That Occasional Need

*Contented grin*

I am blissfully reminiscing about an evening with the boy and the husband that was full of all kinds of devilish fun. Especially for me.

Usually when our boy comes over he spends a decent amount of time locked up in bondage of sorts. We think it’s good for him. Clearly it’s good for us. Everybody wins. But every once in a while, often without any kind of notice, I will get a sudden need to join him. I crave being the captive Sir who is put in bondage next to his imprisoned collared property. Or even better, the boy and my man suddenly join forces and opt to turn the tables on me and I become the helpless object of their devious afflictions – one of my personal favorites. We never question why these needs come up from out of the blue; though often they coincide with the overlying pressure of dealing with something in everyday life like finances or other mundane stresses.  We just acknowledge that yes, a sudden need has come up and it would be great fun to be somehow work it into the play festivities.

This all seems very simple to me, but there are many leatherfolk and kinksters that have a difficult time reconciling these desires, because they go against their ‘fetish identity’ as it were. As kinky human beings, we are very complex, not to mention illogical at times. The only true means we have of understanding something is through the language we use for it. We will have an experience of something, and attempt to use existing words to categorize what it is we are feeling and if none exist, we create them. But the problem with this is that labels and language are linear and we are using them to try to comprehend something that is anything but comprehensible, particularly when it comes to sexual desire. Some of you may know of my fetish for circus strongmen for instance, complete with being immensely aroused being forced to look like one. It’s odd, and silly yes…but it creates a gets a huge arousal in me and has ever since I was a kid. I have no fucking idea why and there is no existing ‘lexicon’ that I can align with to get my head around it. What I do know is the immense satisfaction I get from playing it out, which is really the only thing that should matter.

The challenge becomes even greater due our community’s ‘need’ to abide by the various labels we apply to one another; labels that go beyond how we identify sexually but how we are seen by our peers. We have put so much emphasis on upholding strict protocols of leather tradition that we leave no room to allow one another to explore beyond a given category. A person who receives great accolades from his or her community may receive the title of ‘Master’ for instance, and feel no charity if they suddenly wish to be adorned in a diaper and explore being a Little for a while. I believe that each and every one of us simply have those moments where we just want to not be the ‘tradition’. Constantly immersing oneself in maintaining a community ‘standard’ creates a kind of template that we may feel obligated to be restricted by. Yes, you may be well known as a Sir to everyone and a sought after Dom, but does it make you less so if occasionally you just want to be strapped into the sling and fist-fucked to high heaven?

With so much focus on things like contest prep or fundraising it can become very easy to forget that the most important mantra of leather and kink is that it’s a celebration of SELF. It’s embracing the fact that we all are on the island of misfit toys and together we can do incredible things for individual growth and a community that thrives. WE are the ones that get to color outside the lines, WE are the ones that not only say it’s okay to play in the mud but create full on parties for just such an activity. It balances us. If we feel ‘challenged’ by seeing a peer conduct themselves that appears to be outside the category we’ve put them in, our knee-jerk reaction is to judge. But that’s simply our own lack of self-acceptance being projected. Look at the recent uproar around various leathermen appearing in drag – the greatest amount of jeering came from our own.There is enough judgement coming from outside the perimeter of our culture, yet we’re the first ones to direct mockery within. As a leather community we must never stop allowing others to be who they are, and to do that we have to allow the same in ourselves. Live and let live as they say.

And a perfect first step is satisfying that random ‘need’ that may arise. Now…who’s next in the sling?

 

Relinquish Control, Not Responsibility

I’m engaging in some downtime where I’m reflecting on what I’ve learned from my own journey as a leatherman and from what I’ve observed in others. There’s one thing I keep coming back to when I think back to my times as a boy or with failed sub relationships I’ve had, and that it has to do with maintaining a certain degree of self-governance when entering a connection as a sub of any kind. Putting that kind of trust in others and allowing others to have the dominance over us requires us to give over our control – it does not however, mean giving up our means of maturity or social decorum. All too often I think it becomes very easy to forget this.

My periods as a collared boy were always very rewarding in various ways, particularly my three years as the boy of Sir Machias. During that time I had immense growth and felt a tremendous sense of fulfillment exploring my need to submit, as well as the incredible play dynamic we had. There were also a lot of unfortunate choices I made back then that sadly, I didn’t allow myself the capacity to truly see. It’s a very scary thing for me to allow myself to be vulnerable and relinquish control to somebody else, as that ultimately means they are going to see all my imperfections that my ego wants to conceal. However, as I have talked about in previous entries, that can also be immensely rewarding – being loved and nurtured for who you really are as opposed to the facade that I try to uphold. But I ultimately did it with this man, and it added a dimension to my life experience that I will forever cherish and attribute to immense growth. What caused problems during this time however, was that I made the mistake of letting go of personal responsibility along with the control. I had no ‘wisdom’ to differentiate between the two. I put quotes around the word because what I really mean to say was that I was unwilling to look at that part of how I conducted myself. It was easier to simply be childish and abandon personal responsibility, and it often took the form of lashing out in various tantrums or arguments. Ultimately it resulted in alienating my Sir and his family BIG time and causing all kinds of stress.

