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Patrick Mulcahey
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Tyesha, as you and I discussed privately, I think the situation you describe is not the situation. If blackface — by white performers — is somehow an "integral part" of black culture, then why not the KKK? Should both be "owned" "completely and positively"? I don't think "blackface" per se is even the issue. Robert Downey Jr. in "Tropic Thunder" didn't inspire pickets. I don't see how consensual race play is even remotely relevant either. As the "Cops Gone Wild" scandal in San Francisco a few years back illustrated — when police officers made a sexist, racist, homophobic video for their own amusement — people being ridiculed, by and large, don't like it, especially people whose social and legal equality are routinely challenged. Having it come from public servants charged with our safety and protection felt even worse. Being ridiculed for paid public entertainment raises the level of offense even higher. And while I've heard it disputed whether the Portland Eagle is a leather bar or not, we leatherfolk were called upon to decide how important the feeling of safety and protection of the women of color in our community is to us. Intent is *not* "everything." It's not verifiable. It may be unknown even to the author of the action. My father doesn't think calling me "queer" is a putdown. If I ask him to stop, certainly he's within his rights to declare the purity of his intention and keep on calling me queer — but his free speech will come at the cost of a relationship with me. *Content* may not be everything either, since it tends to change flavor over time, but it's more accessible to us than the mind that created it. I saw nothing in Shirley Q Liquor's available video excerpts — which, granted, may or may not be representative — to contradict the contention that her creator's performances are deeply objectionable. So when the cry went up that our relationships with the women of color among us were in jeopardy, many of us heard it, felt it justified and responded. An apology was issued and the event canceled. Why is that not a successful outcome? Shirley Q's creator has not been silenced or driven into retirement. Anyone who wants to can access his humor on YouTube or go see him perform in some other venue. (And he cannot be too shocked either, having been inspiring protests for a long time: All we've done is to collectively assign a higher value to respect for our most vulnerable members than to one booking in one bar, and we asked the bar to listen. And it did. It was the bar's choice to cancel. There were no legal threats, still less threats of violence, just expressions of feeling. The bar management followed its conscience. Shouldn't disagreement with the decision be taken up with the bar?
Thanks for this! Nicely summarized, and a great start for further investigation by those of us on the coasts who've always been a little fuzzy about which mountain ranges are which. :-)
What a powerful story -- and what a shock to read a coming-out story so like my own but 40 YEARS LATER. The world has changed these past four decades. Obstacles, internal and external, have fallen, and new doors have opened that empower those of us who are gay to create fulfilling lives, careers, and relationships. But it's worth remembering that before he ever locates those doors, nearly every gay kid still has to come out alone and face down the fear, contempt, despisal he finds all around him.
Toggle Commented Jun 28, 2012 on Pride and Being Alive at Leatherati Voices
Nice reading list, Tyesha! Appreciated the thoughtful comments from Janet Hardy and Laura Antoniou too. Thanks.
Toggle Commented Jun 16, 2012 on 50 Shades of Poor Education? at Leatherati Voices
A really interesting, heartfelt, balanced, well-researched meditation, and a worthy addition to an important conversation we as a community seem to be having this year. Thanks, Deb.
Toggle Commented Jun 9, 2012 on Truth and Dare at Leatherati Voices
Wow: "The most intense D/s relationships I've seen are in fact extraordinarily fluid and intuitive; each person in the relationship is in service to that relationship, without the ego demand imposed by being "in charge" -- but that sort of connection is so delicate and nuanced that it defies description, especially to outsiders. The more-is-better paradigm that we hear instead is particularly dangerous for novices, who have too little experience to realize how connected actual D/s can be, and instead interpret it as permission to enact fantasies of extreme power-over or extreme passivity." Nail. Hit on head. Thank you, Janet and Leland, for this wonderful, highly quotable (not to mention honest and dead-on) piece of writing.
Toggle Commented May 17, 2012 on Rogue Leatherwomen: Janet Hardy at Leatherati Voices
Thank you for this! Graylin's a great leatherman and a wonderful guy. Just want to note that he also received the NGLFT's Leather Leadership Award in 2009, putting him in the rarefied company of leather greats like Tony DeBlase, Guy Baldwin, Vi Johnson, Hardy Haberman. So glad to have Graylin back in San Francisco.
Toggle Commented May 15, 2012 on Black Bottom, Title Top at Leatherati Voices
Nicely done, Caro! I especially appreciate your overview of the 80s, 90s and 00s from 30,000 feet. There aren't a whole lot of voices in leather that I listen to and trust on the subjects of Who We Are and Where We Came From. Yours is always one of them.
