Saturday, June 11th, 2016 at roughly 9:00pm I was joined by some of my closest friends and chosen family; those who couldn't make it into town sent their love via email. As I looked up from finishing the NLA-O meeting, I saw them file into the dungeon space (which was already fairly packed from the meeting) until all I saw were those there for the sole purpose of honoring me.
Among those in the crowd were people who have helped shaped the way we love, play, and live for decades side by side with folks who were just starting their journey that night. The room was full of people who decide where we go from here and I was in awe that they were here for me.
Going back one week before this night, I was asked by someone who I've always been a bit intimidated of and yet inspired by to join in on a panel about diversity in the lifestyle. At first I was a bit taken aback and wanted to ensure that they really wanted me there and then gladly accepted. During the panel we were asked a variety of questions relating to our identity, troubles we've encountered, history, and so on. When the question of common misnormers came up, my response was about how those in the "TNG age range" have a hard time being taken seriously or are treated like they don't have anything to offer because of their age and subsequent lack of experience.
The panel continued and those attending were allowed to ask questions, rather than just the ones from the moderator. I will probably remember the question posed to me directly for quite a while as I am still thinking about my response to it should someone ever ask again. Essentially they asked how ageism could be something I experience given all the things I'm doing with my life right now.
My response was that a long time ago I decided that I would only show the best, whenever possible. I want people to see the work I'm doing and be able to say "hey, that doesn't look so hard, I'll do my thing too!" I don't post about all the hard times I've run into, or the times where I just want to give up (which there have been many).
Fast forward to the vesting and I'm hearing wonderful praise about the things I've done and something just isn't registering still. It didn't register until a friend brought up something I had written in a time of need, "will it ever be enough?" PING! That was the first point in the night where it really felt like someone might get it. From there an email was read from a friend who wasn't able to make it out, talking about the work that needs to be done and walking the walk. PING! There was that feeling again.
Up until this point I was doing well keeping composure, and then someone who has seen the struggles, been there as a sounding board, stepped up to speak. "Oh shit, here it comes" I thought to myself. This person pulled no punches and (as I was told by many after the fact) said what many felt too abraisive for them to say themselves in such a setting. They didn't give details on anything, but they brought to light for all to see the work and hardship I had encountered to get where I was today. PING! PING! PING! It was like an alarm going off in my head, someone gets it! My composure was gone at this point and all I could do was hug this person for saying what I couldn't, what I wouldn't.
Once all the speakers were done, my vest was put on me and everyone cheered. I watched a sea of people rise up and for the first time that night, it felt like they all might understand a little better what I do. Next came the point for me to speak, so I recalled that experience from the weekend before. I spoke about how my goal is for people to never feel like they can't do the thing that drives their passion. No matter the ups or downs, grab ahold of it and never let go.
I still don't think it has all really sunken in. Some think I struggle with accepting praise, but I don't think it's quite the accepting part that I struggle with, I believe it is the registering it part. Perhaps it's a matter of crossed wires, or perhaps it goes back to that feeling of the work never being done, maybe a mixture of things. I realize that makes things hard on those closest to me, to watch me feel like it'll never be enough, all while trying to show me the road paved thus far. I just ask that you don't give up on me because I sure as hell am not going to give up either.
There may be rough days and nights, times of seemingly utter despair, but I'll keep going. Will you come with me?
Ignixia is an international kink and alternative sexuality educator. The following blog entries range from educational information and resources from her classes to daily musings had on things occurring in the world.