The Journey of a Master: Coming Out Kinky
by Master Taíno
My journey began as a child. I was born and raised in a small town in the heart of the Island of Puerto Rico right in the middle of the 20th century. There was no Internet and you could not find anything on any alternative lifestyles in books, dictionaries or encyclopedias available to a child growing up in the 50s and 60s.
Under those circumstances, the journey began in my head. How did I begin to realize that I was different in more ways than one? First I knew I was gay probably in the pre-teen years, even though I did not have a word for that. Then these strange reactions to many images that I was exposed to as a child, from the movies on cowboys and Indians where inevitably many people were being tied up, to the superheroes on TV, in particular Batman and Robin. That strange relationship between a grown man and a younger protégé was fascinating. Looking back, I can see how they defined my mastery in the sense that I always considered myself the “older man” protecting my much younger slaves and/or boys.
Then there was the Church influence. Raised Catholic, I was exposed to many images that somehow awakened my kinky self, from the crucifixion, to the martyrs, to the stories of slaves in the Bible, to the monks flagellating themselves, to the rituals, and on and on. I remember my first contact with hot wax was as an altar boy. The first time that hot wax from a candle dripped on my hand during a Good Friday procession was a revelation. I learned right away the erotic feeling that hot wax could create.
At the same time that all these feelings and incidents were taking place in my life as teenager, I also knew that I should not talk about this with my parents or anybody else for that matter. Somehow I knew those feelings were taboo. The closet was set to stay closed for years to come.
When I was in my twenties I began to explore basic BDSM with sex partners, but it was not an often occurrence. Usually it happened accidentally. During sex, I kind of spanked the butt of my sex partner to see how he would react. Or sometimes, just based on gut feelings, I would suggest to my sex partner that he allow me to tie him up to the bed. Then I assembled my first toy bag with ropes, clothespins, candles, beach paddles, etc. I remember the decorating of my first apartment was based on medieval torture items including a maze, a whip, among others. But even that was done in disguise, since the wall also included a ceramic face of the Conquistador, Juan Ponce de León that my mother made for me.
At 25, I made my first trip to New York City and I also made many sexual discoveries. I bought my first video, which was filmed in a bathhouse that I had just visited in the Big Apple. The video was kinky and leather oriented. I still have it. That was the first time I saw a fisting scene. Back home I kept the video very well hidden in my apartment. Even though the trip to New York City opened a new world for me regarding my sexuality and my kinkiness, at home the closet door remained closed.
I did not begin to open that door until I was 33, when I moved to the mainland, to Washington, DC. I began frequenting the DC Eagle when it was on Seventh Street. I did not have any leather and I used to go to the bar in hiking boots. I was trying to fit in, but then I soon realized that my keys were on the wrong side! I was getting my first taste of the secret and still underground world of Leather and BDSM. The personal ads in the local gay paper allowed me to connect with potential kinky playmates. I used a lot of my common sense expressing my dominant personality and practicing some basic S&M. But the whole world of the Leather culture was still too intimidating. And yes, I was an outsider and still very shy when I did go to the Eagle bar in those days.
It took me until I turned 42 before I finally joined the community. A friend I had met in a Gay Parents group – who happened to be an Episcopalian priest – ran into me at the Eagle and invited me to check out his “club.” What really caught my attention from that conversation was when he stated that his club was unique, in the sense that it was a gay Leather Catholic Club aimed to reconcile our sexuality and our spirituality. This turned my head and addressed the conflict I had been struggling with for several years.
I joined the Defenders Leather Levi Club a few months later and attended my first leather “run” or event. It was held in, of all places, Richmond, Virginia – the former capital of the Confederacy. During the first evening at that event there was a “slave auction” as an AIDS fund raiser and I ended up “buying” the most handsome of all the slaves. I called that my “baptism of fire.”
The kinky closet began to slowly open but still I was afraid of what the rest of the world would think of me. To walk a couple of blocks from my parked car to the Eagle wearing some leather or sporting my flogger or handcuffs was a struggle because “someone could see me like that.”
With the doors of the Leather Community wide open before me, I began to search for my soul. Where exactly do I belong in this world of wild sex, ropes and chains, domination and submission? My shyness at the Eagle disappeared the day I wore my first leather vest with a badge as “pledge” of the Defenders. The self-confidence emerged high and I no longer was afraid of reaching out to people at the bar.
When I embraced the leather community, I was not sure how much of my time I could dedicate to it. It did not take long for me to realize that at 42, I had a lot of catching up to do. I began the process of abandoning much of the vanilla world and activities, and unfortunately even friends, as I embraced my leather heart and spirit more and more.
My first “boy” was a 21 year-old black man who had just left the Army two weeks before we met. Now I was finally getting a taste of what being a Daddy or Sir meant.
I began to attend as many events as I could and the fun really started. Now I would wear some leather when going to the Eagle, but I was still worrying about who might recognize me among the drivers of cars passing by.
