Should expressions of fetish and kink at Pride be 'toned down' due to corporate sponsorship and the presence of kids? Author and BDSM educator M. Christian weighs into the debate, arguing that yes, kink belongs at Pride.
 

While discussions within the LGBTI+ community about the over-commercialization of Pride month have been simmering away for years, one particular (since deleted) Tweet recently melted X (formerly Twitter).
 

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In it, the author stated some progressive points; that corporate sponsorship has become a way to raise funds as well as promoting representation, and that trans women of color (WOC) are at the forefront of fighting for queer rights. But, then came the author's next point:


“Please don't bring your k*nks/fet*shes to pride, there are minors @ pride and this can sexualize the event.”



This person is, unfortunately, only one of many who have expressed the same opinion that public expressions of BDSM, fetish, or even queer sexuality at Pride events should be reconsidered since pride celebrations have gotten more – and I hate to use the word – 'mainstream'.


Given that corporate sponsors along with the social and financial power they wield have become such a big part of gay Pride, do these people arguing for no kink at Pride actually have a point?  
 

No kink at Pride?

While freely admitting that my position is a unique one – as I strongly emphasize with the LGBTI+ community despite not being particularly strong towards that side of the Kinsey scale – I've put some thought into these and other points and think these critics may have a point.
 

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First things first, while it often feels like dancing with the devil, corporate sponsorship can be a powerful tool – financially, sure, but, as I also said above, as a potentially helper in the ongoing fight for cultural acceptance and, therefore, equality. 

No-Kink-At-Pride
Gay Pride Seattle, WA by Andrew Hitchcock via Flickr (CC BY 2.0) License 


Then there's the argument that while one of the principal precepts of BDSM has always been consent, kink or fetish play at LGBTI+ pride celebrations could 'possibly' be considered non-consensual, as those viewing didn't 'agree' to watch it.


But, I'm not going to wind up here with statements like "gay Pride needs to change" or "this is the price the queer community needs to pay in the fight for equality". While I agree that it's important to discuss these and other points, I strongly disagree with them. 

Not only does kink and BDSM have a right to be a part of gay Pride, at its core, it's what Pride is all about.
 

Celebrating pride month (for the right reasons)

Let's start with corporate sponsorship. While it can have all kinds of uses, the moment the queer community begins to kowtow to corporate interests over what gay Pride is about, then it's time to kick these corporations to the curb.

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Putting it another way: because the queer community and its supporters have become a massive demographic for corporate sponsors, they need the queer community. Because of that, we must never lose sight of the fact that we have the power in this relationship: the LGBTI+ community should never become dependent on them and their sponsorship.
 

“The moment the queer community begins to kowtow to corporate interests over what gay Pride is about, then it's time to kick these corporations to the curb.”
 


OK, and so what about the no kink at pride argument that asks: "what about the children?". Well, this is what's called a logical fallacy: an appeal to emotion – which is often used as a tactic to shift a debate from facts and well-thought-out arguments to children possibly becoming innocent victims, and worst still, they (whoever might disagree with you) are to blame.
 

Yes-Kink-Belongs-At-Pride
Image: Pride Parade 2015 by GoToVan via Flickr (CC BY 2.0) License  


Let me repeat it for the folks in the cheap seats: LGBTI+ Pride is a celebration of the right for everyone to love and enjoy consensual sexual activities however and with whoever they wish.
 

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More than that, it's about the freedom to be yourself, no matter what other people may think. If a parent who doesn't understand that, and isn't taking responsibility for discussing it with any child they might bring to Pride, then the onus is on that parent and not the thousands of people who are joyously celebrating being who they are.
 

Consent at Pride celebrations

Finally, we come to consent, and how it plays to being publicly kinky at Pride parades which, I have to say, is a sticky point with it touching on one of the three big BDSM tent poles and all. 


While BDSM should always be about asking for and receiving clear consent, by willingly attending Pride celebrations – and being aware of what they might experience – attendees are giving precisely that. It's like going to a comedy film and being shocked that someone threw a pie into someone's face.

 

“Not only does kink and BDSM have a right to be a part of gay pride, at its core, it''s what Pride is all about.”


Moreover, BDSM is – and has been for a long time and will likely remain – an integral part of the queer community. Like with all those beautiful letters in LGBTI+, kink is about the inalienable right to consensual sexual expression. 
 

The final FET: yes, kink belongs at Pride

BDSM shouldn't just be visible at Pride celebrations; it has to be, those who identify with being such deserving of recognition, support, and acceptance as any other part of the umbrella that covers being queer. 
 

