Sep 242015
 

By Bushido Bard

On a warm Saturday afternoon, Master Tallen gifted those attending the Leather Perspectives presentation the tale of his Leather Life. His life, Leather and otherwise, was laid before the audience for their examination. This was a very frank and open discussion on the ups and downs he experienced so far in his life. His accomplishments have earned him fame, mostly good and sometimes bad, but there were important lessons learned. Master Tallen shared life changing events and wonderful reminders of why we live the life we do.

At a young age Master Tallen realized he was homosexual but given where he was living and the culture he never expressed his feelings until later. After high school he joined the United States Marines and this awakened in him a love and desire for discipline and regimentation. Little did he realize how this experience would shape his future and life! Being stationed in Hawaii he began to explore his sexuality. He commented, “This was before ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ but as long as you didn’t cause a fuss nobody seemed to care.” His tour soon ended however and he returned to the states; the door was opened but the journey had just begun!

“Ironically”, he smiled as he spoke, “I met my wife at a gay bar.” Together they have two daughters but unfortunately the marriage ended after a while. It was at this time that Master Tallen decided he would not keep up appearances and as he put it, “abandoned the ‘straight life’”. For a few years he began a real soul-searching that made him realize that he was missing something in is life. He knew he loved the control and discipline of the military but he was unsure how to find this in his civilian life. His search continued…

Like many of us, the Internet changed his life as he discovered the life and concept of Master/slave relationships. Immediately he was intrigued and believed that this was just what he was looking for! More research was conducted and he discovered Leather and the various relationships therein. He gave a thoughtful nod and gave a wide grin when he said, “Soon I was contacting all kinds ‘Masters’ looking for a relationship; boy, I found some real doosies…” In one particular instance he talked and decided to meet with a master, (lower-case letter on purpose), who turned out to be the worst master he had ever encountered. It was a case where the man had no money, or any kind of life and just used Master Tallen’s resources selfishly. “Lesson learned”, he said as he shook his head gratefully.

After a few relationships, that left much to be desired from the Masters, meant moving to other states, and even required starting life over again, Master Tallen resolved to learn more about Leather and even becoming a Top. With much enthusiasm he said, “I became motivated; if I couldn’t find a Master worth a damn, I’d become the Master!” While researching the whats and wherefores of being a Top and/or Master he tasted his first spark of control; the Top’s high. He found it greatly to his liking and this encouraged him to find his first slave. A new era had begun!
Master Tallen attended a myriad of conventions with his new slave and even helped create some of the events that exist today. With so many volunteering jobs and other work towards assisting the community, it was time to step away for a break; but not for too long… After much research and delving deep into countless symbols and their numerous meanings, he developed a visual concept of the Master/slave relationship; something very deep and personal to him. Part of this originated from his desire to create a sign or flag for inspiration and to be a source of pride. The end result is apparent for all in the community to see, but it was not universally accepted at first.

The familiar flag that contains red lines on a black field with a white border was an accomplishment that resulted in a mixed reception. Although there were some in the community that mocked Master Tallen for his audacity to create something like this, it has stood the test of time. Today, the Master/slave flag is worn by many people in the community and it is an accepted symbol of Leather and BDSM activities.

Unfortunately, Master Tallen’s life took a very dramatic and different turn when he suffered from an accident in which he fell from a ladder. Part of the recovery locked him to a wheelchair for an indefinite amount of time. Master Tallen said in a somber voice, “Crisis of identity doesn’t even begin to describe it.” He had to re-evaluate his role with regards to his changed physical condition and relationships. He asked the audience, “How can you still be a Master if you’re sitting and needing constant care?”

This was the greatest trial he experienced in his life and today he is forever thankful for those people, including his current slave, who helped him recover. His slave attended to his every need and in such a way that Master Tallen was in control. Together, they modified their relationship so that they maintained their previous protocols. It was a testament to the dedication that they had for each other. This injury certainly kept his activities low; he eventually recovered to the point that he could discard the wheelchair!

