Archive for the ‘Life Log’ Category

Nov 9-11 ~ |X|C|BDSM| at Leather Fiesta

Posted: August 15, 2018 by Isaac Cross in About Me, Events, Life Log
  • Nov 9-11
  • Albuquerque, NM
  • XCBDSM’s Isaac and Jordyn each selected to present at Leather Fiesta
  • XCBDSM’s Isaac Cross will be Keynote Speaker

Isaac Cross – XCBDSM

Jordyn – XCBDSM

XCBDSM presenters Isaac and Jordyn have accepted an invitation to present at the 2018 Leather Fiesta in Albuquerque, NM. Isaac has also agreed to present the keynote address to conclude the weekend. The subject of the speech has yet to be determined.

While the event schedule has not been finalized, the following classes have been selected:

Isaac Cross

  • What You Forgot To Negotiate
  • The Subtle Art of Predicament Bondage

Jordyn

  • Orgasm Play
  • Dynamic Service

Neither presenter has taught in NM before and are looking forward to meeting a new community.

This post will be updated when the final schedule is released.

Losing My Religion… Again

Posted: August 13, 2018 by Isaac Cross in About Me, Learn Something, Life Log, Philosophy

Since the original posting of this article, we have added an additional excerpt from Skip Chasey, found at the end of the article. 

“Christianity is my faith. leather is my religion.”

Someone said that during a discussion group a few days ago and I instantly had a flood of realizations about myself.

In my keynote speech at Beyond Leather earlier this year, I talked a little bit about leaving the church that I was raised in because of the rigid nature of the traditions and the unwillingness of the older generations to accommodate the younger ones.

I have faith. And I encourage others to cultivate and celebrate their own, whatever it might be.

But religion makes me uncomfortable. When the faithful come together and codify unverifiable beliefs into in dogma which is then enforced onto others or fashioned into tests measuring worthiness or piety, I am hesitant to participate. And when that religion becomes aggressively evangelical or increasingly imposing, I can’t help but push back and hold ground.

Fundamentalism (strict adherence to the basic principles of any subject or discipline) in any form is inherently oppressive. The central core is always designed to suppress new ideas in favor of the old ideas and stories (largely myths) of people long gone from the world.

That’s why I left religion. And until recently, I didn’t realize that I’ve since been treading along the edges of a different one.

“Christianity is my faith. Leather is my religion.”

Reading that sentence crystallized, for me, what has always held me back from really diving into leather, despite being SO compatible on paper.

I sometimes wear leather. I live by a code very similar to “leather ideology”. But leather is not a part of my identity.

Because I don’t do religion.

And identifying as leather seems to come with all the hallmarks of religion that drove me out of the one I was raised with.

For starters, its modern form bears little resemblance to its founding form. Leather was created as a subset of the gay community, mostly valuing things completely different from the modern heterosexual/pan community’s version of leather. And as a result, I don’t feel comfortable contributing to what I view as a co-opt and misappropriation of something that isn’t mine.

Second, and more important, I don’t care to be in yet another group that is going to police my behavior and insist that I follow their version of a set of traditions that were invented only a few decades ago and distorted through oral tradition. Much like with any religion, I don’t think that there is anything wrong with being “leather”, but in my observation, the more devout someone is, regardless of the religion, the more they care about my behavior and the less they live up to what they preach.

This isn’t new. Even in the days of the “Old Guard”, rifts between denominations formed. Guy Baldwin, considered by most to be among the foremost experts on leather history, writes in an article on Leatherati:

…in time, considerable differences of opinion slowly began to emerge about exactly how certain things were supposed to be done. “Earning” one’s leathers happened in a very formal way in one clan, but not so formally in another, for example. In some ways, this was a dim reflection of the inter-service rivalries that existed between the Army and the Navy, for example, during World War II, and still exist to some extent. And this may be why some people become so passionate about the right way to do things in the leather world. Tradition, after all, had to be respected and preserved!

This is the leather version of Protestants versus Catholics. And with the alt-right nazis growing in influence all around us, I simply do not have time to participate in a squabble about which is the correct way to exercise our sexual freedom. Seriously. Fuck all of that.

And even if there were widespread agreement on what it means to be leather (there isn’t), it would still be something that make me itchy. Eight years ago, I talked about trying to push my way passed my reluctance and try to embrace leather and its traditions. I no longer feel willing to do this.

Because, as I expressed last April in my keynote:

A lot of formal leather protocol is hot as fuck. But you’ve layered so much bullshit over it that it feels more like our parents’ religion rather than a radical rebellion.

When I wrote that, I merely meant it as a metaphor. But now I realize that this religious undertone to leather is, in fact, all too literal. And I won’t subject myself to another religion. Not in a church, and definitely not in the dungeon.

