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Conflict of Exclusivity Within the LGBT Community
June 3, 2014 9:04 AM   Subscribe

Eric Berry goes to the International Mr. Leather event "Much like the leather community in general, IML is overwhelmingly represented by gay males. While leather fetishes are by no means exclusive to gay men, the amount of women I encountered at the event could more or less be counted on two hands, as compared to the thousands of men I saw. But the more time that I spent at the event, the more I had to question whether or not the ratio of men to women I saw was truly representative of those within the leather community, or whether or not there was some sort of institutionalized segregation of women." EVERYTHING IS NSFW

Dan Savage responds: "You know why the ratio of men to women at IML wasn't representative of the leather community? Because IML is a gay leather/fetish event. Complaining that gay men made up the majority of attendees at your first IML—and insisting that this is evidence of the exclusionary, misogynist rot at the heart of the leather/fetish community—is like going to the Dinah Shore Weekend in Palm Springs and complaining about how few gay men you saw there. Or going to Bear Week in Provincetown and complaining that hairless twinks must have been kept away by the forces of 'institutionalized segregation.'


IML is a gay leather/fetish contest and convention. All are welcome to attend. Anyone can stroll into the host hotel (although security guards give a heads up to people who 1. look like they might not be kinksters and 2. might be distressed by what they're going to see in the lobby), anyone can go shopping in the Leather Market (where else can you get dolphin-dong dildos?), or buy a ticket and attend the open-to-all IML parties at various nightclubs (they're basically circuit parties and most IML attendees skip them and party at the hotel instead, which essentially becomes the world's biggest leather bar for four days). But, yes, most IML attendees are fags. Because IML is not 'one of the biggest leather and fetish events in the world,' it's one of the biggest gay leather and fetish events in the world. IML got its start in a gay leather bar and it continues to be a gay contest for a gay leather title. (Although Seattle—always ahead of the curve—sent a bisexual leatherman to compete for the title nearly 20 years ago.)"
posted by josher71 (106 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
I was gonna say "um isn't this like complaining that there aren't enough women at a bear convention" and then wlep
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:07 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


Those dildos with fins on them look downright dangerous. Wouldn't those cut you up inside? Are people into that?
posted by mathowie at 9:09 AM on June 3


And it's not like the general idea of "gay men often overwhelm LGBT events" is even false- when I look on meetup.com, most events branded as "LGBT" (rather than 'gay' or 'lesbian') are mostly attended by gay men. But a leather convention is not a good example of this trend at all.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:14 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]


Nah, they're soft. Maybe a little unpleasantly poke-y if you get overexcited with one, but nothing dangerous. You'd have more to worry about from a human partner who doesn't trim their fingernails.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:14 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


I always assumed that those were primarily used for Klingon cosplay....
posted by schmod at 9:16 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]


I detest the animal vibrators. TMI: way too much clitoral stimulation.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 9:18 AM on June 3


I dunno, the times I've been to IML, I've always seen plenty of women walking around the market.

Also, that guy who wears heavy chains that clink with every shuffling step, the only cloth being his briefs. But then again, I've seen him around Boystown, too, wearing that same getup. (I mean, kudos to whatever floats his boat, but I can't quite grasp it.)
posted by qcubed at 9:22 AM on June 3


Also...the leather bar here is predominantly gay. So it's exactly no surprise to me that it's generally filled with gay men. What happened to common sense?
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 9:23 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


Also, from TFA:
I stepped in, approaching the man who was kicking her out. It was unclear whether this man was the actual tenant of the suite or one of the hundred-plus strangers who had entered into the room and felt threatened by the presence of a woman.

"She's not causing any trouble. She's with me," I said.

"This is a party for men. Women aren't allowed," he retorted.

"We'll leave. But I'm just curious -- how do you define a man?"

"Someone who's obviously a man."

"What about gender queer people? What about trans people? What about femme men?"

"This isn't a party for trans people or anything in between, it's a party for men."
Admittedly that was at a private party and not an official IML event, and if people want to throw cis-dude-only private parties then okay, that's their perogative.

But it's a bit unfair to read the guy's complaint as "I am shocked that women prefer not to show up at this gay men's event" — which, yeah, would show a pretty serious lack of common sense. It's more like "Actually, some people in this community seem actively interested in excluding women and trans men, and I have mixed feelings about that." That's a reasonable thing to have mixed feelings about in my book.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:25 AM on June 3 [20 favorites]


"My friend is a naturally shy and reserved person who's recently expressed an interest in the kink and BDSM community. While IML seemed like an opportune time to explore these interests..."

Yeah. Wrong. No. There's a reason it says 'Mister' in the title.
posted by ao4047 at 9:26 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]


Dan Savage drives me insane sometimes. If there are 150 people in a room watching you have sex, I don't think it really, honestly matters what gender one of them is.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:28 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


My husband belongs to the second oldest gay motorcycle club in the world (see profile for more details, feel free to ask questions in memail if you want). Every year, the oldest motorcycle club (60 years) holds a camping trip that all of the gay clubs are invited to attend. This will be the camping trip's 51st year. It has always been all men. For 51 years.

I am pretty involved in the club. I go to events all the time. I go to their installation of officers and I go to their parties. I do not go to this camping event. I am OK with an event that is all men (as long as it doesn't exclude transmen, which it doesn't), just as I am OK with an event that is all women (that doesn't exclude transwomen). I think there has to be room in our spaces to have some exclusive space.
posted by Sophie1 at 9:32 AM on June 3 [8 favorites]


Dan Savage: "is like going to the Dinah Shore Weekend in Palm Springs and complaining about how few gay men you saw there."

Because I am apparently woefully out of touch, I had to google that reference. Dinah Shore Weekend, in case anyone else is similarly clueless.
posted by zarq at 9:34 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]


Just like there are alternative Pride events who feel like the citywide Pride Parade does not represent their interests, there are many other outside kink events help Memorial Day Weekend that are less like IML at the host hotel -- which, these days, is more like Leather Old Navy* than anything really subversive. There events continue the tradition of kink education that my rose-coloured view of the past seems like more traditional IML, and to my eyes, were more inclusive as well.

For the most part, it's the same thing as asking why more people are at a Cubs game when rugby is clearly a superior sport -- IML as it is is what draws the biggest audience.

I agree with Savage's response for the most part but this situation 's not like complaining there aren't enough men at the Dinah Shore weekend. It's more like saying I went to this bar in Wrigleyville and I don't understand why there were all these bros here that made me not feel safe. For better or worse, IML never has and probably never will make any claims to inclusivity. And once you broaden that out to a private sex party, I'm not sure we should ask it to do so.

(* For the record, I like Old Navy just fine; it's just a damn good analogy I can't let go of.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:34 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


Also, I should say that I am a cisgender woman who has been a singing member of a gay men's chorus before. There were plenty of men who believed I did not belong there, but my biggest advocate was one of the gay men who started the Chorus back before I was born.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:34 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


If there are 150 people in a room watching you have sex, I don't think it really, honestly matters what gender one of them is.

