The essay reflects on how he got into kink and about the arbitrary nature of dominant and submissive roles.
Let me say this to everyone currently dabbling casually or living 24/7 in kink, BDSM, or a particular fetish scene: If anyone tries to invalidate your identity by saying you should know a certain amount about something, or be into something, or know how to do something, or present yourself a certain way in order to be a “true” version of whatever you are (submissive, slave, pup, dominant, and so on), they’re trash. They’re not gatekeepers or standard bearers or educators — they’re just people trying to make themselves feel important. Your desires are valid, and you’re allowed to learn at your own pace. You’re allowed to feel like a fraud until you don’t. And most importantly, you’re allowed to change.
I don’t know if I am actually submissive. I may be pretending. There are submissives into more kinks than I am, with fewer limits than I have, who slide naturally into that headspace I wrestle with. I tell people who call themselves dominant that they must help me get there because I don’t go there naturally on my own. I feel like I’ve dumped my desires on a great podium before some fetish magistrate and been told, “Ok, you’re a submissive.” I feel like I could just as easily be assigned something else, labelled by a different name. For some of us, that’s what these labels are: words that only marginally describe our hungers. “Submissive” is a starting point, a dream into which I am running blind. Within it, I am constantly morphing into something else, something that cannot be named, an animal or god waiting to be born.
Alexander Cheves’s work has appeared in many publications including The Body, The Advocate, Out, VICE, and others. All his work is done with a sense of social service: “We must not be passive media makers generating content. We are storytellers; we must actively engage with the world and find creative and compassionate solutions to its problems.” He is currently working on his first book.