I talk a lot about this when I teach workshops. Too many times I see people engage in a fetish or kink and use it as an excuse for bad behavior toward others.  It’s as though they give themselves permission to abandon the responsibility of being a full – fledged adult in order to experience a particular form of play. A prime example of this is with puppy play. One of the appeals of being a pup is you get to ‘lose’ yourself and immerse into a mindset that is very playful and in the now, with no concerns of the past or the future. Everything is very energetic and spur-of-the-moment with a focus on interaction with others to be scritched or petted affectionately. Unfortunately some take this to also mean absconding from behaving responsibly in public, particularly with strangers. People will use the excuse, “oh when I get into pup head space I have no knowledge of my human traits so I can’t help it if I wind up chewing on somebody’s shoes…” And we all know how well that goes over. Ultimately we do ourselves an incredible disservice by not being mindful of social etiquette while we explore various facets of kink and fetish. If we did, we would probably find a lot more celebration of our uniqueness as opposed to annoyance and judgement within the community.

Our journeys are all about growth and expansion and ultimately having a very strong sense of who we are. We need a certain amount of maturity and courage to immerse ourselves in our kinks and fetishes, and even moreso if it involves handing over trust and control to another. The real trick is to be able to do so while maintaining a grounded sense of personal responsibility. It can be a fine line and one that is very challenging to see when you are feeling vulnerable under the hands of a Dom. How do we be vigilant about this and prevent moments of stress or altercation? For one, I think we have to be mindful of the fact that we may not truly know how we’re going to be once we agree to allow ourselves to trust another and be vulnerable. It’s one thing to say, “yes stepping into this connection or agreement sounds very fulfilling and I’m going to be the best sub ever’,  and then suddenly we are in it and we discover that all kinds of fears and anxieties come up that we didn’t predict. Maybe we get very caught up in the romance of the initial connection and are slightly blinded by what some call the ‘honeymoon phase’.  It takes a great deal of wisdom to know ourselves when we take the risk to trust another, and part of that wisdom is embracing our imperfections that may lead to anxiety or stress. When we do this, we are better able to maintain our self-respect and in turn maintain personal accountability.

It’s of course very easy for me to say, “Oh I wish I knew now what I knew then” as it would have saved me a lot of heartache and shame in the way I conducted myself as a boy, but to do so doesn’t serve any positive purpose. Every time I explore a connection as a submissive, or take on a sub of my own, I gain further knowledge. Part of what I love about leather and kink is in the way it helps me grow as a person, even if the ride is an uncomfortable one. We sabotage ourselves if we ever think there is a point of ‘arrival’ in our journeys, and not a day goes by where I don’t embrace what I’ve learned as a result of personal mistakes I’ve made.

And that’s some of the best personal responsibility I can take as a human being and a leatherman 🙂

 

“People are Offended Waiting to Happen”

*Eye roll*

Reading Facebook and other means of social media, I feel as though people have gotten their panties in a wad over absolute petty stuff. This need for constant PC has gotten completely out of hand. The majority of people I follow are somehow involved in leather and kink like myself, and they are sharing stories of people getting offended over incredibly stupid things, including the half-time show of the Superbowl. It’s as though people are freely exercising their ‘right to whine’.

I remember years ago Bart and I presented an introduction to Puppy Play workshop at a popular kink event. During the class, we try to show all facets of puppy play and the many directions you can take it. One facet we demonstrated involved a bondage approach where I ‘forced’ Bart into being a pup – wrestled him to the floor, locked mitts on his fists, muzzled him so he could only make pup noises – that kind of thing. It was great fun and many found the scene to be quite hot. One gentleman however, an older man who identified as a pup, did not like what he saw and later complained about us to the organizers saying, “That’s just wrong!! No one should ever be forced to be a pup! What Sir Dart taught was wrong and that’s not how puppies play!!”

I’m not kidding. It really happened.

I want to tell people, “If you’re going to be offended this easily, you shouldn’t be in kink and BDSM. Period.” As a presenter and educator, I have reached a point where I have to spend more energy on the lexicon of words and phraseology I use rather on the actual material because we have turned into a generation of thin-skinned people who get offended easily. It’s quite ridiculous because if you think about it, there is nothing ‘politically correct’ about kink and BDSM. It’s edgy, it pushes comfort boundaries, it plays with all kinds of areas we consider ‘taboo’ and that’s part of what makes it so fucking arousing. Yet because there are some who are intent on getting their feelings hurt by not being somehow included in what is being presented, we have to present the material in a kind of homogenized way, and that makes it lose its appeal.

I am currently working on a class for an upcoming event, and I have been advised on some very meticulous ways of phrasing certain things so as not to alienate others. I will confess that it has a very constrictive feeling to it and some of the phraseology does not align with my perspective. I have been on the verge of backing out of teaching the subject because there really isn’t any way for me to present the material as *I* know it without others getting offended. What I really want to say sometimes is, “my name is Sir Dart and I’m a faggot. I don’t play with women because I’m not sexually attracted to them and some of their body parts I find actually repulsive. I enjoy tying up men and doing things to them when they’re restrained including rape fantasies. And yes on occasion I like to bareback and I know it’s dangerous and that’s one of the reasons it’s so fucking arousing and also I know we’re not supposed to use drugs or alcohol when we play but I have on occasion and it was fun too.”

Can I get an ‘AMEN’?

