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  • Writer's pictureHina Siddiqui

Kinksters are the Best People... Thoughts on Kink Con 2023

A flogger, 4 kebab sticks and 5 wooden clothes pegs
The Beginnings of my Kink Collection - I wonder if all kinksters are hoarders?

For most of my life, I have lived under the burden of heteronormative and neurotypical delusions. It was an ingrained belief that if I worked hard enough, made every effort I could and learned every possible form of humaning in this productivity-obsessed, capitalist society, then I would finally be given a seat at the table that I stared at every day from outside the window.

I am the very definition of the term - a late bloomer. Highly technical, I know.

I realized I was queer in 2018, at the age of 32. The year they finally knocked down 377.

I realized I was asexual in 2020. During the lockdown and then I wrote a play about it.

I self-diagnosed with AuDHD in late 2021. After a spectacular burn-out that landed me in the ICU.

And I realized that I am kinky a couple of months ago. AFTER I attended a film festival organized by the Kinky Collective in Mumbai.

Side-Note: I only attended this festival because,

  1. One of the films advertised had an asexual character

  2. My sex-educator self thought it was my duty to be kink-aware

  3. My game designer self thought this was good research for my queer game

  4. Because I wanted to invite more adventure into my life and travelling to Mumbai for a kink film fest (and Comic Con) seemed to be just the ticket

But the point is, queerness, neurodivergence, kink - were always, always the ingredients for this pot pie that is my existence. So it is no surprise that I never fit in and was always longing for something I could vividly imagine (maladaptive daydreaming, anyone?) but never experience.

Until Kink Con 2023.

But before I talk about the convention itself, let me start with a story from 2016.

Side-Note: Yes, I tend to be very comprehensive and info-dumpy when talking about things I care about. It is what it is and I love it. So if you’re still reading this and are with me on this meandering spelunking, know that I love you and that we will cuddle when next we meet.

A female-bodied human wearing too many layers standing in front of a shop
Naive ol' Hina on the streets of Glasgow - Circa 2016 Photo Credit: Michael James David

In 2016, while still operating under the cover of my “straightness” I had the opportunity to intern at a queer performance art festival in Ipswich. That’s about an hour out of London by train and you catch this train at King’s Cross, in case anyone was wondering. While my experience at that festival is pretty much the basis of my performance-making aesthetic, that is not what I am going to talk about now. What I am going to talk about is how that festival was the first time I spent so much time with queer people of various ethnicities openly communing, creating and celebrating. It was the first time I saw a kink performance (in a CHURCH no less) and the first time I saw naked bodies just existing in space. None of it phased me. Should have been a fucking clue right there. But anywho…

On one of the nights, when I was just hanging with the crew, the artists and the attendees, scarfing down some Pimms, because that shit is tasty; talking about all things art and politics as one does; one of the people there - a gay human with a neck tattoo - suggested we go to a gay bar. Everyone seemed reluctant on this point, but we did manage to peel ourselves out of whatever drinking hole we were in and head down to the shopping district where this allegedly gay bar was located. We didn’t get in, because the admission fee was a bit too steep for a bunch of vagabond artists, but one of our group did manage to comfort a woman drunk out of her mind and crying hysterically outside the club because her boyfriend had just - I’m gonna say... broke up with her? Or something along those lines.

So we gave up on the gay bar agenda, and started walking back to the hotel where most of the group was staying. Walking in the UK generally implies 20-30 minutes trudging between locations - a concept that was highly unfamiliar to me. And some time during these 20-30 odd minutes, I found myself walking next to the gay person who made the suggestion of the bar. He (I am assuming the pronoun, so bear with me, nonbinary pronouns were not nearly as prevalent 5 years ago) told me how disappointed he was that we didn’t get to go in to the bar. He said that everyone probably assumed that he wanted to get in just to score some D - I definitely did which is why I was kinda relieved when we didn’t get in - not because I had (have) any objections to gay sex, but I did feel like I would be abandoned if everyone just went off on a D-spree. Another clue, who’d have thunk it? He went on to explain to me that it wasn’t about hooking up for him - he simply wanted us to start from a queer space.

He wanted us to experience ourselves in a physical space unbound by conventional hypocrisy. Intellectually, I thought this was brilliant. I appreciated the logic. Let us all celebrate national-bring-your-straight-to-the-gay-bar day!

But the emotionality of it, the glory and the truth of there being an actual physical place where one’s reality is the norm and not the exception, the devastating kindness of connection and consonance - I wouldn’t get my head around that for five years.

And then I had 3 days of Kink Con in Goa.

The view of a beach in Goa
The only time I went to the beach in Goa

I have always existed in 2 realities. The one I experience in the physical world - where it is hot and the vehicles that refuse to fix their brakes squeal me in to meltdowns twice a month, where my mother thinks I am unhappy because I live with my cats, where a chit of an ML engineer has the power to make my work-life untenable and then get me fired when I complain about it, where I weighed down by the collective sorrow and exhaustion of my generation, because very little seems to go right for us. Don’t get me wrong, the physical world has its upside. My kids are in it, so are my chosen fam and bio fam, my cats, the swimming pool and coffee. But by and large, it takes a lot of adjustment to just exist.

The other reality is the one I imagine in my head. A world, much like this one, except here I get what I want. Where I get to tell stories and be heard and lead and love. Because that is what I believe I am meant for - to love, accept and heal. Sounds cringe I know. But it is fucking beautiful up here. This world of mine is peopled with such varied personalities that allow me to do what I am best at. Not that I need their permission, but I do need their complicity. And I am very particular about consent with all the people that live in my head.

Kink Con 2023 was the first time the reality of the physical world and the one I cultivate in my head were not splintering my experience of life. It was the first time everything within and without aligned. It was the first fucking time I could offer of myself and be received - not because it was “yeah, give us a hug or whatever,” but because it was...

...give me a hug because I love how it feels. Because it makes my soul sigh in relief. It sparks a joy that Marie Kondo don’t know shit about. Hold me and touch me and flog me and cut me and let us be consumed by this communion of playfulness and of having our needs finally, FINALLY met.

You know, the funny thing is, I have never been able to imagine myself growing old. While I continue to live each day with joy and look forward to a new week with a carefully scheduled calendar of learnings and meetings and dinners and reminders to take naps - I can't see a future build around this absence that I have always sensed the edges of. Since I was a fucking child. A lot of the times, my mind goes, what truly is the point of living, if you can't hold people and nourish yourself on affection and care? What is the point of telling stories in to the void, of proving time and again that you matter, that you are good, that you are worthy? Seeing people in the 40s, 50s and I believe 60s (I dunno, I could be wrong) thriving in an environment they worked so hard to create - it is the first time in a long time that I have had hope for a happy future for myself. It’s not like the absence has disappeared over the weekend, but there is potential now. Some people are looking around and may consider moving into this hole (yes, that was a perverted pun, sue me).

And just the possibility of having this, more of this, is enough. For now.

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