Tuesday, February 15, 2011

For years, all the work you've done seemed for naught, but you never let the dream go. I'm really impressed with everything you're doing
and that you've found the right 'formula' that seems to have brought out folks again. Great job, Tony.

That means a lot to me, coming from you, Mark. 

I wish that you had been at Sunday's cigar event.  It was as if there were dozens of copies of YOU in a big crowd... Those men were secure, comfortable, satisfied and serene, surrounded by equals that they trusted and liked on a deep level. 

Nobody was an outsider, unless their shyness prevented them from merging with the group. That's a temporary condition, though, in most cases. 

The thought that occurred to me, as I looked over the crowd, was that these men had nearly all been shy newbies such a short time ago, and now they had what their hearts desired:

A Tribe. And a secure place in it. 

Running the group involves:

- Deep thinking, which I then share with friends so that I can hone the newest concepts. 

- "Social Grease"; having meals, coffees or conversations with team-members. This allows us to find our level of cooperation and mutual trust. Planning is important at this point, but not as important as the bonding. 

- Making plans, and getting the news out. The two parts are pretty much simultaneous. By the time we get to the point of publicity, the concept is complete, and just needs to be written down and sent out. 

That's it. No money spent (other than for the website hosting and domain name).  I'm really strict about that. I spent waaaay too much of the household finances on public work in the past, and won't do that again. 

The group is blossoming so beautifully because the people involved always keep our word. That credibility is not common in The Age of Internet Flakes, and it sets us apart. Word of mouth from satisfied men to their buddies is doing the rest. I know this for a fact, since I talk to all of the newbies at each event. 

Plus, to be honest, FMSD is built upon a REALLY BIG DREAM. Our distinctive premise is exciting and attention-grabbing. It's like watching a circus high-wire act... You can't tear your eyes away. Risk and surprise are built-in, because new growth only comes from taking chances. 

There are plans coming up that I can't express in words yet - it's all just information-gathering and open possibilities at this point. I'm pondering BIG events that will still be around and successful, decades from now. 

All that I consciously know is that when the time is right, our Tribe will arrive and fill the space available, men will be high on the endorphins of communal joy, and everybody will go home satisfied afterward. 

The scale of any event is not as important as the harmony and the long-term credibility we've built up. I still want new, big, annual events for San Diego, though. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Identifying the Problems, Part One

In order to build a solid, growing and exciting future for our community that builds new traditions and encourages new leaders to step forward, we have to take stock of the past, before any other work gets started.
Speaking as a gay leatherman who has been through the flames, our community is terribly wounded. We were hit the hardest and the earliest when AIDS struck so many of us down.
In the 1970's, gay leathermen were on the rise - We were bold, we were visible, we were iconic in the larger community's eyes, and we were part of a gay-rights movement that was on an endlessly-rising trend. Anita Bryant and John Briggs were on the run, and the bigots were scrambling to try and hold us back, but failing. The newest civil-rights movement had arrived. Gay men were pissed-off, unstoppable and unapologetic. We were gathering together in major cities, moving away from Squaw's Ass, Idaho and Chicken Leg, Arkansas.
We were finally having as much sex as we wanted, in the ways that we had always wanted. Leather bars and bathhouses were big money-makers, because every major city now had them. We now had ways to build a stock of kinky wisdom that would endure, rather than being hidden away and lost when isolated individuals died. Many men were writing books that were finally reaching a mass audience (rather than being banned or burned), building a consensus of shared desire. We had the largest gathering of wise, experienced kinky gay men in the history of the planet, and we did a lot of connecting, sexually, socially and politically.
We had a tradition of mentoring between the generations, and we had protocols and a distinct, focused subculture. We had to develop these things, because the older men among us still carried fears from their youth that involved imprisonment, electroshock "therapy" and much worse if they had been caught indulging in their hearts' desires. We HAD to take care of each other, because nobody else cared about our well-being.
More later...