[Quote Quest] Feelings Can’t Be Ignored

“But feelings can’t be ignored, no matter how unjust or ungrateful they seem.”
– Anne Frank

TW: bullying and homophobic violence

When you try to deny how you feel, those feelings will swallow you whole. If you try to pretend to be someone you’re not, something you’re not, eventually the mask will crack. It always does.

I didn’t want to be queer when I was young.

I grew up in the shadow of the last years of Section 28, and went to a school where homophobic bullying was par for the course. The kids would bully anyone they suspected was queer. If you actually came out, they’d beat the shit out of you. Is there any wonder I didn’t want to be queer?

So I pushed those feelings down. Repressed them and repressed them until I’d buried them somewhere deep in the darkest corners of self-loathing that I only rarely peeked at.

But the thing about those parts of you that you repress? They come out eventually. They always do.

Feelings can’t be ignored.

For years, I’d catch my eyes lingering a little too long on girls I liked. That stunning girl in the year above. My female music teacher. Random women on TV. When my friends and I flicked through magazines and talked about which of the boys we fancied, I always found my eyes drawn to the girls instead.

I realised I couldn’t lie to myself any more when my then-boyfriend told me point blank, “I think you’re bisexual”. And I realised that I was. For all his faults, I have to credit him with this: he supported my bi identity from the beginning.

And then I had to work through all that self-hatred I’d cultivated through years and years of repressed desire. Because you don’t just flick a switch and go from “I can never show this part of myself to anyone” to “woo-hoo, queer pride, gonna go smooch some girls!” in three seconds. It takes time.

It took falling in love for me to fully be okay with my queerness. When I was with her, everything felt right. How could something so perfect possibly be wrong? Of all the things she taught me, perhaps the most important was how to be proud.

Because feelings can’t be ignored. Identities can’t be silenced.

The Quote Quest badge, for a post about coming out and how feelings can't be ignored

I wrote this piece for Quote Quest, a new weekly meme by Little Switch Bitch. Click the button to see who else is writing about this week’s quote! And if today’s piece resonated with you, you can always buy me a coffee to say thanks!

[Quote Quest] Love is Many Things

“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself- and especially to feel, or not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at any moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to – letting a person be what he really is.”

Love is many things.

Yes, sometimes love is red roses and grand gestures. But more often than not, it’s the quieter things that speak so much louder.

Fingers reaching for yours as you walk side by side. A hand on the small of your back as you wait in line at the supermarket, or resting on your knee as you watch TV.

Sometimes love is, “I love you”. But other times, it’s let me know you got home okay. It’s you’re exhausted, why don’t I pick up takeout on the way home? It’s I set the coffee pot up for you.

Love is the silly trinket they saw and couldn’t not get for you, because it spoke to some inside joke. It’s the meme in your inbox that they knew would make you laugh.

Sometimes, love is the person you’re fucking. Other times, it’s the best friend who peeled you off the floor when you were at your absolute worst and loved you unwaveringly anyway. Sometimes it’s a person who will hold you with strong arms until you feel safe again. But other times, it’s a gently purring cat who somehow knows exactly when you need a cuddle.

Sometimes, it’s I just met you but you’ve completely commandeered my thoughts. Then again, sometimes it’s also I’ll wait patiently for two years for you to fully let me in, because I know how badly you’ve been hurt before.

Love can be lavish dinners on special occasions, but it can also be homemade pancakes the morning after a night of filthy sex… or the morning after you’ve handed in your Masters thesis and all you want to do is fuse with the sofa and never move again.

Love is having your back and fighting by your side when someone has wronged you. But it’s also calling you out on your shit, because they love you and they know you’re better than this. It’s respecting your boundaries, and communicating theirs. It’s saying what they mean, so you don’t have to play guessing games.

Love is letting you feel your feelings. It’s allowing you to be where you are, without trying to fix you. It’s listening with curiosity and empathy, letting you define your own experience. Letting you sit in a space of uncertainty, not knowing, figuring things out.

Love is many things.

Love is not all you need, but it’s a damn good start.

The Quote Quest badge, for a post called Love is Many Things

This piece was written for Quote Quest, a new weekly meme by Little Switch Bitch. Click the button to see who else was inspired by this week’s quote! And if today’s piece resonated with you, you can always buy me a coffee to say thanks!