Hey, just because you decide to participate in an orgy, doesn't mean you suddenly don't get any say in what goes down at that orgy. If I wanted to have an all-female orgy I'd be pissed if a man showed up to watch. If I wanted to have an all under-30 orgy I'd be pissed if a bunch of 60 year olds showed up to watch. "Orgy" doesn't equal "blanket consent to whatever."
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:39 AM on June 3 [49 favorites]


If I wanted to have an all under-30 orgy I'd be pissed if a bunch of 60 year olds showed up to watch.

everyone who's ever been involved in any TNG group winces slightly, nods sagely
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:41 AM on June 3 [14 favorites]


showbiz_liz, the article says, "I was with my female friend at the time when we were invited to one such party on the 46th floor (the top floor) in a massive suite."
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:41 AM on June 3


From the comments on the Dan Savage piece:

I have yet to see a gay male pornographic film to which the Bechdel test can even be applied, let alone expect to pass. And then you pop over to the lesbian side of the video site and it's like they never talk about men at all!
posted by donovan at 9:43 AM on June 3 [6 favorites]


Yeah. I'm all for inclusion and queer solidarity, but for a woman to try to crash the door at a private men-only sex party is pretty tacky in my book. And for a man to try and take his shy female friend into a setting like this and then blog about his offendedness is insensitive at best.

I say this as a cis woman who does the majority of her socializing in a community that was founded by and still is majority gay men.

Shaming and blaming men who prefer to have sex only with and around other men does nothing to create more inclusive spaces. Instead, it puts them on the defensive and polarizes the situation.

Everybody has the option of creating the spaces they want to be in. If you want to watch gay men having sex, throw a sex party and invite some gay men.
posted by ottereroticist at 9:46 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


> Also, I should say that I am a cisgender woman who has been a singing member of a gay men's chorus before. There were plenty of men who believed I did not belong there, but my biggest advocate was one of the gay men who started the Chorus back before I was born.

This isn't meant to be rude, but an honest question, why did you feel you needed to be part of a gay men's chorus as a cis-woman?
posted by Ferreous at 9:47 AM on June 3


ottereroticist, again, she was invited.

Ferreous, fair question. My dad is a gay man, has been part of the chorus for twenty years, and I was a staff volunteer for almost a decade before I auditioned. I wasn't the first woman to join as a singing member, and I didn't see what the issue would be.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:49 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


"This isn't a party for trans people or anything in between, it's a party for men."

shoot dan savage and cis gay culture into the fucking sun
posted by beefetish at 9:51 AM on June 3 [6 favorites]


Just because some random person invited her doesn't mean it's OK for her to be there. I've been invited to men-only gatherings, but I don't attend, because it's important to me to be a good ally in addition to having decent manners.

I like this quote a lot: "Solidarity isn't about genitals, it's about how we move through the world, how we experience discrimination, and how we support one another." Support goes all ways in this situation.
posted by ottereroticist at 9:51 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


otter im cool with mr. leather dudes booting women because it's a men's party but what of the transphobia. why separate "trans people" from "men" for trans people who identify as men?
posted by beefetish at 9:53 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


Lord. I love inclusivity - and I have shopped in the Leather Market at IML where my money and I were treated with warm welcome - but cannot muster up a lot of outrage that the International Mr. Leather festival is a bit of a boys' club.

The apparent exclusivity to cis-men is disappointing. That's a far more interesting story than "gay men not terribly into women."

This just seems like stupid dangerous naivety, however:

My friend is a naturally shy and reserved person who's recently expressed an interest in the kink and BDSM community. While IML seemed like an opportune time to explore these interests

What? IML would be about the worst place to explore those interests. It is not a novice event, it is not your local munch, and I am sure it is not a guaranteed drug- and alcohol-free playspace with safety as the highest concern. And even if your kink is specifically objectifying kinky gay men regardless of their consent, wading into a huge gathering of them to do so seems like a good way to get in scary trouble.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:59 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


beefetish: I wouldn't put too much stock in those off-the-cuff remarks about trans/genderqueer people. Remember, the context is that a guy is complaining to a {bouncer? host?} about his female friend getting kicked out of an all-male orgy. A seemingly pretty annoying guy. I doubt the response was actually very representative of any actual policy or animus, and more just an expression of "GTFO of my sexy party with your decidedly non-sexy-to-me friend."
posted by tkfu at 10:02 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]


yeah exposing a friend to kink by way of IML seems sort of like strappign your friend who has expressed an interest in motorcycles to a hayabusa, you know, to show them the sport of motorcycling
posted by beefetish at 10:02 AM on June 3 [7 favorites]


tkfu im going to damn well put stock into cis people being pricks about trans people, especially off the cuff, because those passing remarks matter
posted by beefetish at 10:03 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


I've been to the IML marketplace several times (I'm a queer cis female) and have never felt unwelcome. Outnumbered, sure, but no one's ever implied that I shouldn't be there. However, I've never tried to go to the parties and I wouldn't feel comfortable trying, based on past experience at gay (male) night clubs (especially in NYC, where they told me point blank to get out).
posted by desjardins at 10:04 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


The apparent exclusivity to cis-men is disappointing. That's a far more interesting story than "gay men not terribly into women."


Are you talking about IML in general, or the private party?


Because Tyler McCormick, a trans man WON IML a few years ago.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:05 AM on June 3 [12 favorites]


It's not ok that I want to book a bunch of bachelorette parties for lulz.

Lulz aside - and putting aside some of Dan Savage's known history of some strange probably misogynist and anti trans commentary, and even putting aside some of the known misogyny and trans issues in male gay culture - this isn't a line in the sand or a battle that really needs to be fought, not any more than men's rights activists need to battle Lilith Fair or other safe spaces for women.

Gay men deserve safe spaces too.

Separate but equal is fine for private events. There are many other more important places to be infallibly equitable. In the workplace, in the schools, in science and medicine.

Granted, I'm not expecting much from the Huffington Post.
posted by loquacious at 10:07 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]


Apparently Tyler McCormick looks enough like a man that he would have been allowed in this party.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:07 AM on June 3


It seems like the crux of this is that his female friend was asked to leave a party that was an explicitly sexual event for men.

Not a public event.

I guess it bothers me because he fails to acknowledge that bringing someone into an environment like that would be an intrusion in someone else's sexual space. I am all for universal inclusion at public events, and maybe I just haven't met the right bitter - ass leather queens but have honestly not found them to be unwelcoming in that scenario. But I know enough not to foist myself into a situation like this. I would think that someone involved in the BDSM/leather community would understand that consent is paramount. Part of that is that people have the right to negotiate and enforce boundaries. Not allowing a woman into a sexual event for gay men doesn't mean that they have no use for people they don't want to fuck in general. It just means they don't want a woman at a private event which is exclusively for men who want to fuck other men, in various creative and terrible ways.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:09 AM on June 3


FFS, doesn't the article writer know how to use google?

