Being IML - October 2003

Photo of John in San Francisco, October 2003
Photo credit: Dave Harris

It's hard to believe that 4 months have passsed since the IML contest and a third of my year has gone already. So I think it's time I came out about something.

I'm not a 100% Top.

When it comes to BDSM I'm versatile. A switch. Sometimes I dress to the left, sometimes to the right and sometimes I wear hankies on both sides. I like to tie people up and be mean to them as much as I'd like someone to tie me up and be mean to me. It doesn't matter to me if you're a Top or a bottom - if we're each other's type I'm sure I can find a way to make you smile.

I know that some of you think less of me for this.

How do I know? I've been part of the leather community for 10 years and I hear anti-switch remarks everywhere I go. From quizzes that ask only if you're a top or a bottom, to well-worn jokes (e.g. "you show me someone who's versatile and I'll show you a bottom"), to outright disapproval from people who think that the only "leather journey" you're allowed to have is one where you start out 100% bottom and work your way up to being a 100% Top - with nothing apparently in between.

A few years ago on a Friday night I was in a dominant mood so I went to a leather bar dressed as a Top. The next night (having got that out of my system) I returned to the same leather bar dressed as a bottom. Someone came up and told me to my face that I wasn't allowed to do that and I "had to make up my mind". I had made up my mind and knew exactly what I wanted!

I've spent the last few weeks trying to work out why some people in our community disapprove of those who switch.

Just as there are many reasons why people disapprove of switches, so there are many reasons why some people are versatile. Some genuinely carry both dominant and submissive feelings and want to use both sides while playing. Some people live in small leather communities and to restrict themselves to only one role would greatly reduce their opportunities to play. Some people want to Top those with less experience than them and bottom for those with more experience. Some people will bottom for a person who's taller/ older/ more hairy, for example, but want to Top someone who's shorter/ younger/ more smooth - or vice versa.

So what am I asking for? Do I want someone to start a "switch" movement? Or hear a contestant speech at IML about "switch rights"? Or receive my first invite to a "Mr Leather Switch" contest? ... Please no!

What I would like is to hear fewer anti-switch comments in our community. If someone's not your type, rather than being rude and ruining their evening - just don't have sex with them. If you're that hot, they'll change their behaviour so that they can have sex with you. And if you're put off by someone who says they're versatile - try entertaining the possibility that it could be the best sex you've ever had. You never know, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Yours in leather,

John Pendal
International Mr Leather 2003

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