Bondage and discipline - Some individuals have a preference for being bound and tied during sex; others prefer to bind and tie their partner during sex; some others act in both these roles. B&D is often not part of S&M.
Sadism, masochism, sadomasochism1, 2 - Sexual sadists derive sexual pleasure from making their consenting or non-consenting partners feel pain. Sexual sadists may use restraint, blindfolding, paddling, spanking, whipping, pinching, beating, burning, electrical shocks, rape, cutting, stabbing, strangulation, torture, mutilation, or killing to derive pleasure. Sexual masochists derive sexual pleasure from being humiliated, beaten, bound, having their skin cut or pinned or pierced, or otherwise made to suffer by their partners. A masochistic preference for humiliation may involve being urinated or defecated on, being forced to crawl and bark like a dog, being subjected to verbal abuse, or being forced to cross-dress. Both sadistic and masochistic sexual fantasies are usually present during the childhood of sexual sadists and sexual masochists, respectively. Usually, the severity of sexually sadistic or sexually masochistic acts increases over time. A sexual sadomasochist switches between sexually sadistic and sexually masochistic roles.

Sexually sadomasochistic behavior often does not focus on seeking orgasmic pleasure from genitals; rather, pleasure is derived from the delivery or reception of pain.3

Nonheterosexuality and S&M

People engaging in homosexual behavior or experiencing same-sex attraction are considerably relatively overrepresented among sexual sadists, sexual masochists, and sexual sadomasochists:

  • Through sadomasochist contact advertisements and sadomasochist clubs, Spengler attempted to recruit an equal number of homosexual and heterosexual sexual sadomasochists; he recruited 245 West German sadomasochistic men.4 Since about half of Spengler’s sample was obtained from heterosexual sources, the expected proportion of exclusive heterosexuals in his entire sample should be at least 45% if exclusive heterosexuals are not relatively underrepresented among sexual sadists, sexual masochists, and sexual sadomasochists, but only 30% of the men were exclusively heterosexual, whereas 31% were bisexual, and 38% were homosexual.
  • Among 164 Finnish men in two B&D/S&M clubs, 79 had been drawn from a club mainly catering to heterosexuals, whereas 85 had been drawn from a club mainly catering to homosexual men.5 Of the men drawn from the heterosexual club, only about 60% were exclusively heterosexual, whereas over 90% of those that are not exclusively homosexual are exclusively heterosexual in adulthood.
  • Non-prostitutes are rare among sexually sadomasochistic women.6 Consistent with this find is the self-degrading and self-liked behavior of adult-movie female actors, who from a behavioral standpoint behave in a manner similar to prostitutes. Almost all such female actors participate in the shooting of scenes where one or more men ejaculate on their face, most consume semen, several perform fellatio on a penis that has just been in their rectum, some shoot scenes where they fill all their penile-penetrable orifices with at least one penis, some orally stimulate the anus of their male partners, and some consume semen ejaculated into the vaginal or anal orifice of another woman by one or more men. Many adult-movie female actors are bisexual. Let us address two studies of women into sadomasochism; in one study, 39.5% of the sample was bisexual and 2.6% homosexual;7 in the other study, 20.6% of the sample was bisexual and 11.8% homosexual.8
  • In a sample of 822 men and 1,050 women recruited from several established B&D/S&M websites and assessed anonymously, only 48.5% of the men and 22.9% of the women reported being exclusively heterosexual.9
  • Ernulf and Innale collected all (3,560) messages from in 1990.10 514 messages referred to sexual bondage. Men and women posted 72% and 21% of the messages, respectively. Among the 98 men who mentioned their sexual orientation, 81% described themselves as heterosexual, 1% bisexual, and 18% homosexual. Among the 62 women who mentioned their sexual orientation, 87% described themselves as heterosexual, 3% bisexual, and 10% homosexual. In 33% of the messages, the subjects stated that sexual bondage occurred simultaneously with sexual sadomasochism or was perceived as part of it.

