Check back for updated writings and thoughts from Sir Guy.
This year at SouthEast Leather Fest (SELF) in Atlanta, GA, Sir Guy was invited to be the keynote speaker. Their theme for this year was Mixology and it was also the theme of Sir Guy's speech. The full text of his keynote speech is available here.
Over Labor Day weekend, Sir Guy was given the opportunity to deliver a speech on the rich history of People of Color in our community history at the Master/slave Conference in Rockville, MD. The speech also celebrated the 20th anniversary of ONYX. The full text of the speech is available here.
50 Shades of Arrogance
February 3, 2015
It seems that all throughout the BDSM world, people are talking about this thing.
Most of the talk is derisive:
"Wait until all the tourists come in."
"There goes the neighborhood!"
"They're going to think that this is what we're about."
"The book is about what BDSM is!"
I have to admit, I was swept up in the wave of BDSM elitism... until I remembered my own journey.
As much as I would like to say I carefully sought out information and made a conscious decision to come to the oldest BDSM support and education group in the world, The Eulenspiegel Society (TES), that would be bullshit! In fact, it was bullshit almost believed until I looked at things.
The first time I started playing with the idea of BDSM came twenty years before I knew what BDSM was. I was a police officer and I met women that liked being handcuffed. I met other women who liked being handcuffed and having sex with me while I was in uniform. I enjoyed it too, so I did it as much as possible! The first time I went to a BDSM club was in the mid 1980's. It was the iconic club owned by the late Lenny Waller. I went there because I was at a bachelor party with some of my cop buddies and one of them suggested we go to this "wild freaky club"... so we did. All of us watched; none of us participated. But I remembered that place. It was years before I went back.
Around the same time I saw two Mickey Rourke movies: and . To me both of these movies were hot as hell! I really enjoyed the control his characters had as well as the distance. I came away thinking, "It would be so cool to be like that, but you'd have to be rich."
Years later I got involved with a girl at work. We got involved and during our relationship she grew comfortable enough with me to do things for me: wear lingerie I would purchase for her, wear a blindfold, and, finally, allow me to restrain her during sex. I liked the power of it and the fact that she told me that I was the only person she would think of letting do that to her. Years later, on the same job, I met another young lady. This woman had some sexual fantasies that she shared with me. Soon we were exploring them: sensory deprivation, wax play, bondage, knife play, rape play, impact play. Neither of us had gone to a class or read a book. It was something we just felt comfortable exploring with each other. We even went to this BDSM themed bar/restaurant in the East Village in NYC called , where for dessert, you could spank someone or get spanked, tie someone up or get tied up, or order a chocolate stiletto heeled shoe. A few years later, on that same job, I met another young lady. This person had been exposed to "the scene", but didn't initially let me know. She bought me Anne Rice's trilogy. Seeing my reaction to that she took me out to a dungeon. We didn't play, but I saw a lot. She later proved that she wasn't who she said she was and we parted ways, but it did let me know that there was "a scene".
It was after 9/11 where I was a first responder, that I started to think about BDSM and the scene seriously, though I had been playing with it for decades. After 9/11 I decided I should seek to do what wanted to do, and not what had been expected of me. I searched. I found again before I found .
When I spoke to "veterans" about , I heard it called "SM lite". When I spoke of I was told, "That's not how we do things in real life!" When I spoke of I was told, "That's all fantasy! Besides there was no consent!"
Yet, I think about all of those experiences and I remember how much fun they were. I remember that they put me on the path to where I am now. In fact, along the way I dealt with people that were far more genuine than many of the people I have met I came into the public scene.
So in spite of those beginnings, I've been on the board of two organizations, have presented nationally, have written a book of my own, have won a Leather title and have many dear friends who are part of the scene,
Plenty of people found BDSM through , or or or . The ones for whom it resonated stayed. The ones for whom it was a fad left. And the ones who said, "Who needs to be around these pompous bastards just to have kinky fun?" left also.
So when comes out we have nothing to fear. Things will be as they always have been... of us!
Take It All…
October 14, 2014
I know what you were thinking! But, no, this is not a sexual post. It is about responsibility. I saw this quote by Erin Cummings:
"At the end of the day, you are solely responsible for your success and your failure. And the sooner you realize that, you accept that, and integrate that into your work ethic, you will start being successful. As long as you blame others for the reason you aren't where you want to be, you will always be a failure."
