Wow, what an excellent event!
We arrived on Thursday, settled in, and then enjoyed the Meet-n-Greet and karaoke.
Friday was an wide array of Service oriented classes, followed by the official opening ceremony Friday night.
Saturday and Sunday were jammed full of classes, primarily around Master/slave relationships, with no play parties or skill-based workshops (like spanking). The feeling was very much like Power Exchange Summit (PXS) but with more Leather, and more specific focus on Master/slave relationships specifically and not Power Exchange in general.
One of the highlights for me was the presence of the Science of BDSM team. They did a couple of wonderful presentations on their recent research, collected some surveys from volunteers, and even let us participate in a cool experiment. (But I can’t tell you about it, because SCIENCE!)
The other amazing experience was, obviously, getting to be on a panel with Raven Kaldera, Joshua Tenpenny, Sir Stephen, and Catherine. We spoke on the topic of “M/s but not Leather.” It was an interesting challenge, because anything we said related to not being Leather could potentially be interpreted as critical of Leather by someone looking for a conflict, or anyone unfamiliar with our character. We worked hard to continuously reinforce/restate our respect for Leather culture.
katie and I offered this:
Let us be super clear: We admire and respect Leather. We had almost zero exposure to Leather until the last 2 years. We thought it would be pretty damn presumptuous to arrive in a Leather culture and say “Hey, guess what?!?! We’re one of you!”
So we felt we were being respectful of the culture. We thought we were choosing to not appropriate a culture where we had no blood or sweat invested.
The feedback we have heard from some folks, is that by saying “We are not Leather” we are in some way rejecting Leather culture. That we are slapping away a Leather hand. And that has never been our intent.
When asked how to we integrate with the Leather culture while still not “joining” it, we answered:
katie and I are aware that Leather is a tight-knit family. We are aware that there are cultural expectations and norms that we only barely perceive. We work really hard not to break protocols that we don’t understand. As “outsiders” we are at least culturally aware and cautious explorers.
For that reason, we do our best to notice new folks at the events we attend. People that might be Kinksters, or 50-shaders, that bought tickets and are a bit overwhelmed. We love approaching those people and helping them find a path that allows them to be Authentic, but still share in the rich culture and community that Leather has created.
We want to be authentic to our own Power Exchange, while embracing and validating all the other cultures and enactments of Power Exchange that are not our own.
We want to respect and honor those that have built the amazing community from which we benefit. We want to serve and participate in that community to share in its growth and stewardship.
We want to be included, and to include others. We want to teach and be taught. We appreciate the opportunity to be here, and to share in this experience with you today.