Leather, Community, Leaders, Producers and Consumers.
Hard to know how to start this one, probably the best way is to describe the triggers that made me think of posting this, or describing the reasons why I (and the rest of AKA) do what we do. Since that is already well documented on this site, and in other interviews and press articles we have done; possibly a waste of time. So why am I writing this post? Well; I'm pissed, why am I pissed? People I respect are either being criticized, or are criticizing others for doing what they do for the community. I am in the situation where I hear that four people who I respect greatly are saying things about each other (gossiping) that are either basically untrue, a reaction to a previous event that was blown out of proportion, or due to a misunderstanding. Now, few gay men can say they never gossip or create drama; come on - we are gay men! Lets get real! However such drama can be used by people who I have a lot less respect for, to increase divides, exaggerate the problem or for their own personal gain.
The Leather Community is dear to me, it saved me, and its home. Some say what Leather Community? and indeed, its changed and not for the better; but its so important to me; I will fight till my last breath to save it.
For any community to work, it needs Producers, it also needs Consumers to use/enjoy/participate in/support what the Producers do.
In my opinion here lies problem number 1. The Consumer. What is the ideal consumer? Someone who is part of the community, take part in the events that are created, buys from the businesses that are part of it and speaks about the positive elements of the community to other consumers. They look at what is available, consume what appeals to them, and leaves well alone what does not appeal to them. Some people say we have too many consumers - this is impossible; what we have are too many bad consumers. How many times have you heard...
- I dont go out anymore, its not like it used to be.
- I went to the <insert party name here> it was awful, 30 euros to get in, 4 euros for a beer, crap music and too many people
- Im not going to <insert party/event name here>, <insert name here> arranged it, after what he did to <whatever> I'm not going!
- Im not going to <any event> in Amsterdam now, its lost it, Id rather go to Antwerp/Berlin/London etc
We've all heard various versions of these, and more, In my opinion these phrases indicate one thing - bad/selfish/lazy/bitter consumer, We certainly have too many of those in our community today. What makes it worse, these people are usually those who consumed everything they could during the "good times" gave nothing back then, and continue to give nothing back now. Dart has a great name for this type - SVON (Swirling Vortex of Need)
- Better Consumers would still go out now and again, to see if the situation has changed.
- Better Consumers would arrange to go with friends/groups to make it a better night out.
- Better Consumers would keep their negativity to themselves (what's the benefit of spreading it? the only result of spreading negativity I can think of is destruction)
- Better Consumers who don't like a party that they went to, would just not go again and find another that appealed to them more.
- Better Consumers would be grateful for what the Amsterdam Community did for them in the past and do something to make it great again rather than abandoning it for another place.
Now, are consumers the only problem? LOL! Of course not. There are bad Producers too! I see a few types of Producers
- Businesses. Groups/Folks that run a business in the community to make a profit - absolutely nothing wrong with this; our community would not exist without them
- Micro-Organizations. Groups that may start as non profits, but grow to profit making businesses, again, nothing wrong with this either
- Volunteer's/Non-Profits. Groups of people that do things for the community for no financial gain, they either cover their costs, or reach into their own pockets (for various but often personal reasons)
- Causes. People who try to raise money for a crisis, group that needs help, health issues etc.
There are good and bad types of all of the above, and the bad types seem to be common across all groups.
- Bad Producers spread negativity against Good Contributors or events due to pure jealousy. Often the best Producers are the target for the Bad ones, Bad Producers often are on a mission to destroy the good ones, they introduce division. United we stand, divided we fall.
- Bad Producers are in it for recognition and often personal fame. There are many people out there who live to be famous, to be recognized as a great person, to be seen as a hero. Now, all of us like positive feedback, the dangerous ones are those that make it their mission.
- Bad Business Producers use unfair tactics to compete unfairly, spread rumor to affect other Business Producers, or in "joint ventures" expect equal or more benefit compared to those that invested or contributed more
- Bad Producers commit to build/do something but fail to do what they agreed.
- Bad Producers get jealous, maybe in the past they were a Good Producer, they thought they were done, and got lazy; they see new Producers doing new things, and get jealous.
All of the Good and Bad types of Producers and Consumers exist in Amsterdam, they always have, even in the good times! What has changed? The Balance has changed.
- There are now more bad consumers than good
- There are now more bad Producers than good,
All through writing this post - names of the good and the bad have been in my head. Ill end this post with a "rant" to each of the bad types.
Bad Consumer: You lazy, moaning, useless lump of flesh. In the 90's you were partying every night, you lived of the glory days of Amsterdam and you had a ball! You went to every party, you enjoyed every discount at the Leather store for being a regular, and now you moan, never go out, and criticise every fetish party because you never meet your type of people, the music is too loud and the beer is too expensive?? Not only that you say "Amsterdam has lost it, Berlin is better?" You only go to Berlin at Easter and Folsom - ever been on a normal weekend? Its the same as Amsterdam. You never meet your type of people? Dont you think that thats because they have turned a bit bitter like you? Why not give them all a call and arrange to go out together. Music too loud? Dear - we are all getting older, either we deal with it, or leave those events to the young ones and find something better (or even organize it) for ourselves. Anyway Mr Bad Consumer, stop spreading negativity, stop moaning, and if what you want isn't there either build it or speak with those that could. But shame on you for turning your back on the city that gave you the best years of your life - for that, hang your head in shame.
Bad Producer : Don't you realize that without a great community, your efforts are pointless, you may make more money outside the city now, but remember your roots, remember without those you would be nothing. Looking back at all the fighting, jealousy, competition and gay politics is pointless, it was at the time, and now, its so clouded you probably don't even remember why anymore. Do you feel someone is taking over/stepping on your toes? Why do you think thats happening? Maybe because you got lazy? Maybe you thought you had done enough and now you could sit back and let the money fall? Thats not how it works dear! Feel that someone is stepping on your toes, entering your realm? why not talk to them, reasonably, team up, cooperate - 2 heads are better than one. We are in the world of the Sharing Economy, an online world, Gay Business or not, if you don't change - your business is dead in a few years anyway.
So, we are at Leather Pride 2017, My favourite time of year..
Dear Leather Fairy Goddaddy this year I have two wishes.
1) The consumers will engage, take part and shout about what they enjoy and shut their mouths about what they don't, because one thing is for sure, if one person did not enjoy something there are probably 20 others that did.
2) Gay Producers/Businesses. Forget the past, wipe the slate clean, join together and work together to ensure we have a great and Amazing Amsterdam Leather Pride - you will all benefit from adjusting your balls, clearing your throat, putting on a smile, forget the past and TEAM TOGETHER FOR FUCKS SAKE!!
Thank you and Good Night,