Q Hi, Dan: I am a homosexual young adult seeking advice about kitten play. I find it very intriguing, and I'm wondering where to start. It's a turn-on when someone calls me kitten, but I'm not sure how to express my kink or desire for kink play to the person or persons I am into. Any advice would be appreciated. —Constructive Advice Thoughtfully Sought
A Hi, CATS: I am a homosexual not-so-young adult without much advice to offer where kitten play is concerned. I've encountered plenty of gay puppies in the wild—at various leather/fetish events—but I've seen only one fetish kitty in my lifetime, and she was a queen. (A female cat is called a queen, a male cat is called a tom, and a group of cats is called a glare. #TheMoreYouKnow!)
But Amp Somers, who hosts the kink-friendly sex-ed show Watts the Safeword, assures me that gay kitties are definitely a thing.
"Kitten play is a subcategory of the 'animal role-play' or 'pet play' kink," says Somers. "It is a form of domination and submission in which someone gets into the head space of an animal they are role-playing and takes on its characteristics—be it with gear (masks, tails, collars) or by acting out the mannerisms of their animal. Most importantly, and this goes for all proper pet players, there are no actual animals involved in this play."
Puppy play is the most common form of pet play—by far—and it's very popular among younger gay kinksters. (Please don't confuse gay pups or kitties with gay bears or otters. The former is about role-play and fetish; the latter is about body type, affirmation and community.) But what accounts for the popularity of pet play among younger kinksters?
"This sort of play allows someone to get into kink easily with or without a partner and in a playful manner," says Somers. "Pet play allows players to get their feet wet in the BDSM world without having to visit a dark dungeon, get tied up or engage in anything a newer kinkster might find intimidating. It's a great entry-level kink."
As for expressing your kink, CATS, that's something you're going to have to work out on your own.
"I imagine CATS already has an image of what kitten play looks like to them, and I bet it differs from what I might imagine my own pet play would look like or even from what readers imagine a kitten player to look like," says Somers. "Is CATS a domesticated lazy kitten who lies in the sun? A curious, well-trained, docile cat responsive to cuddles and treats? Or are they a rambunctious, bratty, independent stray?"
To find your way into the kink scene, Somers recommends getting online.
"That's how I first found pet play," he says. "Sites like kitten-play.com offer in-depth written pieces by players, links to resources and forums where people like CATS can educate themselves. Other sites like FetLife or Facebook provide more private groups to 'meet' others, ask more in depth questions, find local get-togethers and make friends to socialize with. Or if they prefer video content, YouTube has a number of creators (like 'Scream Kiwi') who talk about their kinks in a fun, educational and personal way. And once CATS feels comfortable in their own identity and has defined what they want out of this play, they will be able to really communicate to their partner(s) what they're into and what they want out of kitten play."
Q I'm a gay male, and one of my good friends has put me in a strange position. The friend has been married to his husband for 15 years, and they are allowed to "play." I have no desire to be in an open relationship, and I don't think my boyfriend does either. I occasionally go over to this friend's house right after work to buy weed, and he's always alone when I come by. He joked about answering the door naked and then did it. (He told me he was going to, but I honestly didn't think he would do it.) I was extremely uncomfortable, and he knew it. The last time I went over, he was naked again—and this time, he jerked off to completion in front of me. He asked me to join in, and I told him I couldn't because I hadn't discussed anything like this with my boyfriend. I'm supposed to go over again tomorrow, and he asked me to come by early because his husband would be getting home from work early that day. This leads me to believe that the husband would not be OK with this. I haven't said anything to his husband or my boyfriend because I don't want this to become a huge mess and I hoped my palpable discomfort would put an end to it. Any thoughts on how I should handle this nicely to make it stop without hurting his feelings? —Undressed Naked Friend Really Is Engineering Needless Drama
A Your "good friend" is an asshole, UNFRIEND. He's violating a whole bunch of social norms—chiefly the don't-jerk-off-to-completion-in-front-of-other-people-without-their-enthusiastic-consent norm (AKA the Louis C.K. Career in Comedy Memorial Norm)—and relying on your adherence to other social norms (avoid being rude, defuse don't confront, spare others' feelings) to get away with violating you as well. This asshole is sexually harassing you, and you haven't told him to stop in unambiguous language.
The only reason you've given him for not whipping it out yourself is that you haven't "discussed anything like this with [your] boyfriend." He has self-servingly interpreted your reason for not joining in like this: "He wants to, and maybe he will after he has a 'discussion' with his boyfriend." I'm sorry, UNFRIEND, but you're going to have to be blunt: "You have to knock this shit off. It's disrespectful, it's nonconsensual and it's pissing me off." Don't worry about hurting his feelings—he obviously doesn't care about your feelings—and find a new weed dealer.
Q I have a follow-up question on your advice for JACKS, the gay manager who ran into an employee at a JO party. Alison "Ask a Manager" Green told him he couldn't go to these parties anymore. A distinction was made between sexual situation encounters between bosses and those they manage in "private clubs" (the JO club) or at "public events" (Folsom Street Fair). My question is about Grindr/Scruff/Growlr/et cetera. Are these more like "private clubs" or "public events"? In part, my question stems from being a professor and having seen students and colleagues on these apps. I feel like I should not be reading the profiles of students in my department (who are mostly graduate students). I am also troubled by my colleagues appearing on these apps—from the perspective that this seems to be a sexually oriented space and there is the power differential between faculty and students.
—Basics Of Sexual Spaces
A Dating apps are the new gay bars—more than 75 percent of same-sex couples met online—so telling gay bosses or college profs they can't go on dating apps because their gay male students or underlings might be on them means condemning gay bosses and profs to celibacy. Bosses and profs shouldn't flirt with their students and underlings, of course and it might be a good idea to block 'em when you spot 'em—so you won't be tempted by their profiles/torsos and they won't be tempted by yours—but gay bosses and profs are free to look for dick on dating apps.