BDSM in the LGBTQ Community

Posted by Andrew Schroeder on

When we think of BDSM, most of us automatically assume a straight couple who have switched up their normative gender roles. In those relationships, women take psychological control over men, and they inflict physical pain. They either do it by whipping mischievous boys or stepping on them in leather boots. Those who passionately oppose the kink community and LGBTQ people (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) would think this was just a way for a closeted gay dude not to disappoint his war veteran dad.

However, that is far from true. Let’s face it — every fetish is kinda weird, except for those that you have and understand. A man who’s not into feet cannot grasp the attraction of a footjob. The same goes for BDSM. So if a woman in latex dominates a guy, how does this fit in with the LGBTQ community?

Can Queer Couples Practice BDSM?

The thing is, the dominant-submissive straight couple is the widespread assumption of what BDSM is. However, as virtually always, the assumption is wrong. Yes, it’s a thing, but that’s not the only variant of it. Queers can also be kinky people! The BDSM community is even more accepting of people who are sexually attracted to the same sex. In fact, according to the NCSF, 35% of BDSM practitioners identify as bisexuals, as opposed to 2.8% of the overall population.

Lesbian BDSM and gay BDSM are as much of a thing as it is with straight couples. The only issue is that you need a partner who’s into it. Those toys you have in that bottom drawer are always added fun! Remember, bondage and discipline, be it queer, BDSM, or straight, relies on the “Safe, sane, and consensual” principle. The SSC (where one partner willingly hands the control over to the other) is what diversifies BDSM from sexual abuse.

In today’s society, there’s a growing number of gender identities. Many people find BDSM and kink as a sexual orientation in their own right. They even claim that the LGBT should get the letter K to the queer people’s response to the number Pi. That is a never-ending debate that we cannot solve and won’t go into. But it undoubtedly pinpoints the fact that bisexual BDSM is a widespread phenomenon. This fetish (a master-slave relationship) is not just a straight people’s game.

In fact, if we look at how the LGBTQ community grew in the late 20th and early 21st century, the BDSM community had a lot to be thanked for.

LGBTQ Community and Early BDSM Movement

BDSM, as a, say, preference, is as old as mankind. You can find Sumerian writings describing a BDSM relationship between goddess Innana and her worshippers. Some frescos dating all the way back to the 5th century B.C. depict whipping during intercourse. On them, the male yells out, “Give me a bra and call me Brenda!” Okay, maybe not that last part, but you get the idea.

However, BDSM (bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism) has always been looked down upon (and still is to this day). Starting from the second part of the 20th century, BDSM and LGBTQ communities helped each other, symbiotically working toward the same goal — being accepted. Obviously, in Western societies, it’s a lot easier to be gay today than it was in the 1970s. LGBTQ people had quite a journey ahead of themselves to get where they are today. Being mostly accepted (publicly, at least) and having straight people attending gay pride events is not something that would be achieved as easily without the BDSM community.

The BDSM movement and the LGBTQ community had one thing in common in the 20th century — public opinion considered them (morally) wrong. Nevertheless, BDSM was still a straight thing. But as the wild 80s arrived, people became more sexually exploratory. Many facilities, such as swinger and kink clubs, became more and more present. Fetishes were no longer a sign of mental derangement, rather just sexual preferences we as individuals have. With BDSM, people challenge the normative way of having sex, during which a male puts his sword into a female sheath. Suddenly, we had a growing number of straight men who liked to be submissive (bottoms). They would let a dominant girl (top) take matters (and whips) into her hands.

Reversing Roles

In what you’d call vanilla BDSM, we have a top female and a bottom male. BDSM is, in reality, based on the psychological sensations we feel as we switch normative sexual roles. With BDSM, it’s not always a sexual activity that defines it, but rather the power play within a romantic relationship, in which one serves the other. In the bedroom, straight BDSM-prone men started experimenting with cross-dressing (wearing female clothes), and women began using strap-ons on their partners. That way, straight couples steered away from the usual, and the hunter became the hunted if you will (or the fucker became the fuckee, if that’s where you want to go).

