Community Comment: A Letter from Stephen Lane, Owner of Oxballs

Editors Note:

Have you ever said something and wished it never came out of your mouth? What about posting something on your Facebook? They say once it’s on the Internet it never goes away. This weekend that was proven. Stephen Lane, the owner of Oxballs, wrote an article in Leatherati almost 7 years ago. This article pops up on social media regularly and did so again this weekend. It was shared and referenced many times in quite a few posts yesterday, both on Facebook and Twitter.

BY STEPHEN LANE, Owner Oxballs

I am sorry my words from back then are still hurting people. I have apologized in the past but I don’t think I could ever apologize enough. I was a very angry shitty person back then, ignorant about trans folks and selfish in my views. Below is a current heartfelt apology.

I believe I did reach out to Tyler by email about 2 months after I wrote those awful words but got no reply, I saw him at the next IML but didn’t think he would talk to me. I would love to apologize to him, if he is ok to talk to me.

About 7 years ago I wrote a letter expressing some awful ideas I had about IML becoming too inclusive. I regretted it days after it was published.

At that time I had so much fear that IML and the leather community I came out in was changing and I no longer would fit in. That group was the first place I felt accepted as a gay man in the late 1980’s.

What I didn’t realize is by becoming inclusive, having the entire gay and trans community in a safe fun sexy place, at events like these would bring more people into these events. These events for the most part can be a very welcoming wonderful group where everyone can have a community or create a circle of friends that support you for who you are, for all your kinks, where you can be what you want around others with similar interest or desires.

That’s what I found there.

When I said those things I was ignorant about what it means to be trans and be included at events like these or how marginalized trans folks felt in the gay community in general.

And I made it worse, my words hurt people I had no experience with, I passed judgement based on my own ignorance and intolerance and selfishly thought i was trying to keep these event the way I had experienced them so afraid change and inclusiveness would damage the experience I had previously been part of.

I got shredded for my statements and I deserved it. My first conversation was with a amazing trans man that told me his story, about his life, about trying to be accepted. He told me how much my words hurt him.

My arrogance, my lack of empathy, knowledge and anger were pure embarrassing stupidity, there isn’t much I’ve done in life that I regret more that what I said and the people I hurt saying those things.

I do realize what a idiot I was, and how stupid given that at my own company we’ve hired the entire spectrum of this community, straight, gay, lesbian, trans, questioning, young, old, friends, strangers. It’s an always evolving group that keeps what we do alive and always changing and fun.

I have been as big a part of the community as possible. We support events here in LA and across the country: charities that support young gays at risk, AIDS, support for trans. We supply product for fundraisers and toys for giveaways. Once a year we give 100% of sales online to charity that support our community.

None of this makes up for my awful words 10 years ago, but we are a company that cares about our community and I value what we can give back.

In the big picture what we manufacture, what we design and sell doesn’t mean much, the world will be fine if we don’t make a new cock ring or butt plug…but what I’m proud of is what we have done here for some great people–our employees, our friends, our customers and our community.

I understand if you are angry at what I said, how stupid I was, it’s not what I am now…I can’t apologize enough for the hurt those words caused.

Please let me know if there is anything I can do to make this better and take back the hurt I caused.