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Extreme Restraints recognizes and celebrates PRIDE!

June 20, 2022

It's Pride month and XR wants to remind their fans that even if you don't identify as LGBTQ+, there's a history of kink that set Pride into motion!

In 2019, a Tweet went viral asking people to "not bring your k*nks/fet*shes to pride" because "there are minors @ pride & this can sexualize the event" which spurred lots of controversy. While kink can be very sexual, many of the acts don't involve sex such as bondage, wearing leather, creative pain and punishments involving role playing, and Dominant and submissive roles. While these acts and roles are adult in nature, they aren't any more sexualized than someone wearing a tiny rainbow bikini or nothing but a jock-strap while dancing in the parade. But more importantly, Pride started long ago as small acts of protest by the queer community from people who just wanted to be treated with compassion and allowed to live freely and peacefully without being harassed, arrested, or accosted.

The event that most people attribute as the catalyst for Pride is the Stonewall Riots, also known as the Stonewall Uprising, which started on June 28th of 1969 when police raided a gay club called the Stonewall Inn located in Greenwich Village, New York City. At this time, it was illegal to hold hands, kiss or express any 'homosexual behavior' in public and people were not just refused service, but risked jail time and physical harm if they were "out". Even though the club had shady origins and was run by a Genovese crime family, it was due to these origins that allowed gay clientele to have a safe place to go. The owners of the Stonewall Inn paid off the police so they could run their business that just so happened to cater to the "illegal" gay community.

While raids were still commonplace, usually an informant within the police would tip off the Stonewall Inn, but not this time. Even though the Stonewall Inn had been raided three days prior, an unexpected raid occurred on June 28th while the club was full of patrons with nowhere to escape to. Police burst in and started arresting patrons and staff. Inside the club were drag queens, gay leathermen, butch lesbians, trans folx and kinksters. Included in those patrons were Marsha P. Johnson, - a Black trans woman of color, drag queen, sex worker and activist for homeless youth - and Sylvia Rivera, -a Latina trans woman of color, activist and sex worker who co-founded STAR, a shelter for transgender youth, along with Marsha.

At one point, an officer hit a woman over the head and she cried out for people to help. The crowd, fed up with the treatment of their community, started a riot involving hundreds of people. The crowd barricaded themselves inside the building, but the mob of people actually managed to break through the barricade and set the place on fire. The fire department finally got everyone out and put out the flames, but the spark had set the country on fire. Riots ensued for the next 5 days with protests numbering in the thousands which sparked a national Gay Rights Movement from that point forward.

How is this related to kink? Well, as much as the Pride parades and festivities have been corporately sponsored and sanitized to a degree, the original Pride events were political in nature. For decades prior to Stonewall, leather biker bars frequented by 'Leather Daddies' and gay men created a safe haven for runaways, queer kids and those looking for protection and acceptance. Many of them wore leather biker gear and looked a lot like Tom of Finland's drawings of hyper-masculine men from the military and other male-dominated professions such as police and firefighters. These folx were some of the few who led the marches in late June of 1969 and the official Pride parades of 1970 and on. They were protective and strong and supportive. When the AIDS epidemic got to its lowest point, it was the kink communities - of both men and women - who banded together, raised funds and were unafraid to take care of their ostracized brothers and sisters who were suffering from the illness.

In 1970, a split began between the queer community who wanted to assimilate with heteronormativity as a form of equal rights and the queer community that included trans, gay and lesbian, kinksters, drag queens and sex workers that wanted to resist any oppression that told them that who they are, what they do and who they love is a crime. To this day, there's still a divide and lots of work to do towards equal rights and equal opportunities. In some countries, being gay is punishable by death, or at least jail-time.

Will kink be at Pride this year? Will it be something that people will be conflicted about? If time is any indicator, there will always be some conflict. But here at XR, we believe that all those who work with us and all of our fans and patrons deserve to live a life where they are free to live and love who they wish, whether they are straight or gay, kinky or vanilla.