Note: I may misquote you, for which I sincerely apologize.
A person once asked, “What is it that drives you on this path, Yellow?”
Throughout the course of my travels and encounters so far, there have been an increasing cast of characters that I’ve met along the way. A good majority of the time, remembering the advice of both parental guidance and teachings, the politeness and courtesy does much to gain the affections of them in earnest. Often times, it would appear, that the purpose of this odyssey is captivating – most, if not everyone, has at some point or another longed for adventure.
However, often due to personal means, these adventures never come to fruition. It is demonstrated quite clearly through the encouragement and the optimistic attitude regarding the circumstances of my trek. Its message is universal, the flag by itself represents a symbol for a culture that many of these people including myself may identify with. Within the fringes of the various subcultures, there is a thematic ideal that could be universally identified through everyone involved.
That ideal is a sense of unity, community, and support. These things are born out of a love for others, no matter how diverse they may be; likewise, the very same affection for friends all around is a strong influence. Too often there is prejudice for this lifestyle and, as someone once said, there’s too much beyond for it to occur within. Wise words to say the least.
A flag or banner holds a symbol that represents not a group of individuals or any particular person, but rather a movement or a culture, an entire body of people. It represents the ideals of a nation, the roots of a community, and its colors and design reflect this. By flying that symbol, tall and proud, the significance of that gesture may be regarded as a shout out to the people that similarly identify in that particular city or state.
The flag, flown tall, throughout the various monuments outstretched across North America represents a universal culture. Its striped colors, according to various sources within the leather movement, represent individuals; the red heart at its corner, both love and pride at its peak. That love, by definition, is limitless to others – who are we, as people, to deny that from even the strangest of folk?
The very same ideal embodies the leather movement though I do not identify with it. There are many tenets and traditions that people follow abroad. Most of all these conditions, that is honor, respect and integrity, are human conditions. They are qualities of a person’s character and frankly they are also ideals that people throughout may endear. You may notice then, that the decorum of the people within the BDSM culture are not unlike ordinary people, but without generalizing everyone, there is a mutual fondness for our peers. The flag, designed by the late Tony De Blaise, flown throughout each annual pride parade is born out of history, that same ideology, that still remains today.
Like any other culture, within ours, there will always be a constant stream of varying individual presence. One can argue that within religious or political bodies, there too will also be people that behave differently, people that would oppose certain beliefs within. Worse, at times the certain people, such as the zealous or the fanatical, will taint the betterment of the culture itself. A Muslim terrorist, a deranged Republican mall shooter; even serial killers that prey upon the innocent, engaging in acts of torture and violation.
These people go against the very nature that surrounds a community and a cultural group of people. I believe I speak for everyone in the fetish lifestyle, that those who would go against the consent of the willing, that those who hurt others by force, are individuals whom we – as people – condemn their actions. They do not speak for us, these types of predators, and their actions go against the very nature that both as culture and as civilized human beings stand for.
That we, the fetish culture, encourage only safe and practical relationships, support and welfare for one another, it would be an act of intolerance to treat us based on stereotypes. We are the ones that raise families, pursue careers, engage in relationships (interesting relationships, to say the least), and who share the beliefs of the people around us; to discriminate on culture and belief would be akin to prejudice, if not to the likes of homophobia and bigotry. We would not force our culture on anyone yet at the same time, we encourage only the capacity to understand what it embodies. Tolerance by definition, if you will.
By my own accord, as but one mere individual amongst the many; that I too share these roots with others even beyond the scene itself, could only mean that we – as people – are not so different apart. Perhaps hundreds if not thousands of others, bearing nought but affection for their background, its ideals, and their peers have made a similar journey before, by no means does that put anyone or myself above others.
Entire cities and nations were once born out of such affinity, enabling us to relate, creating with them histories rich and beautiful, through hardship and the labor of love. That no matter how far apart, the flag and what it represents is for everyone from everywhere all across the earth. The flag, like any other, has and will never once touch the ground – if it does, not for very long, I can assure you that.
It is because of that support and fondness that drives me. It is a motivating force that once ignited can never be extinguished. That if a person’s heart is true, such a nature would be unrelenting in measure, pushing one to limits far beyond that of individualistic pursuits. It is a beautiful and wondrous thing and its name is hope; for all the ambitions and curiosities that exist, within each corner of this earth, this pilgrimage is just that.
This flag, bore all the way across the length of the West Coast, now present near the Mid-West, carries with it the ideals and the support of our brother and sister groups throughout. Its message is hope, igniting both the strength of each other, representing the same people that would under a different circumstance partake with it.
“Flag Carrier,” she said, a leather dyke, in Portland. “That will be your nickname. Are you familiar with flag carriers within the leather culture?”
Unfortunately no, I replied.
Historically flag carriers were often killed first to demoralize the enemy. Another would take his place, risking themselves on the front lines, leading the vanguard against the opposition. In Roman times, losing a standard for a company had dire consequences such as execution or disbanding the entire regiment.
“In some traditions, it is an honor role, for people of rank and experience, who embody through their behavior the highest conduct. For someone to carry a flag, say in a military formation, is a role of honor. Usually an officer or steward, sometimes even a civilian.”
I chuckled, for a chain-smoking Canadian what does that say about me?
“Actually,” She added. “I’m curious to know. Let’s find out.”
