Friday, April 26, 1996

Getting Into Leather, Part 2

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #24, April 26, 1996)

This two-part series just expanded into three parts. This issue’s focus will be on leather events—and we’ve got two mammoth ones coming up. So whether you’re a newcomer or an old hand, read on and get ready! (Next issue we’ll focus on other ways for newcomers to meet people in leather.)

“How do I join the leather scene? How do I meet other guys in leather?” I hear questions like these constantly—and always from other men, never from women. (Do they know something we guys don’t?) Anyway, to everyone who has written, phoned, or asked me in person: thank you for your interest. I hope you find the material in these columns helpful.

There was a time when people joined the leather community through a relatively formal system of apprenticeship, mentoring, and sponsoring. But the leather community has lost so many people to AIDS that the mentoring system was almost completely destroyed. There are still people out there who are willing to act as masters, daddies, mentors, trainers, etc. But for now, it’s up to you to find them.

It’s been said that getting into leather often represents a second “coming out.” I always thought the phrase “coming out” was shorthand for “coming out of the closet.” The closet was the place where we hid all the gay (or leather-related) feelings that society told us we should be ashamed of. When we came out of the closet, that meant we stopped being ashamed of being gay (or being attracted to leather).

I’ve recently been reading “Gay New York,” a fascinating gay history book by George Chauncey. It turns out the “closet” is a concept that came into being between 1930 and 1950; the term “coming out” predates it by quite a few years. In the 1920’s, and even before, there was no “closet” to come out of, and “coming out” had much more pleasant connotations; it meant being formally presented to gay society in much the same way as a debutante was formally presented to upper-crust society at a “coming out” ball.

My advice for those who want to get into the leather scene: make leather events and fundraisers your “coming out” events. They’re fun, they’re entertaining, they’re educational, and they’re perfect places to meet people. This weekend and the next will see two spectacular, not-to-be-missed leather events (details in the gray box). So put on that new item that you just bought and are dying to wear, lace your boots up high, and come out!


Mr. Minnesota Leather IML Fundraiser

Sunday, April 28, 4-9 pm, Gay 90’s Dance Annex
Michael deLeon, Mr. Minnesota Leather 1996 and dancer with Ballet of the Dolls, is putting together a fundraiser unlike any other. The Dance Annex will be hosting many out-of-town dignitaries including two of my favorite leatherpeople, Bob Fifield of The Leather Journal (who will present a fantasy) and Kay Hallanger (International Ms. Leather 1991). Savage Aural Hotbed, the amazing band that makes music with circular saws and plate steel (among other things) will accompany a dance performance by deLeon and Stephanie Fellner. Other attractions: a dance performance by Les Femmes Cabaret; a drag show featuring reigning ISCIC empress Tiffany Cartier and friends; a Celebrity Bar Staff Auction; Rent-a-Slave; body piercing, leather/toys mart, boot black, food, tap beer and door prizes. Sounds like after this party we’ll need the whole week to recuperate before . . .

“Labyrinth of Leather”
Sunday, May 5, 5-9 pm, Gay 90’s Dance Annex
Hosted by Ms. Minnesota Leather Darlette Knox and Leatherman of Minnesota Thomas Casey and featuring Mr. Minnesota Leather Michael deLeon and other leather titleholders. Also featured: leather/levi/western clubs; S/M and bondage demonstrations; education and information areas; piercing by Body Arts. There will be displays by artists who “capture the essence of leather in portraits and craftsmanship.” A “Leather Swap or Shop Meet” will let you swap or trade your leather items with other attendees or make purchases from local leather vendors. Food and beer, lots of entertainment, great door prizes and two bonus events: a special auction of handcuffs and hand and leg irons from around the world (get your bid number early—merchandise now on display at The Sidewalk Shop), and at 8 pm the host titleholders and the Minnesota Leather Den present the 4th annual, biggest, barest, “Bare As You Dare” contest! (Please note: contestants must meet all requirements of state and local laws).

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