In recent years there has been an international awakening regarding acceptance of various sexual minorities. Following the long hard struggle of homosexual people to be accepted, other groups have joined the fray, each expanding the meaning of the word queer and adding a letter to the ever more colorful acronym used when referring to the queer community; the still commonly used LGBT, then the more inclusive LGBTQIA with the newest version being LGBTQQIP2SAA – according to my three-second internet research.
This is a very diverse group of people and the only thing that unites them is that they are different from the norm, when it comes to some aspect of their sexuality or sexual identity. They have a shared interest in breaking down the walls that keep them on the fringes. They do that by raising awareness, reminding people of their existence and fighting discrimination wherever it raises its ugly head. The people who make up the LGBTQQIP2SAA community know that even with all these letters in their acronym, they are still a minority group and if they are to have a loud enough voice in modern politics, they have to stick together.
All this is known and accepted within the community by and large. That being said, broadening up the definition of queer and inviting new groups under the rainbow-colored umbrella hasn‘t been entirely painless. The first generation of socially accepted gay people has sometimes been reluctant to let in all the other “freaks“ because they fear that it might destroy the status of normality they have so long fought to gain. That fear is understandable in a way, but it is not healthy and it needs to be kept in check. Normalizing homosexuality isn‘t the way to go. The norm itself has to be challenged and it’s status of correctness utterly smashed and discarded. That is what needs to be done, not only for the benefit of the rainbow-flag-flying, acronym-making queers, but for the sake of all humanity.
The mantra that people are just “born this way“ as some kind of a justification for being queer is obsolete*. It might have been a necessary claim at one time, just to make things simpler for the masses, but those training wheels are going to have to come off now. We have grown. We have to find our balance and adjust to reality. Our sexuality isn‘t just passed along in our genes like our hair color. Many of the things that make up our sexual fingerprint seem to be inherent, but no one knows how or to what extent. Our sexuality evolves within us in some mysterious way, maybe starting as early as in the womb, when the first threads of the great weave that will become our character are forming and it can keep evolving until we stop breathing. That doesn‘t make things less real or less vital to one‘s existence. Not at all.
“I meet up with fellow kinksters regularly, just to talk and socialize, but I can’t talk to my other friends about that. … Many people are terrified of being “outed”.”
I’m going to step of the soap box now. This isn’t really the article I meant to write. This was meant to be a rather uplifting and cheerful call to the Icelandic LGBT community to open their minds a little and consider making room in their ranks for the new and not-as-scary-as-many-think, wannabe recruits: the BDSM community. It was going to outline all the ways our agendas co-align with theirs and highlight the fact that those two groups are already quite intertwined, as around 60% of BDSM-oriented people identify as non-heterosexual.
I was going to point out some of the reasoning behind the claim that BDSM is in fact a sexual orientation and not just some weird sexual hobby. I was also going to cheerfully mention that in Norway, BDSM-oriented people have been a part of Norway’s national LGBT organization, LLH since 1996, when LLH created a political committee that worked on removing sadomasochism from the ICD-10.
In short, I didn’t mean to sound so aggressive. Our reputation is dark enough, I was going for (slightly kinky) unicorns and glitter kittens, not latex-wrapped sharks with laser-beams on their heads. Instead it took me four paragraphs of stating the obvious before I even dared to write out our own humble little acronym: BDSM.
I think the reason for my edge is how important and personal this is for me. I remember vividly the relief that flooded through me when I discovered that I wasn’t insane and that there was a name for the longings I had been fighting since childhood. It was life changing. I accepted this part of myself and that cracked the shell of self-loathing I had been trapped in all my life. In just a few months I was able to rid myself of that shell completely, emerging as a much happier person. When I had ridden that high for a while I began wondering why this had taken me so long. I remembered having heard about this thing called BDSM, but it was just something sick and depraved that people joked about and I couldn’t imagine it had anything to do with me. Now, these horrible four letters were a part of my identity and I had become a part of a subculture that as a whole yearns to be accepted, but is made up of individuals that fear the inevitable judgment of society so much that they choose to hide this part of themselves from the world.
This is the only bad thing about my new life. The involuntary skulking in the shadows. I have made a whole lot of new friends, but I can’t mention to anyone how I got to know them. It is a secret. I meet up with fellow kinksters regularly, just to talk and socialize, but I can’t talk to my other friends about that. It is a secret. Many people are terrified of being “outed”. The image of BDSM is still so negative. It makes us vulnerable and scared. Here’s another secret: We really don’t have any latex-wrapped sharks with laser-beams on their heads. We just want to belong, without denying our nature. We are queer.
*obviously, intersex people are literally born that way, but as with other people, their genetic makeup only affects their sexuality to a certain degree.