As I’ve been discussing these ideas with friends over the last few days, many have objected. The zealots are merely the most noticeable, they insist, and do not represent the leather population as a whole.

While I am sure this is true, I can only trust my experience. And that experience includes being told that I can’t be taken seriously as a kink presenter if I don’t act “more leather”. I lost the only title contest I’ve ever run for (a contest whose advertised mission emphasizes community service above appearance or popularity), in part, because I didn’t wear “enough” leather. In countless moments, small and large, I have been told that I MUST adhere to precepts of leather, and to other people’s standards, in order to have a voice or be respected. That is my experience stretching back over the last 12 years in the community. If the zealots were a small minority, this wouldn’t be true.

In his 2014 Keynote at Southwest Leather Conference, Race Bannon said:

I hear a constant drone of complaints about how our scene isn’t like it used to be (which of course is what change is all about), yet people are so stuck in their rigid views and habits that finding creative solutions to invigorate our scene seem lacking… I have answered one too many emails, phone calls or messages from a disheartened newcomer who has had their dreams and sexuality crushed because they were told in no uncertain terms they were doing it wrong, when they were doing it just fine all along.

“Christianity is my faith. Leather is my religion.”

I have faith. I have my code. But it’s mine alone. Not because it’s tradition. Not because it’s expected. But because it’s what I believe and how I want to live. From what I understand, that is at the heart of what leather was originally meant to be and represent.

In a 2014 article, “The Truth About The Old Guard” Race Bannon writes:

The guidelines for being a good leather or kinky person are essentially the same as being a good person. Be nice. Respect others. Watch out for each other. Be curious. Learn what you need to know to best enjoy yourself. Share what you know generously. That’s about it. The rest is all just a lot of noise that is more about how individuals choose to express their erotic selves than it is about how things should be done by others.

The central core of leather is something I should be eager to identify with. But much like the Christianity I was brought up with, my view of leather has been too tainted by dogma, false mythology, and fundamentalism for me to exist within it and be happy.

There are a great many leather people that I deeply respect and who I trust implicitly. They walk their paths with integrity and this is by no means meant to be an indictment of them, their leather identity, or the way they live.

I have no objection to leather, it’s culture, or it’s adherents. I share space, meals, and intimacy with them frequently.

But I don’t do religion. So leather isn’t me… for now.


EDIT 8/16/2018: Yesterday, with the help of Patrick Mulcahey, I was able to get in touch with Skip Chasey and obtain a copy of his 2005 Leather Leadership Conference Keynote address, entitled: “Vision, Passion & Direction: The Right Stuff for Authentic Leaders”, along with permission to share it here. You can download the entire address below.

Skip Chasey 2005 LLC Keynote: “Vision, Passion & Direction”

I’m really happy to give this speech an online home. I couldn’t find it anywhere when searching for it to prepare this article. Hopefully the next time someone is looking for it, they can find it here.

In particular, I wanted to share this passage:

When spiritual teachings and practices—and that includes SM and our leather culture—are fashioned into a communal doctrine (a dogma, really), pollution sets in. As the community then evolves into an institution, the pollution increases and the underlying intention of the group’s leaders quickly deteriorates from that of facilitating the spiritual awakening of the students, to maintaining the institution at all costs. When that happens, the community’s pursuit of freedom— freedom in its most profoundly spiritual sense—is pushed aside by a toxic tribal dynamic of coerced reverence, oppression of new ideas, and the banishment of those who would question both the dogma and the authority of those who created it. Sound familiar? It’s only because some —usually just a few—of the community’s leaders still have the right stuff that anything good comes out of our churches. Or, for that matter, out of our SM clubs and other leather organizations.

7 Years

Posted: July 6, 2017 by Isaac Cross in About Me, Life Log

On July 6th, 2010, we launched XCBDSM. In the first few months, we saw about 1,000 pageviews each month. in 2017, we’ve averaged nearly 16,000 pageviews each month. In total, we’ve had just over 525,000 pageviews and over 300,000 unique visitors from all over the world.

We’ve expanded from just being the blog for Isaac Cross (Then called CrossCultureBDSM), to being a collaboration of educators from multiple countries sharing their knowledge and resources and helping everyone to have better relationships.

It’s been an incredible 7 years. Hopefully, there will be at least 7 more.

Love you all. See you soon.

Do poly? or BE poly?

Posted: June 8, 2017 by Isaac Cross in About Me, Learn Something, Life Log, Philosophy

Someone in a poly group asked this question:

Who preferes saying they are
doing poly or
being poly,
and why?

I personally prefer ‘doing’, as it feels more like a choice.

It’s never felt like a choice for me.