[Quote Quest] Sex-Positive Spaces and Fragile Freedom

“Raise a glass to freedom,
Something they can never take away.”

– Lin-Manuel Miranda (“The Story of Tonight” from Hamilton)

Despite everything I’ve achieved with this site and the work I do surrounding it, I don’t get to be quite so outspokenly sex-positive as I am on here out in my daily life.

I do what I can, of course. I’m unapologetically feminist and openly queer, and will call out shitty behaviour when it’s safe to do so. But there’s a level of inhibition that doesn’t exist in the same way when I’m Amy Norton, Sex Blogger and Sex Positive Badass Extraordinaire.

I miss sex-positive spaces

For obvious reasons (no, I’m still not saying that particular C-word on my blog,) I haven’t been in any physical sex-positives spaces in months. No dungeons, play parties, orgies, wild nights, or sleepy morning threesomes. I haven’t even seen my secondary partner in close to six months.

I miss the filthy sex, of course. I miss the naked bodies and the kisses and the fucking and the “ooh, whose hand is that!?” But more than that, I miss the cuddles. The flashes of a grin from across a bed, the catch of the eyes with my partner that means “our life is fucking awesome.”

I miss the safety most of all. The freedom. The ability to be completely and wholly myself, unapologetic and raw and real. A place where my queerness will be celebrated, not looked upon with suspicion. A place where being a kinky feminist submissive polyamorous swinger is a beautiful thing, not a threat to fragile male egos or straight people’s marriages or the fabric of society itself.

So no, I don’t think it’s frivolous to be said that I haven’t been able to attend an orgy or a dungeon in months. Because what I’m really missing is something we all want: acceptance. Community. Connection.

Sexual freedom is fragile

Those of us who do work in this space have always known that, of course. There will always be far-right campaigners and religious fundamentalists and conversative politicians trying to take away the rights of consenting adults to do their thing.

Now more than ever, we cannot afford to take our sex-positive spaces for granted. We cannot take the freedom we have for granted. Losing access to those spaces for the last few months for public health reasons has thrown a new light on just how important – how essential – they are.

Our sex-positive spaces – our kink clubs, private parties, swinger socials, munches – give us the freedom to be ourselves. They give us a place where no-one thinks who we are and how we love is wrong. And that? That is worth fighting for.

I am glad I didn’t know that the play event I went to in March, where Mr CK and I played next to a gorgeous couple I’ve crushed on for ages, would be the last one for who-knew-how-long. I’m glad I have that memory of one last normal, kinky, filthy Sunday afternoon before everything went to shit.

I just hope we can have more of that soon.

Quote Quest badge, for a post about sexual freedom and sex-positive spaces.

This piece was written for Quote Quest, a new weekly meme by Little Switch Bitch, and this week’s quote was submitted by Yours Truly. Click the button to see who else was inspired by it! And if today’s piece resonated with you, you can always buy me a coffee to say thanks!

[Quote Quest] Honouring the Darkness

“Who are you?
Are you in touch with all of your darkest fantasies?
Have you created a life for yourself where you can experience them?
I have. I am fucking crazy.
But I am free.”

– Lana Del Rey

CW: this post discusses mental illness, trauma, abuse, and suicidal ideation (in the past – I am safe now.) It also refers to consensual non-consent in a kink context.

We all have something dark within us somewhere. I firmly believe this. We contain multitudes and we all have depths that most of the people who surround us will never see. Some of those depths will contain elements of our selves that frighten us, shame us, or harm us if we dwell there for too long. It is impossible, for most of us, to let a lot of people in to those scary places within us. Some never let anyone in at all.

As someone with depression and a history of abuse, my personal darkest corners are all informed by my trauma. There are perhaps five people on the planet who have seen the depths of the darkness my trauma history sometimes takes me to.

But something I have learned is the transformative power of exploring my darkness through kink. All the worst and most traumatic experiences of my life were in situations where I had no power, or where my power was taken away from me. Paradoxically, giving up power – for a limited time, and to a loving partner – soothes and calms those broken places in my psyche. Perhaps it is reclamation through choice, or perhaps it is the ability to rewrite the narrative. Perhaps it is simply the knowledge that the only reason I can willingly give power away is because I have it in the first place.

