Master Z's Keynote Address from BL5



I THANK YOU ALL FOR THAT WARM WELCOME AND FOR BEING HERE THIS WEEKEND FOR “BEYOND LEATHER“.  I WAS HONORED TO BE ASKED TO DELIVER ONE OF THE KEYNOTE ADDRESSES FOR THIS YEAR AND MY HOPE IS THAT THERE MIGHT BE SOMETHING OF RELEVANCE FOR SOME OF YOU HERE.



WHENEVER I AM ASKED TO DELIVER A KEYNOTE ADDRESS AT LEATHER/KINK EVENTS, I STRUGGLE WITH WHAT I CAN OFFER.  AFTER ALL, I AM SPEAKING TO WHAT IS USUALLY A PRETTY SOPHISTICATED GROUP OF FOLKS WHO TEND TO BE WELL CONNECTED TO COMMUNITY ISSUES EITHER THROUGH THEIR OWN ORGANIZATIONS OR THROUGH INTERNET SITES AND CHATTER LOCATIONS…..CAN WE SAY FETLIFE???



I DON’T DENIGRATE INTERNET SITES LIKE FETLIFE LIKE I HAVE HEARD OTHERS DO OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS BECAUSE I DO THINK IT SERVES A PURPOSE.  CERTAINLY THERE ARE THOSE AROUND THE COMMUNITY WHO CLAIM THAT THESE SITES ARE THE DOWNFALL OF THE LEATHER, KINK AND BDSM CULTURE.  THEY CONTEND THAT THESE SITES ALLOW THOSE WITH LITTLE TO NO EXPERIENCE AND POSSIBLY LESS THAN ADMIRABLE INTENTIONS TO INTRODUCE THEMSELVES WITH GREATER GRAVITAS THAN IS PROBABLY DESERVED OR HEALTHY.



ON THE OTHER HAND, THE INTERNET HAS BROUGHT A COMMON MEETING POINT FOR THOSE WITH AN INTEREST IN EXPLORING THEIR CALLINGS ….. BE THEY THE CALLINGS OF THEIR SPIRIT, THEIR CURIOSITY OR THEIR GENITALS.  IT IS A SOURCE OF OPINIONS, INFORMATION AND YES, EVEN HISTORICAL INFORMATION THAT WAS OFTEN DIFFICULT TO FIND PRIOR TO THE ERA OF THE INTERNET.



IT PROVIDES A SOMETIMES OVERWHELMING AMOUNT OF INFORMATION OFFERED BY ANYONE WHO WISHES TO PUBLISH OR COMMENT, AND THE OPINIONS AND COMMENTS OF THE SACRED FEW ARE NOW INTERMINGLED WITH ANYONE WHO CHOOSES TO PUBLISH OR DISCUSS AN ISSUE OR POINT OF VIEW IN A GLOBAL FORMAT.  SO BUYER BEWARE… BUT RECOGNIZE THERE IS GOOD STUFF OUT THERE.



OK… I DIGRESSED A BIT….SOMETIMES THIS IS A SIGN OF HOW THE SENIOR MIND CAN WORK….



SO AGAIN, GETTING BACK TO THE ISSUE OF COMING UP WITH A TOPIC TO BUILD A KEYNOTE ADDRESS AROUND IS ALWAYS THE CHALLENGE.  I HAVE GIVEN UP THE NOTION THAT I HAVE ANYTHING REALLY VALUABLE THAT I THINK YOU SHOULD KNOW FROM ME AND JUST ASK THE UNIVERSE TO REVEAL A DIRECTION TO BUILD UPON.



AND SO TODAY, WHAT MY CUE FROM THE UNIVERSE WAS, AND WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO SPEND A LITTLE TIME TALKING ABOUT IS …. THE CHALLENGES OF PERSONAL AUTHENTICITY.  AND THE ONLY WAY I CAN REALLY TALK ABOUT ALMOST ANY ISSUE ANY LONGER, BE IT AS A ONE-ON-ONE CONVERSATION OR IN DELIVERING A KEYNOTE, IS TALKING IN TERMS OF MY OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCES.



SO BELIEVE OR DON’T BELIEVE…AGREE OR DON’T AGREE…I’M OK WITH HOWEVER YOU PERSONALLY TAKE WHAT I SAY ON THIS OR ANY SUBJECT.  IN FACT I CHALLLENGE EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU TO NOT TAKE ANYTHING I SAY AS GOSPEL OR DOGMA.



ALL I CAN HOPE TO DO IS TO POSSIBLY OFFER TO YOU ANOTHER WAY OF LOOKING AT AN ISSUE THAT MAYBE YOU HAVE NOT THOUGHT OF IN JUST THIS WAY BEFORE.  THE TAKE-AWAY HOWEVER WILL BE JUST THAT…. WHATEVER YOU WISH TO TAKE AWAY AND WHERE YOU FIND PERSONAL VALUE IN ANY OF MY EXPERIENCES AND OPINIONS.



OK…SO THE WORD OF THE DAY IS AUTHENTICITY.  IN THE BROADER SENSE, THE WORD AUTHENTIC HAS DEFINITIONS AND THOSE, IN WEBSTER TERMS ARE…

“1.  THAT WHICH CAN BE BELIEVED OR ACCEPTED; RELIABLE.

2.  THAT WHICH IS IN FACT AS ACCEPTED; GENUINE; REAL”.



WEBSTER ALSO ADDED A SYNONYM TO THE WORD AUTHENTIC WHICH REALLY RESONATED WITH ME AND THAT IS….

“AUTHENTIC IMPLIES RELIABILITY AND TRUSTWORTHINESS, STRESSING THAT THE THING CONSIDERED IS IN AGREEMENT WITH FACT OR ACTUALITY; GENUINE IN THAT IT IS APPLIED TO THAT WHICH REALLY IS WHAT IT IS REPRESENTED TO BE, EMPHASIZING FREEDOM FROM ADMIXTURE, ADULTERATION, SHAM, ETC.”



