Seems like a time for a potential fresh start with this online journal thing that I did for many years and then tapered off. Gonna see what its like to try it again.
Was supposed to go do hard things today, was getting ready to leave and my back went out. My body's way of saying nope you need to lie down and rest today. So, that's my plan. Lying down and resting. Unless I have a miracle recovery in the next hour and can go do the later thing that needs doing. Given where my back is at, I doubt it.
“the world needs more erotica that consciously depicts the beautiful diversity of bodies and identities”
I am honored that She Bop, a fabulous feminist sex shop in Portland, recently posted about my writing, with a focus on writing disability in erotica. It makes my heart sing to know that there are sex shops like this who get excited about disability representation in erotica.
She Bop carries print copies of Show Yourself To Me (it’s listed as a staff pick!), so if you are in Portland I hope you will consider checking out the shop and perhaps picking up a copy. They also have an online store that is definitely worth a look. Perhaps you can grab a copy of Coming Out Like a Porn Star, or The Collection: Short Fiction from the Transgender Vanguard (which is on sale right now and is a seriously amazing collection). Might I suggest picking up your very own Tristan plug (which is featured in a story in Show Yourself To Me), or getting a copy of Tobi Hill-Meyers amazing Doing It For Ourselves: The Trans Women Porn Project?
So, I got inspired to gather a few links of my writing on disability and erotica.
Imagining Disabled Characters in Erotica answers the question “what would it add for you to find more disabled characters in erotica?” and goes on to describe some of how I write disability into erotica.
“That’s what I think about when I try to imagine an abundance of disabled characters in erotica. All the modeling that is possible, that could show me ways of being in sex and kink and relationships and queerness and community that I cannot imagine right now, cannot fathom in the sea of ableism that I’ve been steeping in for years. There are possibilities I cannot conceive of, ways of navigating the world that I could learn only from erotica that centered disabled characters in the fullness of their lives and struggles and fantasies. Futures that are possible, that could be moved towards and tried out and organized around our hope and yearning for that kind of erotic reality.”
Being a Disabled Top in Kink Community talks about my experiences of disability and access in kink community and how writing erotica is one of the ways I can access kink.
“I can’t show up in person most of the time, but I can write. I can write visions of kink communities that are more accessible.”
Writing Erotica as a Disabled Top talks about the struggles of self-representation and gives a specific example of how I edited the beginning of a story to include disability.
“As I’ve become increasingly more disabled, much more of my work represents BDSM play that I used to be able to do, but do not currently have the physical or psychological capacity to do.”
What To Take In, my first monthly column at The Erotica Readers and Writers blog, talks about writing insider stories (e.g. stories by disabled people, centering a disabled audience, for disabled readers) and how it can be important to think carefully about editing feedback that asks you for more detail or explanation. It gives a particular example about that kind of feedback around disability.
“This story is an insider story, for fat activist queers, particularly for disabled fat activist queers. It intentionally does not make a big deal about how people move on scooters, because it’s a regular part of life for the intended audience.”
“Because disabled folks are so often desexualized, it is particularly important to make them sexual subjects in your story, where you value their desire. But it is also deeply important to tell a story about how that particular character is desired. To make that desire specific and concrete and complex and alive on the page. Because the last thing you want in erotica that includes disabled characters is to assist readers in a patronizing pitying smug smile about how nice it is that your disabled character found a man.”
One of the main projects of my new erotica collection, Show Yourself To Me, was to write disabled queers into erotica. Many of the links in this post describe those writing efforts. I’m thrilled that reviewers have recognized this aspect of the book. Here are a couple reviews that discuss disability representation: Kiki DeLovely and Kaleigh Trace.
“If you want to see disabled people getting off, then this book is your bag.” –Kaleigh Trace
“As someone with an invisible chronic illness, I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to see issues of disability addressed thoroughly as well as elements of it simply woven casually into much of the collection.” –Kiki DeLovely
- I have been partial weight bearing for a month and am about to transition to full weight bearing. So now I can stand on both feet and soon I’m going to be walking on both legs and transitioning away from using crutches. My xrays look great, my range of motion looks great and doctor says that things look as good as they possibly can.