Not that kink is always about going to those dark places, of course. In fact, it usually isn’t. Sometimes it’s giggly and playful and just plain silly. Sometimes it’s intense but in a different way. It’s all a matter of degrees. But once in a while? Exploring the full extent of my psychic darkness through playing out things like consensual non-consent fantasies is not only hot but cathartic. Healing. I go willingly into those dark corners with someone who cares about me to hold my hand, and I feel lighter for days afterwards.

I don’t believe I’m kinky because I am traumatised. No. I was kinky long before I was this particular brand of fucked up, and there are millions of kinksters who have no trauma history at all. But I also think it would be foolish to say that my experiences of trauma had no bearing on the consensual things I do for fun now.

The reality is, I cannot say that I definitely would or definitely would not have had these specific kinks had I not been abused. Because I do not have that choice. I do not live in that world. The person I might have been without those traumatic experiences, and the woman I am now, are not the same.

My trauma is a part of me. My darkness is a part of me. It would be a lie to say I no longer fear it, because I do. My last mental illness-induced trip into the most terrifying corners of my own psyche is recent enough that I can still feel it viscerally. But I have learned not to hate it. Not to blame myself for its existence. And, usually, not to get so lost in it that I cannot find my way back out.

Kink gives me a space to honour that darkness, to revel in it and play in it and fucking dance in it. And then to come back out again and find that the light is still there, too.

The Quote Quest badge, for a post about psychic darkness and kink

This piece was written for Quote Quest, a new weekly meme by Little Switch Bitch. Click the button to see who else was inspired by this week’s quote! And if today’s piece resonated with you, you can always buy me a coffee to say thanks!

Quote Quest: Feeling the Fear and Posting It Anyway

“Right on the edge of fear was where trust could grow.”
― Cherise Sinclair

Content warning: this post contains frank discussion of body-shaming, body image issues, sexual violence, and imposter syndrome. Take care of yourselves, loves.

People ask me how I can do what I do.

“How do you write about your sex life on the internet? Share your innermost feelings so openly and honestly? Post naked and scantily clad pictures? Aren’t you afraid? Aren’t you scared what people will THINK!?”

Of course I’m scared. I’m fucking terrified.

Every time I post a picture of my body, I worry someone is going to shame my round belly or chubby waistline or pubic hair. Of course, I worry that when I take my clothes off at kink events, as well. (Remember those?)

And you know what? Occasionally they do. Just a few weeks ago, a guy on a fetish site fat-shamed me when I said I wasn’t interested in playing with him. Every discussion of body hair eventually attracts at least one person talking about how “disgusting” it is. Every time someone says something cruel about my body specifically or the bodies of people that look like me, I want to retreat. I want to go away and make myself small and hide and apologise.

But I don’t, because it is not their fucking right to tell me that I am wrong.

I posted a nude to Twitter last night. I don’t do this particularly often but enjoy it once in a while. My followers on Twitter are absurdly kind and every comment I received was genuinely lovely and made me smile and blush. Does that mean that every time my phone pings with a notification for 48 hours or so after a new pic goes up, I don’t flinch with fear at what horrible thing someone might have said? Of course not.

It goes a step further, too. I’m afraid of getting sexually assaulted again, of course – find me a woman, female-read or AFAB person who isn’t. But more specifically than that, I’m afraid that if I do, my pictures and my blog will be used against me. That I’ll be the slut who was asking for it because there’s tens of thousands of words about my sex life and more than a few pictures of my naked body floating around on the internet.

It’s not just about the pictures either, though a lot of my insecurities are centred around my body image so that’s where a lot of the fear congregates.

Almost every time I post a piece of fiction, I’m worried someone is going to tell me I’m a shit writer and should just pack it in. Every time I submit to a client, there’s a little voice in the back of my head saying “who the fuck are you that you think this is worth someone paying for?” If I post a negative review of a product, I worry I’ll be met with slander and threats from the company.

When I speak out about transphobia or rape culture or mental health, I fear the trolls and the bigots and the doxxers coming for me. When I speak up about the abuse I’ve suffered, I fear my abuser finding it and recognising himself and raining hellfire down on me in retribution.

So no, I don’t do this because I’m fearless. Truth is, I’m often afraid. I do this because I love it, and I don’t want fear to rule me. I do this because, despite everything, I still believe we all have the power to make the world a little bit brighter if we choose to.

I’m not brave. I just feel the fear and publish it anyway.