Being “easily offended” is what is known as a narcissistic injury. It’s being reactionary to something due to your own shit and making the presented information about YOU in some form. Everyone has opinions, and opinions are healthy to have. What is not healthy is believing that your opinion is your identity; that it is somehow a representation of who you are. When someone challenges or disagrees with your opinion, if you’re offended it’s because you haven’t distinguished your opinion as being separate from your sense of self. Most likely your self-esteem is also damaged.

I lived in Toronto for over nine years, and I can remember how I would get butthurt any time a Canadian friend would make a derogatory comment about American politics. I would find myself getting so worked up and angry because I felt like what this person was saying was a personal attack on me. It was as if I saw myself as the ‘representation’ of the U.S. in that moment and I would find myself angrily defending who I was because I was an American. The truth was it had absolutely nothing to do with me as a person and ironically I would usually agree with what the person was saying about our government. Thing is, I would react because I was insecure in myself, and reading far too much into other people’s opinions.

So for those of you who are easily offended and often make your reactionary voices heard, I’d like you to please consider the following:

  1. You are offended because you WANT to be. You genuinely believe a part of your core has been attacked in some way and in order to make yourself feel more powerful and less dominated, you are speaking up in a reactionary tone. There’s no bringing you down from that because you WANT to be there. You really honestly believe that you are getting a payoff from being reactionary. The truth is you’re not.
  2. You’re not actually reacting to what is being said, but to your own stuff being triggered. Take a moment and actually listen to what is being said from a place of neutrality, rather than from the filter of your own shit. You’ll find it actually feels better.
  3. Oddly enough, it’s NOT about you. We are in a day and age of egocentricity, where we believe everything is somehow connected to us. You combine this with the information age and technology where a person feels they can safely express themselves behind their keyboard, and suddenly everything is all about you. It’s not. You can actually sit this one out and you won’t ‘disappear’.
  4. You may receive an apology or appeasement of some kind from the person or party who unintentionally offended you. If there is an emotional investment in the relationship of any kind, including a friendship – then you can bank on its sincerity and put the hurt behind you with a greater understanding of one another. Apologies are great in this regard because they get us to stop coming from a place of ego and actually embrace humility. However, if you do not have a direct relationship with the offender, half the time it’s just to get you to go away. Seriously. Many of us who have been titleholders and presenters have accidentally said or done something that has led to somebody or some organization being offended, and we’ve had to ‘do the right thing’ by humbly providing a public apology and taking ownership of the miscommunication. This results in our having to coin an email of humility of some kind do all kinds of politicking to show the community we are good people. And once we’ve done that, we’ve gone to our peers talking about you behind your back and how incredibly annoying and petty you’re being and that really all we want if for you to go away because you’re ruining it for the rest of us. Yes, it’s true. We’ve told you we’re sorry, and we still think you’re a royal pain in the ass. And knowing it is half the battle.

Now all this being said, there is a constructive approach to being heard and having an exchange of information if that is what both parties are genuinely committed to. It’s actually possibly to engage in a dialogue that does not come from a place of reaction, where the parties involved can respect the difference in opinions but not draw personal conclusions of attack from them. In order for that to happen, you have to take out the actual reaction to what is being said, and hear what the person is trying to convey. Not just the words, but where they are coming from in what they are expressing. Be open to having an appreciation of this person’s stance without feeling that to do so you are losing a part of yourself. Agree to disagree and do so freely without any venom. It’s a muscle that takes time to strengthen, but truthfully it’s the more evolved approach to differences.

Last of all, sometimes it’s perfectly okay to give up the need to be “right” all the time. Some of the wisest words on this came from my mother who told me, “Some people would rather be right, than happy.”

Life’s Wrecking Ball

Every once in a while, I find myself going through periods in life where I am purposely ‘broken down’ in order to become stronger or learn something of great value.  I have not shared a lot regarding my spiritual views, mostly because they are very personalized and may not align with the belief systems of others. I do believe in a great life force, call it Universal consciousness or God or what have you.  A lot of my experiences and life creed are based on eastern philosophies. Many do not know that I actually was a follower of Hinduism for a short while and to this day I still engage in daily meditations, once in the morning and again in the late afternoon. I do feel a great connection of some kind, and I believe there is an infinite amount of love and wisdom that goes way beyond what we can perceive as human beings. I really do see my life as one long path of experience, and my life in leather and kink is an integral part of all of it. There are moments however, when I believe it is the Universe does a kind of ‘boot camp’ where in order for me to grow and learn, I have to be broken. More like demolished.

Years ago I used to train in the martial art of Ju-jitsu. I absolutely loved it and it was fantastic exercise as well as great discipline for the body and the mind. Our Sensei was brutal, in that he believed we could not truly excel in the art until we ‘got out of our own way’ mentally. Often he would illustrate this by pairing us up with higher ranked belts for sparring, which led to our essentially getting the shit beaten out of us until we would finally draw on something deep within us to hold our own on the mat. I can remember times in the training when I was completely out of breath and on the verge of tears and vomit, and then suddenly getting a burst of energy to execute a move that would throw my opponent on the floor. As they would say in The Matrix, “there was no spoon”. What was happening was our Sensei was breaking us to get beyond our egos.

