Pride: A Complicated Experience

Stock photo of glitter laid out in stripes to form a rainbow. Glitter is present at a lot of Pride events, in case you didn't know ;)

I haven’t been to a tonne of Pride events.

I came out to myself as bi when I was about 13, and as nonbinary when I was about 17. Unusually, I think, I didn’t feel any internalised shame about my queer identity in the traditional sense. When I realised I was bisexual, I was excited about it: excited about my newfound connection to the LGBTQ+ community, excited about the possibility of kissing girls and excited that I’d found a label that fit me, after a year or two of worrying that I was simply a lesbian who was very bad at lesbianing.

When I came out to myself as nonbinary, I felt a degree of anxiety that I wasn’t not-cis enough (I didn’t experience all the dysphoria that mainstream media promised me, and I’d only put the pieces together as a young adult), but mostly I was, again, excited to find a word that fit my experience of gender. I understood, in theory, that a lot of people needed the Pride movement to allay their feelings of internalised shame, fear and grossness about being anything other than cishet, but whether it was the autism or my mum’s accepting and loving influence, I never felt bad about being queer.

This didn’t mean that I was uninterested in Pride events, but I didn’t feel any desperate pull towards them. I could experience the joy of being part of the LGBTQ+ community online, in the comfort of my own home, and that felt like enough for me. The first time I went to Pride, it was for an unconventional reason: I was deeply, deeply depressed, and it was a reason to leave the house.

My hometown’s Pride event was, and still is, mercifully grassroots in nature, held in a spacious park and never too crowded. But this didn’t stop me from feeling overwhelmed, especially when I found that there was nowhere for me to sit down and rest my disabled little legs, and nothing was signposted, leading to me getting turned around and confused at least twice an hour. I loved spotting other people’s flags, starting conversations with people about their dogs or their outfits, and talking to the people who ran stalls relevant to my interests, but I left the event exhausted and overstimulated and had to spend at least a couple of days in bed or otherwise in my pajamas, recharging my limited energy.

Bigger Pride events, as you can imagine, intimidate me. I went to one in my university city and found it so challenging that I slipped away on more than one occasion to the outskirts of the event, taking deep breaths and chewing on free sweets obtained from various stalls and booths. I know lots of other people find Pride inaccessible, and this year, I stuck to my hometown’s event – but still needed to be babysat by my girlfriends and metamour, reminded to eat, and encouraged to leave earlier than most people might because I was ready to lie down on the grass and give up.

This is why I feel conflicted about Pride. I already felt like it might not be for me, since I didn’t experience the internalised shame that so many LGBTQ+ people talked about, and after having found so many Pride events to be lacking in the accessibility department, I felt that even more strongly. Couple that with a police presence which makes my autistic nerves run higher than the volume on the main stage’s speakers and the ongoing online discussions about who “belongs” at Pride, I’ve often wondered what Pride does have to offer me.

The thing is, Pride as a concept is great. I enjoy rainbow paraphernalia and I even enjoy watching corporations desperately try to cater to me (only to drop the facade on the 1st of July) and then watching other LGBTQ+ people mock them for it. Pride month is fun, it reminds me of the importance of community and visibility, and it gives me an excuse to respond melodramatically to every minor inconvenience (“It’s raining? During this, Pride Month?”). But I’m starting to acknowledge that I pressure myself into attending events that I don’t really need to be at. I already know my community exists, I have created safe spaces of my own to be queer in, and I don’t feel gross or ashamed or anything other than pleased about my queer identity.

I know Pride does a lot for a lot of people. I love seeing people at Pride events blossoming with confidence they might not feel anywhere else, and I appreciate that there exists a space where everyone can just… be their authentic selves, without fear of repercussion. But with gatekeeping, corporate involvement, inaccessibility and the rest of it, it’s a movement and a series of events that I feel somewhat disconnected from.

I will continue to defend my LGBTQ+ siblings’ right to attend Pride events, obviously. I want to speak up in defense of asexual and aromantic people’s place at Pride and about the ways that a police presence can make POC and neurodivergent people feel deeply uncomfortable, but I might not need to push myself into events to achieve that. I suppose it’s a result of internalised ableism, something I do experience a lot of, that I feel like I need to do what my abled friends are doing whether I actually want to or not. And I suppose it’s important for me as an activist to confront my internalised ableism, and that might mean staying home from crowded, noisy, police-infested Pride events when I need to.

I’m still going to buy shit with rainbows on it, though. I’m always going to buy shit with rainbows on.

Smut Saturdays #15: The Beauty of a Blindfold

Stock photo of a piece of light brown rope arranged in a heart shape, lying on a darker brown bench. The background is out of focus but looks greenish. It's cute, and suits this smut about a blindfold nicely.

Ready for some blindfold smut? Every fourth Saturday, I’ll be posting erotica I’ve written, based loosely on my own real life experiences or fantasies, for your wanking enjoyment. They’ll all be under the category ‘Smut Saturdays’ and if you’ve got any feedback or requests for smut scenarios, put ‘em in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @KinkyAutistic!


