So I’m sitting in this little diner on Lorain Avenue that has a 3-egg $2.99 breakfast special. As I’m finishing my meal, I notice Tracy Harms taking off his jacket a number of booths down from me. It’s unmistakably him: broad-rimmed hat, huge sideburns, and he’s sitting with two other people. As I twist in my seat to get a better view, I see it’s the other Harms.

The Harms live in a gigantic house with some others in Ohio City, which they dubbed the Maker House. I met this family the first time I passed through Cleveland, in Fall of 2012. I had been hitchhiking and bus tripping across the country and ultimately found myself in a Cleveland suburb, with a message in my OkCupid inbox. It was from a housemate of theirs, and it read:

Okay, so I rarely send people first messages so please forgive me if this is a bit awkward :-) I saw you pop up in my quiver matches and noticed the username, which meant I had to click through and see that yes, you are the guy who posts one of the porn feeds I really like.

I’m really busy lately ([REDACTED]) but if you’re in Cleveland for a bit and want to grab a drink, let me know. I live in the Ohio City area, which is near downtown and has a lot of great places to go.

[***]-[***]-[****] (text works best I work [REDACTED] during the week)

Turns out the “porn feed” was none other than Male Submission Art, and the next day I found myself invited to a pot luck dinner at Maker House, where I met the Harms. We got on well. Conversation topics jumped from unschooling to progressive politics to sex-positivity to polyamory to ecologically sustainable living to esoteric programming to cryptocurrency (like Bitcoin) and back again. I eventually said my thanks and goodbyes, and continued on my vagabonding adventure.

That Summer, I was once again passing through Cleveland, so I pinged the Harms and their housemate and they generously let me crash on their sofa again. They even offered me my own room and invited me to stick around longer than I had planned to. Until, that is, after I tweeted this:

And I got this response:

Most of the conversation is pictured below (without Tracy Harms’ contributions, as he seems to have deleted his tweets in this thread like a coward unwilling to stand by what he says), but the long and short of it is that I expressed in public my conviction that the BDSM subculture should be destroyed, the Harms’ responded by telling me to leave their house, and so I left.

The Harms’ family and friends also dogpiled me on Facebook, trying to shame me for my language. I’ve dealt with tone arguments before and since. These didn’t silence me, either, so I blocked the bunch of those BDSM rape apologists on Facebook, too.

I spent a few days unsure of what I should do, but in that time I found an unexpected housesitting gig for a nice fellow in a nearby neighborhood while he was on a weekend bicycle trip. One of those nights, I wandered by an art gallery on a quiet side street. There was only one light on in the place. Someone was working by it, at an iMac near the back. It didn’t seem like an art gallery.

I peered through the window. The person working inside, a young woman by the looks of her, saw me. I waved at her. She came to open the door.

“Hi,” I said. “I’m sorry if I’m interrupting, I was just curious about what this place is.”

She let me in and gave me a mini-tour. I had stumbled on the offices of an eco-activist news organization and three hours later I had gotten the inside scoop of all the good intentions gone afoul with the organization. The woman, a wonderfully friendly and passionate advocate for industrial hemp named Lauren, shared a lot about her misgivings and frustrations, and I shared a lot of my own experience dealing with the inevitable corruption capitalistic endeavors succumb to. We spoke non-stop for three hours.

“Hey, do you know about Cleveland Givecamp?” she asked me near the end of the night.

“Ummm,” I said. In fact, I had heard about it. In the week while I stayed at Maker House, the Harms had mentioned it. Cleveland Givecamp bills itself as an opportunity for non-profits to benefit from the expertise of technologists, volunteers who band together in teams assigned to an IT need of a particular non-profit or NGO for a weekend. They want the public to think it’s just a good thing done by good people, when in fact it’s a capitalistic recruiting ground and job-fair in disguise. But I didn’t know that at the time when the Harms mentioned it, complaining with punctuated frustration that the project they had worked on in a previous Givecamp year wasn’t even being used by the organization for whom they bult it.

