I’m very honored to be the Keynote speaker today –I’d like to Thank Sir Top and slave bonnie for asking me, and to Thank my Master for His permission. This may indeed be the briefest Keynote you have ever heard…LOL
A few weeks ago I was listening to a Jewish elder expound on how Lobsters grow. So for those of you who do not know – when it’s time for a Lobster it leave it’s shell it begins to feel uncomfortable. That discomfort signals the Lobster to grow another shell and shed the old one. As the elder was speaking he brought up the idea that when we as humans are in growth – we like the lobster experience that same discomfort how we RESPOND to the discomfort is what is different. Instead of beginning to grow a new shell and shed the old- we seek out various ways to keep ourselves comfortable in the old space.
We are the only living beings on the planet that do not naturally make space for our own growth.
Growth is challenging. It’s not pretty. It’s raw and tender by turns. It’s terrifying. And yet it is also inevitable. The only alternative to growth is death.
Every month many new people find these beloved shores and every month many of our elders and more seasoned members leave. Our community is in a state of extreme flux. However one thing that we do know is that this discomfort is a sign of growth and it is how we respond to this growth that truly matters.
One of our guiding ideas is to be all candles and no darkness (well maybe a bit of darkness….lol) In the exploration of this I invite you to begin to go one a journey into 7 Principles or candles which – when adopted by the Leather and BDSM communities – can help us to understand and co-exist. The thing about this is in order for these things to be EFFECTIVE they must be applied- not universally – but individually. See its easy to see what someone else should, or could do with these principles. It is much more challenging – but also much more EFFECTIVE to ask the question What does this mean for ME” and “Is there anything here for me” –
- The world is what you think it is – In Leather!
When I first heard someone tell a new leather person that they could define leather however they wanted to- I was offended – this was not the leather I was taught. This was not he Leather I had grown to love, respect and identify as. When I began to sit with this idea I realized that under it was a deep fear. A fear that the things that I held dear could in some way be diluted or diminished by what others did. I grew past that when I began to understand that it is EACH persons job to speak thier truth. Each elder, each seasoned leather veteran. Each person who represents a sub group, a title, a household – speaking their truth allows those who are new to our fair culture to find the notes that hold the most resonance. For some it’s low protocol for some high. For some it’s traditional and for others progressive. For some power exchange and others stand alone kink. The beauty of this lifestyle lies in the ability of each of us to create our world – or to find our home planet among a constellation of stars – each beautiful in it’s own right.
Our perception is both our observation and our interpretation of what we observe.
- There are no Limits- In Leather
Think about it. When this first began as a “community” it was hidden, secret, coded. Now kinky things are sold at the mall. High schoolers walk around with collars on and know all about kink (I should know I have raised a number of teens!). You can find books about power exchange right next to the Joy of Sex. No longer relegated to the darkness kink is found right up front at the Sunday matinee. While it is natural for our first inclination to be The Horror!! The Loss!!! When we really think of it – this is all pointing to one thing- there are no limits in Leather. If we as older Leather people can learn anything from TNG we can learn that Leather isn’t the scary specter it once was at least not to vanilla people. Which is a bit of a mind fuck – because rather than us being concerned about scaring the vanillas – it is we who are now being invited to shed our fear – in the form of shedding our limitations. Where have you been hiding? Where have you been afraid to express your truth even in your relationship? Where have you – even in this community – been living a lie? Releasing our limitations is first and foremost about letting go of the hold they have on us- so we can give our new kinklings permission to do the same.
- Energy Flows where Attention goes- In Leather
Our attention matters- because the things that we pay attention to the most receive that energy and GROW… they can flourish like a bountiful garden or they can swell with infection like a cancer. It all depends on what we are making the center of our attention. When I first came into the community – the center of our attention seemed to be hot sex, sizzling scenes, and finding out where we fit based upon our longings and desires. After all it took us so long and many of us fought so hard to get here. Many of us lost friends, family, church , jobs because of our proclivities – so when we FINALLY got here… our focus was firmly set on what we wanted. Well – the times as they say are a-changing. Now – as I said earlier – it is easy to find and express your kink. You needn’t get the buy in of others or even be a part of the “community” to proclaim your identity on social media, start a group on meet-up, or your very own wordpress website. Heck you can self publish your own manual of kink on Amazon even if you’ve NEVER played. This is a LOT of change in a very short period of time. And with this change comes chaos – and it’s that giant squeaky wheel that gets the oil of our attention and therefore our energy. Many munches are taking the form of a town hall meets PTA meeting. All of the energy is going to discussing, abuse, political activism, who’s oppressing whom, and the latest war of the groups. Now I’m not saying these things aren’t important. They are – however we would do well to take time to do a self check to see how much of your attention is going to the negative elements as opposed to the positive. Where is your attention? Believe that – it is also where your energy will go as well. If we spend all of our attention chasing the demons around every corner- it is any wonder we have so little energy left for a hot scene, cultivating meaningful relationships, or creating the resources that our community needs such as housing for our elderly.
