[photo courtesy of the world-renowned Orpheus Black of California by Liguiderotica]
The term “lifestyler” can be complicated; so let me break it down. Historically, [American culture] it has been that almost all and any sub-culture, of a sexual orientation will categorize itself as “the lifestyle” or “lifestyle”. As homosexual most my life we call the LGBTQ community as being in “the lifestyle”. It is a way to differentiate from so-called normal or traditional/conventional relationships, and was a code way to tell others that you were gay. Also, it distinguished homosexuals from bisexual, transsexual and or those who mostly were in it for trendy or social or purely sexual [bedroom only] people and meant we actually lived a gay lifestyle in our daily life. The statement “I am in the lifestyle”, would immediately let someone else in the lifestyle know covertly that you were in their same walk of life. It was an easy language to identify one another without “outing” one another in public settings.
It also, was a quick reference to let someone know you lived a gay lifestyle or were out the closet — even if they were not out the closet. Some would lead with this as an identifier to let someone know they were attracted to them; therefore, their response would let you know how to proceed. The term is used in other forms of alternative lifestyles currently and has some variations to its coin phrase; yet all in all represents the same intent.
We in the BDSM community use the term “lifestyler” instead of the lifestyle, in the same exact way. It is a term to immediately associate as a alternative and not of the societal norm, mainstream or better vanilla population.
After the BDSM community, Swinger’s decided they also would refer to themselves as “lifestylers” — again, in accepting this term because they were not of the normal or traditional constructs of marriage or relationships. Swingers continue to use this term privately and publicly as an identifier. For Swingers it is a more universal term and is often used to set them apart from Polyamorous [Poly] people. Poly people rarely use the term in a whole an prefer to state they are Poly for short which gives them an independence from either Swingers or BDSM lifestylers, even though they may or may not dabble in both lifestyles. Yet make no mistake about it, Swingers may have adopted the lingo and honorific but they did not start the identity. We as BDSM “lifestylers” share this title with them respectively.
Currently, most not all, experienced or long time BDSM community members like myself continue to refer to our community populations as “lifestyler”. The term has taken on an effective to infer that we are not simply bedroom players, novice, trendy, mere club dungeon scenes, or thrill seekers but live this life in some form daily or on a continuum in our daily lives and family structure.
Some of us are proud to accept the term, and it hold some level of respect for us because it denotes we are not merely players but dedicate our life to the sub-culture of BDSM to the point it is no longer sub-culture to us, but our life. Today the term “the lifestyle” is rarely referred to in the LGBTQ community who have adopted many other suitable terms, but for old-heads like me, it is endearingly kept. The BDSM community uses “lifestyler” and many other terms which better describe their set dynamic like M/s, D/s, Daddy/bg, etc…or the term WIIWD [what it is we do — which has its unique history] to encompass our complete plethora of relational styles. Of course, the term from city to city and more intimate settings may take on other variations, but the intent and meaning remains basically the same — to describe a component of your life which is different from what mainstream considers “normal”.
The terminology of “lifestyler” is a positive and effective, and alternative term to quickly identify, categorize or label yourself apart of what once was an underground adult alternative relationship community. There is no shame or negative vibe or association with calling yourself a lifestyler or identifying as such. It means you belong to a community and population who consider their relationships non-traditional, unconventional and alternative to mainstream society.
The LGBTQ, and or BDSM or other sub-culture communities respectively will probably continue to use this term to represent the segment of our community’s or populations which are more serious about how we see our self and one another.
And being a “lifestyler” well, I am OK with that.
by, BlakkReignn [ARW]