Respecting Those In The Shadow

I am a hermit. Many people who only see me at events might not believe this, but when I am home, I most often hide in my cave with my partner and my dog. With a computer, a giant stack of books, and a big fuzzy robe, I hide from the world and often wish I never had to go out again. Big crowds can panic me, and even Hermit Tarot Cardthough I travel for work, I can find myself deeply anxious when my schedule goes a step beyond what my mind can comfortably do.

No matter where I have lived in the past decade, it has been rare for me to want to go out to kink events in my local community. My party and event battery gets filled on the road. However, as my partner only travels with me half the time, her exhibitionism side can crave those parties.

Play parties are a chance to break out our large fetish wear, lingerie, and shoe collections. In public, many people can push their bodies further, challenging poses and cane strokes beautifully landing on her skin. Her hand in mine, we create a different type of “us” time that watching the news in our onesies or taking our dog for a walk does.

But what many people don’t seem to get, as often as she has said it and I have shown, is that she is the driving force to going out to such spaces locally. It is her passion that gets me away from my computer, or curling up my old man barka lounger with some random text. It is her connections, and requests from people to her that get the ball going.

That is what is so upsetting and confusing to me when anyone doesn’t treat her well, but tries to get me to still be part of what they do. It just doesn’t make sense. She deserves better than that.

There is a strange thing that happens with niche fame. Whether I want it or not, it can put those in my life in the shadow. I’ve talked with a variety of people in partnership of those with niche fame. They become the +1, an attachment, not a whole person in and of themselves. When I attend an event with my partner, any
Gifting Imagetime someone wants to spend a chunk of time outside of a pre-set space, it is not just I that am gifting a person my time. My partner is gifting them that time as well. What a gift she gives.

What a gift she gives me. I am blessed that someone supports my calling, my career, my passion, with their time and energy. But how often do people attend classes, and no one thanks the demo bottom? How often do we see partners at book, music, pagan, and sexuality events work the vending table? Too often these people are treated as being invisible, or in some cases, an inconvenience.

When someone gifts their time and energy, they deserve to be seen. For every 100 people who come up and thank me though, 1 person says anything to her. Sometimes… including me. Yes, I may teach, but when she is a canvas, sharing her thoughts in class from the front of the room, being a collaborative agent. It is worth considering how we treat those who are not top billed, but giving just as much time and energy. Sometimes more.

In partnership, we are sailing a ship together, with our partner. We are off to new lands, taking one or more people along with us. When someone disparages someone on our ship, they are disparaging everyone on that ship. You cannot be rude to one, and expect the other to be close still. It just doesn’t work that way – at least in a world where everyone on the ship is bound for the same destination, and is collaborating to work together towards that destination.

I like being a hermit. I enjoy my fuzzy slippers and watching How to Get Away With Murder. When I travel on my own, I am leaving not just that behind though – I am choosing to sleep without my ship mate. Oh, and a big fluffy dog that sometimes kicks me in his sleep.  Traveling on my own is a choice not just to travel, and be away from home, but to not be with them. It is part of the equation. It is part of how I decide whether a trip fulfills the needs of all under the concept of FEE – Fair Energetic Exchange.

Thank You ImageI dare you all – when you see a teacher who you appreciate giving their all… thank their partner who is there too. They are the ones giving their time and energy. They are the ones who are making sure they eat, drink, sleep. They are traveling too.

When someone in partnership plays with you, take the time to thank the partner who gave up part of their evening to not spend time with their partner. They are giving you a gift.

When you see a demo bottom volunteer their time, thank them. Without the demo bottoms, the vending assistants, the service humans… we couldn’t do what we do. That person who taught, sang, or made magic happen for you could not have been there in the first place.

And for those who choose to be rude, disrespectful, standoffish, or mean to anyone in a partnership – don’t expect someone to still want to give you what they gave before. Sometimes, you never know, that partner may have been the person who got them there in the first place.

I dare you all – share the love. Tell people you appreciate them. Open your eyes wide and see folks outside of the focus of the spotlights. Thank the roadies, the bootblacks, the service people, the organizers, the bartenders, the security staff. Show your appreciation to janitors, dish washers, bus drivers, convenience store clerks. Open your eyes and share the love. This hermit dares you.


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.

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