Ayem Willing

There are lives that touch us and leave a thumbprint upon the clay of our lives.  There are those that sculpt our path, inspire us, help us shape ourselves.

Ayem Willing was one such man.

My fingers freeze up on the keyboard as I stare at that sentence and let it sink in. *Was* such a man.  I breathe in and release.  He’s gone.

Ayem would light up a room by walking into it.  Unannounced.  That was his favorite style – fly half way across the country and show up to a class with a smile on his face, waiting to see what reaction he would get.

It’s how he won me over.  My favorite stalker.  When I saw him in Chicago, then NYC, then DC… I thought it might be a coincidence.  But when he showed up in San Francisco, my jaw dropped. He officially became my stalker, and I began to fall in love, one smile at a time.

Over the years at different times he was to be my student, stalker, friend, lover, submissive, top, adventure mate, fellow traveler, co-artist, model, stunt bottom, play mate, ally, shoulder, handyman, solace, and so much more. Hard to believe how much 7 years could hold.  Not all of it was good.  There were misunderstandings. Challenges. Endings and then beginnings.

I saw him last on Saturday the 18th.  He and his partner Mercat drove up from Virginia to be part of a shoot for an upcoming book I am working on in New York.  Ayem in my rope.  Laughter.  Connection.  Pizza.  A little slice of comfort and joy.

This weekend I am retiring the red rope in this picture. I just can’t tie with it again.

On Friday, August 24th, he was out riding his motorcycle.  He had a green light.  He did not survive the collision.

We found out on Saturday, when his partner put the word out.  Three friends called me to make sure I found out from a voice, rather than on social media.

I mourn less for myself and more for those who will not have a chance to be touched by him in person.

And yet… I mourn for myself as well.

There is a ritual that will be taking place at FetFest in his memory this weekend (they are offering free Friday passes for folks who want to attend).  September 9th there will be a wake at The Crucible in DC.  There will be something in his honor at Shibaricon.

And how will I honor him?  Show up at events unexpected and see who I can make smile with the surprise.  Share laughter at stupid hours.  Pay for friend’s dinners without letting them know.  Wear pink.  Appreciate hot guys in leather.  Throw around a lot of rope.  Step up to help other human beings.  Tell my friends how much I appreciate them, as the live, as we all live.

My clay is shaped, molded, formed.  And there my friend, there, I see your thumbprint in me.

Ayem Willing – 1970 – 2012 … Forever







Lee Harrington

Lee Harrington is an internationally known sexuality, relationships, and personal authenticity educator. Having taught in all 50 states and in 6 countries, he brings a combination of playful engagement and thoughtful academic dialogue to a broad audience. An award-winning author and editor on gender, sexual, and sacred experience, his books include “Traversing Gender: Understanding Transgender Journeys,” and "Sacred Kink: The Eightfold Paths of BDSM and Beyond," among many other titles. He has been blogging online since 1998, and been teaching worldwide since 2001. Welcome to his world, and your chance to expand your mind and heart alike.


  1. I’ve been thinking about you ever since I heard. My condolences.

  2. I never knew him. But your words speak volumes for how much you loved him and how spectacular a human being he was. I’m sorry for your loss, sorry I never got to know him, and grateful for your ability to share those things which made him so exceptional with others. Thank you.

  3. Well said.

  4. Christopher Wolfe

    I want to thank u for your kind words about my brother. He was a true friend to many and the reality of it shows by all the people that I’ve been in contact with over the last few days. I’m not sure if anything will be the same for me, my family ever again. I’m not tryin to sound so negative but looking back through pictures of us as kids, the pain of our loss is so painful to accept. But He would’ve wanted us all to celebrate n remember the good times and for everyone to try to move on. I will always have him in my thoughts n again thank u for ur thoughts. If anyone wants to ask anything please feel free to email me at ccwolfe23@gmail.com

  5. Thanks for posting.
    A beautiful honor of an amazing man who will be missed by so many!

  6. Thank you, for introducing me to him, at Shibaricon this year. Even that small slice of the pie was a treat. I had hoped to see him again.

  7. Missing him. Wow really sad. he was too young.

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