There’s a new rights movement fighting for acceptance; it seems the latest group to feel excluded from civil society are those with fetishes. Last week the UK Pride Organisers Network sought to embrace “pups, furries and kinksters” into the rainbow family.
Unsurprisingly, the social media reaction to the suggestion that fetishists be formally included in Pride marches was somewhat hostile. Many ordinary lesbian, gay and bisexual people who have only latterly shed the stigma of being sexual deviants were angry at the association.
When it comes to sexual politics the boundary between private and public is fuzzy. For many years risqué gay men have pushed the boundaries of public decency at Pride marches with arse-less chaps and egregious displays of exhibitionism, but arguably the addition of the ‘T’ to the LGB has turbo-charged this trend toward sexual display. It might not be politically correct to admit it, but for many men transgenderism is a form of fetish, a step-up from cross-dressing.
Two years ago lesbian protesters were ejected from the Pride in London march for refusing to accept “transbians” (that is, men who identify as lesbian women) in their community. In the same year a photo emerged of police officers smiling whilst holding the leads of adult men dressed in “human-pup” fetish wear. This stark contrast, the expulsion of women protestors and the embrace of male fetishists marked a turning point, with many lesbian, gay and bisexual people leaving Pride marches all together.
Critics are warned not to “kink shame,” and told that questioning public celebration of fetishes is evidence of a sexually repressed and closed mind. In stunning social volte face, shame is reserved for those who question the right to exercise one’s fetish in public. But shame has a useful and protective social function, and when uncoupled from homophobia it is not necessarily wrong to judge those who indulge in fetishes that might be harmful to others. It is high time homosexuals and bisexuals united to push fetishes back in the bedroom closet where they belong.