I’m all for learning lessons from the past. If I (or others) can benefit from someone else’s experience and mistakes, that’s definitely a good thing. But I fail to see the sense in clinging to tradition. Why should I structure my relationships a certain way or restrict myself in some way just because others have done it in the past? How exactly does this benefit anyone? I see no sense in playing follow-the-leader, especially when the “leaders” aren’t living their relationships in a way that I’d like to.
That’s not to say that there’s nothing of value to be learned from others’ experiences. There is. Still, learning from what they’ve done is a lot different than trying to mimic their attitudes, beliefs, ways, and values. You can learn from the past without getting rid of your individuality. But when you try to replicate others’ experiences and adopt their beliefs rather than doing things your own way, you do so at the expense of your own identity.
I (and many others) broke away from the “normal” or vanilla way of doing things in order to be involved with bdsm. I decided that I have no reason to be restricted by their arbitrary rules. So why should I adopt another set of rules that I don’t agree with? Isn’t that just trading one inconvenience for another? I’d much rather be true to who I am without having to worry about whether I’m acting and thinking in a way that will be approved of by the bdsm tribunal.
The founders of the bdsm community should be lauded for what they’ve done in building an in-the-flesh community of individuals with similar interests. Commended, but not revered as deities. Yes, they accomplished something great. But we don’t need to parrot their actions and attitudes. We can keep the foundations of the community they started without sacrificing ourselves in the process.
The demographics of the community were different then. At first, it was all gay veteran bikers. Now, the scene is made up of various sexualities and genders with a wide range of interests and styles. Lots of hetero and bi people saw the gay leather community and wanted one for themselves, so they started with that framework that the leathermen had built and tweaked it to fit them. The two communities are still very different, so it’s absurd to think that we should all adhere to the old guard way of doing things.