A response to Heidi French and her post Keep Your Kink Out Of My Pride Parade
I woke up this morning to find this on my Facebook feed. I was so badly upset that I had to write something. I’ve posted it in the comments for her blog and used the link to her FaceBook page to respectfully send her my letter – I’m sharing it here in the hopes that others will get involved, share their ideas, and most importantly, reach out to her and educate her about the hurtful, hateful, and miss-informed statements she’s made.
If you have suggestions or have the time to get a response posted by theodysseyonline.com – please do! We can’t let this post go unchallenged. Sadly, I don’t know that I have the time to keep searching for outlets to share my alternative view.
Dear Heidi French:
I am a Leatherman, a gay man, and a proud member of my local Kink/BDSM community here in Salt Lake City, UT. I can only imagine a few more conservative states in which to be a member of the kink community; however, ours is thriving and blossoming now more than ever. I truly believe this is so because of our community’s acceptance, tolerance, and an unconditional welcome to anyone and everyone interested in BDSM and Kink. Your post about excluding some of these people from our LGBTQ+ pride celebrations has upset me to my core and I feel I must respond.
Here in Utah our pan-sexual and cisgender brothers and sisters have been some of the vanguards for our community. They have safe guarded our spaces when we were under attack from outside forces and from within. They have welcomed us with open arms as brothers and sisters – regardless of our orientation, gender, religion, and past experiences. This alone gives them the right to stand by our side on Pride.
If I take your reasons to exclude cisgender kinky folk from Pride, it seems to imply that other cisgender, non-LGBTQ+ individuals don’t have a right to march in Pride celebrations either. Does that mean the PFLAG members, parents and friends of LGBTQ+ individuals, should be excluded? What about the Utah based Mormons Building Bridges who march every year here in Utah and happens to be one of the largest and most beloved groups in our parade? Pride celebrations have never required a merit badge or proof of discrimination for participation – we welcome our allies, our friends, our supporters to join us in celebrating our diversity and the strength of that diversity.
I am kinky because it is at the core of who I am. Most kinky individuals and members of the BDSM community would agree – we are not kinky because of how we have sex. Our kink and BDSM identities are rooted at a much deeper level. They are intertwined in our own identities, stories, and personalities. We have worked hard to live our lives fully, openly, without shame, and without judgement from small minded people who are too scared to learn about something different. Whether gay or straight, isn’t it this exact struggle that we celebrate each June at Pride?
My kinks represents who I am, the power I find in myself, the compassion and honor I express and show to the word, the rebellious nature that questions and challenges the status quo, the ability to break rules, honor rules, learn from my elders, forge my own path. It’s an outward representation of my sexuality, my sensuality, my masculinity, my femininity, and my spiritually. My leather soul and kink identity is more than how I have sex, if you’d take the time to learn and listen, you’d find that we have more in common than different.
One of the defining memories of my teenage years was walking around our Gay Pride grounds and seeing a man in a leather vest, jeans, and chaps. I remember looking upon him and thinking, “I want to be like that. That’s who I want to be.” 20 years later – I am proud to be the one walking around in leather gear, proudly showcasing what my forefathers and foremothers fought for – the chance to be seen. Wearing our leather, our rubber, our puppy hoods, our pony gear, our collars, our leashes, our gloves, our caps, and our boots is not meant to shock or sensationalize – it’s meant to inform, start conversations, and show pride in who we are, who we have become and encourage others to do the same.
Next year, rather than write about why we don’t belong, why don’t you take the time to march with us. Hear our stories, our struggles, and our triumphs. I’m sure you’ll have a blast and you might learn something new.