When I was a Dominatrix, and by this I mean when I was teaching BDSM (Bondage, Dominance, SadoMasochism), and by this I mean completely separate from sex (people often fallaciously believe the two are equivalent), and by this I mean I was active in fetish work. During this time, I accumulated a vast arsenal of equipment. My collection included leashes, meters of chain and rope used for bondage, riding crops, floggers, paddles, clamps, restraints, etc. I had so much equipment I had to line my walls with them to store them. Imagine coming into a friend’s house and seeing her bedroom wall covered in these items. That was my house.
I came into contact with the BDSM community while I lived in college and soon after I came out as queer. The taboo of queerness in the South due to homophobia was so extreme it was a political statement to be out. And the BDSM community was in close proximity in terms of a taboo experience in a conservative state. As I have always stated, I am willing to try anything twice, and I could identify with the way the BDSM community was whispered about by the conventional conservatives. So the queer community and BDSM communities shared circles at times; being an outlaw has its kinship with other outlaws.
Over the years I became well versed in the fetish world around the country and worked to help dismantle the stigma attached to it, specifically in communities of color. Most people practice very moderate forms of BDSM without even knowing it. Using ice or wax to enhance sex, for example, is a form of S&M. Holding someone’s arms above their head, for example, is an elementary form of Bondage and Dominance.
Advanced BDSM requires profound concentration accompanied by extensive training and practice. I came to a point where I was even giving demonstrations and workshops on bondage, the correct way to use the equipment, and how to use boundaries the right way. There is a right way, and that is the safe way. BDSM is consensual at all times, otherwise, it’s not BDSM. Just as sex is to be consensual, otherwise it’s not sex.
As with any art, once you gain more experience, you begin to have an affinity for your preferred tools. Your favorite paint brush, your favorite camera lens, your favorite riding crop. Tools of the trade. Over the years and through dozens of moves I’ve whittled down my collection of equipment due to the sheer volume and weight of what I once owned.
Quality BDSM equipment is created with materials such as leather, brushed metal, latex and finished wood, intricately woven or crafted together. It’s not inexpensive, and good equipment is certainly worth the purchase for safety and longevity reasons. And a well-made piece can be exquisite. I have held onto my favorites over the years because they are gorgeous and carry years of history for me. I do, however, have a piece that I am willing to release because it is not my favorite. It’s a whip, something I used solely for the noise it makes when it lashes in the air (think Catwoman), but not something I used on any person because it requires an exceptional pain threshold. And as a Dom using the tools, I just didn’t want to use this one on anyone.
I am definitely not involved in the BDSM scene as I once was. It did, however, teach me how to be creative, use my imagination and how to communicate and understand desire through physical interaction. It taught me about boundaries, limits, respecting people’s histories of intimacy. It taught me to not fear innovation, to not fear curiosity and to always pursue desire.
So on Day 330 of my 365 Release practice for non-attachment, letting go and change, I am letting go of a piece of my history that I was willing to explore to grow my experience as a queer, sexual and kinky being. I’m giving it to someone who is still very much involved in the BDSM scene and who will wield it with expertise and love. As for the favorites in my collection, I’m keeping those.
[I created the 365 Release Project to practice non-attachment, letting go and change by giving away 1 thing a day for 1 year. The background, vision and guidelines to the 365 RELEASE project are here. The running list of everything I have released is here.]