International Fetish Day is a day on which the BDSM community rallies for support. It is held on the third Friday in January.
International Fetish Day originated in the United Kingdom as “National Fetish Day” and was first held on 21 January 2008.
The first International Fetish Day was held on 16 January 2009. The main purpose of International Fetish Day is to increase awareness and support of the fetish community, whilst also opposing the new laws criminalising possession of “extreme pornography”.
It is also designed to encourage members of the BDSM community to be more open about their sexuality.
On the first National Fetish Day members of the BDSM community wear an item of purple clothing to show they practice bondage and discipline. Hence the slogan: “Perverts Wear Purple”. Purple is a colour widely used in BDSM circles.
The UK Labour Member of Parliament for Blyth Valley, Ronnie Campbell, claims he ‘accidentally’ gave his support to the original National Fetish Day, because he misunderstood the word “fetish” and was not aware of the “Perverts Wear Purple” slogan.
A local newspaper, the Sunday Sun interviewed Campbell about his supposed support for the event by wearing purple. Campbell said, “I thought a fetish was a worry, like worrying about backing the right horse.”
One of the people who publicised National Fetish Day, known as “Pierced Knight”, claimed that: “I received an email from Carol Delaney, the secretary to Ronnie Campbell, Labour MP for Blyth Valley. She confirmed that Mr Campbell will be supporting this national day of awareness on 21st January. Using the tag line of ‘Perverts Wear Purple’ those that support this day will be wearing about their person something that is purple, like a shirt, a tie, a skirt, a hair band.”
Campbell wrote a letter of complaint to the Sunday Sun, claiming that they had been making him look stupid by “twisting and turning” the meaning of what he had been saying. He wrote that, “I would never have agreed to support anything that had the title ‘Perverts wear Purple’ and I do not imagine any other Member of Parliament would either.”
The Sunday Sun published a response saying: “If you hadn’t misunderstood the word ‘fetish’ and backed National Fetish Day in the first place, we wouldn’t have had a story. We did not twist anything and contacted you four times to clarify certain points. In fact, you were still backing National Fetish Day — saying you would wear your purple tie or shirt — until our final call when we pointed out the event slogan was ‘perverts wear purple’. Imagine the story we could have written if we hadn’t done this? This paper respects you as a Labour MP with an independent voice. However, this doesn’t stop us writing stories when you drop yourself in it.”
The first International Fetish Day was held on 16 January 2009. In the United Kingdom, the day attracted some media coverage because of the forthcoming ban on extreme pornography, coming into force on 26 January 2009.
Symon Hill wrote in The Guardian that: “People with certain fetishes now face the prospect of becoming victims of the government’s sustained assault on civil liberties. In a knee-jerk piece of headline-grabbing, ministers have introduced a law on “extreme pornography” which comes into force this month. Rather than targeting the exploitative, abusive and bullying elements of the pornography industry, the law is aimed at sadomasochistic images regardless of the context. So low is the barrier that if taken literally it could lead to a couple who take a photo of their consensual (and legal) sexual activity being arrested for possession of that photo.”