In the past month-and-a-bit, I’ve touched down in San Francisco, found a studio apartment to rent, and began looking for some kind of employment. (I’m still looking, actually.)

My first BDSM event was a “Peer Rope Workshop” at the SF Citadel that Fivestar, an amazingly talented rigger and self-bondage enthusiast, alerted me to. Amid the hustle and bustle of looking at apartments and walking around the city I want to call home, I planned to go to the event and meet up with Fivestar there. I had no expectations, only the fears that my overall abysmal experiences in New York and Sydney would be repeated, and the hope that somehow, in some way, San Francisco would quickly prove itself better for me than these other places.

It’s early still but suffice it to say that after that first peer rope workshop a little over a month ago, while I still have hopes for finding a job, making something of a life, and finding friends here—and not “BDSM-scene friends,” most of whom I cannot actually stomach even for a single night—I’m pretty convinced that there simply is no BDSM mecca. San Francisco has a reputation for being one of the best places on the planet for freely expressing all kinds of sexuality, and yet I still feel like I belong on some other planet.

The SF Citadel is an unassuming building. After I entered, paying my $5 so-called “donation” (for seriously, why don’t people just call it a fucking admissions ticket), I joined the folks seated on a bunch of couches and talking amongst themselves. Introducing myself, I met a number of people, whose names I can’t remember and with whom I had no substantial conversation at all. I was doing my best not to begin drawing analogies between the people there and the people in New York I fled halfway across the world and now across the country to avoid.

Eventually the workshop was due to start and the facilitator ushered everyone downstairs.

“Does anybody not have a partner?” the facilitator asked after a very familiar introduction. I raised my hand. He pointed behind me at a woman sitting in the corner, also raising her hand. “Turn around and say hello!” he instructed me. So I did.

“Are you a bottom?” the single woman asked me almost immediately.

“Yes,” I nodded. “You, too?” She nodded in response. “Cool,” I said, feeling rather undeterred. “Want to switch off tying with me?” I offered.

The woman shook her head so vehemently I thought she might vomit on me in an instant. “Oh, no,” she declared. “I don’t do that.”

I wanted to ask why, but her response was so adamant that I lost any interest I might have had in speaking to her. I tried to keep talking anyway, asking her something or other about something I care so little about I can’t even remember what it was. As pairs of others began uncoiling rope around us, she went on to tell me about the venue’s pet dog and how the dog was her friend, a story I overheard earlier in the evening and which she later repeated yet again to a man who arrived some time after our conversation lulled. The woman quickly offered herself as “a victim” to this man, and she soon found herself in rope.

I hung around Fivestar for the rest of the evening, at first watching and later helping to spot Fivestar’s self-knee suspension. (As an aside, Fivestar really is quite amazing with a bunch of rope. Watching self-bondage has never been so inspirational before, but when I watch Fivestar, the evident technical ability I witness simply makes me want to get better with rope myself.) Ultimately, I was happy to get the opportunity to interact with Fivestar more, which was my initial reason and motivation for showing up in the first place, although much of what Fivestar was doing was just not within my understanding and thus somewhat frustrating.

As the evening progressed, the workshop facilitator called out to the group, “So, as you’re learning now, tying up boys and girls is different.”

In the next instant, a tall man wearing a ripped black t-shirt standing in front of a bound, nearly naked woman called back, “Yeah, girls are fun to tie up!” I breathed a deep sigh of frustration and rolled my eyes, and most of the rest of my head, with what was very probably too much volume. I admit, I passed judgement on this man then and I decided I don’t like him.

I’m well aware that the biggest factor in whether or not I have a good time at these things is myself. I’m not patient or forgiving, and I’m predisposed to think the worst about the BDSM community, and many of the people in it. It takes an immense amount of energy and constant vigilance and mindfulness on my part to put these painful things out of my mind in any situation, old or new, public or private. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t but, I swear, I always try.

Out one night with Sarah Dopp, who generously treated me to dinner and ice cream earlier that week, I started thinking about how I’d like to present myself in this new city, how to position myself professionally, socially, and so forth. I’m not sure. There’s a lot I want to do; I want to continue to produce content for MaleSubmissionArt.com, I want to keep blogging about sex and tech, I want to find people with whom I can collaborate on these interests, but I don’t really have a clear picture of what to do to make that happen.

Go to more of the various sexuality and other events, I suppose. Maybe write an open letter to Kink, Inc. and directly share my views and frustrations with them. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, I present you, dear reader, with a similar choice: you read this, and you look at me, and you will of course think whatever you will think. “That boy is bitter and jealous, negative and malicious,” for example. (I’m almost sure quite a number of people think this about me.) Even if you do think that, though, I hope you ask yourself why I am this way. How did someone who so eagerly and so passionately wants to improve the common perceptions of BDSM that he literally wears himself down to illness and poverty to do it (to be blunt, my bank balance hasn’t been this low since before I was a teenager), how did he become so put off by the things he sees in the BDSM community? And then, I hope, you will take the next step and ask yourself what you can do to change that for the people who have yet to be so tainted as I have become.

In all seriousness, I’m asking you to ask this of yourself for the children.

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