One of the reasons I’m so interested in kink and sexuality is because it’s implicitly a big part of my life. It’s everywhere and nowhere at the very same time, not unlike how many people understand god. For me, my sexuality is akin to my religion: self-expression (and particularly sexual self-expression) is my prayer, I am my own god, and the pleasure-positive, queer-friendly, self-empowering communities of which I am a part are my Church.

I like the references to religious imagery apparent in much of my play even though the thought of religion in my sex life makes me feel viscerally repulsed. I won’t do religious-themed play (naughty priests, nuns, and even Rabbis spring to mind—all potentially sexy for some people if not for me), but I understand the impetus of those who do. I like getting wings, being referred to as an obedient angel, or the idea of being nailed to a cross. I am no martyr, for martyrdom and ultimate self-sacrifice is in many ways the epitome of what I find repugnant; I ask to be hurt, to be beat, to be etched and marked, because it’s what I want, not something I dislike that’s merely a path to something “more.”

Parts of my life, like kink, present themselves in interesting ways sometimes. They’re like habits, much in the way going to the gym is something that is at first difficult but over time becomes habitual and—not necessarily in a negative context—addictive. If I don’t get my kink fix for a while, I start getting antsy. The physical catharsis of a good beating goes hand-in-hand with emotional catharsis of some kind. It’s one way that I experience the connection between the body and the mind.

What I’ve found over the past few weeks is that, at least for now, writing about these experiences and continuing my own introspective explorations about myself, my sexuality, and how I relate to the world around me (as well as why the world around me is so fucked up), is similarly emotional cathartic. Yes, I’ll admit it: I blog as a form of self-treatment. And I’ve been itching to start writing again.

However, I’m a horribly change-averse person at my core, in spite of the fact that I am also occasionally an eager risk-taker. When I stopped writing often, it became difficult to start up again. So many pieces of my life are scattered about the floor around me, in piles waiting to be sorted, packed, and shipped off to the other side of the planet (I’m moving to Sydney, Australia, from New York City), that I desperately wanted to maintain some semblance of continuity and order among the change and chaos.

You’d think, naturally, that with all the preparations to be made, the telephone, Internet, gas and electric, and other utility accounts to close down, the bank accounts to open and close, the taxes to complete for the previous year, the stuff to move, the apartments (and jobs?) to find on the other side of the world, and everything else I have to do to move my whole life from one of Earth’s hemispheres to the other, that I wouldn’t be able to squeeze in time for more play. In fact, I expected to be so busy that kink would have to take a back-seat to the rest of my life until I was settled again. Boy, was I wrong.

In the past few weeks, I’ve played more often than I have in the past half-year. Furthermore, I’ve played with more people in less time than I ever have before—the exact figure would have been even higher had there been the time. I lament the fact that it’s only now, with my imminent retreat from the in many ways stifling New York City scene that I’ve suddenly experienced an explosion of play partner possibilities who are not only fun and intriguing but who also seem to actively desire playing with men who bottom or, (gasp!) are actually submissive and self-respecting. C’est la vie….

The experiences are not all incredibly intense in and of themselves, but the experience of my own broadening “promiscuity” and apparent desirability is incredibly disorienting, and surprisingly uncomfortable at the same time that it is very welcome. After repeated conversations about the topic, in which I often express confusion, doubt, and glee at the situation, the best I can come up with is that “I’m not used to being liked at so intensely,” to borrow one of Rona‘s lovely grammatical idioms. Of course, I’m not oblivious to the reasons: I’m relatively good-looking even if I still don’t consider myself “hot”, I have a pretty wide and (to some) intense range of things I enjoy doing, and I’m an all-around decent person.

What’s so astonishing to me, then, is that other people have taken note of these things, too. Actually being in demand by people who’ve never even heard of me before, as opposed to being merely available, is a lovely, self-affirming experience. It’s the ego-boost I’ve heard so many women talk about. And I’m not too proud to admit that it was really, really nice to have.

The weekend after the Flea in Rhode Island, I went to a weekend-long private party near Boston, having been invited by a friend along with Eileen, and the experience (much of which is the foundation for the feelings expressed in this post) was the exact opposite of what I expected. Instead of feeling shunned, I felt wanted. I played each night, each night feeling a bit more comfortable than the one before, until on Sunday night I not only got beat in ways that made me moan when I moved for days, I also had my first semi-public orgasm and outright sexual experience with someone I’d just met.

Oh, it was tame, and relatively short-lived, but the fact remains that it was the first of its kind: invited to join Eileen and the top both she and I had met (and played with) earlier in the party on the floor in a corner of one of the party rooms, I lay back and the two of them proceeded to rub and caress my bruised body while he (the top) pressed a Hitachi Magic Wand against my penis. A few minutes later, while I was just beginning to start writhing in pleasure on the floor, my friend from Kink in Exile, who had just gotten through beating my thighs and ass with one of her metal pipes, joined our corner and took a spot rubbing my chest, nipples, and sides.

I was uncomfortable being the center of so much explicitly sexual attention. Three people, one of whom I didn’t even know before the weekend started and another whom I’d seen in person for only the second time, were now sitting around me while I lay on the floor and braced myself against the vibrator’s insistent buzzing. And at first, I really was bracing against it.

“This is not very like me,” I was thinking. It was weird and uncomfortable, and I wondered if they were actually enjoying this anyway, letting me just lie back and enjoy myself with almost no words exchanged about it. “Maybe there are expectations I’m not aware of. That’d be bad!” I closed my eyes early on to try to fend off any triggers for more doubt, and not being able to see is something that helps me turn inwards, to focus on the sensations in my body rather than the thoughts in my mind.

It took me a long time to shove the nuisance of my own self-doubt out of my head in order to relax enough to enjoy what they were doing. At the start I was giggly and clearly nervous, but they all reassuringly told me to hush. The orgasm built slowly, but as a result it was fierce and explosive and wonderful and it left me a little dizzy.

After it was over and I came back down from the high of the beatings and the orgasm, the newness of the experience struck me most clearly: I’m changing, too. For years, even though I’ve had due cause, I’d been walled off and detached from the social and sexual possibilities and opportunities laid out before me. No, they aren’t always there in such massive quantity as they were at this party for the first time, but I know they were there.

Maybe I’m starting to be ready to really say “yes” to a lot of the things I wanted but wasn’t ready for before. It took the right people, in the right place, at the right time, to make it happen. Just as it did when Eileen and I first met.