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Coming Out A Kinkster

Coming Out Kinkster

In my practice, I often work with people coming out. When speaking of coming out people often think coming out as lesbian or gay. In fact, I deal more with people wanting to come out kinkster or bisexual than the other two put together. A colleague and I have often discussed the similarities of his coming out as gay as well as later coming out as a kinkster, and when he decides to disclose and to whom. Coming out, no matter for what reason, is not a one-off process. Coming out is life long process of negotiation of safety to disclose.

Before we explore coming out kink, let’s first understand what it means to come out. Coming out is the process of deciding to disclose or not disclose personal information about who you are: your identity, and/or what you do (sexually) and/or who you are attracted to. Many people only think about coming out in terms as being lesbian or gay. In fact, coming out can be about anything: kink, HIV status, bisexual, trans, a parent. As a gay man, people often ask me, when did you come out? My answer: I am always coming out. People think a person just comes out and that’s it – it is a forever process. In coming out people need to make decisions in every situation whether to disclose or not.

Why Come Out as a Kinkster?

I consider this the million-dollar question: Do I need to come out? In short, the answer is no, yes, maybe. This depends on why you wish to disclose. Tanya Bezreh and colleagues explored people’s disclosure about BDSM and found for some participants their kink (BDSM) was integral to their identity and therefore important to dating. They reported in non-dating contexts the decision to disclose was complex and often times a balancing act for connection and honesty with people around them.

Consider why you are coming out as kinkster. Remember to take care in considering, and in, coming out. There can be ramifications to coming out as a kinkster, personal (for example, ostracised by non-kink friends) and professional (possible job loss). Society may be (more) liberal than it was 30 years ago, yet I still think it is still pretty “straight” and vanilla. There can also be issues in not coming out. Keeping “a secret” can also have negative consequences.

Know your stuff. Understand your kink: What does being kinky mean to you? If you are disclosing to a fellow-kinkster they might know what you are talking about. If you are disclosing to a potential partner or a close friend, then they might have questions. I am forever educating people about being gay when I come out. Coming out is a teachable moment: A moment to educate people about the topic.
To whom are coming out. Who are going to disclose to? A potential new partner? Or even a partner? A friend? Your boss – I would suggest giving this one serious thought! Who you are going to disclose will also determine other points to consider like what you are disclosing, where and when.

If you are in a long-term relationship and have discovered kink, you might have to consider the impact on your relationship. I would recommend revisiting the points above and know your stuff and focus on the why. With a long-term partner you might want to think about what it is you are disclosing and/or asking. This situation may take a little more consideration and exploration.

When to come out. When to disclose you are a kinkster depends on the person and the role kink plays in your life. If it is a new, or potential partner and kink is a large part of your life I would suggest sooner rather than later. Their response might give you an indication to the type of person the new partner might be. When to come out, whom to come out to and where to come out are all inter-ralated.

Where to come out – I do not suggest your mother’s eightieth birthday for a family disclosure. I wouldn’t recommend your best friend’s wedding either. Where you are located can influence the outcome of the coming out. A public place has pros and cons. Understand the differences between public and private settings and respect the boundaries of these settings. There is no one good place – consider all possibilities.

Focus on the why not the what when coming out. This was the best advice ever given to me in my late teens when I first started coming out as gay (and has served me since in other coming out situations). Some people will want details – I tell them go watch a movie. I recommend focusing on the why you are disclosing.

Be prepared – like a good scout. Be prepared for any response whether excitement or blowback. Remember we cannot predict how people will respond. Some people will be supportive, others might be “who cares”, while others might not cope. A friend’s mother always said to me prepare for the worst situation and it will never eventuate. I think this sage advice. And don’t be disappointed if people don’t respond how you expected.

To disclose or not disclose. To come out or not. These are the questions we all grapple with. There is no one way. Each person is different, as is each situation. It might be good to speak to a therapist who can help you explore and understand the process. In choosing a therapist, I do recommend asking about their experience of working with kinksters. I know not all therapists, not all sex therapists, are able to work kink.

Remember a healthy life includes a healthy sex life. And a healthy sex life is sane, (con)sensual and safe. To come out kink is a personal choice and needs to be considered.

Enjoy!
Dr Christopher

Dr Christopher Fox is a Psychosexual and Relationship Therapist at Sex Life Therapy in Melbourne. He has clinics in Collingwood and Frankston.

References
Bexreh, T., Winberg, T.S., & Edgar, T. (2012). BDSM disclosure and stigma management: Identifying opportunities for sex education. American Journal of Sex Education, 7, 1, 37-61

Disclaimer: The information contained in this document should be read as general in nature and is only to provide an overview of the subject matter covered. Please read product packaging carefully and follow all instructions.

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