Friday, August 18, 1995

The Leather Community—Myth and Reality

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #6, August 18, 1995)

Recently I was comparing leather philosophies with an experienced leatherman who was visiting from New York City. When the conversation turned to solidarity, relationships and politics in the leather community he seemed to feel that these concepts are paid a lot more lip service than they’re worth. At one point he made a comment to the effect that “If I hear one more person talk about their leather family I’m gonna puke.”

I’m going to try to write this column so he won’t need a barf bag if he reads it.

It’s been a little more than two years since the first time I went to a leather bar and felt I belonged there. In those early months, I was amazed and delighted to find how welcoming people were. I owe a lot to those people who (literally and figuratively) “showed me the ropes,” explained how the community works, and introduced me to their friends, who introduced me to their friends.

Now I find myself doing the same kinds of introductions for others who are going through their second “coming out” and joining the leather community. I’m now answering the same questions I remember asking not too long ago. For example, in the past week I’ve had the same conversation with two different people when they asked: “Where’s the best place to buy leather around here?”

My involvement in the leather community has led to my developing a “leather family” that seems to keep growing. It includes people from the Twin Cities and from everywhere else. I feel blessed to have such a family. As with all families it’s not unvarnished wonderfulness, but it’s still very satisfying.

Often I hear members of the radical right talking about their idea of “family values” and I feel like I’m gonna puke. But maybe the romanticized idea of a “leather family” (from which my New York friend was recoiling), or the romanticizing of the leather community in general, is our version of this myth, in which we’re all noble, stalwart, good-hearted souls and everyone always gets along with everyone else. On some level this is what everyone is looking for, whether they’re in leather or not. But it doesn’t exist.

The unromantic truth about the leather community is this: Leather can make us better, more honest, more compassionate human beings. But so far it hasn’t made me, or anyone else I know, perfect. People in leather are still human, and are still subject to the same human glories and shortcomings as anyone else. We may be different in that we wear leather (or other fetish wear) and are into varying degrees of alternative sexuality. But among leatherfolk I am going to see the same gamut of personalities, and of personal strengths and dysfunctions, that I see in other segments of society.

The philosophy of the leather community encourages honesty, integrity, personal strength, and respect for oneself and others. Many in the leather community try to live by those principles; some don’t. Just because someone is wearing leather does not guarantee they will be a wonderful person. A jerk who puts on leather is still a jerk.

Looking with unclouded and unsentimental vision at my “leather family” and the friends I’ve made in the leather community, I see quite a few who have alcohol or drug problems. I see people in abusive and violent relationships. I see people who desperately want a committed relationship but can never find one that works. I see politics, rivalry and power struggles. I see people with AIDS who are miserable, and I see people with AIDS who are living life to the fullest. I see people who are stable, who have forged lives that work. I see leaders who have an innate nobility about them. That’s my leather family. And I love them and care about them all.

If a person newly into leather expects to find a totally harmonious community, and a leather family who will make up for all the shortcomings of their family of origin, they will probably be disappointed. But if we don’t imbue leather with this magical power to make people something they’re not, we can look at people honestly and accept them as they are. We will naturally gravitate toward people with whom we feel a kinship. We will find ourselves part of a mutually satisfying leather family. And we’ll understand what’s truly valuable about the leather community.

Friday, August 4, 1995

LavLife: Leather

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #5, August 4, 1995)

W.I.L.L.O.W. Productions presents

Minnesota’s “Mr. Fantasy”
Sizzling Summer Leather Sunday Beer Bust
Hot Men and Hot Fantasies
Cold Beer and Food
August 13, 1995
Gay 90’s Dance Annex/Men’s Room
4:00 P.M.-9:00 P.M.
Admission $5.00

Dustin Logan’s Fantasy Productions of Omaha, Nebraska, is producing the First International Mr. Fantasy Contest August 18-20, 1995, in Omaha. Minnesota’s “Mr. Fantasy,” to be chosen August 13, will compete in this contest. All the judging categories are geared to the image of a “Fantasy” man, one who is proud of his lifestyle and sexuality.

If you’re someone’s fantasy come true,
Minnesota’s “Mr. Fantasy” could be you!


• Prejudging (interview, closed to general public), 3:00 P.M. Sunday (one hour before contest)

• Fantasy Wear (you are encouraged to be creative)

• On-Stage Question and Answer

• Fantasy

• “Mystery”
category. No one will know the contents of the Mystery Category until the weekend of the contest. Be prepared for ALMOST ANYTHING!

Believe in yourself and be a contestant!

Call W.I.L.L.O.W. Productions at (612) 561-7569 for a contestant application.


This issue I’ll tell you about some interesting events that are coming up, and then . . . we need to talk.

Friday, August 11, 9 p.m.
A popular DJ in New York and Chicago, Corliss W. Resor makes his Twin Cities debut at Checkers on Friday, August 11, with “Dreamweaver” from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. (drink specials 9-11 p.m.) A bootblack will be provided and leather/levi dress is encouraged. Corliss promises “a uniquely sensuous blend of music and video.”

Minnesota’s “Mr. Fantasy”
Sunday, August 13, 4 p.m.
When I gave up my Drummer title recently, I promised myself I would spend at least a year without holding a title. But the press release on the upcoming “Minnesota’s Mr. Fantasy” beer bust (see box) made it sound so exciting and so hot I was almost tempted to enter. If it sounds appealing to you, maybe you should enter, or at least attend. To anyone thinking, “Please, not another contest,” I can tell you this will be unlike any other contest you have ever seen, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the “Mystery” portion of the contest becomes one of the most talked-about leather events this year.

International Mr. Fantasy Contest
August 18-20
Minnesota’s “Mr. Fantasy” will go on to compete in the “International Mr. Fantasy” contest in Omaha, Nebraska, the following weekend. If you’re interested in making the trek to Omaha, it is not too soon to start making travel plans and reservations. Call Fantasy Productions at 402-346-8577 for more information.


I’m finding I really enjoy writing this column. I hope you enjoy reading it, and find it entertaining and informative. There have been a few minor bumps in the road, however, so it’s appropriate to clarify a few points about how this column works.

First: Plan ahead and let me know about events at least three weeks in advance so I can include them in this column; less than that and I’ll do my best, but no guarantees. (Keep in mind that The Leather Journal requires at least one month’s advance notice; Drummer requires two.)

Second: At one point a community member asked if I could do a write-up on a past event; it sounded like it was a great time, and I’m sorry I couldn’t include it here. But after much discussion, the decision has been made that this column will adopt a policy of “preview rather than review.” Translation: we think it’s better to let you know about events before they happen (so you can attend them) rather than writing about them after they’ve happened. Space limitations force us to make this difficult choice. We are, of course, open to input from the community on this issue; if you feel it’s important to see events reviewed, let us hear from you.

One final note: While I may not be able to include written reviews of events, photos are definitely another matter; Lavender Lifestyles invites you to submit photos of events for publication. (Helpful hint: Photos submitted soon after the event stand a better chance of being published.)