Toggle Commented May 10, 2012 on Beyond Leather V Keynote Speech at Leatherati Voices
Thanks for this, Leland. Paying better attention to Gayle Rubin is the most direct route I can think of to saner, more realistic and more satisfying leather/SM communities. For readers in the San Francisco Bay area: Gayle will be presenting one of her infrequent public programs for the SF Leathermen's Discussion Group on May 23rd at 7:30 pm. Open to all adults. Details at
Loved this! And really appreciated the little tour-by-link of Andrea's greatest hits. (I especially enjoyed the one on "Expectations of Dominants": " It never ceases to puzzle me when people place a huge amount of importance on the consent of a submissive, but pooh-pooh the idea that a dominant should hold their own consent to a similar standard." Thank you!)
John, look again: the leather community is not being torn apart here. We are quite united in decrying your imposture. You write, "I have no shame," which is sure to stand without contradiction, and it seems a fitting epitaph for this whole sorry discussion.
So John, let's review. I don't think it's entirely clear to most readers what you are claiming. I don't think it's entirely clear to you either. You began your leather "personal journey" (p. 2 of your book) "in the late 60s" (p. 7). You and your Master "lived in the Castro district of San Francisco" (p. 7), on Bush Street you say (in your comment responding to me on your "rebuttal"), never mind that any city map will attest that Bush Street is nowhere near the Castro. But so what, since your book is not actually about your personal journey: it's about "Old Guard" leather in the 40s and 50s. You weren't around, but you know about it so particularly -- about the dozens of protocols, their corresponding hand and eye signals; about the Council of Elders, its exacting criteria for Masters, Grand Masters and the bestowal of "covers," all the rest -- because you saw it all laid out in documents your Master possessed (paragraphs 7-8 of your rebuttal). Upon his death, these documents were seized and sealed by a court order obtained by your Master's family and others. The court also ordered you never to reveal your Master's name. Unfortunately everybody else who ever knew anything about these same Old Guard secrets is dead (p. 20 of your book). However, thanks to an astonishing, nearly photographic memory for everything but spelling, you are able to reproduce in painstaking detail the content of those sealed documents in your book. Is that about the size of it? I'm sure I seem relentless, John, but that's because I know something now I didn't before. I thought you were only some dotty leather Walter Mitty in need of a gentle reality check. But no. You know exactly what you're doing, what whopping lies you are telling, all for the purpose of feeling important to unsuspecting innocents guilty of no worse fault than the universal desire to conform, to fit in. Shame on you. Really. Shame on you.
A very interesting perspective -- thanks.
Toggle Commented Feb 7, 2012 on Mortification of the Flesh at Leatherati Voices
Bush Street is only a little closer to the Castro than Florida is. Wrong part of town. Way wrong. If I ever see you in public, I doubt either of us will walk away the happier for it.
Joanne, I am sure Moloko Velocet's comment was made with tongue deeply in cheek. It's the pen name of a leather guy fairly well known in the San Francisco community.
It seems both fitting and ironic that, as the comment feed demonstrates, Guy has called into existence a virtual Council of Elders to attest that no such thing ever existed in the form Weal's book avows. I sincerely hope Mr Weal can prove himself a not entirely make-believe leatherman by dealing forthrightly with this mess. I am not sure how the matter can be made right to all the readers who shelled out twenty dollars for the book; then again, caveat emptor, nobody had a gun to their heads. And as a leather people we have always been generous (some might say too much so) with second chances. Which raises a question I think we should be asking ourselves. Those of us who've known each other a while -- and/or have known leather and San Francisco a good while -- knew even before the book was published that false claims about our community and its history were emanating from a gentleman in Florida none of us had heard of a few years before. His shifting bio claimed tutelage by a "Master Richard" (who subsequently lost his name) in "the 60s in the Castro," which wasn't even a gay neighborhood then, via exposure to a rigidly structured "Old Guard" which nobody here in San Francisco had any experience of -- had even heard of. Granted, we try to give other leatherfolk the benefit of the doubt and butt out of their business. But this WAS our business, especially here in San Francisco. How is it then that we felt held hostage for five years, give or take, and held our tongues? At first we may have thought, "Well, all this might have been happening in some loner's basement" -- but with the appearance of the "Council of Elders" and the "15 levels of play" for Mastery, any doubt was gone. Still, mostly we stayed mum. Maybe the answer is as simple as that we needed the closest thing we have to an authority -- we needed you, Guy -- to be a voice for us. You have done that again and again, often at no little cost to yourself, and like the others here, I thank you for it.
A rousing defense of contests! A kind of Contest Credo. Well and thoughtfully done, thanks.