Intent on learning more about BDSM, I joined SigMa, the local gay S&M club. I remember that at my first SigMa event, a class on electro play, I was afraid even to give my legal first name since it is a very unique one. So, when asked for my name, I made up a nickname based on my middle name. In other words, it was just a half-truth. The closet still was very much real.
Just three years later, I was deeply involved in obtaining SigMa’s first clubhouse or dungeon. To make this happen, I signed the lease myself and used my real legal name. This was one of the first activities that in one sense began to pull me out of the closet.
Having a 24/7 dungeon by the spring of 1997 was just awesome. I felt I was on the top of my game and my journey into the kinky BDSM world went full speed. Still when participating in public events like Gay Pride or marches, I always wore a hat, trying to conceal my identity from TV news cameras.
My active participation in both the Defenders and SigMa made me more visible within the leather community. My active involvement with the SigMa Dungeon helped to develop my leadership within the community. I became the newsletter editor and secretary of SigMa. Meanwhile, I was the Road Captain and eventually, Vice President of the Defenders.
I first used my “Taíno” name for my Defenders name badge, since the club encouraged us to use nicknames. Then when we founded the SigMa dungeon, I added the title Master because all the leaders of the dungeon were at least SM masters. But at that time, most people in the community still called me by my legal first name, a name that I never was fond of – a name I hated actually.
During the 90s a Latino friend of mine started producing what he called “Dungeon Dances.” These were kinky dances where leather folks would go to dance and to play at the same time. I loved to go there because of the play not the dancing. It also gave me an opportunity to reach out to young men interested in BDSM and leather but who would not set foot inside the Eagle. I have always liked reaching out to the new generation, not only because I am attracted to younger men (Remember Batman and Robin), but because it gives me a venue to teach others what I did not have the chance to learn when I was in my twenties.
A short year after we opened the SigMa dungeon I was having a blast playing with different boys day and night in that little house two blocks from the Eagle. Then the next key moment of my kinky life occurred. One day after finishing a nice afternoon of SM play, I questioned myself. “I am tired of this,” I told myself. But do not get me wrong. I was not tired of playing with beautiful boys… but I was tired that it was not leading to anything else. I just wanted to take one of those boys home and help him to develop and grow. I wanted a boy to serve me. I wanted to care and protect him. I needed something more and just playing was not helping get what I wanted.
I got my solution very shortly after that. One evening I was at the gay bookstore in Dupont Circle, Lambda Rising, and ran into a book: Ties That Bind by Guy Baldwin. Listed in the index were two chapters on Master/slave relationships. I started reading right there in the bookstore and finally bought the book and took it home. The Master/slave dynamic had always fascinated me but I could not find a way to do it and to learn to do it right. Now this guy, Guy Baldwin, a gay leather psychotherapist from Los Angeles, was telling me how. And I liked what I was reading. Finally, there is a way to do this. There was more than just BDSM play.
Coincidentally, weeks later, while I was preparing to go to my fourth consecutive Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco, I got an invitation from Master Rick, whom I had met online and in person in the Bay Area. He was inviting me to attend a MAsT meeting while I was in San Francisco. MAsT stands for Master And slaves Together. I remembered reading something about this in a Drummer magazine, but there was not much information then. Now I had the opportunity to go a meeting.
I remember that meeting well. A group of gay Leathermen met on the second floor of the Long Star Bar in the city by the bay to talk about Master/slave protocols. Wow! That was fascinating. And being truthful to who I am, I immediately asked Master Rick what it takes to form such a group, a MAsT chapter. MAsT San Francisco is the original chapter, but Master Rick let me know there were some people in Atlanta in charge of the development of the organization.
I searched and found the people from Atlanta, Master Roger Curtman and his slave bill. They encouraged me to start a chapter in Washington, DC. I was not sure that I was ready but I knew that we needed a way to learn. And talking with Master Roger, I realized that he was putting together an event and that it was going to be a first, although I did not know it at the time. He was bringing the International Master/slave Contest to Atlanta but as its own event and not as part of another event as it had been since its beginning in 1992. It was going to take place March 19-21, 1999. I remember attending that contest in 1996 as part of the South East Leather Fest (SELF). I had fun at that time and discovered the Sanctuary, the great dungeon from Master Doug Harris, but I did not learn much since there was no education, just a nice party.
What really caught my attention about that event was the fact that there were going to be classes on Master/slave relationships and the curriculum was being developed by no other than Guy Baldwin, the guy who wrote the book I read a few months earlier. I knew that I had to go. That was the place to be, the place to learn and the place to grow.
I registered to attend the event with my then boy bobby. The curriculum of classes was fascinating. In particular there was a class that caught my attention: “Multiple Relationships.” That class was key to the whole event. Since my twenties, I knew I was not a person to be monogamous. And having more than one boy, it will be like a family.
I came from large families. On my mother’s side, there were 12 siblings; on my father’s side, nine. Destiny played a trick on me since I only had one brother, an older brother, who has never been a real brother. An abuser when we were children, he was four years older and never took care of his younger brother. Based on that personal experience, I knew I wanted a large family. The first step was when I became a parent myself. I always wanted to be a father. I am glad I never got married. I became a dad by choice, by adoption. As a single parent, I adopted three children from the foster care system and I fostered another two all the way to adulthood, for a total of five.
