Coming Out about BDSM

Coming Out about BDSM

Some time ago, one of our members decided to tell his family about his involvement with BDSM.

He decided to share this experience, in the hope that others could benefit from it. The following is a slightly-edited version of his message on the subject, including the text of the letter he wrote for his mother.

I have been coming out about my involvement in bdsm to friends and co workers. Last week I came out to my soon to be ex.

I figured that it was past due the time to “walk the talk”

My soon-to-be-ex wanted to discuss it with my mother.

I have a great relationship with my mother, but I felt it was important that I tell her in My way first.

This was to say the least, a difficult piece to write.

If you have a friend that is struggling, please feel free to forward it.


Dear Mother....Don't panic.

For the record - and so that you don't have to watch what you say with
others - let me tell you about my partner, and the nature of our

she is unbelievably special in my life...but she is NOT my "girlfriend".

she and I have many areas of common interest...pagan ritual, witchcraft,
music, poetry, humour.

But these are not the common interests that first drew us together and that
now form the foundation of the most amazing, trusting, responsible and
nurturing relationship I have ever had.

she and I met online in a discussion area concerning bDsm.

bDsm is a collective term describing a broad range of Safe, Sane, Consensual
activities and lifestyles that adults engage in.

The safe, sane consensual mantra applies to all of the elements.

bd = bondage and discipline.
D/s = Dominance/submission.
SM = Sado Masochism.

Don't panic, Mom...There are a lot of misconceptions about this
lifestyle...almost all of the preconceptions I had ...have turned out to be

There is nothing abusive about it.
It supports equality.
It is gender and orientation neutral.
It also happens to be a lot of fun.

As a spectrum, the activities range from occasionally tying up one's partner
(which I think almost everyone has done) to more exotic things (which I have
done - (there are some things you really don't need to share with your

The lifestyle supports a range of relationships, and right smack in the
middle is D/s. (that's where she and I live)

A Crash Course In bDsm

Generally, in a D/s relationship, one partner is the Dominant. He or She
assumes an agreed upon authority and an equal measure of responsibility.

The submissive is an equal partner in the relationship.
"Equal" does not mean "same" - the submissive is the polar opposite of the
Dominant, and has different responsibilities.

Trying to generalise the many variations is tough but one common theme is
that a contract for conduct exists between the parties. In casual
relationships this may just be an understanding of safety, sanity and

In less casual relationships there may be a multipage document that lays out
every element in minute detail. (these are fun to negotiate but possibly
overdoing it)

Constant feedback, absolute honesty and as a result, profound trust are also
a requirement.

In the case of my relationship it is formal, and not casual.

(a word about etiquette and protocol) In an environment where one is dealing
on such an emotional level, strict rules of etiquette exist to protect those

In the written form, this includes using Upper Case to denote Dominant, and
lower case to denote submissive.
It also includes, what appears to be, excessive politeness.
Dominants are usually addressed with an honorific (Sir or Ma'am) by

I find this courtly behaviour quite charming and one of the appeals of the
whole thing.

"Sir or Ma'am" does not denote any special relationship. When we first met,
she referred to me as Sir.

I can see you smile as you read this thinking, "what an ego trip"

It is an ego trip, but it is not one sided. As wonderful as it is to take
ownership of that authority, there is an equal (though opposite) thrill in
submitting to an individual.

In the jargon of bdsm, this is known as a power exchange. Both parties
exchange power and the result is a relationship greater than the sum of its
parts. At times, the power exchange is almost narcotic and has a mystical
quality to it. (Now you know what drugs I have been taking)

There are various levels of submission.  Clearly, the greater the trust,
the more one is able to submit.

There are various levels of Authority too, and taking ownership of that
authority also requires great trust.

One level of trust is symbolised by "collaring".

It's a little like a marriage. You can judge how it differs.

The tradition:

The request to collar does not come, as you might imagine, from the
Dominant.  It comes from the submissive.

The gift of formal submission cannot be asked for, it can only be freely

I like that provides a sound ethical base for the
relationship that follows.

I witnessed a few collarings, and while it was romantic and gothic, it also
seemed a little absurd at the time (the submissive asks to be the slave of
his/her Master/Mistress).

If you take it seriously, it's a little alarming - if you don't, it all seems
rather childish.

The collar denotes such a substantial transfer of authority that I had a
real problem with the concept.

I eventually wrapped my head around the idea that since the transfer of
authority/ownership involved free will; AND that the ownership could be
withdrawn by either party; that morally it was acceptable.

But how could an intelligent person accept ownership without being
overwhelmed by the responsibility? (if they took it seriously)

I also had an issue with equality. How could someone take on a partner that
had, seemingly, such an unequal role to play ?

As I watched others and read, I found that there is an ebb and flow, and
that while the roles are different, they are in fact very well balanced and

A submissive (if she is female) is not negating feminism nor is she a
doormat. She has made a personal choice in her personal life.
I have met many submissives that are confident, capable career women.

A Dominant (if he is male) is not guilty of chauvinism either. Though the
Dominant may "crack the whip" it is with the goal of helping the partner
fully self realise. The core concept being that the submissive must
constantly strive to excel. If she first adds value to herself, then she can
add value to the relationship.

Last year, she asked if I would collar her.  I agreed to.

What has followed has made me grow and given me great happiness of spirit.

To me, she is my most treasured possession.

To her, I am her Master.