- I returned to work last week. I was really anxious about it, but it turned out pretty ok. Folks are glad to have me back and I didn’t have to talk endlessly about getting hit by a car. But wow is it exhausting. Plus it’s just a big transition to a busy office with so much client contact after basically being alone in my apartment for three months. Especially for an introvert. And I am in quite a bit of pain and pretty swollen by the end of the day.
- Using paratransit is the hardest part of going back to work. It’s an exercise in being out of control. It’s difficult to get a pickup window that works for me. Even if I get one, they are sometimes very late; my boss waited with me til 5:45 on Friday. I’m generally alone on the bus and in that way it’s very different from public transit; I’ve never had so many conversations with bus drivers before. It also means that I’m in a different position with regards to control over my experience; I can only get off the bus at my stop. So when a driver has intense road rage tantrums, I can’t get off the bus. They often play loud music or sometimes motivational recordings and I have no control over whether I listen to it or not. It’s a stressful way to begin and end the day, much more so than public transit ever was.
Every time I’ve gone to the doctor since I got hit by a car, and they need to see my knee without the brace, they have always assumed that they would be the one to remove the brace. I say, oh do you need me to take this off, and they say they were going to take it off. The doctors, the radiologists, the PT, all have done this. And then they look puzzled when I say I’m going to take it off myself. What is this about?
I mean, I get that they don’t know I’m stone, or a trauma survivor (though the latter is in my medical record), or that I’d prefer to reduce the amount of touch I experience as much as possible. But, I fundamentally don’t get this. Why would they be the one to remove the brace? I take it off and put it on several times a day. I am in my own body and thus know the most pain-free way to remove it. I know this particular brace much better than they possibly could because I use it all the time and it is wrapped around my body. I have integrated the brace into my life; it is mine now, my mobility device, just like my crutches are mine, part of what makes it possible for me to get around. Why do they think it’s theirs? Or that I would prefer they remove it? Why do doctors have a habit of assuming that I would prefer less bodily autonomy? Why don’t doctors assume I would want as much as I possibly can get?
Sure, I know that it bugs me more than it would potentially bug other folks, to have someone touch me unnecessarily, to have someone else be in charge of my mobility because they are taking control over the things that make it possible. Yeah, it feels dangerous and intrusive and just plain rude to me in a way that might not resonate with all patients in these situations. But, I have yet to meet a disabled person that wants to cede control over the things that make their mobility possible.
I mean, I get it, on some level. Western medicine is built on the assumption that they know my body better than I ever could, that my bodily autonomy is their enemy, and the enemy of my own health. I get that, as an institutional norm. I get that these institutions are built on taking as much bodily autonomy and control away from disabled and sick folks as they see fit, and usually that’s most of it.
And, they don’t remove my clothes from my body if I can remove them myself. Because that is seen as inappropriate. Why is this then appropriate? It is attached to my body. I remove it and put it on daily much like I do clothes. Sure, I would be covered for modesty’s sake, with or without it. Is that why it’s understood as appropriate?
In medical settings, they generally ask before touching your belongings. And maybe these medical professionals would have asked. But I doubt it. They don’t ask before they move my crutches. They don’t ask before they decide to take my sweetie’s cane or mobility scooter.
There is something beyond institutional control here. It feels like…they think it’s theirs. Theirs to move. Theirs to touch. Theirs to remove. Theirs to decide what to do about. Like disability is so intensely medicalized that even medical professionals who had nothing to do with my brace think of it as belonging to them, even if they just met me, even if they need to look at my record or listen to me to know why I’m wearing it. The brace that makes it possible for me to walk (albeit slowly and not very gracefully) is theirs, somehow.
It makes me want to personalize it, to draw all over it or embroider it or mark it visually in some indelible way as mine. To claim it back. To say no, you are not in charge of this, or of me, or of my mobility, or my body. This is mine, mine, mine.
- I am officially living at home, and don’t need nearly as much help as I did immediately post-surgery. I still need help with stuff that requires carrying, substantial standing, or dealing with water hazards. But this is a lot more independence than I used to have.