The Quote Quest badge, for a post about feeling the fear and posting anyway

This piece was written for Quote Quest, a new weekly meme by Little Switch Bitch. Click the button to see who else was inspired by this week’s quote! And if today’s piece resonated with you, you can always buy me a coffee to say thanks!

It IS [Mostly] All About the Sex

For today’s #KinkMonth post, it’s all about SEX! As you’ll have gathered (unless this is your first visit, in which case – welcome!) I’m doing posts inspired by Kayla Lords’ 30 Days of D/s. Today, Kayla asks:

Have you ever considered D/s without a sexual component? Would you be interested in something like it? How important is sex to your current or future D/s relationship?

So when it comes to me and kink, there is one fundamental thing you need to understand:

I do it because it gets me off.

For some reason, it seems to be a thing to deny that BDSM is mostly, or entirely, about sex. And for some people, this is probably true. But, if I’m completely honest, I’m a bit sick of it.

For me, kink and BDSM are, and always have been, overwhelmingly about sex. Yes, they’re means of connecting with people I love. They’re sometimes spiritual. But for fuck’s sake, the vast majority of the time, I do this stuff because it makes my cunt wet and gets me off.

People have tried to divorce BDSM entirely from sex. I am willing to entertain that there are some people – folks at the far end of the Ace spectrum, for example – for whom this is the case. But at its core, I do believe it’s fundamentally a sexual or sex-adjacent practice 99% of the time.

I don’t fuck everyone I scene with, but I do get turned on during pretty much any good kink interaction. It’s part of my pre-negotiation with new partners: “you don’t have to do anything about it, but you need to be okay with the fact that if we have a good scene, I WILL be aroused.”

What’s wrong with sex anyway?

We live in a world where it’s pretty hard to admit that something we do is mainly or entirely about sex. Sex is not seen as a good enough reason to do something – there has to be a higher purpose, a better reason.

Confession I’m seriously not proud of time: pre-20, I was really judgy about people who have casual sex. “I only have sex when I’m in LOVE,” I proclaimed loudly, as if it made me better than other people. Thankfully, I 1) grew the fuck up and stopped being a judgemental bitch, 2) learned the awesomeness that is good casual sex.

A lot of polyamorous people – and yes, I used to be one of them, much to my embarrassment – go around saying “it’s about LOVE, not SEX!” This often goes hand in hand with, “we’re not SWINGERS!” The problem with this is that it implies being a swinger is a bad thing, that love is inherently superior to sex, and it neglects the fact that sex is a hugely important part of romantic love for a lot of us. In this way, people who are ostensibly part of the sex-positive community fall into sex-negative and sex-shaming patterns.

It’s easy to do and I sympathise with it. We’re taught, more or less from birth, that sex is bad. Dirty. Gross. That sex is only “when mummy and daddy love each other very much and want to have a baby.” A huge part of sex-positivity and the sex-posi movement, in my view, is about unlearning these toxic narratives and trying to do better.

Real talk: I don’t have an IUD to control my period (though that’s a nice side effect.) I have it for birth control.

For evidence of pervasive anti-sex sentiment, see also: “I use birth control for reasons that have nothing to do with sex, like controlling my painful periods.” Again, for a lot of people with uteruses (uteri?), this is entirely true and it’s completely valid.

However, lots of us DO use birth control for sex, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Saying that it should be freely available BECAUSE it has uses that aren’t sexual is really problematic. It should be freely available because it’s a normal part of healthcare, and lots of people like sex while also liking not being pregnant.

Let’s all just admit that some things ARE about sex

My challenge to you, and to myself: next time you find yourself wanting to defend a part of your life or identity with “it’s not about sex!” …Stop. Think about it. And resist the temptation to jump to this defense. Because sometimes, it is about sex. And there’s not a damn thing wrong with that.

I’ll leave you with my favourite quote from the great Oscar Wilde: “Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.”

Kinky item of the day: Condoms! If you engage in penetrative sex or share toys in non fluid-bonded relationships, you need condoms to keep things sexy and safe. Buy 2 packs for 20% off.

Heads up: this post contains affiliate links.

Ten Things I Took Home From Eroticon 2017

The amazing Jenny, who I met on the Sunday of Eroticon 2017, started this lovely meme and I just couldn’t resist taking part. In short: the whole weekend was utterly wonderful and may even have changed my world a little bit.

So what did I bring home from Eroticon 2017?

