Accessibility - Immediate Validation - Problematic Format
Growing up, there wasn't a kink scene around me. Even though I was born in London, my parents decided to move me and my family out of the city when I was very young to a small town in the middle of the British countryside. The town itself was great for raising a family, drawn in by its low levels of crime and "better" schooling. But where it was lacking was in freedom of expression.
It depends where you go, but the suburban bubble can make it very hard to figure out who you are. You're constantly trying to explore the feelings, emotions, and desires you have through the enclosed, heteronormative, and societally "correct" ways of existing.
But I am a child of the internet. I grew up with a laptop, internet access and the privacy I needed to explore who I was online. I learned who I was on the internet. I found gay porn and realized I was gay; I found kink porn and realized I was kinky. You don't have to have the internet to do this, people have been realising they were queer and kinky long before it existed, but it definitely speeds up the process. The internet acts as a catalyst; if you have even the most niche of interests, there will be entire communities dedicated to it online.
So that's how it went for me growing up, queerness and kinkiness were something which was experienced through hours of chat rooms, video calls, and my browser. When I got to university things got a little more real. I found people within the straight kink scene who took me under their wing and allowed me to experience kink in a more socialized, real-world setting. But still, I longed to be part of the queer kink scene. It was something I had always seen from afar but had never had the chance, or found the courage, to become a part of. I distinctly remember sitting at home one night, in my final year of university, scrolling through kinky Tumblr (RIP), and seeing a video of a few UK puppies bobbing their heads along to a song at a kink event. I paused then re-watched a couple of times, before softly telling myself that one day I would be one of them.
When I graduated I moved to London. I didn't know anyone there, so one of the few queer, kinky friends I made in University suggested I make a kinky Twitter account. He thought it would be a good way to start getting to know people on the scene and hopefully make some friends. So, one evening I sat down, thought of a name, and finally made @necrohardware.
At first, things were pretty slow. I followed a few accounts that I thought were interesting or hot and replied to their posts every so often. It felt weird at first, engaging with people I hardly knew, but slowly it became more comfortable. Before long I started posting my own content, with my first post being a picture in my pup hood with a sweet potato balanced on my head (I have no idea why either). From there on people started engaging with my posts, I'd make new friends and I'd start learning more about them. With every post I'd become more and more comfortable, choosing to post more sexual pictures of myself in a variety of outfits. And it felt really, really good. On one hand, I finally started feeling like I was part of this community that I had longed to be a part of, and on the other, I loved all the attention I was getting.
Soon after I plucked up the courage to go to my first in-person kink event (the Recon 2018 New Year party, of which the poster still hangs in my room). I remember the journey over. I was anxious; worried that when I got there, I'd be too nervous to talk to anyone, stuck in a corner with my drink all night. But to my delight, as soon as I got into the event, I had people coming up to me going, "Oh, you're that pup from Twitter right? It's so nice to finally meet you!". All along these people I'd been chatting to online finally became real.
I owe a lot to Twitter. I've made friends, lost friends, fallen in love, had my heart broken, seen the worst of this community, and the best. People are so complex, and Twitter allows you to see so many little snapshots into people's lives. It's a streamlined process that is so direct and surprisingly intimate. Only now, in a time of social distancing, where in-person encounters are so rare, do I realise how much I've gotten from this platform.
I wanted to have a very eloquent way of saying this, but I'll be frank: it's really hot posting pictures and videos of myself and having people tell me how hot they think I am, or what they'd like to do with me. There's a slight rush I get every time I get a like or every time I get a new follower. Though potentially problematic, it makes me feel good about myself and about living a truthful life online. It's an immediate sense of sexual fulfilment that I'm in complete control of. I choose when I post, I choose what I post and if someone acts disrespectfully or rude, I can block them straight away. It's a type of exhibitionism which gives me full control of the situation, which is something that submissives like myself, and many others, don't always get during in-person encounters.
Now, that being said, I'd be wrong if I suggested it was all roses. Having your sense of self strongly tied to social media can be a recipe for disaster. I've known far too many people who put all their confidence in the opinions of others, who can end up broken by the first negative response. In time, I've learned to see the opinions of others as a bonus to the opinion I have of myself. I am complete, and sexually confident in the ways I want to be, and I'm learning to grow in the ways that I'm not so confident. If other people view me positively, that's just a bonus.
I'd also be wrong to say that I haven't been helped by my privilege as a white, cis-passing, and able-bodied person. I've seen people in this community who don't fit that image, who've really struggled in finding acceptance within this space. And at some point, I had to acknowledge the fact that by showing myself online and getting the attention, I indirectly solidify this incorrect idea of who a kinkster is. When, in reality, the only thing that makes you a kinkster is the fact that you participate in kink. That's why I think it's important, as allies, to take an active role in elevating the voices of those who aren't normally represented in this scene, even if it's through the simple act of retweeting their posts. And I have hope that things are changing for the better. Social media has become so accessible for everyone, regardless of their background, so people who have not previously been represented (or worse, incorrectly represented) within the porn industry and sexuality at large, are now able to present themselves in truthful ways online.
And lastly, I am very thankful for the people who have generously given their time and energy towards getting to know me and who allowed me to live a truthful sexual life online. If you think Twitter is for you, and you're in a safe space to explore, then I'd highly suggest it. Who knows, you might be a digital exhibitionist yourself!
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