In its simplest terms, ego is that Latin word for ‘I’. From a spiritual standpoint, it is referred to as the ‘means by which one views themselves’. It is our sense of identity based on the five senses, how we are viewed by others, how our image is seen or referenced. It is based on labels, facades and perceptions; the things we utilize when we find ourselves in social circumstances where we need to ‘survive’.  It is created out of the flattery and compliments we receive, and also the judgments. It supports our need for approval, and also our need to control. There is a limitation on focusing strictly on the ego as it limits one to believing that it is who they are.  It is merely self-image, but not a representation of the true self. Essentially it’s an illusion.

Anyone who has embarked on a spiritual journey of any kind can attest that lessons are presented designed to take us out of our comfort zone, and the change is neither subtle or gentle. It’s in the form of a giant wrecking ball that completely annihilates everything we’ve used to survive. People familiar with Tarot associate this with the Tower card. Hinduism has a goddess named Kali who embodies change and transformation through destruction. Even programs of recovery like the 12 Steps refer to this dynamic of growth through demolition. It’s a very uncomfortable experience but one that can enable us to become much more grounded and whole, and push up past our perceived identity.

This presents a real challenge in leather and kink. I honestly do see a tremendous spiritual component to being a leatherman, and so much of my growth and self-actualization has come as a result of it. As I’ve said before, leather and kink are all about going beyond how you’ve always perceived yourself and your limits. So much of our growth and wisdom come as a result of embracing learning and humility. Yet our very culture embodies a tremendous amount of ego! We do all kinds of social media posting weeks out talking about our “IML diet” or our various image goals for the sake of surviving “the Lobby”. We purposely take on posturing and personas in order to evoke interest from others and provide validation for ourselves. The very appearances and images we strive to uphold are of hyper masculine dominant figures exuding enormous amounts of ego. That’s part of the turn on for many of us!

So, how does one reconcile these periods? Well, for starters, give in and pay attention – because the safeword doesn’t work here! Take a step back and assess what kind of mythologies you have created for yourself based on the perceptions of others. Call yourself on the mechanisms you’re using to feel accepted and give yourself permission to be scared to death underneath just like the rest of us are. And never stop learning. If I may risk sounding ‘woo-woo’, remember that we are here to love and be loved, and that should be the touchstone of all our connections including those in leather. Yes, sometimes those connections are strictly for the sake of the endorphin rush or to get our rocks off – we should still embrace love of self at the very least when we embark on these and celebrate how much fucking fun these moments are!

I am still processing what has opened up as a result of my identity being whittled down these last few weeks. All is okay with what has transpired. I am present to being human and making errors in judgment. I cannot get true ‘approval’ without being authentic with others or myself. Sometimes I make decisions that are entirely selfish and it bites me in the ass. I go through my wrecking ball periods where I am quickly reminded that those are limitations and that these are not who I am. Sadly, sometimes it takes a great loss in the community for us to see beyond our facades and mythologies and be reminded of our need to love one another.

Thankfully, we do get there, and we certainly did recently as many of us can attest to 🙂

The Tennis Game

I want to start off by apologizing and taking full ownership of the passive-aggressive nature to this blog post. This is my chance to vent about something that has been going on for months and I want to hopefully turn it into something that will benefit others. Back in May, I was approached by an aspiring Dom who wanted to gain expand his skillset and be mentored into having more experience. His boy had a plethora of experiences under his belt and his Daddy wanted to up his game to be able to satisfy the boy’s kinky needs. He approached me to train him in this, and we set up a whole dynamic where he would actually be a boy to my husband and myself to learn firsthand from the perspective of being a sub. We were all very excited about the possibilities we had created and were all eager to embark on the journey. I might also add that I hold this gentleman in very high regard as a friend, so it was a deep honor that he was willing to submit to me for the sake of learning.

Sadly, none of our sessions have come to fruition. At first, it was simply a matter of scheduling when everyone was available. The gentleman does not live locally so there was some travel involved and unfortunately some elements beyond our control required us to reschedule. Nobody was to blame, was just a typical case of ‘shit happens’.

Months would go by though, and I would find myself wanting to stay engaged in what we had initially created. At first the responses I would get would be on the lines of, “yes we are still interested. Let’s look at the first week of next month.” Then of course to no avail. Eventually it got to the point where I would send texts and either not get a response, or what I would get would be stoic but cordial. Rather than making a decision one way or the other and communicating it to me, I would continue to be strung along, left in a kind of limbo.

The dynamic is much like playing a tennis game, and my serve is not being returned.

I get that things change, circumstances change. Life happens and things just get beyond our control sometimes. What is most disappointing about all of this though is I think very highly of this gentleman and consider him a friend, and I’m not sure he realizes how much I invested in his growth emotionally. I can certainly forgive the fact that things just didn’t happen like we thought and some of it wasn’t anyone’s fault. It was my belief though that he respected our friendship a lot more than his actions are showing, and that is probably what hurts the most.

I wish people would understand that Doms are not tough archetypes as they portray themselves to be in the playroom or the bar or event. We are not emotionally ‘cold’ and brute, we are human beings who get hurt feelings just like anybody else. When we are approached to mentor or teach or take on someone as a sub, we are allowing ourselves to be vulnerable emotionally. A person might draw the conclusion of, ‘Oh Sir such-and-such won’t mind he’s got tons of stuff going on already” or “Well they’ve already got a couple of boys to keep them occupied, I won’t be missed.” I’ve seen this happen with others and with me. I’ve also seen it in reverse with boys or subs who have lots of activities going on and lots of play where the Dom simply says, “the boy has got plenty going on he won’t miss a text from me” Again, the ball is not returned in the court, and feeling are hurt. It causes the person to want to be more guarded next time.

