My words are not just my own.
Progressive struggles—whether thry are focused on racism, repression, poverty, or other issues—are doomed to fail if they do not also attempt to develop a consciousness of the insidious promotion of capitalist individualism. Even Nelson Mandela always insisted that his accomplishments were
collective, always also achieved by the men and women who were his comrades, the media attempted to sanctify him as a heroic individual.
– Angela Y. Davis, “Freedom is A Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement”
In my 20+ years in the public kink, BDSM, Leather, and alternative sexuality communities, I have found myself blessed. I have book after book of notes from classes that I have taken from well-known teachers that have been lifted up as experts in their fields of expertise, side by side with little-known local presenters, some of which have since passed away or left these communities. My filing cabinet has drawers full of handouts, and I have binders of notes on bondage techniques and power exchange relationships.
At play parties, I have sat down and watched with a hungry and loving eye upon scenes that inspired me to absorb what my passions and lifted them up. I have born witness to situations that have gone awry, coming to understand what I can avoid in the future. At events and house gatherings alike, I have sat in hallways and kitchens, coffee shops and the corners of gang bang rooms, and had quiet conversations with those who are new to their sexual adventure, their glee infectious and new perspectives invaluable. I have absorbed the wisdom of those who have danced in these shadows aglow with their own light for decades, as they shared what they learned from those who cleared their own path foreward, passing down a lineage of collective creativity and advice.
A similar process has attempted to dissociate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from the vast numbers of women and men who constituted the very heart of the mid-twentieth-century US freedom movement. It is essential to resist the depiction of history as the work of heroic individuals in order for people today to recognize their potential agency as a part of an ever-expanding community of struggle.
I say these things to point out that my voice is not only my own. My tongue dances with the experiences of longtime lovers and individuals I never knew the names of. The words I pass on in my classes are not just mine—they are a collective struggle towards a journey to bliss.
When I say that I learned from Graydancer that sexuality educators are curators of knowledge and that being a curator is a job we must take seriously, that we must be conscious of, I am not lifting him up on a pedestal. I am saying he is a peer on my journey that I share the stage with. When I speak of a Christian couple who cried after a class about Sacred Kink sharing that they have been Christian-shamed in the scene, I am not saying that I am powerful for creating a safe space for them. I am saying that we, as a community, need to do batter, that I need to do better, and that I am grateful for the strength they had to gift me with that story.
I am not here to name drop. When I speak the names of those that I learned from, I am not doing it to laude them or tell how great I am for having known them whether for a moment or for decades. My goal is to say that what comes out of my mouth is not just my own. I am not brilliant and materializing these ideas out of nowhere. We are an ever-expanding community of struggle, of growth, of love. We are, together, dancing in the shadow lit up by our own lights, and we are not alone.
Together we evolve as communities of sexual, romantic, and connective authenticity. Together we learn, whether it is an overheard statement that changes our direction or a scene we bore witness to that shared a new kink, a class we went to and learned a new theory or the lessons we learned crawling on the ground towards the boot of a beloved. We are collective wisdom, and create collective change.
None of us are alone.