I am a Heretic

Seth Godin says, heretic = artist = leader. I like that. ​​

This heretic is here to change your life – our lives, the lives of gay men and anyone who is effected by gay men. The change will not be easy. It never has been. But it is necessary, and the rewards are enormous. No matter how comfortable it becomes for gay men there will always more work to be done. For gay men, the status quo is not only unjust, it is dangerous. What is true today will not be true tomorrow. The era of change is upon us. We either lead the change or accept what happens to us and our culture by external forces. The good news is that there are more opportunities to effect change than ever before. Social connectivity platforms have suddenly given us all a voice more equal than at any other point in man’s history. What are you saying with yours? How are you using it to effect change?

The challenge, is getting past your own fear.

Writing these words on a public web site is not done without fear, but I am doing it nonetheless. I have faith that others in the tribe will be moved to create their own change, your own change, that is parallel to my own. Create something that is true to your own authenticity, that is diverse, and is vibrant. Let me be clear, I am not asking you to follow Mike’s prescription for change. I am asking you to create your own, give voice to it, and lead others who respond to your message.

I will not be deterred from action or agree to “not now” assertions by those whose fear has paralyzed them. Many of these assertions are coming from our usual enemies or the institutions build by GLBT people. It turns out my own tribe is not immune to the lures of the status quot.

I will not accept attempts to shame me by those saying I’m being selfish by focusing on the needs of my gay brothers when so much work remains undone to save the planet, on human rights, on minority rights, and on GLBT rights in general. What I will do is focus on the dignity of my own tribe and celebrate the leadership other leaders give to their tribes. When that happens, not only will the lives of gay men get better, but so will the lives of GLBT people in general and those of the entire planet.

The ripples of dignity fueled change lift up the lives of everyone. Feed your tribe.

​Stop asking permission. Start leading.
​​
Be the heretic that ads light to the color band of the rainbow that speaks to you. Celebrate its uniqueness, promote its message, and foster the people who are drawn to your light. It will happen. It is happening. And every time that it does, we all win.

Do not be deterred by the establishment; by those asking you to wait, asking you for the polls to change, or for  permission that comes from a hierarchy. The hierarchy is no longer vertical, it is horizontal. YOU are the hierarchy. There are no longer people above you and below you. There are only people beside you. I am beside you. Many more are beside you waiting for you to lead them.

Gay Men vs. Gay Men

This article is indeed, food for thought. Gay Men vs. Gay Men It makes me sad because I believe that most of it is true. As gay men, we do attack each other with alarming frequency and vitriol. I try to remember that the queen and/or gay bully spewing the venom is simply mirroring the world he has known his whole life. He believes, either consciously or not, that gay men should be torn apart, that a show of strength or status comes from tearing down the queer. With very few exceptions, gay men are raised in a non-gay culture that is usually hostel to our very existence. We’re just doing what feels natural.

Our challenge is to step into an entirely new paradigm where we see gay men as our family, our tribe, and our responsibility. When the tearing down happens we need to change the subject, challenge our brothers to operate at a higher standard, or just walk away.
When the cool kids are the ones NOT tearing other gay men down, things will change. But sometimes you need be the freak who challenges the status quote. And if you see someone else challenging the mean girl paradigm, buy them a drink, join in their dialog, feed their message.

Killing Condom Only HIV Prevention

This is my answer to a question posted on the TRIBE – WeHo Gay Men’s Discussion Group facebook page.

“If condoms are only 70% effective at preventing the spread of HIV, and less that 17% of men who have sex with men are using condoms every time, where do we go from here?”
Putting the Nail in the Coffin of Condom-Only HIV Prevention

We should change the discussion to match today’s sexual and medical realities.

I think we need to start being honest with men (like you are in your column, thank you!) about the real risks of HIV transmission. We need to insist that “prevention experts” like AHF stop their infatuation with the false notion that condom use leads to a panacea of prevention. We need to insist that they redirect the insane amount of money they are spending on ineffective, shame based, sex negative, billboards into programs that give men the real tools they need to slow or stop infection. The established AIDS communities infatuation with the condom-only-nothing-else-matters concept, is only leading to more infections because guys are fucking without condoms. It’s a fact! How many studies are we going to do before we face that reality? If our brothers are fucking without condoms, we need to talk to them about doing it in the safest possible way…which, by the way, may be safer then putting ALL their trust in condoms alone.

We need to stop shaming and start celebrating sex. We need make it cool to be responsible. Make a trip to get tested for HIV or STIs a badge of honor.

I’d like to know more about the men still getting infected.

