I'll never forget the moment, at my first Manchester Rubbermen Weekend, when I found my first rubber corset. For me, fetish and fashion go hand in hand, but before this moment I always felt I was trying to fit into different moulds that just didn't seem right for me. I had tried the leather boy look, the military look, and even some sportswear, but these personas never quite seemed to be the right fit for who I wanted to embody. It was in this moment, stumbling upon this rubber corset, that I had a glimpse of clarity; a moment in which all the facets of my life, fashion, fetish and internal visions of my own identity, seemed to meet. You see, I identify as queer and gender non-conforming. This identity is my own and it hasn't been found without a ton of exploration. After this moment, I started to find the confidence to incorporate more fashion into my fetish. I found queer artists to work with, to design custom rubber pieces and I started to allow myself the freedom to express myself as I wished, and not try to force myself into a mould that I would never become.
I travel for work, which allows me to have a network of friends in fetish communities worldwide. While traveling, I have the opportunity to attend a lot of fetish events. I was extremely excited earlier this year to attend a particular event for the first time. In preparation, I had a custom rubber leotard made. The piece was similar in fashion to one that I donned for the Mister International Rubber contest last fall. To finish off the look, I grabbed my best pair of pleaser heels and slicked on some opera length rubber gloves. It was the night of the main contest of the event, and I walked out in my outfit feeling queer and confident, but immediately I could feel their eyes. I'm tall as it is, but with the addition of the heels, I could see the crowds; the looks; the gaze of part horror, part disgust. All the looks combined was almost paralyzing to me. It wasn't everyone, mind you, but for every person that was eating it up, ten or more had the question in their eyes, "What are they doing here?"
I have built some pretty tough skin - an armour you could call it - so it wasn't an unfamiliar feeling, but this particular moment was overwhelming. This incident, and the way it made me feel, got me thinking very deeply how someone new in the community would react had they had a similar experience.
With the current global political climate, queers, faggots, femmes, non-binary and GNC folx are turning to the fetish community as an avenue for self-expression in an otherwise repressive world. Fetish is a place where all can find solace, clarity, and community. So, what does it say about us as a community if we don't welcome them with open arms? Still there are spaces that exist that are inherently exclusionary. "Male only" spaces, for example, that exclude trans men or don't allow femme presenting males in. There are instances of those people being dragged out of spaces because of these policies and that is certainly not what this community is about, or at least the type of community that I want to be a part of. The commonality of fetish and kink goes beyond these policies and the inclusion of all only enhances these spaces. Queers, faggots, femmes, non-binary, GNC and trans folx have contributed to fetish and kink culture and have the right to inhabit these spaces. There is enough space for everyone and the sooner we start to realize that, the sooner that we as a community can grow and flourish in ways that will make us stronger as we go into the future.
The time is now that we become more welcoming and embrace everyone into our spaces who want to be in our spaces. Our community is stronger and more meaningful when we welcome all of its members. I can say this with the utmost conviction; the future is queer, and the future is here. Trans, gay, bisexual, lesbian, non-binary and nonconforming, queer, femme, faggot, pup, Alpha, Handler, beta, gamma, slave, Master, Sir, Mistress, Daddy, boy, girl, gimp and everything and everyone in between. Fetish is for you. Kink is for you. This space is for you. This magazine is for you. And this world is for you. A humble opinion from this humble queer fetishist.
This article can be found in Recon ISSUE_02, along with other articles, photography and artwork focused on fetish and kink. Available in fetish locations around the world and online soon. Be sure to pick up a copy at Folsom Street Fair