It made me think.
There are always mitigating circumstances involved in whatever decisions we make. We may point back to how we were raised, our environments, religious ideologies or indoctrination, community problems and personal traumas. We can point to our parents, our siblings, our friends or our peers. We can blame our boyfriends, our girlfriends, our relationships or our lack thereof.
The bottom line however, is this:
Ultimately only we are responsible for the choices we make... we are responsible for the effects of those choices upon us. I was speaking with my mother recently. She has seen my mistakes as a deficiency on her part. I have explained to her that all of my adult decisions are mine. I own them, whether they are good or bad. I also told her that I cannot blame her for any of my issues. Though my parents may have influenced my views or my decisions indirectly, my adult decisions were mine. I also told both of my parents that I cannot blame them for decisions that they made that may have affected my life. They made those decisions then with the knowledge they had then and there is no way for me to know or judge what that was. There is no need for me to blame them or use those decisions as my baggage or my excuse.
We make decisions. Sometimes the decisions we make don't turn out the way we desire. We could point our fingers and make excuses for the decisions we make. We can try to say we were deceived, or misled. We can say we wanted to give another person a chance. We can say we thought things were different than they turned out to be. But the bottom line is, we shouldn't depend upon anyone else to make us happy. We can't give anyone else that responsibility.
We can't blame others when we are not happy. When we are honest with ourselves we see that we have made choices, made decisions that impact upon our successes and failures. Did we ignore something we should not have? Did we lie to someone else? Did we lie to ourselves, saying to ourselves we wanted one thing when we wanted another? Did we tell ourselves we were one way because we thought it better to be that way, even if it may not have been who we really are within? Did we trust people that should not have been trusted? Did we give too much? Did we not give enough? Were we too fast? Too slow?
These are all our decisions. We have to own them, learn from them, and analyze them. We cannot blame others for them, because they are ours. The sooner we embrace that, the sooner we can go on and be the best that we can be. The more we blame others, the less we can learn and benefit from the lessons that are there to be learned.
I am working on taking on all that responsibility. It is daunting but necessary.
I can't pick and choose. I have to take it all... Will you?
“The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.”
September 30, 2014
The above is a quote from Buddha. What does it mean?
It means that the only way to real success is being truthful with oneself. Any thing else is a failure.
During the course of my life, including my sojourn within this lifestyle I have made choices. I made those choices based upon what I believed at the time to be who I was as a person, who I believed myself to be. I failed to take some things into consideration.
I failed to account for the way I was raised and how that had affected my perception of who I am. I failed to take into consideration the things that are called "societal norms" that were internalized during the course of my life. I neglected to factor in the human desire for acceptance and validation that we often silently and subconsciously seek. I failed to account for human frailties and imperfection. Because of these things I failed.
I failed to quench many of my emotional thirsts, or to face my own fears and insecurities. I failed to develop lasting relationships and good friendships. I failed to realize that who I was and who I wanted to be could be so different.
I recognize that my own sense of vulnerability and insecurities caused me a lack of ease. I realize that I tried to tell myself I was one person when in actuality who I am at my core is much more complex than even I had realized. I came to the realization that my health woes and other needs allowed me to deceive myself into thinking I needed certain things and people and circumstances. I also have come to understand that in doing so I affected others around me.
And now I take a different course of action. I realize that I did not purposelydeceive myself or mislead those around me, but that I had developed a defense mechanism based upon years of doing what I thought was expected of me. I lived a life that had been guided by who I thought I should be. Most importantly, I actually believed that who I was presenting myself to be was who I am. But I am slowly but surely coming to grips with what truly exists within me. I also know why it has taken and continues to take some time to realize.
As far as this lifestyle is concerned, I told myself that the physical part of BDSM didn't appeal to me as much as the psychological. I have come to realize that I can have a very sadistic streak on both the psychological and the physical level. I wanted to be a "gentleman Dom", but while I can still be the gentleman, I no longer claim to be as genteel as the label may imply. I didn't want to be a "Daddy" and, though others saw that quality in me I denied it for a long time. I finally embraced it, only to discover that I could and would only be that to certain types of girls. I bristled at the thought of being poly, not just because of the way I'd been socialized but because it requires work and responsiveness and responsibility and I hadn't been in the mindset to accept all of that. I stepped back from the idea of Ownership because the ideals I had on it were lofty. Then I learned about the humanity of many of those I had elevated as icons and realized that the perfection I saw didn't reflect the realities of human frailty.
