Secrets and Sophistication
As I've been reflecting on my discovery of the BDSM community: I have no doubt that there are many people who practice BDSM behind closed door with their lovers and who consider their proclivities a deeply private matter - and who are perfectly happy doing so. One doesn't need to join the BDSM social community, or to discuss it with platonic friends (or with strangers on the Internet), in order to be ethical, self-aware, and kinky as all hell. But personally, I remember having a deep, dark, shameful secret. And telling my "secret" to trusted friends - whom I had no desire to fuck or play with - was the key to no longer having a secret. (I'm also lucky in that I've always been politically liberal, and already had liberal friends.)
My very closest friends, the ones I told first, got a nervously chattery version that started with, "I have a deep dark secret that I have to get off my chest." Actually, one of my very first disclosures started with a ramble about how very stressed I was about college midterms and a theatre-piece that I was working on at the time, before I got the courage to toss in the stress of my deep dark secret, and conclude with, "Or maybe I'm just entirely crazy."
To which my friend responded perfectly, "Liking sadomasochism doesn't mean you're crazy. Although sacrificing your health and sleep over a school play might mean you're crazy."
Then there was my cousin, whom I had never really intended to tell. But I met the man that I'm (now, four and a half years later) going to marry at a munch, and I did tell my family that I was dating someone that I had met in a coffee-shop . My cousin and I have always talked more openly about sex with each other, and she wanted to know all the details about how my now-fiancé and I started talking to each other. Her questions were inescapably specific, and I had never withheld the details about any other boyfriend from her before, so I had the uncomfortable choice between explaining the munch or lying to her. Finally, after a lot of obnoxiously cryptic mumblings, I said the word "sadomasochism."
"Sadomasochism? What's that?" And we had a long terrifying pause, in which I grappled for how to explain sadomasochism to my younger cousin. Then she rescued me by asking, "Wait, to do you mean S&M?"
"Uh, yes. That's what S&M stands for."
"Oh, I never knew what it stood for. You sound so sophisticated!"
And then the friend I couldn't tell for a while because our schedules made it difficult to spend one-on-time together. She met "the man from the coffee-shop" before I'd had an opportunity to elucidate why I had been talking to strangers in that coffee-shop. While the three of us were sitting on my couch together one evening, he picked up the bit of rope I had laying around as a cat toy and started fidgeting. My friend, an artistic girl, noticed and exclaimed what very pretty knots he was making, and asked him to teach her. Before leaving, she announced that she was going to start making jewelry with these beautiful knots - and, "Who knew knots could be so useful?!" Several days later, when I told her that he and I were both sadomasochists, her response was, "What, you mean like tying people up and stuff? ...Oh! He was never a boy scout, was he?!" and laughed.
So, why did I have a deep, dark secret from these people for so long? ...I honestly have no idea.