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Drago and Amethyst

The journey of a man learning to grow as healthy within a BDSM lifestyle. His trials, his failures, his victories, his pains, his joys. With his partner whom he loves very much.
19 hours ago. Apr 7, 2020, 3:55 PM

All are welcome to participate. Everyone has views and valid feelings. 

This is geared towards submissives of course. I believe it is a healthy exercise in allowing submissives to think about what matters to them.

Also, this will give others a glimpse into how YOU enjoy being submissive, whatever flavor of s type you may identify as.

 

 

 

 

14) Does religion have any bearing on your decision to submit? If not, are you familiar with religious based submission and do you view it as similar to other types of submission or dissimilar?

1 day ago. Apr 7, 2020, 2:13 AM

 

 

By Joseph W. Bean 

 

This article was previously published in the VASM Scene newsletter and is reprinted here with the author's permission. 

Joseph W. Bean, currently the Executive Director of the Leather Archives and Museum in Chicago, is the author of Leathersex: A Guide for the Curious Outsider and the Serious Player and Leathersex Q&A. He has been writing and lecturing about radical sex for more than ten years in venues all across North America. He has edited Drummer, Mach, FQ, Powerplay, International Leatherman and about a dozen other magazines, and his writing and illustrations have appeared in many other periodicals. His stories can be read in Rogues of San Francisco, Country Rogues and Happily Ever After. Interviews of Mr. Bean were conducted by the authors of Different Loving, Blue Money and the Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. He is also producing a series of art books and classic gay novels with new illustrations for Brush Creek Media. 

Old Guard versus New Guard. It´s all become so much more complicated than it used to be, and so very much more complicated than it ever needed to be. I can´t for a moment claim to "know it all" on this question. I can hope—by sharing what I know to be true and laying out what I believe to be true—to shed some light on the subjects involved. 

First, let me point out that there is nothing at all new about this question. The famous Brando movie, The Wild One, is a (presumably all-hetero) version of the conflict. Ten years after the movie swept through the lives of leathermen and bikers, I saw the same us-versus-them model working itself out in the gay leather communities of Southern California. I am not trying to be mysterious. 

For those unfamiliar with The Wild One, the plot is something else altogether, but the point that matters to us here is that Johnny, the Brando character, has dropped out of the rough, street club with the loose-morals and unkempt, rebel appearance to join (or form) another group in which, under his leadership, the guys are a touch less rebellious in action, a touch less disrespectful and a great deal neater and more concerned with their appearance. The older way of being a biker is the way of Lee Marvin´s club, the one Johnny left. The new way looks weak by comparison, in the perspective of the bikers. Marvin´s gang could hardly have day jobs, Brando´s may have. Marvin´s men are hard, sex-crazed and fully comfortable with their outsider status. Brando´s men—himself first and foremost, again—are more concerned with the people and institutions around them; still rebels, but not at ease with being disconnected outsiders. The 1954 movie was intended to recreate a real event that took place in 1947 in Hollister, California. 

I suspect the writers of the movie script found their cues for the internal action that formed and distinguished the two primary characters and their followers in what was happening in the gay community at the time they were writing rather than in what had happened on the open road in 1947. That´s a guess. I didn´t see anything like this until 1965 among people I knew, and I didn´t begin to understand it until some years later. 

Here´s my view of the 60s version in gay leather: 

The circle I was in worked (meaning we did SM scenes) in planned parties with rules and with a host who was playing what eventually became the role of the dungeon master. We dressed carefully, groomed ourselves neatly, and tried with all our might to follow Social Rule One: Don´t frighten the villagers. This meant not behaving in ways that would attract attention from outsiders, more than anything else. I had to walk across Santa Monica Boulevard to the gate that led to our party space with my hands cuffed behind my back, but my Master was required to see that this was done without being noticed by anyone. He was always successful. 

We were aware—I last of all it seems—of others who worked differently. Their lives are pretty much described in the famous Carney book, The Real Thing. There don´t seem to be rules and there definitely are no dungeon masters. Same world, same time, different approach. In the real world as I knew it, the Real-Thing men could be seen as descendants of the Lee Marvin gang, many of them too rebellious to bear the rules of the world in such a way that they could hold and succeed in jobs or have careers. If we were neat to a pre-Beatles fault, they were studies in slovenliness. I have to admit that they were very sexy to me, but their sexual appeal was mostly in the fact that I was scared to death whenever I saw them. The important thing is that I knew they were not us. 

The word choices reflect my leather breeding, I know. An example: Smoking was common if not quite universal in both groups. In my circle, smoking was done in areas provided with ashtrays, and the ashtrays were always used. In the other kind of group, smoking and tricks involving cigarettes were done everywhere, and the ashes went on the floor, on any bottom at hand or, most commonly, were rubbed into the thighs of the smoker´s jeans. 

The possibilities of the two groups were obviously very different. The men around me (I do not include myself in this) were generally successful in terms of their jobs and finances, and they were the ones who were beginning to create stable institutions. Among their accomplishments were the in-town bike clubs which had significant social functions and usually allowed buddies as well as bikers, leather tailoring businesses, retail shops with a definite edge, and—fanfare here—leather bars. All of these institutions and the system of manners and etiquette, training and deference we now call Old Guard were, at that point, the New Guard, although no one said it that way. Outsiders called it "sissy shit" or "gay stuff." We called it our life. We called their ways greasy and raunchy, and we meant nothing good by it. 