My husband often says I open my heart up a bit too easily to people, and it leaves me open to being disappointed like this. Obviously he is protective of me and just hates seeing me get hurt. I have to agree with him, but I also feel that it’s simply one of the qualities that makes me the Sir that I am. I am a man who cares, and loves. I have compassion and I like seeing others soar. And yes, it does leave me open to get hurt at times, but it’s also one of the things about me that enable others to grow and to trust.

So, rant over. I shall continue to be the leatherman and Sir that I am. It simply feels better to do so. But alas, I declare ‘love’ with this particular tennis match.

 

 

Fearing Closure

I delivered a speech last weekend about a very painful trauma from my past, and I did it in the actual school where it occurred. There has been a lot of very hard work and tears that led up to this moment, but I can truly say that I now have a feeling of it all being complete.  Three decades have passed where this incident has occupied real estate in my head and my psyche, and to be given the opportunity to have closure on it is an immense blessing.

It had me thinking though, about a funny little element in the way we are designed as human beings. So many of us have traumas of some kind in our past, and in the leather and kink community it seems like we have double the amount. Perhaps we are just accustomed to being so open about what we are into that we also have a freedom in displaying the pains of our past. Indeed it’s not uncommon to be with a group of leathermen or kinksters that attempt to ‘out-saga’ one another in conversation. But what’s interesting is that many of us, when given the chance to actually put closure on a demon from our past, opt not to. Many of us have referenced the trauma so often or blamed it for our shortcomings, and in turn it has become a part of our identity. Subconsciously, it’s scary to give up something that we believe has been a part of us the majority of our lives.

I remember a friend of mine was struggling with the debt of her student loans for her time in film school. A relative had passed and left her with a very sizable inheritance, which among other things would bring her level of debt to zero. Some time had passed since she received the money and I asked her how if felt to not have the pressure of owing money looming over her head. She confessed that she still had not paid it off, even though she could do so with just a few keyboard taps. She told me, “It’s completely insane but here it is – I have known this financial struggle as an integrated part of my life for so long; if that’s no longer there, what do I have? It’s like I won’t know what to do with myself if I don’t have this debt to complain about!”

Now I’m happy to say that she quickly got over herself and paid it all off within a matter of minutes after saying that. I believe hearing herself acknowledge it out loud was the catalyst to finally make the leap. I didn’t judge her though, because I had those experiences myself. We talk at length about wanting to finally let go of hurts and upsets from our past, but when the opportunity finally presents itself or we get the courage to do so, we hesitate because we are uncomfortable with the empty ‘clearing’ that will open up. This however, is also what makes closure truly exciting.

I am still processing what I let go of last Sunday. I am still crying tears that I wasn’t allowed to cry when I was 14 years old. I am still feeling exhausted and reflecting on the magnitude of all of it. I am also very present to the incredible change that has occurred. Things are different now in a permanent sense. And it’s something I approach with celebration. Not everyone embraces change like that though. For some, the clearing that is created from closure is so foreign that they actually create new circumstances subconsciously to mirror the trauma that was released. Indeed my friend with the inheritance has caught herself on the verge of racking up new debt, which she quickly squelches because of her awareness.

Resist the urge to associate the hurts and traumas of your past with being your identity. If you constantly reference what has happened to you, the focus is always on the past and not the future. Troubles in your history cannot be undone or changed, but the future always remains an open field of possibility. Consider your traumas as something that you ‘have’, not something that you ‘are’. When you do this you free yourself up to live a future filled with all kinds of new ways of seeing yourself, and in turn going beyond the limits you thought you always had.

And that to me is an integral part of being a leatherman 🙂

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Finding Your Beacons

I often hear of failed D/s relationships where the culprit is unsatisfied expectations. The parties involved reach a kind of impasse because something is not communicated early on about what each party wants out of the chosen connection. Certainly this has been the case as I look back on relationships of my own where it was not laid out clearly what each person wanted when the relationship commenced. But what if one or more of the involved parties does not actually know what exactly they are seeking due to a lack of experience?

Certainly a person with an amount of history in D/s has a clearer understanding of themselves and what they hope to get out of the partnership; they have had a substantial amount of time to gain knowledge of oneself and implement what they learn toward future connections. But is it reasonable to demand that of somebody who is relatively new to it? In looking back, I find that it is perfectly okay for some of these answers to present themselves during the actual journey, so long as all parties enter into it with the agreement of ‘exploration’. Perhaps a person has merely vague ideas and images of what it means to be a boy or even a Sir – and often these can be discovered as they go along. It’s a mutually agreed upon means of finding out what elements you respond to positively in the ‘fog’ of D/s dynamics. I call these your ‘beacons’.

I have been a collared boy four different times in my life, and each has been a completely different experience from the one previously. Going into the relationship, the Sir and I had a set amount of expectations, and these were laid out in the very beginning. But as many of us with experience know, these kinds of connections have a certain fluidity to them that causes them to change and evolve. Who the two of you (or three or how ever many) are at the beginning of the relationship is not going to be the same six months or a year later. Therefore, why not make an agreement that part of the time together will allow for discovering things you may find particularly fulfilling that contribute to your greatest growth. These are the beacons that propel you beyond your perceived limitations.

