I want to take a moment to make clear my rationale for my position and feelings on pup identity. They've been brought to the fore a few times recently. They aren't new, and those who have known me for awhile won't be surprised. However, in the spirit of being transparent and avoiding misunderstanding, I'll elaborate.
Even though it wasn't all that long ago (almost 10 years), when I first ventured into pup play, having connected with and determined to explore my own inner pup, it was a different time and environment. That which we know today as the contemporary pup community was only just beginning to emerge. Outside of the San Francisco K-9 Unit, there weren't any widely-established PAH clubs. The only Pup and Handler title was IPTC, and that wasn't as widely known as it is today. There were lots of pups and handlers out there, but they weren't nearly as well-connected as they are today. Pup play happened at events such as MAL or IML, but there were rarely any of the moshes we see today.
I've been fortunate to have come into it on the cusp of what we now know was considerable change and growth. I was even more fortunate that I was allowed to be part of it, in whatever small way.
But it was also a time when we, as pups, weren't as widely understood within the broader leather/kink/fetish community. Those misconceptions have been there far longer than I've been involved, and there are people in this community who have been working hard to educate and overcome for more years than I've been out and about.
One of the biggest challenges I encountered from the beginning were erroneous preconceived notions about what makes a pup. I can't put a number to how many dismissive comments I encountered or were told to me. People being told they weren't pups because they were the wrong gender identification or sexual orientation, because they weren't the right body type, because they were too old. Being told they weren't pups because of whatever other reasons someone could come up with.
To all that, I have always had one answer. I spoke it before I ran for IPC's International Puppy, I spoke it more widely during my title year, and I've repeated it ever since: being a pup comes from within. No one but the individual can know whether or not they are a pup. It is not for anyone else to decide.
Concurrent with that answer, and one of the things I tried to accomplish as a titleholder and since, is to encourage pups to embrace and be proud of their inner pups. It's who we are, and we empower ourselves by being the pups we are.
Part of the pride is how we choose to express our inner pups. I've always made it a point to not trivialize how different pups express who and what they are - and to clarify when there's misunderstanding on that point. How I express my inner pup is neither more nor less valid than how anyone else expresses theirs. We all have our preferences and those things we wear or do that connects more to what's within.
But my underlying point has always been that our identity as pups comes from within - and no one can take that from us. It's our self-identity, reinforced from within, that defines us as pups. That's our common ground. The expression thereof is the individualization of that self-identity. And when we're secure in that and comfortable in our own skin, we're stronger as individuals and as a community.
I'm just one pup in a wider community of pups and handlers. However, my belief that who and what we are comes from within remains what it was when I first began.
Original Post found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/puppy101/permalink/1166577033464119/