Also, bootblacks are almost always expected to care about one thing and one thing only - preservation of the bootblack tradition. No one ever asks a bootblack what their feelings are on other matters. And it's a shame, because bootblacks are fully rounded individuals just like everyone else, and they have opinions on other things. They have ideas, they have philosophies to contribute.
I was happy to learn that the SE Bootblack contest would run differently. They would be judged on technical skills by a panel of experienced bootblacks, and then they would also be treated like any other title contestant, thus having to be interviewed by the judges, and make a speech on stage. This would be a contest of value - not just popularity.
As many people know, I am very proud of the work I had done in creating the idea of The Next Generation (TNG) groups. I feel like I helped create a major contribution to the overall SM scene. While I have pulled away from any active involvement, I am still asked questions on the topic, and am sometimes seen as a resource. I have pulled away, but I still feel passionate about it.
The winner of this year's Southeast Bootblack title is Q, lzbnangel. And she made a speech on stage that caused lthrlibrarian and I, and many others, leap from our chairs in applause. Here was a bootblack who demonstrated intelligence, passion, and concern for something very important. And it touched me and my TNG work tremendously. It is only unfortunate that her speech was heard by only the attendees of SELF, and not the larger world.
Thus, for that very reason, with her permission granted, I am reposting Q's speech for all of you to read. This is a major issue felt by many younger people in our scene, and we would all benefit tremendously by absorbing it, thinking about it, and working towards change.
Not too long ago, a still incurable epidemic took hold in our community. Before we had time to truly take heed, many members of our community were taken from us. Despite our best efforts we could do nothing to save them. They were guardians of the old ways, links to our collective past and a great portion of our history.
Today I would say we are faced with yet another epidemic, one that threatens the growth and sustainability of our community. The epidemic that threatens our future today is intolerance.
Technological advances have brought greater accessibility of information to almost everyone on the planet. Utilizing a few keystrokes on a computer and an internet connection, you can have information on just about any topic at your fingertips including everything you'd ever want to know about BDSM, kink or Leather. Or at least that's what it seems like to many. That's what it seemed like to me.
As I began to read over the different material I had culled from the internet, I realized that although there was an abundance of information it couldn't all be right. So much of the information contradicted itself and I was becoming confused and frustrated. So I began to seek out real people, which proved to be even more frustrating.
Many of those who live by the code of the old, care not for many of those who only know the new. The more I sought out the ones more familiar in the ways of old, the more I must have stuck out as one of the new.
In the short time I've been active in this community I've heard things said like, people want the young ones (be it by age or experience) to know their place. I've heard desires to have things as they once were. In the short time I've been in this community, I have learned this: What we want may not be what we need. What we desire, may not be what is best for us.
If we allow intolerance to fester and breed in our community, how long will our community continue to exist? How long can we survive?
We are all stewards of this community no matter what part we've chosen to take in it. The responsibility to keep our community healthy and thriving belongs to each of us, like it or not. Intolerance can fester and destroy, but it doesn't have to. We shouldn't let it.
I've heard it said that each of us is where we are meant to be. If that is true, then I was meant to be frustrated and upset with things along my journey.
I am meant to be in the sphere of influence of those who so diligently guide me now.
I am meant to be here tonight to remind each of us not to close the door and draw the curtains as we see the young ones approach. Instead, light a candle to let us know that should we need you, you are indeed there.