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social sciences

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Leather Culture  
 
page: 1  2  3  

With this change in outlook and means of communication, the character of public leather life also changed. While some invitation-only runs persisted (often sponsored by an older generation of motorcycle clubs), newer organizations' regular meetings and special events were typically open to all. While they allowed for and encouraged socialization, sex, and s/m encounters, the cornerstone of these new events was education. Prominent, skilled, and charismatic leaders within the community were called upon to impart their knowledge of leathersex techniques as well as opinions regarding the state and direction of the leather community to event audiences. In some ways this educational mission was a substitute for the close mentoring of an earlier period, and many bemoaned the loss of a more intimate and exclusive model for the transmission of cultural knowledge.

Another novel phenomenon was the institution of leather title competitions, perhaps the most notable being International Mr. Leather, held annually in Chicago and featuring participants from all over the world. These competitions have proliferated to such an extent that almost any city with a sizable leather community, from Amsterdam and Munich to New York City and Los Angeles, sponsors one such event and may have multiple local title holders. Leather contest winners are enjoined by their status to work to cultivate local leather life, as well as to represent the local community at national and international events. Fundraising and support for charity work has become increasingly integral to this role; since the 1980s, leather organizations have raised large sums for the fight against AIDS as well as the advancement of legal protections for leathersex and the preservation of leather culture and history.

Sponsor Message.

Modes of communication among leatherfolk also changed. The 1970s saw the advent of national and international leather-themed magazines that shared information, propagated sexual styles, and brought people together through personal ads. By the late 1990s, the Internet had supplanted magazines as a source of information.

Opportunities to meet individuals into leather or make contact with leather organizations on the worldwide web continue to multiply. More and more highly specific and esoteric kinks are outlined and cultivated here in ways which they likely could not be in a for-profit medium attempting to target the largest portion of an already small market share. Extensive use of the Internet has lowered barriers to entering leather life considerably, yet proposed laws that aim to restrict the kinds of content available on the web potentially threaten the online leather community's continued vitality.

Leather culture continues to draw medical and legal opprobrium. It remains socially and spatially marginal and thus vulnerable to the vicissitudes of moral crusaders, medical authorities, social service providers, real estate mavens, and conservative forces within the "mainstream" lesbian and gay community. But as more leatherfolk discover the rich history and tremendous diversity of their community and choose to publicly acknowledge their affiliation with one another, leather culture becomes a more formidable entity. It is the hope of leatherfolk that the tradition they uphold and the recognition they struggle for will contribute to the sexual emancipation of all people.

Matthew D. Johnson

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    Bibliography
   

Antoniou, Laura. The Marketplace. Fairfield, Conn.: Mystic Rose Books, 2000.

Baldwin, Guy. Ties That Bind: The SM/Leather/Fetish Erotic Style: Issues, Commentaries and Advice. Los Angeles: Daedalus Publishing, 1993.

Bean, Joseph W. Leathersex Q&A: Questions about Leathersex and the Leather Lifestyle Answered. Los Angeles: Daedalus Publishing, 1996.

_____. Leathersex: A Guide for the Curious Outsider and the Serious Player. Los Angeles: Daedalus Publishing, 1994.

Brame, Gloria, Jon Jacobs, and William Brame. Different Loving: A Complete Exploration of the World of Sexual Dominance and Submission. New York: Villard Books, 1996

Califia, Pat. Macho Sluts. Boston: Alyson, 1989.

_____. Public Sex: The Culture of Radical Sex. 2nd ed. San Francisco: Cleis Press, 2000.

_____, and Robin Sweeney, eds. The Second Coming: A Leatherdyke Reader. Boston: Alyson Publications, 1996.

Carney, William. The Real Thing [1966]. New York: Masquerade Books, 1996.

Easton, Dossie, and Catherine A. Liszt. When Someone You Love Is Kinky. Oakland, Cal.: Greenery Press, 2000.

Freeman, Gillian. The Leather Boys [1961]. London: Gay Men's Press, 1985.

Leatherpage. www.leatherpage.com.

Mains, Geoff. Urban Aboriginals [1984]. Los Angeles: Daedalus, 2002.

Moser, Charles, and JJ Madeson. Bound to Be Free: The SM Experience. New York: Continuum, 1998.

National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. www.ncsf.org.

Preston, John. Mr. Benson [1980]. New York: Masquerade Books, 1998.

Queen, Carol. The Leather Daddy and the Femme. San Francisco: Cleis Press, 1998.

Rubin, Gayle S. "Elegy for the Valley of the Kings: AIDS and the Leather Community in San Francisco, 1981-1996." In Changing Times: Gay Men and Lesbians Encounter HIV/AIDS. Martin P. Levine, Peter M. Nardi, and John H. Gagnon, eds. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997. 101-44.

_____. "The Leather Menace." Sexual Revolution. Jeffrey Escoffier, ed. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 2003. 266-99.

Samois. Coming to Power: Writings and Graphics on Lesbian S/M. Rev. ed. Boston: Alyson Publications, 1983.

stein, david. Carried Away. Los Angeles: Daedalus, 2002.

Thompson, Mark, ed. Leatherfolk: Radical Sex, People, Politics, and Practice. Boston: Alyson, 1991.

Townsend, Larry. The Leatherman's Handbook [1972]. Los Angeles: LT Publications, 2000.

_____. The Leatherman's Handbook II: The Sequel [1983]. Los Angeles: LT Publications, 2000.

_____. Run, Little Leatherboy and Run No More [1971, 1972]. Los Angeles: LT Publications, 2003.

Weinberg, Thomas, ed. S&M: Studies in Dominance and Submission. Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1995.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Johnson, Matthew D.  
    Entry Title: Leather Culture  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated November 23, 2006  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/leather_culture.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  
 

 

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