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If the idea of that makes people uncomfortable then perhaps they should put in the effort to stop fretting that kink might somehow stop some big company making money off the attendees. Or, that it might force people to actually talk to their kids about how consensual sexual expression is a right everyone must be able to enjoy.

kink-BDSM-pride
Image: 3W6A9591 by Véronique Mergaux via Flickr (CC BY 2.0) License 


In fact, people who are trying to deny the BDSM community from Pride celebrations, should accept that they're actually against everything these special celebrations have always stood for.


June is Pride month throughout may countries, where for 30 days a year many people around the world will stand up tall and proclaim to the world – and maybe even themselves – that they are a member LGBTI+ community.  •


M. Christian is a respected author and BDSM educator, having taught classes on everything from polyamory to tit torture for venues such as the SF Citadel, Good Vibrations, Beat Me In St. Louis and many others.
 

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Where do you sit on the kink at pride debate? Do you think kink belongs at Pride or not? Share your opinions with your fellow kinksters below...

Explore your kinks this pride month

Cover image: Gay Pride Paris 2011 by Rog01 via Flickr (CC BY 2.0) License 
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Leisa

Posted

10 hours ago, mobaby18 said:

ABSOLUTELY not. Sorry, but as a kinky queer person you will never be able to convince me (or many other morally sound kinksters/LGBTQIA+ folks) that kink and BDSM should EVER belong in the vicinity of children that cannot and did not consent. Children have a RIGHT to feel safe and to not be exposed to BDSM at Pride.

Pride is not, and has never been about BDSM or kink. It's about a large group of people who has been marginalized, systematically oppressed, and has fought for their rights. Their rights to get married, their rights to have and adopt children, to work certain jobs. BDSM is NOT LGBTQIA+ it's a expression of sexual desire. Not a sexual orientation or gender identity. Kinksters have never been systematically oppressed, abused or denied jobs for being such. Because BDSM belongs IN THE BEDROOM. Where EVERY single party partaking is able to verbally, and in an un-coerced manner express enthusiastic consent.

Pushing for BDSM and kink to be included when they don't belong there is incredibly dangerous considering how many minors are at Pride and take part in exploring and expressing their LGBTQIA+ status. Being so adamant about BDSM being "included" in something that they do not have a place in is opening many doors to even more sexual exploitation and grooming of children/minors. Yes, teens at some point need to learn about enthusiastic consent and what sexual expression can look like, but 8 year old intersex children do NOT need to show up to Pride and be subjected to something that sexual in nature. This post is of incredibly poor taste and it's VERY concerning that this is the first thing I see when signing up to use this app. I'm just wondering, do you guys encourage the sexual exploitation and lack of consent that this post calls for?

Mobaby with all due respect to say that the rally is about a large group of people who have been marginalized, systematically oppressed, and have fought for their right then name of specific rights pertaining specifically to the LGBTQIA+ community. You the speak of consent. Consent of children takes on a broad spectrum and range. Do you believe that ALL the children attending a PRIDE rally have given their consent to be there or are they attending because their parents have taken the there?
Ignorance takes on many forms and for anyone to think that this lifestyle has not been subjected to being marginalized and systematically oppressed shows a lack of responsibility. Our lifestyle too has reached the floors of the Supreme Court, however, unlike the LGBTQIA+ our rights have systematically been denied. The denial was lack of history and long-standing which is amazing considering both groups can trace their roots back to the beginning of civilization. The article which you slam was very well written and thought out. Too bad your response didn’t take on the same tone. Best of luck.

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le****

Posted

Agreed completely, Cade! Thank you, as you put it better than I ever could.

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Bo****

Posted

I think Cade explained it very well.
I would like to add from my perspective, public awareness and understanding of kink culture is currently where it was of what is now LGBTQIA+ when I was growing up.
It seems for many BDSM and kinks are simply a sexual activity and not more than that.

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Cade

Posted

Maybe I forgot trying not to chew off my tongue, but my sincere appreciation and respect to Fetish for posting this article. 

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Cade

Posted

7 hours ago, mobaby18 said:

ABSOLUTELY not. Sorry, but as a kinky queer person you will never be able to convince me (or many other morally sound kinksters/LGBTQIA+ folks) that kink and BDSM should EVER belong in the vicinity of children that cannot and did not consent. Children have a RIGHT to feel safe and to not be exposed to BDSM at Pride.

