I’m the King of Jubilee Jumbles

artist Nayland Blake natters on about art and other things

Innies and outies…

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I’ve been stewing about the CHC flap. But when I think of what I want to write about it, there isn’t much for me to say. I’m not a member of CHC. I have no standing in the organized leather community. I identify as a freak, not as a leatherman. In part this is because whenever I encountered the leather community in my early years, I could see that it wasn’t going to meet my needs, especially my need to socialize with and be intimate with many different types of people. So I didn’t join in. It is much more my way to try to make something new than to try to change an existing thing. To form rather than to reform. I understand that that is not everyone else’s way. And so people want to reform CHC. Both people inside and outside of the organization. It seems to me that attempts to do that through the courts are a longshot at best.

But I think that bringing the discussion of the issue out into the open is all to the good. So while CHC is a private institution, their activities and policies are fair game for public discussion. The more people can talk about these issues, the more possibility for progressive action. Asking people to give an accounting of their actions is the best way to find connection and common ground. Change begins when people ask why they should accept the status quo. Even though you may not get the desired outcome (transmen at Inferno, say), you find your allies by speaking up. And when people have to defend their predjudices in an ongoing way, they tend to hold them less tightly.

To me the similarities between the CHC discussion and that surrounding the policies of the Michigan Women’s Music Festival are evident. Both speak to the mindset of a generation who had to struggle mightily to wrest cultural space from an environment that was unremittingly hostile. That is not something that can just be waved aside. From the inside that space probably looks fragile and besieged. From the outside it looks like a fortress of security, the only game in town. It is the cultivated mystique of Inferno as the ne plus ultra of the leather experience that also makes it into such a sought after forum for acceptance. You can’t make something exclusive and then be surprised when people want in.

My tendency is to honor the spirit of that struggle by attempting to find or found spaces that do meet my needs, and to avoid, rather than enter institutions that don’t share my values. There is a deeper discussion to be had here about the ways in which my various social privileges allow me to even contemplate this course as an option. I’m glad to have that discussion should people wish to.


Written by naylandblake

May 29, 2007 at 3:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , ,

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