Thursday, May 24, 2012

Your Humble Blogger

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #444, May 24, 2012)

Here’s an announcement I am thrilled to make: Every previous installment of this Leather Life column—the complete works, the entire corpus, the whole enchilada—is now available on the Web in blog form.

Yes, your humble columnist has also, at long last, become Your Humble Blogger. Every Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine since 1995 (when both the magazine and the column started) is now available at <>. At this writing that’s over 430 blog posts, so there’s plenty of material to explore.

The new blog supersedes a former Leather Life website, <>, that was started in 2005 but went mostly undeveloped. The former website’s address now redirects to the new blog, at least for the time being.

Articles are presented as originally published in Lavender—more or less. Most of the addresses and telephone numbers, especially in the event listings of the early columns, have been deleted. Some email addresses and website URLs have been left intact, mostly as a matter of historical interest.

All of the text of previous columns is now contained in the blog. Photos that were originally published with the columns will be added in the weeks ahead. Future columns will be added to the blog after first appearing in the print and various online editions of Lavender.

Commenting is enabled for each blog post, so feel free to comment. (I’m sure I hardly need to ask everyone to keep their comments civil, and to not post spam.)

Because the columns were originally published in Lavender, and Lavender is considered a family magazine, the blog is not restricted to readers over the age of 18. If you’re looking for porn, therefore, you will need to look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you’re looking for information and entertaining reading about the life, history and culture of the gay, lesbian and pansexual leather/BDSM/fetish community, I hope you will be happy with what you find at <>.

Finally, the inevitable shameless self-promotion: Your humble columnist’s first book, Life, Leather and the Pursuit of Happiness, contains some of these columns in expanded form, with updates, cross-references and even footnotes. So if you like what you read in the blog, you will certainly want to own the book.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Teachable Moments

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #442, April 26, 2012)

While the Minnesota Marriage Amendment is an unfortunate and unwelcome development, it nonetheless is creating teachable moments—like the following conversation I had recently with a (non-Lavender) co-worker.

This person is very supportive of GLBT people and causes, so I was surprised to hear her say, “I was just walking behind a guy in the skyway, and—why do some gay guys behave like that?” Like what, I asked. “Well, he was swinging his hips and flipping his wrists—you know what I mean. There are some gay men who act like that, and then there are the rest of you, who just act normal.”

I explained that there might be many reasons why someone would act “like that”: Maybe that’s just the way he is. Or he might have been “camping it up” either for fun (perhaps inappropriate in public) or to deliberately upset onlookers (generally not appropriate in public—you won’t get people to sympathize with your cause by antagonizing them). Or he might have been exhibiting learned behavior—when he was young he was told this was the way gay people acted. (All these same possibilities apply also to masculine women.)

Or he might not have been gay. Many effeminate heterosexual men and boys are assumed to be gay and are even sometimes bullied as a result. Too often people assume that one’s gender presentation (masculine women, effeminate men) is connected to one’s affectional preference (lesbian or gay) when, in fact, they’re not always connected.

I also explained that, in my experience, younger people tend to make these assumptions less often than older people, and younger people also grant themselves and others both more freedom and more fluidity in whom they love and how they present their gender image to the world.

I finished by explaining that I hope to see a society that lets everyone be who they are and express themselves authentically, as long as they are being civil and appropriate. An opposite-sex couple flaunting their heterosexuality in the skyway would not be appropriate public behavior, either. But there’s a difference between making out in public and simply holding hands.

I felt I had accomplished something when her response was, “Well, thank you for explaining. Now I’m going to go home and tell all this to my husband—because that guy in the skyway really would have bothered him!”