Pain, passion, desire, involvement, and ecstasy are only a few adjectives to describe the attendees at San Francisco’s Folsom Street Fair, the largest BDSM event in the world. Known as “Leather pride week,” activists come together from all over the world. This event is a paean to pain, to the feeling that is present in our daily lives, within us, a constant part of our being. This community experiences, develops and endures physical pain differently from most.
Is it possible to atone for, release or mature the pain that arises in the depths of our being? There is a different physical predisposition to the endurance of bodily pain between people. Bruised skin, lashes that flay the skin, ropes that grip the wrists and ankles, the senses that fog with the pressure dropping from blood circulating at a different rate are just some sensations the body goes through.
These practices require a deep understanding of the human body and the reactions our tissues have to the physical stress to which they are subjected. This is not equivalent to the pain inflicted by cruelty. Love heals and elevates the human being; anger, rage or fury have an impetuous, destructive power capable of causing internal wounds that are difficult to heal; the effects of these emotions have a chain of events that can perpetuate themselves for generations. Yet, observing the bruises, and linking these sores with lust and pleasure as an exchange of love, still shocks and disturbs many people today.
Society rejects it, and locks it up in boxes with negative nomenclatures. Perverts, disturbed, deviants. Instead of accepting the duality of those feelings, where through bodily pain we can, mature and release the pain that arises in the depths of our souls.