Most recently Master Tallen has fought to preserve the International Puppy and Trainer Contest and this is but one of his many pursuits. Today he enjoys the full life he has with his Leather family and biological family. In his closing words he commented that life is constant change and that burnout is common and expected in this life. He expressed to hold on to what matters to you and follow your heart. After his presentation he ended with these words of wisdom, “Follow your heart, but just be smart!”

Sep 152015
 
MizLilly is perhaps best known for her leadership role in the gateway Texas organization, Touch
Leather, though she has also been a counselor, a columnist, and presenter on many aspects of what
it is that we do.

1. What first brought you to NLA?

I found NLA in 2000, in Austin Texas. NLA-Austin was where I found a sense of home, of welcome, of acceptance. I was given friendship; reminded that others had come before me and it is honorable to remember those struggles and to not let them go unsupported. I also came to realize that there are still things that must be addressed, and that we can still make changes in our lifestyle & the laws that effect them.

2. What is it about NLA that makes it feel like home to you?

My grandfather, father and spouse were all veterans. The expectations of service, honor, integrity, loyalty, accountability ~ these things felt familiar and resonated with us. I felt accepted, challenged and part of something with a purpose.
3. If pressed, I’d identify myself as?
A Leatherwoman, a loyal friend, passionate, continually growing and willing to have personal conversations personally.

4. Define what “Leather” is to you?
It is a code that I live by, a family that I love in, and a part of my soul. It is traditions and graciousness and raunchy and steamy. It is physical and feasting and experiencing life from the soul. It is dependability and service. It is brotherhood and safe places. It is exploration and a journey. It has a history and a future and yet somehow it is about celebrating what we have in the present.
5. What are your top 3 Leather/kink passions?
SM (the physical expression with partners), service (the daily acts of giving back), the traditions ( I am passionate about our history)

6. What are your top 3 Vanilla passions?

Reading, education, walking

7. What was your first experience with Leather?
(chuckle) That is a personal conversation.
8. What is your most memorable Leather moment?
Saying goodbye- to a great man and friend, and former President of our group, as he lay in the hospital preparing to pass beyond the veil. Raging at a system that did not support this person who was younger than I, and a universe who would take such a wonderful man away from us…and having him look at me with such love and compassion-and tell me to love…because that was what was important.
9. What do you feel NLA is doing well?
I feel that accepting newcomers is a good thing. Teaching the aspects of Leather that help one engage in our Community as well as the self expression of their kinks and fetishes is a good thing.

10. What changes would you like to see in NLA?
More investment by International. More unity within the chapters. More cross-club support. At one point I had the sad opportunity to watch a club lose a President and a Secretary and founder in it’s mourning and loss-without one bit of help from the mother chapter. That was not Leather to me. No club should experience that loss without brother clubs coming to support the members, hold them and help them find their paths again. Now the clubs wither away one by one because they feel alone and unneeded. What would happen if we began to reach out to each other within the NLA circle could only be an edifying thing
Sep 082015
 

by Bushido_Bard

Dan Perry opened the discussion by simply asking, “What is community? What’s it mean?” Audience participation and responses were welcomed as Dan poled everyone in attendance. Truly, to all of us, what makes a community? Is it as simple as everyone under one umbrella? Is it a subset of something greater? How do you define a community? Reminding us of the roots of modern Leather, Dan suggested that the soldiers returning from World War 2 were the first community. Where did it go from there?

As the years went by, the Leather Community saw its ups and downs but as groups became larger the sense of togetherness seemed to fade. Dan posed another question, “As we get larger, our closeness goes away, and we are left wondering how do we retain our sense of community.” As one group becomes larger, because more like-minded people gather around it, sometimes subsets begin to form. While this is not necessarily a bad thing it does begin to perhaps dilute the whole. Or does it? Dan finished his question then added, “We form different groups because people want a “tighter” group. When this happens we sometimes become ‘cliquish’ and this is not good.”