- Now is the Moment of Power- in Leather!
I have spent a lot of time with leather elders, hearing their stories – enjoying the time getting rooted and grounded in our history. The thing is while yesterday holds many warm and fuzzy memories and while tomorrow holds a bright future it is NOW that holds the power. Now we are determining what traditions are precious enough for us to pass down. Now we are making tomorrows memories, now we are writing the book that will become a part of history. And that’s the paradox – in order to stay in the now you have to allow yourself the fluidity and power to have ALL of you present – NOW. What leather woman, man, beast or other are you NOW? That’s what counts. What kind of friend? Master? Slave? Dom? Sub? Leader, teacher? NOW matters. So often many of us are hyper focused on what we WANT our community to be- based on an ideal perfection that is simply impossible based upon the flawed and human beings that inhabit it. And yet- all I can do- and what I MUST do – what I hold the responsibility to do and what is the most beneficial thing to do is to be the BEST me that I can be – NOW.
- To love is to be Happy with.
I hear all the time from people that they Love Leather, they love the community, they love their Master, slave, leather family etc; And while I don’t disbelieve them – I do wonder if we understand that Love is about Happiness. Many of us grew up in families or cultures where love meant suffering. Love meant sacrifice. Love meant pain and hardship – and so the more we devote ourselves to something that causes us stress, pain, suffering and more the more we feel like this is an expression of love. But what if – we’re wrong? What is love really is about not how much obligation and sacrifice we can have but how HAPPY we are? What if as a slave my love for my Owner is known by how happy he makes me? What if I show my love for Leather by telling stores not of my suffering- but of my joy? Yes the community began in a somewhat hostile environment but we must begin to feed ourselves a different fuel if we have any hope of being healthy. Healed. Whole. That fuel is our Happiness.
- All power comes from within – in leather
There are two people who basically are the rulers of this community. I know – you’re a bad ass and no one rules you- but these two people are reall the puppet masters behind the scenes pulling all the strings. No – I’m not talking about “the man” – I’m talking about WE and They. We (LOL) have a tendency to think of what WE need to do and about what THEY need to stop doing. When we talk about what we all need to do we- each of us- automatically give the space of our power away and make ourselves unable to act. WE- as a community – don’t need to get rid of predators- because when we say “We” that makes it’s someone else’s responsibility. But if I say “I” then it’s MY responsibility. The same is true when we think of THEY. Don’t talk about how THEY are destroying the community – talk about the specific person that you saw do the destructive act- or better yet talk TO them. Don’t talk about how THEY are disrespectful or THEY have no relevance- talk about the person who disrespected YOU– or better yet talk to THEM. This is as they say “Grown folks” conversation. And it’s time for all of us to grow up by assuming our power and having some long overdue conversations.
- Effectiveness is the measure of truth- in Leather
Our community is growing. It’s changing – as are we all. We live in a time where our community is no longer within a 50 mile radius of our homes- but it is now global. And we’re still trying to figure it out. How do I form genuine connection? Who can I trust? Where do I fit? What method is the right one for me? Heck – what Identity is the right fit? This principle- that effectiveness is the measure of truth is one that is deeply embedded in my Masters Household. We live by it. Whenever we are doing something – be it business, child rearing, or our M/s – we ask the question periodically – but ESPECIALLY if we are considering if something needs to be changed- how effective is this? So the question is – how do we determine effectiveness? We look at a few key areas- Is it based in love or fear? Do we feel expansive or contracted by this? Is it growth or mere consumption? Does it elicit my power or invite victimization? All of which comes down to- does this benefit my evolution as a HUMAN? Yes- I know it’s easy to forget but before we were leather – we were human. We were flesh and blood, emotion and spirit with longings and desires. Our desire for connection is what brought us to this space. And whether we know it or not it is the longing for that –connection- that we all have in common or we would not be here. When I came to this principle I realized why t held such weight in our household- because indeed all the other principles can be summed up in this. The effectiveness of our actions to powerfully and profoundly connect us to ourselves, our Beloveds, our Humanity and to one another is the measure of our truth – In Leather.