Sex talk
Speaking of Closets

Simon Sheppard, QSyndicate.com

We all know what "coming out," is, and most all of us agree that letting the world know we're queer is a liberating, desirable thing to do. There are plenty of reasons why a guy might not come out – or at least not come out to everyone – but whatever the motive, being in the closet can be a king-sized drag. (Or a queen-sized one.)

But the "nobody knows I'm gay" closet isn't the only one. When it comes to sexuality, the world is chock-full of secrets. If a guy says, "I'm queer," it's safe to assume he likes to suck dick, maybe fuck or get fucked. But what about having a yen to lick feet? To get paddled? To be spit on by a burly guy dressed in drag? What about keeping those desires in the closet?

There are many reasons not to broadcast that you want to, say, tie men up and whip them. First, there are legal considerations. Folks have faced criminal charges for performing consensual S/M, and even for owning sex toys; depending on where you live, you might think twice before making your cock a criminal.

(There are also, of course, the really, universally forbidden things, like sex with a minor, that are less a cause for coming out than for a trip to a counselor. And a lawyer.)

But even if you live somewhere where your kink of choice is legal, there may be other reasons to keep things quiet. "I'm pretty well-known in my community," says one executive type. "So, though I love to get tied up firmly and used hard, I'd rather that it not become common knowledge." In that sense, too, being closeted about your sexual preferences isn't all that different from being secretive about your orientation. Kinky folks can face societal disapproval, career problems, derision from their friends – in many circles, it's not easy being even the least bit pervy.

Within kinky communities, though, sexual secrecy can take different forms. One experienced player says, "I have a reputation among leather folks as a nasty total top. But lately I've discovered my bottom side. I've groveled for a couple of men and done it well, if I say so myself. I just wouldn't want the news to get around."

When a closet's involved, keeping things quiet can be tricky. Sure, deviant desires can be kept in the world of masturbatory fantasy, with no one else being the wiser – for many men, that's a workable solution. "If I never really dominate another man, that's okay," says one guy. "I'm happy just beating off to S/M porn."

Others lead an erotic double life. The respectably partnered businessman next door may spend his spare time at sleazy sex parties or might advertise for bondage slaves on the Internet. Keeping that sort of thing secret depends on a group that respects privacy, or tricks who know how to keep their mouths shut.

As with other in-the-closet situations, you can make a political case for coming out: Maybe if everybody knew how many folks were into kinky sex, it wouldn't be demonized and criminalized. But then, as one nicely twisted fellow says, "Hey, what I do in the playroom is nobody's business but my own. And my topman's." Most crucially, if kink lost some of its secretive sense of the forbidden, would it be as much fun?

So being in the closet about some sexual practices may be a marker of shame and secrecy, or it may be a sensible precaution that, additionally, keeps things hot. Or both.

Just don't let the door hit your ass on your way out of the closet.

Unless, of course, that kind of thing gets you off.

Simon Sheppard is the author of Kinkorama: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Perversion

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