Although community can mean different things to different people we still strive to uphold the whole. This can lead to good and bad things… “We are quick to start something new because a need is perceived. However, we are reluctant to end them when perhaps the need is no longer there”, he pointed out. Case-in-point: If a group was begun several years ago to address an issue but the issue no longer persists, does the group need to continue out of obligation?

Can our umbrella of acceptance get too large or can we always separate into smaller organizations? As the years rolled on our “umbrella” became larger. Dan said poignantly, “AIDS and other common enemies brought many folks together and our umbrella became larger.” Whereas before many organizations were private and very secretive, now they were larger and sought different areas large enough to house them. As this was occurring our sense of community was being tested in new ways. According to Hardy Haberman, “Today we have numbers, but do we really have strength in numbers?”

One of the largest reasons for forming a community was to protect ourselves from outside enemies. Although, one may argue that in today’s society BDSM, Homosexuality, or Kink in general is more accepted, for many years these things would get you arrested or worse. So now that we have come together and formed sub-cultures do we still have one defining characteristic? Dan offered, “We once had one thing that united us, but now it seems that everyone in their separate groups has their own thing.” Perhaps from the joining together we have lost something that united us across several boundaries.

When we were smaller and tighter, we could easily know each other and encourage or discourage activities. As any group or community begins to grow you lose a level of intimacy that exists so easily with just a few. This problem is expressed in many aspects of our culture; just look at the rise of mega-churches. We are all united but still we identify and belong to other banners. How do we regulate ourselves? When there are 20 people in a group it is easy to keep tabs, watch others, and protect ourselves. Dan continued, “There was a time when NLA Dallas was just a small group of people. Now we are at over 100 members.”

How do we as a community handle issues or problems when our umbrella is so large? In one example Dan told of a group of puppies that were randomly interacting with people and biting them. When questioned, the puppies merely replied that they were dogs…what did you expect? With the age of the Internet we are gaining new friends but also losing our sense of respecting our community. Our umbrella has become so large and our sub cultures so varied that we are having trouble keeping up.

So what is a community? From where we started and where we are now, how do we prepare for our future? Many questions were asked by Dan and the answers were often never the same. Discussions could have lasted for far longer but it was important that we become aware of our sense of community. Do we need all these sub-groups or has their original purpose been served? Is it time to collapse the umbrella of community to a more manageable size? Ultimately, you must decide how you view community and how to serve it.

Aug 252015
 

Well, you decide. This coming Tuesday, September 1st, put your money to the vote and support the charitable cause you think needs our help. The 5th Annual NTXCC Fall Frolick Event is coming up the weekend of November 20-22. For the past two years the silent auction held during Fall Frolick has raised well over $6400 for North Texas Charities. The beneficiaries of those monies are chosen by the member clubs of NTXCC. One charity in Tarrant county and one in Dallas county.

 

NLA gets to vote for their choice for the Dallas county charity. Whichever one wins your support will be championed by your NLA Rep at the NTXCC Board Meeting when all of the various reps and the Board itself votes on the two recipient charities for this year’s Fall Frolick Silent Auction. Remember, 100% of the proceeds from the auction is divided between the two and NTXCC adds $1000 to each. Last year that was right at $1,652 each!

 

Here are the nominees put forth at the last General Membership Meeting:

 

1) Youth First Texas: Founded in 1999 with the sole mission of helping the more than 50,000 estimated LGBTQ youth within the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex. This 501c3 nonprofit provides a mentors program, life coaching services, Email-Pals peer support group, youth leadership programs, computer training labs, recreational programs and social events, not to mention multiple support groups including Latino, young women, and high-school groups.

Find out more at: www.YouthFirstTexas.com

 

2) Greg Dollgener Memorial Aids Fund (GDMAF, Inc): Since 1996, GDMAF has assisted over 1,500 people using more than $300,000 to meet such needs as rent, medication co-pays, utility bills, and various emergency payments. Most of those helped are on Social Security programs and/or living on low, fixed incomes that cannot meet their needs. For them, life’s unexpected emergencies can be catastrophic and lead to homelessness.