SO THAT IS THE BROAD DEFINITION OF AUTHENTICITY.  WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO DO TODAY IS TO HONE IT DOWN A BIT TO POSSIBLY FIT INTO THE CONTEXT OF ALL OF OUR PERSONAL JOURNEYS.  I KNOW FOR ME, AS I LOOK BACK ON MY 64 YEARS,THERE WERE SOME TIMES WHERE I WAS CONSCIOUSLY NOT BEING AUTHENTIC….THAT I WAS FULLY AWARE OF MY TRYING TO BE SOMETHING I WAS NOT.



AS I ALSO LOOK AT WHAT ENERGIES, TALENTS AND TIME I PUT INTO SUPPORTING THAT WHICH I KNEW WAS NOT AUTHENTIC FOR ME, I NOW RECOGNIZE IT WAS NOT A WISE INVESTMENT AND PRODUCED LITTLE VALUE OR GROWTH.  IT WAS LIKE BEING STUCK IN A WHIRLPOOL…JUST GOING ROUND AND ROUND, AND MEETING THE SAME “FAKE” SELF, TIME AND AGAIN; AND ON TOP OF THAT, ACTUALLY WONDERING WHY TRUE HAPPINESS APPEARED TO BE ELUSIVE.



MOST OF THOSE PERIODS OF “INAUTHENTICITY” SEEMED TO REVOLVE AROUND THE ISSUE OF RELATIONSHIPS.  IN MY BIO FAMILY, IT LOOKED LIKE TRYING TO BE WHAT OTHERS EXPECTED OF ME, KNOWING FULL WELL THAT WHAT I WAS PORTRAYING WAS NOT ONLY INACCURATE BUT ALSO A DOWNRIGHT LIE.  SOME OF YOU MAY HAVE HEARD MY STORY ABOUT BEING SENT OFF TO A RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY WITH HIGH EXPECTATIONS FROM MY FAMILY.



THEY HOPED THAT SOMEDAY “POPE RON” MIGHT OCCUPY THE CHAIR OF ST. PETER IN ROME.  THERE WAS SOME MYSTERY….SOME FASCINATION TO THE THOUGHT OF THE MONASTIC/RELIGIOUS LIFE ON MY PART, SO MY PURSUIT OF THAT GOAL WAS NOT ENTIRELY A FALSEHOOD.  HOWEVER I KNOW I HAD VERY LOW EXPECTATIONS OF EVER RISING TO A LEVEL THAT WHICH MY FAMILY EXPECTED.  SO IN THIS INSTANCE, I SPENT TIME AND TALENT PURSUING SOMETHING WHICH WOULD NEVER LEAD TO MY AUTHENTICITY; WHO I REALLY WAS AND WAS MEANT TO BE.



AND THEN THERE WERE ALL OF MY RELATIONSHIPS WHERE IT FELT LIKE I WAS “SHAPE-SHIFTING” TO MEET THE VISION OF THOSE TO WHO I WAS COMMITTED TO FOR DIFFERENT PERIODS OF MY LIFE….THE WIFE, THE LOVERS, THE PARTNERS….

I CAN HONESTLY SAY TODAY, THAT ALL OF THOSE RELATIONSHIPS NEVER GOT TO MEET THE AUTHENTIC “ME”.



OH SURE, SOME OF ME WAS THERE, BUT IT WAS ALWAYS A VERY CONFUSED MIXTURE.  CONFUSING FOR ME AND CONFUSING FOR THEM.  FOR THE SHAPE-SHIFTING AND THE INAUTHENTIC “ME” WAS NOT CONSISTENT AND PROVIDED NO FOUNDATION FOR ANY RELATIONSHIP TO SURVIVE.  AND SOME OF THOSE RELATIONSHIPS WERE VERY LONG TERM…14 YEARS IN ONE CASE.  AS I LOOK BACK ON THEM NOW, IT AGAIN WAS TIME SPENT IN “PERSONAL INAUTHENTICITY” AND A NOT A VERY PRODUCTIVE USE OF TIME AND TALENTS AND NOT FAIR TO THOSE TO WHOM I WAS IN PARTNERSHIP.



LET ME SHARE WITH YOU A BRIEF SYNOPSIS OF MY EXPERIENCES AND MY DANCE WITH LEATHER WHICH EVENTUALLY LEADS TO MY LEATHER LIFE, MY MASTERY AND THE PATH I BELIEVE IS AS AUTHENTIC AS ANY I HAVE EVER BEEN ON.



SO I WASHED OUT OF SEMINARY BEING ADVISED THAT I WAS NOT SUFFICIENTLY DISCIPLINED FOR THE MONASTIC LIFE; HOWEVER I WAS TOLD I MIGHT MAKE A GOOD DIOCESAN PRIEST.  SO HEADING HOME FROM SEMINARY, BACK TO BUFFALO NEW YORK, KNOWING THE FAMILY DISAPPOINTMENT I WOULD FACE AND HAVING A POCKETFUL OF MONEY FROM A STIPEND PROVIDED TO THE ORDER TO COVER MY EXPENSES DURING MY TIME IN SEMINARY, I GOT OFF THE TRAIN. LO AND BEHOLD, ALMOST ACROSS THE STREET WAS A MOTORCYCLE SHOP…. MY MEMORY SAYS IT WAS A HARLEY SHOP, THOUGH THAT MIGHT BE WISHFUL THINKING.  ANYWAY, I WENT INTO THE SHOP AND BOUGHT MY FIRST CYCLE AND MY FIRST LEATHERS.



YOU CAN IMAGINE THE PAIN MY PARENTS WENT THROUGH SEEING THEIR SON RETURN NOT IN A RELIGIOUS BLACK CASSOCK BUT INSTEAD IN BLACK LEATHER.