As I have shared before, I recently became a pup, and my Handler is a man who is completely new to the kink scene. In fact, he came into the relationship with little to no knowledge about D/s or pup play whatsoever – although he did educate himself a bit by reading the blog entries of pup Sirius. He just had an idea of what sounded appealing to him. So each time he and I get together, there is an unspoken agreement that allows us to ‘unveil’ the elements that he and I enjoy. This frees him up to try new things when he handles me and doesn’t pressure him into it having to be a certain way to please me. Now that being said I will share that the very first time we played he needed a shot of whiskey ahead of time to loosen up, particularly when he saw that I could ‘wag’ my tail.  Let’s just say that’s become one of his favorite beacons…

Leather relationships are all about growth beyond how you have always known yourself to be. It’s a synergistic bond where the parties become stronger people as a result of entering the agreement of trust. If the parties agree to use that connection as a means of exploration, the pressure of expectation is alleviated. The Sir or boy can engage in play or and exchange of some kind without feeling the need to prove anything or elicit a particular outcome. This frees all parties up to hand themselves over to the experience with full trust and no attachment. The end result is examining how it was and determining if it was something to add to the foundation or to say, “no that wasn’t for me.’

D/s relationships may look very rigid and disciplined from the exterior and many of them actually are, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a certain amount of leeway on the ‘inside’ for the sake of discovery. Regardless of a person’s experience it’s unreasonable for each person in the connection to ‘get it right’ on the first try every single time. Providing feedback is essential for all member involved. If you are deep into the play and feeling things you’ve not felt before, it can be overwhelming. It’s okay if you don’t have words for it at the time but it’s always prudent to share with the Sir afterwards that it was something you liked and would like to expand on. Use the time together to create the backbone of what each of you wants and use that as a launching pad to discover the various other ‘beacons’ that make the relationship fullfilling. These will become a permanent part of the foundation and enable the unfolding of more and more.

To me, the greatest reward to being a Sir or Master or boy or pup is the ongoing reveal of who you are, and growing each time. Embrace that as your personal ‘radar’, and use it to seek out your beacons of experience.

DSC_3082

 

The Reward in Vulnerability

There is a young man in my life right now who has been making an ongoing effort to ‘lower his walls’ more and not shut people out. Like many of us, he has had his share of pain and upset from various D/s and kink connections and has put up protective boundaries to shield himself from anyone screwing him again. He is also becoming aware that to do so is closing him off from truly connecting.

I can certainly speak to this as I have a history of childhood sex abuse that caused me to live with my own protective walls for decades. As a scared young child I put my trust in adult authority figures to receive their comfort and guidance, and in turn was sexually violated. It made me draw a conclusion that if I lower any kind of protective boundary somebody would take advantage and hurt me. For years I closed myself off to experiencing intimacy because of this. I would always be ‘guarded’ as I felt I needed to protect myself. And I thought this was a good thing. The problem was, I was also shutting out love.

I remember having a conversation about this recently with my mother, who as I have mentioned in previous blog entries is a bit of a Shirley Maclaine character in that she is very metaphysical in her approach to life. I asked her about all the instances where she appears to make herself an ‘easy target’ because she trusts so easily. Her response was interesting:

“At the end of the day son, I choose to trust because I simply feel better doing so.”

It was a little too simple for me to get at first. I thought maybe this is some kind of simplified resolution a person that age has after they have lived for x amount of years. But I pressed her about it as she’s always had a very deep spiritual view that has helped me through the years. My rebuttal was that it felt good to me that I was looking out for myself and protecting myself from any kind of future hurt, almost like I was being my own ‘champion’. But she challenged me with it (something she is horrifically good at – with the reading glasses perched on the bridge of her nose) and said, “you think you feel better by being so guarded, but in doing so you are also constantly reminding yourself that you were hurt once.” And then she gave me that ‘look’ with a pregnant pause to make it all set in before she continued. “I certainly understand that you want to protect yourself from being hurt again son, but in closing yourself off you’re essentially protecting yourself from life. And that’s fine, and you can do that as long as you live, and on your gravestone they’ll simply put, ‘HERE LIES DART. HE WAS VERY GUARDED.’    My choice to trust simply feels better, son.”

Yep. This is the woman who breastfed me.

She had a point though, especially with the gravestone comment (my mother simply goes for the jugular when it comes to being poignant). One can be as self-protective and guarded as long as they wish, but sooner or later it actually becomes a liability to embracing life. During that conversation she asked me how much extra energy I thought I was using in not trusting anybody due to my sexual abuse. I honestly couldn’t answer her because I reached a point where it simply was a part of me, almost like it was my identity. She pointed out that sooner of later I was going to realize that I had been using up a tremendous amount of happiness at the expense of being so closed off and scared. And that isn’t truly living.

Now this is not to say that there isn’t a certain amount of wisdom in caution. Obviously it’s a good thing, as this is what enables us to go through life making better choices for ourselves based on the times we fell down and got hurt in the past. In the case of leather and D/s relationships we have all had our share of upsets and bad things happening because well, we’re all human and that’s just simply part of the life experience. None of us are perfect in our design. We strive to recognize ‘red flags’ and things that did not work for us previously so as not to allow the hurt to return like it did before. But in the context of what my mother was sharing, the act of trusting and allowing yourself to be vulnerable is not done blindly. It’s taking all of the lessons we’ve learned from the past and filing them away as knowledge, and proceeding anyway. It’s making a conscious decision to engage in a connection knowing that “yes I may get hurt in this, but I may also experience something amazing and fulfilling. And if I do get hurt, I know I can survive it. I have before.”

