It’s been a few months since I have touched base with you all as MQL. I won’t lie when I say that without divulging too much it has been a very difficult time for me from an interpersonal perspective and that this has meant some changes and conflict in my close personal relationships.
This got me reflecting on our community and the difficulties that we navigate in this space. It is a sad and inescapable fact that people who love each other hurt each other, in a range of ways. In our leather community sometimes we sit in the front row to pain, loss and poor behaviour. Sometimes compounding this difficulty is the reality that often we are dating from a small pool and the poor behaviour in an ill conceived moment can come back and haunt us for decades to come with new friends and old partners, and can change the landscape of future potential.
It’s not always an easy thing to form, hold and maintain a relationship or a connection. I believe that for gay men this can be doubly difficult as we are often not given the opportunities to date in a world that is governed by sex and that is fed back to us that being gays is to be sexual and any other form of expression is limiting. Somehow we are expected to be able to magically demonstrate skills of thinking of others, compromise, and emotional intelligence. All this whilst accepting that we sometimes have to live with internalised stigma and shame about our choices and kinks. It’s a big ask. Given that it is no surprise for me that when we come across some of the more painful outcomes of relationships in trouble (partner violence, hostility, emotional or reputation shaming and isolation to name a few) our responses are to ignore, judge and condemn. It’s far easier to say that an individual is the problem rather than acknowledging that each of us has the potential to stuff up and that as a community there may be ways to support and learn new ways of coping.
That’s why I am so heartened to know about some of the workshops we have coming up this year within BootCo. and the wider community including ASIST training and Safe talk (suicide first aid support and support for identifying suicidal ideation).
Also to name these difficulties is to learn and provide opportunities for change. Partner violence in our community is very real, I am a survivor of it and I know that for many men out in our community they don’t know how to seek support to change it. People aren’t the problem. The behaviour is, and the person you love can also be the person who supports you one day and hits you the next. I believe that when we know better we do better and in the event that our community continues to educate ourselves on our limits and what we want to see from our emotional connections this can only be a good thing. I don’t want to be the man who intentionally wounds someone with words or fists but the reality is that it can be all of us or any of us.
To this end one of my missions over the remainder of my title year will be to provide feedback and opportunities around surviving partner violence or changing the patterns of our close relationships because be you friend, lover, pup or Sir I want my intersections with you to be safe and loving and hot… But not damaging. Also practicing respectful acceptance that people can and do change is important as it gives us all room to grow and evolve.
Thanks and until next time,,,