Take Off Your Leather

Many of you came to Leather during or after the AIDS crisis. Those of you that came during helped our brothers with HIV/AIDS. You stood with us as we fought for our rights and fought for AIDS research funding.  Those that came later got to take part in the renaissance of modern Leather. Traditions passed to you.  A community that is strong again.  You did not witness the injustices we as the LBGTQ community faced politically and socially. We were the outcasts. No one would ally with us other than celebrities. We were the pariah, the unloved, the convenient scapegoat and target.

We rose again, 60% of our brothers gone but not forgotten. Those of us still here suffer tremendous PTSD.  The scars we try to hide as many new folks enter and get to enjoy our Leather world.  We let out a deep breath when DOMA was partially overturned and same-sex marriage became recognized by the highest court in the land. Many of us “retired” from activism. We were wrong to let our guard down. We should have known the White-Wash was coming. The push back so fast and so furious we hardly know where to focus.

Some pansexual folks were given the keys to our Leather Culture but you have turned your backs on us. How? You voted for a tyrant and the most homophobic GOP platform in history. Yet, you still wear your leathers and call us brothers and sisters.  You did not check in on your LGBTQ leather brothers and sisters after the election. You are not affected by what is happening in AmeriKKA so you go on with your life as usual. You are not allied with us. You must denounce the GOP and #45.  Your refusal to denounce sends a message that you condone the hate. You say you only wanted protected borders and you do not believe LGBTQ are affected. In the 80s and 90s we had no allies, but now we do. We must ally with all marginalized groups and stand together for when the storm comes it will be the one of the worst to ever hit our community.  Being okay with the hate spewed by #45 while on the campaign trail should have been enough to stop you from voting for him but somehow you convinced yourself he didn’t really mean it or if he makes our borders more secure it will be worth it.

You sold out the LGBTQ community. You do not get to stand with us and call yourself leather. You have smeared the memory of those we lost in the AIDS crisis and all those persecuted throughout history for being sexual outlaws. You also stand against those in our community that are People of Color, female, disabled, and those that hold a different faith than you.

If you voted for #45 and the GOP platform you must denounce him, the GOP and the hate NOW or take your leathers off and never wear them again.

A Bottom Damages the Tops Reputation

Has this happened to you or have you witness something similar?
A new bottom consented to a double bottoming scene. It was the first time the bottom and the Top had ever played. It was also the first time the two bottoms met. Both bottoms fully consented, never discussed any discomfort during negotiations.
The next day one of the bottoms began quietly telling others she did not consent to the scene. Said she didn’t even know it was going to happen, she was uncomfortable doing a double bottom scene with another bottom she did not know. I knew the bottom was not telling the truth because I overheard the negotiation and planning session.
The bottom probably was not genuinely comfortable during the negotiations and during the scene but never indicated it to the Top. Instead, she began spreading rumors after the fact about the Top doing something she did not like nor consent to.
The next week the Top and bottom debriefed. The bottom acknowledged her discomfort and that her need to please the top over road her own need to protect herself and negotiate properly and code when needed.
The topic is: The bottom negotiated, consented,  never indicated discomfort then misrepresented the facts to others and damaged the Tops reputation. How could this have been prevented? The Top had negotiated and planned the scene with the two bottoms ad nauseam and still, her reputation was damaged. How could this have been prevented?
Since it was the first time the Top and bottom played together and both bottoms were unknown to each other, was this type of scene appropriate for their first scene? What else could the Top have done to ensure everyone was negotiating and playing within their comfort zone? How important is it to check in with the bottoms the next 72 hours?
Leave your comments and questions below.

Earning Your Leathers and Being Presented a Cover

There is controversy in the Atlanta leather community.  The divide is between the Pansexual and Gay leather communities. The Pansexual or Het leather community in Atlanta has a tradition of earning your leather by being vested and receiving your boots.  The tradition is that you are not to buy leather for yourself until you have earned your leather from someone else. It also states that you cannot give leather until you have earned your own leather under their rules.  The controversy lies when the people espousing these traditions contribute these traditions and ceremonies to the Gay leather community, specifically Old Gay leather.

