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There’s been conversations lately about this big tent under which a lot of kink and kinky proclivities reside. Whether a weekend warrior or a 24/7 lifestyler or something in between, all of these varying expressions occupying the same piece of real estate sometimes cause conflict and sore feelings. While it’s tough to talk in generalities, I do see a couple of trends that could be at the root of these issues:

First, though I can only claim about eight years of kinky identity, I find that in some spaces, there is a pressure to be something. Even at something as seemingly mundane and kink-free as a munch, there can be societal pressure to not necessarily conform but to be labeled as something. And that is problematic to me. There has to be more spaces and more affirmative opportunities to allow people to just be. We can’t simply be tolerant of that; we must be proactive in saying it and living it. I was terrible at it in my first two years because I was too busy trying to figure everything out except who the hell I was. Here’s where some personal accountability comes into play because, as you’ve probably heard me say many times, I was too worried about doing it right instead of just doing it and seeing where I fit in. With that said, however, I’ve felt that pressure of being (fill in the blank) by others simply because I do this or identify as that being put on me even recently.

Second, while we acknowledge that there’s different strokes for different folks, there seems to be a bit of indignance once we see these differences in action. The weekend warriors may deride the lifestylers as stodgy and unyielding, and the lifestylers may deride the bedroom boomers as uncommitted and fleeting. The answer, of course, lies somewhere in the middle. And that ties back into the first point about just being. There are many reasons why someone may or may not be a 24/7 type of person. Until we get to know someone, we won’t know their station in life to make such a judgment. And yes, again, some personal accountability comes into play in terms of how one identifies and how that identity is perceived by others. That, however, is a parallel conversation to have in addition to the conditions in which we make these observations and critiques.

It’s similar to someone complaining about the hamburgers of today while sitting in a McDonald’s eating one of the company’s hamburgers. Sure, you may have had a better hamburger elsewhere, but you’re sitting in the midst of the largest hamburger chain in the world and whose business model is “cook a lot of hamburgers really really fast and sell ‘em cheap.” Those conditions are not conducive to the best hamburger with the highest quality ingredients and the proper ambience to enjoy it. Time and place, time and place. The place to look for anything resembling a hamburger to write home about is not a mass-market operation such as McDonald’s.

Bring it back to this side of the fence. With the changes to the U.S. economy, the price of virtually everything going up and the value of a dollar as compared to, hell, choose any year back in the day, and now you find that while the commoditization of kink may be undesirable, it may also be inevitable. But in addition to the changes to the economy, society has changed as well. You can actually have large-scale kink events with relative smoothness as compared to, say, the 1970s or earlier. Some cater to lifestylers; others cater to kinky tourists and some cater to who walks in the door with a paid ticket. And while folks from each group may hem and haw at the other group, event promoters (and the entities that the promoters must pay) make no distinction between a lifestyle dollar and a tourist dollar. Just as those dollars mix, we as kinksters mix.

As with everything, there’s a balance.

Everything isn’t for everybody.

Each space is at the whim of the guardian of that space.

That’s where discernment is needed. Sometimes I want to be around any and everybody who knows about kinky shit. That energy is…whew! Delicious! Other times, I want to be in a specific environment focused on a specific kinky expression that I have. It may be M/s, it may be cigars and conversation, it may be something else. But I try to be cognizant and respectful of the spaces I traverse. I try to have the right conversation and the right expectation in each respective space. And I’ve found that when I do that, affirmatively and proactively, my complaints and criticisms are fewer and fewer. I hope the same is true for all of you as well.