TO AVOID FURTHER CONFLICT WITH FAMILY, I WAS OFF TO NEW ENGLAND TO TAKE A JOB WORKING WITH EMOTIONALLY DISTURBED CHILDREN.  IT WAS THE 60’S SO THE CYCLE AND THE LEATHER EVENTUALLY LED ME TO COMMUNE LIVING IN PORTLAND MAINE AND CONTACT WITH A CYCLE CLUB CALLED THE OUTLAWS.  IF YOU ARE AT ALL FAMILIAR WITH CYCLE CLUBS OF THE 60’S THE OUTLAWS HAD A BIT OF A REPUTATION.  TO FIT INTO THAT CULTURE, MY AUTHENTICITY AND INTEGRITY WENT WAY OFF THE RADAR SCREEN.



I DID THINGS THEN I AM NOT PROUD OF IN ORDER TO BE ACCEPTED AND BE A PART OF THAT ADRENALINE FILLED LIFE.  I TRIED TO APPEAR TO BE THE ROUGH AND TOUGH MALE PERSONA OF A GANG MEMBER, BUT IT WAS A PERSONA THAT WAS A POOR FIT.



FAMILY INTERVENTION AND PRAYERS EVENTUALLY WORKED IN THAT I LEFT THE CLUB AND THE COMMUNE AND RETURNED TO A MORE NORMALIZED EXISTENCE …SORT OF….



I GOT THE WOMAN I WAS DATING PREGNANT AND THOUGH I HAVE ALWAYS KNOWN DEEP DOWN INSIDE THAT FATHERHOOD COULD NEVER BE AUTHENTIC FOR ME, I ENGAGED IN A MARRIAGE AND UNDERTOOK THE ROLE OF A FATHER.   WITH THE BIRTH OF A DAUGHTER, I PUT AWAY THE LEATHER AND SOLD THE CYCLE AS MY NEW WIFE AND HER FAMILY DID NOT APPROVE.  I WAS WAY OUT OF INTEGRITY AND AUTHENTICITY IN THIS RELATIONSHIP AS I DID NOT LOVE THIS WOMAN DEEPLY ENOUGH TO COMMIT FULLY AND I WAS WILLING TO PUT THE LEATHER CALLING ASIDE AS WELL.



THIS RELATIONSHIP WENT FROM BAD TO WORSE AND LED TO A QUICK END OF THE RELATIONSHIP AND MARRIAGE.



THAT INDULGENCE IN INAUTHENTICITY RESULTED IN MANY YEARS OF CHILD SUPPORT AND A CAUSTIC RELATIONSHIP WITH A WOMAN WHO BORE MY CHILD AND A CONTINUING POOR RELATIONSHIP WITH MY DAUGHTER.



I WAS NOW IN MY 30’S AND MY GAY GENE AWAKENED.  I KNOW MANY SAY THAT THEY ALWAYS KNEW THEY WERE GAY HOWEVER THAT WAS NOT ONE OF THE INAUTHENTICITIES I WAS GUILTY OF.  I REALLY NEVER DESIRED MEN OR WAS HIDING MY BEING QUEER.  IT ALL BEGAN BY MEETING SOMEONE WHO SHOWED ME HOW GAY MEN HAVE HOT SEX AND THAT WAS ALL I NEEDED.  I FELT LIKE …FINALLY…NOW I AM ON A PATH OF BEING AUTHENTIC BECAUSE MY SEXUALITY SEEMED TO BE IN LINE WITH WHO I REALLY WAS.  RANDOM AND MULTIPLE SEX PARTNERS WAS THE MENU OF THE DAY AND I LOVED IT.



THE DOWNSIDE WAS THAT I FOLLOWED OLD PATTERNS THAT LED TO RELATIONSHIPS, WHICH THEN LED TO LOVERS AND EVENTUAL LONG-TERM PARTNERSHIPS WHICH AGAIN LED ME AWAY FROM BEING AUTHENTIC.



MY FIRST PARNTER, RICK AND I WERE TOGETHER FOR 14 YEARS AND LIKE MY RELATIONASHIP WITH THE EX-WIFE, I KEPT THE LEATHER DESIRES AND APPAREL OUT OF SIGHT AS RICK DIDN’T APPROVE.  WE LIVED LIKE A GAY “OZZIE AND HARRIET” CULTIVATING A SOCIAL LIFE, A CIRCLE OF GAY AND STRAIGHT FRIENDS, CAREERS AND OUR RELATIONSHIP IN A PRETTY VANILLA WAY.



ALONG CAME THE ERA OF AIDS AND RICK AND I WERE LIVING WHAT MIGHT BE TERMED A MONOGAMOUS RELATIONSHIP.  THERE WERE SOME DALLIANCES ON MY PART AS THE SEXUAL SIDE OF THE RELATIONSHIP BECAME MUNDANE AND I WAS AGAIN LIVING AN INAUTHENTIC PATH AS I WAS NOT WIRED TO BE CONTENT WITH ONE SEXUAL PARTNER.



APPARENTLY RICK WASN’T EITHER.  HE CONTRACTED AIDS IN THE EARLY PART OF THE EPIDEMIC.  RICK GOT CAUGHT AND I DID NOT.  AT THAT TIME THE DIAGNOSIS WAS A DEATH SENTENCE AND IN 14 MONTHS, RICK WAS GONE.



WITHIN A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME, I WAS AGAIN IN A PARTNER RELATIONSHIP AND THIS TIME THE INDIVIDUAL ALREADY HAD AIDS.  HE WAS A FUNCTIONING ALCOHOLIC AND DRUG ABUSER.  DAVID DIDN’T APPROVE OF MY PENCHANT FOR LEATHER AND CYCLES EITHER, SO AGAIN, THAT PART OF ME WAS PUT ON HOLD.  I BECAME THE ENABLER AND ASSUMED THE ROLE OF THE CARE-TAKER.  DAVID SURVIVED FOR 8 YEARS BEFORE PASSING TO THE NEXT EXISTENCE.



