I had occasion today to enjoy a quiet moment in a hotel room high up above the city, idly gazing upon a broad swath of terrain from the cold blue of the Bay to the fog-lapped crests of Twin Peaks.
Meandering thoughts mostly disconnected…some deceptively so…were doing their best to distract me from remaining in the moment.
I was exhausted from the previous night. Thursday was the opening ceremony and show for the International Ms. Leather Contest, and I’d spearheaded a campaign to have my employer represented by sponsoring one of the many “Receptions” that this event offers to attendees. This is a fairly low-bandwidth way to do Community Outreach among the Leatherfolk, and as one of the handful of kinky people at my company, I’m in a unique position to cross the streams, so to speak, and have my day-job find its rightful place in the BDSM community.
However, I hadn’t anticipated being physically exhausted and having a voice-over recording that same day. It was going to be a pretty exhausting end to the week, and I was near tears several times on Thursday.
Ain’t nothing like being in the midst of Bloody Abdominal Injustice while having to haul around cases of water and wine and bags of snacks.
Thankfully I had a co-worker (Yaaaay!) who was also volunteering at IMsL, and she was there to keep things going.
Somehow, we did it.
Of course, we had everything set up and ready to go, free schwag primed, and then…no one showed up.
We sat for 10 minutes, 25 minutes.
A few people trickling in mentioned that the opening show was still going, and that many attendees were still there, and that was why the reception wasn’t filling up.
But when it did, boy howdy, did it ever!
Old habits die hard and I snapped into the smile-on-the-face-super-attentive-chatting-and-laughing-party-hostess…make sure the cheese is out and the chips are there and the bottles are open and there is enough wine and cheese and…and…and…
Fret not. We rocked it. Everyone was pleased.
Several people who had joined me for my recent class on “Race Play” were in attendance, and took a moment to tell me that not only did they think the class was important for the community, but that they were personally grateful, to me, for doing it.
Their timing couldn’t have been more critical, because not long before that I’d learned of some less-than-optimal reactions that some people are airing publicly.
People who don’t know me, who haven’t heard what I have to say. Or, in one case, someone who took my words and torqued them into a most damaging and fearsome misrepresentation of my reality.
And then we have the nauseating nadir: people who openly threaten violence if they ever were to walk into a play party and see a race play scene happening.
Pardon me if I take this shit personally.
It is tough enough to find play-partners because I am a shy freak and exceedingly picky, selective and intimidation resistant.
And now, am I supposed to tell a prospective play-partner than he or she may be subject to rude speech, threats of confrontation or even physical assault simply for playing with me?
Well, it is convenient then that my play partners tend to be really…really big! And trained in martial arts and strapped with stun guns…and with sharp pointy teeth…so there!
Yes, I acknowledge that it may be bluster and bullshit.
But the more I sort through this, the more I wonder what the fuck is up with my fellow perverts.
I wonder what about this not uncommon fantasy it so dangerous it drives people to threaten physical violence.
And I wonder why none of these people actually care to be open, and interact with me.
No, I know why.
It is easier to scream from your perch of fear than it is to try to settle in and confront your own demons on someone else’s terms. Because I think differently than others, and there is a chance you might see me as human, your Comfy Throne of Righteous Indignation now teeters on the edge of reason.
Is it so hard to empathize?
I’ll say it here and loud and clear.
If you hear some crazy bullshit about me, and you aren’t sure whether or not it is accurate, you know who the fucking authority on Mollena is?
OK, aside from God…
Ya, that would be me. I’ve been stuck in here for almost 40 years: I know my way around, and I give frequent tours. Stop and and have a cup and I’ll tell you what is going on, OK?
As I stood behind the improvised bar at the party, I managed (I think) to be welcoming and I smiled and introduced myself to as many people as I could. Many old friends were there, and it was lovely to catch up. Hopefully no one could hear my insides whimpering and feeling clumsydumboutofplacecrampyexhaustednervous and anxious.
At one point I overheard and adjacent conversation in bits and starts. There were several Black woman gazing at me intently, and I overheard “Mo Williams…” and “Yeah, she did the “Race Play Class…” and I tensed up. I couldn’t tell from their expressions what their take on that was.
We were formally introduced and they said that they were sorry to have missed the class, and that they had initially planned on coming to see it, but couldn’t make it. Thing is, they aren’t local. They were planning on coming form Canada to see the class. I confess I was very taken aback and nervous. I had wild fantasies of a squad of Black Domme Avenging Secret Agents sent to take me out for setting back the evolution of our people.
But that wasn’t quite it.
I chatted with them a bit, and as it was a rather loud and busy party, it wasn’t conducive to a more private discussion. But we made a date to chat for a bit the next day.
I hope to talk further, possibly, about working with these folks in terms of BDSM oriented education. They had done their homework and had some really provocative questions for me about my classes, my approach, myself.
Plus, damn, they are so cool!
But something else….it was a new sensation for me. With all due respect to all of my friends of all ethnic and racial backgrounds, something new has happened for me in the past few months. I am experiencing a strong redemption for me in having other Black Women REALLY SEE ME and tell me I am OK. I spent almost an hour re-connecting with a woman of many years acquaintance, and have a new respect for both of our struggles as outsiders among outsiders.
This is another benefit of being openly fucked up. Other people who feel like you, outlier, find you and share their struggles and then you aren’t alone anymore.
But this is new, feeling specifically connected with Black women. Women here in SF, in Arizona, in DC, in Chicago…and it is shocking to me. This is many, many years coming.
I have been consistently rejected by many of my “Sisters” for my entire life. Even the gossamer illusory kinship pf BDSM gave me nothing but chimeric rapport. And that heat mirage disappeared, all to often, when the going got weird.
I feared derision, scorn and rejection from other Black women.
That sucks. A lot.
How much of a fucking gift, and a startling one, to now find women who look like me meeting me in the eye and speaking with respect for my humanity.
This is…I don’t know precisely what to say.
I don’t know what it means yet. But it is changing my life.