By the late 70s, the founders of both traditions were too old to be its best leaders, but the attitudes and mores had been ingrained in a new generation, which is where I come in. Meantime, the bars and pay-to-play sex clubs needed enough customers to stay open, so they were willing to admit most of the greasy, raunchy outsiders to the carefully constructed institutions of the stay-at-home leather club-men. 

An uneasy alliance was struck which was sometimes more volatile than the word uneasy coveys. Soon, of course, the outsiders wanted in, all the way in. They wanted membership in organized clubs and recognition for their ways. By then, their rebellion had taken new forms. They were wearing rubber and spiky hair—sometimes in strange cellophaned colors—whereas before they wore heavy, dirty leathers and combed their hair in Vaselined wings with duck´s-ass backs. It may be that the overwhelming popularity of black leather over brown and the uniformity of the biker model over all others was born, finally, in the tacit dance toward agreement that made the co-existence of the two groups possible. That´s guessing again, but I could argue the point very effectively, I think. Piercing and tattooing, especially if not covered by normal, daytime clothing, are products more of the greasers´ history than the club-men´s. Order and acts of respectful mutual recognition are contributions of the club-men from which we have derived what is conceived today as The Old Guard. 

That is, the current Old Guard was the new form of the late 1950s and early 1960s. The (now so-conceived) conflict between the values of the two groups came to a head any number of times, with the businessmen usually deciding the compromise. In the late 70s, the (now so-called) New Guard went too far for the (now so-called) Old Guard to tolerate without resistance in terms of "frightening the villagers." They were on the street in their gear—biker leathers without bikes, for instance—and such behaviors as wearing handcuffs out to be seen or leading boys down the street in bondage or on a leash. 

An important part of what was seen as "going too far" was the parodying of by-then traditional values by behaving "within" the forms without having learned the meaning of the gestures and modes involved. Example: When I hear someone in the new form try to use the word "Sir," my skin sometimes crawls. The word is not a name or a noun and, in my world, cannot be used as if it were. It is a title, a deference, a display of respect, and can only replace a name in direct conversation with the respected party. The new form likes the word, feels the charge in it and, apparently, mistakes the charge for the substance. "You´ll call me ‘sir,´" results today in the boy speaking of "my Sir" and doing things because "Sir said to." It´s bad English and a broken descendant of the original use of the word. I could give a dozen similar examples, but they will only insult and irritate people. Why would I want to do that? 

I don´t really know if I have made anything clear at all yet. My point, at least in part, is that all varieties of leathermen existing today have existed all along if we are talking about how the men are being. What they are doing changes with time, but it is always informed from being, and that seems to come in as many flavors as there are people, but in only two broad forms. You can have the flavor of your choice, but all flavors are either sweet or savory—if you know what I mean. On the one, side you have your institution-builders, community leaders, men who balance their interactions with the larger world against their relationships in the leather world. On the other side, you have your rebels, your pioneers, your "bad boys" who take a fuck-em attitude toward the world when it is troubled by them. The institution-building types were the New Guard of 1960, and their habits are the traditions called Old Guard today. The bad boys of 1960, with shifts due to nothing more than the changes in the social world, are still with us, and we call them New Guard in the 90s. 

So where do we go with this in 1999 and beyond? First, we can accept that almost all young people will always think that what they are discovering is new and that, therefore, their version of anything must be called New. Witness Bossa Nova, la Nouvelle Vague, and New Age, as well as New Guard. Second, we can accept that youth matures, and we can let it do that at its own pace and in its own way. Third, once we are over the brashness of youth and the newness of every (re)invention, we can recognize that the history of leather, like the history of the world, is made of great forces diverging and recombining. In the case of the world of leathersex, the great forces are order (which supports Master/slave realities best) and rebellion (which supports the most extreme forms of physical sexuality best). I wouldn´t and couldn´t give up either for the other, but I know many people in each camp who—two to five decades after they started doing SM—still cannot accept the tenets of the "opposing" camp. 

I want to be able to work a bottom out to the very edge of his capacity and mine without negotiating the plan to death, but I also want to be shown deference and respect once I´ve earned it. So, at 51, it might be said that I want to be both New Guard (big tattoo that I show off on the streets in good weather, piercings that straight resort dwellers have to put up with, leather gear including whips carried through malls if it suits me) and Old Guard (careful manners and order, etiquette and respect, reflected in some level of care that my New leanings don´t disturb others overmuch). If I were 25 years younger, I´d probably have had blue-green hair by now and piercings in my face as well, but I´m not. If I were 25 years older (and I know these men very well), I´d probably be unable to tolerate the in-your-face "freshness" of the young men and novices who are called New Guard today. 

Personally, I can be very nostalgic for the rigid simplicity of the small, tightly networked circles of SM men I first knew. I liked the freedom that came from everyone knowing all he needed to know about everyone by observing their manners and the forms of respect by and around them. I liked the signs and displays of submission and the easy acceptance of superior place. But these are all part of the now nearly lost side of the traditional club-men, the "Old Guard." 

In the privacy of my own life (at home and in leather-public as well as full-public at times) I have been able to strike a nice balance: everything, all the time, and 100% my way. And, my way is usually exactly the way I was raised: Respect required in all directions, deference in one, training in the other. That´s what is called Old Guard today, but it was new to the leather world, in a sense, when it was new to me. 

