Tag Archive: Leatherfolk

Lit tea light candles against a dark background

Lit tea light candles against a dark background

I got some bad news yesterday.
It’s sort of the way of the internet that sometimes we miss things, or find things, totally by chance.
I found out, totally by chance – because a fellow kinky queer author had posted a screen-shot of someone else’s twitter post to instagram, of all things – that another fellow kinky queer author has died.
Corey Alexander – a writer that you may know as blogger TGStoneButch or under the pen name Xan West – was found dead in their apartment, apparently due to complications related to diabetes.
There’s been a go-fund-me to cover their funeral expenses (information here) which I think has been fully funded and, as such, has been paused (rather than taken down – possibly because there may be further, unexpected expenses to cover. Not sure).
For folks who want to make in-memorium donations, there’s a list in the works and I’ll update this post once it becomes available.
In the interim, and while the above go-fund-me is paused, I’ve been told that donations to trans lifeline, in Corey’s name, would be welcome.
Donating to a disability justice org of your choice would also be a way to honour their memory, as would just… offering some cash to help another disabled or chronically ill trans person cover their medical expenses (hit up #TransCrowdFund and/or #DisabilityCrowdFund on twitter to help someone out directly).
If you are a fan of their work and have questions about their author-estate, there is an FAQ here. Needless to say, there are other things taking priority right now, so please be considerate and be patient.
Shira Glassman has opened a virtual room in-which to sit shivah (link goes to information, not to the zoom-room itself).
There will be a virtual Minchah and Kaddish for them (link goes to information) this Friday, August 21, at 4:30pm EDT, to-which all are welcome.
So, y’know, I know what I’m doing this Friday, as it turns out.
There is a virtual guest-book where you can post brief messages and memories of Corey (and if you are like me and “only” knew them online, that still counts).
This is what I wrote.

I didn’t know Corey particularly well, but we’d been aware of each other for years. Shop talk on twitter and comments on each other’s blog posts, that kind of thing. Their writing on the vulnerability of dominance and the violent desires of sadism, as well as their work to challenge the fantasy image of dominants, tops, and sadists as inscrutable, consistently confident, and without needs or fears, has both helped me find words to put around my own experiences, and pushed me in terms of my own writing. I’m so sorry they’ve died. They remain an inspiration and I’ll miss their thoughtful presence in my life.

It was a short message, and I guess I want to elaborate a little bit.
I would feel very presumptuous calling Corey my friend. We didn’t know each other like that. But friendly acquaintance, peer and colleague? Yes. For years. I was part of the blog hop they did to promote their book, Show Yourself To Me. Their writing has influenced and informed my own.
Like I said, they gave me language and a way of talking about how embodying and existing within my own insatiable, violent desire is a vulnerable position to occupy. They helped me notice the ways that, oh, gosh, how do I name this… “dom-normativity”? Subcultural social expectations of Dominant Behaviour? …how That Stuff maps onto heteronormativity and expectations around what it means to be (conventionally) masculine which, in turn, helped me dig further into what it means for me, as a Femme, to cultivate and nurture my (sense of consensual) entitlement as a Domme and the reasons why my dominance-as-practice sometimes fails to resonate with, or mirror, the ways dominance is conventionally portrayed (in, say, BDSM porn or in people’s workshop-presenter bios)[1].
Weirdly – or maybe not so weirdly, synergy being what it is – their writing about being Butch (like the writing of other leather butches, as it turns out) has given me ways to articulate elements and aspects of my own Femme identity, leather and otherwise, about being “all mouth” and yet having my teeth clamped shut, about the ways that feminine appetite is coded as monstrous and how that affects me (and expectations directed at me) as a dominant, sadistic woman who is both emphatically queer and somewhat “conventional” in the outward presentation of my (Middle-Aged, Nice White Lady) femininity[2].
I’m sorry they’ve died. Far too young. They were kind and thoughtful in my interactions with them. I liked their brain and what they had to say. I think what they had to say was important.
What can we do but continue to explore this stuff, continue to name it and bring it to the foreground? What can we do but pick up their Work and carry it on?