And what does this have to do with the LGBTQ folk? Well, with the rise in popularity of BDSM practices, non-heterosexuality became more popular as well, in the sense of it becoming less of a taboo. Let’s be honest — if you’re a straight guy who enjoys being pegged by a lady, you’re more likely to accept the fact that there’s nothing wrong with being gay. You see that some guys like something else you don’t — in that case, they like that toy you use to come in a leather jacket, with a Brian attached to it instead of Sharon.

As these two communities grew, they became intertwined as there were a lot of people who had a membership card from both. Kink clubs were a haven for everything non-vanilla, and they opened the door for gay bars and public gatherings.

Gay Men and Leather

“Only thing gayer than gays is gays in black leather.” — an old Amish proverb

Regardless of your sexual orientation and preferences, there’s no denying that there’s simply something inexplicably sexy about black leather dresses and latex. No matter if you’re into plain old vanilla sex or rope bondage with liquid wax, black leather will get you going. Many people (correctly) link wearing tight leather with BDSM, and leather BDSM is one popular form of this kink. But how did that come to be? Well, as we’ve said, it’s not just that the kinksters helped the queer people; it worked both ways.

The leather movement today is mostly considered as a part of the BDSM community, but, in fact, it comes from LGBTQ people, namely gay males. During World War II, many soldiers had their first homosexual experiences. After returning home from the war, they started accepting the new lifestyle and objected to mainstream fashion and culture. In 1953, Marlon Brando starred in the movie “The Wild One,” where he wore a leather jacket, rode a motorcycle, and became a symbol for independent masculinity. Homosexuals started associating with the look and began wearing leather jackets and riding motorcycles. That is how gay motorcycle clubs became a thing (yes, Hell’s Angels, you’re a homosexual creation)!

Simultaneously, gay people started forming communities in large cities such as Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. In 1958, Chicago became home to the Gold Coast, a first-ever gay leather bar in the United States. Three years later, the Tool Box opened up in San Francisco, and then, many other gay clubs catering to gay motorcyclists followed suit.

Leather and BDSM

In the 1970s, lesbians wanted in on the fun. At first, gay men didn’t want women to join their leather efforts, but eventually, they gave in. The turning point was in 1975, when the Catacombs, a famous San Francisco gay leather BDSM club, opened its doors to lesbians as well. Funnily enough, many regard the Catacombs to be the world’s most famous fisting club (do with that information what you will). Three years later, a lesbian-feminist group was formed in the same city, and they represented the first outright BDSM community in the United States.

Over time, the leather subculture moved across the pond and reached the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy. There, leather also started out as a queer thing, but eventually moved on and began growing on straight couples as well. Leather became more and more associated with sadomasochism rather than homosexuality. As it became more mainstream, people were more willing to be public about it. In 1989, a particular Tony DeBlase came up with a leather pride flag. Although gay men are still the dominant demographic of the leather movement, there are many subcultures, such as BDSM practitioners (straight and queer), lesbian leatherwomen, and so on.

Today, we have leather pride parades, there’s a lot of literature written about the lifestyle, and you can find a wide variety of interesting leather clothing and toys online.

BDSM and Today's LGBTQ Community

As we’ve already said, BDSM is more accepted in today’s society. Although many still consider it taboo, people don’t frown upon it as they used to. Nowadays, people are more open about their kinkiness and sexual preferences. As is the case with the LGBTQ community, there are more people who don’t feel the need to hide the fact that they like something different from the norm. However, even within the LGBTQ community, there’s some stigma about BDSM practitioners, and you can find many confessions online about how hard it is to find an S&M partner for a queer BDSM person.

