An Open Letter To @Max_BLC

June 8, 2016


We love and respect you. But we believe that you have a serious consent problem.

We have recently heard serious, credible, and numerous allegations of consent violations on your part. Any one of these allegations would be gravely concerning on its own. Taken together, they speak to a pattern and practice of harmful behavior.

Because of this pattern, Suspended Animation is terminating our professional relationship with you. From now on, we will not work with you or recommend you in any professional capacity.

This is not a step that we take lightly. You have been a valued friend and mentor to us for many years, as well as a pillar of our community. It pains us to find ourselves in this situation.

Why an open letter?

Different organizations operate in different ways. We understand that two local organizations have chosen to handle this situation discreetly. We choose to write an open letter for three reasons:

  • Due to the severity of the situation, we want to explain our decision-making process to the community to which we are accountable.
  • Our concerns about your behavior are serious enough that we cannot in good conscience keep them secret.
  • We believe that transparency is the best way to prevent harmful rumors from spreading.

How did we get here?

We were recently informed that two of our members believe you violated their consent. Their accounts were serious enough to warrant further investigation. Accordingly, we asked our members to share any relevant experiences they had with you. To our surprise and dismay, a number of people came forward with stories of bad experiences.

That said, we have also heard many good things about you. Multiple people have approached us to vouch for your character and to tell us about great play experiences with you where they felt safe, empowered, and cared-for. These stories match our experience of you, and we believe them to be true.

Regarding anonymous sources

Two of your accusers and their allegations are known to you. While they have shared their allegations with us, we don’t consider them primary sources. The remainder of our sources have requested anonymity. We will respect their wishes—their names and stories are not ours to share.

You have respected their desire for anonymity, and we thank you for that. Because this is an open letter, we want to briefly explain to others why an accuser might choose to remain anonymous:

  • If someone believes that a person has violated their trust, it is reasonable that they would not trust that person to treat them well in the future.
  • It is far too common for others in the kink community to attack or ostracize those who make consent allegations. Until that changes, only the very brave will be willing to come forward in public.

Relying on anonymous sources raises important questions about process and fairness. We know our sources well and we have great confidence in their character. We are comfortable severing our ties with you based on their testimony. Other people and organizations must make their own decisions based on the data that is available to them.

The allegations are serious, credible, and numerous

We have heard numerous reports of you violating consent and negotiated limits. Rather than a comprehensive list, we will give three representative examples of the allegations. We chose these three examples because each one appears in at least two separate allegations – one you have seen, and one from an anonymous source. Each of these anonymous sources have been known to us for years and have a history of service in the kink community. We have carefully interviewed them and consider their stories to be credible. In each case, the allegation that you haven’t seen is similar to but more serious than the one you have seen.

  • It is alleged that you (i) heard but ignored a safeword during a scene with a negotiated safeword and/or (ii) heard but ignored a request to stop during a scene in which you had agreed to use plain English communication.
  • It is alleged that you (i) renegotiated in the middle of play, and (ii) used coercion to obtain assent to giving up a hard limit.
  • It is alleged that (i) you initiated sexual acts during a scene which had been negotiated as non-sexual, and (ii) your partner considered this to be non-consensual.

These are serious violations which represent more than simple misunderstanding or miscommunication. Taken as a whole, we find these allegations to be convincing.

What happens now?

We are not the kink police. We neither have nor want any authority beyond Suspended Animation. While our investigation has led to the decision to sever professional ties with you, we feel called to no further action. No other organization has asked our advice about how they should handle this matter, and we feel no urge to offer unsolicited advice to any organization.

We read and appreciated your 4/11/2016 public statement. We further note your willingness to meet with anyone who feels you have violated their consent—that’s a hard thing to do, and we acknowledge your courage and your goodwill. Finally, we want to thank you for the time you spent listening to our concerns and telling us your perspective, even though those meetings did not lead to a shared understanding.

We feel that you have a pattern of harmful behavior. You can’t fix this problem merely by making things right with individual people—you have to fix the pattern.

You and Russell have taught one of the best classes we’ve ever taken: When Things Go Wrong. In that class, you taught that when something goes wrong we need to fix the damage, and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Something has gone very wrong here. We urge you to do the hard work of understanding what went wrong, making it right, and ensuring that it doesn’t happen again.

Yours with love and concern,
Suspended Animation

This letter is accompanied by an open letter to our crew.