Body piercings

Burich described a strong association in men between erotic piercing, homosexuality, sexual sadomasochism, bondage, fetishism, and tattoos.11 Other authors have described an association of bondage with homosexuality12, 13 and of genital piercing with nonheterosexuality.14, 15, 16 A population-based birth cohort study of 1,019 individuals from New Zealand found an association between piercings and promiscuity or nonheterosexuality in women but weaker, non-significant associations in men.17 The data on the association between nonheterosexuality and piercings are consistent with an association between nonheterosexuality and masochism.

Sadomasochism (S&M) and Mainstream GLBT groups

It would be difficult to come across examples of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and the ADL (Jewish Anti-Defamation League) associating themselves with S&M. This should not be surprising since there does not appear to be any association between being a colored person or Jewish and being into S&M. On the other hand, it is not difficult to cite numerous examples where even mainstream homosexual groups such as GLAAD (The Gay & Lesbian Alliance against Defamation) and GLSEN ( Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network) have not shied away from associating with S&M.

Consider some of the incidents documented by Peter LaBarbera of in 2000 and one incident in 1999:

GLSEN and High School Students - The Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) distributed the “Gay and Lesbian Visitor’s Companion” at its annual conference, held in Arlington Heights during October 6-8, 2000. The attendees included high school students. The publication included advertisements by bathhouses, sadomasochist clubs, and other sex clubs. GLSEN members are sometimes interested in imparting a different kind of knowledge, namely carnal knowledge. For instance, 33-year-old Dave Thomas, a social worker in Evanston and Chicago GLSEN leader was arrested for attempting to set up a sexual liaison with an underage boy.
A “True Spirit” Conference - The Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation (GLAAD) led two media-oriented workshops at the “True Spirit 2000 Conference” held in Alexandria, Virginia during February 18-20, 2000. The discussions included breast surgery for female-to-male transsexuals, genital piercing, bisexuality, pansexuality, and polyamory. Sadomasochist workshops discussed SM singletail whipping, sensory deprivation, immobilizing bondage, edge play, piercing, cutting, branding, bloodsports, and consensual-non-consensuality, among 201 sadomasochistic practices.
A Teach Out - The tenth annual “GLSEN/BOSTON & Project 10 East Teach Out!” conference at Tufts University during the weekend of March 25, 2000 held a workshop, “What They Didn’t Tell You About Queer Sex & Sexuality In Health Class: A Workshop For Youth Only ages 14-21.” Homosexual employees of the Massachusetts Department of Education described proper “fisting” technique in the context of an “emotional and intense experience.” The conference featured a video presentation by a school teacher in which the narrator was a 7th grade girl who mentioned that ancient Greeks “encouraged homosexuals; in fact, it was considered normal for an adolescent boy to have an older, wiser man as his lover.”
A “Dungeon Dance” - LaBarbera described anonymous, unprotected group sex and sadomasochistic acts during a “Dungeon Dance,” an official event of the “Millennium March on Washington for Equality” held at the 9:30 club in Northwest D.C. during April 28-30, 2000. Proceeds from the “Dungeon Dance” went to “Metro Teen AIDS,” a local youth “safe sex” group. In the District of Columbia, it is illegal to engage in sex in a commercial establishment. LaBarbera mentioned a similar event in D.C. two years ago. Then, the police told him that the Metropolitan Police Department was reluctant to prosecute gay establishments for sex code violations because when it does so, it receives many complaints from homosexuals.
Folsom Street Fair - possesses video footage of the Folsom Street Fair, a “leather” festival held in San Francisco on Sep 26, 1999, and sponsored by Anheuser-Busch. The footage shows sadistic homosexuals whipping other homosexuals, public nudity, and simulated public sex. The year before, the fair was not any better; it featured sadistic acts, master/slave couples, anonymous sex, and pornographic videos.
A Womyn’s Festival - A lesbian “womyn’s” music festival held during August 8-13, 2000, in Hart, Michigan featured sexual sadomasochism and fisting among other homosexual activities. Although supposed to be segregated, minors were exposed to public nudity, homosexual activities, and women wearing a fake penis.