(I acknowledge that it is no longer Saturday. In fact, at the time of writing, it is Tuesday. But what could be more on-brand – for #AutismAcceptanceMonth especially – than running three days late on a self-imposed deadline?)


It hurts.

Of course, I know that it’s supposed to hurt. There is only one wrap of rope around my upper thigh, and through it is the weight of my entire leg. I feel like my skin might split, but it won’t give me the satisfaction – I probably won’t even bruise.

My Daddy and I are playing in his living room. I’m on the floor under his suspension frame, naked, with my right leg hoisted into the air and my left one resting on the ground, so my vulva is readily visible. It’s relatively quiet and calm in here, but the pain is still overwhelming me, and I’m worried I’ll reach my limit soon. I suck in short, sharp breaths, pulling air through my teeth, as I try to adjust to the feeling that my upper thigh is about to get ripped in two. I want to be good. I want to take this.

“Daddy,” I say timidly, watching as he begins to uncoil yet another rope. He pauses. “Could I have a blindfold, please?”

Asking for things mid-scene is not my strong suit. If we’re being brutally honest, asking for things at any time is not my strong suit. I want to take up as little space as possible, and make as little fuss as a person can; but this directly contradicts my desire to be as honest with my Daddy as possible and to process as much pain as a person can. So I ask for the blindfold, and I tilt my head up willingly when he pulls it from the rope bag.

“Good Puppy for asking,” he tells me, his voice both warm and condescending. He lays the fabric carefully over my eyes, aiming to block all light out of my vision but also to avoid compressing my nose and compromising my ability to breathe (because that would come later). He knots the blindfold tightly behind my head, so it hugs my skull and blocks out some sound by virtue of lying over my ears. I could still hear my Daddy if he raised his voice, but I can no longer hear the clock ticking, nor the hum of the refrigerator in the other room. All I can really perceive is the pain in my thigh.

I breathe in. I breathe out. I start to let go of the panic I had originally felt as a result of this seemingly unconquerable pain. I think, I hope this bruises and, Oh, it eases off if I press my left hip into the carpet and I’m such a good little masochist, all while my Daddy starts to tie my wrists together, silent and deft.

With one sudden, fluid motion, my wrists are pulled up, and with them, so is my entire torso. I yelp, but more importantly, without thinking, I twist, so that both buttcheeks are firmly on the floor and my wrists are comfortable above my head without threatening to pull one of my hypermobile ribs out of place. In the process, I obviously rotate my poor upper thigh, twisting it and dragging my flesh across the rope that encased it, and now I know it’ll bruise. I’ll be lucky if I haven’t made it bleed. I whimper, only somewhat soothed by the indomitable familiarity of ropes swaying and jostling whilst my Daddy locks off an upline that’s connected to my body. (For those not well-versed in rope-related words – some of which I might be bastardizing or making up entirely – the upline is the one that goes up to the suspension point. Locking it off involves doing things to it so it doesn’t move, unravel or otherwise drop your bottom on their, uh, bottom.) I’m disgruntled about my thigh – shearing (the dragging of rope across skin) is a type of pain I do not remotely enjoy – and I keep whimpering until the familiar movement above my head stops. Then there is a very long pause, and I blink against the fabric of my blindfold, against the darkness.

My Daddy takes hold of my chin. I don’t know whether he’s standing over me or kneeling by my side. I do know that him gripping my chin like this can only mean one thing. He holds it for long enough that I can object if I want to, but I stay silent. I’m such a good little masochist.

Crack. The sound of his palm across my cheek. I’m so full of endorphins that I interpret pain as warm, and sigh heavily at its pleasant radiation through my face. I know what’s coming next.

Crack.

It’s going to happen soon. It’s not the pain so much as the shock of it that gets me – and the intimacy of it. Being slapped across the face is completely inescapable. You hear it more loudly than any other slaps. When you’re not blindfolded, you see it. And I think it activates some primal instinct that arse-slapping just doesn’t achieve, because it usually only takes —

Crack.

Yep, three strikes and my eyes well up behind the blindfold. I can feel my lower lip wobble. My Daddy shifts his grip from my chin to my hair, and I know the next slap will make me cry.

He pauses for so long that I whisper, “Green,” in case he’s unsure. And then, crack. Across my face. Knocks the tears right out of my eyes. Knocks a loud sob out of my mouth. And I know that if I weren’t blindfolded, I’d call “Yellow,” because I’d be overwhelmed. But all I can feel is heat in my cheek and an unbearable level of anticipation, and I tilt my head up a little bit to indicate I’m ready for another.

Crack. Crack. Crack.

And now I’m fully sobbing, and I can feel my Daddy’s hand brushing hair out of my face. “Oh, look at you,” he says softly. “You’re so pretty when you cry.”

