Sticks and stones may break my bones, but chains and whips excite me. A person should never be humiliated for a kink. Unless that kink is to be humiliated, and in that case, you should feel bad you dirty pervert.

In my ongoing series on being open and honest about my life. Okay, it's not actually a series, but it's almost starting to feel like one. I'm opening up about my enjoyment of BDSM. Specifically, S&M, bondage, and primal/prey play. I identify as a bottom. To me, that means I'm submissive during an encounter or scene. Outside of those specific times, I tend to be more submissive in a relationship, but not in the same total submission way. I don't have to be in a relationship with someone to play with them, but it does make the experience better.

My first boyfriend was curious about S&M and bondage. After a couple glasses of wine, he asked if I would be willing to try some things with him. I'm eager to try just about anything once. We read some articles and watched some videos then headed off to try our first scene. It was awkward, not sexy, and we both ended up with bruises. We loved it! From then on, it became a part of our regular activities. As we got more experienced, the encounters became less awkward, sexier, and I was the only one with bruises when we were done.

About 2 years later, we broke up. I was leaving Southern California, struggling through some gender identity situations, and he has a gender preference. When we parted ways, I thought, that was a fun chapter of life. Turns out, it wasn't just a chapter. It has become part of who I am as a person, and how I'm able to relieve stress and frustration. I think there is a misconception that BDSM is always about coitus. That couldn't be farther from the truth for me. It's about having the empowerment to give up control and submit to someone. It does lead to what many people would view as traditional sex a vast majority of the time. But not always. The best scenes I have participated in have never incorporated penetrative sex.

The BDSM community is terrific. They don't judge or shun anyone for the things they enjoy. Everyone I have run into is far more open to different gender identities, and alternative lifestyles. Everyone is welcome as long as you are respectful and non-judgmental. Consent is a huge deal for the community. Before any scene, extensive communication happens. Especially for the bottom in the scene, it's essential to communicate your dos and don'ts. Having a safe word allows for safe play. Knowing that I can struggle to get away or scream in pain, all I want without the top having to check in on me is liberating. Personally, I prefer the stoplight. Red is a hard stop. Everything immediately stops, and the top checks in with me. Yellow is used to tone it back, we both stay in character, but he knows to take it a bit easier. Then there is green. Green means I'm having a really great time, don't stop. An experienced top will read that more from body language and reactions than saying the word. But it's there, and it's communicated beforehand.

The respect and communication lead to this strong bond that's tough to break.

I felt like I needed to share this. Not because I want you to think of me differently or judge me. But because I spent so much of my life ashamed of who I was and what I enjoyed. Shame lives in darkness and misinformation. I believe the only way to overcome shame is to embrace the things that make you different and shine a light on them. Seeing and hearing other people's stories have helped me become happy and authentic for the first time in my life. So if by sharing this publicly, and for all time on the internet, can help one person on their journey towards happiness, it will be more than worth it. Besides, I'm the only one getting hurt, and that's kind of the point.