The virtual leather/fetish/BDSM community on Recon, and the events that we all attend (IML, MAL, and others) have shaped who I am, and how I love. Over the past few years I've become part of a leather family which has formed organically over the course of attending these events and through connecting virtually between them. These are not just-one off connections but strong bonds. I thought I would describe what we've built and how we built it, then provide some of the lessons learnt from the experience to help those of you interested in forming your own leather family!
Recon was pivotal to forming the family. I met TopDoc on Recon (who is amazing) and through him Obedientboy99 and SMSlaveSF and their Sir, Peter, who formed the original nucleus of the group.
Early on it became clear that the original group had an increasingly important emotional bond to me and to each other, and there were no barriers, emotional or physical, to expressing it. It helps that they were, and still are, a mix of Sirs/Doms, subs/boys, and tops/bottoms/vers men who have different kinks and fetishes. Somehow, as new men have joined us, it has served to magnify the bonds we already had.
At the events we attend we share one suite we use as a playroom/common room; the riggers bring ropes, I organise a sling, one or two bring their floggers and so on. We share our lives, hopes, fears, and dreams. The closeness is expressed just as much physically as verbally, and often one turns into the other organically. The result of this is that the play is beyond amazing; words can't really begin to express how fantastic it is. Imagine sex with a man you're in love with - now multiply that.
The family has grown and includes the above, plus wreckitrob, WALDrillSergeant and others not on Recon, especially Dwight and Andrew. When we are apart, we have a running conversation. We're all geographically separated, with everyone except me in North America, so WhatsApp keeps us connected as a group. Like any family we share photographs of events in our lives, issues we're dealing with, the humour of life as well as our trials and tribulations. We tell each other where we're travelling, and often a few of us end up in the same city each year, where we stay in each other's homes and reconnect.
We like to invite new men into the playroom (we are a randy and social bunch). There are new men we meet, and you can literally see them light up in response to our energy. This year SDHngGuy, Spidersweb, and ElementEclipse got introduced to the family, and we're looking forward to seeing them – and meeting new men – at IML in May.
All leather families are different, and look for different criteria to make the group dynamics work; for us, we organically end up highlighting those men who work for all of us, but we more or less look for two fundamentals:
• Good personal chemistry - we have to all want to be physically intimate and enjoy each other's company outside of sex with any new potential member. The attraction can't be just physical – we like men who are just as fun at breakfast the next morning as they were in the sling the night before.
• No class A drug use. Several of us are in recovery from addiction and the rest of the core family choose not to be around hard drugs. We want to help each other grow and develop, which can be hindered by substances or drugs. This fits into my commitment to create a recovery-based family in Europe inspired by facebook.com/loreUSA/ of Chicago, whom I'm proud to say inducted me as an associate member late last year.
So, what's next for our leather family? We can't be sure, but we're looking to go to one of the big European events later this year and I would like to find a few more Europeans to join us. We know whatever happens, it will push us as a family to become more important to one another.
So, if you would like to create a similar community and leather family, here are some things that have worked for us:
• What defining or common characteristics are you looking for as the 'glue' that binds your family together? In our example above you can see one way to look at things, but there are many other possibilities.
• Look in your contacts for the men you have a real connection with in the leather and fetish community that you feel have in common the characteristics you're looking for. Do they know one another? Think about how some of them might get on and suggest to each that you want to try and introduce them to a few of the men you think are special. If you like them, there is a good chance they may like each other.
• Consider their kinks and fetishes. If you want to make a family that has a strong sexual component, then there has to be a mix. And if the chemistry is there, don't be afraid to branch out into new kinks and fetishes.
• Choose men you connect with on more than just a physical level. My family has a great physical connection because of the emotional bond we have as men, not the other way around.
• And finally, don't try to force things or rush. Let relationships grow and develop organically. What matters is that there's a nucleus of men who all genuinely want to be around each other and care for one another and look forward to being together. It takes time for that group dynamic to form.
Once you've got a few men in mind, make a group on a messenger service (whichever one everyone uses) and make introductions. Try and get at least some of the group together somewhere before you get to the event you're all attending, and if that isn't practical, meet up once you arrive. Share details of hotels so everyone knows where everyone else is. Get everyone together for a meal and see what happens!
Some of the connections won't work - but some will; they have at least one thing in common, which is you! It takes time for the chemistry to grow, but it is well worth the effort.
My leather family has changed my life in so many ways I can't begin to express them all, but one is particularly one worth sharing: it has redefined how I view relationships with other men. It has brought me into my first polyamorous relationship, a triad with wreckitrob and Dwight, which itself has transformed my life. The family and the process of forming it has shown me that what society teaches us about the limitations of the male heart are just wrong: we are all capable of sharing and giving love without limitations. We can romantically love many men at the same time - if we choose to, and my experience is that each love is different and beautiful and magnifies the capacity we have to love others.
I welcome thoughts, comments, questions; contact me on - of course - Recon!
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