I am still learning all that is inside of me. Most importantly, I am still in the process of embracing it. It is difficult at times because that also means embracing that which is imperfect about me, that which is flawed. It means accepting some things about myself that are not very easy to accept.
But if I do not, then I will have to accept that in spite of all I may have accomplished, I will have failed myself, And if I continue to fail myself, I will fail those who entrust themselves to me. That could be the biggest failure of them all.
I rendered apologies, but to some it is too little too late. To others they ring shallow. I now realize the true nature of the quote attributed to the late Flagg, who I still respect and admire: "No apologies!" I cannot apologize for things I wasn't really aware I was doing because I had convinced myself that my actions were correct. They were correct at the time for who I was and where I was at the time. How many of us have made decisions in our lives only to look back at them wishing we'd taken a different course? No, I cannot change the past, but I can work toward making a better future. I can try to make the present as good and positive as possible.
In all cases, I will not shy away from what I've done. I must, and I do, own it. I will not point fingers of blame to anyone else. I will not say this person was bad, or that person did this to me or I did this because of that. That's not relevant. I will take my responsibility as an adult... I will continue to explore my self and the truth of who I am. When I do that I have no time to consider the frailties and fallacies of others. And I learn not to fail.
“Let Us Not Look Back in Anger…
September 24, 2014
...nor forward in fear, but around in awareness." - James Thurber
In the grand scheme of life there comes many times when we look back upon our lives. We re-evaluate decisions that we have made. We consider the consequences of those decisions, sometimes positive, and other times, not so much so. Because we are human, our retrospective views can be a bit jaundiced. We may be overcritical of ourselves, or not critical enough. We may look at things from an emotional standpoint. One of the key emotions is anger. Usually, the anger is not the primary emotion, though it could seem so. Sometimes the anger springs from fear. It could be the fear of being alone, or the fear of the unknown. It could come from sorrow: the sorrow of the loss of a relationship or of lost love.
When we allow that anger to take over it can skew our rational view of a situation. In the case of relationships we will tend to think in terms of passing and failing. We might become critical of the other person. "Didn't they know this or that? Didn't we discuss...?" We start to analyze all that we feel was done wrong to us. Conversely, we may overly criticize ourselves and our decisions. "I should have seen..." or "I should have known..." We get angry at ourselves or at the other person. We get angry at those who should have warned us or those that have, in our minds, chosen sides.
But anger in and of itself is not productive. Not only does it produce all types of physiological effects which can contribute to a plethora of health issues, but it can stymie growth and development. In addition, it can blind us to truth and prevent us from taking a balanced look at the situation. There are positive lessons in all experiences. There are positive memories in all interactions. Too often in our quest for validation our emotional mind overwhelms our rational mind and we act impulsively, to our own detriment.
There are also times when we can be too rational. What's wrong with being rational? When the pendulum swings too far in the other direction we lose something valuable: empathy and compassion. We forget human nature and think only from a "logical" point of view, not taking into consideration others feelings and experiences, or even our own.
Fear can stimulate us, even move us to action. But if we are motivated by fear our moves will be apprehensive. If moved by fear we may be impulsive. We may do things that hurt ourselves or others. "What do I do now? Where do I go from here? How can I make it on my own?" We may make rash decisions that we will regret later. Fear may cause us to seek solace in people who may simply validate our actions but aren't helping us deal with our feeling rationally. It may move us to do things we wouldn't normally do or to fall into former negative patterns of behavior because they are familiar to us. So we cannot move forward in fear.
So what should we do? We should be aware of what is around us. We should be mindful and balance that emotional mind with that rational mind and become wise minded. We should understand that many of the emotions we feel are okay to feel. Too often we tell ourselves, "I shouldn't feel hurt" or worse, "I shouldn't show hurt." But at the same time we must not be consumed by those emotions and we must find ways to go beyond them to forge positive energy and create positive, affirming experiences.
