BOLD 2013- And why you should be at BOLD2014!

We are currently on the plane flying home from BOLD 2013. There are dozens of thoughts, ideas, perceptions and more buzzing through both of us – things we can’t wait to dialogue about more deeply, things we find ourselves mentally chewing on even now.

So what is BOLD – Bold is a conference specifically to celebrate the MDHL identity and Lifestyle. MDHL standing for Male Dominant Heterosexual Leather. While anyone and everyone is welcome to attend the conference– the emphasis and focus of the classes is on the education and celebration of MDHL relationships.

This was our second year attending BOLD and the second year of BOLD as a conference. Beginnings are sacred and last year did not disappoint. This year was just as good- although a bit better for us because we weren’t under the time constraints of last year and had an opportunity to more deeply immerse ourselves into the conference.

First let me say a few words about the Monarchs. The Monarchs are the group of amazing Dominant Men  and their beautiful women who put on BOLD.  Having observed them for the last couple of years from afar and also during the conference – I say without reservation that this is what Male Dominance can aspire to look like. These men are not all cookie cutter – nor are their women. Some are outspoken, some are the silent type. The forms that their Dominance take and the ways that the submission of the women is expressed are as diverse as it comes – but there is an energetic feeling that pervades them. This feeling of knowing and being unapologetic for who they are.  There is also this feeling of it being Family and Fraternal. The bonds extending beyond a conference or a group dialogue into the lives that the members lead. Trust, accountability, Honor. Of course I have no way of knowing if this is true but this is my over whelming perspective. I observed the way they interacted with Their women and with me. Chivalry seemed to be the word of the day. The women had the quiet joy and power that I have only witnessed in women who know their worth in a bone deep way and are well handled and taken care of. It is refreshing, powerful, intoxicating. I wish there was a Monarchs chapter locally that we could be a part of.

The conference itself is a wealth of information. This year there was a skills track that I do not recall from last year (although it may have been there). Because skills are something we can get anywhere – I was far less interested in that track – but we did get to attend a few classes as well as teaching. The audience was engaged and receptive. The teachers were dynamic and open.  The efficiency of the timing, the way evaluations are handled, door monitoring etc; all of it was phenomenal and second to none. Seriously I feel that many many conferences should talk to the Organizers of BOLD and get a few tips – I know we will should we decide to put on a conference.

Here’s the thing – If you are in a Male Dominant/ female submissive or similar type dynamic BOLD is a conference that it on our MUST attend list. It is a conference we have decided we plan to attend every year. We believe strongly that there is something to be gained when we take the time to not only all play together -but to also immerse ourselves in environments that are geared towards our orientations and identities. Much like the feeling when one goes to a women’s only event or male only space,that feeling of Potency and Intensity in being around others who are on the same path (though we do not walk in the same shoes) elevates you in a way you can not find being in a more general setting. It is NOT about putting down our times of playing together, or being together, it is about connecting with our selves by remaining connected to the energy that brought us to this point to begin with. About having a space to honor and Celebrate the type of dynamic that fulfills us without apology or disclaimer.   When we think about BOLD the thought that comes to us is that often in our diverse and inclusive community – we are like a beautiful sea of birds – all of different breeds, colors and habits. When you go to an event with a specific niche or focus  – it is like surrounding yourself with birds of the same breed as yourself.  You are increased, expanded, able to stretch your wings in ways you can not when you’re all together – you remember who you are – making the whole Kingdom greater when you come back together.

If you’re planning your events for 2014 – make sure you add BOLD to the list. You will not be disappointed!

You can register at: BoldCon.com! – http://boldcon.com/

Endnote – BOLD2013 Closing Address

“Enter as you wish to be in it, Exit as you wish to remain”

There is a strength in being a woman. We have the magical capability of creating, containing, multiplying and giving birth to that which could not had been unless it came through the chrysalis of the Feminine. There is a softness is being a woman, Master often says He does not understand how we can go through the world in such a state, so easily wounded, with tears that fall just as easily from joy as from sorrow. Emotions that rise to the surface unbidden, loving so fiercely even though it may cost us dearly.

There is a power in surrender. In recognizing and entrusting all of that strength and softness, and wild sacred beauty to reach its fulfillment at the feet of a Man. A power in owning the longing, and yearning, hungry passion and pleasure that is only met belonging to another – and in knowing the secret – that we are not lessened by that experience – no – in fact I am increased in a way that can only occur by that which enlivens in me a memory, an epiphany, a knowing that comes from seeing, embracing and making love to the woman I actually am through the experience of being His. For this amazing gift …for the exquisite joy of this experience I am thankful. And I must give honor to whom honor is due – To Masculine Dominance – I would like to Celebrate You for a moment- from the Heart of the Surrendered, Feminine Divine .