Then it’s just simply a matter of jumping in with both feet!

To lower your guard and to trust is always a choice that you have in the moment, no matter how challenging others my have made it for you. If you want to have your greatest growth in your leather relationships and connections, and essentially the greatest rewards, sooner or later it is YOU that has to make the choice to trust. Yes it can be unbelievably scary, but in the face of that it can also be equally gratifying. And when you do so successfully you become aware that the choice to trust is something that nobody can ever take away from you ever.

When you allow yourself to be vulnerable, you also allow love in, including self-love. And I definitely speak from experience there as I embrace the amazing life I have now with my incredible husband!  🙂

 

08

Be a Judge, Not a Bully

In late July I will have the honor of being one of the judges for the Southeast Alliance of Leather Weekend. It’s especially exciting because my husband Sir Bart has been selected as a backup judge, and it would be the first time we judged a contest together. We were discussing the types of questions we would ask and what each of us would look for in the contestants, and it all brought me back to the couple of times when I was a titleholder and what I encountered from my various judging panels. They often say that becoming a titleholder can be one of the most cruel and grueling experiences of the leather community. I’d like to assert that in some cases, that can begin with be subjected to a douchey judge.

In 2002 I had won the title of Pistons Leatherman in Long Beach. This served as a feeder contest for the American Brotherhood Weekend in DC where I would compete for the American Leatherman title. I was still new in my experience of leather and had little to no community involvement. But like many contestants, I was wooed in with being told that I would be a good candidate and that they “really needed contestants and I had a good chance”. Okay, sure why not. I was naive at the time and hindsight is 20/20. I wound up winning and thus the adventure of the national title ensued.

Now I want to preface this with saying that ABW is a fantastic event and I recommend it highly. It’s just that my personal experience of competing in it was horrible. I did meet some great people there, had a really fun time doing my fantasy on stage, and scored surprisingly well among the other contestants who had considerable more experience than I (second runner-up for those wondering). All that aside, participating in that contest was a very negative experience, all because of the nastiness I received during my interview from a particular judge.

I will not divulge his name, but I tell you that when it was his turn to ask questions, he took off his reading glasses and wiped them dramatically saying, “I just want to understand something. I want to know what the big deal is that you have to use the name ‘Dart’ and not your real name in this contest? If you have something to hide I suggest you tell this panel what it is once and for all.”

I looked at him quizzically and said, “well, I’m not hiding anything it’s just the name I go by in the community. My real name is David – you all know that.”

The guy made no eye contact with me. He just stared off in the distance and continued.

“Well all I know is that your real name was listed on a publication and a whole lotta stink was raised about changing it to ‘Dart”. Don’t know what you’re doing in the contest if you gotta use a fake name.”

I just want to add that the two gentlemen that were interviewed before me were named RTB and Jazz. I digress…

Again I responded that I was not aware of any ‘stink’ that had been raised as I had no interaction with the editor of said publication. I suggested that perhaps it was my title’s producer that had said something. This all went on for 20 minutes, and the rest of the judges had to be quick with their interview questions with me as a result. I walked out of there having been purposefully embarrassed and humiliated, and I had considered dropping out. Later that evening there was a cocktail meet-and-greet with the judges, and I will never forget the interaction I had with the man. He looked at me and laughed jovially and gave me a big hug saying “Aw you know I think you’re cute as hell Dart! I was just having fun giving you a hard time and it was good for ya! I just loved watching you squirm in fear! You were adorable!”

Seriously?

I would like to tell you all that this is embellished but it’s actually how the interaction was. And I thought, I want nothing to do with this title if this is how its judges are conducting themselves. This man’s questioning had nothing to do with whether I could represent the title or not. He was simply deriving pleasure out of being a bully.

Being asked to judge a contest is not an invitation to be a prick! You have been asked to volunteer your time because your are held in high regard by the community and the producers feel you would have good insight in finding the right candidate to represent the title. This is not your opportunity to make yourself feel powerful by making somebody else feel bad. Yet sadly, I see this left and right, both from what I hear from friends who have competed and from what I’ve observed from fellow judges.

I can remember my former boy Leon participating in a boy title contest and receiving second place. When he shared the judges’ notes with me I was aghast at some of the things I read as they seemed to be so petty. One particular judge – a bootblack – kept coming back to the fact that my boy’s laces were not tied as tight as they could be, and every single note made mention of them:

“Decent speech, but dammit you need to lace those boots up better!”

“You present yourself well, except for your laces!”

“Good answer to the question but I’m going to spank you if you don’t fix those laces!”

Um …they’re laces, not laurels. I get there’s an importance to appearing neat, especially to a bootblack when it comes to footwear. But what does this have to do with the bigger picture? I mean, I have a fetish for facial hair but it doesn’t mean I’m going to dock the guy points if he can’t grow a full beard. I can always use Photoshop later…

As judges we need to keep our questions relevant to the present, and that less is more. How many of us who have competed were asked things like ‘who was the first runner-up of the year 1985 and what was his platform and blah blah blah? Ultimately is this answer important for what the person does with the title now?

