Friday, January 19, 1996

Calling All Wannabees

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #17, January 19, 1996)

During the time I’ve been writing this column I’ve been introduced as LavLife’s leather columnist to quite a few people. Their reactions vary from a polite “pleased to meet you” to various degrees of fawning and drooling (just kidding!) Seriously, though, there has been one curious reaction that I have heard many times over. It is this: “Oh, so you’re into the leather scene? Me, I’m just a leather wannabee!”

I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that I hear this “leather wannabee” response so often, because for many years I was a leather wannabee myself. Shortly after coming out at age 19, I was doing—ahem—”research” when I discovered Drummer Magazine. It was unlike any other gay magazine I had ever seen until then; the men were different than the men I saw in In Touch or David (and certainly different than the men in Playgirl, which was my primary source of beefcake at the time).

The men in those other magazines ranged from ruggedly handsome to overly pretty. The Drummer men, however, were in a class by themselves. I almost didn’t know it was possible for anyone to be that rugged and that masculine. Even fully clothed in leather, they exuded more sex than a lot of the naked guys in the other magazines. Of course, the Drummer men got naked too, and that was phenomenal. And then they started doing unspeakable things to each other’s bodies, which was scary. (“Gosh, doesn’t that hurt?”) Scary, but also strangely, secretly, somewhat shamefully attractive; it repulsed me when I thought about it, but some of what I saw in Drummer kept showing up in my fantasies for years.

As I got older, I kept my leather fantasies to myself. The thought of a big, masculine leatherman even wanting to speak to someone like me seemed outlandish. And the thought that I could actually meet that leatherman on his own turf was beyond outlandish—it was impossible. If I would have had the gall to actually put on leather and invade their territory, I felt like I would have been recognized as the phony I was and laughed (or thrown) right out the door.

I wasn’t even a leather wannabee. I was a leather wish-I-could-but-know-I-can’t-be.

Well, obviously a few things have changed, the first and most fundamental being my attitude towards leather. Once I gave myself permission to actually interact with leatherfolk I discovered that those tough people in leather were actually very friendly and accepting. And I discovered that leather is about inclusion, not exclusion.

Moral of story: If something about leather attracts and excites you, you don’t have to be “just a wannabee.” Give yourself the freedom to explore all the facets of leather life, and you’ll be amazed at the new vistas you’ll discover. You may really get off on certain aspects of the scene; other aspects may not be to your liking. You get to choose what works for you and what doesn’t—you don’t have to buy the whole package in order to be a “real” member of the leather community.

You, too, can be a member of the leather community. I personally invite you to come check it out. You don’t have to be intimidated. We won’t bite.

Unless, of course, you want us to.


If the various international titles are the leather community’s version of Miss America, then the upcoming Pantheon of Leather (sponsored by The Leather Journal) is the leather community’s version of the Academy Awards. This year, 380 individuals, businesses and organizations are nominated to receive awards in twenty-one categories including man, woman, club and business of the year, as well as various regional awards. Among the nominees for this year’s Midwest Regional Award are Madison’s Alvin Robinson (the current Great Lakes Mr. Drummer), as well as J.D. Laufman, Heartless, and Your Humble Columnist, all from the Twin Cities. Congratulations, J.D., Heartless, and Alvin; I’m honored to be included in such esteemed company.

The awards will be presented Sunday afternoon, February 11 at the 1996 Pantheon of Leather VI in New Orleans.

Upcoming Events

Sunday, January 21:
The Atons present Snow Ball/Winter Sleaze, Gay 90’s Dance Annex, 4-9 p.m. $5.00 admission includes beer, sodas, food. “Best Buns” and “Sleaziest Jeans” contest. Hanky code information available (and hankies for sale!)

Friday-Sunday, Feb. 16-18: The Black Guard presents Black Frost 19, “Spurred On In ’96.” Registration deadline Feb. 1.

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