The leather culture typically includes both a style of dress and an affiliation with BDSM (Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/Submission, Sado/Masochism, also called “SM”) practice. Both the style of dress and the kinds of BDSM activities characteristic of a community may differ between gay, lesbian, and straight communities, and between Old Guard and newer generations of players. While most people who engage in the leather culture style of dress are also affiliated with BDSM practice, not all BDSM practitioners wear leather culture apparel.
Gay Male S/M Activist
International Deaf Leather
“The compilation, preservation and maintenance of leather lifestyle and related lifestyles (including but not limited to the Gay and Lesbian communities), history, archives and memorabilia for historical, educational and research purposes.”
Leather Archives & Museum eBay Store
The Leather Archives & Museum has launched an Ebay store to help raise funds for the museum and it’s mission: “The compilation, preservation and maintenance of leather lifestyle and related lifestyles (including but not limited to the Gay and Lesbian communities), history, archives and memorabilia for historical, educational and research purposes.” We have lots of items from International Mr. Leather, The Artist Etienne, Author Larry Townsend, Hard to Find Items, Books and dozens of back-issues of your favorite porn magazines.
The Leather Journal
The Leather Journal is a news magazine reporting news as it relates to all aspects of the Leather community.
Gay male BDSM leather culture grew out of post-WWII biker culture. Some men returning from World War II with no desire to return to their hometowns received surplus motor cycles, leather jackets, and other military gear before setting out to re-establish their lives. For many gay men, the military had provided camaraderie and a closeness to other men that they sought to continue once they returned. The first gay motorcycle clubs evolved from the groups of men that bonded together. The first gay leather bars were the club houses of these early biker clubs that opened later to the public.
The early gay male leather subculture is epitomized by The Leatherman’s Handbook by Larry Townsend, published in 1972, which essentially defined one specific order of the Old Guard leather culture. This code emphasized strict formality and fixed roles (i.e. no switching). There is another order of the Old Guard that emphasizes discipline, honor, brotherhood, and respect and promotes and even stricter lifestyle promoting education, knowledge, and privilege based on successive ranks or levels. Leather submissives start as novice trainees and systematically earn their leather while progressing through the levels of third class, second class, first class, and senior trainee. Once a submissive completes his training and earns the Senior title, he is ready to go into part time or full time service as a houseboy in an Old Guard Master’s household. Another source of graphical illustrations of leathermen can be found in the books and work of Tom of Finland .
Very few lesbian women or heterosexuals were visible during the early emergence of gay male leather subculture. Pat Califia was inspired by the gay male leather culture and is credited for defining the emergence of lesbian leather culture. In 1978, Califia co-founded one of the first lesbian S/M support groups, Samois, and is best known for prolific contributions to the body of lesbian BDSM erotica and sex-guides.
New Guard leather culture appeared in the 1990s, as a reaction to the restrictions of Old Guard style. New Guard, or new leather, embraced switching and often combined spirituality with their play. An increasing number of pansexual clubs evolved as well. The leather community has been considered a subset of BDSM culture rather than a direct descendant of gay culture as a whole, despite the fact that in years past much of the organized SM community was in fact homosexual. Today, while some may still use the term strictly in the old fashioned sense (confusing it with old guard, the “leather community” or “leather culture” includes all BDSM practitioners, gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual, or pansexual whether high or low protocol).
For more on Gay Leather Fetish History visit http://www.cuirmale.nl/