The truth is that the Old Guard as is it conceived and spoken of today is mostly myth. Some of the forms are genuine and have history, but they never had the kind of universal acceptance and weight they are given in "memory." That is not a problem! If inventing a way of life that is loosely (and sometimes comically so) based on the behaviors of the "Old Guard" results in a myth that can breathe and have value in the lives of leathermen today, so be it. If Sy Lechter and Jim Kane and Bill Swenning and Val Martin are to be made (usually nameless) gods in a pantheon they would not recognize, so be it. Better to become giants and myths than to be ignored and forgotten. And much of what is being invented in the name of the Old Guard is genuinely useful, regardless of how it is rooted in the past. 

Is there really a New Guard/Old Guard conflict? Yes, absolutely! What´s more, there will always be a conflict between the two forces driving us down the leathersex and leather-social road. Paint-by-number safety and Picasso-like risk/madness can never enjoy each other (except in private and secret moments of wild passion), but each is undefinable without the other, maybe even pointless. 

 

 

1 day ago. Apr 6, 2020, 4:05 PM

All are welcome to participate. Everyone has views and valid feelings. 

This is geared towards submissives of course. I believe it is a healthy exercise in allowing submissives to think about what matters to them.

Also, this will give others a glimpse into how YOU enjoy being submissive, whatever flavor of s type you may identify as.

 

 

 

13) Is sexual availability, being available to your partner any time he or she wants, part of your submission? Why or why not? Are there limits to this?

2 days ago. Apr 6, 2020, 12:52 AM

4/5/2020

There was a time when I was married. I was for 17 years. The reasons it fell apart aren't fully a piece of this writing, except only to show a pattern if you will. So I say pieces of it to show a repeated instance that happened throughout my life.

 

About six years prior to that marriage ending I began questioning why I felt belittled and demeaned by her. For a few years I believed it was me. I was the one to blame surely. So I worked on changing my behavior. My mannerisms. Even went so far as to change my looks. All I ever received, or maybe it would be honest to say, all I ever FELT I received was negativity. I can't do this or that right. Why don't you do this or that in this or that way? Why do you make things so difficult? Why this or that? You shouldn't talk like that to others you should talk like this. All of these things made me feel, unappreciated. Ignored. Unaccepted. Like I couldn't do anything right and I had to try harder. When I finally lashed out and asked her to stop and how it was making me feel she just laughed it off as me being too sensitive. Months later when I showed her again her actions she said she was sorry but she just thought she was 'helping' me. No matter what I seemed to do it wasn't good enough. Mind you, she was a stay at home mom while I worked to provide for us. The house was paid for. Her vehicle was paid for. The kids had more than they needed and so many wants. Yet it wasn't enough. I would come home and she would have a piece of land she wanted us to buy. Or a new pet she was considering. I always wondered and even asked her, "What's wrong with what we do have? Why do we need more?"

Reader, please don't hear that she is a totally awful human. I spent 17 years with this person. She wasn't. However, somewhere along the way she felt that she could use me. She looked to me to fill all of that within herself she wasn't happy with. And it didn't matter to her how much I gave. It wasn't good enough. Time, years went by that I felt it was my duty as a husband to try to bring her peace. I swear I did try. Imperfectly? Absolutely! I screw things up all the time. But I like to believe my heart is in the right place. That I do everything in my power to assure others that I am there and that I care.

 

After we separated I moved in with a new submissive. It was wonderful at first. Until she too began wanting more than I could give. She would lash out and say things like, "I don't care how much you punish me I won't listen!!! " I promise, word for word that statement. And I stayed. Tried to make it work. Stuck to my guns and asked her to follow the structure she signed and agreed to. She would realize her error when I took a step away for a short time. Begging and assuring me things would be different. And they were. For a while. But she hadn't dealt with why she didn't like herself. Why she expected me to fulfill her. To make her world peaceful.

 

Do you see the repeated pattern? I seemed to draw to me those that wanted peace, absolutely. But expected that the answer was found with another and not from within themselves. I lacked the boundaries to see it. When I finally called it off with this submissive we had bought a house together and I said I would stand by my word to make sure she could afford the home by herself and not put her in bankruptcy or leave her homeless. Which I absolutely did. I also said I would fix various things around the house; remodel the bathroom, build a new bathroom in the basement, insulate the attic, raise the ceiling in the master bedroom and make it vaulted......all of which I did and so much more. I was there just over a year when she finally kicked me out. You know what I got for my integrity? Her yelling at me that it wasn't fair that I had relationships with others when I lived in a separate room in the house(none of those partners ever came in the house. There were only 2 and they lived in other states). I was asked why I couldn't have two submissives when I was clearly monogamous as she well knew. I was asked why I wouldn't fix this or that and do more. I worked 16 hours a day, no exaggeration (admittedly I traveled 3 hours one way to work), I was hardly ever there. I was up at 4am and home around 8pm. When I was there I would go to my room, shut the door and talk on the phone. I was accused of upsetting her. Abusing her. Treating her poorly. She kicked me out 2 weeks before I was due to leave. I paid her 4 months of mortgage and other bills in advance and told her I don't owe her anything further. I honored my word to ensure she would have time to find a renter. She could easily sell the home if she wanted as I had fixed it up and put positive equity into the home. And yet, I was threatened that I wouldn't be able to get any of my belongings. She wanted me out that second and didn't care that I had 10's of thousands of dollars in tools in the basement for my livelyhood. I was forced to rent a uhaul (grateful that with a rental of a uhaul I got a free months of rent on a storage unit) and came the next day while she was at work to load my belongings into a storage unit an hour away. I now was sleeping in my car. It was the beginning of winter in the Midwest. October to be precise. Lows overnight were in the teens. And I endured this. Why? Because I had placed myself in a situation where a submissive who was unwilling to follow rules, that just wanted to be taken care of but didn't actually want to be a part of a two-sided relationship saw someone that cared and took advantage. A repeated pattern. Even when I held to my boundaries I was being used, though, I admit, I hadn't learned to establish even more and other necessary boundaries for myself. So, I was taken advantage of because of it. 

