A Gay Guide to Kinks + Fetishes
Even if you grew up with abstinence-only education, you probably learned a little about sex in high school health (and we’re willing to bet you learned plenty outside the classroom too — thanks, internet). There’s one thing we’re sure they didn’t cover in Sex Ed though: the many different types of kinks.
Now that you’re all grown up, a little adult erudition is in order. So suit up in your naughtiest school uniform (if that’s your thing), sharpen those pencils, and pay close attention to Teacher (or else) — class is now in session.
What’s the difference between kinks and fetishes?
Some people use “kink” and “fetish” interchangeably, but there’s a key difference: A kink is whatever enhances your sexual experience (with yourself or a consenting partner) that falls outside the realm of “normal” sex. A sexual fetish is a type of kink, but it’s something your sexual arousal or enjoyment depends on, usually a specific inanimate object or body part.
If you’re into feet but still get it up without looking at or thinking about them, that’s a kink. If you only get off with someone’s toes in your mouth, that’s a foot fetish.
The meaning of “kinky” is as simple as this: It’s a sex act or fixation that most others wouldn’t describe as vanilla, and it’s consensual. Things like role play, group sex, and voyeurism all qualify as kinky sex as long as all parties are on board.
The Kink and Fetish Glossary for the Sexually Curious
Humans are so wonderfully weird and creative, which means documenting every single sexual kink and fetish out there is basically impossible. Instead, we’ll list the kinks and fetishes you might encounter in conversation (or in the bedroom). Take notes — you never know when a hot date might put your pervy know-how to the test.
1. Age play
If saying or hearing “Daddy” or “baby” turns you on, you might be into age play. This one’s all about one person acting or treating someone like they’re younger or older than their actual age.
If you’re even a little bit sexually adventurous, you’ve probably had sex outside at least once. But if you often get it on in public places, you’re probably an agoraphiliac. The fear of getting caught is exciting, no doubt. But public sex becomes exhibitionism when done in front of people who didn’t sign up to watch, and it can land you in trouble pretty quickly — it’s hard to get consent from passersby if you and the gardener are already ass-deep in afternoon delight.
Unless you’re new to sex, porn, and the internet, you’ve probably heard of BDSM. It stands for bondage and discipline (B&D); dominance and submission (D&S); and sadism and masochism (S&M). People practice BDSM in all sorts of ways, so we’ll get into the specifics within the related definitions below.
4. Blindfold sex
This kink or fetish is all about preventing yourself or your partner from seeing, which you can achieve with blindfolds or a dark room. For some, not being able to see or be seen by their partner helps calm anxiety, insecurity, or feelings of religious guilt. Others enjoy the way being blinded enhances the body’s other senses, like smell and touch. Blindfold sex, aka amaurophilia, is a common kink in BDSM.
Ever had your wrists tied to the bedposts? That’s an example of sexual bondage or rope play (another example of BDSM), and it’s one of the most popular kinks. Being bound, using handcuffs, or tying up your partner might make you feel safe, dominated, or powerful. Just make sure to establish a safe word so you’re both in sync if things go too far, and don’t lose the handcuffs or tie a knot you can’t undo.
6. Breath play
Breath play might sound — and feel — pleasant, but it’s just another way to say erotic asphyxiation. This extreme form of BDSM involves cutting off the brain’s oxygen supply during sex to intensify orgasms. But we need to slap a big disclaimer on this one: erotic or autoerotic asphyxiation can cause brain damage, cardiac arrest, and even death, so we recommend keeping it safe with a little light choking instead.
Everyone knows about claustrophobia, the fear of feeling enclosed or confined. Claustrophilia is the opposite — desiring or requiring sex in small, tight spaces. Maybe you’re comforted by (whether you’re consciously aware of it or not) the safe feeling you get when you’re in a place that mimics the womb. Or maybe being unable to move makes you feel the opposite of safe, but the fear you feel is what turns you on.
You’ve probably heard people use “cuck” as an insult, and cuckolding is where it comes from. Historically, a cuckold was basically a man scorned — usually a husband with an unfaithful wife. But as a kink, watching a partner of any gender get fucked by someone else can be a massive turn-on. Even just the fantasy is enough for some.
Degradation and humiliation are common in dom/sub relationships. Degradation involves dehumanizing the sub — making them communicate by barking instead of talking, for example. With humiliation, the dom still treats the sub like a human, but they make them do something mortifying, like streak naked across a crowded college quad. Homoerotic frat boy hazing rituals, anyone?
Using low-voltage electrodes on the genitals to shock the muscles and increase arousal is called electrostimulation (e-stim). Sound painful? It is — e-stim falls on the more extreme side of BDSM. You can buy a unit made specifically for sex, but be careful. The possibility of burns and heart-stopping electric shock makes this one of the more dangerous kinks.
If you love having something shoved down your throat or get off on the sound of someone choking on your dick, you’ve got a gagging kink. This one’s not as risky as e-stim, but it’s easy for gagging to cross a line, so agree on a signal both parties can use to say it’s time to stop.
Are you into pantyhose? Garters? Fishnets? Tights? No matter what you call them or whether you like them plain or patterned, involving hosiery in your sexual encounters is a sign of a nylon fetish or kink. Some people love the sensation of having their junk constricted by nylons, but crotchless pantyhose are your go-to option for easy access. When in doubt, tearing through tights with your teeth is sure to get you both turned on.
Masochism is the side of BDSM that’s all about experiencing pain. It could be emotional, like in the case of Roman Roy, or physical, like e-stim. So if you like being spanked, whipped, spit on, choked, or called “bitch” or “slut,” congrats — you’re a masochist.
14. Orgasm control
This blanket term includes forced orgasms (making someone come involuntarily, usually while they’re restrained), orgasm denial (bringing someone almost to the point of climax but not allowing them to come), and edging (repeatedly stopping just before climax to encourage increased arousal). As always, consent is key.
If you get sexual pleasure from spanking, whipping, gagging, humiliating, or inflicting some other form of emotional or physical pain on someone else (consensually, of course), you’re not just the dominant partner — you’re a sadist.
Actor Lukas Gage has made it clear his IRL sexuality is no one’s business but his own. But he’s become the king of queer kink on the small screen, first with the rim job he received on The White Lotus, and most recently on You when his character engages in urophilia — aka golden showers, watersports, or piss play.
17. Wax play
Do you take your BDSM by candlelight? You might enjoy dripping hot wax on a consenting partner (or asking them to drip some on you). There’s an element of danger here, so it’s worth popping into the sex shop for a specialty candle that burns at a temperature safe for skin. Or turn the pain into pleasure with the wax of a massage candle, which melts into massage oil as the candle burns.
If a hosiery kink isn’t extreme enough for you, try zentai, the use of a formfitting suit that covers your full body from head to toe. The constrictive nature of zentai makes it great for claustrophiliacs and people who feel secure when tied up, and it’s even more perfect if you want to keep your identity a mystery.
We love all kinds of kinks
Whatever you’re into — dom daddies, sub sons, both, or something different altogether — you’ll find it on Grindr. Save yourself the small talk and use My Tags to let guys know what you’re into and what you’re looking for. Get the Grindr app for iOS or Android, or start browsing hands-free with Grindr Web — the same Grindr you know and love, now available on your laptop or PC with no download required.