What is “Leather Subculture”?
The leather subculture is a collection of style choices and practices with leather being the focus. These can include normal clothing like pants, vests, and caps. It is also heavily based on accessories like bands, cuffs, and undergarments made of leather. Originating in the male gay community leather culture is now a part of lesbian and straight kink culture as well.
Leather Subculture & References in Media
The leather subculture is frequently associated with BDSM and gay communities. In truth, leather can symbolize all other gender preferences (bisexual, gay, lesbian and straight) and other subcultures both sexual and non-sexual in nature.
Cultural subgroup dedicated to the interest and activities related to the use and incorporation of leather garments and accessories dates back to the late 1940s. The gay male leather culture was already established and thriving then, after growing out of the biker culture during the post-WWII era. The earliest gay leather bars were derived and patterned after motorcycle clubs. The Satyrs, Oedipus and the New York Motorbike Club are the pioneering gay motorcycle clubs established during those times.
All clubs that were dedicated to celebrating the gay community were put under extreme scrutiny by the media and the masses. This was despite the fact that the said clubs took inspiration from the sensationalized coverage of the 1947 Hollister “riot”. The Hollister “riot” was most popularly depicted in the 1953 film, The Wild One. In the film, Marlon Brando wore T-shirt, jeans, a Muir cap and leather jacket—a get-up that echoed the dismay of some gay men on how being gay is often typecast as feminine and how it was always associated with camp style, musical theater and other forms of hip culture.
It was this particular sentiment that lead to the formulation of a leather community that focused more on gay men’s journeying around S&M and various types of kinks.
Leather Subculture Protocols
A vast majority of traditions in the leather subculture are based on protocols and rituals in the military.
Protocols observed in the leather community include the No Touch Without Permission policy, being respectful when approaching other members and initiating conversations and properly addressing other members by their corresponding titles.
Properly wearing the different leather attire and accessories and possessing substantial background is paramount. Knowing how to incorporate different leather garments or toys into different types of kink and play is likewise highly favored upon.
Leather Subculture in BDSM
While leather subculture is not strictly BDSM based, most practitioners are a part of the BDSM community. Leather Daddy’s are generally considered dominants or tops. While there is no particular moniker for submissives in the leather community, there are a number of roles. Bootblacks are common and engage in boot worship and service to Dom’s of the community. Like motorcycle gangs, there are varying forms of initiates which serve the roles of bottoms. There are often strict punishments for not observing decorum or protocol. These often are met with corporal punishment or impact play involving leather toys like whips and paddles.
There are a number of national and international events based on the leather subculture. International Mr. and Ms. Leather competitions take place yearly. The Folsom Street Fair was started largely by people identifying with the leather community. Leather competitions and boot blacking events are common in most major cities around the world.
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