Your masculinity is a gift. It is a gift to you and to me. I love it and I cherish it and what it brings to the Table. It is something worth protecting, honoring and affirming.

As a man- You have skills and gifts that are different from mine- and, while I may not have always understood them – I honor them.

Our differences make us dynamic -a force to be reckoned with. It enables us to do things we could not do without you. I believe in You, I have faith in You. Your imperfection is what makes You touchable, reachable, knowable.

Thank you for Being an Alpha Male. Thank you for the rich depth of feeling, of doing, of Vision and Purpose that You possess. Thank You for Owning the Power of Both Your Masculinity and Your Dominance. I appreciate You. Your sacrifice, Your struggles and Your steadfastness. I know it is not easy to walk the path You walk. To stand in the Office and Authority You do. I know sometimes You are uncertain of the Path or unknowing of the the greatness of Your Power. That it is a great and awesome responsibility to Own another person. It is my hope that as I walk this path, whether my service call me to stand beside You, to stand back to back with You, or to walk behind You -that I am the living testament to this Truth: That You are worthy, You are Brilliant and Your Dominance and Maleness are indeed not only to be accepted – but to be celebrated. May You find Yourself well met in me.

To my sisters- may you leave this place in the Presence and strength of knowing who you are. May every good and perfect gift come out of your service. May you share your Luminosity with the world. May you find the joy of living as you are purposed to live and the actualization that can only come from the acknowledgement of yourself as one of the wonders of the Universe.

To the Dominants and Masters- may You go forth in Focus and full of Light. May You embrace with Pride and Dignity Your Alpha nature. May You with amazing Power, Strength and Magnitude embody the Divine Masculine infinitely and magically. May You see Your magnificence mirrored in the eyes of Your woman.

The Divine in me bows in acknowledgement of the Divine in you – may you exit this place as you wish to remain.

~slave namaste

Your most intimate of intimates

Intimacy-is-based-on

When was the last time you felt flayed open and utterly vulnerable – and had Your partner there holding space? When is the last time you held space in that way? When we engage in these most intense of Dynamics – we have opportunity to experience this type of intimacy – intentionally, intensely. No holding back. Off the cliff – what are you waiting for?

Blackface part Deux

elizabeth-eckford-and-hazel-bryant-in-little-rock1These are my thoughts after reading an article posted on Leatherati as well as the thoughts of other blogs and pundits in the community.

The  problem with this discussion and the whole notion of ‘agreeing to disagree’ in the face of racism – it places white people in the position of grappling with the horns of a dilemma.  If we keep this uncomfortable discussion going you have to choose between maintenance of your desire to be thought well of (Im entitled to think as I choose about OTHER black people who aren’t YOU while genuinely feeling that those opinions don’t extend to YOU, black person that I am friends with) vs the hard truth;

You as a white person are free to think as you like about whomever you want. That is really not at issue and your being uncomfortable at being told how and what to think about whom is justified in my opinion.  Lets not derail the discussion chasing that rabbit around.  Honestly, I don’t like being told what to think or how to feel either. But let us continue to drag this elephant out into the middle of the room, squarely under the spotlight and let us now agree in front of each other that it IS in fact an elephant.  Again, you are always free to think as you like about whomever you want. There is a cost associated with that however.  Do not ask me to believe that you feel differently about me because IM not like THEM.  Do not ask me to believe that you aren’t racist because Im looking at what you do, not listening to your disclaimer.

The reality is that your feelings about other black people that aren’t me are in fact feelings about me, because Im as black as they are.  I recognize that by refusing to be silent about this issue,  Im raising the stakes. In my refusal to leave ‘well enough alone’ Im forcing the issue.  Your feelings of irritation, of shame, even of anger – are irrelevant at this point.  The time for choosing is at hand and although we’ve spent many years hoping that we would avoid this and that these weighty discussions would be raised and dealt with by other people in other more important, more convenient venues – well, the time has come and like it or not, we… you and I are those people.

Yes there is a solution.  Its not an easy one and yes – there is a cost associated with that as well. You see, It costs me something to pretend, to walk around the damn elephant most of my life and to try to balance my coffee cup on my knee because the elephant is too damn big to use as an end table. Im tired of pretending – and lets face it, so are you.  It cost you something as well – the price of silence and not calling you on your shit has meant that you don’t truly know me, not for real – like an iceberg the bulk of who I truly am remains below the waterline of our interactions, our relationship.  Im guarded around you nearly all of the time. The person you see and THINK you know represents a very small part of me.  Because the cost of my silence is that I believe that you secretly see me as you see them and as a result I cannot trust you, not truly.