I AM NOW IN MY EARLY 50’S AND I SAT DOWN AND TOOK INVENTORY OF MY LIFE THUS FAR.



I HAD A GREAT CAREER, WAS CLOSE WITH MY FAMILY, HAD WONDERFUL FRIENDS, GOOD HEALTH, WAS FINANCIALLY IN GOOD STEAD, WAS STILL FOLLOWING MY CATHOLIC SPIRITUAL PATH AND WITH ALL OF THAT GOING FOR ME, I STILL FELT LIKE I HAD A HUGE HOLE IN MY HEART AND REALIZED THAT I WAS NOT REALLY HAPPY.



IT WAS WHILE I WAS CLEARING OUT DAVID’S CLOTHES FROM A WALK-IN CLOSET, THAT I CAME UPON MY OLD CYCLE JACKET.  I COULD STILL SMELL THE WONDERFUL LEATHER ODOR AND AS I CARESSED THE TEXTURE I COULD RECALL THE ORIGINAL ATTRACTION TO LEATHER.  AND THERE WAS A JOYOUS SURPRISE; THE JACKET STILL FIT.



IT WAS AT THAT POINT THAT I MADE THE CONSCIOUS DECISION TO RETURN TO WHAT HAD BEEN PUT ASIDE SO MANY YEARS AGO AND THAT HAD SEEMED TOP RESONATED SO DEEPLY.  SO WITH THIS JACKET IN HAND, I SHOWED UP AT THE DALLAS EAGLE.



HERE I ENCOUNTERED MEN OF LEATHER WHO WERE VERY DIFFERENT FROM MY MEMORIES OF THE OUTLAW BROTHERHOOD WHERE I WAS FIRST INTRODUCED TO A LEATHER CREED.  THESE LEATHERMEN AND THEIR CONCEPTS OF HONESTY, RESPONSIBILITY, LOYALTY, INTEGRITY AND HONOR IN ALL THINGS WAS LIKE A SIREN’S CALL BACK TO THE AUTHENTICITY I HAD NOT BEEN FOLLOWING FOR YEARS.



IT WAS THERE AND THEN THAT I MADE THE COMMITMENT TO BE A LEATHERMAN IN ALL WAYS AND ALL ASPECTS OF MY LIFE.  CERTAINLY JUST THAT COMMITMENT WAS NOT ALL THAT WAS NEEDED.  IT WAS JUST A STARTING POINT OF A LEARNING PROCESS THAT CONTINUES TO THIS VERY DAY.



FROM WITHIN THIS ENVIRONMENT OF LEATHER MEN AND WOMEN AND LEATHER ORGANIZATIONS I STARTED THE NEXT PART OF LIFE EDUCATION.



IN LEATHER, I BECAME ACQUAINTED WITH THE CONCEPT OF RELATIONSHIPS THAT WERE STRUCTURED VERY DIFFERENTLY FROM THE RELATIONSHIPS I HAD BEEN IN BEFORE.  I SAW RELATIONSHIPS THAT ACCEPTED; YES, EVEN CELEBRATED WHAT IS SOMETIMES KNOWN AS POWER EXCHANGE DYNAMICS.  THESE WERE RELATIONSHIPS WHERE THE PERSON SOMETIMES KNOWN AS THE DOMINANT WAS TO ACCEPT THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE DECISIONS AND LIFE OF THE OTHER PERSON WE INACCURATELY CALL THE SUBMISSIVE, WHO IN TURN, COMMITS TO ACCEPT THE DIRECTION OF THE DOMINANT AND TO LIVE IN AND THROUGH SERVICE AND OBEDIENCE.



THOSE RELATIONSHIPS THAT I SAW; DADDY/BOY, MOMMY/GIRL, DOMINANT/SUBMISSIVE, MASTER/SLAVE, AND ALL THE OTHER VARIATIONS DID FINALLY PRESENT A VISION OF RELATIONSHIP AUTHENTICITY THAT I BELIEVE WAS MISSING IN ALL THE PREVIOUS RELATIONSHIPS I HAD INVESTED IN. AND ON TOP OF THAT AUTHENTICITY, THEY MADE MY DICK HARD.



HOT MEN KNEELING BEFORE OTHER HOT MEN IN OBEDIENCE AND SERVICE WAS A RECIPE THAT BEAT ANY EFFECTS OF VIAGRA.



AND I DID TRY MANY OF THE VARIATIONS OF THESE RELATIONSHIPS; I WAS SIR…I TRIED DADDY… AND LEARNED THAT I WAS NOT IN PERSONAL AUTHENTICITY IN ANY THOSE ROLES.  I WAS INTRODUCED TO MASTER/SLAVE RELATIONSHIPS AND IT WAS ONLY THEN THAT ALL THE BELLS AND WHISTLES WENT OFF.  I CERTAINLY WAS NOT AN ACCOMPLISHED MASTER AT THAT POINT BUT I COULD CLEARLY SEE A LIFE THAT WAS IN BALANCE, IN INTEGRITY AND AUTHENTIC FOR ME AND THAT THERE WAS A STRONG POSSIBILITY THAT THIS TYPE OF RELATIONSHIP COULD BE ONE WHERE I COULD EXPERIENCE GROWTH AND HAPPINESS.



AND THEN THERE WAS BUTCHMANNS….AHHHHHH….I DON’T HOW MANY OF YOU IN THIS ROOM MIGHT BE FAMILIAR WITH BUTCHMANNS.



