E. Winter Tashlin

More Than Bondage [Picture Tells A Story]

Filed By E. Winter Tashlin | January 31, 2015 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: 50 Shades of Grey, BDSM, bdsm/kink, community, Lee Harrington, love, media, More Shibari You Can Use, PTAS, RiggerJay, rope bondage, shibari


Today's Picture Tells A Story is a guest post by internationally known educator, gender explorer, eclectic artist, and award-winning author Lee Harrington. The picture comes from his most recent book: More Shibari You Can Use

With the upcoming movie release of 50 Shades of Grey, and the inclusion of BDSM and bondage imagery in other forms of media to add shock or titillation, I find myself challenged. I love bondage and BDSM; it has been an active part of my identity and sexuality since I first discovered I had an identity as a sexual being. But the portrayal of these tools as dark and illicit activities done by deranged or broken individuals saddens me.

Today's picture was taken by celebrated photographer RiggerJay during a photo shoot for our new book. The model is a gentleman whom I had known for a very long time by the name of Ayem Willing, a clever moniker that he developed one evening hanging out with me and a group of other kinky individuals in the Midwest. During that shoot, done in a Brooklyn loft, he wriggled in and out of different outfits, smiling and laughing with all of us. And in the moment captured in this photo, as the lights were hot and my ropes wrapped around him, he authentically leaned back with a smile as both he and I became fully present with one another.

I had no way of knowing that less that one week later he would die in a motorcycle accident.

That weekend was the last time I held Ayem in my arms, the last time I got to see his smile, the last time I got to say goodbye to him. I feel blessed that I was doing yet another round of shoots with RiggerJay when I found out that Ayem had been killed, because we and the other models got to tell stories about him, talk about how kind and sexy he was, how gifted and beautiful. That easily segued into how much we all loved bondage, and how much he had given to the rope bondage community.

Bondage is many things to different people. It can be for love or connection, for take down dirty sex in an alleyway, or sweet sensual touch in the bedroom, for profound intimacy or deeply cherished taboo, or some combination of them all. All that is possible because we are not the deranged and broken individuals the media makes us out to be. We are people who cherish our friends and wrap them up tight.

A hug, after all, can only hold you so well... and a rope can hold you even tighter.

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