In the Face of Blind Hate

For the first time in my life, I think I know what being on the receiving end of real blind hate is like.

Some background – All my life I’ve been a passionate LBGTQ+ ally. Since I was young I believed love is love, it doesn’t matter race, sexuality, religion, People should be free to express and experience love in the way that works for them. I’ve used my privilege to advocate, fight for rights and educate. 

I’ve marched in every Pride event we’ve ever hosted, but this year was different. My girl was gone, off to a Women’s weekend in another province. Which didn’t stop me from attending our Pride festivities. However, an old problem from my time in the community reared its ugly head – I was bullied out of attending the rest of the weekend, because “my girl” wasn’t with me, and she is the one who lent me “cred” in the community. Truthfully it weighed on me and still does. I was told I wasn’t welcome at Pride as a Hetnormative CiS male, and never was, even 20 years prior when I bartended socials for the community and protected them from violence and threats, so I was informed if I attended the Pride bar night, I would get kicked out because they would tell a bouncer I was uttering threats. 

Because of a need to educate and dispell myths, I joined a local group on the book of faces, a confessions group no less, anonymous people submit confessions about everything you can imagine. My reasons for doing so were to try and be a voice to advocate, educate and call out the multitude of phobias in our tiny city. 

verything was going great, I was even asked to moderate the group as I was the only person who had knowledge of BDSM and LBGTQ+ folk on the team. 

Until it wasn’t. 

Apparently, something I said pissed off someone, and I was suddenly seeing Pictures of myself poorly doctored with MS paint and transphobic and homophobic captions everywhere. I laughed it off mostly and placated myself with the knowledge that if someone was taking the time to do this, I was heading in the right direction.

I thought nothing more of it for a couple of weeks until another moderator of the team sent me a link, this link leads to what is laughably called an “awareness website” – it calls out shady people doing shady things, cheaters, etc, etc. I didn’t even know of its existence until this moment. 

Lo and behold, there was a picture of myself taken straight from my profile, and “biography” of all of my misdeeds (which were completely fabricated), stating I was spreading disease in our local gay community. For the record, other than some handshakes and hugs at our local pride events I have very little contact with the local lbgtq+ community here. They are very closed off outside of pride events, and rightfully so. 

 These websites exist in a pretty grey area, without a court order or DMCA violation they are there to stay – and since the first instance, I have had multiple other websites where the story is the same. I have since locked down my book of faces, left the group and changed my profile picture to something innocuous. In the interim of all this, the moderators have received numerous posts calling for physical violence against me, my family and anyone I associate with or call friend/family. None of these were posted to the group at large, However, I take them very seriously. 

Now, I should point out that up to this point, I did not once mention my sexual orientation in these area’s, I just stated my opinion, educated where I could and moved on. 

To most, I have always been a Het CiS male, and in a Het Passing relationship. 

Since these instances, I have had anxiety bad enough I don’t sleep, my pulse stays elevated and I am constantly looking over my shoulder waiting to defend myself and mine. It has helped me realize something though on top of all of this. 

I never really felt the need to “come out”, love is love, after all, I am still the same man I always was, just more so embracing more parts of myself. However, after a complete stab in the dark by a random troll, I got called out. So I started writing. 

So, this is the story of how an act of hate pushed me to put words to something I wasn’t sure needed them. 

What started as writing about blind hate, is now the story of how I further embraced a more complete view of myself- I am who I am, and that is that I owe no one an explanation.

I want people to be aware, Love should always win. Inside the community, or out, especially with so much blind hate already focused on us. 


I am who I am. 

I am not hiding. 

I will still fight. 

In Leather, 

Jason.

There it is, The Fuckening

So lately I’ve been in a pretty good headspace all around.

For the first time that I can remember I’m at peace with my body image (more often than not), I feel pretty good about where I’m at, and some absolutely amazing humans have really given me a confidence boost in that arena.

I’ve got an amazing nesting partner who loves, encourages, and supports me in everything I do, want to do or try to accomplish.

I have amazing Friends and Family who I love and are there for me.