For some unknown reason - maybe even to me - I've got to try. I'd like to open with a quote from the article that sums up the counterargument to your point succinctly:

"But 'what about the children?' Well, this is what's called a logical fallacy: an appeal to emotion - which is often used as a tactic to shift a debate from facts and well-thought-out arguments to children possibly becoming innocent victims, and worst still, they (whoever might disagree with you) are to blame.

Let me repeat it for the folks in the cheap seats: LGBTI+ Pride is a celebration of the right for everyone to love and enjoy consensual sexual activities whoever and however they wish. More than that, it's about the freedom to be yourself, no matter what other people may think. If a parent who doesn't understand that, and isn't taking responsibility for discussing it with any child they might bring to Pride, then the onus is on that parent and not the thousands of people who are joyously celebrating being who they are."

I applaud the author, M. Christian, and agree fully; further, this is far more politely phrased than I could muster on my initial reaction to your opinion.

But, so help me, I'm going to try.

7 hours ago, mobaby18 said:

Pride is not, and has never been about BDSM or kink.

Once upon a time, homosexuality was considered the same as BDSM/fetish and kink was, as a mental deviancy. It was psychoanalyzed improper and ignorantly judged based on traditional society morality. You had to hide your desires for fear of the ramifications from those that could simply not participate and really never be effect by your desires. The [LGBTQIA+] community should be proud of the adversity it has overcome and the progress it has made in paving the way for equal rights and civil liberties for all consensual alternative dynamic lifestyles.

Many may not realize it, but one of the accepted histories of BDSM finds its origins in gay culture; gay WWII veterans returning from the war wanted to continue living that militant lifestyle and shaped their relationships around that ideology, in what is thought of as the birth of gay leather (often considered Jay Wiseman's history of BDSM). The [LGBTQIA+] community has supported the BDSM community throughout the years, which is why many fetish parties are hosted in gay/lesbian bars; the BDSM community has also supported the [LGBTQIA+] community, as well.

7 hours ago, mobaby18 said:

It's about a large group of people who has been marginalized, systematically oppressed, and has fought for their rights. Their rights to get married, their rights to have and adopt children, to work certain jobs. BDSM is NOT LGBTQIA+ it's a expression of sexual desire. Not a sexual orientation or gender identity. Kinksters have never been systematically oppressed, abused or denied jobs for being such. Because BDSM belongs IN THE BEDROOM. Where EVERY single party partaking is able to verbally, and in an un-coerced manner express enthusiastic consent.

Being gay (as an example) is an expression of sexual desire; living a gay lifestyle is wanting to be able to express yourself openly and without fear of judgement, violence, or legal offense. Just because you're gay and living a gay lifestyle doesn't mean your openness in public allows for any behavior that may be unsuitable for children. Children are allowed at PRIDE because being gay isn't a crime and doesn't mean you are a danger to children by being gay, and I think you'd agree, this thinking is fairly ignorant.

BDSM (for example) is an expression of sexual desire; living a BDSM lifestyle is wanting to be able to express yourself openly and without fear of judgement, violence, or legal offense. Just because you're into BDSM and living a BDSM lifestyle doesn't mean your openness in public allows for any behavior that may be unsuitable for children. Children are allowed at PRIDE because being into BDSM isn't a crime and doesn't mean you are a danger to children by being into BDSM, and I think you'd agree, this thinking is fairly ignorant.

The BDSM community may not be at the same level of social acceptance as the [LGBTQIA+], but we still have a lot to be proud of! The DSM-5 no longer considers BDSM/fetish as a mental deviancy whereas consent is concerned; that means we should no longer have to be afraid of having our desires used to suggest there is something wrong with us psychologically, just like preferring the same gender sexually doesn't mean you're crazy. The BDSM community is quite literally reshaping how consent is regarded in ANY relationship as we try to climb out of the closet. The sad truth is though, being into BDSM can cost you your job, family and friends, your quality of life even today! Being outed is still a very real fear for BDSM lifestyles, because it carries very real unjust consequences, just as being gay once did.

Regardless, no one has the right to diminish anyone's ability to celebrate their consensual lifestyle, is that not the entire point of PRIDE? I will not allow you or anyone negate my pride, so here I find myself trying to respectfully spread awareness and understanding.

