Flagging, Part 1: Obstacles

This weekend, I did something I’ve never done before: I flagged.

It’s fairly common practice for other kinky queers I’ve been in community with to flag, so I’ll start by talking about why I had never done it before.

For one, I struggle with the fear/insecurity that I am not a real kinky person and therefore don’t have permission to do something like flagging. There are a lot of reasons for this fear/insecurity, many of which have to do with my level of experience (expect a post or two on experience in the near future), and some of which have to do with messages in the scene about what makes a real top, most of which exclude me.

Also, flagging sends a lot of different messages, some of which I want to send and some of which I don’t. I want to mark myself as kinky. And I want to mark myself as a top, particularly because I don’t often feel like I’m assumed to be one. But the hanky code is also about naming one’s availability for and interest in particular acts, like fisting or bondage (though there are exceptions, like Daddy/boy, which is more of a dynamic), and that’s not how I understand my kink. My desire starts with the kind of dynamic or energy I want, like fear, caretaking, or objectification. For me, acts are not an end in themselves but a set of tools that help build a kind of dynamic or energy.

Finally, flagging, at least in its contemporary incarnation, feels like an expression of pride. It announces that one is kinky, at least to all those “in the know” (which, even in non-kink-specific queer space, is a fair number of people). I like to think that I’m proud of my sexuality, but I’m also aware of the ways that discussing kink, or even discussing sex, often feels unwelcome outside of specifically sex-positive contexts, and I know that I internalize that pressure not to bring it up. Wearing a symbol of my sexuality on my body feels very much like bringing it up, and being a visible symbol of something unwelcome feels intimidating to say the least. (Which makes me think a lot about passing and visibility in general, but those are topics for another day.)

Speaking of topics for another day, I’m wrapping this post up here. Next time, I’ll talk about what I flagged (hint: it’s complicated) and how it worked.

[UPDATE, 2/23/12: There is finally, sort of, a part 2 to this story.  Check it out!]

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