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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Calling for a Ten-Year Time-Out on Olde Guarde

This article is part of my Mentoring for Tops/Sirs/Doms/Masters curriculum.

I will soon be celebrating 36 years as an active member of San Diego's Leather Community. I'm also the biggest proponent of nurturing our youth, so that our community has a vibrant, lively future.

So, I have a request:

Can we lay off the "Old Guard" stuff for a while? Can we let everybody off of the hook and take a break? Ten years ought to do it, very nicely, with zero harm done.

These are solid, undisputed facts:

- The only possible path for a true Sir to wear and credibly possess a Muir Cap / Master's Cap is to EARN IT, after a long, arduous process issued by at least ONE wise elder who truly represents Old Guard.

- All leather gear must be EARNED, not bought for oneself.

- I own a unicorn that poops ice cream.

All scenarios are just as likely for the average man who would like to embrace his inner Sir. It's a lovely fantasy, but IT'S A FUCKING FANTASY.

I'm indisputably the most well-connected leatherman in San Diego County. No contest.  I can name maybe FOUR men in our area who are deeply qualified to do this sort of work. Are they inclined to? Possibly. Probably not. IF they are, they would be favorably disposed to train applicants at the S-L-O-W rate of one guy at a time. I have even met one guy from another city who charges $200 an hour to get another Sir to the point of earning his Master's Cap and leathers.

Does the math look bad to you?  How many centuries do we have to wait, in order to get back to where our Tribe was in 1979? What are we really committed to, here? Are we seeking to shrink the Tribe down to a comfy little clique of "me and my cronies"? In that case, can we just admit that we have no interest in the new, the shy, the FUTURE OF OUR COMMUNITY?

I'm mentoring a good four-dozen men who are working toward owning their built-in Dominant natures. Why am I helping so many? BECAUSE NOBODY ELSE WILL. A good amount of my efforts go toward informing them that their inhibitions and worries about worthiness as True and Valid Leathermen are based upon assumptions that are a solid three decades out of date.

So, let's review how things have changed since our beloved Old Guard Protocol books were written:

The vast, vast majority of wise, deeply experienced elders either died, or gave up on being actively involved in anything.  I've spent ridiculous numbers of hours trying to convince our elders to come back and mentor our newer leathermen.  I have written articles.  I have spoken directly to over 600 men of my age (late 50's)  or older, using every tool in my arsenal to convince them to be role-models. Yes, that is a true statement. Anybody who has ever seen me in action at public events knows that I'm stating a fact.

You know how many have accepted my request and stuck around?  THREE.  All bottoms, and new to the scene.  Number of Wise Old Guard Dominants? Zero.

FUCK! (((anguished scream)))

Thanks. Now that I've gotten that out of the way, let me go on to say that I love my older brothers. We are a generation that is wounded from losing so many of our best and brightest.  We have every right to enjoy a nice, relaxed squat on the porch in a rocking-chair.

But not much else.

If you don't currently have any skin in the game, you need to quit yapping about how things oughtta be. It's too reminiscent of "You Kids Get Off Of My Lawn!"

We need to quit fooling ourselves about how much influence we have. We are yesterday's newspaper… Not particularly relevant. As I have said before, we are like pterodactyls, surrounded by small furry mammals. It's time to learn to love the small furry mammals, because there are vastly more of them than there are of us.

The men who come to FetishMenSanDiego's events who are aged between 20 and 49 tend to be bewildered and unsure of themselves. What little they know of our culture tends to be judgmental, baffling, exotic and unwelcoming.

If it is ever to become THEIR culture, then we need to start everybody at a crawl. We have to use Operant Conditioning, where we only use positive reinforcement teaching techniques. We want our newer brothers to have the experience that we are all providing a culture of nurturing, supportive, and flexible sweethearts who want them to thrive, and to eventually replace us in the pantheon of elders.

We have many, many books to guide our newer brothers who crave the structure and protocols that sustain Old Guard. That wisdom won't be lost, and that is a good thing, because if the world still depended on us old farts verbally sharing our history, experience and wisdom, then we would be in much, much worse shape. It only works if we SHOW UP.

So, please - Let's all take a step back, tone down the shrill judgmental behavior, and voluntarily dismantle the flaming hoops of unreachable (and certainly impractical) expectations for our newest brothers. We will be a lot more likely to HAVE a gay leathermen's Tribal culture for centuries yet ahead if we come from love and approval NOW, as we rebuild a wounded community.

Otherwise, we are just angry, punitive bitches. Is that how we want to be remembered after we are gone?


  1. Well said. Mentors are few and far between, and the rules have changed. I will look to those who have come before me for guidance and information, but I am one of those Dominants who is creating his own training path.

