Responding to the aftermath of the HIV/AIDS crisis, LDG (Leathermen's Discussion Group) strives to reinvigorate the culture of mentorship that once played a vital role in the passing down and preservation of our community’s collective knowledge and wisdom. By creating a safe, supportive and non-judgmental environment, LDG also empowers individuals to step away from silence, isolation and stigma into a positive state of open communication, participation and acceptance.
Queer Sphere is joining with the LDG in this cause by extending this mentorship program into the queer and kinky identified community. QS strives to adopt these same ideals and, we will work to reinvigorate the spirit of mentorship.
The Mentoring Program facilitates the introduction of experienced, caring and very kinky queer identified people of any gender and those who are looking for guidance, insight, advice and instruction as they explore their own fetish/leather/kink sexuality and identity.
• Commitment to the health of the queer leather/kink community
• Openness to Experience
These are the values and qualities we are looking for in both Mentors and Mentees in the Queer Sphere Mentoring Program.
People who are mentors in the QS Mentoring program should also have the following kinds of experience or characteristics: at least 7 years of kink experience, a history of involvement in the queer kink community, and a social network within the community.
Queer Sphere Mentoring Program is a new effort to meet the growing need for mentors and facilitate the building of queer/kinky community in the SF Bay Area leather/kink/fetish community.
Role of Queer Sphere:
QS will set up a meeting to introduce mentors and mentees using the LDG "mixer" model. QS will also provide monitoring and resource backup for both mentors and mentees before, during and after a mentorship is arranged.
Monitoring includes periodic checks with mentors and mentees to confirm that the relationship is unfolding as expected. QS Leaders will also be available for consultation as needed.
A few Kink-Aware professional therapists have offered to be accessible as resources if any mental health problem arises during the mentoring process. Mentors will be able to consult with these therapists, arranged through Richard Sprott as the point of contact.
The point of Queer Sphere’s role is to support the natural development of the mentoring relationship, which is personal, unique and primarily private. Queer Sphere cannot promise that a person will find the perfect mentor, nor can we guarantee that all mentoring relationships and interactions will be smooth and helpful.
Expectations of the Mentoring Relationship:
Mentors and mentees should meet or make contact at least twice a month. Face-to-face meetings are important, but we recognize that sometimes email, messaging, chat and Skype interactions might be useful when peoples’ schedules are busy. Interpret “contact” to mean any of these modes of communication and interaction.
The formal phase for the mentoring lasts for six months.
The mentoring relationship is not a sexual relationship, so both mentors and mentees should take sexual contact “off the table” for the six months. If a relationship does start to develop in a sexual direction, we ask that mentors and mentees recognize the need to withdraw from the program in order to pursue that different kind of relationship outside the QS Mentoring project.
Mentors and mentees should not financially exploit the relationship.
If mentors or mentees miss two consecutive meetings or contact times with each other (no contact for 1 month), we will consider that as withdrawing from the program.
Mentees are expected to be clear about their goals in working with a mentor. Mentees should be able to supply two community references for participation in the Mentoring Program. Mentees should also be queer and have a positive interest in kink.
Goals for a Mentoring Relationship
Mentoring in this program seems to work best if there are some goals, identified by the mentee, to work towards during the six month formal mentoring session. This is an opportunity to grow in a direction, or to explore an area, that will make you a better community member.
Here are some examples that have worked for past participants in the LDG Mentoring Program:
I want a mentor to have someone to talk thru my experiences: eg to decide if playing privately is more my thing (& to give up on play parties) or figure out ways to enjoy public play
I'm getting to the point where there are two themes that are becoming more prevalent in my involvement with the community - learning how to mentor others, and learning how to teach. I tend to find myself in a role, having been in the community for the past 4 years, of having to work with those who are just coming into the community and helping them to find their place in it. So I'd be interested in having some help figuring out the best way to go about that, how to set appropriate boundaries, etc. So some mentoring for me about mentoring others would be helpful-- meta-mentoring?
Overall, I would love to learn as much as I can about each and every area of kink and also about Old Guard mentality and the introduction of the new generation of Leathermen.
I’m looking to expand my "official" support net to help me keep my balance between both ends of a power spectrum and bringing my boy up – both in our play, and in his life skills.
I want help learning how to top in a bdsm sense as well. I've done a lot of stuff as the bottom, but not much on the other end.
I very much want to find my own place within this community. There is a very different perspective in the scene out here than what I am accustomed to. I feel an experience mentor could be helpful with me finding a direction to focus my energy, help me learn more about the community of this city, who’s who and what’s what, and honestly there’s no reason I couldn't benefit with seeing another perspective. I also wouldn't mind having a more diverse knowledge of the various kinks I've never had the opportunity to explore.