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Seattle, WA -- The past few weeks have been filled with travel, opportunity and realization. First was the Leather Leadership Conference in San Francisco three weeks ago, then a trip to Chicago to shoot a PSA and finally Cleveland for CLAW.
In San Francisco, I got to see Midori, meet Steven Scarborough from Hot House, visit with the boys from Nasty Pig and hang with Thorn and the crew from Instigator Magazine. Thorn's keynote address Saturday morning was exceptional; it addressed many of the core issues facing our community. The panel discussion that followed focused on engaging the next generation. Now there's something I can get behind.
The following weekend, I flew into Chicago to see Derek. Together we worked on our up coming column for Instigator and shot a PSA geared toward our brothers in the SM/Leather community advocating in scene risk mitigation and safer sex practices. It was a great opportunity for the two of us to reconnect and focus on some of the things that are important to us. I'll post more on the PSA in the next couple of months.
Then, last weekend we met up in Cleveland for CLAW. Cleveland Leather Awareness Weekend is an excellent event, filled with social and educational opportunities. Derek and I volunteered to perform a rope suspension demonstration and present our "Needle Exchange" workshop. You can check out some photos from the workshop here.
I've mentioned all of these events here because as I look back on them I am filled with a sense of community and brotherhood. The events attracted and brought together artists, writers, publishers, pornographers, educators, organizers, volunteers and players all. They embody the qualities that define our community: responsibility, trust and sharing.
But let me make this clear: Just because you attend or rent space for a booth at the vendor market at one of these events does not make you a member of my community of family and friends. There is a history of oppression against us; our battle against what has been a devastating disease; and the politics of both in our recent collective memory. Those who prey on the insecurities of my brothers or purvey content that portrays and promotes blatantly unsafe practices are not welcome in my world.
My patience with the bareback studios is at an end. I've watched too many people die in the past; too many friends deal with the difficulties surviving with HIV and Hep-C in the here and now and too many twenty-somethings convert over the past few years to just standby. So if you see me at a vendor market and it seems my civility only thinly veils my open animosity toward the people associated with these studios, I trust those of you reading this will understand. I know this might come across as a little old school, but in my family we police our own and I'm done playing nice with people whose actions I find detestable.