Recently during a leather contest I was hanging out with friends and people prior to the meet and greet. As friends and I shared mutual conversation I did something that I am not proud of however I am going to share with you. Over the sound system suddenly Beyoncé came across the speakers and my boy started to shimmy and lip sync to the music. Without even thinking about it, I looked at him and I said the following “We don’t do that while we are in leather.”
We don’t do that in leather…? Really… who was I to tell another leather-man how to “appropriately behave in leather”? Without thinking about it, I had somehow bought into this ideology of what a leather-man should or should not do. In part this is one of the many factors that are impacting our communities across the United States. Interestingly enough, as the evening went on I found myself dancing and having a good time with the group while on the dance-floor. Somehow it was okay for me to dance around and have fun however it was not acceptable for another person to do it. Wow, what a hypocrite! I had reached monumental-douche status.
Somehow, I had allowed this expectation of the masculine-archetype to permeate my view of others and the community. Although I do not have the answers for how to fix the ills plaguing our dwindling numbers, there is something that I can do. I can focus on my own attitudes towards others. I can also apologize to my boy from being a complete douche.
I caution that we can get lured into the senses that since we have tons of leather, we network and we go to the “right” events that we are somehow right and others are not. The reality that is that it is not the quality of leather, the amount of gear you have or the events that you attend. It is about community, it should be about the by-gone notion of brotherhood/sisterhood.
How do we treat those new-comers to the community? Do we accept them or do we judge them, every-so-slightly? Do you offer mentor-ship or do you simply dismiss them as someone who is “trying too hard”? If we all think back we can think of the very first time we ventured out in gear; the amount of fear and anxiety that we had, but also the feeling of freedom and exhilaration was like nothing we had every felt. Now imagine that the first interaction with other leather-men was met with judgment, disdain and a lack of acceptance. Is it really a wonder why we do not see new community members?
While I am not proud of this story, I never shy away from using myself as the example for others. The next time you are out with friends, hanging out and you see a new-comer, welcome him/her. Introduce yourself, do not judge them for the way that you think that they should or shouldn’t look, behave or how you think that they should dressed. Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither is a leather-man or leather-woman. In the end if you should choose to dismiss them in judgement you will simply be a douche wearing leather. Don’t be a douche wearing leather!