IML is International *Mr.* Leather (NSFW). Held in Chicago every Memorial Day Weekend, about 10,000 attendees. IML 2010, Tyler McCormick, was a (wheelchair-using) transguy. The first "out" transman to compete in IML was Billy Lane, in 1998.
IMsL is International *Ms.* Leather. Currently in the SF Bay Area close to Easter weekend, about 500 attendees. While several IMsLs have transitioned to ftm after their title year, I'm not sure when the first out mtf competed.
Leather Archives & Museum(May be NSFW). Chicago - history collections of much of the North American LGBT kink communities.
There are a variety of heterosexually/pansexually oriented public kink events in North America and Europe, but the best known/attended events, Folsom Street Fairs(NSFW), were founded by gay men, with dyke involvement from the late 80s, in SF and NYC. Folsom got so large and has so many non-gay attendees that a much smaller and raunchier gay male street SF fair, Up Your Alley/Dore Alley, was started.

If you want gender inclusion, go to an event that isn't explicitly for a particular gender.
posted by Dreidl at 10:09 AM on June 3 [6 favorites]


From TFA:

Which brings me to the gist/j'accuse of Barry's piece: A guy takes a female friend to a gay orgy—because a gay orgy is absolutely the best place for a "shy and reserved" woman to begin exploring her sexuality—and she was asked to leave and this, in addition to how few women Barry spotted in the Leather Market earlier that day, is proof that "misogyny [is] exemplified within the gay leather community."

Dragging a shy and reserved woman who is beginning to explore her sexuality to an environment like this, just to provoke animosity, smells like a journalistic setup. The genderqueer/trans tangent is pretty much unrelated to this provocation because Eric's companion wasn't a femme man, nor transgendered, etc. If she was, there might well be an interesting story about that subject, but Berry wasn't writing that story. He was trying to provoke a small group of people in what was otherwise a safe space for them. That's some John-Stossel, following-people-around-with-microphones-outside-their-homes bullshit, and I'm glad it got called out for what it was.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:10 AM on June 3 [17 favorites]


beefetish, "this isn't a party for trans people" is distasteful to me too. Nevertheless, I feel that the people who throw the party get to say who's invited.

Over the past 30 years, I've seen a lot of figurative blood shed between queer folks fighting over exclusive spaces and whole communities torn apart over it.

Queer people have experienced trauma on both sides of the issue: by being excluded, and also by having our boundaries trampled and our spaces overrun. It's the perfect issue for us to retraumatize each other over. And that's what I've seen again and again.

To me, the insistence that every space be for everyone as divisive and counterproductive. I'd much rather say "blessed be, not for me" and spend that energy creating spaces where my friends and I are welcome.

For those who are excluded, I'm not saying the only thing to do is to shut up and slink away. A respectful and open-minded critique can open people's minds and help unravel the oppressive programming we all suffer from.

But bitter infighting with other queer people over exclusive spaces serves only those who seek to oppress us.
posted by ottereroticist at 10:13 AM on June 3 [8 favorites]


desjardins: "based on past experience at gay (male) night clubs (especially in NYC, where they told me point blank to get out)."

Ick. There are definitely a lot of women who are disrespectful assholes at gay clubs, but I would never patronize a club that point-blank turned women away at the door. (Although I do understand that prohibition existing at private or semi-private parties with a more explicit sexual nature)

I can't speak for IML, but MAL seemed like a safe and accommodating place for the few female and transgender attendees there, although I can understand why few choose to attend. It's admittedly not my scene, but the kink/fetish community largely seems to do a pretty good job of ensuring that their events are safe spaces for all, which is why it's so upsetting to see rampant transphobia existing behind closed doors.
posted by schmod at 10:14 AM on June 3


To clarify my earlier comment, I'd be fine with being asked to leave. I have no inherent right to be there, I don't identify as male and gay men need their safe spaces. The marketplace is very different than the parties; the vendors were A-OK with taking my money regardless of what's in my pants.
posted by desjardins at 10:15 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


Also, I just find Savage's wording distasteful. Automatically, the "annoying" straight women were only there because they were with their gay besties? Screw that.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:16 AM on June 3


[Dan Savage] Or going to Bear Week in Provincetown and complaining that hairless twinks must have been kept away by the forces of 'institutionalized segregation.'

So, yeah, things change over time.

I was involved with the bear movement back when it was an actual reactionary movement within the gay community -- men responding to the media images being fed to them from within the gay community (porn and non-porn) about what it meant to be a gay man, and rebelling against it. Saying "I don't have to be a gym-bodied, shaven-torso, leaning-toward-the-effiminate-but-still-definitely-male, frosted hair retail or service industry employee to be gay. I could be a truck driver, blue collar, beard growing, maybe even rural living chainsaw-wielding man and that is equally an acceptable type of gay man."

Bear meets were a lot of fun to attend back in those early days. The sense of camaraderie, the genuine interest in those attending as people (not just as bodies or potential fuck objects), the overall COMMUNITY that was being built through not only the IRL meets but also the listserv Bear Mailing List and the (back when there was only one IRC server) channel #bearcave and the first incarnation of Bear Magazine, with its articles about men discovering the bears and feeling free to be themselves for the first time ever (and the ever-growing personal ad section, which was at the time one of the only way to find other bears)...

But yeah, things change. The bears, as a group, now sort themselves into two categories -- either you're fat and hairy and therefore a bear, or you're steroid-enhanced gym built and hairy, and therefore a bear. There is no room in the bear community much these days for the skinny, the not-that-hairy, the rural sort who isn't buying into an image... The bears turned into something that could be marketed toward down a couple of different very specific paths, and that is now how the movement subgroup defines itself, often with minimal crossover between the two accepted concepts.

"Institutionalized segregation"? Yeah, try attending a bear event if you don't fit into one of the two now-dominant strains of bear concepts. Skinny and hairy but not working out at the gym all the time to become a musclebear? Backgrounded. Even worse, skinny and not very hairy, no matter what your build might be. You can grow the best beard ever and buy all the flannel and carhartts and suspenders in the world, and you are honestly a gay man who isn't interested in the (still to this day) mainstream picture of the gay man who is good at interior decorating and might have a job working to make others' lives somehow beautiful and special... A gay man who is simply a man living a life which doesn't involve all that STUFF and who is trying to find someone else to share a life with who also doesn't care about all that STUFF... But if you don't fit into the predefined categories, you basically don't exist at sanctioned bear gatherings.

It was a lot of fun for a while. And then things changed, and the feeling of the shift was palpable. At this point, I don't even try to attend totally social-oriented events run by the bear group I have here locally, because there are too many layers of marketing-created strictures about what constitutes "acceptable".

It's pathetic that groups of people allow themselves to be ruled by concepts obviously created by marketers who are only comfortable if they have specific guidelines which allow the target audience to be defined, to make their job easier, but based on my observations across the past 20-odd years, that is exactly what happened to the bears.

