Unmasking Kink: Stigma, Pleasure, and Sexual Health

“Unmasking Kink: Stigma, Pleasure and Sexual Health” is a new piece of video content we made for queer community members into kink or curious about kink and their sexual health service providers. The piece ties kinky sex to sexual health, mental health, anti-oppression, and self-love. We partnered with local leather store and fetish institution Northbound Leather as our shooting location to ground the piece authentically in Toronto’s fetish community, and interviewed three Canadian kink community members about their path to kink, their experience in the kink community, and their sexual health routines.   

We chose three racialized interviewees (Glammy from Montreal, and Stuart and Henrique from Toronto) because we wanted to break through the fetish community’s often singular, white face. Gay fetish iconography like Tom of Finland drawings or vintage adult leather films have created an image of the gay fetish community that is overwhelmingly white, male, and very muscular. It is important to represent the diversity of kinksters because if the face of kink isn’t recognized as diverse, then sexual health service providers may only think to provide kink-related healthcare to a small portion of the people who need it. Asserting the diversity of the kink community is also socially valuable for our community, since the assumption of whiteness leads to exclusion and safety issues for racialized queer people into kink. 

The video is accompanied by an informative page on kink and sexual health on TheSexYouWant.ca/Kink, and with an upcoming online panel discussion elaborating on the video’s themes. The main sexual health messaging goals of the complete package are to raise awareness about the possibilities of Hepatitis and HIV transmission via certain kinks like fisting and rough play, the importance of mental health, trust, and consent to kink play, and a reminder of the benefits of PrEP, Treatment As Prevention (TAsP / U=U), and regular testing. 

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