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The Complicated Reasons Why the Fisting Scene in Detroit Is So Downlow

When can more of the Motor City experience what New York already does, firsthand? 

A few weeks ago, I almost went to my first live fisting show.

A popular tweeter and OnlyFans performer casually announced on Twitter that he’d be fisting a willing participant live at Club Lambda, a Bushwick outpost of the popular Lambda Lounge in Harlem, N.Y. The responses ranged from “can’t wait” to a bunch of raised eyebrows, and Lambda itself confirmed it was having the event with a post on its Instagram.

One thing I’ve learned after moving from Detroit to New York City is that fisting here in the Big Apple is as common as construction at the dawn of spring in Michigan. That this particular fisting event happened on a Wednesday evening was also unsurprising, as it was just another typical weeknight in Brooklyn. Alas, it was a school night, and even though Lambda was only a $20 Uber away from my apartment, I decided to tamp my curiosity and wait for the next show.



Videos surfaced from the event, and people were horrified. Here’s why: Club Lambda is a predominately Black gay bar, and both the fister and fistee were Black. While Black queer New Yorkers shrugged — again, just another night in the city that never sleeps — other parts of Black queer Twitter were scandalized. “So y’all just have booty juice in the middle of the club?” “Right in front of my salad?”

There was one tweet that stood out to me personally, and that was from another OnlyFans performer, this one based in Detroit, who opined whether such an event could happen in the Motor City. And I thought about it. I thought about the image of someone getting fisted while bent over on the molded phallic display at Menjo’s, or perhaps on the pool table at Soho. (Yes, The Eagle next to Menjo’s would be the prime opportunity here, but c’mon — use your imagination!) And, well…I’m not sure it could ever happen.

I don’t have any statistics, as it’s not like any of this data can be found in a U.S. Community Survey or the notes of a city council meeting. But the percentage of people fisting in Metro Detroit has to be pretty low, right? Any time I come back home, or even during the years I lived there, the double-F’s on the apps were few, if not totally nonexistent.

(I should probably add a disclaimer: I’ve never been fisted — and I think it’s fine if anyone wants to be on the receiving end of that! But I’ve been asked to, um, knuckle up, and I’m just not there at that stage of my queer journey, either.)

But I kept going back to the prudish-leaning outrage from the non-New Yorkers who were shocked that a Black man would be fisting another Black man in the middle of a Black gay club. Metro Detroit is obviously home to several Black queers; the city itself is the Blackest in the nation, queer or otherwise. And yet, dare I say it, us queer Black Detroiters can be a bit close-minded to such kinks. Leather and harnesses? Sure — on designated nights, of course. Pig play? Mmm, that might be pushing it. Furries? I actually happened to be in town staying at my mother’s house about a mile from the convention where the Motor City Furry Con was held, and let’s just say I didn’t see any folks who looked like me on the apps with bunny ears on.

There are reasons for that, in my opinion. It could be as simple as the fact that NYC trends haven’t trickled down to the Midwest yet. It could be because some of those kinks are more closely associated with white queer communities. And then there’s shame. It’s already built into the gay psyche, regardless of race, but also comes doubly so in some Black communities where we’re already raised in the church and under the cross. Too much sexual indulgence — it’s called “gluttony” in the Bible — is just too much.

Perhaps it’s the lack of a singular space for Black queers in Metro Detroit that prevents those who might be curious about exploring kink from doing so. “Gay bars by and for folks of color are rare and becoming rarer; this explains the special pleasures, for LGBTQ+ people of color, of the occasional parties or monthly events that feature Black or Latin or Bollywood music,” writes Greggor Mattson, a professor of sociology at Oberlin College, in his forthcoming book “Who Needs Gay Bars?” “Such queer pop-up parties may seem new to some observers, but they have long been among the only moments of public queer communion for LGBTQ+ people of color. But even in big cities, you’re lucky if there’s more than one night a month to let loose and let go in a space that feels safe.”

This is not to say that there is no fun and debauchery in Black queer Detroit. Prior to the Woodward burning down, I certainly had my fair share of dancing and too many drinks. I love that we’ve carved out spaces at White Star, Pronto! and Soho as a result. Those spaces are valid, and critical. But who will be brave enough to open a space in the Detroit area where for the next time I come home, I can witness someone wrist deep between the cheeks?



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