Do they know all their options? Do they know there is a sliding scale or risk? Do they know who is most likely to shed the virus and under what circumstance? Do they know about PrEP? Are they being taught to talk openly about medications as well as HIV status with their partners? Do they know what “undetectable” means? Do they know that a guy whose on meds and undetectable is statistically safer to have sex with then a guy who doesn’t know his status and is wearing a condom?

Facebook Slams Bareback Page

Facebook Shuts Down Barebacking Page

My contribution to a facebook disucssion in the TRIBE – WeHo Gay Men’s Discussion Group.

Are we talking about public health here or our inability to talk about sex?

To me, this is just another example of American’s fear of sexual content and homophobia from both gay and non-gay people. FB hides behind public health, but I’m guessing it is really the discussion about sex, especially gay sex in particular, that bothers them. I’m guessing that it was easy to find a gay man in the office with enough internalized homophobia to support their decision. “Oh god! That is inappropriate. What about the children? What about public health?” Well, that’s what parenting and security settings are for. btw, I grew up in a state without sex education (it would give children the wrong message) I graduated high school with two pregnant girls, three parents of toddlers, and I soon became HIV positive myself. Maybe a little more talk about sex can be good for kids, but I digress.

Pulling this site down is not about public health. Public health and the strain on our economy by disease would be better served if we shut down all sites contributing to obesity and stress. Google tells me those are the top health concerns of Americans.

