It’s not uncommon for those I meet in the Leather/Kink scene to be confused with how I present myself, since I tend to buck nearly every tradition I come into contact with. And somehow it shows. What I notice is a moment of confusion, followed by an attempt to gauge me through conversation. This leads to the discovery that what they originally perceived may not be correct.
And that’s just where I like them.
Because I’m tall (6’3”), male-presenting and pushing 200 pounds, it’s not unusual for some to call me intimidating, gruff, arrogant and domineering. But the moment I open my mouth and they hear a soft-spoken intellectual speaking in a lyric baritone voice, I watch these people’s guardedness melt away and a connection is established.
This doesn’t happen every time but in the Leather scene, it’s nice to see vulnerability among ostensible strangers. Sometimes, I see on their face that they’ve decided something about me and that leaves me feeling exposed. That’s a different kind of vulnerability.
It’s not surprising when I’m labeled as a Dominant, and it certainly doesn’t phase me when I’m seen as a submissive, but neither are 100% accurate… at least not all the time.
It took me many years to come to this understanding about myself and it’s been delightfully transgressive to point out to my peers that there are, indeed, many other ways one might identify, even on the Dom-sub spectrum. I don’t do this to throw people off (although I have discovered there’s a strategic benefit to others’ misperceptions; I won’t use that information to harm or manipulate anyone, at least not intentionally). All information is valuable, but perception isn’t reality.
What I typically will volunteer as a shorthand reply to those who express their confusion at being unable to tell whether I’m a submissive or a Dominant is that I’m a switch, but even that contains some nuance. It’s in those moments I communicate that I am neither a Dominant nor a submissive but a Cooperative. I don’t believe I’m coining a new term, only utilizing sophistications of language to convey a subtle point: That your assumptions about me (or anything for that matter) are likely incomplete, occasionally inaccurate or simply wrong. Start over. Don’t approach me with your scripting as “Top” or “Most Masturful Titleholdurr” or whatever. Approach me as a person of mutually-regarded dignity.
I am happy to take on the role of a submissive, when I have consented to participate in the shared vision for a specific desired experience; inversely, I am happy to take on the role of a Dominant, when I have consented to participate in the shared vision for a specific desired experience. I can be a top, I can be a bottom, I can be a sub and I can be a Dom, but if anyone is to engage me they must see and understand me as first and foremost a playful, imaginative hedonist and sado-masochistic Cooperative.
Don’t know what that means? Inquire within. Just approach me on middle ground. And you will either have my cooperation, or you won’t.