This is not easy to do. It is not what we have been taught. We've generally been taught never to let people see your emotions or never let people dictate behavior to you." We have not been taught balance, partly because it is difficult to achieve. But if we don't strive for it, we do ourselves and those in our circumference a disservice. We don't absorb all of what life has to offer and let's face it, longevity is not guaranteed to any of us. So let us be observant of all that is around us. Take in the beautiful colors of the fall. Absorb the joy of a baby's laughter. Savor the flavor of a juicy peach. Regale in the smell of freshly cut grass. Experience all that is around us with as little judgment as possible just focusing on the experience. Only then will we begin to take in all that life has to offer us.
I am learning to do this...
9/11: A Personal Observation
September 11, 2014
Today is the thirteenth anniversary of the terror attacks that irrevocably changed the lives of millions of people and American culture as we know it. While initially it seemed America had pulled together, transcending race, culture, economics, gender, religion and other divisive forces to stand together as one, what has happened since is that it has become more polarized than ever. While every year when I stand at the reading of the names of the immediate victims, I hear Muslim names, Jewish names, Christian names, and I see reflected in the mourners blacks, whites, Asians, Latinos, South Asian and other people of every hue and culture, many of these people are now viewed as enemies or with suspicion.
The mourning of those who lost their lives on that day has faded except for those whose loss was the most profound: responders who lost their brothers and sisters, and the families of all of those immediate victims. But not only are those losses fading for many, but we don’t mention the 15,000 or so who have died of 9/11 related illnesses since then. We don’t speak of the more than 40,000 who are sick and dying from rare cancers, respiratory ailments, skin ailments and other ills. And we especially do not think of all of those who suffer from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other unseen difficulties.
The fact of the matter is we don’t want to think about these things. It makes us uncomfortable. We don’t want to remember that day and its effects because it reminds us of how powerless we are. It reminds us that we don’t really have the control over our own lives that we tell ourselves we do. It reminds us that in mere seconds all we think we are, all we think we know, all we think we have can be changed quickly and permanently. It reminds us that no matter how strong we claim to be there is always something stronger. When we point blame at people from a particular religion or country or political affiliation or race or culture, aren’t we really just acknowledging that we are not as powerful as we believe? Aren’t we really saying that we don’t control as much as we think we do? Aren’t we really acknowledging that we are more helpless than we’d like to believe, more vulnerable?
I had a hard time admitting my vulnerability. To some extent, I still do. Cancer gave me a reality check, but even then I denied it. I fought that feeling of vulnerability. But when I couldn’t escape it any more the idea scared me. The feeling of helplessness was not foreign to me. I’d felt it before: doing CPR on a tiny five year old who choked on food and could not be revived; transporting a brilliant attorney who because of a massive stroke could now only say “bye-bye”; trying to console the parents of a six year old boy who had been repeatedly sodomized by a ten year old boy in the school where both children’s mothers worked and, of course, 9/11, when I spent hours treating no one. But this time the helplessness was my own and about me.
I’d hoped that speaking of my feelings would help me and help others understand. I felt I should lay bare my issues, my fears, my vulnerabilities in an effort to make people understand. But I now realize that I can’t expect people to understand things about me that I am just coming to understand. I can’t force others to come to comprehend things that are barely comprehensible to me. I can’t believe that anyone can see deep inside me when I am just discovering things within the depth of my soul that I had pushed deep within me. I did that because I feared them. I did that because I did not want to see them. I did that because I didn’t want to admit that these things existed within me.
Today, I explore those demons and I ask patience while I do so. But, more importantly, I wish for you to explore yourself, your demons, and the depth of your beings. Understand your own vulnerability. Embrace it. It is not weakness. It is humanity. It trumps dominance, submission, status and personality, no matter how much we wish it wouldn’t. By accepting our own humanity and vulnerability we can accept that of others more readily. We will begin to go beyond our rage, our jealousies, our fears and our prejudices because we will begin to realize that all of us have them.
No matter how many times I say it, I know that there will be many people who won’t do that. I understand that. I am still learning to do that and I’ve been trying for years and I am by no means the best and brightest. I hope to be able to accept that. I hope to be able to understand that no matter what I say or do people, even those few I pulled close to me, may not comprehend what I am saying. They may not sympathize or empathize. I hope to realize that some people cannot understand me because they still haven’t come to understand themselves. In other words, they are human too.