I also get fed up with judges who when they ask a question they preface it with a little mini-documentary about themselves and what makes them ‘important’, usually in the form of a diatribe that goes on for several minutes and takes up everybody else’s time. Honestly, just pour yourself a glass of ‘shut-the-fuck-up’, and ask your question. Your merits are all going to be read off by the emcee so we don’t need to go into it here, and the contestant has already put you in high regard because they want to impress you and win the contest. Don’t take extra advantage of being boosted up. As my friend Pug would say, ‘when you put someone on a pedestal you get a really good view of their asshole’. All the more reason not to put yourself up on one.

When I judge a contest I want to know what makes the contestant real. I’m not looking for a superhero, I’m looking for someone that openly expresses their ongoing trials and tribulations. I respect a contestant that readily admits that they’re human and not perfect. I want to know what they get passionate about, even if it’s not leather or kink related. I certainly don’t wear my leather 24/7 and I don’t want a title represented by somebody who claims to. And most of all, I want the contestant to feel relaxed and connected to me. Personally the only way I believe I’m going to see this person’s true spirit is if they feel that being themselves is okay. It’s certainly the message we preach in leather, so we need to walk that walk when it comes to a title. The victor is certainly going to have their hands full with what they take on for their title year; it’s up to us as judges to be a positive gateway for that person’s title journey. Let’s not forget this.

Oh and one last thing. Please don’t feed contestants that crap about ‘leather is not what you wear, it’s in your heart’ – because we all know we’d dock their scores if they came in wearing tennis shoes…

😉

 

The Symbols are Not the Arrival

When I began exploring leather in my early twenties I was of course very drawn to becoming a collared boy to someone. Yes, I was having an abundant amount of play experiences, but I was really hungry for something more secure. I wanted to feel like a Sir’s property, to be owned and cherished. He would help me grow and learn, and provide structure and balance in a life where I desperately needed it.  The photos and Tom of Finland drawings I saw depicting men in their collars gave me a sense of longing, and I thought one day I will be fortunate enough to earn a Dom’s collar myself.

There was a good friend of mine back then who was a great support for helping me start out in all this. He too was a boy and I remember the day his Sir finally presented him with his collar. I was so congratulatory to him (if not quite jealous) , and I remember commenting that it must feel like a great reward for his hard work and devotion. His response had a great impact on me,

“Actually Dart, now the work begins.”

At the time I didn’t understand what he meant by this. I remember his attempting to explain it all to me, but being needy and inexperienced, I didn’t truly hear it. When you have your mind set on a certain concept, even if it’s a false one, you can become quite selective in the information that comes through. When I started in all this, I naively saw a collaring as a ‘point of arrival’.  It was a symbol of reward for doing all kinds of hard work and proving oneself to be worthy of a Sir’s ownership. To some degree that’s true, but the problem was that I was seeing it as a security blanket. I had this idea that if only I could prove myself worthy of actually becoming a collared boy, I would feel worthy as a person. The collar would be proof that I was important to someone, and I didn’t have to feel insecure or lonely anymore.  Once I received it I could finally feel good. In other words, I was making the symbol mean something that it wasn’t, almost like it was a panacea for the negative feelings I had about myself.

Now I have been a collared boy several times, and each experience has been monumental in helping me grow and mature as a person, and as a Sir. The very first time I earned a man’s collar was in my late twenties, and I will tell you that that was when I really learned what my friend meant about the work ensuing. This is because at the time I DID put all of this inaccurate meaning on the collar I received, and admittedly fell into the mythology that “all will be well” now. The truth was, Sir and I had new issues that had to be worked out. There were new parameters and boundaries that had to be explored and set. Expectations had to be communicated more astutely; expectations that I had assumed were already in place because after all, I was now a man’s property. Certainly we’ve already done a majority of the foundation setting. Admittedly I became more careless and sloppy with the way I conducted myself as a boy. I might also add – and I wince as I share this – I became very childish. I acted out because the ‘demons’ of my neediness were not being assuaged by the collar. My first run as a boy lasted less than a year. Was it a disaster? No. It was painful, but I also woke up and realized what these symbols truly mean. And of course, what they do not.

Leather has all kinds of glamorized rituals that we often put far too much meaning into. Some of these rituals don’t actually have any basis in history but we have turned them into meaning-making events that cause us to draw false conclusions. I’ve used the collaring as one example but the same can be said for earning a title, or a pin, or being covered. I remember being at an event in Toronto and being surprised by receiving my Muir cap and being proclaimed a Sir. I was there with my leather family at the time and my own Sir, and together he and one of the community leaders presented me with the honor of becoming a Sir myself. Again, here was this amazing symbol that was being given to me,with all kinds of amazing fanfare. I was blown away.

And I had to say to my ego, “NOW the work begins mister.”

Wherever you are in your experience of leather and kink, remember what my friend said about remaining vigilant about the ‘work’. Just like with a marriage or a commitment of any kind in life, there isn’t really a true arrival point. The process is ongoing and never ends, and that’s actually what makes it beautiful and extraordinary. The evolution and change is infinite. If you fall into the false belief that a symbol or ritual allows you to ‘ease up’ on your diligence, you’ll fall into a trap of stagnation or resignation. Don’t rob yourself of the experience of growth. It’s one of the greatest gifts you can experience in leather.

*Deep breath*

Okay. Back to the grind.

Dart