- I graduated from PT, and am able to get from my place to a car and back, pretty much on my own. Did that yesterday, in fact.
- My disability paperwork went through and I am very grateful to now be receiving benefits.
- I went to the doctor yesterday and my xrays, my incision and my range of motion all look great. In a couple weeks, I will be partial weight bearing (still using crutches), and am scheduled to be returning to work a few days after that. I am now free (and encouraged) to bend my knee as much and for as long as I can.
- You may recall that my glasses broke when I got hit by a car and I have not been able to see clearly for a little less than 2 months. (Not to mention that my 4 year old glasses are oxidizing and irritating the skin on my face.) I still do not have my glasses, despite ordering them three weeks ago and being promised that they would be ready 4 days ago. I learned today that my order was cancelled for some reason, and the glasses place did not tell me when that happened nor the three prior times I called to see when they would be ready. Now I have to wait two weeks, unless by a miracle they are rushed (no promises, he said) and I can get them in a week. This means that I still cannot read text, or write, or watch moving images, for more than about 20 minutes without getting a migraine. I’ve gotten a lot of migraines recently, pushing those limits. And in two weeks, I am supposed to return to work, but my job is impossible to do without being able to see clearly.
- I was able to do a bit of writing recently, leading to several days of migraine, but I am still glad I did it. It made me feel more like myself. Other things in this category: cutting my hair, finally; bending my knee enough that I could close the shower curtain and not get water all over the floor; figuring out how to get Valentine’s Day presents for my boyfriend without entering one store, putting away my own groceries, going on an adventure to pick out a new bookcase (e.g. doing a non-urgent errand out in the world)
I slept alone in my own apartment last night, for the first time since I got hit by a car. I’ve spent much of this weekend alone, in my own apartment. Just in time, really, as a month of no alone time in my own space was taking a major toll. I’ve lived alone for the last nine years, except for a month when I first moved to the Bay, and this past month. I’m an introvert, and a trauma survivor, and I need my own space. So, it’s a big deal to have it again.
I’ve been hitting walls this past week. I hit done with transphobic shit from professionals that I need to help me at the beginning of the week. I hit done with no alone time in my own space. I hit a level of physical exhaustion that felt like a brick wall. I hit done with not being able to see. (My glasses broke in the hit and run and I only have very old ones with a prescription that’s wrong). I hit done with the continual asking people to help me do the most basic things I need. Unfortunately, the only one of those that is actually ok being a wall is the one about alone time in my own space. So I’m hoping that getting this time alone in my own space will make the others easier. Because there is nothing I can do about them, really. These are the ongoing conditions of my life right now.
So, I’m in my own space in a new body that moves differently and needs different things, and that means again having to think my way through the most basic things about life. How do I get out of bed? How do I make it to the bathroom safely? How do I get myself some water? How do I get things out of the fridge? How do I organize the space around me so that I can meet my basic needs? What lights need to be left on all the time so that I don’t fall in the middle of the night?
It is constant and relentless work, requiring a level of conscious deliberate thinking that is completely exhausting. Nothing is on automatic pilot, nothing is just easy. Everything is difficult and requires thinking if not pre-planning and asking for help. Everything. The more time I spend here, the more I will be able to have ease in my daily life, but right now, I have little.
I took my first shower since the hit and run, today. It took two weeks of planning to get me there, but the OT signed off on the set up, and I was able to do it, safely and with no falls or mishaps. It thankfully was possible to do the actual showering alone, but the setting up the bathroom and taking down afterwards needed assistance. It did feel good, as well as exhausting. It is good to have finally truly washed my hair. My skin feels happier than it has all month.
I put away my own groceries today (I am lucky enough to be in a place where grocery delivery is possible). Which was exhausting, but it felt really good, to be setting up a food situation that makes me feel like I can take care of that basic need. Thursday was the first time I had “made a simple meal for myself” (as the OT would put it) in my own apartment, and it is good to be able to continue to do that, to be independent about food. Depending on others around food was one of the worst things about being in the hospital (especially because they kept depriving me of it). So, this goes a long way to making me feel safer.
