Monday, November 9, 2009
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM - PART 1
A week ago Tony published his essay entitled "A More Nuanced Position." which so beautifully and compassionately explains his support of the recent decision adopted by International Mr. Leather founder and current president Chuck Renslow and the Executive Committee of IML disallowing entities that distribute and sell merchandise that promotes or advocates barebacking from participation in the IML vendor market. The announcement, as one would expect, sent a shock wave through the Leather/BDSM community and the gay Porn Industry. For far too long the topic of Barebacking has been the elephant in the room within the adult gay male industry - everyone knows it's there, but for various reasons, be it fear, greed or apathy, we have just decided to ignore it.
There have been a few exceptions including Channel 1's Chi Chi LaRue, Titan's Bruce Cam and of course my Sir, Tony Buff who have been fearlessly willing to raise their voices. For Tony this issue was the catalyst behind the birth of the ROUGH line. I give kudos to a major studio like Titan for not only sticking their neck out but believing in Tony's vision to create a series of documentary style fetish films that are edgy and extreme with an emphasis on Risk Aware Consensual Kink and Safer Sex.
It has always been Tony's vision to shatter the assumption that condoms deplete the "Fantasy of Porn"; when it has more to do with the lack of connection between the player's making the play boring and mechanical. The ROUGH line has garnered much praise within the Industry, but more importantly it has been a hit with the fans and the real players in the community. I have no doubt that these films will be viewed in years to come as true classic depictions of extreme fetish, infused with the long standing principles of mutual respect and responsible play - Principles upheld by the Leather community that has somehow recently lost touch with it's lineage.
In Tony's essay he speaks from the heart. As his collared boy, I know first-hand that when he speaks of the importance of respect, responsibility and the value of family and community he is speaking from experience. He is walking the walk, not just talking the talk.
I met Tony during his run as Washington State Mr. Leather back in 2002. I was there when he had his first taste of the responsibility that comes with being a public figure. He may now be a famous porn star and his influence and audience is considerably larger than it was, but don't be fooled into thinking he buys into all that. He never forgets where he came from, and even if he did, his many leather brothers and sisters would quickly snap him out of it. That said he also realizes not to downplay his fame and notoriety. When you have something important to say, you want to reach as many people as you can.
I was there when Tony, like so many of us at one time or another had the rug pulled out from under our feet, I witnessed first-hand how his Leather family took care of him physically and emotionally utill he was able to get back up again with a sense of respect and responsibility, and when it was his turn to build his own leather family, he instilled those same core values in his boys, and has passed them on to a new generation. So where did it all go wrong? Why is the community so polarized over this issue. My answer may surprise you. I am making a bold statement when I say there is a solution- we've just been looking in the wrong place.