My feelings about you, and/or white people that aren’t you are really my responsibility as well.  I have to own that.  You know what else? I understand that and I have walked away from my family members that espouse hatred.  I no longer have ‘friends’ that are racist as a matter of self preservation.  I wont have it in my house, my Leather family,  in my circle of friends.  I know the range and the strength of my power – I cannot force other adults of my acquiantence or relation to believe, to do differently.  But I always have a choice as to what I believe and what I do – and it is my belief that my life is better without hateful people in it…and when it comes to that, I will draw the line. Why is this my truth?  I believe that there is a toxicity in racist thoughts and ideology that has long term effects on the body, mind and soul that cannot be ignored and will not be wished away regardless of the righteous justification of the person holding the idea. The hue of my skin may serve as protection against sunburn, but it is no defense against the molten toxicity of unresolved internal angst, anger and rage.

So, in response to your unspoken question, Im not angry – not at all.  I cant afford it.  And neither can you, whether you realize it or not.  No, yours isn’t the face contorted in rage on the black and white pages of old LIFE magazines, shaking your fist at the advances of integration.  You aren’t manning high-pressure fire hoses aimed at protestors and your dog isn’t trained to attack people of color.  And because we have those historical high watermarks of the most reprehensible and visible facets of racism, none of which you support or espouse –  perhaps you may feel that most of this ‘talk’ of racism is a case of making a mountain out of a molehill, of taking things too seriously.  Let me assure you that is not the case. Not at all.  Your off the cuff observations about Mexicans, about people of middle eastern descent, about Jews or anyone else who isn’t like you – it comes from the same place and carries the same impact as the water from the firehose, the contorted face, the bite of the dog.

To truly make a dent in this thing, if we are truly going to make a change in this world, right the fuck NOW –  you have to choose.  Choose to stand up for what you truly believe in.  For some of you, that will mean nothing whatsoever.  You don’t want to change and you don’t have to.  And in the words of the old Irish blessing, if He cannot change your hearts may he change your walk so that we may know you by your limping fucked-up gait.  For others of you the cost that is on the table is that you must commit yourselves – to teaching your children differently. To speaking up instead of going along quietly. To rocking the boat and if it comes to that, walking away from those friends and even family that continue to embrace hatred. We no longer have the luxury of ignorance.

For my part, I commit to the tearing down, the dismantling of the emotional cardboard of what passes for friendship these days.  I commit to personal authenticity, to walking in truth, to speaking my truth and for those that choose to either call me friend or want to walk together for a time with me to see if we can truly be friends – I open my arms and my heart.  Get with me, talk to me – Im here and I will NOT reject you, I promise you that.  But understand that Im going to be real with you and I expect your realness in return.  No more lies, no more hiding and there arent any easy answers, I know that.  We must build where we are – right here and right now.

~Master Obsidian

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Showsomelove

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Black Face in the Lifestyle? Really?

blackface-goodoldfamilyracismRecently it was brought to our attention that the Portland Eagle was putting on an event featuring a Drag Performer portraying an “inarticulate black welfare mother with 19 children.” in blackface.

WTH?? Black Face??

The Eagle cancelled this event as of yesterday. So why am I still writing about this?

I’m writing because after reading a article or two about how the owners and managers did not really seem to understand the issue with this having been planned and being perplexed and a bit offended over the outcry it occurs to me that it is time for a bit of cultural understanding 101.

Our Leather/Kink/BDSM community – while putting a great deal of energy into sensitivity to gender, sexual orientation and  kinks seems to have somewhat of a blind spot when it comes to cultural and racial sensitivity.

The curse of racism in this country and the wound it has left on our collective consciousness is very fresh all things considered. While often it is said that “slavery was over 200 years ago!!” – it is important to remember that Jim Crow laws were still in effect as of the 1960’s. It is also important to remember that racial discrimination, bias and hate crimes are still present day realities.  This means that for many people of color – the negative side effects they are still on the receiving end of – not only reside in the annals of history but are also part of present day reality.  A wound can not heal while it is continuing to be inflicted.  No non-consensual slavery is not Federally sanctioned anymore. YAY!. On the other hand many People of color have the experience of an underlying disrespect and suspicion being placed on them just because of their skin color.

What does this have to do with the black face debacle? First off let’s understand the history of black-face.  Go here to read about it- it’s really fascinating and not too wordy.