Discover how you can help at: www.gdmaf.org

 

3) Resource Center Dallas: Starting in 1983 the Resource Center had provided programs to LGBT individuals and critical assistance to people affected by HIV/AIDS. The Center is proud of its commitment to and delivery of critical resources to those needing help during difficult times. Through fundraising, outreach programs, and community activism the Center has been a beacon of hope for the LGBT community.

See more of the many opportunities at: www.myresourcecenter.org

 

4) Sharon St Cyr Fund, Inc (SSC Fund): The fund began in 2009 to bring awareness to the deaf and hearing-impaired community. Their mission is that together, with the community, the SSC Fund will create different programs to raise funds to provide hearing aids for hearing-impaired individuals and provide grants to organizations for ASL interpreting services for the deaf and hard of hearing community.

To learn about SSC go to: www.sscfund.com

 

How do you get to vote for the one you would like to receive this year’s funds? There will be four buckets at check in. Each will be labeled with one of the four charities and every cash bill you put in is 1 vote. So, $1 = 1 vote and $10 = 10 votes. The winner will be announced before the end of the GM that night. I will have $1’s if anybody needs change.

 

All the funds raised by your votes will go to buy at least one basket of goodies to go into the silent auction in the name of NLA-Dallas. If there is enough there can be two or more baskets it all depends on your generosity. Any monies not spent on the basket(s) will go directly into the recipient fund to be split between this year’s charities.

 

Thank you all for your generous Leather hearts.

~Boy Leo

Jan 212015
 
Come Warm up those cold winter nights!
What: Bound Rose
When:February 4, 2015
Time: 7pm -10pm
Where: The Sanctuary
Cost: $5/Sanctuary members $15 for every one else
Why: To educate, learn, share and grow BDSM skills.
Who: Ms Tressa (see class description and bio below)
*Bound Rose invites you to discover the true nature of fire play with MsTressa as she demonstrates and educates various aspects of scening with fire. Additionally, MsTressa will also go into further detail regarding fire safety, procuring and storing implements, and fire play-related aftercare.*
Agenda:
7-8 social/eating Please bring something to share.
8-9 demo/learning hands on
9-10 Play allowed in back dungeon. Dungeon rules and etiquette apply. Front dungeon will be lighted to encourage learning and practicing skills.
Please RSVP. Click on link below or contact MstsBoots
Biography
Although Ms Tressa explored the fringes of kink for many years prior, it was not until Fall of 2010 that at the urging of a dear friend she began to explore kink in its entirety. She successfully completed the Dallas Mentors Program in December 2011, and as part of that process gained a deeper understanding and acceptance of herself as both a dominant and sadist. Since then, she has developed a lasting connection to the Dallas/Ft.Worth kink community and has established herself as both a leader and educator. Ms Tressa is a founding member and leader of two groups in the D/FW area. Plano Area Kinksters is a small group of locals enjoying generic kink social activities. Keepers of the Sacred Flame is dedicated to the education and experience of fire play in all its various forms.
The Art of Fire Play
Fire is one of the most alluring and yet frightening forces of nature, and it is inherent that one fears fire for its destructiveness. Fire burns, fire devours, and still it inspires. In Greek mythology, Prometheus gave fire to humanity, allowing it to flourish and survive. Fire in its true form is merely the combustion of a propellant in such a way that energy is expelled in the form of heat and light as a material is consumed.
Most people new to play fear fire because of its destructive nature, and those fears can be well warranted. But in truth, fire in the hands of an experienced fire player can be both exciting, sensual, erotic, and edgy.
Dec 162014
 

Did you know that NLA Dallas has a Facebook page? We do you can follow the link below to like it and keep up to date with Leather and Kink news from all over.

