There's been this battle going on over on Leatherati Voices. Someone named John D Wheal wrote a book about leather life as it was in the 1940s and 1950s. Read Guy Baldwin's or Jeffery Payne's review of the book. And be sure to read John D Wheal's rebuttal. For those of you who don't know him, Guy Baldwin and Jeffery Payne are former International Mr. Leathers and very well respected members of the leather community. At least, as far as I've been told.
The debate has been fascinating to follow, although I've been somewhat at a loss for words on what to say about the issue. I don't know John Wheal, Guy Baldwin, or Jeffrey Payne personally. I've never met any of them. I don't know who's right or who's wrong about anything related to this book at all. Did leather "councils" exist? Were there rules? What was protocol really like? Who's a rubber boy to believe anyway? And does it even make any difference now?
While I've been pondering all of this, I've also been trudging along with my life. Besides work at the hospital, I've spent a good amount of time in Minneapolis, being a big part of the Mr. and Ms. Twin Cities Leather contests. I was a judge this year. It was an interesting perspective on the whole process. The contestants gave it their all, and I could tell. We were able to sash our very first Ms. Twin Cities Leather, SJ. She's well connected and has high hopes for the leather scene in Minneapolis. Our winner of the Mr. Twin Cities Leather contest is Jared. This was the controversial one we picked. He's new to the Twin Cities, but moreover, he's heterosexual. This has caused a little bit of uproar from the community, but then again, maybe I just haven't heard the full extent of it between working and being out of town.
Whatever the case is, I'm willing to take any amount of heat that anyone wants to dish out. Seriously. If anyone has a problem with a straight man being Mr. TCL, then you should take it out on me. Not him. Don't forget that he was chosen to fill this role by a group of five people, myself included. We didn't have to pick him, yet we did. So if you have something to say, let's hear it. This wasn't a decision that I, or the entire judges panel came to lightly. It'll probably be something I'll be remembered for.
Will it? Is this the history I'm writing?
Later that week, I went out to Denver to spend an amazing weekend with a group of really awesome guys. It was the first time in my life I'd ever been to Denver. I didn't really see a whole lot of it, but then again, we weren't exactly there to enjoy the scenery, either. This was a private party...and it was nice to see the boys from Florida and my Denver crew again and spend some quality time with my kink brothers/family. For anyone who's followed this blog, you know that "leather family" isn't a term that I've used much here. It's never felt right to me, but then again, maybe it's just a word I never really understood.
The weekend in Denver was an absolute blast. It almost felt like IML. We kept the energy high, I got to dom AND sub and do some really awesome scenes on both sides. The play was essentially non-stop, but for the times we went out to eat and the few hours we slept. Good times were had by all, but the thing that I'll remember most is the sense of family that we developed and shared during those four long days we all spent together. A family I couldn't ever imagine having, but now so grateful for.
Sitting at dinner with everyone, I looked down the table of 25 and thought to myself - is this how the old guard came together and became a family? Is the realization that I'm having now any different than the ones they had back then? Did they share meals like this too? How will I ever know? I probably never will.
And what about me? How will I be remembered? Fifty or sixty years from now, provided the world still exists, how is MY generation of kink going to be interpreted? Are we going to be thought of as the rebels? The sex fiends? Are people going to marvel at the LACK of technology that we had available to us? Are people going to wonder how we found one another? Or are people going to assume we had our own councils making those decisions for us? Then again, people might think of my generation as a lousy Recon hookup, with nothing more to show for it than a used condom in the trash can.
I know this blog isn't going to last forever and ever and ever. I expect that one day, I'm going to run out of steam, or else people are going to stop listening to what I have to say. But unless I write enough that the Leather Archives & Museum will find it worthy of permanent preservation and archival as a historical text, there's a good chance that this community and I will become the new "old guard" that people are left to only wonder about. But what do I really want left for future generations to remember about us?
I guess I would want people to know that judging Mr. Twin Cities Leather was an amazing experience. It was one I'm honored to have been selected to be a part of at just age 27, and I'm happy that the winner is heterosexual. How can we ask straight people to embrace our homosexual communities if we don't accept and support them as well? And yes, I could go on and write plenty of porn about the scenes I had in Denver, like the kidnapping when the Floridanians arrived or the double mummification or the 90 minute suspension in a zentai that I went through or any other number of scenes. All of these milestones in my life are building me into the kinkster I am today, but I see something more important beneath the surface.
We won't ever know what the FIRST guard of leather was really like; all I can say is that I know that I'm very grateful for them and whatever it was they did. I wouldn't be here today without the dreams they had. Today, in our times of chaos and uncertainty, we press on together in creating our own history. As a family. Now. In the Twin Cities, Denver, Florida, at a dinner table, in a dungeon, at a party, and in a parade.
The thing that I want remembered most can't ever be put in an archive or a museum. In my eyes, the most valuable part of my generation of leather is the unending feeling of optimism - the faith that future generations are going to have even stronger community bonds than ours because of the history we're making today.