In truth, the Gay leather community does not adhere to these traditions and is upset when the Pansexual community attributes it to them as if it is a status symbol. The Gay community does not mind the Het/Pansexual community having their own traditions. In fact, they understand that these ceremonies and traditions have a very deep meaning to those involved. They just want them to understand that these traditions are not old. They started in The Sanctuary of the Dark Angel in Atlanta by a gay man in the 1990s who taught these as if they were from the gay community when in fact they were not. He simply made it up.  Many people traveled to the Sanctuary from the South East so some of these new traditions have spread.

Gay leather has several ways you may have obtained your leather. You purchased it yourself because you are allowed to and you can afford to. This includes purchasing your boots and your vest. You may have been gifted someone else’s leather because they can no longer fit in to it or no longer want it. You may have inherited it from someone close to you that died. Inheriting leather was common during the height of the AIDS crisis and is in fact how I received one of my vests. The other vest I was gifted because my mentor wanted me to have it when he could no longer wear it. Hardy Haberman wrote “We did earn all our leather though, by working hard at our day jobs and keeping the local leather shop that was attached to the bar in business. And occasionally, old leathers were “gifted” to younger guys since they were expensive and usually part of an estate of a departed brother whose family didn’t understand of value his kinky stuff. It was give it away or see it shuffled off to Goodwill.”

So what to do? I believe the Het/Pansexual leather community should invite the gay leather community leaders and elders to teach Leather History classes to set the record straight.  The Het community should keep their traditions as they are approximately 20 years old and serve a purpose and have meaning, but they need to be clear to everyone that these are “New Het” and not Old Gay traditions.

Why am I writing this now? I have been invited into a Pansexual Leather family and I am not sure how my traditions fit with theirs. Our values and ethics align but how do we reconcile our different traditions? I also witnessed two different ceremonies back to back in the same day last Saturday. One ceremony was a woman receiving her boots from her mentor.The other was where one person presented his protegee with a vest and boots. The mentor himself was presented his “Cover” by someone else who has a Cover already. They then invited someone newer to begin his journey by joining their leather family. At which point they told him he can no longer wear his boots and belt he had purchased himself. He was upset by this but is willing to follow the traditions of the leather family he is joining. I will explain to him at a later date that this is not a Gay leather tradition.

On the subject of “Covers”, this is a Het/Pansexual term that started in the same place.  Gay leather does not call Masters caps/hats “Covers”; nor do we have Covering Ceremonies, nor does Het/Pansexual leather in the rest of the country. Hardy Haberman wrote ““covering ceremonies” is baffling to me. Not once in my history through the 1970’s and 1980’s did I ever hear of or attend such a gathering. Not until the late 1990’s had I even heard the term “Master’s Cover”. ” I write this only to make these two points. In my experience and that of dozens of older leathermen I know the “Covering Ceremony” is a new thing. Bravo! It’s nice to create new rituals that serve to commemorate significant milestones in our lives.”

Notable Quotes that might apply:

“Your kink is not my Kink”

“Your Protocol is not my Etiquette.”

and my own

“Your Cover only means something to you and yours”

For more information on this controversy read:

Either this exerts from the book “Heartbeat” by Thomas Smith or read the book.

https://earnedleather.wordpress.com/presenting-leather-and-covers/

Read Guy Baldwin’s book “Ties That Bind” is a compilation of articles written in the time of 2nd generation Gay leather or read his blog posts.

http://bannon.com/2015/03/29/honor-history-dont-copy-it/

http://www.leatherati.com/2011/09/the-old-guard-classical-leather-culture-revisited-2/

http://www.leatherati.com/2014/09/old-gods-die-hard/

http://www.leatherati.com/2014/07/the-curious-case-of-the-covering/

Larry Townsends “The Leatherman’s Handbook” written in 1973 is the definitive guide to what Gay Leather really was during the second generation of Gay Leather.