 

https://www.facebook.com/NLADallasTX

Oct 162014
 

Hello! We are conducting research into the political attitudes,
identities, and political behaviors of sexual minority groups in the
United States. If you identify as a member of any (or all) of the BDSM,
Leather, or Puppy Play communities, please take a moment to take our
surveys. The links to all surveys are below. Simply type each link into a
web browser (on your computer, tablet, or smartphone) to begin! Each
group has two surveys – one is multiple choice and one has open ended
questions where you can express yourself. You may take the surveys for
any group that you think you belong to. If you identify with more than
one group, take the surveys for each one!

Your answers are completely anonymous. We have no way of connecting you to
your answers. Our IRB approval number at UC Irvine is 2014-1273. Feel free
to pass these links along to any other members of these groups you think
might be interested or to post these links on any group Facebook pages
that would allow it.

About the study: We are exploring the political attitudes and political
behavior of several sexual minority groups in the United States. In
addition to the BDSM, Leather, and Puppy Play communities, we also
include the polyamory community, Furries, and nudists/naturism in our
research. We are writing a book about these currently overlooked
communities.

About us: Tony Smith (casmith@uci.edu) is an associate professor of
political science at the University of California – Irvine and Shawn
Schulenberg (schulenberg@marshall.edu) is an associate professor of
political science at Marshall University.

SURVEY LINKS

_________________________________________________________________

LEATHER

You are being asked to participate in a research study to explore the
political attitudes and political activities of the leather community.
There are two surveys to complete. Both are voluntary and anonymous, and
together they should take no longer than ten minutes to complete.

Leather Open-Ended Questions: http://tinyurl.com/LeatherOE

Leather Pew Public Opinion: http://tinyurl.com/LeatherPO

_________________________________________________________________

BDSM

You are being asked to participate in a research study to explore the
political attitudes and political activities of the BDSM community. There
are two surveys to complete. Both are voluntary and anonymous, and
together they should take no longer than ten minutes to complete.

BDSM Open-Ended Questions: http://tinyurl.com/BDSMOE

BDSM Pew Public Opinion: http://tinyurl.com/BDSMPO

_________________________________________________________________

PUPPY PLAY

You are being asked to participate in a research study to explore the
political attitudes and political activities of the puppy play community.
There are two surveys to complete. Both are voluntary and anonymous, and
together they should take no longer than ten minutes to complete.

Puppy Play Open-Ended Questions: http://tinyurl.com/PuppyPlayOE

Puppy Play Pew Public Opinion: http://tinyurl.com/PuppyPlayPO

Jun 272014
 

NLA Dallas members,

Next month is our annual elections. If you have ever thought about running for a position now is the time.

We have the following positions open:

Male Co – Chair – we have one nominee- Neko

Treasurer

Social Chair

Programs – we have one nominee – koneko

Marketing- we have one nominee – Sharon

5 member At Large positions – we have three nominees – McLanahan, TC and Griff

Please send your nominations and introduction letters to myself and Neko. Below are the job descriptions.

Respects in Leather,
Debi and Neko

8. Roles and Responsibilities of the EC Members

8.1. Members-at-Large [MaL]:

8.1.1.  There will be one elected Member-at-Large position on the EC for each full count of 25 Chapter members. The number of Members-at-Large to be elected for the incoming EC is determined by the number of general members at the time of nominations each June prior to the election in July.
8.1.2.  The Members-at-Large are spokespersons for the general membership and assist with special projects on the EC and usually are assigned to also assist specific EC members such as the Membership Chair, Program Chair, NewsLeather Editor, Treasurer, and/or Social Chair.
8.1.3.  Each Member-at-Large shall have the responsibility to attend all Executive Committee and General Membership meetings for NLA-Dallas. Members-at-Large will assist those positions as designated by the Executive Committee. Members-at-Large will participate in special projects or tasks as determined by the Executive Committee or recommended by the general membership and approved by the Executive Committee.
8.2 Co Chair:8.2.1.  The Co-Chairs shall have the responsibility to attend all Executive Committee and General Membership meetings for NLA-Dallas.