However, the one thing I am still struggling with is certain areas of assertiveness. Now, don’t get me wrong, in some things I am more capable – My authority transfer for example.

So the real question is why do I still struggle with taking up emotional real estate, or expressing needs, wants and desires to people? I still choose neutral language to express feelings or use self-deprecating humor to deflect.

I pass up opportunities for connection; physical, romantic, platonic simply because I don’t want to “put people out”. Or it’s my anxiety and depression telling me that humans couldn’t possibly share the same thoughts I have about them, about me. Because of this, I know I miss a lot of connections or sabotage them before they start, and this is a problem.

This could be drop talking, but I really don’t think so – I have a lot of work to do in this arena and no idea where to start.

Just a few thoughts.

Jason.

My Journey of Body Acceptance.

I’ve been trying to put words to this for a long time, at least a year, and honestly I’ve started and stopped more than any other writing I’ve ever done. I’ve been treading a line between trying to get my point across and not sounding whiney or judgemental, and because this topic is something you don’t hear about a lot, it’s been difficult, so I ask you to read on with an open mind.

There are a lot of things I was never taught about being a man as I grew up and matured. As a child I was raised by parents who were older than most, both chronologically, and mentally. My parents are Legit straight out of a 1950’s sitcom, innocent, judgemental and very strict. They use passive aggressive language and are constantly worried about “what others will think of us”. I was never close with my father. Even now as I am nearing my 40’s he still has no idea how to talk to me, and I am constantly compared to other men my age he associates with.

Which leads me to a recurring issue in my life – Body positivity.

Ever since I hit puberty I’ve been a big guy, I stopped growing at 5’9 and in high school I was a chubby 200lbs, where I stayed well into my mid 20’s. I didn’t do many sports other than martial arts, which was solely because I needed to stop getting beaten up. I was constantly compared to athletes and rich/popular kids, with the question: “don’t you want to be more like ‘so-and-so’?”. I grew up with undeveloped social skills and Poor nutrition, not from lack of money, but from food being used as “love”.

As I got older I started going to the gym after a health scare and managed to drop from 270 lbs to about 180, and then I contracted Bell’s Palsy and fell back into depression, and comfort food.

About this time, my girl and I made the choice to open our relationship up, So I did what I always do when something new happens in my life, I asked the advice of people I trusted who had knowledge of Poly and open relationships.

I talked to about 6 couples, people I trusted, and people I considered friends, and except for 1 pair, basically the advice I was given was “Well, the first thing and most important thing you need to do is lose some weight or no one will want you, if that’s not something you want to do, just be happy you have one person in your life that wants to touch your penis.”

Now, I have always struggled with Body image and self confidence because of my weight since the first time I asked out a girl and she laughed in my face and slapped me in front of half my graduating class. To say I was Crushed would be an understatement.

I’ve always Looked at my naked body with scorn and distaste, I fell into the trap of needing to look like a hollywood beefcake in order to attract partners, However I will say that I do understand some partners find my body type attractive, I love my girl, and she finds me sexy, and all of the other adjectives associated with it. At the time of our first date, I had no idea this would be the case though.

I digress.

Over the years I have been “trained” to expect rejection based on a multitude of things, from my body hair, to my weight, to my hobbies and interests. Because of this I always thought if I could just find that one insatiable slut (slut being used as a positive) that would just be forward enough with me I would end up becoming a completely different person. Self assured, confident, All of the things I perceive as problems would just change.

Let me tell you I was wrong.

When we opened our relationship, on top of the previously mentioned “advice”, I also read voraciously, and I think most would agree, in poly/open/swinging relationships a man definitely has a much harder time finding perspective partners, much more so in my case, as I had never successfully asked anyone out. Let me tell you, I got scared, Really scared, I thought I would lose my girl, who I love as much as I love breathing. My body image issues were what I pinned all my insecurities on, I again thought – if I could just get a 6 pack, or bigger biceps it would some how mask my lack of self confidence, or make up for (what I perceived as) sexual shortcomings.

I got Mad.

