This is Matt and myself at the Saint's Halloween party at Roseland this weekend. Thanks for the pic, Peter!
Matt was dressed as an Oracle. Not seen here is a really awesome cape/cloak he hand made from sheer black silk. And you can't really see it above, but he's in this awesome sectioned skirt which he also made. He looked great!
I didn't dress as anything in particular for this party. I used some purple and lime green rope which I bought at IML to make two leg harnesses, which came together at the top. Jerry helped me pull it all together--I needed more than two hands to hold everything! Matt braided the extra ends together in a long plait which went around my back side. Daisy was kind enough to do up my face with some groovy makeup. I have no idea if the whole thing worked, but I certainly felt good. It felt like the best dancing outfit I've ever had.
In fact, the whole party was very enjoyable for me. It feels great to return to a place in my life where I am enjoying stuff like this again. It felt really remarkable to be there with a special person who was on a similar wavelength as me. And as I danced among my friends, some of whom are especially close and important to me, I felt truly happy in a way I have only recently begun to experience.
The last Saint party happened last June over gay pride weekend. I helped decorate for that one also. It had all the ingredients for a good time. Unfortunately, that was the time when I was under attack by other members of NYboL who had petitioned to have me removed from the club. My anxiety, anger, and hurt at that situation kept me from enjoying the party. I left early and went home feeling more dejected and rejected than I had since the debacles with my parents in my late teens.
Little did I realize that those feelings could and would intensify. I learned this shortly thereafter, when, thanks to some fooling around with the procedures, the votes of only two NYboL board members were sufficient to oust me from the club of which I was one of five founders.
In the wake of that vote, and in that moment of utter despair, I decided not to exercise my right to appeal the decision to the entire NYboL membership. I believe that had I appealed, I would not have been removed from the club. Only the fact that most of my detractors were board members allowed the ploy to succeed. If I had the chance to make the decision again, I would do differently. However, Mr. Smartypants that I can be, I wrote a very short appeal time into those very bylaws which were used to kick me out. By the time I came to my senses, it was too late.
However, I have no regrets. While the ouster was one of the most painful, terrible things that has ever happened to me, it also served to broaden my perspective and it taught me some powerful lessons about people, including myself.
Don't get me wrong, I will never thank those who caused it. I can't say for sure if there is such a thing as right and wrong, good and evil, but if there is, I believe that malice of the sort that was directed at me falls in the latter of both those spectra.
As hard as I and the other founders faught to be an inclusive organization, some club members faught to exclude me. Whether I had done anything to deserve this is entirely debateable--after all, the charge was essentially "conduct unbecoming" a brother, which is about as subjective as it gets. I believe the accusers were guilty of conduct equally as unbecoming as mine was alleged to be; they simply benefitted from being the ones to first file a formal complaint.
Regardless, the change of philosophy from inclusion to exclusion is by itself unjust, unfair, and ill considered. I won't even go into the procedural manipulations used and the lack of any understanding of the concept of due process.
To me, "being leather" was first and foremost a rebellion. The leather community, therefore, is a collection of people who share some similar interests, but who are fiercely individual and unique. I believed we were all rebels. Disagreements are to be expected and differing opinions should be embraced.
The decision to exclude me from NYboL represents the antithesis of leather. It is a move toward conformity and politically correct behavior. It demonstrates that in order to be leather and belong to one of the community's organizations, one must repress individuality and conform to the majority. This idea is anathema to me.
Nevertheless, good can come of bad. My singleminded dedication to the leather community for all these years was shortsighted. There is much more to me than can be expressed within the rules and regulations of leather. I am exploring once again the kind of "gayness" which came naturally to me in high school, when I first began to explore my sexuality. I understand much better now the nature of judgment and how it can affect me and the people around me. I am reigning in my constant urge to control. I am beginning to explore some areas of artistic talent which have lain dormant for a very long time.
And, most importantly, I am building friendships with an eye toward quality rather than quantity. I am living a life that is more thought-out and directed. I am taming my demons and asserting control over more of those areas of my life where control is an asset, rather than a deficit.
It has taken me all these months to write about the club situation. It still hurts to think of it. I develop a tightness in my chest which I can't relieve with any amount of deep breathing. But I don't have panic attacks anymore. I no longer feel unworthy of love and friendship. I don't believe I deserved anything like the treatment I received, but neither was I without fault.
I am finally, truly moving on.
In the future, I will treat my friends with compassion at all times. I will refrain from judgment where the topic does not directly affect my life. I will speak less and listen more. I will use more caution in all things, guarding and nourishing my relationships with care and deliberation. I will try to figure out what else should be on this list! When I fail to do these things, I will try to look at myself with ever greater honesty, making apologies and amends without reservation or hesitation.
Wow, how did this post ever go this direction? Weird. I guess it needed to come out. I expect I'm probably wrong about a lot of what I've written. It's so hard to figure out how to "do right" sometimes. Ah well, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again!
This weekend shows that, depite it all, I am a very lucky man. I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!