like Frank Kameny would have supported BDSM under the umbrella while the assimiliationist movement, more conservative, would have seen it as too radical and "scary" to have a chance to be accepted in the mainstream.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. :)

    Good luck with your activism and your writing!

  3. thanks for the great post. i really don't think there's anything wrong with having a fetish or two when it comes to sex and as long as everyone is consenting it can make things real fun

  4. Very thought-provoking post - thank you for being so open on the subject. :)

  5. I always think of that Pansy Division video where Jon Ginoli is wearing a shirt that says "Feel No Shame In Your Desire." That always stuck with me!

    Trix, vitajex(at)aol(Dot)com

  6. Thanks for informative post.

  7. Thanks for sharing and for going into details and talking about studies. It was an interesting and informative post.
    humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

  8. Thank you for sharing this! I also have kinks I don't share publicly (and weren't covered in 50SoG either, LOL). I hadn't really thought of it as an orientation, but it makes sense. I think I was 5 or 6 when mine appeared. I liked how you talked about it not being all about sex, too--mine also is not and can be about comfort as much as anything sexual. What a terrific and informative post!

  9. Very informative. Thank you for sharing.


  10. The hubs and I have discussed orientation time and again over the 18 years we have been together. What we have come to is that each of us has our own personal orientation. There are no two individuals that like 100% of the same things, period. Hopefully you are blessed enough in life to find someone who shares the majority of what you like/need/want in a relationship. For this reason I feel that we all need to have an open mind and realize that just because something does not float our boat does not mean it has no value to another person. If we could all just step outside of our own points of views and be willing to accept that our differences are what adds color and flavor to the world, we might just be happier ;) Thank you so much for sharing your story and point of view!


  11. That was a very interesting post, thank you, Erica. I do think everybody is free to experience their sexuality in whatever way they feel like, as long as both parts are adults and consenting. I'm not much into de BDSM world because I'm naturally averse to pain, but I recognise I love reading about it... Maybe I have a secret kink as well?

  12. Great post, Erica. I remember getting busted for tying up my Barbie dolls! I also fondly remember Bat Girl in her spandex getting tied up all the time, so I think there might have been a wee bit of cultural influence on my orientation.

  13. Now I'm curious what the second kink is....

  14. Erica,
    love your post. I find your explanation easy to understand, and have to say, it is sad to see the same arguments used against it.
    Cherie Noel

  15. great explanation!
    I have no problem believing kink/fetishism is an orientation...I too remember having a bondage kink from the age of 5 or 6


  16. I may not understand kinks, but each to his own. I do appreciate your openness and participation in this hop. Thanks!

  17. I have never heard of this orientation before, thank you for the very helpful and informational post and for educating me. Great way to spread awareness :)


  18. Hi Erika!
    missed the blog hop and glad it's back! Things are changing fast for all of us, aren't they? ;)
    Whenever I manage to immigrate to Iceland, I'll look you up - but remember I'm ACE, so no sex, thanks! :D

  19. Wow, thanks for the honesty and advocacy. Nice prize, too! JT

  20. Good blog post. It was interesting reading about what's happening in Iceland :)


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