Sometimes I feel like the world’s worst superhero. I’m leading a double life. I even have a secret identity. I’m not doing anything shameful or shocking, I’m not cheating on my lover and I can only wish I was secretly filthy rich. It’s much less scandalous than that, especially to the type of people I know are reading this little confession of mine.
I’m kinky, I’m genderqueer, I love sex, and I review sex toys. It’s actually pretty sad that I need to keep those facts a secret from a good half of the people I interact with daily because our society views sex as shameful, and kink as creepy, but that’s the basis of my double life. With my friends, I can be myself, but at work and with most of my family, I have to be the mild mannered salesman... I mean, saleswoman.
With kink, in particular, the duality of my life is at the forefront. I’m active in the kink community, so there really is very little overlap between those interactions and my day to day life. It’s almost like munches and kinky interactions happen in a vacuum where I am someone else, with a different name. That person has the same hobbies as me, the same likes and dislikes, but they’re an alter ego, sworn to secrecy, and when they leave the munch, they become me again.
For obvious reasons, people who attend munches usually use a handle instead of their real name, and they don’t go around blabbing about the munch to just anyone. It used to be that you didn’t even know about munches unless you knew someone who knew someone, back before the internet. Now you can sign up on Fetlife and learn about munches and groups in your area, but identities are still a closely held secret by most kinksters, because in this world, names really do have power. The wrong person finding out can mean the difference between employment and unemployment. It can even mean a jail sentence if you’re unlucky enough to live in an area where BDSM is still illegal. Yet still I go, and other people go, because sometimes not being alone in this thing we do and learning from those around us are more important than personal safety. We just have to trust our secret identities to keep us safe.
Keeping quiet about the fact that I enjoy sex is less about personal safety and more about not offending the people I need to be on good terms with to advance my career and not start fights during visits with my family. Sometimes that means keeping my mouth shut when people joke about women only having sex to keep a man, or to have a baby. It means staying quiet through my family talking about how sex is only for reproduction. It’s strategic retreat, not defeat. Sometimes it sure can feel like defeat, though.
Sometimes, too, it can be about personal safety. Enjoying sex is not an invitation to rape, but that doesn’t stop some people from translating “I had great sex last night” into “Sexually harass me, please.” It isn’t right, and it isn’t fair, but until society changes, and it is changing, I’ll pick my battles with these people. I can’t take on everyone.
Reviewing sex toys is something I don’t talk about with family, and it certainly isn’t something I’d put on a resume, although I wish it was something I could. However, I’m not ashamed to tell friends, or friends of friends about it. It’s a great experience, and helping people learn more about sex toys means helping someone find something that works for them. I think everyone deserves pleasure. There’s less of a line there.
Being genderqueer, an Androgyne specifically, is generally something I don’t bring up at work. It’s a clear cut line down the middle there. My family knows I don’t consider myself a woman, most of my friends accept me as I am, my lover even changed how he identifies to “heteroflexible” to show his support. I love them all for it. At work, though, I pass. If someone isn’t close to me, I don’t tell them. I let them believe I’m a woman, because it’s easier than defending myself to them. Even though it isn’t acceptable to discriminate against someone based on their gender identity, you better believe it makes things more difficult.
So I’m a coward. Where it would make my road more difficult, I pass. I pass for vanilla, because being kinky could hurt my career or get me arrested. I pass for “normal” because sometimes I’m too tired to fight for my right to fall outside the norm. I pass for a woman, because identifying as anything else makes the workplace hell, and I just want to earn my keep in peace like anyone else. I pass, because sometimes I’m not strong enough to change things. I can only influence the people willing to listen to me, anyway, so I talk to them, and hope that eventually, the circle of communication will spread outward. That understanding will spread from circle to circle until everyone is talking about it. Then I will be safe if I choose not to pass, but until then, I’m a coward, and that’s the best I can do.
image by monkeymanforever