7 hours ago, mobaby18 said:

Pushing for BDSM and kink to be included when they don't belong there is incredibly dangerous considering how many minors are at Pride and take part in exploring and expressing their LGBTQIA+ status. Being so adamant about BDSM being "included" in something that they do not have a place in is opening many doors to even more sexual exploitation and grooming of children/minors. Yes, teens at some point need to learn about enthusiastic consent and what sexual expression can look like, but 8 year old intersex children do NOT need to show up to Pride and be subjected to something that sexual in nature. This post is of incredibly poor taste and it's VERY concerning that this is the first thing I see when signing up to use this app. I'm just wondering, do you guys encourage the sexual exploitation and lack of consent that this post calls for?

Growing up in the 80s, I was what might be considered "queer" (although I didn't identify as that, myself). Although my attraction mostly leaned towards the opposite gender, I didn't necessarily desire sex with them as most people would understand the act. I didn't fit the stereotypical concept of being male, no matter how I struggled to - because to do otherwise was simply unacceptable. In those rare occasions I tried to share my "true self" with another, it was typically rewarded with chastisement and disgust; I began to push those strange desires deep inside which made me feel miserable, and alone, and ashamed...
I certainly shouldn't take pride in what made me different, is how the world use to be. I wish there was someplace I could have learned how to better handle and express my desires as a boy; at least then, I might not have felt so isolated and subhuman. I refuse to accept that this is still the world we live.
The exposure the BDSM community has in PRIDE includes education and sharing experiences in growth and personal acceptance. Condoms are a commonplace trinket at PRIDE; not to expose children to sex, but to educate on proper safe sex practices. The same of the BDSM community! We're not teaching sex and spanking, but safe practices and consent awareness. This is knowledge the BDSM community needs to share, this is part of our progress to become accepted - the chance to show we are not a danger, that we are not mentally ill, that we are valid!
Now, if you are yet confused on how BDSM/fetish lifestyles fit in the [LGBTQIA+] community, I'll simplify it to a symbol of significance: the plus sign. It's used to indicate addition or a positive value (taken straight from Google). I always took it to mean that no matter how different your consensual lifestyle and relationship may be to the rest of the world, the [LGBTQIA+] accepted you with open arms. BDSM is the + of [LGBTQIA+].

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le****

Posted

@mobaby18 the post is an opinion piece and given the recent debates, it is very relevant topic - contrary to your opinion of it being in poor taste. Everyone has the right to an opinion, which you've exercised freely. Moreover, expressing an opinion doesn't mean to say that one person is right - or wrong, opinion stimulates debate. However you look at it and whether you like it or not, kink culture IS part of LGBTI+ identity and always has been, and to ignore it, is shortsighted.

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Ta****

Posted

Gay couples are just like anybody else.  They have families and young children who they may not want exposed to kink and Fetish, particularly if they are on marches or if their children are of very young age. I think this is a reasonable position.  Kinksters need to fight for any changes in the law from their own corner, and forming their own pressure groups, regardless of what sexual orientation they are.

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Posted

This 👇👇. Perfectly said. To say attending a pride event is consent for exposure to kink is beyond me, I just don't understand how that conclusion was reached.

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mo****

Posted

ABSOLUTELY not. Sorry, but as a kinky queer person you will never be able to convince me (or many other morally sound kinksters/LGBTQIA+ folks) that kink and BDSM should EVER belong in the vicinity of children that cannot and did not consent. Children have a RIGHT to feel safe and to not be exposed to BDSM at Pride.

Pride is not, and has never been about BDSM or kink. It's about a large group of people who has been marginalized, systematically oppressed, and has fought for their rights. Their rights to get married, their rights to have and adopt children, to work certain jobs. BDSM is NOT LGBTQIA+ it's a expression of sexual desire. Not a sexual orientation or gender identity. Kinksters have never been systematically oppressed, abused or denied jobs for being such. Because BDSM belongs IN THE BEDROOM. Where EVERY single party partaking is able to verbally, and in an un-coerced manner express enthusiastic consent.

Pushing for BDSM and kink to be included when they don't belong there is incredibly dangerous considering how many minors are at Pride and take part in exploring and expressing their LGBTQIA+ status. Being so adamant about BDSM being "included" in something that they do not have a place in is opening many doors to even more sexual exploitation and grooming of children/minors. Yes, teens at some point need to learn about enthusiastic consent and what sexual expression can look like, but 8 year old intersex children do NOT need to show up to Pride and be subjected to something that sexual in nature. This post is of incredibly poor taste and it's VERY concerning that this is the first thing I see when signing up to use this app. I'm just wondering, do you guys encourage the sexual exploitation and lack of consent that this post calls for?

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