IT HAS A HISTORY THAT GOES BACK TO THE EARLY ‘90’S HOWEVER TODAY, IT IS A 501C3 ORGANIZATION THAT IS COMMITTED TO THE CESSATION OF SUFFERING AND SUPPORT OF EDUCATIONAL INITIATIVES ASSOCIATED WITH ALL WHO EXPERIENCE DISCRIMINATION AS A RESULT OF THEIR KINK, THEIR GENDER, THEIR SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND HOW THEY PLAY AND HAVE RELATIONSHIP.  IT IS THE UMBRELLA ORGANIZATION FOR MAST, INTL., THE BUTCHMANNS’ EXPERIENCE, SOUTHWEST LEATHER CONFERENCE AND THE LEATHER QUILT.



I ATTENDED MY FIRST BUTCHMANNS WEEKEND IN 2004 AS A GUEST INSTRUCTOR AS I WAS THE HOLDER OF INTERNATIONAL MASTER TITLE, WHICH IS AN EDUCATIONAL AND TEACHING TITLE.



TALK ABOUT A SHAKE UP!!!  HERE I WAS THE NEW REPRESENTATIVE TO THE M/S COMMUNITY AND I WAS HEARING CONCEPTS AT BUTCHMANNS THAT I HAD NOT BEEN EXPOSED TO BEFORE.



THE THREE ORIGINAL INSTRUCTORS, MASTER STEVE, MASTER SKIP AND SLAVEMASTER MADE UP A POTENT COCKTAIL!!!  FROM EACH OF THEM I LEARNED MORE AND MORE ABOUT WHAT BEING AUTHENTIC COULD TRULY BE….AND THEIR CONCEPTS WERE IN SOME WAYS AS DIAMETRICALLY DIFFERENT FROM EACH OTHER AS THEY WERE THE SAME.



FROM SLAVEMASTER I BEGAN TO SEE HOW OUR FETISH IN S/M AND M/S AND ARE CLEAR INDICATORS AND OFFER SUPPORT IN THE QUEST FOR SELF ACTUALIZATION AND PERSONAL AUTHENTICITY.



FROM MASTER SKIP, I SAW THE CONCEPT OF THE MASTER BEING A CALLING TO SERVICE AND FOR ONE TO BE IN MASTERY OF SELF BEFORE ATTEMPTING MASTERY OF ANOTHER INDIVIDUAL.



AND FROM MASTER STEVE, I GOT A GLIMPSE OF HOW MY LEATHER, MY FETISH AND MY AFFINITY WITH AN M/S DYNAMIC CONNECTED TO A SPIRITUAL PATH I HAD BEEN SEEKING ALL ALONG.  AND, FROM H IM I LEARNED TO LAUGH OFTEN AND LOUD.



AND SO THAT BRINGS ME TO WHERE I AM TODAY.  STILL ON THE JOURNEY; DISCOVERING AH-HAH MOMENTS AT EVERY TURN AND IN DEEP CONNECTION WITH A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE THAT SUPPORTS AND NURTURES THE PROCESS OF PERSONAL AUTHENTICITY.



I CAN HONESTLY SAY TO YOU NOW THAT THERE IS NO DOUBT IN MY MIND THAT WHO I AM TODAY AND THE PATHS THAT I FOLLOW, MEET PART OF THAT SYNONYM OF AUTHENTIC THAT I SHARED EARLIER FROM WEBSTER….



NAMELY; GENUINE IN THAT IT IS APPLIED TO THAT WHICH REALLY IS WHAT IT IS REPRESENTED TO BE, EMPHASIZING FREEDOM FROM ADMIXTURE, ADULTERATION, SHAM, ETC.”



AND I CAN ALSO TELL YOU THAT I AM HAPPIER, MORE FUFILLED AND IN HEALTHIER RELATIONSHIPS TODAY THAN I HAVE EVER BEEN BEFORE.



IT HAS BROUGHT AUTHENTIC, REAL AND INTEGROUS PEOPLE INTO MY LIFE WHO ALSO BELIEVE THAT PERSONAL AUTHENTICITY IN THEIR OWN LIVES IS THE HIGHEST ASPIRATION AND WHO HOLD ME ACCOUNTABLE TO MY PATH AS WELL.



SO, WHAT’S THE POSSIBLE TAKE AWAY FROM THIS STORY?



OVER THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS I HAVE HEARD OR READ SOME KEYNOTE ADDRESSES GIVEN BY GUY BALDWIN, LAURA ANTONIOU, MARK FRAZIER AND OTHERS WHERE IT IS MENTIONED THAT THE COLLECTIVE “WE” THAT IS SOMETIMES CALLED THE “COMMUNITY” MAY BE IN JEOPARDY AS A RESULT OF ALL THE “NEWBIES, POSERS AND PLAYERS” WHO HAVE INVADED THE LEATHER/KINK/FETISH ENERGY WHERE WE ALL LIVE AND PLAY.  IT HAS EVEN BEEN SUGGESTED THAT SOME OF US NEED TO RETREAT FROM THE COLLECTIVE “WE” OF COMMUNITY AND GO BACK TO SMALLER, LESS INCLUSIVE CLUSTERS TO PROTECT THAT WHICH WE VALUE.



I DON’T REALLY THINK THAT THE INDIVIDUALS WHO MIGHT CLAIM TO BE THE “ALMIGHTY MASTER, LORD, GOD ON-HIGH POO-BAH” OR THE MISTRESS QUEEN GODDESS ROYALE-OF-ALL-SHE SURVEYS” THAT WE ENCOUNTER FROM TIME TO TIME AT EVENTS, ON-LINE OR AT OUR LOCAL MUNCHES AND MEETINGS, CAN REALLY HAVE A LONG TERM NEGATIVE EFFECT.



