Today I was scanning my usual morning news sites when I stumbled on this Pecs, Personality, and Pre-Internet Bonding: The Story of International Mr. Leather article on The Huffington Post site. All of a sudden I had an odd reaction. For the first time ever, I seriously wondered to myself if perhaps the leather/kink scene has gone too mainstream. The cat is definitely out of the bag.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not sure that it has gone too mainstream. I’m not even sure if I feel that if it is the case that it’s a bad thing. All I do know is I’ve never felt quite this strongly that the inner workings of our scene are being exposed so much to the general public.
The story about International Mr. Leather was simply the tipping point event to bring me to this sense of concern. Recently other indicators have driven home the realization that BDSM, leather and kink have gone mainstream.
The recent phenomenal success of the book Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One of the Fifty Shades Trilogy by E.L. James is another example. The author of this BDSM erotica romance novel has sold millions of copies and the film rights recently sold for $5 million, all within a very short amount of time. The author was profiled in Time magazine and she’s being regularly interviewed on the various talk and news shows.
I was recently watching the cartoon show Family Guy and saw the characters Lois and Peter dressed in BDSM garb with Lois telling Peter that his “safe word is banana” as she pushes him on the bed for the beginning of what appears to be a way they frequently make love.
When one of the world’s most visited news sites features an article about a gay men’s leather contest, and a BDSM novel reaches the top of the New York Times and Amazon bestseller lists, and the concept of a safe word is so ubiquitous that even cartoon shows are using the term, I think it’s fairly evident that BDSM, leather, and related kink, have gone mainstream.
So, is this a good thing? I’m not sure there’s any going back at this point, but I think it’s important that those of us who belong to one or more of the many BDSM and kinky networks decide how we feel about the mainstreaming of our sexuality. Should we keep encouraging this trend? Or should we try to put the brakes on it (which is likely futile)?
Already I’m seeing some things within the scene that lead me to believe at least some of us are trying to hang on to our rogue, maverick and rebel status. Some are starting to avoid the big play events and are instead deciding to play in smaller, private settings. Some seem to be pulling back from the increased blending of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and heterosexuals and beginning to play and socialize in the segregated, smaller subsets of the scene as was typically the case not so many years ago. Some seem to intentionally avoid the leather/kink club and organization structures and are deciding to function as rebel soloists instead. Some are bucking tradition and forging new offshoots of the leather scene to create new kinky networks that empower them with a sense of underground uniqueness that fuels their erotic passions.
I, along with many others, must take responsibility for this mainstreaming. Those of us who have encouraged others to come out of the kinky closet, or written books, or held conferences in large hotels, or done any of the many other public events we produce, must acknowledge that we have brought this mainstreaming upon ourselves.
But now that such mainstreaming is taking hold so firmly, what are your thoughts about it? Is this a good thing? How should the kinky among us react to it, if at all? Please add a comment and give us your thoughts?