This year, the House of Fyre had the privilege of attending Leather Reign in Everett, Washington. While they were proudly celebrating their 9th year (and largest attendance ever), I had never had the opportunity to attend before. I knew that we had a number of friends that were going to be there, so I had nothing but excitement brewing as we left Portland early Friday morning, despite the awful rain and cold weather.
We started out the conference with an Intensive offered by Dr. Charley Ferrer. I was so pleasantly impressed with her class! Her energy and enthusiasm was contagious and she never hesitated to drop a joke at just the right moment. She drew responses and questions and never missed a bit. Its clear that this woman knows her shit! There were great practical applications and a lot of mention of Chinese torture. *insert laugh here*
The opening ceremony was one I will never forget. Not only was my beautiful friend Ruin sharing her journey into leather one step at a time via an amazing burlesque routine, but a long-time member of the community (and a HUGE part of the leadership for the conference) was surprised by her family when they presented her with her Master's Cover. They asked the Masters in the room to stand to bear witness and I had a moment where I was almost bashful about standing. Those that were standing were not only many years my elders, but many were those that I looked up to and greatly admired. I was momentarily reminded of the times I was criticized for receiving my own cover so young. For a split second, I recalled those that told me I "wasn't a real Master," because I was young.
But in that moment, I stopped to consider my journey. I stopped and remembered all of the things I had overcome. I remembered the hells I had walked through and made it to the other side. I remembered the lives I had proudly touched. I remembered those that I had loved and those that had loved me. And I stood up to honor my own journey. I stood to honor those in my community who saw the skills and accomplishments worth presenting my cover to me for. And I lost myself in the joy of watching another stand in that very same moment.
The dungeon party was fantastic! The shenanigans were unforgettable. The remaining classes left me feeling soul-fed and buried in my own notes about how I needed to grow and improve. By the end of the last class, I was so filled with humility and excitement over what I had learned that I didn't think my heart could possibly hold anymore happy feels.
And boy, was I wrong. Master Dwayne approached me as I was preparing to leave the ballroom to introduce himself. He was well known to me, as he is to most of our community. A huge contributor to Leather Reign and also the long-time owner of the person who had received their surprise cover two nights before. I couldn't help but gush about how honored I was to stand witness at her ceremony and I let slip the momentary feels I had experienced. Master Dwayne shook his head and said "I don't care what age or level of experience you were. At some point, someone in your life saw the values and hard work that made you worth giving that to. Your cover is JUST as valuable and important as mine, or anyone else that has been doing this for 50 years. You be proud of that."
Never before have I been so honored. Truly. Completely. The tears I felt threatening to fall as I expressed my gratitude to him were evidence of how powerful his words were, and how much they meant to me. I will forever carry the memory of that afternoon as I strive to live up to the values those in my community see in me. I will continue to work to be the best Domme that I can be. And I will do everything in my power to help build a community that builds up its people like Master Dwayne did for me that day.
Thank you to the staff and volunteers of Leather Reign 2015. You created a life-changing experience and I cannot thank you enough for all of your time, your work and your passion for our community.