THEY SEEM TO EXPOSE THEMSELVES PRETTY QUICKLY AND FADE BACK INTO THE RECESSES OF THEIR OWN FANTASIES THAT ORIGINALLY BROUGHT THEM OUT INTO THE LIGHT.  CERTAINLY WE CAN POLICE OUR OWN FROM WITHIN TO HELP PROTECT OUR “NEWBIES”.  THAT IS A RESPONSIBILITY WE ALL HAVE TO EACH OTHER.  AND THAT PROTECTION ISN’T SERVED BY SIMPLY GOSSIPING ABOUT ANOTHER’S SHORT-COMINGS OR FAUX PAXS TO OTHERS AND FEELING LIKE WE HAVE MET OUR RESPONSIBILITIES BY DOING SO.



IT DOES REQUIRE THAT EACH OF US PUT ON OUR “BIG BOY OR GIRL PANTIES” AND GO TO THE INDIVIDUAL OR INDIVIDUALS THAT WE PERSONALLY FEEL ARE OUT OF INTEGRITY AND SHARE THAT CONCERN…..NOT THROUGH EMAIL, TEXTING OR BLOGGING, BUT IN A FACE-TO-FACE DIALOGUE.  ONCE WE HAVE DONE THAT, WE HAVE, IN MY HUMBLE OPINION, MET OUR OBLIGATION TO THE COLLECTIVE “WE” CALLED COMMUNITY.



IT ALSO DOESN’T REQUIRE GETTING OUR COLLEAGUES TO SHUN OR DENIGRATE THE INDIVIDUAL ON OUR BEHALF OR ON OUR SAY-SO.



IT IS IMPORTANT TO RECOGNIZE THAT WHAT WE DO AS AN INDIVIDUAL MAY NOT BE THE DRIVING OR IMMEDIATE FORCE TO CHANGE BEHAVIOR OR AN ATTITUDE IN QUESTION, BUT IT WILL HELP PROTECT THE NAÏVE AND NEWBIES A BIT.



AND OF COURSE, THE “NEWBIES” MUST ALSO TAKE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY AND USE COMMON SENSE AS ADULTS TO PROTECT THEMSELVES FROM PREDATORS AND THE “JUST PLAIN IGNORANT”.



WHEN THESE POSERS AND THE IGNORANT GET THE SAME MESSAGE, OVER AND OVER, IT IS HARD TO IGNORE.  EVENTUALLY, THEY WILL HAVE NO SPACE FOR THAT NEGATIVE ENERGY TO SURVIVE AND PROPOGATE.



WHAT DOES WORRY ME MORE ARE THE TOP/BOTTOM, DOMINANT/SUBMISSIVE, MASTER/SLAVES WHO HAVE BECOME CONTENT AND COMPLACENT WITH THEIR OWN PERSONAL AUTHENTICITY.



MY EXPERIENCE TELLS ME THAT UNLIKE THE CORRECTIONS I JUST DESCRIBED ABOVE MADE BY INDIVIDUALS TO THE POSERS AND THE IGNORANT FOR PERCEIVED CRIMES AGAINST THE COLLECTIVE “WE”, THE COURSE CORRECTIONS AND PERSONAL EVALUATIONS WE AS INDIVIDUALS SHOULD CONSIDER TAKING, DON’T OFTEN COME FROM THE OUTSIDE.

IT SEEMS TO TAKE PLACE INSIDE OUR OWN HEADS AND HEARTS WHERE IT SOMETIMES IS MUCH EASIER TO BE SELF-DECEIVED OR OPAQUE ABOUT OUR PERSONAL AUTHENTICITY.



AS I DESCRIBED IN RECOUNTING MY JOURNEY, I FEEL I WASTED A LOT OF TIME, ENERGY AND TALENT IN PURSUIT OF SOMETHING NOT REAL -- NOT AUTHENTIC TO WHO I AM AND TO THE RESPONSIBILITIES I SHOULD BE MEETING.



IN MY CURRENT BUDDHIST PATH, I DON’T REGRET OR SPEND A LOT OF TIME ANYMORE THINKING ABOUT THE PAST OR WORRYING ABOUT THE FUTURE.  I AM FAIRLY CONFIDENT THAT ONLY BY BEING MINDFUL OF THE PRESENT, RIGHT HERE AND RIGHT NOW….WILL THE LESSONS I AM TO LEARN BE MADE AVAILABLE TO ME.  ALL THE LESSONS ARE GOOD EVEN IF I WOULD NORMALLY CATEGORIZE THEM AS “BAD” OR SOMETHING I WISH HADN’T HAPPENED.



FOR WITHOUT ALL THOSE LESSONS, I WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO CONFIDENTLY MOVE ON IN THIS JOURNEY; AND HENCE; THEY ARE ALL GOOD.



I ENCOURAGE EVERYONE I AM ABLE TO REACH TO BE MINDFUL OF WHAT IS “NOW”.  IT CERTAINLY ISN’T EASY.  RIGHT “NOW” SOMEONE IS THINKING JOYOUSLY ABOUT THE SCENE THAT THEY RECENTLY HAD OR ANTICIPATING THE FUCK THEY WILL PURSUE THIS WEEKEND.



AND GUESS WHAT….ME TOO…. AND THOSE ARE JUST SMALL EXAMPLES OF NOT BEING IN THE “NOW“.  I’M FAR FROM PERFECT IN THIS CONCEPT OF MINDFULNESS BUT I KEEP PRACTICING AND I ENCOURAGE YOU TO FIND WAYS TO STAY IN THE “NOW”.



AND THROUGH THE PRACTICE OF BEING MINDFUL, I ALSO ENCOURAGE YOU TO FIND YOUR PERSONAL AUTHENTICITY.  TEST IT...EXPERIMENT WITH IT…QUESTION IT… BE REAL WITH IT.    ASK YOURSELF FREQUENTLY, “AM I TRULY HAPPY”.



