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I’m a lot of things: agender, femme, pansexual, black, disabled.

I’m also kinky.

Yes, I am kinky. I indulge in unconventional things for sexual and non-sexual pleasure.  I have a pair of handcuffs and giggle when I buy rope from the hardware store. I have facilitated workshops introducing people to kink and recently participated in a panel about being a kinkster of color.

If you to talk to me for longer than three seconds, you would learn the specifics of all my identities. You would know that I’m Jamaican and Cuban American. You would know about the discoveries that helped me figure out my gender (or lack thereof) and sexual orientation. If you stick with me longer, you would learn other things: in kinky spaces, I label myself a “filthy femme switchy dom & power bottom,” I’m in a polyamorous relationship with my partner and my Hitachi magic wand, and I don’t go to play parties often.

Whenever people imagine kinksters, they probably think of 50 Shades of Grey (which is a horrible thing to think about), or they think of affluent upper-middle-class white folks who work their nine-to-five then go to the Lower East Side for some play time. I am none of that. In fact, a lot of the people I have played with or met in the scene are not any of those things. I am a fat, queer, non-binary black person who works a twelve-to-eight (sometimes 10) shift. I have some play time in the afternoon when I’m not working.

But navigating this scene is hellish for a lot of reasons.

I’ll only name three right now because there’s so much that needs to be said, but so little time.

Before I list my grievances, I just want to remind people that black kinksters exist. Most of my friends of color have partaken of kinky activity and would gladly do again, but they also have issues with the scene. Here are some of the problems I have:

Related: When Sex Positivity Isn’t: A Queer Dialogue

1. Because I am a dom, white people or men, and specifically white cishet men think that they can “tame” me into submission.  This goes into creepy fetishization territory. I have a FetLife account, and on my profile page I’ve mentioned, in bold type, that men need not to talk to me if they want to talk about potential sexual encounters! Guess what happens? I get messages about how they can change me into a good submissive girl, or asking me how I know I’m a dom if I don’t try.

First, I am not a girl; I am an angry agender person. Second, I do sub for folks — but only people I care intensely about. Third, did you not read my profile information?

Many times, these men want to fulfill a fantasy of having someone who is dominating on the streets but subby in the sheets. This figure is usually a black woman because society has deemed us the most “angry” of them all. Here’s the thing: I dominate in the bedroom as well as outside of it. Even when I’m a filthy bottom, I’m still issuing commands. I am dating a dom, so switching happens, but it won’t happen for you.

2. There’s usually a set way of doing things — and that shoves a lot of us out. I work long hours during the week. I’m usually exhausted as hell. On weekends, I like to have fun with folks in the afternoon. I schedule my prime play time around the same time I would usually work. To top it all off, I am a cane user. But play parties or kink-related functions are usually either too late at night, too expensive, too far away or too inaccessible.

Related: How Able-Bodied Folk Can Make Their Disabled Partner Comfortable During Sex

When I look at potential events to go to, I do a lot of screening before I make a decision. There have only been a few functions that fit my standards. Sometimes I think my standards are too high, but basic decency is NOT a high standard. We have a right to go to places that are comfortable, whether it’s listening to a keynote speaker at a conference or getting tied to a St. Andrew’s Cross.

3. There is a lot of unchecked racism, which leads to a lot of other unchecked -isms in the scene: This ties into my first grievance. As a fat, black, disabled queer person, desirability politics comes up a lot. When some people see my fat, black, queer body, they either see a fetish object, or they don’t see me as attractive in the in the Eurocentric beauty scheme. Either way, it’s beyond hurtful.

I am forced to suck it up if I decide to stay in a space and listen to people talk about why they don’t find black folks desirable or why someone thinks a black dom (me) is sexy. Or how they wouldn’t usually date someone who used a mobility aide, but want to try, which is also gross. I always know shit will hit the fan when someone first mentions my race, then mention my fatness, then misgenders me. It’s a never-ending cycle.

When you’re black, trans, queer and a kinkster, you constantly have to play a tug-of-war with these issues so you can meet new folks or indulge in play time. People will talk about how open and amazing the scene is, but I know that’s bullshit. Like everything else, the kink scene is problematic and frustrating to navigate. There are times I no longer want to claim I’m kinky because of how frustrated I am.

But that doesn’t mean that I need to reject that part of me. I call myself a kinkster because it’s a wonderful thing. I call myself that so I can be visible in a white-dominated space. I do it because no matter how I practice it, doing kink and being a kinkster are the right things for me. No amount of bullshit can change that.

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