Back from MAL (Mid-Atlantic Leather), and this post will (mostly) be about my observations on the differences between a het-dominated leather con and a gay leather con… or, really, more about a difference I see between het and gay leather culture in general. I’ll preface this by saying that this is painted in broad strokes and exceptions abound.
My first gay leather con was The Big One: IML. I went in 2014. I found there were no classes. There was a contest less then half the people there cared about. There were many parties, drinking, and mingling. And lots of sexy, fetishy gear on display. This was a hook-up con!
This last weekend was my first MAL, but I knew what to expect. I explained to my omega (this was his first gay leather con): “This isn’t SELF. There are no classes; there are parties. Guys are going there to hook-up and have lots of great sex.” And that is what we found.
Rather than give you all the blow-by-blow of my weekend (which went very well, and I did hook-up with a couple of hot puppies including one very sexy rubber-clad Alpha who came back to my room and fucked me silly), instead I figured I’d reflect on some thoughts the experience brought about on the differences between the two “leather” (whatever the hell that means) communities I sometimes walk in (or, at least, adjacent to). Specifically, I want to comment on three myths I find predominantly in the het community that don’t jive w/ what I see in the gay community.
Myth Number One: You never drink and play
I have actually been to an event in Asheville (held at a bar that included a pair of St Andrew’s Crosses) where a couple of older, het “leather” people got vocally uptight about the younglings mixing play and alcohol – and even interrupted someone’s scene.
“These kids are just a bunch of sex and drugs hedonists! Real leather folk know that you never drink and play!”
Right. Do these people not know that the leathersex culture grew out of gay BARS? You know… places where they serve alcohol?
At MAL they had three bars going in the lobby and another full bar set-up downstairs in the ballroom dance floor. Alcohol was flowing like water. And there was still lots of sex and lots of play. And not to even mention the poppers…
Myth Number Two: It’s all about honor and tradition
This comes up sometimes in the gay community as well, but I don’t see it stressed nearly so much as in het leather. I am sooooooooo sick of hearing that leather is about honor and integrity and tradition. B-u-l-l s-h-i-t. First of all, as I’ve often pointed out, honor and integrity are things you should have, not b/c you are into leather, but b/c you’re a human being. Second, as I’ve just as often pointed out, I know just as many non-leather kinksters who are extremely honorable and honest as I know leather people who are low-down, predatory scum. I know ABDLs whom I would trust w/ my life and leathermen I wouldn’t piss on if they were on fire. Think someone is honorable and trustworthy b/c they have a leather vest covered w/ pins? Well, let me tell you about the leatherman who was such a terrible, dangerous, abusive predator that he made himself so unwelcome that he had to buy his way onto the guest list of a leadership con by stealing money from another kink group and donating the stolen money the leadership con so he could come there and teach classes – on community leadership! The mind doth reel…
Many, mostly in the het community but some (especially older) gay men as well, have this idealized version of leather b/c it allows them to put themselves up on a pedestal and look down on everyone else. “Oh, you’re just a kinkster; you don’t know about honor and integrity.” “Oh, you’re just a fetishist; you don’t value tradition.”
You can see me rolling my eyes, right?
Yes, honor and tradition were a part of gay leather, but not in the way most of these guys think. As recently put it: “The honor part had to do with the fact that you had to trust the people you played with. You had to trust that they knew what they were doing and that they weren’t misleading you.” (http://kinkycast.com/archive/2016-archive---episodes-101/101---hardy-haberman--.html) This “honor and integrity” part is now just a basic, common sense tenet of BDSM, swinging, and ethical sluttery. There’s nothing uniquely leathery about it.
The focus on tradition, as If you were into military fetish then you aped military traditions. If it was outlaw bikers that turned you on, then you grabbed from that. It was about aping the traditions that made your dick hard.explained, was always an invented, mock tradition.
Myth Number Three: It’s not about sex
Ah, the big one.
At MAL, you can stand in the hotel lobby late Saturday night and see guys getting hand-jobs in the crowd. If you walk into the public restrooms off the lobby then you will find the row of three stalls literally shaking because guys are in each stall having sex. At MAL, if you go to the observation windows on the top floor that look over the hotel’s room windows, then you can see guys in a dozen different rooms with their lights on and curtains wide open fucking and fisting – knowing that you’re up there watching them. And if you walk the upstairs hallways of the hotel at night, you may stumble upon a one puppy giving another pup a blowjob in the hallway…
While on the straight side of the fence, kinksters and fetishists are separated out from leather (a distinction which doesn’t often make a whole lot of sense) and often looked down upon. I’ve encountered leather folk actually slut-shaming their fellow kinksters. WTF!? “Oh, she’s only in it for the sex.” WTF!? We’re not a fucking church group! BDSM is a sexual orientation!
Look, I’m not saying leather clubs don’t raise money for charities and do other community things… but that’s not what defines them as leather groups. What defines them is the sex. Not necessarily always genital penetration, but I mean sex in broad terms: bondage, domination, S/m, humiliation, foot worship, gear fetish…
One of the biggest differences between a men-only dungeon and a mixed gender dungeon mirrors a big difference between a gay leather con and a het-dominated leather con: the former in both cases has a lot more fucking going on.
Alcohol and drugs (at least poppers) are certainly not foreign to the leathersex scene.
It’s only about integrity in as much as that’s a safety issue and it’s only about tradition in as much as that gets you dick hard.
Sex? Oh, yes. It’s definitely about sex. To evoke