Fantasy Fire Ritual: Supporting The Diverse In Diversity

An essay written for Letherati

The One True Banner

Deep in the North American state of California, in the high altitudes of the Sierra Forest, the Leather Council convenes under a star lit sky and the glow of a roaring bon fire. Upon a giant granite rock, under the One True Banner, the First and Final Five Master Tenders of Leather Tradition sit in cloaked anonymity. Simple shadows of humanity encased in polished leather from boots to cover.
Only THE ONE ever speaks and it has always been accepted that THE ONE knows all and what is best for leather folk everywhere. His voice is like thunder. It calls forth the language of the leather Gods and makes it decipherable to mere mortal leather folk.
“The high court will recognize the leather boy in jump boots, jock strap, simple vest, and collar who calls himself “jim”. You may approach Us!”
Until now, jim has been kneeling dutifully at the feet of his black leather clad Master. Knees apart, arms behind his back and head slightly bowed forward. His short military hair cut lays under the trembling gloved hand of his Sir.
The thousands gathered in the meadow of the tall redwoods say nothing. Do nothing. Look neither left nor right. Only forward and upward to the Master Tenders on the high holy rock. The crack and spit of the fire threaten to puncture the delicate membrane that is holding back a torrent of expectation. The derision of difference presses in. Only the Master Tenders can make it right.
“You have two minutes to make your case for wishing to wear your boot laces threaded on top of the first two eyelets of your boots instead of threading them under the first two eyelets of your boots as it has been done since leather men first road out on their motorcycles from the port cities of old! Explain your BLASPHAMY!”
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Wow, where did that little fantasy come from and what does it have to do with Leather diversity? I wonder?
To me, there are a lot of attractive elements to that scene: the intense protocol, the leather itself, the Master/slave practices, the fire, the sense of tradition, the drama. I love that stuff! But there are other parts that suck: like the inflexibility of the Master Tenders of Leather Tradition, the stifling environment jim finds himself in, and the silence of the other community members present.
Please notice the words “to me” in the above paragraph. I have some intense ideas on how I think the community should behave, who belongs in it, and who doesn’t. Did anyone read Carpetbaggers? But at the end of the day, that is what is important TO ME. My little world designed exactly the way I want it is my own personal trip. They are MY ideas and I’m entitled to them.
Unfortunately (and I say “unfortunately” because it complicates my carefully arranged little world) I also value diversity. I value having a broader pool of talent and resources to draw on when I get into trouble or my community needs help. When I’m fighting for my basic human rights, or dealing with a catastrophic calamity (like AIDS) I need some strong professionals and kinky family to help me get through it.
I also value finding new and twisted ways to get off. I might get bored! I’m the kind of person who wants all the bells and whistles installed on my kink caravan. I want options for installing features I don’t even know I want yet. I’m selfish that way. Being around people who look, play, and think differently than I do is the only way I can think of to be exposed to those new ideas.
But that process seems random. It’s unpredictable and I like things in order. Diversity is messy. So what is a tight ass, OCD, kinky man to do? Find some all encompassing banner we can all get along under?
I don’t think so.
The members of the community in my imaginary world above all stand under one banner, and because of that, there is no room for the difference in diversity to flourish. jim is not even allowed to lace his boots differently without permission from THE ONE.
As a Leatherman, I have to call foul! A big fat non-consensual foul! He’s at the foot of the alter of the One True Banner. Where is jim to turn? How is the difference in diversity supposed to express itself under that kind of single-mindedness?
That scene might be hot to many of us (who no doubt see ourselves as THE ONE) but its expectations and protocols are best left in a smaller private club, under a smaller more distinct banner, whose values are shared by those who choose to follow it.
The values of one club should not be expected to be followed by the totality of the kinky world.
Trying to pull ourselves together under one big all-inclusive-all-the-time-banner brings us to a pretty oppressive and sometimes mind numbingly boring place. The best we can do is try to agree on a few general principles like “Safe, Sane, and Consensual” – “Risk Aware Consensual Kink” – “Trust, Honor, and Respect” and leave it at that.
Trying to agree on the smaller minutia of kink or leather is impossible and I think it actually hinders our growth as individuals and as clubs when we give up our autonomy and attempt to come to consensus on everything.
Let’s give ourselves permission to disagree with one another on the small stuff. Maybe even look at those differences as a good thing. When that happens, we’re actually supporting the development of diversity.
But there are times when I’m just not feeling it. When I don’t want to be politically correct and tolerant. When I just want to be around people whose values and principles and gear and play are all similar to my own. The good news is that there is actually still room for me in the fetish world during those times.
I just need to plan my schedule accordingly.
As a responsible kinky player I’m going to have to take responsibility for informing myself about the kinky world I live in by looking at the calendar of events available to me and only going to the ones I’m in the proper frame of mind to attend. When I’m not feeling the warm fuzzies of the all inclusive bug, I will be spending more time at private events, in private dungeons, in German dark rooms, and on-line hook ups than I will be at huge events where the doors are open to anyone and everyone.
There are lots of private events that are very specific to the kind of people and play that resonate with me. It’s my responsibility to identify them. If they don’t exist, guess what? I need to either create those spaces myself or I need to support the clubs, events, and parties that speak to me.
In the end I’ll be a much happier kinkoid.
It also means that I’m going to need to give those freaks out there who think and act differently than I do the same room and privacy I want when they are doing the freaky things they enjoy. No matter how bizarre. I need to accept what they are doing even if I’m not invited.
It’s an under 40 party? More power to you my brothers. I don’t qualify for entry. I can’t wait to hear about how it went.
Unless you are taking away my opportunity to organize and produce my unique flavored play spaces, I’m going to have to sit back, shut the hell up, and wish you well on your endeavor.
It also means I might have to stay away from events that I’m invited to, but don’t like how they’re being run or who is showing up to them. For example: Let’s say a big event like, well, IML or Folsom is not up to my standard of kink anymore?
Maybe I should stop going. It might actually be my responsibility to not attend if I can’t keep my complaining mouth shut at the event.
This conundrum just slapped me in the face at July’s Dore Alley street fair. I was grabbed on the arm and stopped by three spiky haired, iPhone carrying, tennis shoe wearing, early twenty something twinks and their two girl friends. They stopped me and my boy and wanted our photo.
I was so incensed I decided to tell anyone who would listen at Stompers about what had just happened. “I’m not freakin Goofy and this isn’t Disneyland!”
Unfortunately, nothing is more certain than change. Our big events are not immune to it. And I need to accept it. I either need to accept the change or stop going and create an event that truly speaks to me. After all, who is forcing me to go?
After giving it some thought and seeing how shrill my 45 year old voice sounded when someone else told my Goofy story (accurately, damn it), I’ve decided that “being Goofy” is simply part of the price I need to pay to enjoy an exclusive packed patio area of booted up kinky people in a twink-free zone at Stompers.
We are a confederation of diverse communities, not one single community.
Have you noticed that I’ve been using the term, fetish world instead of Leather Community? I’m going to try that on for size for a while because I think it’s more accurate than calling ourselves a “community.” Each member of a confederation can be encouraged to be brilliantly different from the other members. Individual community members are expected to conform to the rules of the community.
So I started thinking; would it be possible to I create an event that acknowledges my personal kinks while still honoring other perverts out there whose kinks look, behave, and maybe even smell different than my own? How can I create a fetish world event?
And then I said fuck it, I’ll worry about the “how” later. What would it look like? And this is what I came up with.
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The Fire Event