For Corey Alexander[3]
Cicadas howling
their brief lives
in summer heat
A visceral response
to a death not theirs
but mine
to mourn
It would be presumptuous
to call you friend
or back from the dead
demand my old colleague
come to my candle
be present
in the recounting of the stories
you wrote
But you’re in every word

See you at their memorial,
Ms Syren.
[1] I guarantee you there are going to be more posts on that one, as it is a long and on-going trip.
[2] My day-to-day dress, on those occasions when I leave the house, looks more and more like Gothabilly Lite or Office Witch, than the leopard print and mini skirts of what I think of as “Classic Femme” or the lingerie-as-outerwear and oil-slick lipstick of my early 20s.
[3] This is a chunk of a drafted glosa (on Liza Rankow’s “Femme Poem 1”) I wrote, yesterday, in the wake of learning of their death.

Management Tips for Dominants Types

Hi folks.
So, from time to time, I post links to stuff written for the business-suit set because I find that they can be helpful for dominant folks in full-time power-exchanges.
With that in mind, here are two such articles. Some of you may find them handy. Some of you may find them kind of old hat. Either way, here we go:
10 Rules for Successful Delegation
Giving Constructive Criticism
There you go. I hope they’re useful to at least some of you.
Ms Syren.


So it’s been a while. There’s half a dozen things I want to blog about, but they’re all a bit of a muddle in my head and/or I’m not sure I have the right to bring them up.

So, instead, you’re getting a book review. More or less.

Specifically, I’ll be talking about Leatherfolk: Radical Sex, People, Politics, and Practice, an anthology of essays on leather history and experience.

Basically, a while back, I decided it was high time I bothered learning some leather history. Part of this is that we recently held Ms National Capital Leather in town for the first time in ages, while I definitely didn’t feel up to entering, it did cross my mind that I might want to one day, so picking up on a little history wouldn’t be a bad idea. The other part is that I’m facilitating a discussion (barely a month away) about cultivating entitlement as dominants in D/s dynamics and I’d heard that Leatherfolk included an essay about bdsm and femininity — a subject that, given the discussion will be happening at a women’s kink event, was definitely relevant to my interests.

So I splurged and ordered a copy.

It arrived a few days ago and I’ve been reading through it ever since.

So. Is it any good?

First thing you have to know is that this is leather history from the U.S. I don’t actually know if there’s a Canadian equivalent (although I know who I’m expecting to write it if there isn’t one yet — no pressure ;-)) so, as far as Canadian Leather history goes, it’s not a great resource (although it does include work by and and about Geoff Mains, who was from British Columbia, so there’s something there).

Second this is: It was first published in 1991. The essays are timely, including bittersweet stories – like Dorothy Allison’s “Her Body, Mine, and His” – about re-finding the joy in fucking in spite of (and I do mean in spite of) the overwhelming waves of death and grief happening in and around the community.

There’s stuff in this book that makes me twitch, and most of that is the “urban primitive” stuff. I was talking about it with my sweetie yesterday — I’m 100% for finding/engaging spirituality through rituals based flesh hooking and other S/M techniques and experiences. But please, FFS, don’t say you’re Recreating a Native American Ritual when you’re operating within an entirely different cultural context and the only thing What You’re Doing has in common with, e.g., the Sun Dance is where you’ve placed those hooks in your body.
I mean, come on.

There’s also stuff in this book that I really appreciate. Geoff Mains’ “View from a Sling” is one of them. Pat Califia’s “Mr. Benson Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”, while it’s weird for me to see him IDing as a woman (1991, remember), talks about the way dominance (like masculinity) is structured as a delicate house of cards — a situation that is still going on twenty years later (we need to smarten up, folks, let’s go). A number of essays address the intersection of Paganism and Leather (frequently through Radical Faeries, but also through Tantra) and how this intersection can be involved in changing the definition of masculinity.
I also appreciate the essays that are explicitly written to discuss leather history — from the 1930s to the 1990s — because they show me some of what went on before, and how this culture came to be what it currently is; and I’m really happy to see a few women authors in there, too. 🙂

Despite the stuff that makes me twitch or roll my eyes or – occasionally – want to smack some of the contributors, I think this book is a really good one to get ahold of. I (and, y’know, everyone else and their neon-pink cat) recommend this one if you’re looking for a good starting spot for learning leather history.

As an end-note: If people want to throw me recommendations for books on Canadian and/or Women’s leather history, do please drop me a note in the comments. 🙂

Ms. Syren.