This article is part of my Mentoring for Tops/Sirs/Doms/Masters curriculum.
I recently celebrated my 40th anniversary of being actively connected to the gay men's kink/leather & fetish community. When I started out, I was blessed with around 40 or so older kinky men who were my "Loving Uncles". Sure, we started out with sex (it's a GREAT way to "shake hands and say howdy!"), but the relationships continued onward, and became deeper. They saw potential in me, and took me under their wings.
I was in heaven, after a childhood lacking in positive male role-models. I was surrounded with love and respect, and I had SO many questions, about:
- Sex (“How could I have done that better?”),
- Relationships (“Why doesn’t that guy want a second date?”),
- Kink (“Why does my wrist always hurt after flogging somebody?”) and
- Interpersonal dynamics… All the stuff that older males knew, but I didn’t.
I will live to the rest of my days in utter gratitude to those men - Even the relationships that didn’t work out (usually due to their heavy use of drugs in the 1970’s) were of inestimable value, and became springboards for growth. I am a far better and happier man as a direct result of my upbringing by those wonderful men.
Then, they all died of AIDS. The ones who knew the most, and had the most to contribute, were hit the hardest, and right away. They were not replaced. Of my entire, extended Leather Family from the 1970’s, I am the only survivor. The other day, I mentioned to my husband of almost 27 years that in the entire time that I have known him, I have only run across 2 other surviving men of my larger social circle from the old days.
I mention this because of what has come down to the current days, and what has happened to the cycle of mentoring between the generations.
If I had my fondest wish, every kinky gay male on earth would start out with a MINIMUM of thirty or forty Loving Uncles. They would support, teach and guide him into becoming the sort of good man who will eventually stand shoulder to shoulder with them, so that the next new, shy and uncertain man can stand on THEIR shoulders.
Since my younger days, two new generations of men have arrived, with almost nobody there to thank them for showing up, or to help them with their kindly and pleasurable education. There are exceptions, and these older males are living virtuous lives of mentoring new kinksters. They are also as rare as Snow Leopards.
The vast majority of surviving, older gay-male kinksters who share my experience have dropped away. They gave all during the bad days, and are now unavailable to the larger community. Their lives have closed down to outsiders.
So, when I show up in gear at just about any gay-male event, and if I am kind and accessible, I am MOBBED by men who want to know more. If I demo in a bar, half of the men there want to try it out for the first time. The hunger for kind, accessible and approving Tribal Elders is not fulfilled, and I grieve.
I teach Master Classes in San Diego every Tuesday night. The first hour is about “Hard Skills” - hands-on practice of kinky technique. The second hour is spent talking about “Soft Skills”, such as:
- Social Graces
- True and deep intimacy,
- Establishing trust and commonality,
- Breaking out of the box of other peoples’ expectations, and
- Living your life authentically.
I use “parables” to illustrate my points, meaning stories with a moral core, and that make the point much better when it’s the climax of a hot and sexy story that makes the men laugh. Sometimes I get embarrassed that I am an old man who talks too much, and that I wander too erratically in my thoughts, but my protégés assure me that they love to hear whatever I can share.
When a man reaches out to me about mentoring, and we mesh well, I tell him that there will be a cost for my help:
Whatever he learns, he is required to pass it along when the time comes. It may take decades to heal the wound in our Tribe’s heart, and to re-ignite the cycle of mentoring, but we have to start somewhere.