Friday, December 3, 1999

I Love a (Person) In Uniform

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #118, December 3, 1999)

PHOTO: Mountie uniform

Many members of the leather community are attracted to uniforms. Some folks like collecting and wearing them; other folks simply gaze approvingly when someone else is wearing one. Uniforms seem to be a gender-neutral attraction, enjoyed equally by both men and women.

It’s natural that uniforms should be a turn-on for this community, considering that the community was initiated in large part by servicemen and servicewomen returning from World War II. They had come from small-town America where they lived in isolation, often feeling like they were the only person alive with these unnatural urges toward members of their own sex. Suddenly they were in the military, in a same-sex barracks, and they typically found out quickly that there were many, many others like them. Friendships were made that continued long after the war was over. Uniforms, being a big part of their coming-out milieu, acquired powerful symbolism.

Today, military uniforms remain popular and have been joined by police uniforms, medical uniforms (especially in medical scenes), prison guard uniforms . . . and the list goes on. Firefighting uniforms, with their rubber coats and boots and their fire-protection facemasks, have a special crossover attraction to lovers of rubber and industrial gear (see last issue’s column—and see also the follow-up item below). And even to non-uniform lovers, a bright-red Royal Canadian Mounted Police uniform turns heads.

All these uniforms remind us of military or paramilitary systems dependent on hierarchy, authority and subordination; that gets fantasies going for many people. (Think drill-sergeant or prison-guard scenes.) Uniforms represent a masculine, rugged look, a splendid display of machismo that is appreciated by both leathermen and leatherwomen on both leathermen and leatherwomen.

Uniforms can be procured at estate sales, second-hand shops and military surplus stores. Some people will feel fine wearing whatever uniform pieces they can find; other, more detail-oriented souls wouldn’t think of wearing an incomplete or non-regulation uniform themselves, and won’t understand how anyone else could either.

And then there’s a group of people who don’t need to search for uniforms: real servicemen and servicewomen, who wear them every day in the service of their country. Every year the Olympus Leather Contest/Pantheon of Leather ceremonies in New Orleans feature a tribute to those patriotic members of the leather community who have served or are currently serving in the various branches of the Armed Forces. I was in the audience for last year’s ceremonies, and it was an impressive sight: a line of sharp-looking, proud men and women in uniform stretching across the stage. I got some great pictures of it, and I only wish I could publish one of them. Unfortunately, I can’t; in this era of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” I wouldn’t want to inadvertently “out” anyone. But it was obvious that the tradition of gay men and lesbian women (and kinky ones at that) proudly serving their country continues to this day. Next year’s Olympus Leather Contest/Pantheon of Leather takes place February 25-27 in New Orleans. If you’re a present or former member of any country’s Armed Forces, go and be honored. (And, while we’re on the subject of the Olympus Leather Contest, remember that the Minnesota Mr./Ms. Olympus Leather Contest weekend takes place December 10 at The Minneapolis Eagle and December 12 at The Saloon.)

Is it illegal to wear a uniform? The American Uniform Association is a nationwide group of uniform devotees, people “who share the pride, integrity, loyalty, and spirit that uniforms symbolize.” Here’s what they have to say about the topic: “AUA does not encourage illegal acts. Common sense dictates that the attitudes of law enforcement agencies be respected. But for the most part, collectors and enthusiasts are free to display what uniforms they choose. Laws vary from state to state and country to country. In some places owning certain uniform items is illegal. In others, the question in a confrontation with the law may come down to whether there is an intent to misrepresent. AUA encourages its members to be discreet.” The AUA has established a Legal Defense Fund to assist members who might be unfairly or unconstitutionally prosecuted.

Not everyone enjoys uniforms—certain aspects of uniforms make some people uncomfortable. What is sexy, they ask, about a police uniform when there’s so much police hatred of, and brutality against, the GLBT community? Pacifists may feel uncomfortable with the militaristic, war-centric overtones of military uniforms. And certain types of uniforms and uniform scenes (for example, anything with a Nazi theme) are viewed by many members of the community as going too far, and meet with almost universal disfavor. Police scenes combined with race play (such as white cop/black criminal, or vice versa) are also not exactly politically correct. Of course, some people find excitement in being politically incorrect. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion of what’s appropriate and what’s beyond the pale in such matters; your humble columnist was planning to be a conscientious objector rather than fight the Vietnam (or any other) war, but he still finds something exciting about uniforms and about people wearing them.

If you find something exciting about uniforms and the people wearing them (or not wearing them, as the case may be), you’ll love a magazine called In Uniform. They’ve published thirteen quarterly issues so far and have produced two videos, all of which are available on their website: The website also features information about the American Uniform Association and a huge list of links to other uniform-related sites.

B.D. Chambers is First Runner-Up to Mr. International Rubber 2000

On Saturday, Nov. 13, at the Cell Block Bar in Chicago, Tom Kelly from New Jersey was awarded the title of Mr. International Rubber 2000,. Our own B.D. Chambers, who was interviewed for this column last issue, was 1st runner-up (Congratulations, B.D.!) and James Drew from San Mateo, California was 2nd runner-up. The contest was the subject of a live webcast on, and they’re thinking of rebroadcasting it—check their website for details. You can see photos of the contest and the Rubber Blowout weekend at the Cell Block’s website,

Atons Holiday Fundraiser and Silent Auction

Start your holiday season off with a bang at the Atons Holiday Fundraiser and Silent Auction this Sunday, Dec. 5 (5-10 PM) at The Saloon.

• Bring donations of food for the Aliveness Project’s Holiday Basket Program. Donations of food will make you eligible for special door prize drawings on merchandise or a gift certificate from Fit to a T Leather.

• Bring pennies (or other change) for Every Penny Counts. For every pound of change you bring, you’ll get a ticket for the grand door prize drawing—you might win a leather jacket from Trackstar Motorsports. The Saloon will generously match the amount of pennies up to $150, and First Bank of the Lakes will match the amount up to $100 (as well as counting all that change for free).

• Bid on over 35 Silent Auction items. If you haven’t already seen the auction catalog, you can check out the items on the Atons website at (Even if you can’t be there Sunday, you can still make a bid using the absentee bidding form—download it at

• It just wouldn’t be an Atons Holiday Fundraiser without bootblacking, photos with Leather Santa, food, and 75-cent tap beer and sodas. $5 at the door if you bring food to donate, $8 at the door if you don’t.

Upcoming Leather Events (for Calendar section)

Sunday, December 5

Atons Holiday Fundraiser and Silent Auction
5-10 PM, The Saloon
Photos with Leather Santa, bootblacking, food, 75-cent tap beer and sodas. Bring donations of food and pennies, bid on silent-auction items. See “Leather Life” column, this issue, for details.

Friday, December 10

Minnesota Olympus Leather Meet & Greet
7-10 PM, The Minneapolis Eagle
Meet and greet the contestants and judges and see the teddy bears that will be auctioned off at the contest on Sunday. $2 cover includes drink specials.

Sunday, December 12

Mr./Ms. Minnesota Olympus Leather Contest
7-10 PM, The Saloon
Be there when Mr. and Ms. Minnesota Olympus 2000 are chosen. Contest features hot men, hot women, fantasy entertainment, and the presentation of the Leather Community Service Award. Bid on your favorite bear at the Leather Teddy Bear auction. $10 at the door. Call for further information or to be a contestant.

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