Archive for the ‘Learn Something’ Category

For most people in western societies and in many other cultures around the world, a successful relationship is one that lasts “forever”.

But this is an inadequate definition for many reasons.

(more…)

Rough Take: Self-Sabotage

Posted: September 17, 2019 by Isaac Cross in Advice, Learn Something, Rough Take

I host/facilitate/staff a lot of social events within sex-positive communities. As a result, I overhear a LOT of flirtatious conversations.

There is this heartbreaking thing that I see happen CONSTANTLY where I’m listening in on a conversation and this dude is about to get laid in a life-changing way. I know her, she’s gonna turn your world upside down, my dude. Just DONT FUCK IT UP.

And then the guy says something gross about trans people or says he would only be in a threesome with two girls, or whatever. Something completely unnecessary to say that shows he isn’t ready for the good good. And maybe never will be.

And she hears it and her whole demeanor changes. He doesn’t notice, he still thinks he’s in, cuz she was flirting a second ago, but he didn’t notice that he just cock-blocked himself by saying some ignorant, closed-minded bullshit.

Now she’s looking for the posted exits from this conversation but he’s just plowing on like the black knight refusing to acknowledge the mortal wound his chances with her has just suffered.

The guy probably isn’t a bad person. But he hasn’t realized he’s in a room where you need better than a penis and high school level charm to get anywhere. He hasn’t realized that there’s homework he hasn’t done. These hot alt folks are a master class in human sexuality and he’s not even up to date on the remedials, let alone the full list of prerequisites. But she might have waved those requirements if he had just not said some stupid shit that didn’t need to be said. For one night of fun, she might have been willing to not look too close at him, but then he felt the need to shove his asshole in her face like a cat so she can’t possibly ignore it.

And I just cry inside. Because he doesn’t know what just happened and probably never will.

I’ll pour one out for you later, man. After I subtly suggest you attend one of my classes.

Own You Existence (Rough Take)

Posted: February 24, 2019 by Isaac Cross in Advice, Learn Something, Rough Take

This “Rough Take” post has been published without review, editing, or revision. Rough Take posts are designed to communicate thoughts and ideas that haven’t been fully developed in order to spark discussion and responses which may fuel later, more refined articles. 


How do we change our partners when they don’t want to change? How do we get what we want from them when they aren’t willing to give it? The quick answer is, you can’t. (more…)

(The following is the keynote address delivered at the Leather Fiesta conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico on November 11, 2018)
© Isaac Cross XCBDSM@GMAIL.COM

Here’s a challenge: I want you to believe what I am about to tell you. Not just hear it, not just understand it, but believe it. It’s a fact that you already know to be true, but have never been able to fully accept, and it’s this: you are going to die. You, the person listening to me right now, are going to die.

It’s difficult even to imagine, isn’t it? Take a moment and try to picture what it’s like to not exist. You can’t do it. You’re Imagining darkness, black. But there will be no black. There will be no color because there will be no you to perceive it. And your mind recoils from that idea. It’s basically unable to conceive of its own nonexistence. So, it concludes that it is impossible, that you’ll live forever. But you won’t. All things end. All motion slows. All heat becomes cold. Life is an eddy in that current of entropy. A brief chemical reaction that lights up the darkness and then, it’s fuel spent, dissipates back to nothing. Just like you will.

Your body is a marvelous and intricate machine, built out of millions of interconnected, fragile systems. And as you age, each begins to slowly but surely deteriorate and break down. When one fails, a doctor may be able to repair it, but at some point, there will be too many interlocking failures to proceed. And like a cascade of dominoes, your joints, your eyes, your heart, your lungs, your memory, your entire body will fail. It will happen. And while it is difficult to hear this truth, it is essential that you accept it. Because every second that goes by in which you don’t is a second of your precious and finite life that you risk wasting.

So I’m Going to say this one more time, and this time, try as hard as you can to believe me. You, yes you, will die, and there is nothing you can do to stop it.

(more…)

Ethical Kink

Posted: September 25, 2018 by Isaac Cross in Advice, Learn Something, Philosophy
Consent is absolutely mandatory, but what you do is not automatically OK just because you have consent. 
 
I do not have the right to tell you not to do something I view as irresponsible, but I do have the right to choose not to be involved with it. and in fact, I believe I have a responsibility and an obligation to decline participation in a scene that I think will cause harm, even to those who have consented to it. 
 
Those who see me doing crazy things or listen to my stories may be surprised to learn that I turn down invitations to scenes more often than I accept them. Often it is because I don’t have time or energy to spare, or because I simply don’t think the scene is a good fit for me. But often enough, it is because the scene being proposed is one that I believe has unacceptable risk and because the individual(s) involved (most commonly the bottom in the proposed scene) is unwilling to compromise to make the scene less risky.
 
The late David Stein is the one who convinced me to adopt this value. Talking with him and reading his writings caused me to entirely overhaul my presentation on BDSM ethics, as well as my personal approach, under the central guiding principle of “First, do no harm to oneself or others.” Before I encountered this idea (about four years ago), I must admit that I was guilty of participating in both scenes and relationship dynamics that did not meet this definition of ethical. I cannot change this. But I can work to do and be better and to advocate for others to do so, as well.

I encourage you to read Stein’s article titled, “How to Do the Right Kinky Thing- Ethical Principles for BDSM

 
It changed me. And I hope that it might guide you, as well. 

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.

XCBDSM has added a new, full-day intensive to our list of workshops and we will be offering it for the first time on July 7th in Denver, Colorado.

The workshop will cover all the in-and-outs (get it) of play piercing from the basic to the extreme.

For information about the class, CLICK HERE.