"Kept away by the forces of 'institutionalized segregation'"? Yeah, you bet that is exactly what keeps those who identify with the bears as a concept but who don't meet the physical standards feel has happened to them.
posted by hippybear at 10:23 AM on June 3 [23 favorites]


i wonder if leather events (and maybe also drag) are in the middle of a major shift, where post-net, post-queer, ironic reworkings where sex is liquid and desire is less ritualistic, abuts slightly older work, where sex is much more solid, and desire requires full liturgy. from people i know in both some leather scenes and the imperial court scene, there seems to be a bit of an age attrition, and savage no matter how much he lies about his age, is on the other side of thst.
posted by PinkMoose at 10:26 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


PinkMoose: "i wonder if leather events (and maybe also drag) are in the middle of a major shift"

Yes. Almost unquestionably.
posted by schmod at 10:29 AM on June 3


From the first article, emphasis mine:
Most of the debauchery doesn't take place at the IML-sponsored events, but rather in the private hotel rooms of guests at the Marriot. While some of the parties I was invited to were private, closed-door events, others literally had an open door policy, allowing people to wander in and out of the room freely.

I was with my female friend at the time when we were invited to one such party on the 46th floor (the top floor) in a massive suite.
The author doesn't specify which type of party it was. If the latter, then I could definitely see him being shocked/upset that his friend would be ejected. When I read it, I thought he meant the latter.

---

It is interesting to come from the fpp about agender photos to this. I recently had occasion to ponder how I was going to handle gendered bdsm events, and it can become a complicated thing if you don't identify within the binary. I mean, even non-bdsm situations get complicated, but still.

When an event specifies that "female identified" people are welcome to participate in any role, while "male identified" people are limited to a specific role. When it says "female identified (trans, genderqueer welcome)", that's a bit ambiguous, because if someone is genderqueer, they're likely not female-identified.

I am fine with people having their safe spaces. Awareness of the grey areas and the balance between what groups have those safe spaces available is a good thing though.

Next month is Thunder in the Mountains here in Denver, I've never been, but from all accounts it is a super inclusive event. They do exist!

If anyone's coming to town for Thunder, we can do a meetup!
posted by HermitDog at 10:29 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]


i wonder if leather events (and maybe also drag) are in the middle of a major shift

I can't speak at all to the drag scene but the hetero-ish leather scene around here has gotten much more genderfluid and pansexual. Almost unrecognizable from 10-15 years ago. This is totally because of the millennials coming onto the scene. The older people (hi!) have their own gatherings that reflect a more binary gender structure.
posted by desjardins at 10:39 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


The shift PinkMoose refers to is definitely underway in my community: from gay-identified (which defines which of two and only two sexes with whom one does and doesn't have sex) to queer-identified (a mutable term not defined by reference to the gender binary).

There is certainly a generational skew to this split, although in my observation the attachment to or rejection of the gender binary is as much a temperamental and political orientation as it is generational.
posted by ottereroticist at 10:41 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


The shift PinkMoose refers to is definitely underway in my community: from gay-identified (which defines which of two and only two sexes with whom one does and doesn't have sex) to queer-identified (a mutable term not defined by reference to the gender binary).

When I browse women in their 20s on OKCupid who are listed as gay or bi, seriously about 40% of my matches have a line in their profile about how they only selected gay or bi because there was no 'queer' option.

(Another 20% is actually M/F couples looking for unicorns but whatever)
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:48 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


This whole nontroversy would be a lot more interesting if the article were about a black man being excluded from the whites-only gay S&M orgy party.
posted by Nelson at 10:55 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


Yes, because race is so much more scandalous than gender when it comes to exclusion.
posted by hippybear at 10:56 AM on June 3


Yes, because race is so much more scandalous than gender when it comes to exclusion.

In the context of a gay orgy? Yeah, it's more problematic to exclude black men than women.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:59 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


"What about gender queer people? What about trans people? What about femme men?"

Why do I think these people didn't really give a shit about the party's policies on trans* people until the straight cis person was asked to leave?
posted by sevenyearlurk at 10:59 AM on June 3 [10 favorites]


In the context of a gay orgy? Yeah, it's more problematic to exclude black men than women.

Except this post was about excluding everyone that does not look like one guy's definition of a man.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:00 AM on June 3


Except this post was about excluding everyone that does not look like one guy's definition of a man.

No, it was about excluding a woman. The theoretical possibility that this specific orgy might also have turned away a female-bodied man might be worth discussing if it had actually happened, but it didn't.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:04 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


that guy who wears heavy chains that clink with every shuffling step

If I were gay, a little hairier, and a lot younger, I would dress like this from about late October through December and walk around calling myself "Gay Cub Marley".

oh god hypothetical young gay me is so alone
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 11:07 AM on June 3 [10 favorites]


No, it was about excluding a woman. The theoretical possibility that this specific orgy might also have turned away a female-bodied man might be worth discussing if it had actually happened, but it didn't.

I think you missed the point of the original article.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:08 AM on June 3


I'M SHOCKED AT THE INSTITUTIONALIZED MISANTHROPY AT THE MICHIGAN WOMYN'S MUSIC FESTIVAL.

Shocked.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 11:08 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


For what it's worth, I know a trans guy who was part of the leather scene for a while and even placed at an IML event (I think one of the shoe shining/bootblack competitions). I can't speak for what his experience on the scene was/is like, but I thought I'd share it as anecdata.

(Also, man, queer!MeFi is on a roll this week. Thanks for all of the polite and insightful discussion y'all.)
posted by fight or flight at 11:08 AM on June 3


I think you missed the point of the original article.

I got it, I just think it's nonsensical in this specific content.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:10 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


"Orgy" doesn't equal "blanket consent to whatever."

Some ambiguity: I used to spar with a guy who's kink it was to fight/wrestle/etc.
So when we were training, was that a sex thing or training to be better at teh sex or what?

I don't know. Good fighter though. Maybe liked to get hit a bit too much. Didn't roll with the punches. But y'know.

It's pathetic that groups of people allow themselves to be ruled by concepts obviously created by marketers who are only comfortable if they have specific guidelines which allow the target audience to be defined...

It's the same around bikers. I get handed crap because I ride a Ducati. I'm not a 'real' biker. 'Real' bikers apparently go to Sturgis, spend hours listening to shitty bands, watch topless women attempt to eat hot dogs hanging from strings and shop for chrome.
Not, y'know, riding motorcycles.

"This isn't a party for trans people or anything in between, it's a party for men."

And speaking of riding... so, I know I a lot of guys who ride, have goofy facial hair, brandish knives, etc. Only real difference being the leather is filthy and worn, perhaps road rashed. And they're not gay (mostly. I suppose. I don't hand out questionaires.)
Would they be welcome?