That was why I was very interested in the Multiple Relationships class. I felt that was what I wanted to do. So far, I had only seen one multiple relationship. A local friend in DC, Master Logger, had one slave and three boys. He had other things in common with me. He was my same age (I was just three weeks older), we both were born in Puerto Rico, and we both were Scorpio, a very dominant sign for those who follow the zodiac.
When we registered, for the first time I was asked for a scene name for the badge. For the first time, I had a badge saying “Master Taíno,” the same name I had been using at the SigMa dungeon for the last couple of years and the same name I had been using on my vanity license plates for both of my vehicles. Many in the community, including my now good friend, Guy Baldwin, believe that we should use our real names as a way to be totally out. I respect that opinion but also I disagree. Each person has to make his own decision on what works for him. So I am going to explain why I use Master Taíno and not my legal name.
First, as I said before, I never liked my legal name. If I would have been consulted when I was born, I would have given the thumbs down. Second, my closet lasted for about 20 years of my adult life. My legal name is synonymous with the individual who was pretending to be someone else. My legal name does not embody who I am. But Master Taíno does. Master Taíno embodies the real me, the fully out individual proud of who he is and as my late friend, Master Jack McGeorge said, “and not ashamed of it.” I would even consider changing my legal name to Taíno. Today, most of the people I deal with know me as Master Taíno and only my old friends and family members still call me by my legal name. “Master Taíno” is who I am, my real and authentic self.
March 1999 arrived, and I drove to Atlanta with boy bobby in my new conversion van, which I bought a few months before for the “family” to come. I was looking forward to this trip and to this event. Finally something different was on the Kinky horizon.
I look back and I am still in awe. What I experienced in Atlanta in those three powerful days in March 1999 changed my life, gave new meaning to my life and set the path for the final coming out of my journey. “I am a Master.”
The classes, the presenters and panelists were a validation of my inner feelings. I was not alone. What has been cruising my brain for so long, can be done. Time to act. Time to be myself. Time to be real. Master Taíno was born.
About 400 people gathered in Atlanta with one common denominator, we were all Masters and slaves. There have been many turning points in my life, but that weekend was the most important of all. It was the weekend that the closet doors came down for good. I was free to be myself, to be who I am. And I was not alone.
There I met Guy Baldwin, who signed my copy of Ties That Bind, the book which started this new journey. I met Master Steve from Butchmanns, the man whom I began to follow, the man that inspired my journey and the things that I have been doing since, the man who validated my mastery.
Back home, a new life started. I began to work on my new website, the website on which I would be announcing my true self to the world. By August 2000, the website was in its present form. Through the website, the closet was over. The coming out was complete. The world will now know who I am, what I stand for, what I believe in.
The Leather Family began to emerge. bobby discovered in Atlanta that he was a boy, not a slave. But other slaves began to come into my life. Little by little Master Taíno’s Leather Family was taking shape.
Two last things I want to add to coming out kinky. First, it was a gradual coming out to my children. They noticed that in the early 90s I started to wear boots and a biker jacket. I just told them then that leathers embody the masculinity of the gay men who wear them, as other gay people tend to be effeminate or even drag queens. Good explanation for teens. But after a trip in a summer to New York City, where my children came from, they discovered a leather shop in the Village. At that shop they saw the whips and paddles and then they figured it out – that was what “Daddy does.” And yes, they found a way to let me know.
Recently, motivated by the passing of my friend, Master Jack McGeorge and his unique relationship with his son Alex, I called the oldest of my sons and came out completely regarding my mastery and my slaves. I wanted him to know who these guys who live with Dad are. I want my children to be together with my slaves as a family when my time comes. And I thank Master Jack and his son Alex for teaching me that.
Finally there is another aspect to coming out kinky, which is coming out of my own box. In my generation, gay people are very good at keeping themselves in the “gay box.” During the last ten years, I gradually have been able to come out of that gay box and open myself to all kinky folks beyond gender and sexual orientation.
Through the years I have found the joy of playing with and developing relationships with females and heterosexual males, as well as transgender individuals. Even I had a female straight slave for a year. Currently my family includes one heterosexual female Senior Master and three Junior Masters, two heterosexual and one gay. My household still includes three gay male slaves. I have the ability now to connect with people, all kinds of people: gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, queer and so on. And this has enriched my life in ways that I never dreamed. This has made me a better human being, a better Master, a better leader and a better educator.
I am free, because there are no more closets in my life. I am free, because I relate to all people. I am free because there are no more boxes or walls. I am free because I am out. I am who I am. If anyone does not like it, deal with it, because I am not going back.
© 2012 by Master Taíno. (Partial reproduction only allowed with previous permission of the author.)
The author is the founder of MTTA, Inc., a non-profit educational organization for the advancement of Master/slave relationships, Executive Producer of the Master/slave Conference and Director of the MTTA Academy. His website is: www.mastertaino.com