8.2.2.  The Co-Chairs shall be the Chief Executives of the Chapter, and as such, are the official spokespersons for the Chapter.

8.2.3.  Subject to such delegations of authority and responsibility as the Co-Chairs may choose to make, and to such limitations or modifications as may be imposed by the membership or these Policies, the Co- Chairs shall preside at all meetings of the Executive Committee and of the General Membership and shall be in charge of the general management of the affairs of the Chapter; including the implementation and enforcement of all orders, resolutions, and other legislation enacted by the membership.

8.2.4.  One and/or both Co-Chairs shall serve as ex-officio members of all committees of the Chapter.

8.2.5.  The Co-Chairs shall perform all the duties incident to the office and such other duties as may, from time-to-time, be designated by the Executive Committee or the membership.
8.3. Treasurer:
8.3.1.  The Treasurer shall have the responsibility to attend all Executive Committee and General Membership meetings for NLA-Dallas.
8.3.2.  Subject to requirements of law and such assignments, and instructions and limitations imposed by the membership, the Treasurer shall have care and custody of all funds and securities of the Club in such bank or other institution as the Executive Committee may direct.
8.3.3.  The Treasurer shall keep full and accurate accounts of receipts and disbursements, issue bills for all monies owed to the Chapter, render regular or special reports on the financial state and affairs of the Chapter as the Executive Committee, or the membership may direct, and coordinate the financial affairs of the Chapter as required by law and imposed by the Executive Committee and the membership.
8.3.4.  Checks, drafts, notes and orders for payment of monies subject to such delegations, limitations, conditions, and requirements upon the power to so sign, authorized, or imposed by the Executive Committee or the membership, shall only be signed by one of the two co-chairs and the treasurer.

8.6 Program Chair:

8.6.1.  The Program Chair shall have the responsibility to attend all Executive Committee and General Membership meetings for NLA-Dallas.

8.6.2.  Subject to such limitations or modifications as may be imposed by the membership or these Policies, the Program Chair or designee(s) shall have the responsibility for planning, staffing, and supervision of regularly scheduled monthly meetings and advanced workshops,

8.6.3.  shall organize instruction in SM safety;
8.6.4.  shall, either personally or through delegation, be responsible for the planning and the execution of special educational events. .

8.7 Social Chair:

8.7.1.  The Social Chair shall have the responsibility to attend all Executive Committee and General Membership meetings for NLA-Dallas.

8.7.2.  Subject to such limitations or modifications as may be imposed by the membership or these bylaws, the Social Chair or designee(s) shall have the responsibility for planning, staffing, and supervision of regularly scheduled social events; such as dinner after monthly meetings, summer socials, Halloween Howl, and the December Holiday Party,
8.7.3.  shall prepare event schedules for approval by the Executive Committee and membership;
8.7.4.  shall, either personally or through delegation, be responsible for the planning and the execution of special events, and shall be responsible for media relations.

8.10. Marketing Director

8.10.1.  Is an Officer and member of the EC, and shall attend all EC and general membership meetings

8.10.2.  Recruits and manages any required number of assistants are recommended, e.g. for, Technical and Artistic, as well as for general work. Assistants should include MAL’s and general members who volunteer.

8.10.3. Creates a marketing plan and budget for NLA-D, including event and club messaging, for outreach to the community and other clubs, and for marketing of activities to the membership and the community as appropriate

8.10.4. Creates marketing materials. I.e., ads, cards, flyers, posters, pins, patches, t-shirts, etc. to support the marketing plan.