I think exclusivity is a valid point. By the same token I think people can have some specificity to their 'thing' (whatever it is) without getting criticised for exclusion.
But I agree with hippybear that it too often goes awry.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:16 AM on June 3


I'd agree that gender, umm, rigidity is definitely a problem at many kink gatherings/organizations. As mentioned above, there's a generational shift (I'm in the oldest GenX cohort, and my genderqueerness is more like folks up to 20 years younger than I, than it is like folks even 5 years older) as well as geographic (North American coasts and I hear Australia are much more relaxed than middle North America or Europe) and attitudinal (some people are stuck in gender/sexual preference binaries).
Perversely, one of North America's best known kink locations/organizations, Seattle's Center for Sex Positive Culture (AKA the Wet Spot), is extremely rigid in its membership gender definitions - members have to declare a gender and only attend events catering to that gender. This is obviously a problem for agender/neutrois, genderfluid, genderqueer, and in-gender-transition people. While the CSPC holds events by and for trans* folks, genderqueer members cannot freely attend both male and female parties, even if they have appropriate legal ID. Given the founders of the CSPC average in their late 50s (the ED is over 60), one assumes the gender rules reflect some generational gender attitudes. The CSPC membeship and attendance also fails the racial diversity of Seattle, but that's another topic.
posted by Dreidl at 11:17 AM on June 3


"Most of the debauchery doesn't take place at the IML-sponsored events, but rather in the private hotel rooms of guests... it only took five minutes before my friend was asked to leave.... "You can't be here. You're a woman," she was told. . . "What about gender queer people? What about trans people? What about femme men?" . . . "This isn't a party for trans people or anything in between, it's a party for men."

Or, to put a shoe on the other foot....

"Excuse me ladies... I know this is a private hotel room where you are holding a kinky orgy, but my friend Guido wanted to come in and watch for a bit... maybe play, if any of you ladies are up to it.

What, you don't like Guido?! Well, what if Guido is a FTM? Not that he is, mind you, but..."

"Oh, I should get my own room and organize my own party? Okay, fine... nevermind. Oppressor!"

I say this, btw, as a kinkster in S.F., where there are plenty of *public* events which are geared exclusively towards biological men, biological women, and the trans community, where the boundaries are just as rigidly defined, out of respect for the comfort of those attending. There issues are debated all the time in our community and online, and the current mix of inclusivity is good... just as the mix of exclusivity is good.

The error is thinking that entirely inclusive is any better than entirely exclusive, especially when you are dealing with people putting these events on at considerable time and expense, who have their own vision for and own definition of a safe space, or a hot party.

In truth, your attemdamce might not fit in to their concept of their event... but that is fine, because you can create your own events, and make the community that much stronger and more diverse.
posted by markkraft at 11:25 AM on June 3 [20 favorites]


what markkraft said, and:

Last year I was hanging out at one of the tamer (and, thus, sparsely attended) venues at the Guerneville Lazy Bear Weekend, with several local square dancing clubs, trying to drum up interest. They had trash containers provided by ID Lube, with dancing female silhouettes on the side that seemed particularly ill suited to the space.

I think this is a good example of a reasonable fear in any community: If you start to grow the community for the sake of "inclusion", eventually the vibe of that community ends up coopted into bland commercialism. Somewhere around the continuum from bear to otter to butch to punk we lose the "safe space for people like me" and blend into the "space for people" and then it's a "space for people who conform to the usual social norms".

And the way to that we can signal to the existing community that we want to participate in it, rather than co-opt it, is to adopt the rituals and dress that conform to that community's norms. So the guy enforcing the standards may not have kicked Buck Angel out of the party, we don't know, but as much as I appreciate when a community reaches out to people who might potentially engage in it, I get a little touchy when we start saying "radical inclusion must be the default for all spaces!"
posted by straw at 11:28 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


And speaking of riding... so, I know I a lot of guys who ride, have goofy facial hair, brandish knives, etc. Only real difference being the leather is filthy and worn, perhaps road rashed. And they're not gay (mostly. I suppose. I don't hand out questionaires.)
Would they be welcome?


Would they be welcome on rides? Abso-freaking-lutely as long as they have an M1 license.

Would they be welcome at the camping event? Well, would they be comfortable hanging with a bunch of naked/half naked gay men and the assorted goings-on? If the answer is yes, then they'd probably be welcome as well. Though you'd have to ask.

BTW Smedleyman - while my husband rides a cruiser, most of the guys in his club ride sport bikes of one kind or another. You and your Ducati would be welcome to ride with us.
posted by Sophie1 at 11:32 AM on June 3


Another thing worth mentioning... I know a lot of people personally who run several of the largest venues in S.F. for kink and sex-positive events.

Do you know what most of these people would *love* to have? More event organizers... especially ones who build up a record for never flaking, can organize a team of dedicated people to help them -- which, incidentally, usually means being somewhat inclusive anyway -- and who are willing to really promote their events, so that the venues can both provide a space for events *AND* pay the rent at the same time.

The economics for most of the venues who host sex-positive events are very much hand-to-mouth, even in San Francisco. Most only survive based on community support, and not exclusively on hosting events.

Can you be dedicated? Work with people? Build a community around your vision? Never, EVER flake?! Then yes, you should be organizing events, because the community as a whole needs you.

And the great thing is, such dedication and community can -- and does -- come from every part of the community you can imagine. There's room for your vision too, but you need to do the hard work to get people to build upon the community and get people to show up.
posted by markkraft at 11:44 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


Can you be dedicated? Work with people? Build a community around your vision? Never, EVER flake?! Then yes, you should be organizing events, because the community as a whole needs you.

And the great thing is, such dedication and community can -- and does -- come from every part of the community you can imagine. There's room for your vision too, but you need to do the hard work to get people to build upon the community and get people to show up.


I'm working hard on building a strong furry community here where I live, and all this applies to just trying to get a healthy group built who can feel assured that even social events will actually take place, let alone all the other baggage that can come with doing events that are more sexually charged.

In short, running events is hard, especially if you're relying on non-professionals to pull together events for the sake of building community. You can pay people, but then there is a motivation that exists outside of community, which is what we all want at our core to begin with.

Be the community you want to be a part of, and inspire others to be part of that too. Walking into an already existing group and complaining that it doesn't fit your pre-imagined norms of what it should be is obnoxious, at the very minimum.
posted by hippybear at 11:49 AM on June 3 [9 favorites]


otter, I hear what you are saying but I still disagree.

i agree that the author bringing a woman along to an event for men is fucked up and not okay too. that was incredibly disrespectful.

but i think the language the host used in discussion of who is and is not welcome at his party is worth examining. i think it's important to name transphobia in the cis gay community when we see it. i don't think calling transphobic behavior transphobic is "bitter infighting". i think it is standing up for the most vulnerable members of our community.
posted by beefetish at 12:39 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]


also "lol create your own event" oh my god i cant even
posted by beefetish at 12:40 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, Barry has issued an apology for the article.
posted by dnash at 12:58 PM on June 3 [4 favorites]


beefetish, then we are in agreement. It seems like you missed where I said "A respectful and open-minded critique can...help unravel the oppressive programming we all suffer from."

also "lol create your own event" oh my god i cant even

I don't understand. Say more about this?
posted by ottereroticist at 1:08 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]


There was a post a week or so ago about a straight athlete who'd formed an organization that was supposed to be about supporting closeted gay athletes to come out, but instead it's turned into an organization that's interfering in gay athletes' desire to control their own coming out.

As this Barry guy appears to be straight, I'm getting a whiff of that same phenomenon here. He's SO EAGER to prove his "sex-positiveness" and inclusiveness, that he's fallen off a cliff of "everything must be totally inclusive, always." And in trying to be an "ally" for the kink community, he's instead smeared it, out of ignorance and eager self-promotion.
posted by dnash at 1:14 PM on June 3 [3 favorites]


dnash: "For what it's worth, Barry has issued an apology for the article."

