Vancouver
3 min

A titillating social experiment

Cracking open a few closet doors

We sat around the Xtra West offices a couple of months ago commiserating with one another about the sad state of Vancouver’s leather and kink scenes.

I like a man (or two) in a golf shirt and khakis as much as the next guy, but it seemed to us that, notwithstanding all the relentless talk of diversity and inclusivity, Vancouver’s queer scene suffers from a nagging case of vanilla-flavoured homogeneity.

Most people say they like to march to the beats of their own drums, but it seems strange to me that so many dress so much alike and pooh-pooh sexualities that don’t jive with their own.

Although some in the queer community were enthusiastic about our ideas for a leather and kink issue, more than a few sets of eyes rolled back into more than a few skulls when we started to talk about what we had in mind.

Undeterred, we decided to try to kink things up a notch by recruiting a posse of shiny, happy queer people, dressing them up in titillatingly outrageous fetish wear and following them around for a night on the town, Sep 22. The result is Rob Salerno’s wonderful cover story this issue (see pg 26).

Priape and The Kiss Store generously loaned us thousands of dollars worth of fabulous fetish wear. Shay Kingston, Steve Lee, Benoit Vaudry, Benjamin Palmer and Ryan Hoy sportingly volunteered to suit-up and play guinea pigs for our little expedition.

James Loewen opened his studio and his home to masterfully photograph our kinky crew, coaxing us all to giggle like wedding night virgins by the end of the shoot.

1181, the PumpJack Pub, Numbers and the Odyssey allowed our sexy entourage to bypass lines and cover charges so we could mix things up inside. And we certainly did.

We proved by our exercise that leather and kink has not been covered to death, that a very few people with diverse interpretations of leather and kink can instantly energize a room filled with hundreds of golf shirts, and that there is always room to write one more phone number on a man’s bare ass.

We were like toddlers; comfortable with our bodies (at least after a while), oblivious to the pressures of supposed respectability, eager for new experiences and happy to be doing something different for a change. We breathed a little new life into the queer community that night, and I’m sure we’ll do something like it again sometime soon.

You don’t need the modest resources of Xtra West to pull off something similar. If we can do it, anyone can. Just gather together a group of your trusted friends, dress yourselves up in some unexpected outfits and splash out. Go to a party or bar you wouldn’t ordinarily be caught dead in. And when the soulless minions of heterosexist orthodoxy cluck their tongues and wag their fingers at you (from within the queer community or not), tell them to go fuck themselves.

It will add spice to our lives, colour to our community and bring us out of our shells. And it’s a way to illustrate the amazing diversity of thought, sexuality and kink that truly lies just below the surface.

Most of us have spent some early parts of our lives in the closet. Remember how great it felt to finally break free of those chains of societal expectation? Remember what a wonderful feeling of freedom you felt when you realized that everything would be okay after the first time you stood up and owned your sexuality? Remember that if-I’d-known-it-was-going-to-be-like-this-I-would-have-done-it-sooner feeling? Well that’s what it felt like that night.

Even the hallways of the homoplex are lined with closet doors. In those closets lurk otherwise openly queer people who are afraid to share their kinks, their HIV-positive status, their stories of crimes against them, their hopes, dreams, fears and desires.

Let’s boldly rap on those closet doors from within and without, fling them open and really embrace our teeming diversity.

We’ll all feel better for it.