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My identity as a dominatrix was in conflict with my presence at a Sunday service. A month before that Sunday, I had come across a matter-of-fact Craigslist ad that read “Koreatown Dungeon seeking dominatrix.” I was restless and uncomfortable in my skin, looking for something outside of myself, so I answered it.

I was already a well-known submissive in BDSM circles from New York City to Colorado.

But still, I was irritated that the white women had steady clients and the brown women were doing other work or sleeping in the lounging room just waiting for someone to be in the mood to pick them. I was on a deep search for meaning and I found it in the lifestyle. I was belligerent and angry about the Christian faith because of my upbringing; my father was a religious zealot and a pastor.

When I recovered from the initial shock of the various states of undress around the room, I felt like I was home.

My former master in Colorado was a nudist, and I’d spent most of my time at his home in the nude.

I cannot say what changed my mind about going to church.

Like I was prone to switching in the lifestyle, perhaps I was just prone to changing my mind. I felt like I could be honest with her about my life and she didn’t judge me.

The welcome team was in full socialization and greeting mode. When people began to get up, jump up, dance and worship, I stood awkwardly with my hands at my sides.

The more people who said hi to me, the more I felt like nails were being driven into my skin. I couldn’t understand what I was doing at punk rock church.

Clients came for the fantasy and sometimes their fantasies just didn’t include women of color. I had claimed to be a switch in the interview, but I am a submissive through and through.

As a four-foot-ten black woman, my physical characteristics didn’t really scream dominatrix. I am submissive even in my regular day-to-day activities; when the dental hygienist pulled my four wisdom teeth without anesthesia, I smiled because he said “good girl.” BDSM was a home for these feelings of wanting to worship other things and other people. One day after a particularly taxing shift at the dungeon I found a photo of her with her hands raised on Facebook.

I had walked into a subculture I could call my own.

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