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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.

Glenda/makeplayhappen 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.


( 35 comments — Leave a comment )
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Mar. 26th, 2009 06:58 pm (UTC)
This is one of the best posts I have ever read.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 26th, 2009 07:37 pm (UTC)
It dawned on me while writing this that the flip side, IML and MAL, comes with very similar challenges. You and I are a rare breed, and I like knowing that we both walk together.
Mar. 26th, 2009 07:31 pm (UTC)
Boymeat FTW! Amazing post.
Mar. 26th, 2009 07:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you, my friend. This coming from you fills me with pride.
Mar. 26th, 2009 07:32 pm (UTC)
I am proud of you.
Mar. 26th, 2009 07:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Sir.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 26th, 2009 08:07 pm (UTC)
I plan on adding a few little things here and there, but they will be wholly new additions. The way I treated gender and sex in the class stays.
Mar. 26th, 2009 07:53 pm (UTC)
Great Post
Mar. 26th, 2009 07:55 pm (UTC)
I really love the list.
Gives alot to think about when it comes to events like this!

Mar. 26th, 2009 08:08 pm (UTC)
Well-raised by dykes. Clearly.
Mar. 26th, 2009 08:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you Bear. I take your compliment with honor.
(no subject) - bearsir - Mar. 26th, 2009 08:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 26th, 2009 08:14 pm (UTC)
this post is like, stupidly fantastic. A+. i wish that more men (trans and non-) *got it* like this.
Mar. 26th, 2009 08:25 pm (UTC)
Amen, my friend. I too wish more people would get it. It sure would make my life easier.
Mar. 26th, 2009 08:16 pm (UTC)
So did having to remember all this stuff get in the way of your having fun?

The last sentence is interesting. Certainly vaginas and penii are very different but they are also formed from the same tissue, with correspondingly similar nerves, and have a number shared purposes, namely getting off. Using "stuff" is like saying "people" - it's a term you use when the difference isn't important and in fact looking for differences is just confusing.

Oh, and as usual, you totally rock.
Mar. 26th, 2009 08:27 pm (UTC)
Honestly, all this stuff enabled me to have MORE fun. Being respectful allows for people to place trust in me and to lower their walls, which in turn allows for new connections and exchanges.

Your point about "differences" is right on the money. I was trying to do away with the specific focus people have on genitals and the labels and all the tension and emotion that comes with them... and bring it back to fun.
Mar. 26th, 2009 08:24 pm (UTC)
Now I'm really sorry I missed that class! :D

But I do apologize for the woman who accused you of being unable to say "vagina" (and indeed, outside of a medical text, why would anyone really want to say "vagina" -- and don't anyone go all "Vagina-Monologue-y" on me. I has a vagina, and I only ever call it that when I'm having a chat with my GYN, and I am referring specifically to my "fibromuscular tubular tract leading from the uterus to the exterior of the body"! It's just not the most exciting word in the repertoire of words for sexy bits.

Using "stuff" is perfect, because it's just the outer bits of flesh that are so different. We all have urethras and urinary tracks and the tubing, etc. required for piss play. Sure, the male urethra is rather longer, but then men don't have the urethral sponge (which is likely what the G-spot is!) so I think women come out ahead. Errr, literally!)

And points for dealing with the PC trouble-maker so effectively! (Some people just ain't happy unless they've stirred up some shit!) If Glenda asked you to teach the class, the people taking it should have trusted you to be a reasonable and reasonably knowledgeable person, as long as you didn't do anything really heinous!
Mar. 26th, 2009 09:01 pm (UTC)
You definitely missed a great class. I don't normally pat myself on the back, but the piss play class is downright fun. ;-)

And thank you for all your kind words. I used the word "stuff" completely on the fly... I'm gonna stick with it.
Mar. 26th, 2009 08:55 pm (UTC)
Very neat post.

Man, everyone's full of kick ass posts lately.

A question?

What is the definition of "cis-gendered"? I've never heard/seen this term before.
Mar. 26th, 2009 09:00 pm (UTC)
It is a respectful term that has slowly been replacing "biological" or "bio-male." It is a term that refers to someone who was born male and remains that way, versus someone who has had to transition towards a male gender presentation.
(no subject) - dreamertheresa - Mar. 26th, 2009 09:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - boymeat - Mar. 26th, 2009 09:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dreamertheresa - Mar. 26th, 2009 09:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 26th, 2009 09:00 pm (UTC)
You've really summed up a lot of thoughts I've had as the "Token Hopelessly Het/Shamelessly Straight Male" who still ends up in queer and dyke spaces more than occasionally

I went mainly to help support the event and to help friends running registration, and so I really tried to keep a "let things happen around you" attitude. Even with those I knew well enough to flirt with harmlessly, I held back - they were there to flirt with and meet others, many who flew in from out of town, this past weekend, not with me.

That I ended reconnecting with a friend and meeting some lovely new people happened only because I let those things happen instead of trying to make them happen.

And really, a lot if not all of this is just good advice in general for navigating complex social situations.
Mar. 26th, 2009 09:27 pm (UTC)
good on you.
and everyone's got "junk" :-)
Mar. 27th, 2009 02:21 am (UTC)
I find this term disrespectful to my bits. :) I hate when guys call their stuff their "junk".
(no subject) - haptotrope - Mar. 27th, 2009 04:42 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 26th, 2009 09:56 pm (UTC)
Wow, great post and it gives me some things to think about!
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( 35 comments — Leave a comment )