[M/s 365] Our leather

After an exhausting, but fantastically fun weekend in Detroit for the Michigan Leather Sir/boy/Ms/BB/Master-slave contest, we drove home – bleary-eyed and drained. Still, the windshield time had some conversations and we started talking about Master Skip Chasey’s keynote speech from SPLF.

If you’ve not had a chance to listen to this very compelling speech, please do so. It was a very thought-provoking opinion by someone who has “been there” and seen things as they’ve happened in the leather/Ms/kink communities.

I had typed out a much larger post, but I think it is not time or the place for that here yet in our M/s 365, so I will simply share how I define my leather and what I have taught my slave.  

It is about how we fuck. It is about the circle of friends and chosen family that we would do anything for. It is about earning/having our place in a greater whole. 

The story of how I/we came to that definition will be the subject of a future post, when we have two brain cells to rub together.

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Identifying as a leatherman

black-72926_640Understanding my background is my best way of explaining what leather is for me and why I call myself a Leatherman. My history is one of not feeling like I was “entitled” to call myself Master SuchandSuch, but to earn that right. One of looking at the various people and admiring the leatherfolks and learning from them, emulating them, reaching out to them and serving the community as I could. Whether that’s with money, support or sweat equity.

I call myself a Leatherman because I identify with the sex that comes with leather. I feel more of a connection with how leatherfolks cruise and play than anywhere else. In this respect, though, I probably come up a bit short with my shyness and my other aspects that make socializing difficult for me.

I feel that my service and dedication to my leather club (my tribe, my family) makes me a leatherman. It’s been my experience and observation that most of the general kink/BDSM community will gladly come together for munches or the play parties, but that seems to be the limit. Most of the leatherfolk I emulate give back a lot to the community, including sexual activism, sweat equity and the sense of community that comes from that.

I feel a sense of safety and connection with those who “earn their way” into the scene. Starting at the bottom may be the most-oft quoted way, but it wasn’t the only way and isn’t to this day. That being said, “earning” your way, accepting that you’re “junior” until those you respect and learn from tell you otherwise makes a lot of sense to me. It requires for me to be humble that even after 10 years, 15 years, I still have a lot to learn, to earn and to give back. I contrast this to those that seem to feel entitled to call themselves “Master/Mistress SuchAndSuch” just because they can, and form “Leather families” because it’s newest fad to look cool.

This topic is so difficult to explain in a post. Learning what my leather is has taken me 16 years and continues. Identifying one’s self as a leatherman or not I think depends on what someone has learned, HOW they have learned, where they want to go. If leather calls to you, then you’ll find it. It’s one of those things that a person doesn’t *have* to be leather to have fun or be authentic. If someone doesn’t identify with leather, that’s awesome! Go forth, be your kinky-bad-self and enjoy the space you have and the people you share it with.

Earning your leathers

black-72926_640At this year’s GLLA, as is customary at that event, Ms. Kendra publicly awarded leathers to those that she felt had earned them. This reminded me of my own acquisition of leather, both earned and – yes/gasp – bought.

When I first came out into the kink/BDSM community, I had no idea what I was doing. My initial forays were to find straight people who were doing these wonderful things that I’d fantasized about for so long, but I didn’t find a traditional leather community. I found spankos, swingers who crossed into the kink, people who seemed to be living weekdays in one world, weekends in a different world, and I saw a few mysterious folks. These folks seemed to have an aura about them, a type of attitude that spoke of having forbidden or private knowledge. The way they acted, spoke and conducted themselves made an impression on me.

What impressed me about these people was their emphasis on learning, on having an approach that you earned things, that you weren’t entitled to be Grand Master Poobah just because you could fit that title into the Username text field on the account registration screen, but that you had to earn your way into the community. So, I didn’t call myself Master of anything, except I identified myself as on the Master/slave path about 6 years after I first came out. It took me that long to be sure this was a path I could walk! Little did I know how much I didn’t know!  No, I was going to do it the hard way, but the right way. If the leather community that I was trying to become a part of felt that I had earned the title, then and only then would I accept it.

My first leather was not earned, mainly because in the het/straight world that I was aware of at the time, there weren’t the traditions of doing so. So my first leather was an FMC leather vest I bought at the Alley on Belmont and Clark in Chicago. My first boots were also self bought – OK, both pairs of boots that I own are self bought. My leather belt – self obtained. My second (and current vest) also was self bought. It wasn’t that I was thumbing my nose at anyone – it was simply that I wasn’t a part of a community where these things weren’t occurring. Yet.

It wasn’t until we became full members of the Chicago Leather Club in 2010, when slave angie and I were presented to the attendees of the Annual General Meeting as new full members, that I finally received a piece of earned leather – and that ended up being my Master’s cover. Mistress Joanne Gaddy and slave angie had gotten together to make it happen. Mistress Gaddy, Daddy T and Master Rick S all three presented it to me. I not ashamed to tell you that I cried, this had been a moment that I’d wanted to be a part of, to be the recipient of. Over the 15 years I’d been a part of the Chicago community, both underground and public, I’d given what needed to be given to help support my circle and my tribe and now I was recognized.

Since then, I’ve started seeing a lot more pansexual awarding of leathers, in Chicago and around the region. The nice thing is that this awarding is following the same thought patterns I had seen 15 years earlier… it’s given to people who’ve earned it. We don’t have the tradition of a person needing three pieces of earned leather in order to start awarding earned leather, but that’s not a bad tradition to look to the elders and those who’ve put in the time to get your leathers from.

If there was anything I would pass on as a lesson, it’s that sure, you can buy your leather gear, but to really feel it, to really have earned the titles and earned what is given to you, that’s a completely different thing – and it’s necessary to the growth and journey of a leatherman/woman. I feel really strongly that when you earn leathers, when you earn titles, it “entitles” you to more responsibility, more duties and more on your shoulders to continue earning those leathers, even though you wear them.

Writing this blog post is hard because I still feel a “twitch” that I shouldn’t buy more leather, that those leather pants that I see that would look so hot on me… I should keep my credit card in my wallet. Should I wait for all leather to be earned?

Now, though, I have people I can bounce these questions off of.  People that are part of my community, people who are part of the leather family that I hold dear. For that, for being given a chance to earn my place and my leather, I am continually grateful and hope that I continue to earn my place each day.

Leather and protocol – not what you think

cairn-60006_640This is not the same leather protocol post you might see elsewhere.

Last night, I saw what I consider the foundation of leather and protocol on display. A bunch of us who care deeply about something came together to work hard and do something about it. Sure, we had big letter types and small letter types there, but everyone sweated the same, worked hard the same and worked together the same. Someone needed help, others chipped in. There was good natured joking, a bit of teasing but we were together.

Protocol is contextual and about the rules of interaction for a given situation. Leather is a specific tilt to our kink, one that includes leather (and levi’s – ty to bensonboy for that great post on that subject), leathersex and TRIBE – people who gather close to protect and help.

The protocol last night was “pitch in and get it done. Fuck the letter types, if you have strong back and willing arms, you’re in.” Perfect.

The leather last night was a group coming together to do something that needed done, small, but not caring how little we were because the shared space is big. Perfect.

That’s all the leather and protocol definitions and examples I need in order to know I’m on the path I need to be on.