The great sacred meadow of the redwoods has been meticulously cleared in preparation for the annual ritual. The full moon and stars that are shining through crisp mountain air blanket the ground with light. The movement of the towering redwoods in the cool summer breeze is all that can be heard. A thirty foot high and equally wide pyre waits in solitude in the center of the meadow. A ring of countless unlit torches are staked into the packed earth a safe distance from the still cool stack of wood which lays more than seven hundred footfalls from the tree line.
Inside the woods the Kurrent Kinksters are making their way through the dark forest down a well worn path that leads to the revered field. In the tradition of the annual gathering, they walk behind their new banner, mounted high on a tall staff. They are dressed in retro hipster low slung pants, button up collared shirts, thick black rimmed classes and untied hiking boots. Some wear a black leather armband on their wrist. Many of them carry classic medium sized brown overnight cases from the 1960’s.
From the covered darkness of the redwoods they emerge onto the field of the sacred meadow and see that from every point on the compass other banners are emerging from the ancient forest edge into the moonlight. Ten, twenty, thirty banners come forward. A myriad of crews expressing their own kink each find a torch and plant their banner behind it. Some reverently approach the circle while others roar with boisterousness revelry.
The Kurrent Kinkster quietly watch as the meadow fills with hundreds of clubs comprised of thousands of individuals. Motorcycle, drag, skin, uniform, rubber, sport, spandex, all genders, all ages, all colors are present. Each under its own banner. Additional torches are brought out when they are needed to be matched with new banners.
“Satyrs, motorcycle club!” A voice rings out with clarity. The light of the relatively small flame and decisive declaration quiets the great sea of people. The oldest crew present, by tradition, has fired up the first torch.
He and his crew have searched the gathering and have found the newest crew present. “The Kurrent Kinksters!” is called out nervously by the twenty-two year old banner carrier and his crew’s torch is lit by the light of the Satyrs’ torch fire.
One by one ever crew name is called out. Every torch is lit. Every banner’s colors are brought to light from the torches that are now lit.
“Whose flame remains undeclared?” The question is answered by the quiet reflections of smiling faces looking at the cornucopia of diversity they are surrounded by.
“Then it is time to light the one fire that brings us all together.”
Simultaneously, every torch is carried forward and the huge pyre is brought to life. Music bursts into the night air and with a collective roar the individual crews disperse into the sea of kinky brothers and sisters around them to celebrate their differences.

Not Fighting The Fight

I had a great time out at the Eagle last night. It was the one thing that I did NOT have planned for this weekend. I’m so glad that I went.
After attending my second fundraising activity for the weekend, I decided to head over to the Eagle, and it was exactly what I needed. There was no contest, no event, no fundraiser, no theme, just a collection of guys who decided to head down to the bar wearing what ever the frack they wanted to wear.
There was enough gear and leather to make me horny and hopeful. There was also a smattering of WeHo boys in tennis shoes. But I like being the welcome wagon for those hotties truly interested in leather and fetish, so I was happy to see them. Of course I was also happy to scare them in a way that will hopefully bring them back in more appropriate attire.
It was a pretty hot crowd and I felt at home. I chatted up some friends, an ex, and a few new guys. The order of the day was to hang out and maybe get laid with one of the hot men in the room. With our group, regular glancing around and reconnoiter was what interrupted our conversations. Those who left the group and returned were expected to give a report on what they’d observed away from base camp.
During one of my tours through the space, I spent some time alone leaning on the front bar. Greedily watching the wonderfully hot bartender work his bare chest, low rise jeans, shiny belt and wicked smile. Men came and went as they ordered their drinks allowing me to see up close who they were and maybe what they were about as they talked to each other and the bartender.
I missed my opportunity to talk to a hot fucker decked out in a harness, leather cap, and most importantly and gauntlet on his right wrist. I was working up the never to approach him and his three Muir cap covered companions when I was interrupted by a tight bodied WeHo boy. Stripped down and retrofitted in gear he’d be a hot little number… I was intrigued. Unfortunately that distraction cost me the time I needed to strike. When I looked up, I eyed harness man walking out the front door with his friends. Zipping up the ass of his leather pants as he went. FRACK!
Part of the night included being snubbed by someone close to me. I don’t really get it. Of course I am certain he’d claim I was the one doing the snubbing. But like I said, I don’t really get it. And now, I just don’t have the fight in me to engage with that dance any more. I now accept the role of “X”. I can only guess what “X” is, but I have a feeling it has something to do with my lack of enthusiasm for fundraisers. 
Brand me, tattoo me, give me a fucking tiara as the asshole of “X”. Just let me get back to my guys in gear, and sorting out the leather subs from the weho doms, cause that’s really the scene I’ve been trying to preserve with all my high profile political work.
When there is a weekend where I’ve been out cruising the scene for ass for three nights and have only attended one fundraising event, then maybe we can revisit that conversation. Til then, I’m done fighting.