I am stronger than I was, and need to stop less on trips outside of my apartment. PT is a wonder for building that kind of endurance, and it is one of the main things I need to keep working on. I hope to be able to make it all the way to the car without stopping, soon. I’d like to be able to get to and from a car without needing to borrow a mobility device or have someone follow me with a chair so I can rest. I’m well on my way to that goal but it will take a bit more work.
I actually was able to think about Shocking Violet for the first time since the hit and run this weekend. (More specifically, about restructuring so it goes somewhere different after Violet and Jax have their first kiss.) It was nice to be thinking about writing again. I am hoping to do more of that. I’ve got a side project going this week (beta reading for an author I adore) that I’m thinking might get those juices flowing again. I have a month yet of non-weight bearing after surgery, and would love it if I could do some writing in that time.
- I got outside on two different days to do not at all exciting and yet completely necessary things that I needed to do myself. It was hard and exhausting and important and generally successful and did I mention exhausting?
- I almost fell twice. On the same evening. It was bad. I put weight on the leg that I’m not supposed to and freaked myself out about that.
- I went to the doctor, he said I’m doing really well. Xrays look good, incision looks good. Non-weight bearing til beginning of March, then partial weight-bearing. So near falls did not hurt anything, which is a big relief.
- PT hurts hurts hurts and completely wipes me out. Got a whole set of new exercises today which I guess means I’m making progress.
- Nurse came and completely failed to draw blood. Two attempts to draw from my hand (one extremely lengthy) and nada.
- There was a different, terrible home health nurse as a result of failed blood draw. Worse than any of the terrible practitioners I’ve had recently, or maybe ever. Terrible in so many ways, among which were: bumping my injured leg, not listening, berating me for everything in a way that gave the basic impression that I was doing everything very very WRONG, taking blood from an inappropriate and dangerous place, and reciting a lengthy Christian prayer before attempting to draw blood. Her supervisor assures me that she will not be coming back.
- There was an OT who started off bad (laughing after being corrected about my pronoun) but had a lot of useful information and advice and recovered pretty well from the early fuck up.
- There was a social worker that called to make appointment for next week who asked if I prefer to be referred to as a Mr or a Miss. Given all the pronoun fuckups that have occurred since the beginning of this experience, I felt grateful for the question despite its phrasing.
- There was a mix up with my insurance that I did not discover til I went to the doc; they thought my coverage stopped at the end of 2014. My boss says it is fixed now.
- Parts of this are very hard. I don’t want to write about them, but it seems important to acknowledge that reality.
- I’m not getting enough sleep, and have not been able to nap. That royally sucks and makes everything harder.
- I have not been in my apartment for more than brief moments since 2015 began. This week I have taken some steps toward making my apartment accessible for my current disabilties, and it is starting to seem more possible that I could be there again. I can’t quite imagine being back in my own space.
I am exhausted, emotionally and physically, from this experience. The hospital stay was one of the worst things I’ve ever been through (and I’ve experienced some pretty hard shit in my life), and I’m still reeling from that experience alone. It’s hard for me to read and write, because my glasses broke when I was hit, and I am using ones that are a few years old; the prescription is not up to date, and they give me a headache. So, I am not engaging with social media at the same level or responding to emails very promptly. I’m definitely not in a space to write, not fiction, not erotica, not personal essay, and especially not yet about this experience though I do feel like I will do that at some point.
I was run over by a car a couple nights ago. Ambulance took me to the ER, where they did a bunch of scans and xrays, cleaned up the laceration on my head, and sent me home. My leg couldn’t support my weight, so they gave me a walker. I got a call the next morning saying that they had discovered a fracture in my kneecap when reviewing my scans, and could I come back to the ER. This time they put me in a brace to protect the knee, and told me not to put weight on it, or bend it at all and gave me crutches.
I spoke to the orthopedic doc this morning. I need surgery. They will put a plate in my knee. It is an inpatient surgery with several nights stay in the hospital. It will likely happen early next week in hopes that the swelling will be down by then. Surgery recovery is 8 weeks.