So, on this fateful day, a day of remembrance and meditation, please take some time to reflect upon your own humanity. Embrace your own mortality. Understand your own vulnerability… and remember that life is too short and unpredictable to waste it trying to be what you’d like to be or what you’d like people to think you are. Instead take the time to climb inside yourself and love what is in there, good, bad or indifferent. In exploring your vulnerability you find your real strength.
What People Say and What They Do
September 5, 2014
The above scriptural quote is from the book of John. It is said that according to Mosaic Law, fornication and adultery were punishable by stoning. Here Jesus was confronted with a case of a woman who was supposedly adulterous and faced the death penalty. The Pharisees wanted him to participate and he uttered the words above.
What is the point? The point is that if each of us look into our lives, we will find that we are not blameless, that we have done wrong, done injury or caused hurt, either purposefully or inadvertently.
I readily admit my faults. I say often that I am not perfect and I make mistakes. I try to make amends and I try to learn from them. Sometimes I can and sometimes it is simply not possible. I have to live with that. I know my life is full of bad or ill-advised decisions. Sometimes I face the consequences directly. At other times, other people have faced consequences for my actions, and I eternally regret that.
However, there are those who throw stones. They bandy about words like "integrity" and "honor" while they subject others to injustice and a lack of due process. They make decisions and accusations based upon misinformation, emotion, conjecture and alliances that are not fact based. Then they try to get others to join the band wagon. Time and again close friends of mine have said to me, "You need to address these people publicly and set them straight. You need to let people know the truth or at least side of the story."
I have always felt that private matters should be kept private and that there is no need to trash another person in order to exalt myself. I have always tried to be the bigger person. I have tried to avoid public arguments and "he said/she said" because I have seen that as petty and childish. But there comes a time when one can turn the other cheek enough, when your cheeks get sore from turning them. There comes a time when one must call another on their bullshit.
I am still holding myself back. I am still trying to maintain calm and composure. I am still trying to rise above the fray and be mature. But when things start to affect me personally, when my reputation and all the hard work I have done for years is threatened it is difficult to remain calm and reserved.
This next week brings me to the anniversary of 9/11, a very solemn and emotional time for me. It appears that people who know this won't even respect me enough to step away from their insinuations to allow me the peace and solace of even this time.
But because, in spite of their insinuations and accusations, I am above that and I do not wish to respond emotionally, though I am full of emotion, I will not respond at this time. But though I am flawed, though I've made mistakes, though I'm imperfect, I am as worthy of respect as anyone else. I will fight for my name. I will fight for my accomplishments. I will fight those who are at least as flawed and imperfect as I who choose to throw stones.
They'd better secure their glass houses.
Arrived Alive at 55
August 25, 2014
This past Saturday was my 55th birthday. Considering that three years ago I was diagnosed with a cancer they said was in stage 4, and that those three years have brought me plenty of changes and transitions, I regal in having achieved this milestone.
I used the entire weekend to celebrate my life. Friday evening the girl treated me to my first NFL game, the New York Jets vs. the New York Giants. It was a great game and I had great company!
On Saturday, I went on a retreat with my Leather brothers from ONYX to Pennsylvania. I drove for the first time in two years and though my muscles are still adjusting, it felt very good to do something I've always enjoyed again. This day was special in a lot of ways. The brother who rented the vehicle has been suddenly disabled by a stage four tumor and has been through a lot in a few short months: chemotherapy, surgery, colostomy and more. Yet, he was determined to go on this trip, to spend this time with his brothers. It was so good to see how his countenance changed from being with the brotherhood. Though he had clearly been in pain, he was moving about the place, smiling, and all the brothers went out of their way to make him feel comfortable and to attend to his needs. We all spoke about out place in the scene, about leadership, avoiding burnout and our personal experiences. The wisdom of brothers who have been in the scene for decades was inspiring. Since another brother and I both share the same birthday it was a special present for us both.
Yesterday, I was treated to brunch by another member of the Leather community who has been instrumental in facilitating my ability to increase my level of educational outreach to our communities. It was an especially enjoyable meal because this gentlemen is another person going through a health crisis of his own and, although he remains optimistic, he is also very realistic. Our discussions went from topic to topic (as it happens when I am given any amount of time to speak) and I had a really good time. The desert, which was an ice cream concoction designed to look like a baked potato but in actuality was a combination of ice cream, walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon and other deliciously decadent ingredients.