    At some point in the near future, I will feel that I have grown enough so that I would be able to wear a cap with pride. And then I will look to those around me who I trust to see if they concur. At that point, I'll accept the cover. But, this is a new path - new rules - and a reflection of our changing community.

    Respect our past, accept what it brings to our shared culture, but let things develop as we evolve and move forward.


  2. Here Here! To chisel down the leather experience into two facets really doesn't produce a gem that sparkles. There is a preceived 'Leather History' that actually has not a whole lot to do with reality. When I stumbled on the leather community in San Francisco in 1975 there was the doe-eyed leather hippie to the ball wrenching biker; and everything inbetween. There was no limits to sexual expression and that extended to each persons expression of leather. Now we find ourselves in a whole new world, and it is quite wonderful and full of sexy, nasty, creative play and relationships. I for one embrace it for change is a constant and is my favorite companion. Two objects traveling at different speeds get further and further apart. Let's keep up! xoxo

  3. I will defer to the ruling from the Council of Elders, but as far as I am concerned I concur. Now about that unicorn?

  4. I recently earned the Title of Eagle LA Mr. Leather 2013 and the whole question of Past, Present and Future have come up several time. In all honesty the fear of not "knowing the history as well as I should" almost caused me not to run for my title. I appreciate the history but lets get real for a minute I have had 20 different leathermen all telling me a different history all insisting theirs is the true history. It reminds me of playing the game "telephone" as a kid the final story was never anywhere near how it started off. The leather community has many traditions that I feel are important to respect and honor, however those might not be the same traditions the next Leatherman finds to be important to him (Very similar to the difference in many religions).

  5. Bravo, Papa Tony! Well said, and I hope that those who really need to read this article will. That image of the pterodactyls and small, furry animals still has me chuckling. I've had a few conversations in my lifetime with people who have gotten flack becasue they broke with the brought-down-from-the-mountain-by-Moses-set-in-stone preciousness that is "Old Guard protocol." Don't get me wrong, I know why the protocols exist and to this day, and I will always respect them. There is still a real world utility to many of them, not mention that some protocols like a sub presenting themselves on their back is hot as hell. I can also count only one time in all 11 years I have been involved in the community when I have set foot in a Leather bar or dungeon in anything else besides black boots. But more and more, protocol and Old Guard ways is an indivdual thing with me. It's a series of rituals I use for spiritual nurturing. I can't expect anyone else to act the way I demand them to unless they are wearing my collar. And until we stop expecting others to metaphorically fall into formation first, and then we hand throw them a bone at prescribed times, the situation will never change. Not to mention that I think people tend to hide behind pedantics and/or semantics out of personal insecurity. But I digress.

  6. I have often been very vocal on the subject of mentoring. I was lucky to have met many great Leathermen in the twelve years I've been in this scene and have gained a lot of wisdom from them. Having said that, my path until recently, has never involved one specific mentor. What I would have given to have one strong man take me under his wing and teach me all the things that I ending up having to learn through trial and error. Now that I have begun making a transition and finding my footing as a Dominant owner of a wonderful pup, your words ring so true. Educational organizations play an important part of our community but they are not the end all be all of what we should be doing to foster the new generations. It takes a village, not simply a school. And since a lot of the guys in the generation right before mine, for whatever reasons, were unable to mentor the men of my age, it is up to my generation to begin again and start a new tradition of mentorship that I hope will still be around when we are no longer around to do so. I will caution one thing, though. There is this huge backlash over the misuse of the term Old Guard. I agree that there are too many people who have co-opted this phrase as a means to simply tell others how they feel they should be acting. But lets not forget that there are also a great many traditions in place because of the men who came before us, and these past generations have shaped who we are today. There are great lessons to be learned in this. But there is one thing I always try to do when talking to people about running for titles or finding their leather paths. I tell them to never take my word as gospel but rather talk to a bunch of people they know and trust, or are referred to by those they trust, pick and choose what works for them, and let the rest go. I don't think trashing the Old Guard does us any more good than making a golden calf out of it. Let it be what it was, hot times from the men who forged the way. Let the stories inspire you, even if it's just to jerk off. Look at their traditions and use them as raw materials to forge your own. Or just be amused at what a different world we live in where you can actually tell people you're a pervert rather than having to use a secret code to do so. But instill in the new guys a certain reverence that if it wasn't for those guys who went against the norms, against the law, against society even to the point of putting themselves in great danger to do so, the youth of today would not be able to buy their shiny new harnesses at Mr. S, with a credit card that has their name on it, and be able to walk down the street wearing it out in the open without fear of arrest and/or brutality. Those who fail to learn from their history are doomed to repeat it and I hope to God we never have to go back.

  7. Guy Baldwin had a couple of things to say about all this.