That’s what I know right now. I’m still reeling from the news and the experience.
The queer kinky erotic novel I am working on is tentatively titled Shocking Violet, the tale of a tg stone butch and a high femme cis queer woman risking connection with each other, set in NYC amidst the intensity of trans inclusion activism. It revolves around their efforts to build the trust and access intimacy that is necessary to explore the D/s they both really want. It is a deeply polyamorous love story, a story that centers two disabled Jewish queers in their queer communities, and highlights their commitment to honoring the multiple vital relationships in their lives.
If you want to follow along: the synopsis is here. The first taste, which centers Jax's spark of attraction for Violet is here. The inspiration Pinterest board (an ever-growing collection of images that I’m using to inspire the novel) is here. And I just posted a second taste, a snippet from Violet & Jax's first date.
ETA: I posted a third excerpt here.
Suggested donation of $7-15 sliding scale. Pay what you can and no one turned away for lack of funds!
Access info: While the Center for Sex and Culture is not ADA accessible, there is wheelchair access through the front door and chairs have fit in the bathroom with relative ease. Our automatic door opener sometimes works, so sooner to the event we will update as to whether it is working or not! Please come scent-free (also no smoking outside the door and please be aware of chemicals you may come in contact with throughout the day).
I’m excited to be part of this event, and have been percolating for the last couple weeks, thinking about what I want to say. It’s so important to talk about disability and kink, and I can’t wait to be part of this conversation!
I also wanted to let you know that I will be reading my queer kink erotica at the pre-Folsom Perverts Put Out on Saturday September 20th. I am so excited to be part of this event for the second year in a row. I had an amazing time last year and I hope you will consider joining me.
I’m working on collecting resources on my website that others may find useful. I’ve got a resource list on chronic pain and kink, and a bunch of resources for writers, including two lists of calls for submission, and a resource list on writing the other. I’ve also got several erotica round-ups, including ones on erotica from the top’s point of view and one on Daddy edgeplay stories.
I hope I will see you at the panel tomorrow!
When: Saturday August 23rd, 2014. 6-830pm
Where: The Center for Sex and Culture 1349 Mission Street San Francisco, CA [Between 9th and 10th Streets, on the corner of Grace Street]
Who: Carrie Wade, Lyric Seal, and Corey Alexander (me!)
What: Disabled Pride/Disabled Pain: Stories of Kink & Disability
The Center for Sex and Culture is proud to present a panel discussion of disabled folks discussing their experiences with kink. Join a panel of bad-ass disabled folks for story-sharing centered on disabled pride, sex, power, and (even sometimes) pain.
Suggested donation of $7-15 sliding scale. Pay what you can and no one turned away for lack of funds!
Access info: While the Center for Sex and Culture is not ADA accessible, there is wheelchair access through the front door and chairs have fit in the bathroom with relative ease. Our automatic door opener sometimes works, so sooner to the event we will update as to whether it is working or not! Please come scent-free (also no smoking outside the door and please be aware of chemicals you may come in contact with throughout the day). ***We are working on getting an ASL interpreter so as soon as interpretation is confirmed we will make a post on Facebook!***
I’m really looking forward to being part of this event; these kinds of conversations are rare and precious to me.
In related news, one of my core writing projects right now is a series of queer kink erotica stories that center fat disabled trans and genderqueer folks. I talk about this project on my website, and share excerpts from some of the stories I’ve been working on. I have also been doing a bunch of writing about writing erotica, which is collected on my website here. My series of posts on writing for trans readers may be of particular interest. I have also been working on translating my classes on stone sexuality into a blog series. My latest post in this series describes the pleasures of stone sexuality. I am also working on my first novel, which I’m pretty excited about.
I hope I will see you at the panel in a couple of weeks!
I turn 40 tomorrow. I’m pretty excited about it. If you want to help me celebrate my birthday, I sure would appreciate any of the following birthday presents:
- Post a review of one of my stories, or of a book in which my work appears (on Goodreads, Amazon, on your blog, wherever), and point me to it.
