The BDSM community has oft been misunderstood. Those not associated probably just think of badly written love interests like Christian Grey or some dudes in gimp suits running around whipping each other. The truth, though, is that BDSM is about much more than just sex—it involves relationship building, honesty, and, above all else, trust. Many practitioners consider it an integral part of their sexuality, if not the basis of it. Unfortunately, as the Icelandic BDSM community discovered, not everyone agrees.
But is it queer?
Samtökin ’78 is Iceland’s foremost queer human rights association, having fought for the rights of gay and lesbian folk since its inception.
In 2016, the Icelandic BDSM community tried to forge a relationship, called ‘hagsmunaraðild’ with Samtökin. That meant that, when appropriate, they would work together. It’s a collaboration that other queer groups, such as Trans Ísland, Intersex Ísland, and Q-The Queer Student Association already had with organisation.
Unfortunately, they had no idea how controversial this desire would be. Immediately, some members of Samtökin got angry, arguing that BDSM was not a sexuality in itself, but rather a kink, and therefore had no place in the association.
Over 2016, there were many open meetings about the ‘hagsmunaraðlid,’ and there, prejudices came out in full force. Some began to raise questions about whether bi or trans people should ever have been included in Samtökin to begin with. It was, to many, an absurd plea. But it persisted, and at one meeting, a long-time member took the podium and frankly told the kinksters, “Make your own parade.”
For both sides, the conflict became strongly regarded as a battle between younger and older members, who had differing concepts on what “queer” meant. Tears were shed on both sides and some older members even renounced their membership.
Eventually, though, BDSM Iceland was allowed into Samtökin, and the world didn’t collapse. Samtökin does the same work they have always done, and the BDSM community still meets to discuss fantasies. Two years on, friendships that broke during that time have been mended.
It’s important to mention that the BDSM community did not make their own parade. But seriously, that’d be a freakin’ cool parade… though maybe not family-friendly.
Read more nerdy war stories here.