Race Bannon AKA member LoneWolfPig has been an organizer, writer, educator, speaker and activist in the LGBT, leather/kink, polyamory and HIV/STI prevention and treatment realms since 1973. In this article he talks about longevity within kink.
One of the boasts you will sometimes hear from guys is "I have been in the scene for [insert big number] years" and it is intended to bestow upon themselves a sense of superiority. The implication is that their longevity means they know better about kink-related culture, relationships, skills… well, just about everything. I challenge that notion, at least to some extent.
Of course, there are times experience is indeed beneficial. Having some years under one's belt observing and participating in the kink scene does give one a broader perspective. For example, someone with many years navigating power dynamic relationships might have some insights that could help those new to them. Or someone who has thrown a flogger competently for over a decade could likely show an impact play neophyte a thing or two.
At the same time, I have witnessed guys who have been in the scene for decades who I would not trust with any type of kink activity or relationship. And I have likewise met guys entirely fresh out of the starting gate who can run rings around some older guys in terms of skill and empathy.
So, I am not suggesting that a bit of mileage in kink is not beneficial. It certainly can be, and that knowledge and experience can be leveraged by younger guys or newcomers to speed up learning and understanding. I just do not think it is wise to continue to make the assumption I hear and read so often that the longer someone is in the scene the more skill, knowledge, or insight they necessarily possess. It simply is not true.
Culturally our scene, particularly in leather culture as opposed to kink or fetish culture, worships at the altar of what are often referred to as elders, even when such elder worship is not justified by a person's background or character.
Mentorship is a helpful thing when someone is new to a community or is learning new things. All communities have their version of mentoring and it is a good avenue to explore when starting to investigate new erotic realms. The danger comes when the default of elder infallibility is assumed rather than assessing each person on an individual basis, considering how long they have been in the scene but not using that as the sole yardstick by which one judges their competence or wisdom.
Plus, what does "being in the scene" mean? Does that mean someone has been deeply involved in various aspects of the kink and fetish worlds, both individually in their own lives as well as among their fetishland compatriots? Or does it mean that they have simply self-identified as kinky, perhaps not doing anything more than occasionally donning the gear and hanging out in a leather bar? The two sets of experience are not equal and should not be treated as such.
As an older kinkster myself, the reverence people sometimes have for my 48 years active in the scene (see what I did there?) absolutely feels good. I would be lying if I said it does not. However, should I therefore believe that I deserve such reverence just because I happened to enter the scene at a young age and I am still alive and kicking? No.
I and other older kinksters should instead tout the specifics of our backgrounds that give us whatever modicum of justification we might have to elevate ourselves to elder or mentor status. Regardless, arrogance of any kind, from older or younger, experienced or newcomer, should be seen as the red flag it always is when assessing our fellow erotic adventurers.
Do I really have a deep understanding of how the kinkster communities function, or has that insight only been gleaned from hanging out on the periphery?
Are my BDSM and other kink skills truly exceptional or have I been doling out the same handful of scenes to my play partners for the past many decades?
Does my character and do my actions communicate a true sense of decency, fairness and treating everyone with dignity and respect, or do I have some serious flaws that are being covered up by the veneer created by how many years I can point to being around?
There are many logical fallacies and biases that play into our sometimes-inordinate accolades for long-term kinksters. Logical fallacies such as appeal to authority, bandwagon, anecdotal, and appeal to emotion can cloud our critical thinking. Biases such as groupthink, confirmation bias, the halo effect, and in-group bias can unduly lean our thinking and actions in an otherwise unjustifiable direction. All these logical fallacies and biases creep into our kink and fetish scene more than we might like to admit and we would be wise to ensure we are not falling into their trap.
With all that said, yes, there are times an older or more experienced kinkster can definitively offer to others much in the way of knowledge gained through the trials, tribulations, and bruises picked up along their sexual journey. I do not mean to discount the upside of experience. I simply do not want any of us to meander through this thing we call kink, leather, fetish, or whatever your own erotic community calls itself, assuming longevity naturally equals wisdom, competence or decency. That would be folly.
Let us look to elders for advice and guidance when it is appropriate and warranted, but not assume that a younger or newer kinkster cannot also give us tremendous insight and tutelage as well. Take everyone you meet at face value based on who they show themselves to be, not who they say they are.