Recently, I found myself coming out to someone I had only just met. There I was again, faced with a decision. Should I expose a part of who I am, risking ‘a raised eyebrow’ and a need to explain myself? Should I avoid the question altogether, and shift the conversation to another topic? Or, should I simply lie? I always knew I would keep coming out for the rest of my life. I just didn’t realise it would become a different type of coming out, to a different person every time. So, in that moment, I had to make choice: do I tell them who I am?
I recall reading a great column on misterbwings.com titled “Coming Out” Again!, written by a British kinkster called RJ. In his column, he wrote about the unique nature of coming out as kinky and being into fetish gear, much like a ‘second coming out’. I couldn’t agree more. Sharing our passion for gear with others is like exposing a hidden layer of true selves to those around us. For many of us, it represents ‘the final frontier’ of figuring out who we are. It doesn’t happen overnight, certainly not for me! It wasn’t until my late 30s when I finally came to realise – and embrace – who I am. I realised leather isn’t merely a type of fabric or an item of clothing I wear; it represents an extension and expression of who I am. Most importantly, I realised I wasn’t alone. I learned that for many people, their gear isn’t just something they put on, it is a part of who they are.
“Coming out is a life-long practice, first and foremost to ourselves”
Discovering my leather ‘DNA’ was part of a bigger journey of discovery I had been on in recent years. Sometimes, it feels like I constantly have to keep coming out in different ways: as gay; as a leatherman; as a Dom; as having depression; as autistic, and as a coach. Most recently, I even found out I’m a Swiftie! It seems that once I’ve figured out a part of me, a new part unfolds. It never stops! That’s because we never stop – growing, changing and learning more about ourselves. As a result, coming out is a life-long practice, first and foremost to ourselves. And coming out to yourself? Well, that’s often the toughest part. As discussed in last month’s column (check out misterbwings.com), the first and most important conversation we have is with ourselves. That means that to ‘come out’, we must start by owning who we are before we can share it with anyone else. Any need we may have to ‘explain’ ourselves to others comes from our human desire to be accepted by those around us. But to give that any chance of happening, we must first accept ourselves. At any given moment, we are faced with a choice: do we embrace who we are, or do we deny it? Will we ‘come out’ to ourselves, or will we keep that part of ourselves in storage?
“When you take off your gear and put it in storage, don’t put yourself in storage, too”
While each of us is on a different journey of discovery, we have something powerful in common and that’s our passion for gear. It empowers our choices and brings together the most authentic parts of who we are. Think about it, when you step into your gear, what do you feel? Who do you become? While different for each of us, the power is undeniable and cannot be understated. Your gear has given you the strength to uncover a more authentic and unapologetic part of who you are. Just imagine if you could be that in more areas of your life. Well, you can.
Each of us has the ability to tap into the power of our gear to fuel us in any area of our lives. Many guys I’ve coached have described their gear as serving as a type of armour, a pair of wings or ‘superhero’ suit which activates their truer selves, with deeper strength and confidence. That feeling you get when you’re in gear? That’s your power. You can feel it and use it every day, in everything you do. Your gear is a representation of the power you have within you. So, when the gear comes off and goes into storage, it doesn’t mean you need to put you, or your power in storage, as well.
Whether in your relationships, professional life, social life, or sex life, embracing this part of you means that wherever you go, your gear stays on. Whether in full gear or no gear at all, I invite you to tap into this power, and use it to bring the different parts of who you are together. Like a pair of wings, use your gear to elevate who you are, and ’come out’ every day as your most authentic, powerful selves. Like I mentioned in one of my recent videos on Instagram, once you do, it’s not the leather or rubber that shines, it’s you.
“Use your wings to take you and your journey to the next level”
As a helpful visual, look no further than the Mister B emblem as a powerful representation of your ongoing evolution and ‘coming out’ journey – two wings, held together for strength and balance, by a single powerful bull ring. On the one side, a wing representing the past, all that you’ve experienced and who you used to be. On the other, a wing representing the future, all you aspire to achieve and be moving forward to.
Linking them both is the here and now, a moment in shape of a steel bull ring, balancing and grounding the past and the future, all aspects of who you are and who you choose to be. At any given moment, you have a choice. With every conversation you have, with yourself or others, you can choose to move forwards or go backwards, to come out or to put yourself back in storage. Every moment presents an opportunity to reinforce your commitment to yourself and make it as strong as steel.
Without leather, a part of who I am was missing, and locked away in storage. When faced with the choice whether to come out or not, I proudly chose to say, ‘I’m a leatherman’. In doing so, the person I was really coming out to was myself. Avoiding the question or lying about it would simply be lying to myself. With every coming-out experience, I find myself owning who I am a bit more. Thus, I come out to a slightly different version of myself: braver, more whole, and more sure. I am fully ‘out’ yet? Honestly, I’m pretty sure I’m not, nor will ever be. There are many parts of myself I’m still discovering. Life is but a series of coming-out parties we get to throw ourselves. What I know for sure is that I’ll be wearing leather to the next one. Just like for many of you, my coming-out story is a work in progress.
Let me ask you this:
What part of yourself are you keeping ‘in storage’?
What power does your gear give you?
How might you ‘come out’ to this part of yourself?