I’ve been on both sides of this issue, being both the kink shamer and the person receiving the negative comments. When I first came onto the LGBIT scene, I discovered that we define each other by what we look like – twinks, muscle marys, bears, lipstick lesbians, drag queens, drag kings – this list goes on forever. I would only hang out with people who looked like me, because I felt safe with that group and I wouldn’t associate with anyone else. Most of the time we would get drunk and talk about how wrong and disgusting it was if you were different from us – especially if you liked unusual forms of kink.

That is a part of my life I wish never happened. To this day, that person I was makes me sick inside. Looking back, I was a little shit of a person. I know I hurt people and for that I’m sorry.

Now fast forward a few years and I was lucky enough to get a job at The Sportsman Hotel where regular LGBIT events take place. Working there has changed my life. I have experienced the good and bad of what our community offers. I have made friends whom I know in the past I would have never spoken with.

I learned that some of my new friends enjoyed some kink and fetishes that I at the time I knew nothing about. I didn’t know how to respond. But I was interested to learn more. I was invited to a Boot Youth meeting so I could learn and ask questions about anything and everything I wanted to know about this lifestyle.

Coming out of my first Boot Youth meeting I was on such a happy high – until I received a message from someone whom I had thought was a friend, saying that I was a sick, messed up in the head, disgusting person. I had lost a friend who I thought meant a lot to me. I was devastated.

And it didn’t stop there. As people outside of the kink community learned what kinks and fetishes I enjoy, I’ve been shamed, bullied and made fun of. Although I had done it myself in the past, I could not understand how people could try to shame someone over something they knew nothing about? Something I truly enjoy and which makes me happy. I just wanted to run away, live under a rock and be forgotten about.

I remember thinking I was doing something wrong and I should stop. At one point I withdrew from the kink scene completely, hoping that the people around me would stop making fun of me. I let them get to me.

I’m now at a point in my life where I am still learning about different kinks and fetishes that I enjoy. It is my journey and no one is going to make me feel bad about it. It’s really none of their business. I shouldn’t feel bad about something that makes me happy. I have grown up a lot and wish that I had given some people more of a chance before making judgements about them based on what I heard from other people.

I have already shared this story on Facebook and am grateful for all the supportive comments it has generated. I hope it will make people – from within and outside the kink community – think twice about kink shaming, and encourage anyone who witnesses this behaviour to call it out, and support the victim if they are able to do so.