Growing up in the closet is how most of us start our Gay lives. I spent a lot of my life hiding my true self. Being gay was rare back then, something TV soaps would use as a plot to make headlines with a new storyline. It wasn’t considered normal. Nowadays I would like to think that being gay is more accepted in our world and thus those coming to terms with it are not in the same situation as I was (though I can only speak to my own cultural experience as a white, British person). But when it comes to coming out as kinky and into fetish gear, this is still something that can be hard for others to accept as well. At least, that’s how it’s been for me.
Even with the abundance of social media out there helping us, accepting ourselves as gay is always a hard step, but then to accept that our sexual interests stray more into the kink side is a whole new level of acceptance. It works almost as a second coming out. As much as being gay is more accepted and normalized (we even have gay Marvel characters now) there remains a stigma around being a kinkster. Society will tell you that kink and fetish gear are to be hidden away, but with so many different kinks out there, is this always possible? I will admit that there is a time and a place to walk the streets in leather chaps, but that isn’t the argument here. The problem stems from the mainstream view of what kink is. Ask a non-kinkster what they think of fetish or kink and it will likely be of a dungeon scene involving a gimp and a whip. Now to some kinksters, that’s an ideal way to spend a day, but to a non-kinkster, it can seem like something sleazy and taboo. These general stereotypes can imprint negative impressions on someone who is just beginning their own journey, making them feel shame or guilt. To me, it feels reminiscent of the experience of being in the closet.
When you’re ready to “come out” again, we are ready to accept you.
The truth of the matter is that kink is so much more than that image and whatever way Hollywood portrays it. It’s a community, with social bonds like no other and kink gear is more than just something worn for sex. With the help of social media and groups like BLUF and Rubbermen of London, amongst others, wearing gear out of the dungeons and bedrooms has grown in popularity. Whether it‘s going out in full gear, or simply out for a drink in trackies, adding a leather cuff to a casual jeans look or hitting the gym in rubber shorts, fetish is on the streets more than ever. Well, that’s how I do it. Confidence in wearing gear and accepting myself as a kinkster felt almost like coming to terms with being gay. It’s not something that will come overnight, but it will come eventually. I remember the first time I ordered a pair of trackies online. My head went into overdrive thinking about how I was going to lie to my mum, whom I lived with at the time, about what they were when they turned up in the post. What would she say if she saw me wearing them?! And the first time I wore my leather joggers out in London, walking around the streets for the whole world to see, wondering when I would be pointed at. Well, in the end, not a single person batted an eyelid. The truth is everyone is so caught up in their own world that they just don’t care what you wear. It is about how we accept this idea and relax those negative ideas that stop us from expressing our full selves.
Over time, my collection of trackies, leather and rubber has grown and my confidence to wear more and more of it out in public has grown too. And again, fighting those fears that the world would stare at me. But that’s who I was and who I am. I am a kinkster and I am not ashamed of it. It took me a while to become comfortable with it, to tell my partner about it and it took even longer for me to start an Instagram account to show it off confidently.
I am still working on it. Not everyone in my life knows about my kinky side, but every day I get a little bit braver. I may post a pic of me on my non-kink Instagram in leather joggers and a t-shirt out for a walk or wearing rubber on the streets on my way to an event in London. I’m still working on changing my own perspective, thinking about my second coming out. But I’m doing it my way and at my own pace. With every step, I am becoming more and more myself and learning a lot along the way.
The most important thing that I hope you take away from this, and my advice to anyone who is new to this world, discovering their kinks, is that you are not alone. There is a great global community out there that accepts you for who you are and what you like. There are people you can talk to who have been where you are and know what you’re going through. No matter who tries to tell you that it’s wrong and that you should be ashamed, there is always someone who can support you in the fetish community. I would ask you not to be limited by these old stereotypical perceptions and any negative thoughts in your head, but instead to open your mind to the possibility that you are exactly who you are meant to be. Love yourself and be true to your feelings. Whenever you’re ready to come out, we are here, ready to accept you. Stay safe and stay kinky.