GOOD ADVICE/BAD GAY #13: can you find the pain without the suffering?

GOOD ADVICE/BAD GAY #13: can you find the pain without the suffering?

in which Bad Gay drags you all to hell

GOOD ADVICE/BAD GAY is an advice series from an anonymous gay therapist1 who’s not afraid to hurt your feelings with the truth.

Submit your requests for advice to badgayadvice@gmail.com and get 3 free months of BAD GAYAll subscription funds benefit rotating fundraisers and mutual aid projects, so please share and tell your friends!


Last time, we asked readers to submit questions according to a theme: What is your commitment to suffering? (All submissions were entered into a raffle for a Bluestockings gift card. Congrats to Azura on their victory!) Below, you can read the one that Bad Gay picked for this week.

Dear Bad Gay,

I have a storied career as a leatherqueer and pain slut, but after a lot of bad experiences and the general exhaustion that comes from growing up (I'm middle-aged now), I had mostly closed the door on that part of my life. I didn't try to convince myself that I had stopped being a masochist or a submissive, but I was no longer prioritizing that in my hookups or potential romantic partners, and had mostly given up finding sadists and dominants that would treat me the way I wanted to be treated. 

That decision brought me some sadness but also the contentment that comes from making an emotionally honest choice. And then, of course, I met my partner, a sadistic dominant whose main kink is receiving the exact same kind of service I love to provide.

Our relationship (still new, under a year) is wonderful: an ease-filled blend of egalitarian partnership with elements of an intense dynamic, small acts of D/s peppered into the day-to-day fabric of a loving relationship, and incredibly hot fucking. I'm writing to ask you, now, how to jumpstart incorporating S&M into all that.

Communication isn't the issue; I want them to hurt me, and they want to hurt me, we've discussed this. But we both have intense jobs, their apartment doesn't have a dungeon, play parties haven't come back yet, and when they come home from work to the dinner I've cooked, neither of us seems to know how to transition from those warm cuddly feelings to pulling out a flogger or a cane. I'm not inclined to ask them to schedule it, because who knows if both of us will be in the right space for it when the date and time arrives, but it also feels like the longer it takes to happen, the more fraught, in some unexplainable way, it will become.

How do we welcome this brand of suffering into our lives?


not so green

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Dear NSG,

This letter is a curious response to our prompt. I’m using your question in particular as an in-road to what I have been thinking of as the being and fussiness tenor of many of the BAD GAY responses we receive, e.g.,

“I’m happy in other parts of my life but I’m miserable on Twitter, a place I choose to be, and am also a little famous, what should I do?”

“I’m in a wonderful place in my life but I’m poly so that means I have to do some extra emotional work to fuck lots of people I love and that feels hard, thoughts?”

“I have a great group of friends and I love my community, but I’m in love with someone who hasn’t responded to a text in a year. Are they still interested? How do I get them to care?”

Above, you outline what I venture would be read by many as the dream scenario: a wonderful relationship with an “ease-filled blend of egalitarian partnership” and “elements of an intense dynamic,” where you are figuring out how to integrate the old and the new versions of yourselves, and kinky world-build together. 

And yet. What I hear in your question is, “What is any of this without suffering?” which seems to me to be at the heart of so many of our letters. Your response seeks to answer our original question with new ones: “Is this anything if I am not suffering? How do I release myself from suffering?” How do you move from the suffering of equals engaged and invested in an internal gratification-loop into the good and secure and also kinky without relational distress gratification-loop? How then do you all grow up into mature perverts?

Let me ask first, NSG, what would it mean to sink in? To really languish in the pleasure of what you have achieved? And, what do you leave behind when you leave behind suffering? When I say suffering, let’s make sure we don’t mean pain, as in the physical and sexualized experience. I mean suffering as the tacky, muddy emotional experience of distress that so many of us hold onto and nurture like so many sourdough mothers, hidden in all of our closets, trendy and begging to be fed. NSG, can you find the pain without the suffering? I actually think you might be a little bored—because without the bad experiences, who are you? Who are any of us adolescent queers growing into adulthood? 

At less than a year together with your partner, I think you can just take it easy and find out. Queer maturity is quite a feat, and I commend you. The challenge of it is that, all things being equal, if you make it to therapized, connected, having-a-grasp-on-your trauma, loving, purposeful, supportive-community adulthood, then you are greeted with a particularly excruciating expansiveness. Often, we mistake that for an issue. You, against all odds, made it here. What would it mean for any of us to stop striving, when we know so well that our private worlds are really only limited by our imaginations? What does it mean to just be?

Functionally, I could tell you to rent a hotel room once a month where, yes, you schedule your S&M, but where you would also get out of your own zones into the unfamiliar to play through scenes in a strange new space where you can RP like the middle-aged perverts you are. Don’t despair in this—decide to delight in it. Perverts in LTRs have to get a little creative because, lest we forget, the roots of perversion lie in the novel. It’s horny because it’s disgusting, so what happens when it becomes common in your life? So, again: Functionally find ways to make kink uncommon in order to re-infuse it with the taboo that gets you off. Also, talk to your partner, move into the next phase together, and say out loud both what’s wanting and what you enjoy about the things you’ve worked for together.


Bad Gay

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David tweets at @k8bushofficial. David is not Bad Gay. David is DAVID. Bad Gay and David are two separate entities, brought together by a shared passion for being gay and mean. Read more GOOD ADVICE/BAD GAY.


This column is meant as a source of advice and entertainment, and should not be considered therapy or medical advice in any way, nor does it establish a therapeutic relationship. If you are seeking either, please look into the appropriate venues.

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