8.10.5. Handles buying and selling of ad space. I.e., placing ads in run books, publications and websites, and selling the ad space for the Newsleather, as called for in the marketing plan

8.10.6.  Distributes marketing materials. I.e., cards, flyers, posters, etc. per the marketing plan

8.10.7.  For the annual Pride Parade, primary responsibility for the float decoration and marketing pieces (beads and marketing pieces), works with Social Director to do event registration and recruits volunteers.8.10.8. Supports Co-chairs for media relations.
May 202014
 

What is a Leather Family?

An Afternoon with Master Jim, slave marsha, and Sir Cougar

By: Bushido Bard

Are all leather families the same? Is it required that everyone is poly? How do you define your leather family? To answer these questions I listened to the presentation given by Master Jim, slave Marsha, and Sir Cougar. Living in an M/s relationship, for over fifteen years together, Master Jim and slave Marsha recently included Sir Cougar in their family. Regardless of who joins, when you’re part of the family, you’re family. These three merged their leather journeys into the same path on December 31st, 2006.

So what makes a leather family? “First and foremost” they said, “you must consider what you define as family.” Ask yourself, what works best for you? Throughout the presentation we were told that no one way works for everyone; you and your family adapt and grow together. Perhaps the most important advice or lesson they have learned comes from the term “Ohana”. In the Hawaiian culture the word or phrase Ohana means a family bound together and not necessarily by blood. To Master Jim, slave Marsha, and Sir Cougar, this is not merely a simple term; it is a basis for their union.

Master Jim identifies as a father-figure or Daddy archetype; both the light and the dark aspects. He is considered the head or Master of the family with slave Marsha in service to him while Sir Cougar is in service to the family. Slave Marsha identifies as a FEM slave in service to her Master Jim and Sir Cougar’s girl. Her role in the family is to be the heart and emotion of the family; the keeper of the flame. Sir Cougar, a proud Marine, identifies as a leather butch and acts as the guardian of the family. Together these two women and one man serve each other and the family. To give an example of one family dynamic, slave Marsha is married to Sir Cougar and they are monogamous to each other, while slave Marsha serves Master Jim. All three serve the family in their own way, but different relationships exist within the family as well.

When forming your leather family they could not stress enough patience. Slave Marsha often said, “Take your time and give serious thought to who you are adding.” Master Jim and slave Marsha were still in a M/s relationship for several years when Sir Cougar entered their lives. Master Jim pointed out, “To me, a leather family is a union of leather people who share the same philosophies, goals and even values.” Sir Cougar and slave Marsha spent a great amount of time together and even got married before Sir Cougar joined the family. When Sir Cougar joined the original dynamic didn’t change; the M/s relationship between Master Jim and slave Marsha remained. Sir Cougar serves the family in a hierarchal relationship in regards to the family.

Regardless of what hardships or issues the family faces what is most important is communication. From time to time a family meeting will be called to discuss matters. Decisions are reached by consensus and how it will affect the family overall. This is why it is important to add members slowly and with great thought. Everyone in the family has needs and for the family to thrive those needs must be addressed. Constant communication and as slave Marsha put it, “listening generously”, is how leather families can grow together and flourish. If you add members too quickly, or if the family becomes too large, any issues that arise become increasingly harder to adapt to. In their experience some people will decide to become a family too soon, or a large group of people decide to join without great thought to the future. All three of them said at different points, “Grow your family slowly!”

Regardless of anyone’s reasons for wanting to form a leather family it must be done with forethought and understanding. If a problem arises, other members must stand up to more responsibility or take over various tasks until the problem passes. Unity within a leather family comes from mutual respect and a willingness to sometimes sacrifice for others. Sometimes family members may have to depart for a time or they are incapable of contributing for a while. Chores and other responsibilities are passed to others until balance is restored.

As the afternoon drew to a close, the three presenters answered various questions but they always stressed beginning slowly and not rushing to decisions. Above all they repeated the importance of “Ohana” and its meaning to them. Ohana, to Master Jim, slave Marsha, and Sir Cougar, means a family that is not just by blood but also one in which no one is forgotten. That is how they define family. Before you start or join a leather family you must carefully consider how you define and how you treat family.