I’m not without my flaws, I confessed. Frankly I smoke too much, swear too often, and can be one fucking hypocrite.
“So can I.” She replied.
I’m insecure and prone to jealousy. I’m egotistical. I never listen enough. I can be frugal. I’m also quick to temper at times and I’m als-
“You’re human.” Another leather person said, in San Francisco. “Its not about who or what you are but what you’re seeking. What you’re trying to put out there. You have a good heart.”
I used to hurt people.
“Did you ever kill anyone?” Another person asked, in Los Angeles.
No, but I d-
“It doesn’t matter.” The leather dyke in Portland said, echoing the words of others, further down the road. “Your behavior shows, from the way you talk, a conviction that is very strong. Stronger than yourself. It shows growth and character. You have a strong heart and I trust you. There is no doubt about it. This journey has changed you.”
I bowed my head.
“Wherever you go, as long as that message and that conviction stays, you’ll never be far off from everyone. In leather spirit, be safe in your travels.” She had said. “You may not identify with leather but damnit, you certainly share its principles. People have mentioned you during KinkFest. You have a modest attitude.”
I try. I wasn’t always like this.
“People aren’t born to this lifestyle,” One other Dom said. “We aren’t always readily built the way we are. Somewhere our experences shape us. We grow. We learn. That is what a community does. We encourage learning and accept new ideas. By doing this, we evolve as a person.”
I’m not sure if I’m wo-
“You know, there’s people out there with a following. They’re all high and mighty about their experiences. They put themselves above others.” He added.
I don’t associate with those types.
“Nor should you.”
I try to be modest but sometimes, I admit, when nobody is looking I get a big ego wank.
He laughed, “What was it you said about your purpose?”
I am not above or below anyone. I am just a regular kinkster, only someone with the means and the urge to travel.
“Fag carrier?” The Dom teased. “You run a carrier of gays?”
“I’m teasing.” He patted me on the head.
That’s what she said, I replied.
“That’s what she said, DO HO HO.” He laughed as I punched his shoulder. “Its a cute nickname. You should keep it. I think you deserve it. Carry the flag with pride, my friend.”
“Tell me,” Another submissive, in Los Angeles, asked. “Why did you leave in the first place?”
A broken heart. Family issues. Not liking my scene very much. Six years and going, I could recognize all these dirty sluts, and I just felt like seeing what’s out there. Remind everyone that we’re not alone.
“You could go home.” She replied. “Aren’t you lonely?”
I am. Not tonight, I’m not. Not with people like you.
She smiled, embracing me. “Whatever you were before doesn’t matter. What I see before me is someone who has a spirit and concern for others. You’ll make it.”
You’ll be with me in spirit, every step of the way, I said.
She smiled, withdrawing. “We will. You’ll always have a place here with us.”
I turned to leave.
“You may be the first person to make such an attempt. It wouldn’t surprise me if there were others before you but thank you for sharing this journey.” She added. “Remember that you will never be alone.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard of such a tradition,” a Domme said to me in Las Vegas. “It doesn’t strike me as being far from the truth.”
I’m not sure if I fit into that picture or role.
“If anything, I’m hazarding a guess.” She replied. “It isn’t a role that is given. You earn it.”
Uh, I’m not sure if I have.
She giggles, “You have my vote.”
“Stat Vexillum.” A casino worker in a toga said to me, at Caesar’s Palace. “Look it up. It rather suits you.”
What is it that drives you?
For me, it is the support of people I barely know, and witnessing their capacity for one another. It is the call of their friendliness, the same affection that has passed onto me, by friends and family all the day back home. It is the knowledge and the ability to speak to others, to share that message, perhaps even remind them of it.
It is that hope, against all odds, that brings the smile to my face in the darkest of days, at the loneliest of times. It is to spread that message, that simple message, that has become my creed. That judge me first by my behavior than for what I am, judge only the purpose of this venture and my faithfulness to it, lest you question the fire within. In loving memory, even the longest of roads seems short in return.
That same message, on a lonely night, back in Rain City, back in my home, through the countless of untold stories and the many issues that we, as people share, is embodied solely by the flag on my back and the road beneath my feet. That same message, brief as it were, enabled me to take that very first step.
I have a name.
I have earned many names. I am the Flag Carrier, the Wanderer from the North; the Masked Deviant, Sir Yellow of the House of Sin.
This is my oath.
I fly this flag in the names of those before me, for the ones that are present, and the ones that will some day join together beneath its colors.
I fly this flag in the name of love, in the name of tolerance, in the name of the good and the just, for the people of but a single culture, who shall never be alone and afraid.
I fly this flag in the name of my brothers and sisters throughout. The ones that identify, within this culture or the next, for the right of everyone to gather and unite.
This is my creed.
I swear by my honor to be respectful, to be honest and accomadating, to witness without scrutiny the people I meet, and to conduct myself with valor and good faith; I swear by these things to be a proper gentleman and a savage sadist; to cherish the gifts that are given and to return it, to do away with ignorance and intolerance, and to carry with me this message at all times. I swear by these things never to judge others and to defend those who cannot speak for themselves.
By my blood, my sweat and my labor, these things I bind in sacred trust, to serve as a Flag Carrier. I will uphold my station and never stray too far from my goal. The flag will fly, it shall never fall, and with it I will achieve this task. I will cross a thousand miles and ten thousand more to preserve, restore and fulfill this message.
“The Flag Still Stands.”