I received birthday wishes from dozens of my friends and acquaintances on FetLife, from dozens of my friends, acquaintances and former co-workers on Facebook. I heard from both of my daughters. I heard from some of my old partners in EMS. I heard from some of my former brothers of the FOI. I even heard from my ex-wife, and at least three former girlfriends.
For a brief moment I thought about the people I heard from... but only for a moment. The weekend was good for many reasons. Most importantly, it reminded me of the importance of life, of the reasons to try to live it fully, of letting go of negative things and negative people to embrace as much of what is wonderful and beneficial as possible.
I will never feel secure health-wise again because cancer is so insidious. But I have friends in the community who are waging that fight as well, some with a greater degree of difficult than I've had to deal with, yet they smile, they laugh, they endure through the pain and the difficulties because they love life and wish to absorb as much of it as possible.
Each day is not promised to us. We can spend out days being bitter and unforgiving. We can spend our time speaking about the wrongs committed against us. We can focus on our mistakes and how we could have done things better... or we can extract every bit of goodness out of each second.
None of us has the secret of immortality and even so, we know the lives we are currently living are finite. You never know if the last thing you say to someone is the last thing you say to someone so, what do you want that to be?
Suicide, Depression, and the Public Persona
August 12, 2014
The apparent suicide of that manic talent Robin Williams has brought many questions to mind for quite a few. There is always this question: "How can someone who was so successful and talented be so depressed as to want to take their own life?"
Too often, especially in our "community" we only see the face that people want us to see. In Mr. Williams' case people see the spontaneously funny talent who could make people laugh at the drop of a hat. But obviously there was much more to it. I think this deals with it with great insight.
But let's think about it: How many of the people who we see as alpha slaves or uber Dominant have similar issues? How many are who they are publicly because of private pain? How many have had dysfunctional families, been abused, been outcast? How many have been displaced? Did being bullied make them decide that they had to assert control over their lives? Did growing up in a chaotic environment make them long for structure and order? Did having no one guide them or comfort them lead them to look for a Daddy?
Let's ask ourselves this: How many people do you know in the scene that have either attempted or contemplated suicide? I personally can think of three off the top of my head. How many have engaged in self destructive behavior, perhaps getting edgier and edgier or taking greater risks? What do we do? Do we point our fingers, shake our heads and go, "Tsk, tsk, what a shame" or do we see if that person needs help?
When people confide in you things that they would tell no one else how do you hold that trust? Do you value it or do you betray it? In this lifestyle relationships come and go all too frequently. If your relationship ends, do you share confidences given to you in trust out of anger or bitterness, or do you maintain that rust even though the relationship has run its course?
And what if you are that person? Do you ignore what is going on in your head? Or do you do something positive about it? Do you make a FetLife post and hope someone figures out your turmoil or are you proactive in seeking help?
How do YOU feel about this?
The Hardest Lesson I'm Still Learning
August 11, 2014
“Reputation is what others think of us; character is what God knows of us. When you have spent what feels like eternity trying to repair a few moments of time that destroyed the view others once had of you then you must ask yourself if you have the problem or is it really them? God doesn’t make us try so hard, only enemies do.” ― Shannon L. Alder
I was raised to believe that one’s reputation is the most important thing. I was brought up to believe that I must always represent something: my family, my religion, my race, my vocation. My life was not mine but was the community’s. This lesson was reiterated throughout my sojourn in life and even magnified when I became involved in the BDSM lifestyle. Reputation is so very important. Words like honor and integrity are often bandied about and, in some cases, used like swords to cut down those who don’t fit a certain standard or viewpoint. It has remained of great concern to me.
Recently, I have done what I normally do when there are road marks along my life’s journey. I look at where I was as little as a couple of years ago and I think of where I am now and where I was before then. I realize that I am still evolving, still growing, and still learning. I understand that I am far from perfect and that I have made mistakes and will make mistakes. I hope I have learned from them but there is no guarantee. I have worried about how others may perceive me.
