We Need Kink in our Parades

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.

But its your exclusion of kinky folk, based on your thought that there is nothing to us but sex, that I find the most offensive and, frankly, misinformed.

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.


Nicholas Cendese

4 thoughts on “We Need Kink in our Parades

  1. Excellent response! It appears the piecce has been taken down from Odyssey. Here is a comment I posted to it while it was still up::

    I don’t know where to begin to express my utter disgust for this piece. The event Gay Pride commemorates was not some conflict resolution episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood — it was a damned riot (and a well-jhustified one)! What’s more, those who bravely waged it were not the scrubbed and coiffed, safe-for-prime-time, certain-not-to-scare-the-horses (especially the straight ones) types who today show up at PTA meetings. They were precisely the drag queens, trannies, leather daddies, hustlers and a host of others from the margins. And it is to them our community owes its gratitude and its full acceptance.

    This writer reminds me of the thinking of the pre-Stonewall era Mattachine Society, which operated on the (misguided) belief that if only LGBT folks were “no-threatening” enough, if only they conformed to what straight society could recognize as being a reasonable facsimilie of ‘normality,’ that the straight community would eventually come around to a place of acceptance. Well, you know what? That never happened, because bigotry, while always willing to employ a handy rationalization for itself, never actually requires a rational basis.

    What we noe call “Pride” was originally known as “Gay Liberation” — a natural outgrowth of the woder sexual liberation movements of the 60s and 70s which, despite some of their early excesses, still have a lolt to teach us. That a writer from within our own community would write this clap-trap in 2017 stands as a stark reminder that, despite the major strides we now celebrate, we still, in many ways, remain under the yoke of our oppressors.

  2. I never read the article in mention nor do I know The author in question so pardon my ignorance there, but as one of the aforementioned parties this Heidi feels would be better left excluded (cisgendered pansexuals) I just had to comment.

    I wanted to share that in my experience ( experience being: starting as a vanilla civilian turned kinky civilian and finally as a sexworker dealing with vanilla and kinky clients for nearly ten years)

    I’ve found that most kinky people enjoy the sex sure, but when it really comes down to it…it is about A LOT of different things to a lot of different people.
    One thing I think most of us kinky characters will agree upon is that somewhere along the road we reached a place where the physical act of “sex” simply wasn’t enough to satiate our desires. Be they desires for control, relinquishing control, feeling pain, inflicting pain, being of service, being worshipped to be owned.

    None of these desires were being met with “sex” alone so we sought other means to an end. I believe the biggest sexual organ we have as humans is our brains. You can only get so far with genital manipulation which any kinkster will gladly attest to.

    If all you had to learn to be a highly regarded DOM was sex skills anyone could be one. We study people, psychology, techniques, methods and once we know enough we are tought to pass on the knowledge, to share our gift with others. A gifted master enables those they chose to invite into their realm the opportunity to transend the limits of what sex alone can provide. Thats why its called “Headspace” not “Crotchspace”

    With that said..Hell..call us “intellectuals” if anything. Minimizing us down to sex freaks only makes the accusing party seem naive and misinformed.

  3. There’s minors at pride.
    By all means, have your kinks and take pride in them, but don’t explicitly show them off in a public space where there are minors present.

    1. How is showing up to a pride parade, marching in leather, a harness, a puppy hood, boots – any gear really – explicit? We follow the same rules and standards for every parade participant – nothing explicit takes place or happens!

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