“It’s perfect for you,” Lauren continued, who then went on to explain Cleveland Givecamp to me in her own words. “Do you want to be on our team? I don’t know if it’s too late to get you in but I’ll ask!”

I smiled, mentally thanking the universe. “This is the sort of opportunity I’ve learned it’s important to say ‘yes’ to,” I said to Lauren, “so, yes. Count me in.”

In a whirlwind of very little sleep, a lot of coffee, free food, meeting other people, and staring at lines of code on my computer screen, over the next 48 hours the team I was on had created an initial version of the Cleveland Seedbank website, the first local initiative of The Hummingbird Project, powered by a custom plugin we adapted from a mishmash of other open source projects, called the WP-Seedbank plugin. Permaculture News called it “an open source community model to save seeds,” and it has quickly become one of the projects I’m most often associated with, alongside the Predator Alert Tools and various other utilities. Since the WP-Seedbank plugin is so lightweight, several people across the United States have begun using the plugin in their own communities, such as the Taos Seed Exchange, and I’ve gotten requests for more updates from a spattering of individuals who want help setting it up themselves. The plugin needs more work, but I’m extremely proud of having managed to play a vital role in the creation of it, and eager to continue vagabonding my way around the country helping interested and passionate people set it up. I only wish I had more downtime with reliable Internet access to hack on new versions; it’s difficult to get into a coding groove while living on the road in Wal-Mart parking lots.

Best of all, though, I met people that weekend who are becoming some of my closest friends, all because I stuck to my convictions and jettisoned the poisonous Harms and their BDSM rape apologism from my life. Let there be no mistake: BDSM’ers, with their dangerous assimilationist intentions, are morally and pragmatically reprehensible. Put simply: Dominants are rapists. If you need this explained to you, go back and read my excruciatingly detailed, copious postings on the matter.

So, that’s the backstory. Here’s what happened at the diner over my $2.99 breakfast special with comfortingly bad coffee.

My heart skipped a beat when I saw Tracy Harms sit down. I’m not particularly angry at any of them, but they do represent a kind of willful ignorance I want eradicated from the planet forever. A hundred options of what to do suddenly filled my head. Do I ignore them? Just leave? Have they noticed me here, too? What if they’re avoiding me on purpose? Should I confront them about what happened, make my point again? Make a scene? Should I send them an email and just link them to my detailed deconstructions of BDSM’s complicity in oppression culture?

Ultimately, however, I realized something obvious: this is in-person. We’re not on the Internet. And it’s not political. We’re in physical space, and it’s personal. Anger is for elsewhere.

I’ll just thank them. I paid for my meal at the register and, on the way back, stopped at the Harms’ table.

“Hello, Harmses,” I said with the best smile I could.

They looked up at me with no surprise at all. I figured they probably noticed me in my booth, earlier.

“Hello, maymay,” Tracy said.

“I don’t want to interrupt your meal too much,” I continued, “I just wanted to thank you for kicking me out of your house. It gave me a chance to go to Cleveland Givecamp, where we created the WP-Seedbank plugin that’s now being used in several cities across America.”

“Congratulations,” Angela said. She was not smiling. I didn’t care.

“Have a great day,” I said. I turned sharply, and walked out.

On the street, I smiled wider. Then I started laughing. Literally, laugh-out-loud, people-are-watching-me laughing. It felt wonderful. The sun was out. The air was warmer than it had been all week.

And I guess my point after all that is, well, dear BDSM’ers, “sex addiction experts,” and marketers (and rape apologists and capitalism apologists): kill yourselves.

And if you don’t, even though you probably should, well, they say the best revenge is a life well lived. I think they’re on to something. Revenge is real, and it’s valid, and you should get yours. But “revenge” is not a thing you can have; you can’t “get revenge” unless you know what you want.

A good result is a life well lived. I have that. But the best revenge, for me, is eradicating any belief that atrocious cultural values that BDSM’ers advocate are somehow okay in the minds of future societies. And I’m already doing that. I’m just doing it and living well in the process.

Yippee ki-yay, motherfrakkers.