During the 1970's the gay community had something of a problem: public acceptance. Being gay was seen as dirty, perverted, degrading. Newspapers ran stories about people being 'lured in to the homosexual lifestyle'. Then AIDS hit and lets not forget that it was seen, primarily, as a disease which affects ONLY gay's and druggies.
The problem is that within the gay community there were people, very vocal ones, who wanted to stay in the closet. For whatever reason they didn't want the shame, scorn and derision that was being heaped on them to end.
So what happened, how did we get from gay = wrong to gay = whatever of the 21st Century? From an outsiders perspective at least this is what happened:
A whole lot of homosexual people (men & women) went: FUCK THIS! Then they proceed to open up elements of their community to inspection via PRIDE marches and just generally being intolerant of the closed minded bigotry that had been the prevailing attitude.
It wasn't a perfectly mastered PR campaign by any stretch of the imagination but here we are all these years later and you know what? People don't loose their jobs because they're gay and if they do then they have all this wonderful legislation they can call on to defend themselves with. In fact these days, should this happen, the media will side with the person who lost their job not the bigots!
Funny thing about that anti-discrimination legislation. It covers us kinky people as well. But I digress.
The process of acceptance wasn't just being out of the closet this much is true BUT it is equally true that the majority of people being out and being themselves was a very large part of it.
So what's the problem?
The problem isn't face pictures (or the lack there of) although I see this as a symptom of the problem. The problem is that whilst we call ourselves a community all we are is "You" and "I". There is a distinct lack of community in our community when you start digging down, we do not when you think about it really move as one, speak as one. In short we don't present a unified front.
Take the Fulham 'puppy walk' video that appeared earlier this year (2014), here on FetLife we had very vocal people decrying such activity. You shouldn't force kink on people, what about children, etc. All these arguments were made about an activity in which nobody visibly gave two shits. Yet if these vocal people are to be believed those two people committed the ultimate sin: the sin of doing something outside the closet.
Take me in 1999 as another example. I walked in to a McDonalds in full sissy maid regalia. Now I will admit there was some looks and a little sniggering but you know how much shit people gave all the way back then? ZERO. They didn't bat an eyelid when I was joined by someone wearing a latex buckle dress and a guy in head to toe PVC. Why? Because they didn't care, it didn't affect them in the slightest.
Everyone’s defence and it's an argument I have heard many times is: I have something to loose. Be it a family, a job (and everything else that'd entail). I've heard people say "Well, it's what the media would make of it".
It's a paradox. The whole reason that any of this will happen is that you consider your enjoyment of BDSM to be some deep dark secret. In fact, when it comes to the job loss thing, you consider it such a deep dark and reprehensible thing that you won't use all of that wonderful legislation which exists to protect you and allows for prosecution of people.
Personally I don't see myself as some kinky crusader, I'm just intrinsically aware that it is safer outside the closet, if anyone decides to pick a fight about my enjoyable pastimes then it is ME not them who has the moral high ground. The worst that can happen is someone decides to take my images for a joy ride (and that's already happened a few times) but you know what? That's what things like the DMCA are for, cleaning up after the lazy.
And the solution?
The solution is both simple and difficult. It's simple in that with all of the ground work already done by the GLBT community all it really requires is us to be open, honest and ourselves publicly. Sure, keep the furry bits covered in public but other than that? Be yourself. It's difficult because the real barrier to this change is: us. Or rather you.
That's the you who would rather make a big deal about face pictures than actually deal with the larger issue. The you who's only too happy to make the same damn excuses year after year that have been repeated since time immemorial by different groups around the world as a reason why things won't/can't/shouldn't change. The you who'll make pithy comments about people who are out of the closet and enjoying themselves.
And changing yourself is never an easy thing. It requires effort and dedication.
But as far as I go I went FUCK THIS a very long time ago. I'm waiting for the rest of you to catch up.