And he's getting skewered in the comments.
posted by zarq at 1:24 PM on June 3


Sophie1: I am pretty involved in the club. I go to events all the time. I go to their installation of officers and I go to their parties. I do not go to this camping event. I am OK with an event that is all men (as long as it doesn't exclude transmen, which it doesn't), just as I am OK with an event that is all women (that doesn't exclude transwomen). I think there has to be room in our spaces to have some exclusive space.

Why is excluding people on the basis of self-gender-designation OK, when excluding people on the basis of genitalia is not? What if it was a No-Jews weekend? No-Blacks? No-People-Who-Consider-Themselves-Mixed-Race-Or-Nonwhite?

Serious question.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:27 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]


Wow, that "apology". It basically says:

* I have tons of experience and background in this stuff because I'm awesome
* Some people were offended and I'm sorry their feelings were hurt [but I haven't reflected at all on why those people were upset]
* I explicitly don't recant anything I said
* I don't understand how different organizations can possibly have different cultures and expectations
* This particular group is evil and wrong but I didn't mean to imply they're the only ones -- obviously there are other groups that are just as evil as they are
* Seriously why are you all so upset
* Just remember that I'm awesome

I don't feel that he understands why people are upset and has fallen back on the "sorry your feelings got hurt" non-apology, which is disappointing.
posted by fader at 1:37 PM on June 3 [5 favorites]


IAmBroom: the event is about men who are attracted to men. If it was, I don't know, a gardening club, then it wouldn't make sense (to me) to separate it by gender since that has nothing (inherently) to do with whether you like to garden.

I would imagine that not too many black people would really like to attend explicitly racist gatherings, if only for their own safety, whereas trans men who like men would want to attend a gay male gathering. I don't think you can compare gay men's exclusion of women to virulent racism.
posted by desjardins at 1:41 PM on June 3 [6 favorites]


Why is excluding people on the basis of self-gender-designation OK, when excluding people on the basis of genitalia is not? What if it was a No-Jews weekend? No-Blacks? No-People-Who-Consider-Themselves-Mixed-Race-Or-Nonwhite?

Is Nazi a sexual orientation now?
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:42 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]


otter: regarding the notion that that people excluded from an event due to x-phobic reasons should just like, create their own event: Just, straight up, this is not a good solution. It decenters the inappropriate behavior of the event organizers and makes it something that the people who are being treated shitty have to fix. I don't particularly feel like we need to make a safe space for cis gays to be transphobic especially transmisogynist, they are way too good at that already.

Why is excluding people on the basis of self-gender-designation OK, when excluding people on the basis of genitalia is not? What if it was a No-Jews weekend? No-Blacks? No-People-Who-Consider-Themselves-Mixed-Race-Or-Nonwhite?

Essentialist definitions of gender applied to gender-segregated spaces to exclude trans people, particularly trans women, from spaces and resources ostensibly available to them, has a long and ugly history. There is a significant difference between saying "This space is a gender-segregated space" and saying "This space is a gender-segregated space but I get to also decide if you really are the gender you say you are." Does that make more sense?
posted by beefetish at 1:54 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]


Why is excluding people on the basis of self-gender-designation OK, when excluding people on the basis of genitalia is not? What if it was a No-Jews weekend? No-Blacks? No-People-Who-Consider-Themselves-Mixed-Race-Or-Nonwhite?

Oppressions may rhyme, but they are not identical. The kinds of harm that are done to women in a misogynist society are not the same as the kinds of harm that are done to Jews in an anti-semitic society. (And of course, the harms done to Jewish women are not the same as the harms done to Jewish men, etc.) So the harm done to women by being excluded from the gay dudes' sex party? What social harm does that reinforce? I find it difficult to think of one, since while there's a history of gay misogyny, gay men are not oppressing women by not being sexually attracted to them. Whereas there's a lot of stuff about sexuality and racism or anti-semitism where the oppressions that people of color and/or Jewish people face are intimately tied up with narratives of who is desirable, who is allowed to desire, who is disposable, etc. Women being totally excluded from certain gay spaces is misogynist (like if you invite your best friend to have a drink at a perfectly ordinary night at a perfectly ordinary gay bar and she gets kicked out) but not all instances of women being excluded from gay spaces are misogynist.

And unlike, say, Michfest and trans women, women are not excluded from gay sex parties because their sexual or gender identity is being denied.

"Inclusion" shouldn't be an a priori value - it should be an outcomes-based value - which of course just kicks the can down the road since we have to decide what kind of outcomes we want.

I think it's really tricky to use different oppressions as metaphors for each other - it is usually much more productive to think them next to each other, so that we can see how they differ and what this tells us about social hierarchy and coercion.
posted by Frowner at 2:00 PM on June 3 [11 favorites]


It decenters the inappropriate behavior of the event organizers and makes it something that the people who are being treated shitty have to fix. I don't particularly feel like we need to make a safe space for cis gays to be transphobic especially transmisogynist, they are way too good at that already.

To me, devoting my energy to creating events I want to go to is the exact opposite of having to fix other people's shitty behavior. Instead, it's based on the recognition that others' shitty behavior is not mine to fix.

It's a lot easier and more enjoyable to create what I want than to try to argue other queers out of what they want. That way lies the "bitter infighting" referenced above.
posted by ottereroticist at 2:27 PM on June 3 [4 favorites]


"regarding the notion that that people excluded from an event due to x-phobic reasons should just like, create their own event: Just, straight up, this is not a good solution. It decenters the inappropriate behavior of the event organizers..."

I'm sorry, but in what way are you not arguing that its transphobia to not be allowed to party in someone else's private hotel room? Just because I identify as pansexual, that doesn't mean I'd feel comfortable inviting myself over to a stranger's hotel room to watch the World Cup, as if my identity or mere existence was enough to justify admittance.

Just because there's a convention in the hotel you can attend, that doesn't mean that you get to attend all the private room parties too.

"What if it was a No-Jews weekend? No-Blacks? No-People-Who-Consider-Themselves-Mixed-Race-Or-Nonwhite?"

These are not "no Jews", "no blacks", etc. public events, we are talking about here. These are designed as private events -- paid for by the organizers -- specifically for gay men, lesbians, etc.

There's a convention in the Bay Area called Pantheacon, geared towards Pagan / non-Christian religions. Can you attend the convention, if you are a Christian? Sure, as long as you're respectful and not loudly telling everyone they are going to hell. But can you attend the private rituals for specific beliefs? NO. In many cases, you can't even do that if you are pagan, but not a follower of that specific belief structure. Does that mean that pretty much every religion and belief structure out there is the equivalent of your "No-Jews weekend" claim -- phobic because they are exclusive and private at times?

Well, by your argument, apparently yes. By most people's view though, no.

Just because someone personally identifies themselves in a way that is gender-inclusive, pansexual, etc., that does not mean that others must recognize them as such, especially for private events... or that they are transphobic for not doing so. In fact, there is no clear evidence of hatred or discrimination to be found that is specific to those in the trans community at all.