AM I COMPLETE OR DOES THERE SEEM TO BE SOME COMPONENT…SOME INTEGRAL PART OF SELF THAT DOESN’T RESONATE AND RADIATE THE TRUTH OF WHO WE KNOW WE ARE OR WHO WE COULD BE.  I BELIEVE THAT LACK OF HAPPINESS IS A CLEAR BAROMETER THAT OUR PERSONAL AUTHENTICITY MAY BE OFF BALANCE OR MISDIRECTED.



IT IS CRYSTAL CLEAR TO ME NOW THAT NO ONE OR NO THING CAN GIVE ME LASTING AND MEANINGFUL HAPPINESS.  IT IS ONLY THROUGH BEING IN INTEGRITY WITH MYSELF AND BEING WILLING TO SHOW AND EXPOSE MY PERSONAL AUTHENTICITY TO ALL THAT I ENCOUNTER, WITH ALL ITS’ WARTS AND DEFICIENCIES, THAT I CAN EVER BE SECURE AND HAPPY.



IN MY CONNECTIONS WITH MY SLAVES, PERSONAL AUTHENTICITY IS KEY TO THE SURVIVAL OF THOSE RELATIONSHIPS.



I WOULD BET THAT EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU CAN THINK BACK ON A RELATIONSHIP AND A TIME WHERE YOU WERE HOLDING BACK A PART OF YOURSELF…HIDING YOUR PERSONAL AUTHENTICITY.



+IT MAY HAVE BEEN OUT OF FEAR OR BEING ASHAMED THAT THE OTHER PERSON IN THAT RELATIONSHIP WOULDN’T UNDERSTAND.  OR IT MAY HAVE BEEN THAT YOU USED IT AS A TOOL OF CONTROL….TO KEEP THE OTHER PERSON GUESSING AND OFF-BASE SO THEY AREN’T ABLE TO FOCUS IN ON YOUR DEFICIENCIES IN THE RELATIONSHIP.  OR IT MAY HAVE BEEN JUST BECAUSE YOU WERE CONFUSED, LAZY OR SELFISH.  I CAN RESONATE WITH ALL OF THOSE REASONS IN MY LIFE.



YOU WON’T KNOW IF YOU’RE STYMIED BY ANY OF THOSE ISSUES IF YOU DON’T HOLD UP YOUR PERSONAL MIRROR AND TAKE A CLEAR AND OBJECTIVE LOOK AT YOURSELF.



TAKE THIS LONG, HARD LOOK AT WHO YOU CURRENTLY ARE, WHAT DO YOU WANT THAT WILL MAKE YOU TRULY HAPPY AND WHAT IT WOULD TAKE TO GET THERE.



ONE OF MY FAVORITE LINES FROM THE MOVIE “AVATAR” IS “I SEE YOU”, SPOKEN BY THE NATIVE INHABITANTS OF A WORLD WHERE THE INTER-CONNECTIVITY OF ALL IS MAINTAINED THROUGH SPIRIT.  THESE ARE POWERFUL WORDS TO CONSIDER AS WE LOOK AT OURSELVES IN OUR PERSONAL MIRROR OR THROUGH THE EYES OF OTHERS.  WITH HOW MANY OTHER PEOPLE CAN WE REALLY SAY “I SEE YOU”?  CAN WE SAY THAT WHEN WE LOOK AT OURSELVES?



BEWARE OF THE INNER VOICE OF THE EGO.  IT IS A GREAT DECEIVER AS YOU MOVE ON THIS JOURNEY OF SELF-DISCOVERY AND PERSONAL AUTHENTICITY.

IT CAN DECIEVE YOU AND SLOW DOWN PROGRESS BY FACILITATING LYING TO YOURSELF AND OTHERS.  THESE INTERRUPTIONS WILL CAUSE YOU TO VEER OFF THE JOURNEY AND JUSTIFY WHY YOUR PERSONAL AUTHENTICIY NEEDS TO BE ON-HOLD OR ISN’T IMPORTANT RIGHT NOW.



I BELIEVE YOUR PERSONAL AUTHENTICITY ALSO HAS AN INNER VOICE….QUIET AND PATIENT, AND SOMETIMES SHOUTED DOWN AND DROWNED OUT BY THE EGO OR THE OPINIONS OF OTHERS.  BUT IT IS ALWAYS THERE WAITING FOR YOU TO LISTEN AND TO HELP YOU RESUME THE JOURNEY THAT I BELIEVE THE UNIVERSE HAS FOR EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US.



MY BELIEF IS THAT WE WOULD ALL BE BETTER SERVED IF WE STOPPED BEING SO OVERLY CONCERNED ABOUT WHAT OTHERS DO OR WHAT THEY ARE SAYING OR WHAT THEY ARE TELLING US WE SHOULD DO.



IT SEEMS IT IS ALWAYS SO MUCH EASIER TO FIX OTHERS THAN IT IS TO TACKLE THE INTERNAL WORK WE NEED TO DO.  WE WOULD BE BETTER SERVED IF WE STOPPED BEING SO OVERLY CONCERNED BY THE EBB AND FLOW OF THE ISSUES THAT THE “COLLECTIVE WE OR COMMUNITY” GETS ALL FLUSTERED ABOUT.



ALL OF THAT HUB-BUB CAN SIMPLY BE DIVERSIONS THAT DISTRACT US FROM DOING THE REAL WORK …THE KNOWING OF WHO WE ARE, LIVING WHAT WE BELIEVE AND DOING WHAT WE ARE MEANT TO DO.



TAKE A LOOK AT YOUR RELATIONSHIPS AND BE HONEST.  ARE YOU STRIVING TO LET THE OTHER PERSON OR PERSONS TO WHOM YOU ARE SO INTIMATELY CONNECTED KNOW WHO YOU REALLY ARE?