Here is another incident where a mainstream GLBT group did not shy away from associating with S&M:

O'Neill18 described the case of the Canadian Supreme Court objecting to different standards for homosexual pornography. A Canadian homosexual pornography store had some imported pornography (sadomasochistic) confiscated by Customs for violating obscenity laws. Some homosexual groups such as Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere and the feminist Women's Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) argued that the customs laws should either be thrown out or a different, more lax standard be applied to homosexual pornography. LEAF took the position that sexual sadomasochism plays an emancipatory role in gay and lesbian culture and should be judged by a different standard from that applicable to heterosexual culture. Some homosexuals and feminists were opposed to different standards for homosexual pornography. For instance, the group, Homosexuals Opposed to Pride Extremism, which opposes special rights based on sexuality, along with the New York-based feminist group, Equality Now, supported the Supreme Court decision and the Customs laws.

Autoerotic asphyxiophilia or hypoxyphilia

An especially dangerous form of sexual masochism is autoerotic asphyxiophilia or hypoxyphilia. Hypoxyphiles deprive themselves of oxygen while masturbating or engaging in sex using means such as chest compression, noose, ligature, plastic bag, mask, or peripheral vasodilators such as nitrites (DSM-IV-TR, 2000). Peripheral vasodilators are drugs that dilate peripheral blood vessels, thereby temporarily decreasing the brain’s blood supply.

In the U.S., England, Australia, and Canada, 1 to 2 deaths per million from hypoxyphilia are reported each year (DSM-IV-TR, 2000). Almost all adolescent men who prefer solitary masturbation while asphyxiating themselves graduate into sexually sadomasochistic homosexual relationships as adults.19 Although uncommon, there exist cases where a homosexual, granting his partner’s request, applies his forearm on the neck of his partner in a “choke hold” while sodomizing him, and accidentally strangulates his partner to death.20

Sadistic killings

Sadistic killing is an extreme form of sexual sadism. Sexual sadism is the most common reason underlying serial killing, and one can almost use serial killing and sadistic serial killing interchangeably. Compared to single murderers, serial murderers manifest elevated cross-dressing (25% vs. 0%) and elevated paraphilias, especially elevated fetishism (71% vs. 33%).21 Dietz reported an average of 2.7 paraphilias in 30 sadistic sexual offenders, 22 of whom had committed murder, and noted that paraphilias rarely exist in isolation in such offenders.22

Dietz et al. identified possible sexually sadistic criminals referred to the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, U.S.A. (NCAVC) between 1984 and 1989 and selected those displaying sexual arousal to images of suffering or humiliation.23 They obtained evidence from interviews, police reports, court reports, crime scene photographs, etc. Of 30 sexually sadistic serial killers, 22 (73.3%) had anally raped their victims, while 17 (56.7%) had vaginally raped their victims; 13 (43%) were homosexuals (not determined by childhood sex play), and 6 (20%) were cross-dressers.

Consistent with the above observations, of 444 homicides in one jurisdiction during 1955-1973, investigators noted 5 clear “sexual motivation” murders.24 3 of the 5 involved homosexuality and 2 involved heterosexuality.

Some evidence indicates that compared to heterosexual victims of homicide, homosexual victims of homicide experience more violent death with respect to number and extent of injuries and manifest a trend toward having experienced more simultaneous causes of death.25 Therefore, a greater proportion of homosexuals than heterosexuals appear to be the victims of sadistic violence, and almost certainly, other homosexuals are responsible for the worse fate of homosexual victims of homicide. For instance, a relatively large number of murders in Amsterdam are of older homosexual men; they are typically murdered by young male prostitutes.26


  1. ^ DSM-IV-TR (2000).
  2. ^ Santtila P, Sandnabba NK, Alison L, et al. Investigating the underlying structure in sadomasochistically oriented behavior. Arch Sex Behav 2002;31(2):185-96.
  3. ^ Moser C. S/M (sadomasochistic) interactions in semi-public settings. J Homosex 1998;36(2):19-29.
  4. ^ Spengler A. Manifest sadomasochism of males: results of an empirical study. Arch Sex Behav 1977;6(6):441-56.
  5. ^ Sandnabba NK, Santtila P, Nordling N. Sexual behavior and social adaptation among sadomasochistically oriented males. J Sex Res 1999;36:273-82.
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