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.

Sep 012015
 

As we continue to get to know the people who make up NLA Dallas we next turn the spotlight on Master Neko who is currently serving as the Male Co-Chair. A big thanks to Neko for taking the time to answer our questions.

  1. What first brought you to NLA?

When I was first exploring the leather community in Dallas, I found NLA-Dallas. I found the people to be engaging, knowledgeable and friendly. I joined then and haven’t looked back. ​

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

​That it’s a great place to grow and connect with like-minded leather folk.​

  1. If pressed, I’d identify myself as…

​A kinky, bisexual Leather Master with a sadistic feral side. ​

  1. Define what “Leather” is to you?

​Leather to me is a path you must craft for yourself. My leather path is based in the Code of Bushido. Simply put, I believe my walk should consist of having courage to do what’s right, compassion for others, acting honorably, living in integrity, showing respect, living a sincere life, and always being loyal. My leather family is the House of Blood and Ice. We live by these words and what you’ll find on our leather vests and in our hearts.

  1. What are your top 3 Leather/kink passions?

​If we’re talking play, it’s rough body, rope, leather sex.​ And kink education – I love giving back to our community through educating. That’s three, right?​

  1. What are your top 3 Vanilla passions?

​Homemade, Vanilla Bean, and French (with an emphasis on French) – We’re talking ice

cream, right?​

  1. What was your first experience with Leather?

​When I was in my twenties, I was invited by a friend to a party. He warned me it was not the usual party atmosphere. Curious, I went. At the party, I saw the hostess was a tall woman, dripping in leather. She had a total of six people in leather gear and collars serving her and her guests. We met and I found her fascinating. She could engage on most any topic I brought up. She gave me a tour of her home, which included a large dungeon. I found myself in the midst of my first play party. As I began to ask questions about what I was seeing, she began explaining leather to me. She spoke of scenes, leather sex, and the heart of what she found in leather. It was the Code of Bushido. This resonated in me deeply. And thus, my first paw stepped on the leather path I dearly love.

  1. What is your most memorable Leather moment?

​Watching my kitten (slave) don her vest for the first time.​

  1. What do you feel NLA is doing well?

​I feel like we’re beginning to connect to our community again. We have an established bar night with a good number of members coming out. Beyond Vanilla is bigger than ever and growing every year. We’re participating in more activities outside of our own meetings and I’d like to see that continue. ​

  1. What changes would you like to see in NLA?

​I’d like to see the growth continue and more positivity return to our work. There are so many good things going on that we lose sight of when picking on something we don’t like in the organization. ​We’ve got good people doing good things here at NLA-D.