ARE YOU PUSHING THOSE FOLKS TO EXTRACT THEIR PERSONAL AUTHENTICITY AND MAKE IT VISIBLE?  I STRONGLY BELIEVE THAT IF EACH OF US MAKE PERSONAL AUTHENTICITY THE KEY ELEMENT IN OUR RELATIONSHIPS, PROBLEMS THAT ARE THERE, OR PERCEIVED TO BE THERE, WILL BECOME SOLVABLE.



ALSO REALIZE THAT WHAT FINALLY HAPPENS MIGHT NOT BE THE OUTCOME YOU HOPE FOR, BUT IT WILL BE THE OUTCOME THAT IS RIGHT.



SOMETIMES THIS TYPE OF WORK WILL PRODUCE A DRAMATIC CHANGE LIKE DISSOLUTION OF A RELATIONSHIP IN ORDER TO MOVE US TOWARDS OUR PERSONAL AUTHENTICITY.  OTHER TIMES, IT MAY JUST BE AN ADJUSTMENT; A TWEAKING THAT GETS US BACK ON PAR WITH THE INTEGRITY OF OUR VERY SPECIAL RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHERS AND OURSELVES.



I WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH YOU A PASSAGE FROM ONE OF MY FAVORITE BOOKS…..A BOOK GIVEN TO ME BY A WISE DESERT MASTER AS I WAS STARTING TO MOVE MY JOURNEY ALONG….



IT IS THE “VELVETEEN RABBIT” BY MARGERY WILLIAMS….(pgs. 12-13).  IT IS A STORY ABOUT A LITTLE BOY AND THE TOYS IN HIS NURSERY.  THIS PART OF THE STORY TAKES PLACE BETWEEN THE BOY’S STUFFED RABBIT, A CURRENT FAVORITY TOY OF HIS AND AN OLD ROCKING HORSE THAT JUST ISN’T PLAYED WITH MUCH ANYMORE.  I INVITE YOU TO CLOSE YOUR EYES AND JUST LISTEN TO THE MESSAGE IN THE STORY:



“WHAT IS REAL?” ASKED THE RABBIT ONE DAY, WHEN THEY WERE LYING SIDE BY SIDE NEAR THE NURSERY FENDER, BEFORE NANA CAME TO TIDY THE ROOM.  “DOES IT MEAN HAVING THINGS THAT BUZZ INSIDE YOU AND A STICK-OUT HANDLE?”



“REAL ISN’T HOW YOU ARE MADE,” SAID THE SKIN HORSE.  “IT’S A THING THAT HAPPENS TO YOU.  WHEN A CHILD LOVES YOU FOR A LONG, LONG TIME, NOT JUST TO PLAY WITH, BUT REALLY LOVES YOU, THEN YOU BECOME REAL.”



“DOES IT HURT?” ASKED THE RABBIT.



“SOMETIMES,” SAID THE SKIN HORSE FOR HE WAS ALWAYS TRUTHFUL.  “WHEN YOU ARE REAL YOU DON’T MIND BEING HURT.”



“DOES IT HAPPEN ALL AT ONCE, LIKE BEING WOUND UP,” HE ASKED, “OR BIT BY BIT.”



“IT DOESN’T HAPPEN ALL AT ONCE,” SAID THE SKIN HORSE.  “YOU BECOME.



IT TAKES A LONG TIME.  THAT’S WHY IT DOESN’T OFTEN HAPPEN TO PEOPLE WHO BREAK EASILY, OR HAVE SHARP EDGES, OR WHO HAVE TO BE CAREFULLY KEPT.  GENERALLY, BY THE TIME YOU ARE REAL, MOST OF YOUR HAIR HAS BEEN LOVED OFF, AND YOUR EYES DROP OUT AND YOU GET LOOSE IN THE JOINTS AND VERY SHABBY.



BUT THESE THINGS DON’T MATTER AT ALL, BECAUSE ONCE YOU ARE REAL, YOU CAN’T BE UGLY, EXCEPT TO PEOPLE WHO DON’T UNDERSTAND.”



A POWERFUL MESSAGE INDEED SIMPLY TOLD IN THIS FAIRYTALE.  AND SO MY WISH FOR ALL OF YOU TODAY IS THAT YOU EXPERIENCE HAVING ALL YOUR HAIR LOVED OFF, YOUR EYES DROP OUT AND GET LOOSE IN THE JOINTS AND VERY SHABBY.  YOU ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE WHO ARE PERFECT IN YOUR VERY SPECIAL WAY.  TREASURE YOUR PERSONAL AUTHENTICITY.



BE NOT OVERLY CONCERNED ABOUT EVERYONE ELSE’S OPINION OR ADVICE, OR ALL THE CHATTER THAT IS ALL AROUND US AND CONSTANTLY AVAILABLE TO DISTRACT US.

BE REAL, BE LOVING, BE COMPASSIONATE TO ALL LIVING THINGS AND OUR PLANET.



HOLD YOUR PERSONAL AUTHENTICITY CLOSE AS A TREASURE AND LET THE INTEGITY THAT COMES FROM THIS TYPE OF JOURNEY OF DISCOVERING YOUR PERSONAL AUTHENTICITY, ACT AS A LIGHT THAT LEADS US ALL TO HAPPINESS AND FUFILLMENT.



THANK YOU FOR WHO YOU ARE.  THANK YOU FOR LETTING ME SHARE SOME THOUGHTS WITH YOU TODAY.  THANKS TO BEYOND LEATHER AND THE PRODUCERS FOR HOSTING THIS EVENT.



THANKS TO THE UNIVERSE FOR PUTTING ALL OF US HERE TOGETHER, IN HARMONY AND IN SOLIDARITY IN OUR PERSONAL AUTHENTICITY.



LET ME CLOSE TODAY WITH WHAT I THINK IS A VERY CLEAR AND DEFINITIVE AND MEANINGFUL STATEMENT FROM ME TO YOU…



“I SEE YOU”

NAMASTE