Anyone that tells you rage and spite aren’t great motivators hasn’t met me. I made a choice to get back in the gym, I caved and grew out my beard, and started working towards my “Perfect Physique”.

The rage and spite came from my own brain, and imagined perceptions, I thought my girl would find someone younger, more physically fit, bigger cock, better dressed, and I needed to worry about a female presenting partner providing things I had no chance of. On top of that I knew my social anxiety and body image issues would prevent me from approaching Attractive humans from a potential partner standpoint, so if I caught someones eye physically I hoped they would approach me, and I could not have to worry about initiating contact.

DO NOT DO THIS.

There are two Quotes that hold some value here before I continue that I would like to share:

“Always be happy, never be satisfied” – A vanilla friend

“Discipline always trumps motivation. Motivation is about emotion and too many times, we rely on emotion to raise our performance. Unfortunately, this can quickly wear you down and if you aren’t motivated, lead to lackluster or missed training sessions. Discipline doesn’t care how you feel, what the weather is or if you’ve had a bad day. Discipline will carry the strong. Discipline will drive success. Discipline doesn’t need a “hype” video or loud music.” – Jim Wendler.

Both of these Quotes are in the context of powerlifting/training, however I find a lot of that advice is relevant to much more.

If I wanted real, lasting change, I needed to be happy with my body – but not satisfied, because of that I needed long term discipline to effect real change. My motivation was exactly what I have detailed in the monolith that is this writing, but in order to be disciplined I needed a real tangible goal, (and honestly a less destructive and shallow one).

So that is where I am currently, I am learning to be happy with my body, and work on my long term aesthetic goals – I have managed to narrow it down. A six pack for me isn’t a realistic goal, I like burgers and scotch too much, I am not a nice person when I buckle down to eat/live like I would have to to achieve that. Instead My goal is to get a “Muscle Bear” look, and be physically strong enough to manhandle anyone I want. I’ve also started to try and stop placing my self worth on my physical and sexual appeal.

Now that you have read this, I offer some insight and advice. Men/male identifying humans are just as subject to body image issues as anyone else, but no one talks about it, it’s a form of weakness. We fall into the “social media” traps of perfection, and for some of us, it shakes us to the very core with no one to talk to or articulate our feelings to. There are many groups, websites and places to see this in action. We hurt, we have broken confidence because of it, and sometimes we need help building ourselves up.

Male Humans: Be who you are, be happy with how you look, and if you’re not – don’t change for the wrong reasons like I started, change because you WANT TO, if you try to change for others, you’re doomed to failure, and being trapped in an unhealthy spiral of pleasing people who do not know what a fucking rockstar you are. Do things that make you feel confident, don’t mistake others validation for confidence, it’s not, and not healthy.

Somewhere along the way I realized the things my girl said to me were my truth, not the lies my brain created trying to chase approval. All it takes is one person to see the things you don’t, and more often than not, you should listen to them, the positives they see are generally the truth.

Regards,

Syn

Vulnerability: Owning my Shit.

Lately I’ve been talking a lot about Healthy vulnerability and what that means to different people, how we can be vulnerable with others, and boundaries when choosing to be vulnerable.

For myself something I have always struggled with is sexual expression and discussion in how it relates to me and my needs, wants and desires. There is a small voice in the back of my brain that adds shame, anxiety, and forces me to fight more than I should to express myself. We, as humans are sexual beings and in the sex positive spaces and conversations I find myself in, vulnerability in expressing these things are something I -need- to get comfortable with.

My thoughts on why this is necessary are hard to put in words, so this might sound a bit muddled.

Aside from my own needs to communicate (I talk ALOT in case anyone is surprised by this revelation), my nesting partner is someone I not only desire, but want to be vulnerable with – she has, over the years, helped me to become the best version of myself I have ever been. This alone deserves complete transparency, openness and implicit trust. Over the years she has helped me explore my sexuality, kinks, and done so with zero judgement, I detest the term, but for lack of a better one: she has been my safe space.

