A couple weeks ago I attended the first meeting of MP&C (Midweek Practice and Class, formerly known as Monkey Puzzle Club) at The Space. (Let me start out by saying that the Columbus Space for Alternative Expression is shaping up to be an amazing boon to the community here in central Ohio. I sent the board of directors a rambling note the other day about how excited I am about this new place for people to gather, and thanked them as best I could without sounding too over the top. You should send them a note too! What they’re doing for our little city is such a blessing, and I’m sure that we can’t even imagine all of the great things that are going to be happening there. ALSO, PLEASE DONATE WHATEVER YOU CAN TO THIS WORLD CLASS VENUE IN THE MAKING. EVERY LITTLE BIT HELPS!! ) Sooooo, the first meeting of MP&C at The Space!! I wanted to be there for this mildly momentous occasion, being a first time sort of thing, and when I saw that an old friend from Dayton was going to be presenting, I was sold. She is a community leader over there, and while we were never terribly close, we were always friendly and I considered her a trusted person to call upon.
I worked up the courage to go and talk to her after class (I sometimes get nervous when I haven’t seen somebody in a long while). Of course there was nothing that I should have been worrying about, which I realized as soon as she reached out for a hug with a big smile on her face. She gave me a few updates on the goings-on on that side of the state. After the niceties, I started opening up a little. “I miss Dayton so much. It was my home. It was where I first found kink.” I think I may have actually teared up a little when I was saying it.
And so begins a small tale of some personal history….
I grew up in the ‘burbs of Columbus, and moved to the Dayton area to attend college. Sometime in the last half of my time in school I was dating a guy who turned out to have an interest in something I’d been curious about for a while - BDSM. We started exploring that side of ourselves, and eventually at my urging, we went to a munch that was hosted by the old Fightclub Ohio. After attending a few of their social outings, we were eventually asked to go to parties. Unfortunately we never made it because that boyfriend and I broke up before getting the chance. I was left wondering if I would ever get in touch with that community or my submissive self again.
A year or so later, I found what I thought might be an “in”. Now I know it’s sounds silly, but I am sometimes a very shy person (no one believes me, but you guys don’t know the anxiety going through my head at times. Thankfully I deal with that shit pretty effectively). I was exponentially even *more* shy during college. As a way to weasel into the community, I decided that for my round of cultural anthropology classes (my minor in school) I was going to study the subculture that I had secret interests in. I got on good ol’ Yahoo! and did a search: “Dayton, Ohio and BDSM”. After filtering through a sea of advertisements for smut and escort services I found *one* link that looked like it might work: “Sterling Shadow Club”. I very nervously shot off an email to an address that I found on the site, explaining that I was an anthropology student looking to study a local subculture, and asking if we could please meet to discuss the possibility of interviewing “informants” one on one and *potentially* observing gatherings. The Leatherman who replied was very cordial, and we set up a time to meet at a restaurant for lunch. Upon meeting, I explained the scope of my research, but also let him know that I had personal interests in the lifestyle. While in an ethnographical sense this is sometimes frowned upon, I wanted to be upfront with him about it. He agreed to do a few interviews with me and allow me to interview his slave, and after getting to know me better perhaps contact another community leader to let me attend a few of their munches. I did end up going to those, as well as one educational/discussion group gathering. I met a lot of folks, and felt a very warm sense of welcome. I was told that when my coursework was complete that I was welcome back whenever I felt like coming out.
I consider myself so lucky to have been embraced by these Leatherfolk. My first contact and his slave made a huge impact upon me and the way that I approach my interactions in the community, life in general, and myself through introspection. I wish that I could tell him, but unfortunately he passed away a few years ago before I got the chance to do so. I hope that I will have the opportunity to tell his former slave someday. Crap, I’m tearing up a little as I’m writing this....
Apparently I tear up a lot.
The crowd that I hung out with in Dayton shifted over time. I started regularly going to The Prestige Group events. To a large degree I found myself as a kinkster by attending those gatherings, meeting some amazing new people and finding new likes. I created a slosh in Dayton as an additional offering next to the munches run by the re-imagined Sterling Shadow Continuum. These were the times in which I got to know the presenter/leader mentioned above. A couple years after starting the slosh my life changed in some huge ways and I moved to Columbus, leaving all of those memories, those people, and that place behind.
So we’re back to me missing Dayton. “It was my home. It was where I first found kink.” I am lucky that I still get to connect with some folks out there from time to time, and I am extremely blessed to now live in a vibrant community like Columbus. But I will always cherish my time in southwest Ohio, where my lifestyle roots lie.