More on Sex Blogger Kendra Holliday's Custody Challenge

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photo by Jennifer Silverberg
As we reported last week, Kendra Holliday, the woman behind one of St. Louis' raciest blogs, The Beautiful Kind, is facing what she calls "the worst thing imaginable" since revealing her true identity in a Riverfront Times profile.

Hollidy's ex-husband is suing to modify the custody agreement they settled on for their ten-year-old child. They'd been splitting custody half-and-half since their 2003 divorce.

On her blog, Holliday says that her ex is seeking full custody and that "the reasons listed in the lawsuit all point to my sexuality."

The motion to modify custody has been sealed by the Family Court of St. Louis County's family division. Holliday has been advised by her attorney not to comment or provide the complaint; her ex-husband's attorney hasn't responded to requests for comment. (Daily RFT has been withholding his name to avoid identifying their child.)

It's worth noting that there may be any number of reasons that Holliday's ex is seeking custody, aside from her sexuality. Without seeing the complaint, we simply can't know for sure. But in the RFT profile, Holliday's ex spoke well of her as a parent, and the only obvious change to her life since then has been her coming out publicly as a sex-positive, polyamorous, bisexual kinkster.

On Holliday's blog, there's been an outpouring of support from her friends, readers, and even Annie Sprinkle, a famous porn-star-turned-Ph.D. She's also been seeking donations to cobble together a legal defense fund.

But while Holliday is a trailblazer, she's not the first person to have her parental skills challenged after coming out kinky.

The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom is a Baltimore-based group that advocates on behalf of alternative sexuality. The NCSF's Susan Wright says that the group advises people with alternative preferences when they run across legal challenges based on their identities. They've been aware of Holliday's case for some time now.

The group tracks instances of people seeking their help and advocacy. Over the past few years, Wright says, NCSF logs about 500 such incidents each year, about a third of those concerning divorce and custody issues.

In about half of those, she says, the kinky parent is able to retain custody.

"As of about five years ago, it was 80/20," in favor of the non-kinky parent, Wright says. She touts the coalition's outreach, better research and efforts to take kinky sexual behaviors out of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the psychiatric bible that codifies what behaviors should be considered pathological -- and which shouldn't.

"Once you've had child custody challenged, the best way to respond is to gather materials to educate the family court about what the lifestyle is -- that it doesn't involve children, but involves consenting adults and negotiation," says Wright. "We try to take out the element of a person's sexual behavior."

The group also maintains a database of "kink-aware professionals:" lawyers, doctors, psychiatrists and others who are already familiar with BDSM practices and as such won't need to be educated on exactly what their clients are up to, or why. They can provide attorneys with findings in peer-reviewed journals that make clear that consenting adults being rough with one another in the bedroom make just as capable parents as adults who do it missionary-style with the lights off.

"Children of people who do alternative sexuality are well-off," Wright says.

That being said, while Wright says the NCSF "feels very bad for Kendra," the group's official position is that anyone with a child younger than eighteen should remain in the shadows to avoid a scenario just like this one. As we reported in the RFT profile, in fact, the coalition advised Holliday of that before she came out.

From our October profile:

"I would use as a caveat: If you are a parent of a child under eighteen, don't come out," Wright says. "You could have a great relationship with your ex -- once you go public, they could get blowback from people in their lives and try to get custody. I would discourage it, but I admire it and support her wholeheartedly."

For the record, when we interviewed Holliday's ex for our October profile, he claimed to be supportive of her coming out. "Kendra is very honest and forthcoming about who she is, and I think it's horrible that she has to wear a social burqa," he was quoted as saying.

We'll have more as the case unfolds.

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