(c) March 2012 revised July 2013
Living in Utah, one cannot seem to escape the topic of religion. Utah is predominantly LDS (Mormon) and as such the LDS religion and belief system permeates our local government, school system and our social circles. Living in a theocracy can be a challenge. It never ceases to amaze and amuse how one of the first questions one is asked when meeting new people is whether or not you are affiliated with an organized religion. I know this is due to the experience of many who have felt the backlash of religious intolerance; myself included. This theocracy creates a culture of us/them, for/against simply out of self-preservation.
The human animal has always had this predilection to group themselves into social groups/tribes. Certainly it is an inescapable part of our human condition to desire to belong and spend time with those who share our beliefs, our interests and values. There is much good that is accomplished when like-minded folks band together to create a network to promote and protect their own. However, history has taught us repeatedly the horrors that occur when one group decides that their way is the only way. Anyone in an alternative lifestyle has felt the occasional pinch, if not outright prejudice when being open to those who hold a more traditional value system.
As a panelist on the DungeonPlace Podcast, there were numerous times we poked fun at the Gorean style of leather. The reality is that it doesn’t matter if you are from North or South Gor or come into to town riding your very own tarn. What matters is that you have the right to practice your kink in a fashion that makes you happy. The same can be said of any BDSM/leather group. Your kink may not be my kink, but I promise you that I respect your right and your desires to do it your way…just don’t ask me to kneel as your kajira!
Don’t get me wrong, I get the whole exclusivity and secret club handshakes. Secrecy and taboo can be very appealing and a fetish in and of itself. For those who have felt that bite of being excluded by other groups, finding your very own ‘Fight Club’ can be extremely comforting. There isn’t one damn thing wrong with finding your bliss in an exclusive group. I even applaud those who find comfort in such organizations. I am glad for anyone who has found a place where they can embrace their bliss.
What isn’t OK and what I am tired of hearing/seeing/experiencing is those who tell me that my leather isn’t good enough because it doesn’t look like theirs. It feels like being told my God doesn’t look like your God so I can go fuck myself. It’s kind of like the Mormons who are baptizing dead Jews and Gandhi; it is about R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
As BDSM practitioners regardless of our style of leather, we all practice an alternate sexuality. As part of this community of freaks, outcasts and fetishists it is in all of our interests to be cohesive and contributing members to the greater cause of promoting a sex positive culture. We cannot promote tolerance if we ourselves are intolerant. Each of us in our respective communities can be a proactive part of promoting tolerance by the simple act of being tolerant. Go ahead with your secret squirrel club, go have those hush hush tribal affairs or those special boot blacking ceremonies filled with cigar smoke. It’s all good, just don’t tell me my bondage tea parties and corsets aren’t real leather. My real leather is my own skin and it fits me just fine.