Lessons from perverts

Passing on new knowledge

I’ve been an actively out, community-minded pervert-a sadomasochistic leather-wearing freak-for about a decade.

During that time, the queer leather community has been full of smart, ethical folks who have done some thinking along the way and are happy to share the results with the next generation. I have always imagined these little chunks of wisdom rubbing off on newcomers with a creaky sound-kind of like leather-clad queers standing back-to-back.

Here are the top six things I’ve learned from perverts:

1) Don’t be afraid of emotions or extremes.

Western society conditions us to be afraid of strong emotion, of pain, of powerful experiences, and of sensuality. BDSM play thrives on all of these. I think transforming the things we fear into play material makes us better prepared to deal with life’s little vicissitudes.

2) Know what you want and how to ask for it.

Since SM play varies so much between players, we can’t afford to be coy or vague. Imagine what would happen if Bill wanted mild submission play, but Todd didn’t know and brought out the hood, shackles and bullwhip! Anyone who does SM learns pretty fast to negotiate carefully. We’re like UN ambassadors in training.

3) Learn “No!” then learn “Yes!”

“No” can be a hard thing to say, especially since we’re often taught to be over-polite at all costs. But it’s worth it. Once you have your “No” where you want it, your “Yes” becomes downright powerful and freeing. Similarly, respecting someone’s “No” is our first public lesson (printed on the dungeon wall), and we learn to trust in that knowledge.

4) Recognize a power trip when you see it-or do it.

After doing power exchange with willing partners, I can never claim that an arrogant misuse of my power is unconscious-that I was simply irritated with the bank clerk, delayed by the waiter, didn’t see the other people in line. Similarly, it’s not hard to spot that powerpiggy attitude in the bank manager, and know when to change banks or write to the board of directors.

5) Accept one another’s differences and learn to co-operate.

I remember once I helped a shiny black-PVC’d goth and a bearded man in a cotton diaper bump a leather-clad woman in a wheelchair up a flight of stairs into a play party. I’ve never met a community more accepting of differences.

6) Keep the magic in your life.

From sewing our outfits for the Pride Parade, to the cheerful group plotting of an “abduction” scene, to the quietly powerful ritual of intense SM, our passion for the playfulness and the romance of archetype shows through.

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