#PrideMonth: a love letter

Photo of red, orange, yellow, green and indigo round pieces of candy arranged into the shape of a love heart

I’m super fucking queer.

I use the word ‘queer’ deliberately, in the same way I describe myself as a ‘slut’. I know it’s a word that gets whispered behind my back, and occasionally yelled at me in the street. It’s supposed to hurt me, to make me feel like every fibre of my being is odd and unwelcome. Unfortunately for queerphobic assholes, I pride myself on being contrary, so I have stolen the word ‘queer’ with my gay little hands.

When they hurled it at me, I caught it. It’s mine now.


I’m bisexual.

I realised this the moment I found the language for it. Before then, I’d been weighing up my attractions, trying to figure out which gender I fancied more often, more intensely, more legitimately. I thought, for a while, that I was a lesbian who was just really bad at resisting the patriarchal imperative to have crushes on men. Before then, I’d thought I was straight, and that all my feelings of unease and fascination centred around women were a mix of admiration and envy.

I don’t remember where I found the word ‘bisexual’, but I do remember that it felt like suddenly remembering where I’d left my keys, fourteen years after losing them. As cliché as it sounds, identifying as bisexual felt like coming home.

I found the word ‘pansexual’ too, and toyed with that, but my attraction to all genders wasn’t attraction regardless of gender. I tended to have gooey, romantic, heart-eyes-emoji-esque feelings towards girls before any sexual ones, and the inverse when I fancied boys. Something indescribable separated my experiences of attraction to both of the genders I knew about at the time – and when I learned about nonbinary people, I experienced yet another set of feelings about them. (Plus, the pan flag has yellow in it, and I’m not a fan. I’d rather have the jewel-tone bi flag any day, and fourteen-year-old Morgan was very shallow.)

Armed with a word that accurately summed up how I experienced love and lust, I did what any confused autistic teen might do: I researched it. I found lists of celebrities and public figures who were (or were thought to be) bisexual. It was 2012, so I found memes. And, naturally, I found bigots. I had expected to run into homophobia, but I hadn’t expected to run into gatekeeping from the gay community itself. I wasn’t prepared to be told to ‘pick a side’ or that I was ‘actually gay’ and lying to myself. I wasn’t ready to be called ‘greedy’ when I’d had two relationships in my adolescence, one of which only featured a single, brief kiss. I wasn’t expecting to be hurt by people who knew what homophobia felt like.

And this, dear reader, is where this post becomes a love letter.

Because for every one voice that was calling my orientation greedy or fake or ‘not gay enough’, there were dozens more bi people and allies countering their bullshit. I was learning new ways to backchat biphobes all the time. I learned queer history, the split attraction model, new ways to define gender and more through the vocal dissent of people who were fucking sick of biphobia; and, more importantly, I learned that I had hundreds upon hundreds of strangers’ voices rallying around me and defending my existence. I found a community.

It was through this vocal, loving, ready-to-educate community that I ended up finding my gender identity. It took me three or four years after growing into the label of ‘bisexuality’ to realise that, on top of being super bi, I wasn’t cis – and in a lot of ways, it felt scarier. Either online biphobia had subsided somewhat in those four years, or I’d just got better at making my social media environment more welcoming; regardless, I felt very comfortable in my bisexual skin.

But even some bi people were insisting I couldn’t be nonbinary.

I was confident in my belief that there were more than two genders. I’d read plenty of material, ranging from nonbinary people’s blog posts to accounts of olden-days rejection of gender binaries to the abstracts of actual studies on the subject, so I was pretty certain that nonbinary people were A Thing™. The problem lay in whether or not I was nonbinary.

