Updated: Aug 23, 2022
There is a new call to add a K for “kink” to the LGBTQ+ acronym. This call for more inclusion has highlighted a couple of issues in both the queer and kink communities.
To be clear, I am against adding kink to the LGBTQ acronym and by extension, the groups which work on behalf of us queers for political rights.
Failure to Know Our History
The call is promoted by folks who believe the LGBTQ+ community should be inclusive of all groups with any form of alternative sexuality or gender orientations. Statements by supporters for adding a K like, “LGBTQ+ pride is about celebrating who you have sex with” shows a complete lack of knowledge of the queer movement.
Gay Pride and the associated movement was started because gays and lesbians and trans folks faced extensive legal discrimination and harassment. This included regular raids of gay bars, jailing people for dancing with same sex partners, publishing the names and photos of people at gay bars in the paper to try and destroy their lives, legally requiring people wear three pieces of “gender appropriate” clothing, being fired if you were discovered to be gay, forced into mental institutions for life by families who hated their queer relatives, being beaten and raped by polices, and so on. It was never about celebrating who we have sex with. It was about bringing visibility and political power to a community whose invisibility in the public sphere lead to gross political and personal harm.
Sexual and Gender Orientation
We include people with sexual orientations different from heterosexuality. Sexual orientation is who you are sexually attracted too: someone of the same sex (homosexual), people of two sexes (bisexual), people of many sexes (pansexual), attracted only to different sex (heterosexual). Since heterosexual is culturally privileged, non-hetero orientations are actively and violently discriminated against.
We also embrace people of non-cis gender orientations. Gender orientation is about how you feel in your own body. If your identity is consistent with the cultural perception of your assigned gender you are cis. If it does not align, you fall on the non-binary spectrum (trans, non-binary, genderqueer, agender). It is a psychological orientation and not just a dislike of how a gender is represented.
With the latest brohaha about Rose McGowan and her anti-trans statements, TERFs have been harassing trans folks on social media. Many of these cis women take the term cis as an insult and insist they are not cis because they are not a “girly-girl.” They fail to see the difference between gender orientation and gender expression. You can be butch and still be cis. Just because you don’t look like Halle Berry and don’t want too, doesn’t mean you are at odds with your own body and gender.
People with non-hetero and non-cis orientations face many political and social disadvantages and there are many laws which still exist to harm these groups.
Kink Is NOT a Sexual Orientation
Kink is not an orientation in the same way as gender and sexuality are. I say this as a kinkster who has been kinky since I discovered sex. I say this as a kinkster who feels something is lacking when limited to strict vanilla sex and there is no power exchange in a relationship. I say this as a person who lost their virginity wearing handcuffs and doing things considered very kinky. I do not believe that kink is a sexual orientation. It is a sexual expression.
Sexual acts are culturally defined as “normal” and “kinky.” In the United States, the line between kinky folks and vanilla folks are blurred. For example, if a couple has special Valentine’s Day sex which includes using blindfolds and feathers, it can be considered kinky sex. They may have no connection to the kink community nor will they be at risk of being fired because they tickled each other with ostrich feathers (unless they then detail it for a coworker in the break room and violate sexual harassment policies).
Some argue kinky folks face unfair prosecution under legal standards because our sexuality are not accepted and we can be charged with assault in some jurisdictions because “consensual assault” is not legal in many jurisdiction. That is an issue with laws which are made in a rape culture which fails to understand consent and not a persecution of kinky folks.
What About The Already Included Groups of Poly and Allies
Another argument is other groups which are not sexual orientations are included in the acronym such as polyamory and allies. I have an issue with including those as well. Polyamory is a relationship orientation. There are many poly folks who are horribly homophobic and fight LGBTQ rights. They face a different set of political issues than LGBTQ folks and already have their own organizations to lobby for rights. Sure, there are queer folks who are also poly, but there is no reason to include people who actively hate us and fight our rights in a movement created for queer rights.
Allies were included because these folks felt “left out” and couldn’t de-center themselves enough to fight for gay rights without demanding recognition for not being a dick to queer folks. I find similar to white people marching in a Black Lives Matter protest with signs saying “White people for BLM.” These “allies” are making the movement about showing off how “woke” they are by calling attention away from the group they are supposedly there to support. I’m fine if you want to come fight for queer rights with us and you are heterosexual. Demanding we cheer you on for being so “progressive” makes this about comforting hetero egos.
Please, don’t add kink to the LGBTQ acronym. Queer groups should be aware some of their members may practice kink and that kink can be important to these folks. Making jokes about BDSM and putting down folks who practice it is just being a dick. Just like folks who are kinky who put down vanilla folks for their sexual practices are being dicks. But there is no need to turn our political organizations and representation into a catchall and include individuals who are fighting against queer political rights (there are some very homophobic kinksters).