Most gay Leathermen and Leatherwomen have a second coming out in their lives that they define as “Coming Out Kinky”. A point where they decide they are not going to hide that part of their lives anymore. No longer ashamed of their interests and lifestyle. Everyone’s story is unique in it’s own special way. Here is one person’s moving and funny story.
“Guilty Pleasure” by Nmpc
“What are we listening to?”
The teenager flipped his hair out of his eyes. Tegan and Sara’s Body Work had just started for the second time as my iPod reached the end of the playlist and started over.
“Not a fan of lesbian duos going pop Evan?” I asked as I went over to find a new playlist.
“Do you like this stuff?” He asked scornfully.
I laughed at his self evident question.
“I take it you don’t?”
“Um, it’s okay I guess, my friends just don’t like it.” He went back to chopping green bell peppers for the salad.
“Does it matter what they think?” I asked.
Before he could answer the knife glanced off the smooth skin of the vegetable as he cut down. The blade sliced into his finger. Blood splashed onto the green cutting board. That summer our boss had introduced different colors for cutting different foods. Green for veggies, red for meat, white for bread, yellow for fruit, and blue for dairy.
The other kitchen supervisor sprang into action and ushered the now ashen faced boy to the first aid room. As I cleaned up the blood and threw away the peppers, I wondered if the question was unreasonable.
Of course it matters what your friends think when you’re 15, not much else does matter. I remember sitting in ninth grade science during work time going through each other’s iPods, making catty comments about other people’s music taste.
I remember labeling Britney Spears as Arcane Fire on my iPod, because Arcane Fire was “serious music,” while Britney was not and I wanted to be considered serious.
It took me until college to figure out that guilty pleasures are a method of cultural control. Serious music is indie rock and and folk music, pop music is a frivolous thing that queer people and girls like. We let the Pitchforks of the world declare a monopoly on cool, and until very recently cool were things that straight white men liked. Or things they absorbed from other groups when some sound was so undeniable that it could not be ignored.
Liking what you like and not being embarrassed to bring it up to anyone who asks for fear of seeming “unserious,” shouldn’t be so hard.
Yesterday I was sitting in a gay bar in Minneapolis. A drunk straight woman wandered over and began an unsolicited conversation about Robyn. Most people that know me well are aware of my devotion to Robyn, so we bonded over the perfection of Call Your Girlfriend.
Behind me on the wall were a collection of beautifully shot black and white photos of non normative sexual acts. She pointed to one of the pictures and suddenly we were talking about kinky sex. It was funny because she didn’t really seem all that confused or off put. It was refreshing, given the endless aggressions on queer people, both big and small, that run through popular culture.
The miserable rat pack of Seth Rogen, James Franco, and company turn out a stream of movies where gay sex is a punchline. Because gay people are fine, but our sex is gross, and two male characters being confused as lovers is funny.
I’m sure that these men are fine with the gay men that I’m sure are in their lives, but they clearly haven’t gotten over what culture has taught them about queer sex.
I spent most of last weekend at Twin Cities Leather Weekend. A number of people in my life asked me about what event was taking up my whole weekend.
There I was again, feeling shame about an immutable part of my personality and sexuality. I just referred to it as a general gay event, leaving out the word leather. Lying by omission to almost everyone.
The thing is I’m not really sure why. I spent time worrying about if pictures made it on Facebook. But who was I worried about? And why would they care?
Apparently I’m not as enlightened as I thought. I’d let the fact that a part of my sexuality falls farther outside of the norm than just being gay, and spent a lot of time and energy omitting that from any discussion of my life with straight people.
This weekend showed me that the leather community is going to be important enough to me, that splitting my life in half is not feasible or desirable.
So I guess this is a second coming out of a sort, odd as that may be.
I’m done feeling bad about being outside of normal.
Last night I found a piece of paper on the floor of the bar. On it someone had written “The Gospel According to Gaga.” It didn’t continue to reveal what those teachings are, but anyone below 30 has heard Gaga’s slightly hokey “Born This Way.” Of course she is not the first to preach radical acceptance in popular culture, but the song launched at #1 on the main American musical chart.
I guess there’s some hope for me. In the last three years I’ve lived at nine addresses in three states, truly believed I was going to die of cancer, but still met daring, magical people at every turn.
This time last year I lived in the wilderness of the North Cascades. This time next year I don’t know where I’ll be, or who I’ll be.
Hopefully I’ll have learned to give myself a break.
Probably not, but one step at a time.