What is a kink-friendly provider of health care?
You deserve to work with a health care professional who is knowledgeable, experienced, and respects your gender, sexual orientation, and erotic preferences. There are many ways for adults to express and enjoy intimacy, sexuality, and gender. Among them:
- heterosexual / gay / bisexual / lesbian
- kinky / BDSM / leather
- monogamous / open relationship / polyamory
Unfortunately, negative attitudes toward gender and erotic variation (and non-monogamy) are fairly widespread among mental health professionals, even though the latest version of the Diagnostic manual for the field (DSM-V) does not consider these variations mental health issues – unless they cause distress for the person. And sometimes there is distress.
The American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association no longer label mutually consenting BDSM as a sexual disorder (unless it is non-consenting or causes marked distress or interpersonal difficulty.) Kinky sex, fetishes, and BDSM can be a healthy part of adult sexuality.
Consenting BDSM is a normal variation of adult sexuality. Further, these professional associations hold that people who experience substantial distress in their life because of their BDSM or sexual orientation have a clinical disorder which is worthy of treatment (DSM-IV). However, not all psychotherapists agree with these gay-friendly and kink-friendly positions.
Because persons with these less common erotic and gender identities are often discriminated against, they frequently internalize shame, have difficulty coming out, or have difficulty accepting these parts of themselves. This is often the case when negative attitudes toward a person’s gender identity or erotic identity is internalized at a young age. As one gay man put it: “I learned to hate myself for being homosexual before I knew that I was one.” Something similar might be said by most persons who at a young age realized their gender or erotic fantasies were disapproved of. These internalized negative attitudes can impede the development of friendships and intimacy, and treatment by a kink-friendly provider can help heal some of this damage.
There are some erotic fantasies which you may decide are best left as fantasy.
Erotic fantasies which are truly dysfunctional for a person, or sexual behaviors which need to be changed or abandoned, are often complicated with layers of guilt and shame. Coming to terms with these fantasies and behaviors requires setting aside the shame in favor of self-understanding. As long as shame obscures the understanding of unwanted behaviors, working to change them is like working in a dark fog.
This whole process can be easier if you are working with a therapist who you know is comfortable with these issues.