I find all this kind of ironic, in that I remember a similar discussion awhile back on FetLife by the organizers of Transmission, a public event in S.F. geared towards the trans community. Literally, the same arguments were being made for exclusivity, as well as some arguments saying that those who appeared to be cis should be required to dress genderfucked... if they should be allowed to attend at all. Obviously, this proposed trans-friendly solution was not fully inclusive, even to the wide range of that which is trans.

All this says, basically, is that different communities have different ways of protecting and respecting what makes them them.

Sometimes, it's just not about you. And that's okay.
posted by markkraft at 2:39 PM on June 3 [9 favorites]


See also YKINMK, and apply the concept liberally, to include religion, orientation, gender, etc.
posted by markkraft at 2:48 PM on June 3


a naturally shy and reserved person

I am perhaps the world's least likely attendee at a leather event, and even I know that this describes a poor fit.

Why is excluding people on the basis of self-gender-designation OK, when excluding people on the basis of genitalia is not? What if it was a No-Jews weekend? No-Blacks? No-People-Who-Consider-Themselves-Mixed-Race-Or-Nonwhite?

This makes just as much sense as comparing the campus women's center to the KKK. It's ridiculous and crappy to make these comparisons and I wish people would stop.
posted by Dip Flash at 2:55 PM on June 3 [9 favorites]


"in what way are you not arguing that its transphobia to not be allowed to party in someone else's private hotel room?"

i am pointing out here that the dude said "trans or any other kind of people". i don't think he should be obligated to let a woman party with him. i am pointing out that a gay dude at a manly gay man dude man's party is, very casually, doing a transphobia here, and that is fucked. I'm unhappy but not particularly surprised to see pushback from people about this. I'm also not interested in reiterating why I feel like having an extra-low tolerance for transphobic stuff athwart cis gay culture is important in a room this mixed.
posted by beefetish at 3:46 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]


"Just because someone personally identifies themselves in a way that is gender-inclusive, pansexual, etc., that does not mean that others must recognize them as such"

wait what
posted by beefetish at 3:47 PM on June 3


"It's the same around bikers. I get handed crap because I ride a Ducati. I'm not a 'real' biker. 'Real' bikers apparently go to Sturgis, spend hours listening to shitty bands, watch topless women attempt to eat hot dogs hanging from strings and shop for chrome.
Not, y'know, riding motorcycles."


Come on, you have to realize that in America "biker" really only means one thing. Harley riding 1%ers (and assorted wannabes or, as I call them, "Hell's Accountants"). You could maybe get away with a Triumph or a Victory but I digress.
posted by MikeMc at 4:03 PM on June 3 [3 favorites]


i am pointing out that a gay dude at a manly gay man dude man's party is, very casually, doing a transphobia here, and that is fucked.

So it's "transphobia" to not be sexually interested in a trans person?
posted by dnash at 4:11 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]


So it's "transphobia" to not be sexually interested in a trans person?

If you were interested in them until you found out they were trans... yes.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:24 PM on June 3


If you were interested in them until you found out they were trans... yes.

I don't know, man. Some people are into certain genitalia and that's ok, isn't it? I don't feel that way myself, but I don't think being into dicks or vaginas exclusively makes you a bad person.
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:40 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]


I don't know, man. Some people are into certain genitalia and that's ok, isn't it? I don't feel that way myself, but I don't think being into dicks or vaginas exclusively makes you a bad person.

Being trans doesn't necessarily mean you don't have a penis that matches your male gender identity?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:46 PM on June 3


So it's "transphobia" to not be sexually interested in a trans person?

If you were interested in them until you found out they were trans... yes.


Pretty sure that isn't an interaction contained anywhere in any of the links of this FPP.
posted by hippybear at 4:47 PM on June 3 [4 favorites]


I think it's transphobic to not be sexually interested in a trans person if the reason you are not interested is because they are trans, but there's no accounting for personal turn-ons/offs, etc. but what a derail THAT conversation would be right here, right now.

I think this guy taking a shy woman to a men-only event, only to go into High Dudgeon when the woman is turned away at the door because it might have been transphobic to do so, is crappy. His apology didn't help, either.
posted by disclaimer at 5:06 PM on June 3 [5 favorites]


those who appeared to be cis should be required to dress genderfucked

this broke my brain

like ... I'm a cis female but I would totally wear a tie and wingtips... I'd feel way more comfortable in that than in a dress... so if I showed up in that, do I still appear to be cis? I'm like 4'11" so I'm not passing for a dude and not even trying. So dressing genderfucked for me would be wearing a dress, which matches my assigned gender... and ugh I just hurt my head again.

anyway, they can do whatever they like, it just seems like people get all tangled up making preemptive nitpicky rules when they could just eject anyone being an asshole.
posted by desjardins at 5:28 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]


"For what it's worth, Barry has issued an apology for the article."

And he's getting skewered in the comments.


The comments are worth reading - members of the leather community, including people who were in attendance, some of whom were working the event and dealt with Mr. Barry personally have much to say.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:41 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]


Also, I somehow missed that Eric Barry is straight, which adds an extra dimension of ... something.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:48 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]


Being trans doesn't necessarily mean you don't have a penis that matches your male gender identity?

Ok, fair enough.

How did we even get on this topic, though? What happened was two straight, cis people tried to go to a gay orgy and then got mad when they couldn't go in.

"This is a party for men. Women aren't allowed," he retorted.

"We'll leave. But I'm just curious -- how do you define a man?"

"Someone who's obviously a man."

"What about gender queer people? What about trans people? What about femme men?"

"This isn't a party for trans people or anything in between, it's a party for men."


This guy was an asshole. But he was in the middle of throwing out two obviously rules-lawyering straight cis pedants who wanted to gawk at gay men like animals at the zoo. Would he have responded in the same way to a trans man trying to enter? Maybe. Maybe it's even likely. But that's not what happened, so we don't know. Maybe he was just trying to cut off some offensive argument that this plainly touristy woman was actually a gay man so that she could sneak in. Or maybe he was a huge transphobe. Or maybe both.

Is there a conversation that needs to be had about trans discrimination? Obviously. Is this particular incident anything besides pointless shit stirring? I don't think so.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:58 PM on June 3 [11 favorites]


I haven't thrown anyone out of an orgy, per se but I have, in a professional capacity, asked many, many people to leave a venue or event for a variety of valid reasons.

None of these had anything to do with me being any sort of -ist, or -phobe, nor did they have anything to do with my sexual orientation, weight, menstrual cycle, or the frequency with which I have sexual intercourse or the people (or animals, apparently) with whom or which I wish to have sexual intercourse. I have also never been a Republican, a Fascist, or a member of the Nazi Party. I have never carried or brandished any sort of a weapon, or indeed, so much as called anyone a name.

Of course, if you ask the 86'd party, they will be happy to tell you many of those things, and perhaps all of the above in a wide variety of combinations with profanity appended.