 

During the time I lived there in the year I was separated from her I had a relationship with a slave who lived 1200 miles away. We met online of course. On a Facebook page. We chatted and everything seemed idyllic. She wanted to meet me so she rented a car and drove up. She rented a hotel room. She was straightforward. She wasn't asking for anything from me but my time. We had good conversations and we clicked in scene as well. I was of course cautiously optimistic. After she left we talked more and a relationship began to form. Then things got weird. She wanted to be with me, why don't I just up and leave and come be with her? I explained I gave my word to my past submissive that I wouldn't leave her in a lurch financially and I meant to ensure my word was kept. She went on to say how she was an heiress and she would buy the house I was living in then I could be with her. My responsibility would be kept. Just come to her, which I refused to do. Anyone can say all they like. She wanted to wire the money to my account and she said she bought me a new truck and sent me two pictures of the truck (which not surprisingly didn't match). She bought us a farm and sent pictures to me of it. She bought us a warehouse where we could build a dungeon and manage it however we chose. She was coming to see me and then her uncle died. Then she was coming to see me and her aunt died. Then she was coming to see me and she fell asleep on the side of the road 30 miles from where I was (that was a sleepless night of searching for me). Another time she was in a hotel around the corner from me, she was coming to see me and slipped and fell and went to the hospital. When I went to the hotel to confirm someone got injured on the property they knew of no such thing. Another time she was coming to see me, she rented a luxury cabin for her and her whole family to meet me and be together, when I tracked it down it was vacant. I can't tell you how many times this pattern repeated. How long I allowed it. She happened to catch me in a space in my life where I determined to trust more. One of the many accusations of my past submissive was that I didn't trust anyone, so, I committed to change that fact. This 'slave' took advantage of that fact. She told just enough truth to be almost believable, and not enough information where I could discover if she was lying. When I would call her out on her lies, once I truly caught her in one, she would apologize and say something else had come up. I left her and went silent from all forms of media. Blocked her everywhere. And she managed to contact me on the YouTube app. This long winded story that pulled at me and I forgave her. I wanted her to be real. Please let me be clear about something, NOT because she purported to have any financial means. I told her repeatedly that's nice she said she had these things but that's not what I cared about or wanted. I just wanted her heart. I told her all the time she didn't need to lie to me she just needed to be her honest self and I would accept that. I didn't care if my obligations to my word towards my prior submissive took a year to complete I was more than willing to do what was necessary and we could work on a relationship in the meantime. She counted on my desire to be with her immediately, she attempted to play on my ego, my vanity. I would be lying if I said some of it didn't work. Over all though, I simply couldn't understand why anyone would promise and treat another the way she did me. It didn't make any sense. I couldn't believe another person could be so callous and cruel as to play with another person's emotions in such a way. 

Oh, I admit, I have every bit been naive. I am trusting. Too trusting. Too gullible. Repeating patterns over and over again. 

 

Why? 

 

In search of belonging. Wanting to be accepted. Received. Loved. No different than almost anyone. And I was willing to endure anything to get it. I told myself love is a sacrifice. That we must be willing to lay it all out there for what we want. And I paid dearly for it. At the hands of those who saw me as their savior. From themselves, from their boredom, from their fears, from their pains. I was used, and I readily admit I allowed it so I am guilty of my side of it, for being dominant. I should take care of. I should protect. I should lead. I should fix. I should guide. I should teach. When they were discovered and called out, well, I should have mercy. I should love them more. How could I possibly have loved more? What more could I have given in any of those cases? How was I wrong? Except that I allowed another person to tell me what I should be to meet their needs and ignored my own.

 

This is predatory behavior by submissives. This is why I have FIERCE boundaries around who I let in my world. There are dominants out there that will give you all you dream of and more, will it be enough? When they start asking you for your heart are you able to extend it, or are you too afraid? When you're pushed to look at yourself and see the fears you hide inside that damage you and those around you do you lash out and expect others to solve your shit for you? If you do you may just find you have predatory behavior. It isn't always as black and white as she lied to me. Or she promised to follow me and refuses. Sometimes it comes in the form of believing in your heart you will follow, only to realize you are only able to go so far. Seeing yourself, sitting with your imperfections, seeing your mechanisms to run and hide or to accuse and blame isn't easy. What happens when you see yourself? Is it the dominants fault for showing you? Can you move beyond that or will you run and hide and blame? THIS has been MY experience. S types who don't know what they want, who they are, will only ever be able to go so far. Those who understand and know that speak it plainly. They say, "this is what I need and want and nothing more." I think we all can agree that's fair. Honest. Helpful. It's why we speak all the time to take your time and discover what it is YOU want and need. Not defined by someone else. Rather solely by you. 