But, when I really open my eyes I see this: There are people who accept my flaws. They know my heart. They understand that sometimes when we make decisions there may be emotion involved. I know that the past few years have brought me plenty of problems, with my health, with my family, with my career, with my ability to sustain myself. I sought solace in my work within the various communities of which I am a part, in trying to share my experiences, blemishes and all and in mentoring and teaching, while I continued to learn and grow myself.
I have come to understand that there will always be people who will seek to impugn your reputation.
Some do it with malice of forethought and others out of their own pain. Just as no two people will see an auto accident the same, I have found this true about so many things in life. But I have also seen that there are those who are capable of looking past the mistakes. There are those able to see past the moment. There are those who can get past the temporary lapses and look into what truly drives and motivates another. These people have looked at me and have not changed the way they feel about me. They have called me friend. They have called me family. They have said that they love me and, more importantly, they have shown that they do by how they treat me. They have encouraged me. Their attitudes toward me have motivated me to excel, to overcome and to correct. They have inspired me to see that I have within me the ability to transcend my faults. They have helped me to realize that reputation, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
Reggie Jackson once said, “The only person I have to impress is me!” Self-actualization, self-motivation and self-respect is often much more important and telling than the opinions of others because how can you love, respect and admire someone who does not love respect and admire themselves? There will always be detractors, people convinced that you are not worthy of their respect, admiration or love. That is simply the truth of life. No one is loved by everyone and no one is loathed by everyone.
Worrying about everyone’s opinion enslaves one to others and does not build or show character. Trying your best to be your best in spite of your imperfections does.
Beyond Leather 7 Keynote Address
Delivered May 2014 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Before I say anything else I wish to thank all of you, my family, for being here at Beyond Leather 7, and for continuing to make it one of the most enjoyable, educational and communal events in which I have had the honor and privilege to participate. I have greatly admired Sir Top and slave bonnie for all the hard work and ingenuity that went into producing an event that is consistently positive and welcoming… which is why I was both stunned and shocked when two seemingly savvy and intelligent people asked me to give the keynote address this year.
When I was asked by Sir Top and slave bonnie to be the keynote speaker this year my initial reaction was, “Why me?” In fact, they will confirm that! I think of some of the icons who have been tasked in years previous: Mama Vi Johnson, Hardy Haberman, Ms. Kendra and Caro, and others, and now Me. “One of these things is not like the others.” I am a baby in this world when compared to the heavyweights on that list. What could I possibly say that they have not already said more eloquently and succinctly? What could I possibly say that could be memorable or inspiring that would not seem like a rehash of all that the nobles before me have already said?
Then I thought about the theme of this conference: Positive energy. What do I know about that? What could I say about that? Personally, the last few years have been a constant struggle for me to remain positive. As many of you know, I was a 9/11 Ground Zero first responder. A couple of years ago, I found out I had a rare cancer as a result. While stunned initially, I was determined to beat it. People who cared about me told me they would send me positive energy. Since that initial diagnosis I have had part of my small intestine removed, and right after being honored with the IPE 2013 title, had part of my liver removed, my gall bladder removed and two heart valves replaced within a span of six weeks. Before my last two surgeries I was in a depressed state. I felt like I couldn’t be who I was at my core, a Dominant man, a leader, a person of strength and vigor. I met karida at a time when I was convinced that I couldn’t be the Dominant person I thought myself to be. But she and plenty of other good people sent positive energy my way. I read many positive comments and wishes from people I didn’t even remember meeting. I learned to slowly yet effectively cut away the cancerous growths that were false friends and to embrace those who encouraged and supported me and who transfused me with positive energy and a positive outlook. I kept in mind a quote by Ricardo Housham which said, “Surround yourself with awesome, confident, positive and optimistic people who will encourage you to stretch, grow and achieve. The more positive energy you have around you, the more positive your world will be.” The more I absorbed that positive energy, the more positive were the results. I did stretch, grow and achieve.
But I also realized it takes more than positive thoughts. It takes more than positive words. There must be positive energy that stimulates positive actions. As we culminate this wonderful weekend I wish to ask each of you in attendance to consider, “What positive energy am I exuding? What positive actions do I commit that bring about positive results? What I am doing to create a positive atmosphere in my relationship, in my household or family, in my community? Am I being the positive influence that I expect others to be? What positive influences can I take back to my local community or household that will bring forth positive results?”