What they will likely not do is give you an honest accounting of the reason they were asked to leave. If they do mention it, it will be as a muttered aside, or somehow diminished: "Well, yeah, I did try to sneak my 19 year old girlfriend into the bar, but she was already wasted anyway, so it wasn't even like she was gonna spend any money there at the precious bar. Anyway, my point is that fat bouncer bitch with the glasses is a Nazi cunt."

Not saying this is exactly like that. Just saying that it is not unusual for a bouncee to perhaps misremember their own culpability, and to perhaps inflate the offense to their person in the retelling of the tale.
posted by louche mustachio at 7:24 PM on June 3 [6 favorites]


I think it's transphobic to not be sexually interested in a trans person if the reason you are not interested is because they are trans

When you diagnose someone as "-phobic" (alluding to a mental disorder — a phobia) based on their personal sexual preferences, you're engaging in the same thing that's so wrong with old-school homophobia. In contrast, when the issue becomes who can be kicked out of a gathering, then you can get into some grey areas where perhaps reasonable people can disagree. But the basic principle that everyone is entitled to their own sexual preferences should be fundamental.
posted by John Cohen at 7:43 PM on June 3 [3 favorites]


To me, pressing the issue of being uninvited to a sex event has more to do with boundaries of consent, and less to do with discrimination. This ain't no damn country club.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:54 PM on June 3 [9 favorites]


After reading that apology, the only thing I can really say is: with allies like him, who needs enemies?

I don't think he gets it. Maybe he's trying to understand, but the evidence for it is scant; since this is the first I've heard of him, it's a pretty unfortunate impression I have now.
posted by qcubed at 8:45 PM on June 3


> ... where else can you get dolphin-dong dildos?

Here. (Previously.) NSFW, obviously.

What do you mean, "rhetorical" ?
posted by sourcequench at 9:59 PM on June 3 [3 favorites]


Since we've already started down this path, I will just briefly mention Bad Dragon and let you deal with the consequences if you decide to click through.
posted by hippybear at 10:12 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]


This dude's writing makes my skin crawl and he's hanging out with my friends!

(I've never met him and I should really ask them if he's much better in person than on paper, or if they just hang out cuz that's what members of the academic/media - personality kinkster community do)

His first article when he showed up in Chicago was about the city being uptight because a random sampling of women he met at bars didn't know the term "sex positivity". Ugh.

I've been experiencing some serious schadenfreude watching people tear apart his terrible piece all day. I'm not proud of it, but it is what it is.
posted by elr at 10:15 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: I'm not proud of it, but it is what it is.
posted by hippybear at 10:20 PM on June 3 [7 favorites]


I'd agree that gender, umm, rigidity is definitely a problem at many kink gatherings/organizations. As mentioned above, there's a generational shift (I'm in the oldest GenX cohort, and my genderqueerness is more like folks up to 20 years younger than I, than it is like folks even 5 years older) as well as geographic (North American coasts and I hear Australia are much more relaxed than middle North America or Europe) and attitudinal (some people are stuck in gender/sexual preference binaries).

I think I'd be more comfortable with this development if it didn't also involve a fair number of ugly stereotypes of LGB sexuality (especially bisexuality) coupled with aggressive identity policing based on those stereotypes. I think one of the low points for me lately was getting my hands on Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Science Fiction edited by Brit Mandelo. Then I read reviews along the lines of "bisexuality is not sexual fluidity." Which makes me want to scream 22 years after "anything that moves" and a broad consensus that attempts to strictly define sexualities were big problems.

Maybe I missed a swing of the pendulum somewhere from my late adolescence when practically everyone was doing genderqueer, genderplay and genderfuck.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 6:43 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]


I think I'd be more comfortable with this development if it didn't also involve a fair number of ugly stereotypes of LGB sexuality (especially bisexuality) coupled with aggressive identity policing based on those stereotypes. I think one of the low points for me lately was getting my hands on Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Science Fiction edited by Brit Mandelo. Then I read reviews along the lines of "bisexuality is not sexual fluidity." Which makes me want to scream 22 years after "anything that moves" and a broad consensus that attempts to strictly define sexualities were big problems.

It's true, there's always a pendulum swinging in radical circles - the kind of pendulum in the Edgar Allen Poe story, usually. And people really are assholes about stuff - now, we call ourselves "queer" or else we're regressive, for instance, but I've seen the first stirrings of "well, calling yourself queer is too hipster, if you're really committed to [whatever one is committed to] you need to specify", with a particular emphasis on not calling yourself queer when you should be calling yourself lesbian. And this from a young and cutting edge tumblr, no less. So in another few years, calling yourself queer instead of [whatever the correct term is then] will mark you as an outsider, wrong-thinker, etc, regardless of your actual lived sexual or gender practices.

And, for instance, just as soon as everyone got used to using "trans*", now the correct line is that "trans*" is transmisogynist and erases trans women.

But I feel like this is a problem that has three pieces (or maybe even more!):

First, language/concepts really do change. So, for instance, it's more useful to say "racial justice" than "anti-racist"; it's useful to be able to say "anti-black racism" when you mean racism against black people specifically rather than just "racism". It's useful to be able to distinguish between people who say they are bisexual because they think "there are two sexes and I am attracted to both" and people who say they are bisexual because that is the language available to them and they mean "I am attracted to people regardless of gender". Back in the nineties, for instance, everyone I knew who said they were "bisexual" meant the latter, because "bisexual" was the available word.

Which takes us to the second aspect: forgetting. Because of the way that subcultural communities work, especially around sex, there can be this huge loss of continuity. No one remembers that genderqueer/genderfuck (a term I really don't like, actually) stuff from the nineties now, and so everyone under thirty believes that there were almost no genderfluid people prior to their generation. There isn't continuity and we don't have our own historians - we're dependent on academics with careers to make, and a lot of stuff (zines, even websites, records of events, memories of people) gets lost. So "I am bisexual" is always read with the present definition, whatever that is, regardless of how it was meant or lived in the past.

And of course there's culture formation. How do you form a culture? By defining what you're not - not "bisexual", not "lesbian", not boring old retrograde people from the nineties. And the who Oedipal-death-struggle thing - how does a new cultural formation come into being? By death struggle with its "parent" culture - very depressing, but it takes a lot of therapy and introspection to get past that. But then again, it's not just the Oedipal death struggle, it's the....um, Kronos?...that giant from Greek mythology who eats his young so that they won't rise up against him?

Basically, people are terrible - old and young, movement and non-.
posted by Frowner at 9:03 AM on June 4 [8 favorites]


IAmBroom: "What if it was a No-Jews weekend? No-Blacks? No-People-Who-Consider-Themselves-Mixed-Race-Or-Nonwhite?"
Serious question.


markkraft: ...Well, by your argument, apparently yes. By most people's view though, no.

I didn't make any arguments. I asked a serious question, and got serious answers from most people. Enjoy your windmills, Don.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:57 AM on June 4


Frowner: Good points. For me, it's simple. I'm gay when I'm constructed as gay. I'm bisexual when I'm constructed as bisexual. That I'm an biography-over-categories person doesn't change my relationships with larger culture or history.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:25 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]


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