Ageism in the leather and fetish community is rampant but most people talking about it are talking about ageism towards older members of the community. Little is often said about the opposite.
Since when was it okay to call a 21+ year old adult that they're still a child? It's rude and only serves to inflate your own ego. Maybe instead of belittling the younger generations you should help and encourage them.
It doesnt help that most of the complaints i hear about younger people in the community are either untrue and unfounded statements, or a result of a lack of encouragement and assistance from those who have gone before us.
Some of these are statements like "they dont respect the traditions/history. This is a bold faced lie. Most of us are happy to learn and understand traditions and customs. And most respect them. But that doesn't mean we have to LIVE them. One doesnt have to follow your traditions to respect them. This way of thinking is going to get you nowhere.
Another is "they didnt go through what we did" this usually refers to the AIDS epidemic. And yes that is true. But what does that have to do with the here and now? Do you really want our generation to have to go through that? We have our own challenges and issues to deal with in modern society. Youre not being helpful at all by dismissing our abilities and drive before we even meet based in something so irrelevant today.
"They dont want to learn" another bold faced lie stated as fact and spread through the older generations like wildfire. We do. I cant tell you how many times ive sat and listened to an older leathermen tell an enthralling story about a scene or an event or something that happened when they were new.
We want to learn but we also want to be heard and share our experiences and thoughts and yes we want you to shut up and listen for a bit. Good communication requires reciprocal sending and receiving of information. And yes. The younger generation DOES have stuff that they can teach you. We think differently we often have ways of doing things that you never thought of. We have the benefit of technology to help us gather information more quickly than ever before.
"Theyre not involved enough" this is a twofold issue. 1. People my age are just starting out, often in loads of debt or in low paying starting jobs. This makes it financially difficult to get involved. And 2. Many leather and fetish communities are very cliquey and hard to approach or even find. Only recently are you seeing pages on open social media like Facebook and guess what, most of these groups are either run or moderated by younger people familiar with the technology. But because were not event producers or big money sponsors, we arent recognized or even seen by the community despite the work we do.
"Theyre not ready to...." But you just complained we werent involved...now you're saying we shouldn't be involved because were not ready...fun fact, were a lot more capable than you think and we have a work ethic and a drive that is unmatched. Look at pups. Pups are often the workhorses at events, moving things around, setting things up, helping people find things etc. A good chunk of the pup Community is under 35. And because of the resistance we face from older people in the community, we feel we have to prove ourselves which only makes us work harder.
"They dont fit in" they dont look like us, talk like us, act like us, agree with us fill in the blank. If youre this closed minded its a wonder you have a community at all. New ideas are a GOOD thing. Stop acting like its a threat to you. Again most of us cant afford to buy the gear. And youve already dismissed us so earning gear is out of the question since we will never live up to your expectations, or so it seems to those who otherwise want to learn and be a part of the community.
Now a personal example. I get told "but youre just a young guy" or something similar...a lot. I happen to be co owner of the most active PAH group in the state of Florida. I actively support, teach at, and volunteer for multiple events throughout the year, as well as hosting some very popular ones! I actively utilize some parts of leather protocol in my pupspace. I respect others who use more and have tons of great friends from all parts of the leather and fetish community. I take special care to learn and gain as much knowledge as i can about history and peoples experiences to help me along my way and i listen intently to people when they have something to share.
Yet I still get all the above comments...why? Why is all of that ignored in favor of judging me based on something as irrelevant as my age?
I know im going to get a lot of "i dont do that" comments from older people in the community but before you say that, sit back and put some thought into your interactions with younger members or new people in the community. You may have done this without even thinking about it.
Its wrong. Stop belittling people. Start mentoring people and helping us learn and grow. Be open to new ideas and customs and help us develop them instead of dismissing them as a threat to your traditions. When we have a goal for the community help us make it happen. We want the community to thrive and grow and persist just as much as you do.
Written By Gale Smilax