 

How far are you truly able to go to let go? Because your dominant is not here to force you to. They can't. That's non-consensual to begin with let alone impossible. They can create all the correct environments. Show you plainly all you have to gain. Give you all the attention and love in the world and it means zilch if you cannot believe you are worthy of receiving it. If you cannot allow it, you are not submitting. If that's your limit, good. Perfect. Fine. Say so. Own it. We dominants that want your whole heart and will settle for nothing less will know where your limit is and know whether we want to accept that limit for ourselves personally.

 

One thing I have vitally learned through all of those connections........when a person is put into a corner and asked for their heart be prepared to go to war. Which, as a Sadist I am good with. Only, it isn't the dominants job to field anyone's chaos. Especially when it's aimed at them and all they're attempting to do is care for you.

 

This is NOT an oh poor me writing. I swear it isn't. Yes, it's intended to point out the perils that submissives can do to harm dominants. There are predators on both sides, neither are healthy and fun. But I promise that more than even all of that is that I hope this writing points to how we can have the best of intentions to love another, but if we neglect to love ourselves with that same voracity we fail to love another in honest healthiness. I, and so many others would resound, have paid a high price for extending ourselves. Opening ourselves up to simply be used. Boundaries are a vital and healthy part of any positive relationship. It reminds us and those around us where we end and they begin. What is ours and what is theirs. And calls it as it truly is, not as we may so badly desire it to be.

 

 

I pray you find your honesty and peace today. Truly.

 

 

Namaste

 

 

Drago and Amethyst

 

 

2 days ago. Apr 5, 2020, 8:12 PM

 

All are welcome to participate. Everyone has views and valid feelings. 

This is geared towards submissives of course. I believe it is a healthy exercise in allowing submissives to think about what matters to them.

Also, this will give others a glimpse into how YOU enjoy being submissive, whatever flavor of s type you may identify as.

 

 

12) Do you include financial submission within the definition of your own submission and if yes, how does it manifest itself? If no, is there a particular reason why? Are you familiar with the concepts of financial submission? Do you have an opinion about financial submission in general?

3 days ago. Apr 4, 2020, 9:16 PM

All are welcome to participate. Everyone has views and valid feelings. 

This is geared towards submissives of course. I believe it is a healthy exercise in allowing submissives to think about what matters to them.

Also, this will give others a glimpse into how YOU enjoy being submissive, whatever flavor of s type you may identify as.

 

 

11) Do you include service as a part of your expectations of your submission? How do you define service? What does it mean to you? If not, what is it about the concept of service that is not for you?

4 days ago. Apr 3, 2020, 11:59 PM

This is not the first pandemic in history. It won't be the last. In all of the gloom and doom, those of us around 50 years old remember GRID (AIDS) intimately, there are stories of the brave. The beautiful souls that care, love and persist against the fears.

THIS is one of those stories.......
So we can remember, not everything is ugly......

 

 

 

The Woman Who Cared for Hundreds of Abandoned Gay Men Dying of AIDS
By David Koon

 
 
Between 1984 and the mid-1990s, before better HIV drugs effectively rendered her obsolete,
Ruth Coker Burks cared for hundreds of dying people, many of them gay men who had been abandoned by their families. She buried more than three dozen of them herself, after their families refused to claim their bodies. For many of those people, she is now the only person who knows the location of their graves.

It started in 1984, in a hospital hallway. Ruth Coker Burks was 25 and a young mother when she went to University Hospital in Little Rock, Ark., to help care for a friend who had cancer. Her friend eventually went through five surgeries, Burks said, so she spent a lot of time that year parked in hospitals. That’s where she was the day she noticed the door, one with “a big, red bag” over it. It was a patient’s room. “I would watch the nurses draw straws to see who would go in and check on him. It’d be: ‘Best two out of three,’ and then they’d say, ‘Can we draw again?’ ”

She knew what it probably was, even though it was early enough in the epidemic for the disease to be called GRID — gay-related immune deficiency — instead of AIDS. She had a gay cousin in Hawaii and had asked him about the stories of a gay plague after seeing a report on the news. He’d told her, “That’s just the leather guys in San Francisco. It’s not us. Don’t worry.” Still, in her concern for him, she’d read everything she could find about the disease over the previous months, hoping he was right.

Whether because of curiosity or — as she believes today — some higher power moving her, Burks eventually disregarded the warnings on the red door and snuck into the room. In the bed was a skeletal young man, wasted away to less than 100 pounds. He told her he wanted to see his mother before he died. 

 

 

“I walked out and [the nurses] said, ‘You didn’t go in that room, did you?’” Burks recalled.
“I said, ‘Well, yeah. He wants his mother.' They laughed. They said, ‘Honey, his mother’s not coming. He’s been here six weeks. Nobody’s coming.’”

Unwilling to take no for an answer, Burks wrangled a number for the young man’s mother out of one of the nurses, then called. She was able to speak for only a moment before the woman on the line hung up on her.

“I called her back,” Burks said. “I said, ‘If you hang up on me again, I will put your son’s obituary in your hometown newspaper and I will list his cause of death.’ Then I had her attention.”