“I’m trying my best,” I wail, as is my custom when I feel sufficiently little and deep in subspace. “I’m trying really hard.”

“I know, baby.” There is some shuffling. His hand isn’t in my hair any more. “Do you know what else is really hard?”

I giggle even though there’s snot leaking from my face. “Daddy!” Then there’s a hand in my hair again, but this time it’s pulling. I can barely remember that my thigh is hurting, and I only re-become aware that my wrists are tied above my head when I move to scratch something and realise I can’t. “My brain is stupid,” I report honestly.

“That’s okay. You don’t need a brain for this.”

My hearing isn’t muffled enough to disguise the sound of him pulling down the zip on his jeans, and I open my mouth readily, my tongue stretching down my chin.

And that’s where I’ll leave you, friends, because some things are sexier when they’re unseen.

Why Do I Keep Finding Autistic People In My Kink Communities? (For #AutismAcceptance Month)

Gummi bears lined up in a grid. Most of them are clear, but the one in the centre is red, like an autistic person in the midst of neurotypical people

Now, this might just be a Me Thing™, but I find that autistic people are disproportionately easy to find in kink settings.

Conservative estimates suggest that 1 in 100 people in the UK are autistic. Even if there were 100 people at every munch, social or class I’ve ever been to, and even if I was, miraculously, extroverted enough to talk to every single one of them, statistically speaking I should’ve been the only autistic person in the room. I have found, however, that this is rarely the case.

If you, like me, are wondering why autistic people seem over-represented in kink settings, read on; I have some theories.


1. A lot of kinks involve sensory-seeking behaviours.

Obviously I can’t speak for every single autistic kinkster out there, but one of the things I enjoy the most about practising kink is the sensory component of it. The way that rope smells, the rhythm of a beating, the secure hug of being strapped to something – all of these things are sensory experiences. And in kink, we’re not just pursuing sensory experiences covertly, like when I’m in a busy shopping centre and I discretely tap my fingertips against my thumbs to attempt to self-regulate. In kink, we’re supposed to wholly lean into the sensory experiences we’re creating.

Additionally, dungeons and the like are more or less designed to make it so that you can focus entirely on the sensory experience at hand. They often have some areas for louder play and some quieter ones, and there won’t be any overwhelming distractions like a TV playing or people bumping into you. A well-designed dungeon is a safe sensory haven for the autistic kinkster.

2. Everyone in kink communicates more explicitly.

In vanilla life, communication with others can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. People use sarcasm and euphemism, they hedge their statements, and sometimes they say things they straight up don’t mean. (I still struggle to understand that the question, “How are you?” is not a request for information about how I actually am, but rather a relationship-building pleasantry that requires me to say something banal that’s easy to respond to.)

In kink, however, people are somewhat more forthcoming. Plenty of kinksters have Yes/No/Maybe lists that make their preferences clear, and there’s generally a heightened degree of openness in settings where anal fisting and inverted suspensions are being discussed. A culture of consent means that people feel more comfortable saying what they actually mean.

(However, I do feel the need to point out to some of my fellow autistic kinksters that people in kink settings aren’t always 100% forthcoming. Sometimes, when people feel uncomfortable saying, “No, thank you” to a proposition – because you are or are read as a man, because they’ve been harassed before, or simply because they want to be polite and avoid hurting your feelings – they will often use a ‘soft no’ instead. A soft no is something like, “Maybe another time,” or, “I’m not really sure.” It can be tempting to follow that up by asking when they would like to play with you or otherwise pressing them about it, but generally, a soft no won’t turn into a firm yes. It’s always better to say, “Okay, thank you anyway!” and then, if they actually are interested in playing with you “another time”, they can come and seek you out.)

3. Kink is outside of the mainstream, so autistic people feel right at home.

Plenty of people in kink settings have experience of being belittled, mocked or shunned for things they do in their personal lives – and even when they don’t, they’re aware that it’s a possibility. So it follows that plenty of people in kink are empathetic to people who, for reasons relating to neurodivergence, have also never felt too comfortable in mainstream society.

This is not to say that neurotypical kinksters face discrimination and oppression on the same level as neurodiverse folks, but they certainly know more about how it feels to be rejected by mainstream culture than vanilla neurotypical people do. Moreover, there’s a pretty high correlation between people who practice BDSM and people who identify as LGBTQ+, and those people are even more likely to understand what it’s like to exist outside of societal norms and to have to fight for one’s own human rights. This helps kinky spaces to be welcoming and accommodating to neurodiverse people and helps those people feel safer and more able to be their authentic selves.


If you’re autistic and you’re not sure whether you’d be welcome in your local kink scene, I hope this post has reassured you somewhat. Not only will you have built-in conversation topics available to you, since kinksters all have at least one thing in common (kinkiness!), but you’ll probably find your local munch or dungeon to be a welcoming environment where everyone is a little (or a lot) ‘odd’ by mainstream standards. I think it’s pretty likely that you’ll fit right in.