TEASE: the Aftermath

in

Forward

Last weekend I was at TEASE up in Ontario. I had an amazing time there. I met a whole bunch of wonderful people, and I saw and did a lot of really fun and hot things.

But that's not why I'm writing this.

The other thing that happened was that I was absolutely flooded with information. I learned a lot about activities and techniques, of course - that was to be expected with three days of workshops and plenty of practice time. More importantly, I learned a lot about myself, and a lot about us - the society we have created here and in the world at large.

It's taken me all week, but (if you'll pardon the expression) the constipation that resulted from ingesting all of that at once is now beginning to loosen up.

In an effort to move things along more quickly (I've been useless at work this week, and that's problematic for other reasons), I've decided to write down the major points even as they're only half formed, and hope that doing so provides both the release that my brain needs and some idea of where next to go with it.

Thoughts About Me

The environment at TEASE is pretty amazing. If anyone had told me ahead of time that this was a place where you could be yourself truly without fear of being judged, I'm not sure I would've believed it possible. Somehow, the people there make it happen, and, maybe only because I knew a total of three people, I made the choice to trust in TEASE and put the masks away.

Having never before been given the opportunity to be myself, I'll admit that I was as curious as anyone else who I would turn out to be.

Self-analysis, of course, is difficult. If it weren't, I suspect there'd be a whole lot more of it going on. I didn't want to miss out on learning about myself, but I also didn't want to miss out on anything else.

One of the tricks I use is self-misdirection. It turns out that your brain is very gullible when you're the one fooling it. Where normally the part of your brain that's interested in something is listening attentively, simply ignore it and then go back later and infer from the results.

For example, at one point I was being auctioned and was asked if I was straight or if I also played with men (I'm pretty sure the auctioneer had by then realized that I was okay with playing with women). The part of my brain that was wondering what I'd say to that pretty much completely ignored my own response, and let it just happen honestly and naturally.

It turned out to be a shrug, to which the auctioneer said something along the lines of "So, open to play with women and with men who like being treated with indifference."

I was actually fairly proud of that when I thought back on it, because, as open minded as I am, there had always been a fear that the disgust response toward male homosexuality that had been instilled in me as a kid was not, in fact, gone. Disgust is not the opposite of excitement - indifference is the opposite of excitement.

So, as far as I can tell, I'm pretty much straight and not a homophobe. Excellent.

For almost the entire weekend, I was able to keep my fascination with how I was reacting to things at bay, and just let me happen. Here's some of what else I learned:

  • My technique is pretty good at this point with floggers and sensation toys, but I still need to work more on flow and changes in intensity. I still forget that using a new toy at the same intensity can be just as bad as ramping up pain too quickly.
  • "I want to use everything in my bag." is not a great scene recipe. Change things up, sure, but when there's a groove, don't kill it because there's another flogger on the table you haven't used yet.
  • Most of what's likely to go on at a play party, I want to be a top for. The 50/50 is more bedroom oriented.
  • The crucifixion scene that I watched turned out to be an emotional minefield for me. I still need to sort that one out, but it doesn't seem to have anything to do with religion at least.
  • The power of human touch should never be underestimated before, during and after a scene.
  • Human drumming, though unlikely to foster an endorphin high, is at least seventeen kinds of excellent.

Thoughts About Us

We here in Boston always seem to be doing a dance. It is subtle and nuanced. It is a sort of code that we get from each other over time, and with it we learn who might be open to something along those lines. It is discreet and indirect. It is flirtatious. It is exhausting to me.

The problem with flirtation in our local culture is that it is assumed to be only partly true. "Are you going to spank me now?", said in a little girl voice is as likely to be sarcasm as it is an invitation. What bothers me the most, I think, is that I find myself doing it too - sending messages mixed enough that I'm not sure of my own intent.

I don't have a solution. I write it here as a reminder to myself and perhaps a notice to friends that I may give it up entirely in favor of directness. Should that happen, and at any point it makes you uncomfortable, I encourage you to say so. Being more open and direct does not mean I intend to be impolite or to become a douchebag, and I trust that my friends here would point out to me if comfort lines were unintentionally crossed.

The other thing that I don't yet have a solution for is mentoring. From what I understand, we're not the only region with this problem, but speaking both as a person that wants to continue to learn and improve and as a person that may have some insights to give others, it's something that needs to happen. It should, in fact, be the first or second conversation a person has upon entering any one of the excellent organizations that we have here.

If there is, in fact, a mentoring program somewhere, by all means tell me about it, and by all means, stop hiding it!

Yes, we can absolutely learn techniques in the many classes offered by NELA, NEDS, BinB, etc., but having a mentor is a very different thing, and I think it's something that we can all benefit from.

I see three possible scenarios for mentoring in Boston:

  • All or most of the major groups start or improve programs. This, in my mind, is the ideal, especially if the coordinators for each of the groups work together to see what's working, what's not, and what to try next. I recognize that this would take a huge committment on the part of the community as a whole, because I think most of the people who'd be great as mentors are also members of multiple organizations, so who to work for could become an issue. The upside is that everyone coming in could be exposed to mentoring pretty early.
  • One or two of the groups start programs. This is similar, except that in order to be as wide-reaching, the groups that don't start programs ought to be referring new members to the other groups that do. This seems like it'd be easier to implement, but would have a greater potential to breed a civil war, which is something I have no interest in.
  • An entirely new group starts a program. This is the easiest to implement, as it would really only take one highly motivated individual with some friends who are willing to mentor. At the same time, it's a lot harder to gauge what the overall community response would be. Frankly, we've got kind of a lot of groups here already, and it seems a little silly to add another one rather than work within one of the existing groups to make it happen.

Afterword

So yeah, there's kind of a lot of stuff here all at once. Part of the reason I wrote this here, and not in notebook or something is that I'm hoping to inspire feedback and - heaven forbid - maybe even some discussion.

So, what say you?