I’ve blogged about my experiences of gender before now, so I won’t repeat myself, but I will add that I was scared of claiming the labels ‘nonbinary’ and ‘trans’ for months. (I still sort of cringe when I call myself ‘trans’, waiting for someone somewhere to insist that only binary trans people ‘count’.) But, again, it was the loud, brave voices of other queer folk that comforted me, and made me realise the importance of claiming words that fit me. I realised that, being white and academically inclined, I could use my voice to legitimise nonbinary experiences; being a human being, I deserved to legitimise my own experiences too.


Again, I’ve managed to prune my social circles and my social media consumption so that a lot of cissexism doesn’t reach me, especially online. I’ve educated some of my IRL friends and given up on others, and I have done myself the enormous favour of swearing off dating straight men. I owe huge portions of my self-confidence, comfort and personal growth to the LGBTQ+ community.

We are brave. We are strong. We are loving.

We are also doing real fuckin’ badly on some fronts, like including people of colour, making Pride accessible and eliminating, among other things, cissexism, slutshaming, acephobia and gatekeeping.

I know we can do better than this, because I’ve been on the right side of it. When we put our energy into activism, into educating each other and the cishets, and into being compassionate and welcoming, we can do incredible shit. We can make kids like fourteen-year-old Morgan feel at home in their acne-prone, super-queer skin.

I guess this is a tough-love letter now. Let’s get our shit together, and make each Pride shine brighter than the last. We owe it to ourselves and each other, and I know – I know – we’re capable of it.

Protocol Is Perfect For Me

An image of Morgan with a toothbrush in xir mouth, adhering to xir teeth-brushing protocol

I arrive at the train station, where I’ve agreed to meet one of my best friends. In my bag is a half-full bottle of vodka, saved from the last time she and I got up to no good, and clean clothes for tomorrow. (I already have a toothbrush in her bathroom – we do this a lot.) She’s waiting for me, and because we’re not huggy people, we just grin at each other, pleased to be reunited for an evening.

“How drunk are you allowed to get tonight, then?” she asks me, as we make our way towards the gates at the exit.

I think back to the conversation I’d had with my Daddy earlier that day, and to my self-written scale of drunkenness. “A seven, maximum.”

She nods, understanding, and we start debating the best place from which to purchase mixers.


My best friend is quite vanilla, but everyone close to me – including my mum, and the girls at my knitting group – knows the deal. My partner, whom I address exclusively as “Daddy” behind closed doors, sets protocols and rules for me, and I follow them.

Vanilla people who are new to this concept are sometimes alarmed by it. 50 Shades Of Grey has certainly not helped – as well as being a poorly-written, poorly-researched garbage fire, its treatment of rules and contracts is fucking appalling. For those who have avoided the series and its bullshit (lucky you!) the dominant arsehole, Christian Grey, withholds all affection from naïve, lovestruck/Stockholm Syndrome sufferer Anastasia, until she signs a contract she barely understands, which promises Grey all sorts of things that Ana doesn’t really want to deliver.

This is, of course, abusive.

(I won’t give you the tired “50 Shades isn’t real BDSM” spiel, because it’s fantastically unhelpful. The thing is, this shit does happen in the real world, and if we try to claim that “Grey isn’t a real dom, he’s just an abuser,” then we imply that the two are mutually exclusive. They aren’t. People can and do identify as dominants, be known and respected within their local kink circles, and still be abusive, opportunistic, predatory cunts behind closed doors.)

The relationship that I am in, wherein my dominant partner decides how drunk I’m permitted to get, ensures I brush my teeth every day and orders me to send him photos of my meals in order to prove I’m eating well – that’s not abusive.

Because I chose it.

Because I love it.

I’m autistic. For me, structure is key in every aspect of my life that I can control. Routine makes me feel grounded, safe and satisfied. I struggle with executive dysfunction, so being reminded to do basic self-care, and knowing that somebody besides me is invested in my wellbeing, can sometimes get me on my feet even when it feels like doing anything is impossible.