Even if that is still the case, it’s obvious that there’s a lot less condemnation today if you’re into S&M. These days, pretty much in every major city, you will find a plethora of gay bars and kink clubs where you can find and chat with like-minded people. As we’ve mentioned before, there’s a school of thought, if you will, that kink should be regarded as a separate sexual orientation (renaming the community to LGBTQK+). The idea behind it is that it’s specific enough to merit its own category. People who agree with this state that kink is as individualistic as transgender. When you break it down, a transsexual having sex with someone can be regarded as either gay or lesbian, similarly to BDSM sex practices. However, the majority still find it to be a fetish, something that differs from the norm.

Public Events

LGBTQ people accept all types of sadomasochism (gay BDSM, lesbian BDSM, trans BDSM) as legitimate subcultures within the community. Gay bars and queer associations often organize and facilitate BDSM events and parties. There, people who’re into it can freely express themselves and look for a partner in search of similar sensations. As a result, if you’re open to visiting such events, you can find whatever floats your boat, and the sky’s the limit. Well, truth be told, the safeword is the limit, but that’s less poetic.

While there’s still a need to work on removing the stigma behind this particular sexual preference, it’s also essential to define the boundaries and stick to them. While nobody should deny you the right to explore your sexuality and do what you like, there should be a time and a place for it. It’s vital that kink as a whole remains outside of public events, such as pride parades and festivals. Sure, if you want to wear leather in public, that’s fine, but you should have a limit to how far you want to expose. There’s still a large portion of people (especially those Bible-reading ones) who find homosexuality and BDSM as deviance, and public kink would do no good to the LGBTQ community.

Benefits to the Community

As we’ve mentioned before, BDSM has helped dramatically with the rise in popularity (and safety) of the LGBTQ community. Perhaps the most significant contribution was that it brought the idea of non-normative sex being a perfectly normal thing. As a fetish, BDSM is something people grow into. None of us is into the same stuff they were into when we were 11 and started touching ourselves. The fact is, so many people are into BDSM. That makes non-normative sex less of a taboo and more of an everyday taste.

So if this particular form of non-vanilla sexuality is not weird and “unnatural,” why would any other be? Today, people are less afraid to explore their desires. Now, you have successful businessmen wearing tights and bras, becoming drag queens, and just doing what they feel like doing. Thanks to the evolution of plastic surgery, many are able to go through gender-changing procedures. Subsequently, the transgender BDSM scene has also been on the rise in recent years.

That (perhaps inadvertently) benefits the LGBTQ community. Differences in sexuality are becoming less and less of a dividing point between queer people and straight mainstream.

Internet Helps

The internet has also been a huge contributing factor to the acceptance of LGBTQ and BDSM communities. There are various websites that devote themselves to S&M. There, people can share their experiences, meet each other, and find out what they’re missing out on. Additionally, there are plenty of online places where you can buy sex toys and clothing to live out your fantasies.

We also have to thank the brilliant, most ground-breaking invention in the history of mankind called internet porn. No longer do we have to flick through magazine pages (sometimes stuck together) and make our imagination do the rest. Estimates show that of all internet content out there, somewhere between 4–37 percent of it is porn. Whichever percentage is true, it’s a huge number, and we can have it in front of our eyes with just two mouse clicks. The fact that we have porn videos at our disposal helps a lot with exploring our sexuality. A recent survey shows that a significant portion of people has developed a fetish simply by growing too bored of watching normative sex videos. Many straight men have admitted to pleasuring themselves to transsexual BDSM videos on multiple occasions.

Summary

Although not exclusive to the LGBTQ community, BDSM is a part of it and has been a critical factor in its history. Thanks to its popularity, it has shown that non-normative sex is entirely acceptable. Subsequently, it aided the queer society in their efforts toward acceptance. While there’s still a way to go, the LGBTQ community has arguably never been in a better position than it is today.

There’s a misunderstanding that BDSM is for straight use only. But as a sexual preference, it is perfectly applicable to queer couples as well. The simple truth is, regardless of whether you’re straight or queer, chains and whips excite us.


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