This piece is part of the Radical issue, a special package from Outward, Slate’s home for coverage of LGBTQ life, thought, and culture. Read more here.

When we celebrate queer history, we’re usually thinking about the elders who came before us and the sacrifices that they made to ensure that future generations wouldn’t have to go through the same hardships that they did. By remembering their radical calls for acceptance and civil rights, we’re really thinking about action-oriented activism. But in doing so, we leave out the importance of the practice of kink and BDSM, which are radical acts in their own right. It’s time to correct this, to include and center kink as a valid part of queer history—because without it, we are erasing an essential part of our heritage.

Kink has been somewhat mainstreamed in recent years by films, books, and popular media (ahem, Fifty Shades) that speak to only one part of what it means to be in the lifestyle. But what exactly makes kink radical? There’s a taboo around discussing sex and sexuality in our culture still, and it is especially seen as taboo for queer people, who have been ostracized and outcast for not falling into heteronormative expectations of how we should love and form relationships. Many kink and BDSM (an acronym standing for bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism) subcultures were formed in response to individuals’ desire to fight against these expectations. These were often some of the few spaces where queer people, before civil rights efforts had gained any ground, could form relationships that existed outside of shame and build their own communities.

Read the full article:

It’s Time to Recenter Kink and BDSM as a Part of Radical Queer History by Cameron Glover

November 7, 2018

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