I’m also a service-oriented submissive, someone who thrives on pleasing others, which means that being given clear, measurable, achievable tasks to perform, and performing them well, brings me no end of joy. I love making my Daddy proud. I love being told I’ve done a good job. I especially love performing D/s-oriented tasks when I’m away from my Daddy, when I go back to my mum’s for the holidays or when he drives down south to see his parents. I love all the small ways that my protocols pull him to the forefront of my mind, and me to the forefront of his – and I love dipping, just a little, into subspace, feeling calm and centred while carrying out a task I know exactly how to do.

My interest in protocol grew out of necessity when I was in a long-distance relationship. I wanted to be on his mind at intervals, and to remind him that I was still devoted to him even when it had been weeks since we’d seen each other in the flesh realm. I also wanted to explore submission, and it seemed like the obvious way to kill two birds with one stone. I brought it up, we thought out some rules, and I started to follow them.

My in-the-know vanilla friends were quick to point out that I could break the rules, if I wanted to. I was supposed to ask permission to eat confectionery (a misguided rule to apply to someone with an eating disorder, but one I still honoured), and my friends would always remind me that my boyfriend, some sixty miles away, would be none the wiser if I just bought some M&Ms.

My response was always simply, “But I’d have to tell him.”

I couldn’t imagine not telling him. Aside from the fact that I told him everything (a habit that I have yet to grow out of, with partners, friends and the internet at large), I had asked for these rules to be set out for me because I wanted them. I wanted to relish making my boyfriend proud, and that joy would be muddied and hollow if it was born of lies, or withheld truths.

Plus, he’d have asked about my day, and I’m way too autistic to hold a poker face.

The trouble was, my friends were encouraging me to flout my rules for good reason. Confectionery, I could live without, but one of my rules that was more misguided still was the one where I had to text my boyfriend for permission to use the bathroom. My boyfriend, who had a) very different sleeping habits from my own and b) a job. I’d be shifting uncomfortably from one foot to the other outside the bathroom, waiting for my boyfriend’s response, and my friends would be mystified by my insistence that I had to wait. Or I’d give in, go and pee, and then confess to my boyfriend, who would punish me next time he saw me in person.

Punishing a sub like me, really punishing them, is a much bigger deal than this boyfriend seemed to know. The physical side was basically fine – I’m a masochist, and I have a knack for endurance besides – but the psychological effect of a punishment fucking stung. Whether I was writing lines or being beaten, my little heart was heavy with disappointment in myself. I couldn’t stop thinking about how I’d let my boyfriend down, even after the punishment had taken place and all was forgiven.

It was unsustainable.


That boyfriend and I broke up for reasons unrelated to our kink dynamic, but I do wonder if our differing styles of D/s put extra strain onto our relationship. He was much more interested in what happened in the bedroom – S&M scenes, humiliating a consenting sub, etc – and for me, kink happened everywhere. It meant something to me in a way that it just didn’t for him.

(It is, obviously, fine for people to enjoy kink in the bedroom and not in a lifestyle setting; but for me personally, especially when I was doing monogamy, it’s a deal-breaking difference from what I enjoy and crave.)

I was a little bit jaded towards the rules thing for a while after that. I wanted to feel small and subservient, but I didn’t want to feel shitty about myself. It took time, as well as listening to other people talk about their happy, fulfilling D/s, to warm back up to the idea of letting somebody else structure aspects of my life for me.

But when I did… oh boy.

I told my now-Daddy that I liked the idea of rules. We sketched some out with the intention of gently trialling them… and I never looked back. I suggested more. I typed them into a meticulously-formatted Google doc and sent the link, excitedly, to my girlfriend, who was overjoyed for me. I wrote a clause into them which specified that, should I want or need a beating, a humiliation scene or anything else, I could ask for one, rather than breaking a rule and dealing with the psychological sting of letting my Daddy down.


Hungover, I shuffle into my best friend’s kitchen to get my Daddy-sanctioned energy drink out of her fridge. She hands me a quesadilla on a Star Wars plate (because she is The Best), and I place it on the table, so I can take a photo. She doesn’t bat an eyelid, and we eat our breakfast in sleepy silence, one of us vanilla and one of us as kinky as they come, and both as content as each other.

