A dark side of our community
Recently I became aware of hate-filled online comments directed at a member of our community by an ‘anonymous’ individual.
The online environment is a space where we can share our opinions and thoughts and feel more in-touch with our chosen communities. Many of us have used the internet to discover and learn more about the subculture of which we are part, make connections and support one another. Unfortunately, it also allows a small minority of people to bully and harass others – often with the mistaken belief that they are doing so anonymously. I find this horrid and I am dumbfounded that a person who considers themselves to be a member of our community would bully and harass any other individual.
Negotiation, respect, and active consent are the foundation stones of the leather and BDSM communities. As leathermen we expect the wider community to be tolerant, understanding and respectful of our lifestyles. Unfortunately, we are not always good at extending these courtesies to others within our community. Discussion and debate are vital to the survival and development of our community. And from time-to-time, some of us will be surprised or concerned by opinions expressed by others. However, such disagreements must be conducted with civility and respect. “A real leatherman” knows this and does not use the online environment to denigrate and intimidate others.
Benjamin Bullivant – Mr. Queensland Leather 2016
Article from Maximus – Mr Queensland Leather 2014 (MQL)
Some musings for my leather family on The difficulties of difference (I note this was written for bootco men and so I have used male pronouns throughout and male gender references)
I think many of us men in the local leather community have a sound and working understanding of what it truly means to embrace difference. Perhaps this is because often the journey to leather has involved some introspection, and the perceived differences at times between our identification of what it is that turns us on has at times differentiated us from the wider norm, not only in our initial identification as gay or loving men, but then the further differences amongst us, be it rope or needles, impact or power dynamics, often this realisation is accompanied by self searching and at times a battle of denial, self loathing and ultimately if all goes well acceptance.
I never underestimate the pain of this journey. Acceptance of difference is never an easy road for the human mind. At times when I reflect I believe that communities like Bootco play out the wider acceptances of difference that happen in a broader community.
Never have I reflected on this more than over the past few weeks. The culmination of significant milestones, losses and gains in our local wider Brisbane community has brought to the fore for me both the wider thoughts about acceptance, diversity, and tolerance of difference. It is one thing to demonstrate a level of tolerance towards owns own difference when looking in the mirror and then it is entirely another to demonstrate this towards others whose views may be in direct contradiction towards our own.
So what are some of the qualities that we demonstrate within our leather community that go some way towards this ability to promote a level of acceptance of difference? Why is it that at times the men in our community are able to promote and project this acceptance? How is it that we dust off our resentments, our hurt feelings, put our big boy boots on and get back out there after slights, insults or even worse, partial painful truths about our shortcomings?
So here’s the initial 3 things I have come up with that I think adds to a unique leather perspective (in no way identifying myself as any form of expert here or that there are not many others )
1. The ability to accept that our ability to learn in leather Is to acknowledge our mistakes.
Here I think of the many times I have perhaps made a mis step in a preparation or implementation of a scene through inexperience. The grace which those mistakes have been managed by my mentors and by those experiencing the scene with me has made all the difference between a self confidence destroying moment and a learning experience which will hopefully set me up to do better next time and in turn contribute to a better outcome with those I play with.
2. The qualities of humble leadership of those in positions of influence.
The thoughtfulness acceptance and ability to reflect that is demonstrated by those we uphold as men to respect speak volumes to those of us underneath them who watch and learn from their actions and struggles. The ability to be humble and recognise their own mistakes makes it easier for those of us learning to do the same. This promotes safety and acceptance in our midst.
3. When the tough decision is discussed, disagreed upon and made regardless.
Nothing is more important in any form of power exchange than limits. This is also significant in the recognition perhaps that to accept difference is to acknowledge there will always be limited understanding because each of us comes from our own world view but by coming together, having the hard conversations and finding a flawed but thought provoking outcome, can be a learning and valuable moment in life. This is a quality I see demonstrated often at all levels of our club.
Of course these are only my reflections and by no means exhaustive, but in guess where I will leave it is that I know for many of us this world is one that we all contribute to keeping safe and fulfilling for us.
Article from Maximus