“You look hot in your leathers” they say. “Woof Sir, wonderful leather jeans”. “Wow, love you in your boots”.
Let’s say that inside of the “community” the WHY behind the WHAT, regarding wearing leather, is not something of which is felt the need of clarity; not that much. And this is, in my not so humble opinion, a big problem. But here today I want to talk to the other fellows; the ones outside the community, wondering why on earth should I wear this way, and why. Most of the people outside the community find it hot and sexy, even when they are talking bad about it (because of course god forbid that someone around them think that “they might like it”).
I think, thought, that an explanation is needed both for the people gravitating towards the community and also for those ones already inside of it. As I stated before, there is no sense in doing the WHAT if there is no WHY. I can say why I wear my leather, and why I think other people do. But these are just my two cents. Two very big, heavy coins.
The BDSM community found its fortune and development in the US and central Europe right after War World II. Of course it always existed, back to the time of Ancient Egyptians and Greeks. But let’s say that in CONTEMPORARY CULTURE the explosion (and the beginning of social acceptance) of BDSM happened in that time. After World War II, life slowly started again to breathe and spread, and there was much more space for opening new clubs, bringing up new ideas and ideals, and meeting different cultures. Motorcycles were very common and profusely used back in the day, and especially US military officials still staying in Europe* were seen going around the towns and the harbors in their uniforms and boots. The culture of the motorcycle is a big part of what defined the Leather Culture. Plus, many motorcycle clubs opened and many of them were gay motorcycle clubs. From “The Satyr” in Los Angeles to the “New York Motorbike Club”, the “Warlocks” and the “California Motor Club” in San Francisco; loving to ride a motorcycle, the sense of extreme freedom it gives, paired with the extreme freedom of the end of the war and being able to work a sense of community around each ones sexuality, was a great thing. So you can imagine how quickly it started to spread, wearing leathers, among gay people of a certain community. Wearing leather became a political statement. It meant identifying yourself as part of bigger community, a community led by freedom, an independent and original (your own) sexuality, the need to create a sense of FAMILY and PACK. This thrown leather into pop culture, from where Marlon Brando and James Dean where seen by millions of people riding motorcycles, wearing Muir caps and dressing in tight leather and boots. And here you have it: the globalization of a “look”, which means a lot, but nowadays almost nobody realizes what it mean.
*The US military was a strong presence, but the cultural stereotype from where today’s leather worship come from is also about German (yes, Nazis too) military, UK military, Holland military…
So yes, it tears my heart into peaces when I got to party and I see literally hundreds of guys wearing an harness, a leather jock strap, or god forbid chaps and boots and a Muir cap. Literally today each and every homosexual person around have seen an harness onto somebody and / or owns one. Leather shops are not helping in this sense, selling of course all kinds of new “gear” with pipings and colors* that have no reason to exist or meaning whatsoever. Though they “look pretty”. I need to puke. It is an insult to the strong and brave heart of the community I live for, but I understand that the globalization and the turning into “fashion” of something has some consequences. The problem is therefor all relational, as these guys come to me and try to approach, I dismiss them, and they say “we are part of the same tribe, what’s wrong with me”. No, boy. We are not the same. Not a bit. And I’m saying this not because I think I’m better than people around me. I’m saying this because where is lack of WHY, I’m not interested in the WHAT.
*About colors: did you know why leathermen (but not only them) wear coloured items such as hankies or wristbands? And did you know that they have a precise meaning, and also wearing them on the left or on the right has a meaning? Long story short: left top, right bottom. And here is a list of which colour indicates which “activity” or, if you wish, interest.
So why do I wear leather? There is both a tiny bit of fetish in it, but most of all, it is a political statement. It is wearing a uniform. It is honoring the roots of the big big family I live in. When I’m wearing my leather I feel pride, I feel power, I feel commitment and I feel I’m not alone. Yes, I feel I’m not alone. I’m part of something bigger, and I’m not part of it because I need to be part of something; I’m part of it because this is my nature, and there’s nothing better than finding your people.
Regarding that tiny bit of kink and fetish: we are all humans and we all love sex. To be more precise, I love sweaty, raunchy, steamy, naughty perverted sex. I love the scent of a man whose sweating. I love the grip on my crotch my leather jeans give me. I also love the smell of leather and sweat together, which brings me to when I was 4 years old and my mother would stop by the BUTCHER near our apartment in the city centre, to gather some MEAT. Yeah mum, you did a great job with this boy!
The BUTCHER was a huge burly man, whom I suspect today was banging my mother, and would always wear this thick leather APRON on his big BELLY. So many keywords, whoa. I remember when he used to pick me up in his big arms and bring me around the shop showing me the different kinds of meat, and I would smell on his APRON, which tastes like leather, sweat, and a hint of blood. BOOM.
I guess that many people have other reasons to have a kink about leather. From the boots and law enforcement apparel and all it can mean to many of us, the idea of Domination it conveys..
I understand the passion for leather gloves, which again brings up to other symbolisms and ancient meanings. In other words, wearing leather recalls to people the world of bikers and the world of the Army. Both very sexual topics to us men. These topics do convey, because of pop culture, the idea of forced Domination and other erotic landscapes our society is drenched in.
To me? To me it is about being who I am, and honoring the pack I’m in. To me it is a honor to wear my leather.