Her son was a sinner, the woman told Burks. She didn’t know what was wrong with him and didn’t care. She wouldn’t come, as he was already dead to her as far as she was concerned. She said she wouldn’t even claim his body when he died. It was a curse Burks would hear again and again over the next decade: sure judgment and yawning hellfire, abandonment on a platter of scripture. Burks estimates she worked with more than 1,000 people dying of AIDS over the years. Of those, she said, only a handful of families didn’t turn their backs on their loved ones.

Burks hung up the phone, trying to decide what she should tell the dying man. “I went back in his room,” she said, “and when I walked in, he said, ‘Oh, momma. I knew you’d come,’ and then he lifted his hand. And what was I going to do? So I took his hand. I said, ‘I’m here, honey. I’m here.’”

Burks pulled a chair to his bedside, talked to him, and held his hand. 

She bathed his face with a cloth and told him she was there. “I stayed with him for 13 hours while he took his last breaths on Earth,” she said.

Since at least the late 1880s, Burks’s kin have been buried in Files Cemetery, a half-acre of red dirt on top of a hill in Hot Springs, Ark. When Burks was a girl, she said, her mother got in a final, epic row with Burks’s uncle. To make sure he and his branch of the family tree would never lie in the same dirt as the rest of them, Burks said, her mother quietly bought every available grave space in the cemetery: 262 plots. They visited the cemetery most Sundays after church when she was young, Burks said, and her mother would often sarcastically remark on her holdings, looking out over the cemetery and telling her daughter, “Someday, all of this is going to be yours."

 

“I always wondered what I was going to do with a cemetery,” she said.
“Who knew there’d come a time when people didn’t want to bury their children?”

Files Cemetery is where Burks buried the ashes of the man she’d seen die, after a second call to his mother confirmed she wanted nothing to do with him, even in death. “No one wanted him,” she said, “and I told him in those long 13 hours that I would take him to my beautiful little cemetery, where my daddy and grandparents were buried, and they would watch out over him.”

Burks had to contract with a funeral home in Pine Bluff, some 70 miles away, for the cremation. It was the closest funeral home she could find that would even touch the body. She paid for the cremation out of her savings.

The ashes were returned to her in a cardboard box. She went to a friend at Dryden Pottery in Hot Springs, who gave her a chipped cookie jar for an urn. Then she went to Files Cemetery and used a pair of post hole diggers to excavate a hole in the middle of her father’s grave.

“I knew that Daddy would love that about me,” she said, “and I knew that I would be able to find him if I ever needed to find him.” She put the urn in the hole and covered it over. She prayed over the grave, and it was done.

Over the next few years, as she became one of the go-to people in the state when it came to caring for those dying with AIDS, Burks would bury more than 40 people in chipped cookie jars in Files Cemetery. Most of them were gay men whose families would not even claim their ashes.

 

 

“My daughter would go with me,” Burks said.
“She had a little spade, and I had post hole diggers. I’d dig the hole, and she would help me. I’d bury them, and we’d have a do-it-yourself funeral. I couldn’t get a priest or a preacher. No one would even say anything over their graves.”

She believes the number is 43, but she isn’t sure. Somewhere in her attic, in a box, among the dozens of yellowed day planners she calls her Books of the Dead filled with the appointments, setbacks, and medications of people 30 years gone, there is a list of names.

Burks always made a last effort to reach out to families before she put the urns in the ground. “I tried every time,” she said. “They hung up on me. They cussed me out. They prayed like I was a demon on the phone and they had to get me off — prayed while they were on the phone. Just crazy. Just ridiculous.”

After she cared for the dying man at University Hospital, people started calling Burks, asking for her help. “They just started coming,” she said. “Word got out that there was this kind of wacko woman in Hot Springs who wasn’t afraid. They would tell them, ‘Just go to her. Don’t come to me. Here’s the name and number. Go.’...I was their hospice. Their gay friends were their hospice. Their companions were their hospice.”

Before long, she was getting referrals from rural hospitals all over the state. Financing her work through donations and sometimes out of her own pocket, she’d take patients to their appointments, help them get assistance when they could no longer work, help them get their medicines, and try to cheer them up when the depression was dark as a pit. She said many pharmacies wouldn’t handle prescriptions for AIDS drugs like AZT, and there was fear among even those who would. 

She soon stockpiled what she called an “underground pharmacy” in her house. “I didn’t have any narcotics, but I had AZT, I had antibiotics,” she said. “People would die and leave me all of their medicines. I kept it because somebody else might not have any.”

Burks said the financial help given to patients — from burial expenses to medications to rent for those unable to work — couldn’t have happened without the support of the gay clubs around the state, particularly Little Rock’s Discovery. “They would twirl up a drag show on Saturday night and here’d come the money,” she said. “That’s how we’d buy medicine, that’s how we’d pay rent. If it hadn’t been for the drag queens, I don’t know what we would have done.”

 

 

Burks’s stories from that time border on nightmarish,
with her watching one person after another waste away before her eyes. She would sometimes go to three funerals a day in the early years, including the funerals of many people she’d befriended while they fought the disease. Many of her memories seem to have blurred together into a kind of terrible shade. Others are told with perfect, minute clarity.

