Kink Forwarding Sexual Freedom Rights

(También en español) Gay and straight Leather culture and BDSM culture combine under the mantle of Kink. Together these sexual freedom warriors are taking a machete to the underbrush of the sexual rights movement, blazing a trail that puts in play every question of civil rights and human rights in modern society, including the freedom to seek family and relationships.

When talking about trailblazers, I can hardly think of the best known ones without considering the illustrious life and work of Hardy Haberman.

Only part of Hardy’ story can be told by reviewing the awards and accolades he has received, most recently the Leather Leadership Award from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, or his ascension in 2011 to Chairman of the Board of Directors at Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance. Since coming out as both gay and kink in the 19070s as a twenty-something, Hardy’s films, books, lectures, and seminars have advanced the sexual freedom movement through a cogent exposition of the inexorable connection between spirituality and politics and the kink culture, and how it defines most of the issues we face as a society regardless of our sexual or gender expression.

Hardy just returned from the Great Lakes Leather Alliance’s conference in Indianapolis where he presented the keynote address, and taught a class,”Putting the Sex Back Into SM.” Hardy is there to explain the true nature of the erotic power exchange that is often sidestepped or forgotten by everyday practitioners. His award-winning art documentary short, “Leather,” continues through two decades to be well received. And, “Out of Darkness: The Reality of SM,” a documentary exploring abuse within the SM culture, is still being used by health industry professionals, and isabout to be updated and repackaged for release.

Recently asked if the word, Kink, accurately encompasses the sometimes divergent communities of Leather and BDSM, Hardy says the differences are subtle. “There is a hyper-masculization in the Leather community that is not so apparent anywhere else. And while Leather practitioners may be considered more renegade than others, they are more closely knit. You always know everyone’s real name in the Leather community while those practicing BDSM tend to remain attached to their ‘scene’ names.”

Spanning over 4 decades, Hardy has been able to monitor the growth of the Leather community in particular, and nurture the new generation. “Everytime it surfaces in the media, for example the recent published trilogy, 50 Shades of Gray, a new influx of what I would call ‘tourists’ show up, some will hang around, and some of those will ‘get it,’ will understand what it’s all about, that ‘erotic power exchange’ and spirituality that comprise the full Leather experience. Most important these days, he urges people not to believe everything they hear or read, and rather than relying on a computer, to get out there and involved with the community. “Our strength is found face-to-face rather than the diluted messages you can catch on line.”

We will be seeing Hardy this weekend, hoping to learn more at the Woodhull-produced Sexual Freedom Summit (Silver Spring, MD, September 21-23), so we asked him to give activists and advocates a call to action, the central message we wish to bring forward. It was, simply: “Grow up, and have an adult conversation about sex!”

The Sexual Freedom Summit takes place annually in honor of radical suffragette and sexual freedom pioneer Victoria Woodhull (b. September 23, 1838), and attracts hundreds of sexual freedom scholars, educators, and activists for presentations, workshops, social events, and awards (the “Vicki”) honoring those that have made a difference.

If you want to find out more about the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance and their views on sexual health education and other key issues of sexual freedom, such as sex work and reproductive justice, you can visit their website. Also, you can still register to attend Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit (September 21-23), where Alison Gardner and Dan Massey, VenusPlusX’s founders who work closely throughout the year with Woodhull as members of its Advisory Council, will also be presenting their workshop session, “Sacred Sexuality and Erotic Communion, the Human Experience.”