In December, I’m going on holiday to visit my buddy Stefan for a week. He lives in Berlin near Schöneberg, which is a gay district in the city. It’s also where they host Folsom Europe, Europe’s largest fetish event, which means it comes as no surprise many consider Berlin to be the region’s fetish capital.
My friend has been, for as long as I’ve known him, a member of the leather fetish community and as such he’s promised to show me around that side of the city. I’d be lying if I said fetish was an area I had no interest in, I think most gay men have at the very least a healthy curiosity (the prevalence of BDSM and leather focused gay pornography online should be evidence enough of that). For a long time, I’ve had a fascination with the leather gear aesthetic, along with bondage, sub/dom play and a handful of other bits and pieces.
Planning for my trip, along with buying my Euros, travel insurance and making sure my passport was in date, I got thinking about something that has come up for me multiple times in regards to my sex life, “why have I never explored fetish further?”.
There are two answers to this, the first more straightforward answer is “there are things I enjoy in porn visually that I don’t actually have any desire to repeat in real life”, but for the things I’d like to try, what that makes this area of my life more complicated than it need be is our old friend “White Supremacy”.
You see, to truly enjoy sexual contact in any fashion you need trust and boundaries
You see, to truly enjoy sexual contact in any fashion you need trust and boundaries, in vanilla sex it may be as simple as “I only fuck with condoms, so I’m trusting you to use one”, in the world of fetish we start to explore concepts like “safe words” and consensual acts of sexual violence (which can be a complicated subject to get one’s head around), so trust is even more necessary, and this is where we run into issues.
In the last fortnight, I’ve had at least four different guys try to sweet talk me on various hook-up apps using lines like “OMG I fucking love brown guys!”, “Lemme see that big black cock” and “I wanna suck on that brown monster”. I had a guy on snapchat get pissy and block me because I told him not to refer to me as “chocolate” and I woke up yesterday to find that one of my images on Tumblr had been uploaded to what is possibly the most disgusting “race play” fetish blog I’ve ever encountered.
My blackness is a huge multifaceted part of my identity, but every other day a non-black person distills that down to exoticism or a “thug” fantasy.
Blackness is fetishised and that’s a problem. My blackness is a huge multifaceted part of my identity, but every other day a non-black person distills that down to exoticism or a “thug” fantasy. For non-black people, blackness is seen as overtly masculine, animalistic, exotic and dangerous. Think about the way our bodies are discussed, there is a connotational difference between “I wanna suck your big fat cock” and “I wanna suck your big fat BLACK cock”, the word Black should be innocuous but because of the way we’re fetishised it adds impact to the sentence.
You see the fetish scene, like most of queer culture in the west, is overly represented by cis white men, which means it caters more to them and their sensibilities. Unfortunately, that means the idea of exploring fetish becomes more daunting. If I hook up with a non-black partner, how am I supposed to trust them knowing that even in mainstream queer culture, Blackness is fetishised?
How am I supposed to explore domination when someone begging for my “big black dick” is gonna snap me out of it? How am I gonna trust someone to put me in bondage if the whole time I’m thinking “if he call’s me a nigger I might have to hide a body?”. It sounds like I’m over thinking this, I know it does, but these things happen more often than most people think, people get very careless with their tongues during fits of passion and I have limited patience for people attempting to defend their racism with a full erection.
For now, I’m focused on visiting my friend and enjoying my break away from the UK. Maybe seeing it first hand will ease my concerns and maybe, just maybe, I’ll have something to report back with.
@ChevalierSable is a black, queer, sex-positive community activist based in Worcestershire