There was the man whose family insisted he be baptized in a creek in October, three days before he died, to wash away the sin of being gay; whose mother pressed a spoonful of oatmeal to his lips, pleading, “Roger, eat. Please eat, Roger. Please, please, please,” until Burks gently took the spoon and bowl from her; who died at 6 foot 6 and 75 pounds; whose aunts came to his parents’ house after the funeral in plastic suits and yellow gloves to double-bag his clothes and scrub everything, even the ceiling fan, with bleach.

She recalled the odd sensation of sitting with dying people while they filled out their own death certificates, because Burks knew she wouldn’t be able to call on their families for the required information. “We’d sit and fill it out together,” she said. “Can you imagine filling out your death certificate before you die? But I didn’t have that information. I wouldn’t have their mother’s maiden name or this, that, or the other. So I’d get a pizza and we’d have pizza and fill out the death certificate.”

Billy is the one who hit her hardest and the one she remembers most clearly of all. He was one of the youngest she ever cared for, a female impersonator in his early 20s. He was beautiful, she said, perfect and fine-boned. She still has one of Billy’s dresses in her closet up in the city of Rogers: a tiny, flame-red designer number, intricate as an orchid. 

As Billy’s health declined, Burks accompanied him to the mall in Little Rock as he quit his job at a store there. Afterward, she said, he wept, Burks holding the frail young man as shoppers streamed around them. “He broke down just sobbing in the middle of the mall,” she said. “I just stood there and held him until he quit sobbing. People were looking and pointing and all that, but I couldn’t care less.”

Once, a few weeks before Billy died — he weighed only 55 pounds, the lightest she ever saw, light as a feather, so light that she was able to lift his body from the bed with just her forearms —  Burks had taken Billy to an appointment in Little Rock. Afterward, they were driving around aimlessly, trying to get his spirits up. She often felt like crying in those days, she said, but she couldn’t let herself. She had to be strong for them.

“He was so depressed. It was horrible,” she said. “We were driving by the zoo, and somebody was riding an elephant. He goes, ‘You know, I’ve never ridden an elephant.’ I said, ‘Well, we’ll fix that.’” And she turned the car around. Somewhere, in the boxes that hold all her terrible memories, there’s a picture of the two of them up on the back of the elephant, Ruth Coker Burks in her heels and dress, Billy with a rare smile.

 

 

When it was too much, she said, she’d go fishing.
And it wasn’t all terrible. While Burks got to see the worst of people, she said, she was also privileged to see people at their best, caring for their partners and friends with selflessness, dignity, and grace. She said that’s why she’s been so happy to see gay marriage legalized all over the country.

“I watched these men take care of their companions and watch them die,” she said. “I’ve seen them go in and hold them up in the shower. They would hold them while I washed them. They would carry them back to the bed. We would dry them off and put lotion on them. They did that until the very end, knowing that they were going to be that person before long. Now, you tell me that’s not love and devotion? I don’t know a lot of straight people who would do that.”

Ruth Coker Burks had a stroke five years ago, early enough in her life that she can’t help but believe that the stress of the bad old days had something to do with it. After the stroke, she had to relearn everything: to talk, to feed herself, to read and write. It’s probably a miracle she’s not buried in Files Cemetery herself.

After better drugs, education, understanding, and treatment made her work obsolete, she moved to Florida for several years, where she worked as a funeral director and a fishing guide. When Bill Clinton was elected president, she served as a White House consultant on AIDS education.

In 2013, she went to bat for three foster children who were removed from the elementary school at nearby Pea Ridge after administrators heard that one of them might be HIV-positive. Burks said she couldn’t believe she was still dealing with the same knee-jerk fears in the 21st century.

 

The work she and others did in the 1980s and 1990s has mostly been forgotten,
partly because so many of those she knew back then have died. She’s not the only one who did that work, but she’s one of the few who survived. And so she has become the keeper of memory.

Before she’s gone, she said, she’d like to see a memorial erected in Files Cemetery. Something to tell people the story. A plaque. A stone. A listing of the names of the unremembered dead who lie there.

“Someday,” she said, “I’d love to get a monument that says: This is what happened. In 1984, it started. They just kept coming and coming. And they knew they would be remembered, loved, and taken care of, and that someone would say a kind word over them when they died.” 

 

 

Hug your loved ones. The pandemic that decimated hundreds within the Leather Community (specifically in San Francisco) and beyond is a lesson to ALL of us. We pride ourselves on our tolerance and compassion today of our community and it's inclusiveness. Today, let us be the beacon to our world of how to care and love.
For those angels of mercy on the front lines lighting the way to care for our fellow humans, thank you for your brilliant example of kindness and the enduring spirit to serve no matter the cost. Bless you ALL.

 

 

 

Drago and Amethyst

4 days ago. Apr 3, 2020, 4:25 PM

All are welcome to participate. Everyone has views and valid feelings. 

This is geared towards submissives of course. I believe it is a healthy exercise in allowing submissives to think about what matters to them.

Also, this will give others a glimpse into how YOU enjoy being submissive, whatever flavor of s type you may identify as.

 

 

10) Does any element of BDSM occur as a part of your submissive relationships? How do you feel about BDSM? Is it core to your submission, peripheral or non-existent (other than the submission part)?

