Friday, December 8, 1995

Questions and Answers

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #14, December 8, 1995)

What’s a bootblack? How do hanky codes work? When you talk about the “leather community,” what exactly are you talking about?

These are just a few of the leather-related questions I’ve heard lately, and those questions deserve answers. Therefore, today’s column, striving to educate, inform and entertain at the same time, takes a Q&A format.

What’s a bootblack? When a leather event advertises “bootblack in attendance,” it means there will be someone there polishing (or shining) boots. This person will probably use a lot of black boot polish and very little of any other color-—hence, “bootblack.”

How do hanky codes work? I could fill three columns answering this question. Here are the basics: Hanky in left pocket = top or dominant. Hanky in right pocket = bottom or submissive. Common colors: navy blue = fucking, grey = light SM [this was disputed, and I later published a correction: grey = bondage], black = heavy SM, red = fisting, yellow = watersports. (If you want to know what “fisting” or “watersports” are, ask me and I’ll tell you in a future column—see below.) There are many, many more, including handcuffs and teddy bears.

Keep in mind that in the dim light of a bar it’s sometimes difficult to tell exactly what color a hanky is, and some of the colors are pretty close even in the daylight. If you have a question about what color a hanky is or what it means, it’s okay to ask. It’s better to find out the color while you’re still at the bar, instead of dragging someone home only to find that the hanky you thought was navy blue is really black (or vice versa).

What exactly is this “leather community” that you’re always talking about? That was a humbling question to hear. Since I understand what it is, I just assume everyone else does too. For those of you who have been scratching your heads wondering what this “leather community” is all about, here’s as good an explanation as I can come up with.

There is no exact definition of the leather community; in order to belong you don’t have to join anything, or sign up for anything. You can join a club if you want, but you don’t have to. (That’s where another term, “GDI”—which stands for “God-Damned Independent”—comes from.) Basically, anyone who desires to be part of the community can join it.

So who are the people in the leather community? Members can be any age and any sexual orientation. There are gay men, gay women, bisexuals (people who feel attraction for both sexes), pansexuals (people who play sexually with both sexes), and even straights. Some people in the leather community don’t even wear that much leather—they may be more into latex, or spandex, or other types of fetishwear. Some members are into heavy sadomasochism, some only slightly, some not at all.

It’s a pretty diverse and wide-ranging group which happens to be united by several characteristics. We tend to be drawn to things and activities, sexually and in other areas of our lives, that general “polite” (or “vanilla”) society frowns upon and says we should feel ashamed of. We tend not to feel ashamed of them, however, but to celebrate them instead. That makes us outlaws, but for a lot of us that just adds to the excitement. We may sometimes find ourselves ostracized and shunned by “polite” society for what we see as flimsy reasons. Because we don’t appreciate being shunned, it behooves us not to shun anyone else just because they may see things differently that we do. That means the leather community, at its best, is a very open and accepting group of people.

Now, an invitation: If you have a question, send it BY MAIL to my attention c/o Lavender Lifestyles. I can’t promise I’ll answer them all, but I’ll answer as many as I can. And if I don’t know the answer, someone else probably will. (Please, no phone calls. The LavLife staff are wonderful people, and I’d hate to put them in the spot of having to take all those messages for me.)


Good Luck to Dale Willman: On Saturday, December 9, our own Dale Willman will be competing in the Mr. Great Plains Olympus competition at the Triangle in Denver. (For the record, a Ms. Great Plains Olympus winner will also be chosen, but Dale won’t be in that competition.) The winners go on to compete in the first-ever International Mr. and Ms. Olympus competition February 10 in New Orleans. This international contest is part of the Pantheon of Leather and is presented by The Leather Journal.

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