Understand that black face is fundamentally about perpetrating racial stereotypes. And in that vein it goes beyond the simple wearing of  “black face”.

“Minstrel show entertainment included imitating black music and dance and speaking in a “plantation” dialect. The shows featured a variety of jokes, songs, dances and skits that were based on the ugliest stereotypes of African American slaves. From 1840 to 1890, minstrel shows were the most popular form of entertainment in America.” ~http://black-face.com/

And here s where the line is crossed between funny and offensive – at least for me (BTW I’m not speaking for all African Americans here – only for myself ). The line is crossed when you are imitating what you consider to be “black behavior” that is a stereotype in the ugliest of ways.  It’s not funny.  It’s mean spirited and does not come from a place of connection but a place of “put down”. The line is crossed when you feel it is okay to use things that have NO OTHER context save humiliation, bigotry, and mockery not as part of a consensual scene but as HUMOR at my expense. I watched one of this Drag Queens video’s on Youtube. It was ugly. It was mean. It wasn’t even a little funny to me. It made me sad actually. Sad that this person – a white Gay male as I understand it – would feel that this was something to be celebrated. Sad that if I met him it would be very difficult for me to not at least wonder if he saw me like that.

And that’s the huge downside of racial insensitivity – it DIVIDES us. When you speak what you consider to be “ghetto” speak in front of me – it makes me wonder if that’s how I sound to you? And – since I know that is not how I speak – I begin to wonder if this is how you hear me. When you confuse me with another African American woman who is not even my shade of brown, my height, my weight,  nor has any of my facial features – it tells me you don’t really SEE me.  It sends the message that “you all look alike”.  These things feed into a cultural memory that is not positive.  These assumptions invalidate our being INDIVIDUALS.

So here’s a bit of guidance if you care to take it. If you care to avoid hurt feelings and want to truly connect with those of a different ethnicity  or racial designation than you:

  • Asking is usually okay – If you have a question about something cultural – ask. I’d much rather you ask than assume.
  • All black people do not sound the same, think the same, look the same. We don’t all hold the same views – and we don’t all have the same cultural sensitivities. Get to know the INDIVIDUAL you are dealing with.
  • Do not use our friendship or familiarity as a basis to let loose with expressions of stereotypes even in jest. It’s not funny.
  • If you’d like to see more diversity in your play party or munch group – consider things like music choices, locations (are you on a side of town that is noted for not being friendly to non-whites?), and how you respond when POC’s  (people of color) show up. Being met with expressions of shock isn’t welcoming.
  • All Black women aren’t Dominant or angry. PLEASE believe this. Thank you.
  • All Black men aren’t given to Violence or Irresponsibility.
  • The fact that professional comedians, comics and the like use race and racial stereotypes to make millions of dollars is irrelevant and a poor excuse for your attempts at humor at my expense. You arent a professional comedian and the fact that Im standing in front of you shouldnt be considered synonymous with buying a ticket.

No matter how proficient we have collectively become at ignoring the massive elephant of racism in the middle of our collective living room, it trumpets rather loudly and often it seems. We are shocked and hurt….and then go back to our regularly scheduled broadcasts, ‘safe’ in the knowledge that as long as we studiously maintain the appearance of ignorance and keep looking the other way we can avoid the discomfort of the tough discussion. Eventually we must come to grips with the fact that it is our collective love of being Good Men and Women doing Nothing that continues to allow racist attitudes and actions to flourish and grow. It takes courage – to ask questions, to have a real dialogue.  It takes courage – to speak up, to ‘rock’ the proverbial boat and to risk being misunderstood. The time of cultural icons, pioneers with names like King, Kennedy and Parks has passed – it is now the time for you and I to do what we can to fix it, to make things a little better where WE live and in the relationships that matter to US.  Nothing else will do.

~Master Obsidian and slave namaste
You can read Mollena’s thoughts and her awesome video on this same situation here

Playing the Blame Game and M/s

Today I’m ruminating on personal responsibility and M/s dynamics.

I’m going to give a warning (not a disclaimer because – well frankly I’m tired of disclaimers) that what I’m going to say may sound paradoxical perhaps. such is the way my little head works. Also I realize that abuse does occasionally happen in our communities, this is not about that.

In many (but not all) of the M/s dynamics in my sphere the Master has and retains all of the power and authority in the dynamic. Such dynamics start any number of ways  and in truth while the starting is often indicative of a great deal – it’s not quite as important as the ending.