 

Finding Your Kinks: A Case Study

Power Exchange

When I first started intentionally seeking out things that gave me sex feelings, as a teenager with a shiny new laptop all their own and a burning curiosity about that burning in my loins, I started with guy-on-guy fanfiction. I was already deeply invested in the Kingdom Hearts and Harry Potter fandoms, and it seemed like erotica about characters I already cared about would be far more engaging than poorly-lit heterosexuals having bad sex on Pornhub. Whilst in a lot of ways not ideal (riddled with misogyny, fetishisation, abuse apologism and deeply questionable grammar), so-called “yaoi fanfiction was the first patently sexy thing I ever engaged with. As well as helping me to realise that I was nonbinary (because I identified so strongly with masculine-of-centre protagonists, regardless of the sexy fictional characters they were boning), my fascination with erotic fanfiction unlocked a number of my kinks before I’d ever even been naked with another person. The Off The Cuffs podcast refers to things like this as being one’s “radioactive spider bite”.

Guy-on-guy fanfic, and especially guy-on-guy fanfiction written by misinformed teenage girls who have never spoken to a gay man in their lives, features power exchange all over the damn place. Teenage girls apparently still haven’t received the memo that gay sex is, y’know, gay, which means that you don’t need a dedicated dick recipient and a dedicated dick deliverer like you do when having hetero PIV. Spreading a misconception like that around isn’t great, but it did mean that there was very often a struggle for dominance taking place before or during sex scenes. I found myself re-reading passages which featured characters being pinned down, lovingly bitten, or otherwise physically overpowered – sometimes more often than the passages which featured actual genitals doing actual fucking. By the time that I was talking to other people about sex (and doing sexy text-based roleplay things), I thought you pretty much had to be a top or a bottom, and by extension, either dominant or submissive. I was taken aback when I learned that some people weren’t into “that kinky stuff”.

Being the nerd that I undeniably was and still am, I took to Google to investigate “kink”, and from there “BDSM”, and from there all sorts of resources that were much more fact-based and accurate than fanfic written by virgins. Erotica was my gateway, sure, but it didn’t tell me how to compose a Yes/No/Maybe list, or what aftercare was, or that wanting to be tied up and gagged while your partner hits you with a flogger does actually count as straying off the beaten path. (Get it? Beaten path? I’ll see myself out.) I found things that made my cunt drip on fanfiction.net, but I didn’t know how to apply any of them in my own sex life until I did further research.

The Daddy Thing

You know that text-based roleplaying I mentioned earlier? Yeah, it turns out that when you identify as a girl (which I mistakenly did until my very late teens) and your nerdy online guy friends find out you have a keen interest in sex stuff, they fall all over themselves trying to add you on Skype. Skype, of course, facilitates more than text-based roleplay. You can video call people.

Enter Blue (not his real name, obviously). Blue was a li’l older than me (eighteen when I was sixteen, an age gap I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions about), he rocked a dark beard, and he showered me with attention while I went through a messy breakup. (All the breakups that sixteen-year-olds go through are messy. I was not good at communicating, and I still thought I owed it to boys who’d hurt me to let them down gently.)  We had a couple of chatty, fully-clothed video calls before things escalated, and then we were having Skype sex.

I was already okay-ish at Skype sex stuff, having been in a long-distance thing and blossoming into an exhibitionist before making friends with Blue. I wasn’t surprised when he told me to say his name as I orgasmed, or when he wanted me on all fours, or when he wanted me to do things to my nipples. I was, however, surprised when he gasped, “Call me ‘Daddy’!”

I knew that that was A Thing People Did, but only because it was joked about in movies and on TV. I’d called people ‘Sir’ before, and in the moment, I thought ‘Daddy’ was pretty much an equivalent. So I did as I was told, and Blue was very pleased about it.