1. SO MUCH SWAG

Thanks to the amazing sponsors, I came away with a bag full of fabulous free stuff including two mugs, two very NSFW t-shirts, a notebook that has already been heavily scrawled in, a goodly amount of condoms, and a pamphlet of mini erotic stories perfect for reading on the Tube.

2. Friendships

There were people at Eroticon 2017 I’d previously considered “internet friends,” who are now real-life friends. People who were strangers on Friday and friends on Monday. People who I met only briefly, but who gave me so much. Conversation, advice, business cards, their beautiful words or even just a smile in the corridor. And there are people, many people, with whom I want to keep in touch and build on our new-found friendships.

3. A renewed sense of community

The thing I love the most about a good ‘Con is the sense, however fleeting, of being not alone. I often feel isolated. I live far away from almost all the people who really get me. Eroticon has reminded me that there are people like me out there. Miles separate us, but something much more powerful joins us together – Community. (And also Twitter a little bit.)

4. An exciting new toy (actually, two)

I picked up the new Ruby Glow this weekend. I’ve only tried it out very briefly so far but what I’ve seen (well, felt) I liked. I’m looking forward to settling down for a nice long wank with it and some good smut, and then reviewing it for you all. I was also lucky enough, right at the end of the ‘Con, to win a cordless Magic Wand from So Divine. I doubt any vibe will replace my beloved Doxy, but the cordless Wand will be perfect for when we’re playing at the Club or other places where there isn’t a power point nearby.

 5. A new name

After thinking long and hard (heh) about it, I’ve decided not to use either my kink scene name or my real name (duh, right?) as the name under which I will write and hopefully publish erotic fiction. I took some advice from the brilliant Kayla to pick a name that feels right for me to use and answer to, and which has some kind of personal relevance, and I think I’ve found the one.

So… hello everyone. I’m Amy Norton.

 6. Story ideas

SO MANY STORY IDEAS, you guys. Article ideas too. And probably poetry ideas, but they won’t go any further than my notebook and possibly Fetlife page. (The poor unsuspecting world does not need my attempts at poetry unleashing upon it!) Seriously, I have like a whole page in my notebook just listing smutty stories I want to write, and another page listing possible article or blog post topics.

 7. Contacts

Two people from the weekend have already asked me to guest-write for their blogs (thank you Kayla and Exhibit A!) I’ll certainly be taking them up on these lovely offers and I’ve also come away with business cards, names of publishing imprints and more – in other words, contacts I hope I can utilise to get my work out there and hopefully, eventually, make some money in this game of “writing about sex.”

8. Revitalised ambition

There’s nothing like a weekend around other people on a similar path to kick-start your own ambitions. Mine have been sleeping recently, as I cope with the realities of a complicated relationship and a demanding day job. But now I’m feeling more motivated than I have in years and I’m ready to go out there, kick ass, take names and WRITE SOME SMUT. I don’t ever expect sex writing to be my full-time job (especially as my “vanilla” (ugh) writing career is also really important to me,) but for the first time I’m looking at this as something that might be more than just a bit of fun and a way to entertain the three people who read what I post on Fetlife.

9. Confidence

This might be hard for you to believe of the girl bouncing around in kitty ears and a t-shirt with the word “FUCK” emblazoned across it (thanks, Fuck.com) and reading porn on the Tube, but… I’m actually quite shy. Shy, plagued by anxiety and lacking in self-esteem, to be entirely honest. I went into this weekend jittery with nerves, not just at the thought of socialising with new people but also worrying I’d be seen as a fraud, a fake, an amateur, not a serious or “real” writer. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Not only did the people who have read my work say absolutely lovely things about it, those who are much further on in their sex writing journey were also totally validating and amazing to those of us who are just starting out. I thought I’d find elitism, but I found a supportive and loving community.

 10. Words of affirmation

There were so many great things said over the weekend, and lots of the most quotable parts were live-tweeted (check out #Eroticon for just some of the fun!) But the pieces that really struck home for me, I scribbled in my notebook – partly for the joy of writing beautiful words by hand, and partly so I can come back to them any time to remind myself.

I leave you all with the words of affirmation, love and community and are immortalised in ink in my jumbled set of notes from the weekend:

You are not alone. You are not broken. (Formidable Femme)

RELAX. (Alix Fox)

No-one does what you do quite like you. (Girl on the Net)

Stand firm with your boundaries. (Sorry, I can’t remember who said this.)

See you all next year x