Queer, vegan and tough as leather
Berlin is known as both the most fetish- and vegan-friendly city in Europe. US-born Michaela Dudley is a trans woman, Juris Doctor, author, translator and performer who enjoys both of these two seemingly distinct sides of her chosen city
Mar. 30, 2018 - Easter in Berlin. Ah, men! Kinksters from all across the globe passionately converge at Nollendorfplatz in Schöneberg for the annual week-long meeting organized by Berlin Leder und Fetisch e.V. That's just one of the holy rituals celebrated in Europe's longstanding queer capital. In the late 19th century, the world's first gay magazine was published here, and Magnus Hirschfeld, founder of the Institute for Sexology in Tiergarten whose 150th birthday is being celebrated this year, began campaigning for gay rights decades before pride parades.
During the Golden Twenties, Schöneberg emerged as the first gay village. Nowadays, the district is also the home of Folsom Europe, yet another enormously popular event for leather lovers, every September.
Interestingly enough, however, Berlin is also the European metropolis for vegans. Indeed, for almost every fetish party held here, there is at least one vegan event happening somewhere else in this city of 3.7 million residents. The annual Vegan Summer Fest draws some 60,000 visitors to Alexanderplatz, and Berlin has Germany's highest density of restaurants and grocery stores catering to those who enjoy a plant-based diet. Alright, to each his own, you're thinking. The fetish and vegan lifestyles seem to be in two disparate worlds. But do they ever intersect? Definitely.
Indeed, a queer vegan is able to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh. I know, because I'm such a person. As a vegan and domme who has learned the ropes of bondage and discipline, I experience firsthand the joys of tying these domains together. True, I have not eaten meat or fish for decades, and I gave up cheese years ago. Even Easter eggs are not on my menu. At the same time, I confess to being driven by carnal desires – and to prodding others along the way. In cracking the whip as a dominatrix, however, I refrain from using leather.
Quite strict? Without a doubt. Discipline encompasses self-discipline, even among the fiercest of doms. Regardless of the role-play, consent is always a prerequisite. In this respect, we vegan fetishists simply expand upon the notion of body autonomy. As we insist upon our right to use our own bodies as we choose, it is only logical that we extend this right even to other sentient species who have no say about the consumption or utilization of their flesh.
Increasingly, we vegan BDSM enthusiasts are coming out of the closet. Fortunately, certain businesses understand our needs. For example, Other Nature is an alternative sex shop on Mehringdamm in Kreuzberg that is 100 percent vegan, including the floggers, lubricants, strap-on harnesses and condoms. (Did you know that most condoms are manufactured using cow milk protein?) Indeed, everything that owner Sara Rodenhizer offers is served along with seasoned advice. Moreover, staff sex educator Tamara confirms that the shop with the declared queer, feminist and ecological orientation is increasingly frequented by a broad spectrum of people, both vegan and not.
While I may enjoy giving orders in general, I am hardly intent upon coercing a sort of nutritional conversion therapy. We all have different reasons for being vegan, whether motivated by ideology, health or environmental concerns. Furthermore, even non-vegan BDSM fetishists relish in latex, PVC and rubber. That's precisely my point: it's about presenting alternatives instead of, as it were, getting tied up in preaching.