In my years in the community I’ve seen a LOT of relationships end. A LOT. And often I’m perplexed at the ending. Let me clarify. I’m not perplexed as to why they ended – because things end for their own reasons. I’m perplexed as to the story that is told AFTER it ends. Consensual relationships are now termed as having been abusive. Things that were joyfully agreed to as part of one being enslaved, now are horrible pains inflicted upon them. The Master becomes the Predator. The M/s dynamic is now just a means by which to cause harm. Obedience becomes betrayal. Consensual non-consent is now an elaborate fiction – not something agreed to, but something forced into. Anything not written in stone is now a violation.

This is all very interesting to me.  As a mentor and coach – I have helped slaves through devastating break-ups. Sometimes the Masters behave in ways that are less than honorable. Sometimes they break trust and faith. Sometimes they stoop to their lowest selves. This is horrid and there is no justification for it. At the same time I’m not a big proponent of the Victimization of Slaves/Submissives Movement that I often observe in our community.

And here’s why.

I REALLY do believe that submissives and slaves are Powerful, Brilliant, Amazing creatures. I really do find that submissives and slaves can be Competent and have the ability to make GOOD decisions, have the right to make mistakes as they Learn in Life and are not these fragile, insecure, nearly broken beings that many would have us think.

The other side of that state of Empowerment – is the responsibility for our own experience.  Owning our experiences as our OWN. Saying the “Yes I chose that, it didn’t work out, I found that things just didn’t resonate” without the need to Vilify and Demonize our partners gives us Power believe it or not.When I first came into the “community” I met a very well known Dominant. He was gregarious and charismatic, and while we both knew that I did not desire to  pursue a dynamic with Him, I thought it might be a good place to explore. Not knowing (or frankly caring to know) about negotiation, or all the rules of a scene (I did not come into this because of an interest in S&M but due to a real longing for D/s) when He told me that a specific action meant I desired to be treated as a submissive – I didn’t ask questions about what that meant. When we went up to His dungeon later that evening, I didn’t know what to expect. When he proceeded to use most of his toys on me (no blood or fluids etc;) it never occurred to me to safe word. Now. Many would say “He was predatory” or “He was abusive of his power”. However, I wholeheartedly disagree, and He remains someone our household is friends with to this day. I was/am an adult woman. While I did not negotiate for what occurred, I also didn’t say NO to what was occurring. Did I enjoy it? No. Was I abused by it? No. He showed me how to use quick release locks and told me the importance of them. He checked on me afterwards. Those were kindnesses – but really even without them He would not have been abusive to me because I CHOSE to take the ride.

 

Having a less than enjoyable scene or a less that desirable outcome does NOT equal abuse. Feeling emotionally fragile, out of sorts and raw is actually very typical even when in a relationship – this is not indicative of being violated.  Frequently it seems that in our communities – in order to honor those who really ARE abused, or really HAVE been violated – we’re not willing to examine, to talk to  or provide guidance to new people regarding what various experiences look like in the community. Typical Kinky/Leather sexual interactions and expressions of desire are now termed predatory, interest is trolling, and any Master or Dominant desiring to avoid being accused later might want to create a contract for every interaction which describes each action in extreme detail seven ways to Sunday. New Kinklings are given the idea (Thank you 50 shades of Gray – although it began before that) that this is a Kinky Amusement Park. Even if it WAS an amusement park we still seem to have forgotten some basic rules.  Laura Antoniou is credited with having said “You must be this tall to get on this ride” I’ll take that a bit further and say “recognize the risks”. When you get ready to get on a roller coaster there is a list (most of us don’t read it) of what the side effects could be. We ASSUME the risks when we get on the ride. There are no guarantees.

 

Maya Angelou said “When  someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Frequently I find that slaves don’t do this. (actually people in general frequently don’t do this – but I’m going to speak about slaves specifically because that’s the place of my experience. ) The Master said He wasn’t interested in monogamy. Believe Him. The Master shows you that He’s not very “hands on” when it comes to Mastery – Believe Him. The  “Master” said He WASN’T a Master- BELIEVE Him (or Her!).  Allowing the desire to have the submissive itch scratched to cause you to  end up in a relationship built on fundamental incompatibility is ill advised. If you DO end up in this place – there is no judgement or condemnation. We make mistakes, we choose dynamics that are not viable. Don’t dishonor your own Power and Ability by then painting yourself as the victim. Don’t diminish the time spent in that growth process by maligning the person you chose to Serve, to Scene with, to take that ride with. Take responsibility for YOURSELF. Own your process. You are too Empowered to diminish your journey by playing the Blame Game.

~slave Namaste