Lolita Wolf's Predictions & Predilections

As a BDSM Sex Educator and Author, I don't just talk about it. I do it! And then I write about it.

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To Be Out or Not To Be Out

August 18th, 2011 · 3 Comments


People have been talking about Guy Baldwin’s keynote at the NLA conference in Houston. In that speech Guy talks about how important it is to be out and that the leaders in our community should not be hiding behind scene names. And he makes a point that the gay leaders in our community use their real names while the het leaders hide behind pseudonyms. Guy is always a powerful speaker and is always worth a listen.

I sat with a friend not long ago at an event. This was a guy who has put a lot of sweat equity into the community. He is an author, educator and Pantheon Award winner. He’s been a titleholder, board member, done fundraisers and produced leather contests. He’s a good solid citizen in our community. This friend had listened to Guy’s speech and felt berated because he is using a pseudonym.

Guy points out in his speech that the world is a very different place from the 1970’s and 1980’s. I agree. We live in a world where everybody googles. Employers do online searches and fire people. Former spouses use what they find online in child custody cases. These things really do happen. If there weren’t actual cases like this, we wouldn’t need organizations like NCSF.

My friend is a school teacher. Someone within the community actually threatened to out him. A kinky schoolteacher? This does not go over very well, especially in flyover country. He would lose his job for sure. We have seen these things happen even here in NYC.

Guy spoke of a psychological term, “integrated personality,” which means “that all the parts of one’s self fit together and mesh smoothly with all the other parts.” If being out causes you to lose your job, then your life will not mesh smoothly because you are not going to be able to pay your mortgage. Using a pseudonym most often causes less psychological stress than having your career go down the toilet.

For many people, having a pseudonym is not about being ashamed. It is a matter of survival. Some of the role models that I respect most used pseudonyms for part of their lives: Fledermaus aka Tony DeBlase. T.A. Feldwebel aka Harold Cox. These men (both gay) were influential leaders in our community, yet used scene names in the beginning.

It is often said that the BDSM community is about 20 years behind the Gay community in its fight for sexual freedoms. Gay people were very much victimized in many of the same ways kinky people are now. For gay men, it took the AIDS crisis to push them out of the closet. Many of them had nothing left to lose. Those two pressures made people take heart and come out, to conquer their fears. Straight kinky people are not yet in an equivalent position.

Everybody has to decide if and when they want to come out. And they have to decide how far to come out. What works for them? Being out does not have to be an all or nothing thing. There’s a lot of gray to play with. There are so many different types of leadership, so many ways to contribute to the community and to be a valuable member of our society. Not everybody has to be totally out.

To my friend, keep doing what you are doing. Stay active. Continue to write, teach and organize. Your leadership is important and valid. You are making a real difference in our community.

Tags: Activism & Politics

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Damisydas // Aug 19, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    I use a psuedonym for exactly the above reason. I am in the US Military, am bisexual, polyamorous, and kinky. So, as of this point in time, right now, all three of those violate military law, and I /could/ be sent to jail if I came out on any of the three. DADT is gone as of September 20th- but until then, we have been told DADT is still very much in effect. So, yes, I agree- sometimes it isn’t hiding behind a name, so much as practicing in the only way you can.

  • 2 Sandy // Sep 7, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Great post. It is very important for me to remain at least somewhat anonymous, to give myself some plausible deniability even though I do post photos of myself. In the age of Google, yes, I could be discovered by someone looking in the right places. But I’m not ready to out myself and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

  • 3 Patrick Kellogg // Sep 8, 2011 at 1:20 am

    Everybody has some reason to be in the closet. You are in the military, I have a security clearance. He has an ailing mother, she is a minor local celebrity. There will always be someone with more to lose than you… and they will be out.

    It’s not a contest to see who has a better excuse to hide behind a scene name. We all are in this together. A little while ago, gay people would be fired if their employer found out they were gay. With some companies that’s still true. The goal is not to become more adept at hiding… the goal is to change the world so a spanking fetish or cross-dressing will not risk you professional lives.

    And the only way to change the world is to be out. Out to your family, your friends, and your employer. Try to be as open as you can. Because otherwise, you are forcing other people to do the hard work, while riding on the coattails of acceptance that is hard-won by people who were braver than you.

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