With a title like that, I’m sure you’re raising eyebrows and wondering what the hell I’m talking about. Well, reading a few blogs and KinkyNet posts on “what is Leather” and hearing about “truth, justice, honor” and all those wonderful Boy Scout values that we would like to see in our fellow man… but do they really have anything to do with Leather?
To answer that, I’d like to point you to four articles/speeches/writings that share the thoughts of folks who were there in the 60s/70s/80s during the “Ye Olde Guarde” period that gets mythologized so much, and see what they say about the Boy Scout values…
http://www.sfldg.org/blogfile/listen-up-perverts-a-triumvirate-manifesto-master-skip-chasey (This one, I was present at when he gave the speech and it was electric.)
It’s been my experience (both for myself and in observation of others) that most people, they will take bits and pieces of what they’ve been through and make it of importance to themselves. That’s WONDERFUL. However, that’s a personalization or regionalization of something – not the be-all, end-all, one-true-way. Nor is leather particularly about the Boy Scout values – gay leather was (and is) about fucking and hot dirty, nasty, rough sex.
What happened, and this is partially my opinion and partially from elements from the articles above and being around those folks, is that LGBT women/men had to form collectives, form families, form close bonds and ties with others of like mind. Call it clubs, gangs, what-have-you, but that in those elements, a code of conduct naturally had to form. We see it in any society. Those rules, those codes of conduct, they get passed along and in translation over the years they get idealized, both by a sense of nostalgia and a sense of something we all do – “it was better back in the Good Old Days.”
What we see today as honor and respect was true in some part, but it also reflected that leather men/women stuck together and for each other. It wasn’t as much Boy Scout American Apple Pie as much as it was “I’ve got your back, you’ve got mine.”
So that today, when I see folks throw those terms around, I mentally check myself – we (those alive now who are inspired by leather and called to fuck/live in consonant fashion) are the “settlers” and we’re going to take what went before and interpret it, but let’s not mistake our interpretations of what we want out of a “leather lifestyle” as a reality of what it used to be like. Rather we should know that those gay men and women were fucking hard and forming support networks that were ravaged in the 80s, and today, we have a far different viewpoint because we have come after, and we stand on the shoulders of giants. Giants who were fucking rough and hard. God love ’em all.