- Show up to see me be on an awesome panel about kink and disability at the Center for Sex and Culture in San Francisco on 8/23.
- Donate to one of these awesome queer & trans crowdfunding campaigns. Help make queer & trans art happen: the Happy Birthday Marsha film project, the Flamingo Rampant book club or The Switch: A Transgender Comedy
I began working on the novel. I began my blog series on stone. I wrote three new stories in March and April, two full length stories and one short short, that together with an earlier piece that is still unpublished, form a new phase of my erotica writing that includes an emphasis on centering disabled characters. In April, I wrote about aftercare in kink and erotica, and the backstory of one of my earlier erotica pieces, "Nervous Boy". May was taken over by life events, but I was able to write this reflection piece about compersion (the concept) and "Compersion" (my story that was printed in I Like to Watch). In June, I began to post some think pieces on my website about writing trans erotica and being a trans reader of erotica:
- On the trouble that can come from writing to meet our own needs (in which I engage critically with some of my early erotica that includes trans characters)
- Writing Erotica for Trans Readers, Part 1: Being a Trans Reader
- Writing Erotica for Trans Readers, Part 2: How I Write for Trans Readers
- Writing Erotica for Trans Readers, Part : Is Something Missing?
I have high hopes for my new stories, and am crossing my fingers that they will be printed sometime next year.
Next up is the blog posts I've got planned on stone (to continue the blog series I started in March), which I have not been up for writing. I am hoping I will be able to do some of that writing soon.
There are a bunch of links of interest on that site as well, including erotica round ups and calls for submission.
That site will be my main site for writing news and reflection, though I will continue to post here occasionally.
Most erotic stories that I’ve read are from the bottom’s POV, or use third person omniscience. The ones from the top’s POV are more rare. That is one of the reasons I’ve written quite a few stories from the Dominant’s POV. This afternoon, I went back and looked at some of these stories, and thought about who is the center of the story, who is vulnerable in the story, who transforms.
“Nervous Boy” (Love at First Sting: Sexy Tales of Erotic Restraint ), which was the first story I wrote from the tops POV, has this somewhat omniscient top voice that is attuned to the bottom and what he is feeling, and is focused on facilitating his transformation. (An example of this voice: “I watch him carefully as I free my cock. His eyes widen. Is that fear? Excitement? Both, I decide, stroking my cock as I watch him. He is scared—what if it isn’t how he wanted? Or worse, what if it is? What if he really is a cocksucking fagboy who gets on his knees for strangers in alleys?”) Similarly, “Facing the Dark” (Backdraft: Firemen Erotica) and “My Precious Whore” (Best Lesbian Erotica 2011) are both written from the POV of a top facilitating a cathartic scene for a bottom. None of the tops in these three stories let you in much to their inner experience in a vulnerable way, though there are smaller moments of that. Instead, you witness the transformation of the bottom and desire for the bottom through their perception…their focus is on the bottom while you are inside their head. “Knives” (Best Gay Erotica 2009) is even more closed, where the top is fully in inscrutable armored dominance and seducing the reader by talking about all the ways that he uses knives in play.
I have seen this trend in most of the (rather rare) stories I’ve read that are from a top’s POV, where tops are deeply in the sense of themselves as all knowing, all powerful, invulnerable. Where they are inscrutable even as we are reading from their POV, showing off their prowess and strength and knowledge, displaying their bottom as a possession for the reader to admire, displaying their cruelty to seduce or impress the reader.
I get why these stories are hot, and some of them are crafted very well. And, as a top who is reading them, I need to be high on my own dominance to enjoy them and ride alongside them…otherwise they feel competitive, and full of posturing. (Much like these kinds of tales can feel in real life when tops tell them to me. If the top is not being vulnerable and focused on their own experience, struggles, and questions, but is instead solely focused on what they did to the bottom, and the impact it had on the bottom, it often feels like competition, posturing swagger, bragging. Especially, in my experience of it, when masculinely gendered tops tell these stories, particularly when they are talking about play with femmes and/or women. It can feel like the kinky version of locker room talk, and is often heavily laden with misogyny and disrespect for the hard work the bottom is also doing in the scene.)