In my teen years, coming of age, I was aware enough to realize that I wasn’t oriented to monogamy the way others were. No matter how much I cared about someone, I never stopped seeing others. No matter how much I loved a person, it wasn’t enough to make me willing to pass up opportunities to connect with other people and know them, too.

So I decided that I would just never allow myself to have deep relationships, because I wouldn’t be able to do that without hurting the people I cared about, because no matter how good they were, they would never be “enough” for me and I couldn’t keep doing that to them.

That was a deeply painful and isolating time for me.

Then I met someone who felt the same way and we negotiated a non-monogamous relationship before either of us knew that anyone else did that, before we knew that “poly” was a thing or that there was a community and books and etiquette.

I have always BEEN polyamorous. And I always will be. It’s not a choice. It’s the only way I can be.

Preparing for my Journey to the Frozen North

Posted: February 15, 2017 by Isaac Cross in About Me, Events, Life Log

10:30am Wednesday
15th of February in the year of 2017

With the lovers’ holiday passed, I turn my attention to preparations for my valiant trek to the frozen north. Not since my travels to Anchorage for Northern Exposure have I faced such daunting latitudes. Yet even then, I availed myself of modern air travel, which I have shunned for this journey in favor of my trusty motored carriage.

Leaving the comforts of my home in Denver is never an occasion to be taken lightly. My other recent ventures to the territories of Las Vegas and New York were great successes. Yet, I must not be over confident. There are many dangers on the Northern Biway, not least of which are people who voted for Trump and are still proud of that.

I will have to keep my wits about me. (more…)

Over this last weekend, I had the opportunity to address the Rocky Mountain Rebellion Convention in Salt Lake City. The theme of the event was “Rebelling Against Shame”. Below is the content of that speech, as well as some additional information.

~~~

[Full Text of Speech]

I joined the kink community on July 16, 2006. In the years since, I have lost track of the many parties, classes and social events that I have attended, but I do know that this is my 26th conference. In that time, many dates stand out, but few more than an evening in November of 2013 when I received a call telling me that a friend in the community had committed suicide.

Across the US, in any given year, 1 in 4 adults will struggle with a mental health problem, but because of stigma, lack of availability, and other factors, only a small percentage will seek help. The good news is research tells us that the prevalence of these issues in the kink community are lower than the general public. However, when people in the kink community do face a mental health challenge, they are far less likely to seek help, largely because they do not believe that their lifestyle will be understood or respected.

In culturally isolated communities like ours, SHAME LITERALLY TAKES LIVES.

That’s why I wear a pin on my vest for suicide awareness and prevention. It’s why our organization in Colorado is working with the NCSF and supporting their Kink Aware Professionals (KAP) list, and it’s why I have spent a huge amount of my time for the last year working to train individuals within the community to recognize the signs of a mental health problem or crisis and offer appropriate assistance. Because in a community like ours, no one should ever have to make or receive that phone call.

The National Behavioral Healthcare Council has set the goal of reaching one million people trained in Mental Health First Aid by the year 2020. I am personally working to see that at least one thousand of those are people within the kink community.

You can help by going to MentalHealthFirstAid.org and finding a class near you. If there isn’t a class near you, CALL ME and I will come and facilitate one.

For everyone who has been lost and for everyone who can still be helped, please do your part.

Thank you.

~~~

National Mental Health First Aid
Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition
MHFA Colorado

The other States in the Rocky Mountain region (Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana) currently do not have a dedicated site for information on local classes. If you live in those states, or any other in the country, you can visit the national website so search for a class near you.

~~~

I am a certified Mental Health First Aid Instructor. I am authorized to provide this training anywhere in the United States. If you would like to organize a MHFA training for your area, please feel free to contact me.

XCBDSM@gmail.com

~~~

Thank you to all who approached me after the speech offering resources, connections and assistance. I hope to be in contact with you all soon. If you don’t hear from me, please reach out to me.

Shame Takes Lives

Posted: August 25, 2016 by Isaac Cross in About Me, Advice, Events, Learn Something, Life Log, Philosophy

That’s the title of the speech I will be giving at Rocky Mountain Rebellion this Saturday in Salt Lake City.

When I read that the theme of the event was “Rebelling Against Shame”, I realized there was only one topic I could possibly discuss.

I will post the full text of the speech the morning after. For now, here’s a short teaser.

~~~

In any given year, 1 in 4 adults in the US struggle with a mental health problem and only a small percentage of them will seek help. The good news is research tells us the frequency of these issues are lower within the kink community, but it also tells us that people who do experience problems are less likely to seek help, primarily because they fear their lifestyle will not be understood or respected.

In culturally isolated communities like ours, Shame literally takes lives.

~~~

Look for the full text of the speech Sunday morning, right here.