LYNX: The “B” Word - A musing on Brotherhood

LYNX: The “B” Word - A musing on Brotherhood

from Recon News

09 March 2021

In this piece, Lynx AKA member LeathermanLynx gives voice to "Brotherhood" and the sometimes surprising experiences that can develop in a culture primarily known for its wildly radical sexuality and freedom of expression.

If you'll indulge me a paragraph or two, I'd like to sketch a picture for you to help illustrate the very important influence I've found Brotherhood to have on my connection to Kink, Fetish & Leather.

Picture it: Chicago, 2019, It's late Spring and 68 Men from around the world -- Not to mention several thousand other kinky folk -- converge on The Congress Plaza Hotel for what is to be International Mr. Leather (IML) Weekend. The lobby is full, loud, busy, sweaty and particularly ripe for the biggest "family reunion" of the year. While people laugh, mingle and "meat" in the halls and lobby, 68 Men gather together and are introduced to "The Brotherhood of the Medallion." If you've been there, you understand. If you haven't, believe me, it's magnificent. I won't go into detail about what happens, but 2 years later I can speak about it just as if it were yesterday. That should be an indicator of the impact it had on me, personally.

Generally speaking, when we hear the word 'Brotherhood' in Kink/Fetish circles, two things happen almost immediately: 1. A proud smile spreads across someone's face. Or 2. A pair of eyes roll WAY back in someone's head. It's pretty simple actually -- For some, the idea and experience of Brotherhood is straight-forward, necessary, needed, and very helpful. For others, it isn't. It serves no purpose--or at least not the purpose initially anticipated. For other's still, it's something altogether different...and it's ALL ok. I know, the word itself...sure, it's cliche but whether we call it Brotherhood, Family, Unit, Pod, Core, etc., many of us have a select few people; or perhaps several dozen, that we genuinely, authentically, lovingly connect with.

It's probably also fair to say if it weren't for this culture/community it's quite possible none of us would have ever met. Just to be clear: It's not my desire or intention to convince any reader that Brotherhood is some ideal to aspire to or some "right way" to approach any process, experience, or connection. I just want to give space and voice to a topic we don't hear much about all that often. People who know me, know that my introduction to leather/kink/fetish didn't happen because I'd always been this kinky bastard familiar with what his body likes and responds to.

Full transparency, I don't even think I knew the difference between a dildo and a butt plug at the outset of my journey. But, one evening, sitting in a bar, I saw a group of men who looked like me (they were black), dressed in leather, following one another down a set of stairs. I asked the bartender who they were and he said that was "ONYX" and they were going down to a monthly Bar Nite they were hosting. I was pretty nervous being in my 1st leather bar by myself...but I was also nosey as hell too! Who were they? What are they doing down there? What are they laughing at so loudly? So I followed the crowd down the stairs...and there, in The Hole of Jackhammer in Chicago, IL -- I met The Men of ONYX and my leather journey began.

Sure, we all participate in this culture because we are allowed (and encouraged) to revel in our various fetishes and kinks with like-minded people. But isn't the fact that we ARE like-minded reflective of a larger opportunity that exists? I believe so. Removing sex & play from the equation for just a moment, we see a collective of people ranging from Vintage Leathermen telling stories and sharing memories that the newest kinkster can only imagine, for now. 40 years down the road, those kinksters will have their own stories and memories to hand down. And it's not all nostalgia, either. If we choose, there are people around us and in our lives that we can go to for advice, skills, debate, discussion, a nice simple meal...and of course play, if so desired. It's not the title "Brotherhood" that serves us in this culture, it's what we do with it.

While competing at IML in 2019, I broke my baby toe the night before the Interviews portion of the contest. A former Mr. New Jersey Leather sat with me and wrapped my toe, an IML Handler loaned me the boots he was currently wearing at the time, and an ONYX Midwest Member loaned me his cane so that I could make the walk from the host hotel to the Contest Venue. Why would any of these guys take time out of their already manic IML schedule to help me out? I thanked one of the guys who helped me with boots and he said, "You're my IML brother, it's what we do." People responding to a need -- I really believe that's the "thing" about Brotherhood; Being there when someone needs us.

Like most families we disagree, we argue, and sometimes it gets worse than that. Sometimes we find our circle grows smaller. In other situations, it disappears altogether. It may hurt, it may be disappointing but it happens. However, after some time we find ourselves starting over possibly with completely different people for completely different reasons under a completely different mindset. The point I make is that whether it's this group, or that club -- these few individuals or that one person -- the desire to not go it alone is, in my opinion, the desire for some form of Brotherhood on this journey. How many of you have someone available to you that you can call on for anything -- you have people in this community that, no matter what, you know they've got your back. You're seen, you're loved, you're valued and most importantly, you're respected. That's brotherhood. Everything that comes after that is gravy. If I were ever asked how I know Brotherhood is real and not just some made-up pipedream, I'd tell the story of how in the year 2019 at International Mr. Leather in Chicago, Illinois, I found myself in pretty desperate need--and I had brothers there who helped me to be my best.