Some well-thumbed examples of the kinds of erotica stories I am talking about are “Cocked and Loaded” by Thomas S. Roche (Taboo newly out as Sweet Danger: Erotic Stories of Forbidden Desire for Couples) “Harder” by Ian Phillips (Roughed Up: More Tales of Gay Men, Sex and Power), “A Beating” by Karl Van Uhl (Rough Stuff: Tales of Gay Men, Sex and Power), “Little Girls” by C. Lee Lambert (Tough Girls: Down and Dirty Dyke Erotica), “A Girl Like That” by Toni Amato (Best of the Best Lesbian Erotica), and “Feathers Have Weight”, by Alysia Angel (Say Please: Lesbian BDSM Erotica). These are stories that are compelling, well written rides on the top side. (They also reflect my biases and kinks, which is why I remember them...many are from older collections.) The tops they depict, even when you are inside their head, are still basically invulnerable and inscrutable. Which I think reflects the image of tops (esp. masculine tops) in BDSM communities as a whole.
In contrast to these kinds of stories on the top side, I have deep love for Robin Sweeney’s “Dress Leather” (printed in Switch Hitters: Lesbians Write Gay Male Erotica and Gay Men Write Lesbian Erotica) precisely because it shows a deeply vulnerable top devastated by the loss of lovers to AIDS who has no idea why he survived past forty and is trying to build connection again with a twenty something boy, as the ghosts of his dead lovers swirl around him. It’s a heartbreaking, compelling, well written cathartic scene from the tops POV, where the top’s catharsis is at the center, and it’s gorgeous, and has stuck with me since I first read it in the late 90s.
As I grew as a top and grappled more with the inscrutable image of tops, the ways that tops are assumed to be invulnerable in life as well as play in kink communities, I have shifted my agenda when writing from the tops POV. I want more vulnerability in my tops, want the reader to see them struggle more, need more support, second guess, even when it is the bottom’s transformation that is the focus. My more recent story “Strong” (Say Please: Lesbian BDSM Erotica) has a top who is facilitating a complex cathartic gender play scene, and who shows vulnerability while doing that, and I tried to create many more moments that illuminate the top’s vulnerability, and the way the bottom supports the top in that. I know that I’m at the beginning of pushing this agenda in my work. I’m looking forward to writing more stories that centralize top’s vulnerabilities.
Passages like these from “Strong” are the kind of thing I mean when I talk about illuminating the top’s vulnerability. As a heads up, they describe intense Ds, pain play, and rough sex.
“I need to see that she wants this, all the way through, and she knows how much I run on adrenaline when we play this way, how it reaches into my core and twists. I need to start fast, and hard, almost dare myself into it, because this scares the shit out of me, and that’s the only way to get over the mountain of fear that builds in me as I know we are going there. The more fear there is the rougher and faster I need it. I was especially rough that night, ignoring the gagging, groaning as I forced tears from her eyes.
‘That’s right, choke on my cock,’ I said gruffly.
There was rushing in my ears as I watched her choke, tears streaming down her cheeks, her eyes locked on mine, soft, reassuring. “
“Sinking into thud roots me, pulls me deep into myself. Using my whole body helps me re-establish, find my footing. He’s not the only one that needs to put himself back together, and he knows it. Knows that this is for both of us, that I need this as much as he does, and his job is to feed the energy back to me, to help keep it cycling between us.”
In contrast to those where the bottom’s transformation is the center, my “First Time Since” (Hurts So Good: Unrestrained Erotica) has an almost entirely self-focused top (the reader may even worry a bit about the crushed out bottom getting his heart broken), where the top leads himself through grieving a M/s relationship and recovering from that grief—the top facilitates his own transformation, and the scene with the bottom is just one tool for that. In my more romantic “Willing” (Leathermen: Gay Erotic Stories), a jaded vampire is slowly led to realize that he might have found a long term companion—it is the bottom who facilitates the top’s transformation. (I’ve also written stories where the top’s transformation is alongside the bottom’s, from the bottom’s POV…but that’s another thing altogether.) I’ve been playing more with centering the top’s transformation and catharsis in my work. I recently taught a class on *Edgeplay from the Top*, and became even more invested in this as the participants openly shared my hunger for stories of tops pushing their own edges, taking risks, struggling, getting hurt. I know how much the communities I care about need stories like this, need images of more complex and vulnerable tops.