Sexual Compatibility and Ethical non monogamy is something else on my mind in this regard. Polyamory, and that we are in an open (albeit selective) relationship, opens so many doors that took me a long time to become comfortable enough to address…I understand that all Poly and ethical relationships don’t revolve around sex, but for me, a lot of my connectedness comes from sex, S&M and taking care of the people who I choose to spend time with, however that manifests. My Comfort with these sides of myself is important in pursuing these needs and wants, so that I can find people who will enrich my experiences, and in turn perhaps I can enrich thiers.

In my travels I’ve also done no small amount of self discussion and reflection on my sexual orientation, for years I defaulted to heterosexual. I was really unaware of Pansexuality, gay, and all the other stops along the sexuality spectrum. So I went searching and exploring. I can say with positivity that I am 99.5% straight, however it took a lot of exploring to be sure. I love women, I love their bodies – small, big, thin, muscular, athletic, curvy… Sexually they just do it for me. I should point out, that as un-PC as it sounds, male genitals are the hang up… I just don’t find they do anything for me.

The last part of tying it all together? I need to get more comfortable in asking or communicating what I want, and the narrative I have kept for far too long.

A few months ago I had a pretty heavy talk with a Sister of mine, in front of her partner (a Brother) and my girl. I felt comfortable for the first time in a while to have my little dark corners flooded with a spotlight. It was bad enough she had to grab me by the beard and force me to listen, but I did.

Really a lot of the things I have started exploring and trying to work on boils down to confidence, and cultivating a lack of fear. In the end I have been ruled by old patterns and habits that tell me I’m not attractive enough, or desirable, or not pursue something because I don’t offer as much as the next guy. I short change people and their thoughts by offhandedly dismissing compliments, and anyone that knows me can tell you that someone could say right to my face they find me attractive, and my brain will simply ignore it. I have worked actively in the last few months to change my thoughts, as well as my acceptance of these things, because it’s not fair to me, and not fair to others.

So why did I write this whole rambling mess?

Simply, put – because I need to work on these things, and I understand that without putting a voice to them and making them visible, then I will simply ignore them long term hoping they go away.

Vulnerability isn’t pretty but it does help build trust, both with others and yourself. So here it is, some of the things I need to work on, they have a voice now, they have Substance, and they will be easier to work on because I gave them that push into word rather than thought.

Regards,

Syn



Thoughts On Toxic Masculinity

As of late the words Toxic Masculinity is on the tip of everyone’s tongue, from the Gillette ad, to word of mouth. It seems everywhere you go on social media and the internet in general people are analyzing, discussing, and dissecting what toxic masculinity means and how to promote healthy masculinity and what that looks like.

I’m not professing to have all the answers, however, perhaps some discussion about how I look at things can be a worthwhile addition to the conversation.

I think a large part of toxic masculinity stems from a lack of sex positivity, and sex positive parenting. The Idea of sex and power has always been linked to masculinity, more so than femininity, and I think this is where things jumped the shark. When I was growing up, sex was never talked about in my house, but when I got to highschool sex, and sexuality was talked about in hushed whispers. Who was fucking who, who got a blow job from who, and even “the” event where a (then 18) year old girl got filmed having sex with a local sports star – said video still exists somewhere too (even 20 years later).

At that time in my life, I was still a virgin (and would be until I was 19), but I can tell you one of the over-riding thoughts was if you were still a virgin, you were a loser. Men should be desired, athletic, and sexually active. Those of us that deviated from the norm (not into sports, geeky as fuck, and awkward around women on a whole – doubly so if I had a crush). Rather than discussing sex positivity and why it was OK to be sexually active, or even a virgin, it was simply something that was never discussed, and at that age, peer pressure and judgment had a huge effect on how I conducted myself. I thought that if I could just get laid, or have a pretty girl show interest in me, I would suddenly be more of a man. Vanity, ego and a lack of a positive male role model can really skew your perception of things at that age.

Something else I think needs to be considered is encouragement of healthy vulnerability. We’ve gotten to a point in social conversation where many people are talking about sharing of emotions, thoughts and really dissecting root causes of undesirable behavior and other predatory activities. This is a great thing, calling out behavior that is damaging to others, and how we can either receive closure, reparation or other solutions.

