This was the third IMsL I've been in attendance for, having previously attended 1999 in Las Vegas and 2000 in Toronto. One of the large differences of this event was that in the previous two, I hardly left lolitasir
's side, attending more or less as her guest. This time, I set my own path and stood on my own two feet.
Being a cis-gendered/biological male at a women's event can be intimidating. It's even more so when you do not identify as a gay man, but as a bisexual who predominantly dates women. The risks are mighty.
Risks of offending people with my hetero-normative sexuality.
Risks of overstepping boundaries that are not easily seen or felt.
Risks of invading a space that was designed and created for a different community subset than I am a part of.
I know first hand about the sacredness of special spaces. Having a hand in the creation of TNG has made me very protective of the right to safe space for specific subgroups of people. While IMsL is open to everyone, it makes no secret of the fact that it was created and designed to serve the women's SM/leather community. It is well known to me that I am there as a guest, not neccessarily as a part of its intended target audience.
To be invited to teach in such a space makes my presence an even higher honor, and exposes me to even more risk. For now I have responsibility on a larger scale.
in all her sadistic glory invited me to teach piss play at IMsL this year. I immediately accepted, and then realized what I was stepping into. Teaching piss play to dykes? Pulling out my bio-cock to piss on a girl in front of a group of queer/trans/lesbians/dykes? *gulp!*
So how does one navigate all of these potential pitfalls and help contribute to a more successful event for yourself and for others?
Through my years of being in a leather family made primarily of dykes, and having lolitasir
slapping the upside of my head countless times in my youth, here is what I've learned:
1) You are there to make friends, not play partners. Go in with a friendly, non-threatening attitude that welcomes friendship while at the same time never presents itself as you trying to "score" with people who's sexualities differ from yours. Recognize that they are there to play with people with different gender/sexuality presentations than you, and be content with friendship and camaraderie.
2) Do not hit on people! If anything, let them hit on you. Now, that sounds cocky, but it isn't. Do not operate under the assumption that you will be hit on, and certainly do not hit on others. I let play opportunities present themselves naturally, without force, and without any expectations. When others signal interest, I am even more thankful for the opportunity, and I show that appreciation.
3) Do not shy away from your gender/sexuality, but don't flaunt it either. I am not embarrassed to be a cis-gendered male, nor am I embarrassed about my bisexuality. When I taught my piss play class, I was upfront with my biological package, and my sexuality. I am proud of who I am, and I do not shy away from it when asked. That being said, my dick had very little involvement with people I interacted with at IMsL. Heterosexual men are known for making it all about their cock. My cock stays far the fuck away unless invited first.
4) Be helpful, involve yourself into the event, volunteer, and be active. One of the major risks of being a cis-gendered male at this kind of event is being thought to be there to "try to score some hot lesbian chicks." And unfortunately, this mentality DOES exist, and it makes my job as a cis-gendered male so much more difficult. I combat this by becoming involved. I help out... I ask if anything needs to be done. I demonstrate that I'm there to support the event, not to get my rocks off.
5) Know when to shut up and disappear. There are moments at the event that aren't made for you. And this goes beyond the female/trans-only play spaces. There are shared moments of attraction, sentimentality, etc. that happen in public that should be given honor to. Doing honor to these moments sometimes means removing yourself and letting people have their moment without you present. It's OK.
6) Do not assume one's gender presentation!!! Granted, this comes out of trans 101, but with the burgeoning queer populace at SM events, this point is even more important. Politely and respectively ask people what pronouns they prefer. Do not assume what someone calls their genitalia. For example, in my piss play class, I constantly referred to lower genitalia as "stuff." It's a cute, lackadaisical word, but it also helped me avoid using blanket terms like cunt, vagina, cock, etc. when people can define their parts differently. One woman accused me of not being able to say the word "vagina," clearly because I was male. I answered no, that I was being respectful to all gender presentations. It was the right answer.