Kink at Pride

Every year, certain platforms like Twitter have a conniption over kinky gear/clothing at pride, although it seems to have come early this year with pride month a few days away. I won’t delve into each tweet as there have been many from earlier this week; just search kink and pride for a host of fantastic takes (sarcasm alert).

To start, I partially understand the reaction, but they’re still extremely misdirected and at worst ignorant. The issue straightforwardly descends from the “think of the children!” mentality. Some apparently have a problem with kinky or fetish clothing being displayed at pride. This picture in particular was pointed out which shows a girl running up to who are human pups dressed in pup gear (to be clear, this has nothing to do with bestiality). For whatever reason, this idea then percolated that people dressed in kink are also engaging in sexual activity at pride, but there’s no sex going on here, nor is anyone fully nude. No one surrounding seems distressed, and if anything, the girl is clearly fascinated and/or curious by what she probably thinks is just a costume or dress-up like Halloween. In fact, that’s exactly what happened since a pup who was there (this was Montréal Pride in 2019) recognized the picture.

What’s frightening about this is that some of the people complaining were younger Zoomers (a few who are queer themselves) who even went to the length of saying that a muscled guy in only underwear, such as these two on a float, should also cover up, despite them being way more common at pride, company floats included! Hell, I’ve seen these guys in solely jock straps. By this logic, we should be banning bikinis at beaches, speedos, nudists, giant Victoria’s Secret billboards, maybe even Mardi Gras while we’re at it. Worst of all, a tweet here declared pride should be “queer-friendly”(?!). As the spiral continued, pedophile accusations then flew at those who defended kink at pride.

Let’s back up for a second and remember that pride is not a parade to be treated like any other spectacle for all people. Pride is a march, a statement, and a protest that began as a riot. Of course things have evolved since then, but the point stands. It’s a space for queer folks who want to come together. Sexuality, expression, and love are all at the core of. It simply comes off as insulting that people who aren’t interested in pride to begin with now want to start policing who can participate or wear what.

As for the specific matter at hand, kink, BDSM, and fetishism are acts, fantasies, and desires that deviate from what you’d call “vanilla” sexuality. However, they don’t all involve sex, it’s not only about gear or certain clothing, and it’s perfectly normal so long as it’s consensual. Indeed, some of it doesn’t touch sex because there’s a large mental component to it. For some people, it’s a 24/7 lifestyle. For others, it’s a side thing yet still likely important part of their life. And while any adult human can participate, it’s been heavily linked to queer history and culture. It’s as Chingy L said in them.: “Queerness can be about lust, love, or both, but by that same token, kink, leather, and BDSM aren’t exclusively about sex; to a large extent, they’re about community building.” And this stuff transcends decades, nay even a century at this juncture. Most importantly, kink is built around CONSENT, which makes it wholly ironic that they’re being accused of damaging or harming people around them, child or not. Attendees of pride are incidental to the marchers, so the consent argument is illogical in this instance anyway since no one forces anyone to watch pride in a public space.

I myself am involved in queer fetish culture as a pup like the one’s in the first picture. It’s part of my identity, and I’ve made amazing friends along the way. Two years ago, I marched in three prides as part of the leather contingent with a subgroup of pups in Philadelphia, Asbury Park, and New York. Let me tell you first that the politicians, companies, and generic queer organizations are all at the front of the line. If you sit at pride long enough, you then come across the porn company float, the queer anarchists, and the kinksters at the very end (as a funny aside, in Philly we were the second to last group as Pete Buttigieg’s campaign didn’t get the correct memo as to where to line up and ended up behind us watching our tails wag!). No one is having sex though, and if anything I had more coverage than those original pups. No one can just throw their junk out, that’s why we have obscenity laws folks…and I’ve seen more skin at the damn beach anyway. We were all seamlessly and harmlessly marching. Kids actually get a kick out of the pup hoods! This notion of people having sex is coming from Folsom pictures being confused for pride. Folsom is a super kinky street festival, the largest of which mainly occurs in San Francisco, where sex really does happen in public. HOWEVER. It’s a cordoned off, adult-only event. Shocker!

In the end, objections to kink at pride all come off as very prudish from these people who want to further extend their authoritarian impulse to other facets of queer life. I say fuck that. It all sets off eerie reminders of restrictions on queer life from years ago (back in the closet we go?) on explicitly (fundamental) religious and conservative terms to “protect the children”, all of which is bullshit cover for the real abusers of children either from family or other supposed upholders of tradition (the grandest hypocrisy). I highly recommend reading this thread which provides a great counterargument to the child take, and sadly this comes from a real victim of child abuse. Moreover, conspicuously missing from the arguments against were actually the parents themselves. The decision to even attend with their children, fully aware of what pride entails, really falls on them and their judgement.

There have been some fantastic Twitter threads responding to the particulars better than I ever would be able to, but this one especially gave me a chuckle about all the peculiar things straight people do beyond even kinksters.

Stay queer, and don’t be ashamed of it. Have a happy pride! 🏳️‍🌈

Addendum:
I came across a poll (BuzzFeed summary here) from two years ago that basically confirms what I also thought: the vast majority of queer folks are fine with both kink/fetish groups and children at pride.

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