Queer Memoir is a storytelling series that’s been running here in NYC for the last several years. It’ holds a special place in my heart and I’ve been lucky enough to get to guest curate at it a few times over the years on themes from pets to leather. In 2012 Kelli and I collaborated on a LEATHER themed Queer Memoir and it was so successful that still, two years later we still have so many fond memories of the night that we decided to do it again, and are joking that it might be something we do every couple of years! This years’s storytellers were:
Sassafras Lowrey (co-curating this event)
Kelli Dunham (co-curating this event: Kelli is the co-founder with Genne Murphy of Queer Memoir)
There were really diverse stories shared, and yet themes came through – the primary one being family, and the way that we come together in various configurations of community, and create the families we crave.
I don’t share a lot of my writing here anymore because most of what I’m working on has a future home in a book. But for Queer Memoir: LEATHER I wrote a little something new. After the event I was approached and asked by someone in the audience if there was somewhere online they could find the story, and I said I would post it here!
The Real Kinky Shit:
I found leather as a crusty punk in the back room of a queer youth center. Leather was beside the pool table, behind the couch and across from the pallet board stage. Leather was tied up in punk house closets turned dungeons. We played hard. We played to bring ourselves back to feeling. We played to save each other when we didn’t know how to save ourselves.
We played hard. We played for keeps. Until we broke our toys, and went looking for someone to put us back together, Someone who we could bind ourselves to more tightly than cuffs, or rope, or collars, someone who wouldn’t leave. Until they were gone.
desperation is not attractive but when you are young, queer, alone, hungry for higharchy and belonging – sometimes, it’s what you have. I threw myself under the boots of any butch with enough balls to flag hunter green, with enough guts to call hym/her/hir self Daddy. The meaner the better. My type were jerks who couldn’t commit, who harbored fantasies of submission but were too self loathing and afraid of their own conflicting desires so they didn’t respect the bottoms under their boots. They said they wanted me, but their promises were all slip release knots never designed to hold.
When I was 19 I had a Daddy who played rough. He stuffed a dirty sweat sock in my mouth and led me around the parking lot of our apartment complex on a leash while his friend laughed the neighbors gasped, and filed complaints with the management company
When I was 18, my first daddy, the one who brought me out, told me that bois could take more than girls. He read his little girl picture books, he beat me hard. I searched for intimacy and used my body as currency to approximate it.
I’ll be your fisting bottom
I don’tk now you, but you can fuck me
I’ll be your boy
I’ll call you Daddy
In that world the real kinky shit happened behind closed doors
The real kinky shit was competing to see who could take it harder, take it longer,
The real kinky shit was playing boundaryless, the real kinky shit chewed me up. The real kinky shit was intoxicating. The real kinky shit was unsustainable
Ze wasn’t my type- not cruel, not a jerk. Ze never had to forcibly take me down. Ze broke me with birthday cake and ice cream stuffed animals and quarter machine toys, instead of fists and words and elaborate scenes. I’d sworn off dating because I’d sworn off daddies. I took sex and pain because in the aftercare, I got containment, enveloped, protected, wanted.
For my 21st birthday daddy told me to be ready to go at 5pm but wouldn’t say here we were heading. Ze blindfolded me and we got into he car. I felt the car exceleate as we got onto the freeway but had no idea where we were going. When daddy parked the car ze led me, still blindfolded by the hand down a street and into an artificially cooled building. I could hear the murmurings of crowds but Daddy led me through them. Finally, we stopped and ze removed my blindfold….
Happy Birthday Boy! Ze growled I my ear. I felt my face flush red. We were standing In a suburban Mall in front of the build a bear workshop! All those murmurings were busy shoppers who paid no attention to us. An hour later, I skipped back to the car with my very own teddy bear. we went home and daddy baked me birthday cake, the first one anyone had ever fed me!
When I talk about my relationship to kink it’s so different now than what it was a decade ago, when I traded beat downs for bed times. in my world, the real kinky shit is my little pony, the real kinky shit is birthday cake and coloring books. The real kinky shit are outings to the zoo, letters to Santa and flinging eggs the Easter bunny hid for me. The real kinky shit is nervously confessing you would rather stay home and read picture books than go to a play party, and Daddy asking which story I’d like to look at.
Now the real kinky shit is not begging to hurt. Pain and sex were easy, it’s softness that’s hard, its tenderness that pushed me to the edges. I know how to live in brutality, I needed the right daddy to train me to be comfortable with sweetness and care taking
Daddy taught me that taking something serious didn’t mean it couldn’t be full of magic. We take our whimsy very seriously.
When I first came to leather my definition of the real kinky shit was fronting until I believed it. Beat me as hard as you want, I will take it. That will keep you from leaving. He beat me bent over the kitchen counter on our punkhouse kitchen also used as play space . I cried hare and quiet, got snot on the dishrag, my tears fell into the leftover tofu scramble.
It’s been 10 years since a Daddy claimed me. Now I scream loud, let the tears stream down my face, knuckles white, I’m flying. FLASH goes the camera and disneyeorld’s space mountain screaxhes onto the platform. Daddy smiles, takes my hand and helps me out of the ride. “Boy, I think you need some ice cream while we watch the fireworks….”
The real kinky shit