Harvey Fierstein said, “I do believe we're all connected. I do believe in positive energy. I do believe in the power of prayer. I do believe in putting good out into the world. And I believe in taking care of each other.” Well, how do we do that? How do we put good out into the world?
We can strive to maintain positive energy around us. When others try to infiltrate our space, whether it is at a personal level, a social level or on an organizational level with negative ideas and negative energy, we can unequivocally let them know that these ideas and behaviors are not welcome. We can make a conscious effort to focus on the positive things around us and give attention to the positive accomplishments, the positive actions and the positive role models with in our communities. Far too often we focus on the negative things. We give them more weight and imbue them with more value. We give that negative energy longevity by entertaining it. Too often, we allow minor issues to become major and personal issues to permeate our community and our organizations at a higher place than they should have. We will ignore years of good for one misstep and focus more on minutia than on the things of substance. We allow politics and personality to outshine our commitment to our friends, families and communities. When we do this we dissipate the positive energy around us and give in to the negative.
Instead we should go out of our way to give positive reinforcement to those who are laboring hard on our behalf whether they are officers of an organization, volunteers at an event or club, or the person within your household who makes sure things are just right when you wake up in the morning. We need to give a positive word to those who blazed the trail for us, without whom we would not enjoy the level of freedom we now have. We need to mentor those who come along seeking guidance and wisdom, sharing our experiences, good and bad with them to give them a positive base to build upon. We need to focus on all of the good people who do all the good things that make us pursuing this lifestyle worthwhile. I am a personal testament to the power of positive energy, of positive actions. People gave me positive energy and I’ve been so revitalized that I actively seek to reach out to others to share that with them so that they too can feel their restorative powers.
It is easy in today’s world wherein you can quickly trash a person’s life in 140 characters or less, when you can text a rumor or sum up your opinion about a person in an emoticon. But it is just as easy to send a thank you or a smiley face (I said “smiley”… I know what you were thinking) or to let someone know that they were in your thoughts. It is just as easy to foster an environment where positive things grow and negative things find no place to take root.
If each of us in this room made a conscious choice to do away with that negativity and put our intent on bringing only positive energy to the table in our dealings with others, imagine how we might change our entire community. But this change can only happen if we each examine ourselves first. I’ve already had you ask yourself a list of questions about the energy and deeds you put forward and I challenge you to ask yourself those questions daily. Every morning, we have another opportunity to choose positive energy. In every moment, we can make a conscious decision to be grateful, to be happy, to let go of the bad things that others have said or done to us. And as we start to focus our intent and energy on the positive, we will notice changes in our lives.
Happiness begets happiness, gratitude begets gratitude. When you approach your life with a genuinely positive attitude, your actions will automatically follow suit. You will find that the more often you choose this path, the more automatic it becomes for you. The more conscious you are of wanting only positive energy, the easier it becomes to calm yourself in the face of adversity and to face life’s many challenges with hope and optimism. That’s right, I said challenges; this is not a perfect science. No matter how positive your energy and no matter how much joy you feed into the world, you cannot prevent bad things from happening. There will still be stress factors in your life, there will still be illness and injury, checkbooks to balance, pressures from work… but while it isn’t a perfect science, it can be magic. When you choose positive energy, it is easier to take a moment to breathe through the stress, understand that this moment will pass, and see the bigger picture of your amazing life.
If you are radiating that positive energy into the world from inside of yourself, you will find it is infectious to others and they too will feel and behave in a more positive manner, even if only for a moment. The best part of sharing your energy with others is that it takes nothing away from you. Buddha once said, “Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” Every candle that you light in someone else will only bring you more happiness.
Well, that is why we were here this weekend. We are here to light many candles. We are here to put out positive energy and to have that positive energy create positive actions. As we attended classes and engaged in fellowship with each other we infused each other with the positive energy that produces friendships, kinships, family. We infused each other with the positive energy that produces insight, knowledge, wisdom and understanding. We transmitted the positive energy that produces positive thought and builds alliances.
And we produced the positive energy that produces great scenes and awesome sex! So as we close out this phenomenal weekend let’s continue to keep this positive spirit alive. Let it permeate our beings, saturate our souls and splash out orgasmically to all those around us to take them to the peak of positive experiences.