There are many people who post to soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm through the wizvax Anonymous Posting Service, and many others who post from pseudonymous accounts. The reasons are obvious; “kinky sex” in our society is stigmatized, and being openly interested in sexuality or alternate sexual practices can result in personal and professional consequences including losing one’s job, losing one’s friends, and if child custody is involved, losing one’s children. Yes, in America today, you can lose custody of your child if it becomes known that you practice SM. (This is not merely anecdotal; people on the net have had these things happen to them.) Oral sex is a crime in some states! After reading this FAQ, it (hopefully) should be clear how twisted this situation is, when acts of love can be used as evidence of psychological damage.

This is why many choose to write and post anonymously. By using a pseudonym, they can say what they want to say, while remaining free of the nastiness that could ensue were their coworkers to discover their interests. Homosexuals know what it’s like to be ostracized for their romantic and sexual preferences; SM devotees are, in some ways, in the same boat. It’s a strange world, where love is perceived as evil, and beauty as ugliness….

Anonymous posters are not cowards. The consequences I have outlined are enough to make anyone question whether posting under their own name is worthwhile. Those who choose to do so are not necessarily so much courageous as lucky–lucky to be able to be out, to declare their lifestyles openly. (Note that pseudonyms are sometimes used in real-life situations, as well; there are many netters who go by their net names even at social functions.)

This means that it is rude to inquire as to someone’s actual identity if they choose to use a pseudonym. It is also rude to tell others of their real name, if you somehow become privy to it, without first asking them; they have entrusted you with something that they don’t want commonly known. DON’T OUT SOMEONE IF THEY DON’T WANT TO BE OUTED. You yourself may not need a; that doesn’t mean you can take others’ anonymity any less seriously than they themselves do. This goes for the net and for real life. If you meet someone at a party who you’ve known from the net, they’ll probably still want to be known under their net name, and if you’re writing about that party later, make sure you have their permission before describing them or scenes in which they participated (even if you use only their net name).

It is an open question whether the world would improve if everyone outed themselves. Some say that we need to get all kinky people out of the closet, so everyone’ll realize how many of us there are (and there are many!). Others, myself included, believe that everyone should be free to choose how they want to live their life–including choosing to be anonymous.