Later, I returned to Google. I found the term DD/lg, which stood for Daddy Dom/little girl, and I fell down the Tumblr rabbithole. Initially, I was spooked by all the photos of skinny white girls in nappies (I wasn’t that tiny, and I wasn’t – at that point – into watersports in any sense) – but I was drawn to the sheer perverseness of it, the fact that it sent a “This is weird” tingle straight to my clit. I was fascinated by the idea of roleplayed innocence being “corrupted”, and by the idea of being so irresistible that a Daddy figure had to have me even if it was very, very wrong. I also immediately noticed that self-identified ‘littles’ had a great deal in common with me, like a fondness for colouring, a need to be looked after and nurtured, and a desire for power-exchange-filled sex with older, bearded guys.

I was full of trepidation. I had grown up without a decent father figure – my dad died when I was three, after doing the Hokey Cokey in and out of my life for years, and the two partners my mum had after him were evil bastards who shaped me into the people-pleasing, needy, somewhat traumatised kid I was at sixteen. Did being into “the Daddy thing” mean I was fucked up? So many littles on Tumblr were insisting that their kink wasn’t rooted in “Daddy issues” – what if mine was? Would it be unethical to pursue my interest in it? Would it damage my psyche even more?

My advice to you, dear reader, as well as to Past Morgan, is – worry less. You should definitely proceed with caution if your kink has ties to a complicated past or a mental health issue, but don’t fret if your kink doesn’t originate from some vacuum, devoid of any complication or relationship to real life. Most kinks are tied up in psychological weirdness – is it okay to be turned on by being humiliated, when so much of sex positivity discourse revolves around empowerment? (Answer: yes.) Why are people, especially women, turned on by being called sluts in the bedroom? (That’s different for each individual, but it’s basically inextricable from society’s slut-shaming bullshit.) Do women want to submit to men partly because the patriarchy says that they must? (Kate Sloan, of the Dildorks, remarked that in a patriarchal society, most people have Daddy issues of some sort.)

After things came to a messy end with Blue, too, I met another guy, and I explained in full my interest in DD/lg, and my chequered history with actual father figures, and we decided we were going to give the Daddy thing a whirl.

Now, four years on with a different partner, I own a multitude of pacifiers and I sit in my Daddy’s lap to watch cartoons. My kink isn’t entirely detached from the lack of paternal love and nurturing that was present throughout my childhood – but it’s healing, and sexy, and that’s okay.

Masochism

My relationship with pain has been as complicated as my relationship with dads and Daddies. I have a long history of deliberate self-harm, but none of it ever turned me on. The idea of masochism, of having a pain kink, mystified me more than the whole Daddy thing did.

Until I tried it out.

The first time I really enjoyed pain was pretty much an accident. I’d been fucked, hard, by my boyfriend at the time, for maybe the third time ever. When the fucking was happening, I was preoccupied by what was happening to my G-spot – but afterwards, I noticed a deep, bruisey, delicious soreness.

I mentioned it to him over text the next day, and he apologised. I reassured him that I wasn’t complaining – I loved the reminder, the regular ache that whispered “You got fucked yesterday,” deep in my battered vulva. He was turned on by that, though he never identified as a sadist – and we started exploring more by way of hickeys, spanking during sex, hair-pulling and more.

This is probably the most straightforward of my “core” kinks in terms of how I discovered it – it happened sort of by mistake, I liked it a lot, and so I tried different things along the same lines. Still, I grappled with similar doubts to the ones I had about CG/l stuff – what if this was somehow too close to self-harm? What if this made me a “bad” kinkster? Eventually, I came to the same conclusion, too – that kinks can never exist in a vacuum, and that as long as every participant was safe (psychologically and physically) and having fun, I could do whatever I liked with my body – including allowing other people to hurt it.

How did you discover some of your favourite kinks?