What we fail to do with regularity is acknowledge men who go out of thier way to display or discuss more positively socially acceptable traits. I know what some of you are thinking – “why reward behavior or acknowledge it when it should be the norm?” Simply put? because it isn’t the norm. Emotions like sadness, fear, and even some cases love are joked about, made fun of and the men that display these are even jokingly teased.

I am by no means saying we should all become completely emotional creatures, at the mercy of raw emotion. However, should the men in your life talk about these things, a bit of encouragement, or even acceptance can go a long way to making them feel more comfortable about seeking help and discussion about it, rather than bottling it up and having influence over negatively processing them.

I am a survivor of mental, and physical abuse, as well as rape and consent violations from both sexes. when I tried to report these things, the police basically laughed at me, my “friends” at the time ignored and laughed at me, I had a hell of a time processing grief, rage, anger, fear, and felt like less of a man for crying in front of people that were supposed to be my friends. It took me a long time to process and overcome these things by myself, I went through depression, 3 separate suicide attempts, and a battle with addiction before I came out the other side, barely. I can’t help but think looking back, that if I had had a support structure of people willing to deal with, and encourage healthy vulnerability around these things that the length it took me to “get over” and process would have been far less painful and destructive.

Labelling certain things as masculine, feminine, or even childlike in a negative context is also something I feel contributes to toxic masculinity. I think on a whole displaying stereotypically feminine or child like traits as a man is something I think a lot of people label as negative or undesirable.

When I was in my early twenties, and really much of my life up to that point, I didn’t have many traditionally masculine interests or hobbies. I don’t do sports like football or hockey, I read Sci-fi, play video games and get knee deep in all sort of fandoms. I felt ashamed that hundreds of miles from home, trapped in an abusive relationship I turned to online gaming and escapism to deal with my reality. Something I loved and enjoyed, and used to cope, ended up having me labeled as a “faggot”, “loser”, and a sissy. In that reality, these words were negative to me, the few things I still enjoyed and used to define me as a person were weaponized. Not only were they weaponized by my male friends, but by just about every female in my life as well. Women wanted to be around and associate with these “traditional” men. To this day, I can’t enjoy basketball or football the way I used to since I see them as reminders of just how unworthy I was of calling myself a man. (I understand now, how wrong I was, but old habits you know.)

It is refreshing now, to see geek culture and other non-traditional “adult” and Masculine pursuits more widely accepted, but we have a long way to go. Encourage men in your life to pursue and enjoy these things to their fullest. Keep this in mind though: Disliking something out of personal preference is much different than condemning a person negatively due to a biased thought process.

There are many other issues I think contributes to toxic masculinity, From body image and acceptance, all the way to nature vs. nurture. However, as I see it these are a few things not often talked about, or discussed at large in favor of other more socially visible parts of the issue.

Just adding a few thoughts on a topic that will no doubt be discussed for a long time to come.

Regards,

Syn.

That Tiny Voice Gets Louder.

Conferences are interesting things.

Classes, people, Organized chaos, family, and friends, new and old.

For me these are just a few of the reasons I go to them. As a wise friend of mine said “That’s my favorite part of conferences, not the classes, the moments spent over a scotch or a meal, just visiting with people important to you.”

There’s the problem for me – My social anxiety lies to me a lot leading up to events like we have in just 9 days. Over the last year and a bit My (our) journey has put me in the path of some of the finest people I have ever met. hg

It’s hard to come back to the middle of nowhere and just sit it out until we can be reunited with Family and Friends again. Disconnection, and social anxiety sometimes has me questioning whether the connections I feel to people are real on their end too.

I’ve learned to write in order to express thoughts and emotions I can’t unpack inside my own head. This is both a good and bad thing though…. I write pretty clinically, I have a lot of time to think, measure, and decide how best to word or say something. It helps me see things in a different way, I can be a very spur of the moment and emotional/extroverted in person. You never really know whats going to come out of my mouth in pursuit of a laugh. After all, if you make ’em laugh, you have a way better chance of making them like you. Because of the disconnect between me as a person, and me as a writer – I absolutely suck at bridging the two together.

