Editor’s note: This column may contain content that is offensive to some people.

One of the things the Leather community is very vocal about is educating yourself on the proper and correct way to do any type of play. If you’re not properly educated, it doesn’t take much for a scene to go from really fun and exciting to very wrong and tragic. I’ve known people who have ended up at the hospital because something went wrong and they were educated players. So even for us who have been doing various types of play for years have to still be cautious that everything goes well.
    So, what are some of the things you need to do? The primary thing is to educate yourself.  
    First of all, read, read a lot. Books - preferably by someone who has been in the community for more than just a couple of years. Ask around about the author, look for reviews of the book.
    Read on the internet, but be careful here. You want to read information that’s been posted by those who have been around a while. Again, ask around, check and find out what people have to say about that individual.
    Second, go to a class. This should be a class that is being taught by someone who has years (and I mean YEARS of experience). Too often I’ve seen someone take one class and the next thing you know they are teaching. Oops, wrong!! Those are the types of people who will cause someone to get injured. You need to be learning from someone that has experience. There is an education class offered at almost every major event and at many local clubs/organizations.
    Third, get a mentor. Find someone you can mentor with. This again should be someone with years of experience in whatever play you are interested in. Mentors can help teach you the finer things that need to be known with that type of play. Books are good for basic knowledge, classes are good to see how it’s done, but mentors can help you with hands-on experience and help watch to make sure you are doing it right.
    When the Leather community started all we had was mentors. That’s how you learned. You partnered with a mentor (with you as a submissive) and they taught you various types of play. If they didn’t have knowledge, they would hand you over to someone who did. Once you learned from that person, you would come back to your original mentor for further tutoring. This was based on the old apprenticeships that were the way of the world from the beginning of civilization.
    Education has always been important in the community. Mentoring kind of went by the wayside after the AIDS crisis in the early 80’s because we lost a lot of our folks who had the knowledge. Mentoring is now making a comeback because we are getting more and more people who are now considered to be experts in their area of play.
    So, if you are wanting to learn any type of BDSM play, we have several folks in the area who can help to teach you. If we ourselves don’t know or don’t have experience with a particular type of play, we know people who do. If you would like to get into a mentoring program or want to attend a class, please contact me at I will be glad to help you. l 

28-Feb-18 14

Marcia McCoy, Ph.D.

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