ALEXANDER CHEVES: Confession From a Fake Submissive
08 October 2019
Alexander Cheves – sweetbeastly on Recon - is a sex and relationships writer, editor, and artist. In this article he writes about the fact that you're the only one who defines what you are.
Some months ago — just before World Pride New York City — I was messaging a dominant on this site who wanted something I wasn't interested in. I can't remember what it was — gut-punching or domestic service, maybe — but I told him no, thank you.
"Then you're not a real submissive," he said. "You're another pretender."
How did he know? Yes, I am a fake. It's true that I sometimes have passionate moments of intensity that feel like submission, but who's to say if they're real? Most of the time, I feel like an imposter. This random stranger tore through the veil and saw what I truly was. Could everyone else see it too?
I watched fisting porn in a parking lot in my car many years ago and it scared me. That fear turned into something else, and now I love the feeling of a hand in my ass. I can't explain it, and sometimes I still feel scared of it, but the feeling of getting fisted is the closest thing to ultimate pleasure I know. When I was little, I dared friends to tie me up (with balloon ribbon, with kite string) on the playground and at birthday parties and I felt excited when they did. Years later, I learned this was called bondage. These are real feelings and authentic experiences. As I've grown up, they've become codified, translated into labels and identities and scenes which do, at times, feel like artifice. I often feel I am masquerading as this thing, this submissive. How many others feel this way, too?
My partner does, sometimes. He is a restless force of need and discovery, and I love him for it. We are both chasing a vision of New York built on anecdotes from gay elders — fables of a dangerous gay city filled with dark spots and public sex, a place that is almost entirely gone now. That dream vanished over the last twenty years under the onslaught of gentrification and luxury. But still we chase it, and I know why: because the number of places with a cruise culture left in the world is dwindling and we are still in one of them.
But some nights we stay in, paralyzed, scared maybe. Sure, we could go to the party and play in the back, but we could also stay in and not risk seeing our fantasies clash with an opposing concept — that our dream of New York is gone, and that maybe we are not the hedonic beasts we think we are. On these horrible, restless nights, we fear we are chasing fictions.
When I walk into a dark place where people are fucking, I feel overwhelmed, even though I've been going to these places for years. Every moment of struggle — every time I can't bend over and take it without asking him to go slow, every time I have to douche again because I'm not fully clean — threatens the fantasy of myself as this small, dark, uninhibited god. But then, the wonder! When it happens, when my body unlocks and my fears dissolve, I am reminded how this body, this animal, is doing exactly what it needs to do. I am created again. This delicate swing between being made and unmade is such a powerful part of my journey, and I think it is part of every kinky person's journey. I think the most interesting and intense players among us are self-described frauds dreaming their way into the scene, and their journeys are wondrous to see. There is nothing more affirming than watching someone become their fantasy.
Let me say this to everyone currently dabbling casually or living 24/7 in kink, BDSM, or a particular fetish scene: If anyone tries to invalidate your identity by saying you should know a certain amount about something, or be into something, or know how to do something, or present yourself a certain way in order to be a "true" version of whatever you are (submissive, slave, pup, dominant, and so on), they're trash. They're not gatekeepers or standard bearers or educators — they're just people trying to make themselves feel important. Your desires are valid, and you're allowed to learn at your own pace. You're allowed to feel like a fraud until you don't. And most importantly, you're allowed to change.
I don't know if I am actually submissive. I may be pretending. There are submissives into more kinks than I am, with fewer limits than I have, who slide naturally into that headspace I wrestle with. I tell people who call themselves dominant that they must help me get there because I don't go there naturally on my own. I feel like I've dumped my desires on a great podium before some fetish magistrate and been told, "Ok, you're a submissive." I feel like I could just as easily be assigned something else, labelled by a different name. For some of us, that's what these labels are: words that only marginally describe our hungers. "Submissive" is a starting point, a dream into which I am running blind. Within it, I am constantly morphing into something else, something that cannot be named, an animal or god waiting to be born.
Alexander Cheves's work has appeared in many publications including The Body, The Advocate, Out, VICE, and others. All his work is done with a sense of social service: "We must not be passive media makers generating content. We are storytellers; we must actively engage with the world and find creative and compassionate solutions to its problems." He is currently working on his first book.