5 days ago. Apr 3, 2020, 1:50 AM

 2/4/2020

 

I have seen ads by those just beginning their journey in this lifestyle that goes something like this:

 

Hey all! I'm so brand new that you can train me how you wish! I truly don't know what I want, but I am SOOOO eager to serve. I am open to relocate if that suits your fancy. I just really want to be owned. I am serious about a D/s relationship and hope you are too.

 

OR

 

You should call me master. I expect you to serve me totally as I see fit. I am a seriously dominant male that is 22 years old. The lifestyle and I have been friends for a very long time since my first girlfriend introduced me to it when I was in high school. I have many desires for you to please me in. If you're not serious and ready to be on your knees chained up and used at my whim 24/7 please don't respond.

 

Besides the obvious predator trappings within both ads. There is this underlying tone that points to a sad but true fact............people actually believe that this lifestyle is the answer to all of their woes within their personal life. As if somehow the people within the kink community aren't people themselves with their own personal struggles like anyone else. We ALL have to put in the leg work to become the person we see of ourselves. Not just the fantasy we hope we will be within a relationship. Not even beginning to mention all of the mechanisms we have around what we believe a partner should be and why.

 

Please, do not hear that others aren't allowed to walk their journey as they see fit. I would go to battle for ANYONE to enjoy what they truly want to enjoy and how they choose to go about getting there. The point of this writing is not to disparage what others enjoy.

 

This writing is focused on those who purport to want a "serious" dynamic and yet offer nothing of substance to create such a relationship.

 

These are the same after 30 days or less bemoan how "fake" their partner was and become disenfranchised with the whole experience. Yet, amazingly when warned, counciled and told of their need for patience and learning throw all of it out of the window. Usually, they've met a new partner within a few days that understands them and all is well again for a short time.

 

Listen, please, IF you are offering no direction, or shallow because you have no boundaries, no compass for what you personally want and need, do NOT be surprised that you find what you're looking for.

 

Most of the time, especially when we are new we want it so badly yet we have no idea what exactly that is. How it should look. What will honestly serve us and meet our needs? We only know we want it, that's enough right? Especially in an environment that encourages those to have their dynamic however it works for them. The lines become blurry. Here's the truth though, common sense still applies! We don't get to just ignore what makes sense rationally and practically. Hormones are no substitute for logical reasoning! Even if it is exciting.

 

If you desire just to be "used" and of "service" but hold no boundaries as to what that looks like for you. Why would you be surprised when someone comes along and uses you for the service they want? Why exclaim hurt at their hands???? You created the circumstance just as much as the person you were involved with. (Within the context of consent of course).

 

If you desire to use someone and own their service to you however you define it but can't honor your character as a human being to treat another with respect and dignity within the confines of a negotiated exchange of power with honesty and integrity because you just don't know who you really are yet. Why be surprised that they can't trust you because you are wishy-washy or are taking advantage, and are less than honorable?

 

I get it, this hurt is often what causes us to learn those boundaries. Teaches us to grow. Leads us to learn ourselves and discover who we are. Or, we repeat the same behavior until we figure out this pattern simply isn't working for us.

 

I admit, I've been here. It just seems to me that the same patterns we ALL seem to repeat are ridiculously unnecessary. At least in the light of the reality that we have other options. We can learn. We can attain a mentor. We can exercise restraint or patience. I struggle to understand why we do not. What within us is so bent on having it our way and as if the same hurts and things that have happened to those before us won't possibly touch us? Even for myself, it is an absolute wonder I haven't learned 1000 times over to not extend certain behaviors. I suppose the only answer I can divine is that when we are ready and truly at our end we will then begin. It is just difficult to watch. Probably, because I see so many pieces of myself from the past in those ads.

 

This started out as a writing where I was honestly appalled. Angry even. Frustrated at the same patterns over and over with zero chance of success. I still stand by the reality that you get what you give into a relationship. If you bring dysfunction or unhealthy don't at all be surprised that is what you find.

 

However, I find this is the human condition. We don't know what we don't know until we know it. When we do learn it, we discover it when we absolutely will retain it. When it is coupled with deep pain. Which, to be honest, is a good bit what this lifestyle is about. Learning that pain is the richest catalyst for personal reflection and growth, healing even.

And, we get to stand shoulder to shoulder together as a community helping, encouraging, aiding, guiding those who come after us with the comfort of authentic understanding. As well as heed those before us, as best we can, who warn us of pitfalls we may eventually face. This is what makes a community work. What makes it strong. We may be angry because we remember what it felt like for us when we went through the same space. We may scream, "LOOK OUT!!!" Dismayed that we aren't heeded. Yet, for those of us who have a genuine hunger and heart for the community at large we hold out our arms all the same. So NO ONE has to know what it feels like to suffer alone in silence like so many of us have unfortunately done.

 

 

I hope this writing finds you well. With peace in your world, kindness on your lips and understanding in your heart. May you find clarity and focus today.

 

 

Namaste

 

 

Drago and Amethyst

5 days ago. Apr 2, 2020, 7:08 PM

 

All are welcome to participate. Everyone has views and valid feelings. 

This is geared towards submissives of course. I believe it is a healthy exercise in allowing submissives to think about what matters to them.

Also, this will give others a glimpse into how YOU enjoy being submissive, whatever flavor of s type you may identify as.

 

 

9) Do you accept and/or expect structure, rules and limits as a part of your submission? How do you feel about them?