NORMA JEAN: Leather Love

Not one to attend so-called fringe fetish events, I'm so grateful that I got to the "New Mexico on Fire, Leather 1997". My mind concocted all manner of deviance and hard-core weirdnesses when anticipating attending this gala. Despite appearances (leather/chain restraints, huge dildos and other sex paraphernalia, cuffs and chain chokers, half naked humans of every size, age and proportion, men w/ men, women w/ women) it was a gloriously mixed up and unthreatening event filled with love and good vibes. Witnessing self-acceptance in terms of one's sexual expression is a relief -- and incredibly infectious. I bared my breasts for the event, and it went without incident, comment or judgment. There's a spirit to this community that affords the space to scream it out, "This is me!" knowing some nun isn't going to sink your hands into a pot of boiling water if they happen to slip below your waist.When asked by skeptical friends what I thought, the only thing I could say was, "It was beautiful."So many politically correct yuppies and other liberal types are terrified of the fringes and its inhabitants. Snickering, mean jokes and phobic avoidance of people in "very different clubs" is how many people deal with this fringe element. Self-inflicted division and separation is epidemic; sometimes, sadly, even within these exclusive communities themselves. We shun out of ignorance and fear. I've been shunned in illness. I've known women who've lost their circle of friends after divorce and people who pride themselves a part of "the beautiful/hip people" excluding someone based on weight, visage and personal style.Being human with caring and compassion for our multitude of (real/imagined) struggles and our individual oddities is where to begin when seeking peace. I'm not talking about the "Leather Community" per se. Certain people are definitely more sexually oriented and focused than others. For whatever reason, they like being restrained and dominated. Others get off by being in complete and utter control, and many feel most comfortable with their own sex. Sitting up front, I got to see the eyes and energy of the people "showing their stuff", expressing themselves through Fantasy Acts and Leather. Overall, it had an indescribable gestalt of sweetness. Looking into the faces of the audience, who without doubt completely supported their friends, was also heartwarming. For a moment I was catapulted back to the innocence of grade school variety shows as the contestants shared their individual talents a little nervously with peers hoping for complete approval and acceptance. It was so human.The so-called bent folks have a place amongst us. "S&M Spirituality/Sexuality Workshops" exist to teach about our complex sexuality, and help people learn to live in love and respect for deviations that may not be so outrageous, really. Thank you to those whom I've met and those I've yet to meet for bringing new understanding to everyone willing to grow.Peace,Norma Jean

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