I see Dance card threads, people connecting, flirting, all the other stuff that happens around a gathering of us being imminent. It’s a piss off to be stuck between being excited, unable to express that, or involve myself in things I want to, Not to mention feel apart because my head is being an asshole.

Anxiety and awkwardness seem to be the norm for me, it’s less with my girl, but still there too, I’ve always struggled with it, it just seems amplified around conventions and the longer we go without seeing family and friends.

Some days I wish I could be more of a hedonist, more able to express things, and confident enough to do so.

Anxiety is a bitch.

It’s a tiny voice that gets louder some days.

It lies to you.

Integrity.

Integrity is a strange concept to most.

Many know the word, even more use it, but few really know how to define their version of it.

Folks in Leather circles also tout integrity as one of the standard core principles, but really what does it mean?

I can’t profess to tell you what integrity will mean to everyone, but I can tell you what it means to me, and how it relates to my leather path.

Integrity for me, contains two parts – being honest, and having strong moral principles.

Honesty is a no brainer for me. I will admit in my distant past I was less than an honest person, and it cost me dearly.  I used to surround myself with less than honest people, and so lies, deceit, and political games became my norm, couple that with the circles I ran in, the behaviors I indulged in, and the people who encouraged it, and it’s no wonder I hit bottom and bounced. I’ll get back to this later on, but I wanted to get this one out of the way for the time being.

Strong Moral Principles.

It hasn’t been an easy road to develop those, Just like my honesty, in my younger years I existed in a morally grey area, I lived a life that, in order to survive I continually compromised my morals to fit in, to make a living, and even just to feel like part of the people I chose to associate with. Cheating, lying and using people for my own ends was the norm.

I hit bottom, and disappeared, I had to reinvent myself because I didn’t really like the person I had become.

I won’t go into the proceeding years, but I will say I took a long hard look at my values, morals, and how far I would really go to protect the person I wanted to become.

So this brings us back to the two things I consider integral to Integrity. Honesty, and strong moral principles.

In my life I expect honesty from myself and others, I don’t word vomit everything to be honest or transparent, however if you ask me a question I will answer you truthfully – You might not like the answer but you’ll get it. I expect the same honesty from the people I choose to trust and let in. I also Do my utmost to be honest with my partners and family about needs, wants, desires. Honesty isn’t a part time thing, it’s all or nothing, in my mind it requires you to be comfortable with being a villian in many eyes, and strong enough to stand by your convictions.

Being of strong moral principle is a little more of an ephemeral thing. Everyone’s morals can and will be different, so I will speak from my own standpoint and beliefs.

I have a few core morals – conducting yourself ethically in relationships (ethical monogamy, and nonmonogamy), honesty, honor, transparency, and doing the right thing. There are MANY more, but these are some of the ones that spring to mind in regards to lifestyle context.

I tell my girl all most everything in regards to what is going on in my life, who messages, what we talked about etc etc…. The potential of new partners – play, sexual or otherwise is something that should be discussed on the ground floor in the interests of honesty and transparency. I also take the same stance with my girlfriend as much as able, and again to be transparent – less so in terms of scenes I may have, however I don’t hide them by any means. I also take a similar stance regarding friendships and acquaintances – If the information is relevant to them, I often share it, regardless of the outcome.

Doing the right thing is something that I think encompasses all of the above, however, Also the easiest to bend to fit your own world view. In my past I hurt a lot of people because my moral compass was quite literally broken as fuck. As I got older I vowed to try and do what was right, and it’s all I continue to try and do daily. It took a lot of work to get here, and I’ll be damned if I ever undo the work I’ve put into it.

Integrity is one of those core leather principles I hold dearly, and many profess to do so as well, some are genuine, and some like to think they are.

I really do try and surround myself with people who closely resemble and echo my thoughts on integrity and other Leather values, the trick is finding them and recognizing it in them. In my travels I have found many of those people and I am honored to call family, tribe, and love them as hard as I can.

In Leather,

 

Syn