Had a lovely brunch with Wheelchair Dancer yesterday. In the process, I learned about a warmup practice that she described as common to dancers who do contact work. As I recall from her description, the dancers slowly test their weight against each other. The expectation if you are the receiver of the weight is that you will say no at some point (and activity will stop); you say no either when you are genuinely at your limit or before then. After one dancer receives weight, they then test their weight against the dancer they were receiving from, again expecting a no at some point. Both engage physically with each other’s bodies and current right now capacities, and verbalize limits to each other, establishing trust and consent before dancing together. It is a practice that I was very taken by when she described it to me, one that I think might do well translated into kink. I am pondering what that might look like, how I might do that, what the mutuality of it would be like translated into play, what the expectation of verbalizing a no might be like as a warm up.
I love the idea of physicalizing the reality that we are in different places each time we play. Our bodies are different, our psyches are different, our relationship is different. The idea of establishing consent, reengaging with trust, learning physically our limitations (instead of it all being words)…doing that new each time, expecting them to change…love it. It feels so much more like it engages with the reality of changing capacity, changing experiences of disability, changing experiences of pain, shifting psychological and emotional realities. It feels like a practice that gets us more deeply as whole human beings, something I find to be a struggle in common kink community conceptions of play and relationship.
Just the idea of shifting our sense of warm up in kink is a lovely one. I’ve found that many folks think of it as just about the body’s capacity to take pain…literally talk about it as warming up the skin (as if the skin is not a person, as if it is purely about biology). Folks have found me silly, odd, or even less of a top when I stretch before playing in a public place. Many scoff at warm up, or talk about folks who “don’t need warmup” as more desirable. (In general I have found that many folks seem to vocally value less needs in the folks they play with; this is particularly bluntly expressed by tops, in my experience. I want to lean away from this in so many ways; I’d love a community bent that leaned into and valued openly expressed needs. I find it so hard when there is a cultural value to diminished vocalization of needs, and see this as a cultural norm that is anti-access and deeply ableist, not to mention ripe for exploitation and play that just plain is not hot.)
In general, I don’t like play is that is abrupt—starts abruptly, ends abruptly. I find that it often fucks me up, biochemically and emotionally, and pushes my buttons in big ways. I also find that it leaks into the rest of life in ways that I don’t like, especially in ongoing intimate relationship, blurs boundaries, sets me up as a top to be expected to rev up fast and be ready to go at a moment’s notice, and in some ways to always be on duty as a dominant. Something I personally find difficult and exhausting and a practice that doesn’t encompass me as a whole human being, particularly a human being with disabilities and vulnerabilities. So, I’d like to recuperate warm ups along with aftercare (and middlecare, for that matter, a practice I find essential to me in sustaining my play to get me where I want to go as a sadist).
I love the idea that all parties might need to test their capacity and consent with each other before they go deeply into play. The mutuality of this practice is really seductive, putting the consent of the top as important as and alongside the consent of the bottom, the need for discovery (and self discovery) as a beginning process. I know that I am frequently leaning into things before I discover my limitations in them, and I love the way this practice honors that I might not know beforehand, might have to push against things before I can know myself about my own physical (and emotional) capacity, that our self-knowledge about capacity and limitations is not easily known, and not static, but as deeply dynamic as our consent.
Also, I like that this is a physical practice, it has a different feel because of that, and I love the pushing to no, whenever no happens, the verbalizing of the no. The idea that I could go into the scene with a recent experience of the bottom verbalizing no to me, knowing that they have just shown me their capacity to call the scene feels like such a relief. The idea of engaging physically as a way to test against each other, to connect, to build trust and consent speaks to me in a sink into my body feel more grounded kind of way. What an exciting idea to play with.
(cross posted on tumblr)