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Where’s the Respect for Queer Kinksters in Metro Detroit?

Why I’ve been in and out of the Michigan kink scene

By |2023-01-19T11:25:18-05:00January 19th, 2023|Viewpoints|

Kink has been a part of my adult life for so long I don’t remember when I developed the desire to learn more about it. However, taking action to become part of the kink community began in 2012. I started an account on Fetlife, a social networking website focused on BDSM, fetishism and kink, and then punched in some sordid details and set sail.

At first, I made many beginner mistakes. I expected it would be easier than it was to find a dominant woman, and I threw myself at strangers rather than taking my time to learn the culture.

Eventually, I found a welcoming community in Deviations, a Metro Detroit kinkster gathering. I became a familiar face and gained regular friends; the monthly event, where I got to hang out with people of similar interests, was the highlight of each month. At Deviations there was space to play, but nothing sexually explicit. It was a safe and comfortable space.

Not all my experiences were as positive as my experience with Deviations, however.

At that time, I was navigating kink space as a submissive lesbian. I learned quickly that many people weren’t interested in respecting that — kinksters of all genders would approach me for play that involved men, which was alienating and made me feel unsafe. I also experienced disrespect from more than one Domme (dominant woman), which surprised me. There are stereotypes about bad behavior from kinky men, and I mistakenly assumed woman Dominants would be different.

Feeling mistreated by Dominants wasn’t my only problem. I withdrew from both public and private parties, though I still tried to remain active in my personal life and on Fetlife. Unfortunately, my biggest stressor seemed to be the worst online. 

Queer people in kink are often forgotten. Outside of specifically queer kink spaces — and sometimes even within them — there were constant heteronormative microaggressions. 

Every time I saw “a sub and her Dom” used to generalize, my teeth ground together. I identified as a switch, but my interest at that time was mostly being submissive to a dominant woman. Yet everywhere I went, people assumed being submissive meant I was looking for a dominant man. I also was lumped in with submissive women, even though I made it clear that I don’t identify as any gender.

No matter how many times I attempted to bring attention to this within Metro Detroit kink spaces, it never seemed to get better. LGBTQ+ kinksters just didn’t get the respect we were owed.

People’s attitudes about non-heteronormative play further alienated me. I stopped participating in submissive spaces, because they were mostly full of women, and there was some weird judgment stuff. For example, many submissive women thought poorly of brats, a type of submissive that likes to test boundaries instead of obeying without question. I rather liked bratting. The intention was that a brat’s submission had to be earned, requiring Dominants to get creative, but these subs claimed that no true submissive would resist a command from their Dominant.  Insinuating that subs are never allowed to push back, along with the assumption that most submissives are women, seemed awfully misogynist to me. Those spaces felt like they were enforcing ’50s gender roles rather than empowering people to view sexual norms in unique ways.

After a difficult handful of years, I ended up with nowhere I felt safe. Few people responded to my requests not to generalize all subs as women looking for dominant men. The Dommes I was interested in disrespected my boundaries a few too many times.

I finally became too tired to keep going. I was no longer interested in trying.

As if my body was responding to my disappointment in the Metro Detroit kink community, I became very ill. After years of visits to the doctor, I was given a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. This manifested pain in every part of my body, every minute of every day. When I was active, impact play was my main focus. With fibromyalgia, no paddle or crop was going to introduce an enjoyable kind of pain.

So I broke up with kink altogether.

It stayed that way for years. When I did have sex, it was pretty vanilla, but I wasn’t very sexually active either. 

Until recently, I haven’t missed kink. What changed my mind happened during the 2020 quarantine, when I came to some realizations about my gender and sexuality.

I no longer identify as a lesbian, for starters. Today, I am happily a pansexual transmasculine person, which has helped me unclench and release a lot of accrued sexual fear. I also came to the conclusion that despite being willing to switch to a non-dominant role during emotional or sexual encounters, I’m no longer interested in being submissive. I’ve returned to roots I put down early in my adult life, when I identified as a stone butch lesbian.

If I make another kink connection, it’ll be from the other side of the playing field. I’ll be focusing on topping with gentle dominance — deliberately contrasting with the entitled and demanding attitudes I encountered during my rocky journey as a sapphic sub. Under no circumstances will I make a submissive like my younger self feel unwelcome in a space I occupy.

I hope there are more queer-inclusive kink spaces in Metro Detroit now, though who knows what effects the continued pandemic has had on gatherings like Deviations. Most kinksters are resourceful and social, so I’m sure they’ve figured something out.

Ultimately, I don’t want to be disrespected again. I have no intention of going to another kink party or rejoining Fetlife — those days are fully behind me, and I don’t expect that to change. However, giving myself the chance to be the Dominant I always wanted to find has a lot of appeal.

About the Author:

jem zero (ze/zir) is a disabled transmasc author with nonfiction personal essays, short fiction, award-winning erotica and poetry published in the Thinx Blog, The New Smut Project and Gertrude Press, among others. Check out jem's website (www.jemzero.com) or explore zir social media at https://jemzero.carrd.co.
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