still relatively new to Leather, but I've been kinky all
my life. In the last three years I think I've started
to make the crossover to Leather and to understand its
implications. One of the first things I learned is that
a person has to be real careful making statements that
include "always" and "never,” so I'm going to try to avoid
using them here. Leather folk are a diverse lot, and they'd
quickly prove any absolute rule to be wrong. That is one
of the reasons I've come to love the communities that
first part of my becoming a Leather Woman was simply showing
up. I know that sounds simple, but nothing else could
have happened without it. I had to have the drive to seek
out other people who were in some way identified with
Leather, and not just to play with them. I wanted to be
with people who could understand me, teach me, and tell
me what they knew about others who had come before. I
was searching for myself and people like me, not just
for an orgasm.
first exposure to the scene was through the internet,
not too uncommon in this day and age. I went through the
baffling experience of online chat rooms and found they
didn't hold even a smidgen of what I wanted. That was
fantasy, I wanted the reality. I found tons of people
who would type about any given subject, but I didn't find
people who were concerned with the actuality of this path.
stroke of luck led me to the Seattle Women's Welcoming
Committee web site where I finally had my eyes opened
a little. I learned that there was a group of women who
met and talked about the reality of doing SM, and I was
terribly excited. I still saw things as an outsider though.
"I" wanted to check out "those people".
decided that signing up for their mailing list would be
a safe way to look into the secret world of electronically-equipped
Leather Folk. I was armed with tons of media stereotypes
and preconceptions. I still remember my first question
on that mailing list, "What is all this talk about slave,
submissives, and bottoms? What is the difference?" A very
nice soft butch leather dyke answered my question with
humor and kindness, and for that I'll always adore her.
I was suddenly taken under the wing of over a hundred
Leather Women who were willing to help me learn, and I
adored them. In short order they became people I cared
about instead of people I just fantasized about, and I
think that was my next step in becoming Leather.
laughing with these women, loving some of them, and crying
with more of them I started seeing them more as a tribe
to which I belonged rather than people I came to observe.
during this I showed up at a place called The Beyond the
Edge Café, and it was at precisely the wrong time. Allena
(the owner) was setting up for fetish night dinner and
the place wasn't opened for business. I was this nervous
little woman that walked in decked out in street clothes
and wearing an expression on my face that I'm sure was
a priceless. I was horrified that I was IN "one of these
like a Leather Goddess who swooped out of the clouds,
greeted me with all the graciousness and kindness I could
have ever hoped for. She let me know that I was welcome.
She taught me that once you learn, you teach. She didn't
do it through spouting a lot of pretty words on the subject,
she taught through her example and constant hard work.
Before long, I found myself playing at the cafe and connecting
with players who were taking me places I really wanted
the owner of our news list had to give up moderating it,
I volunteered to create a new list, entitled WHACK (Women
Having A Consensual Kink). Thus started my adventure as
list mommy to over a hundred Leather Women who had helped
me when I was new. I was happy to do it; I owed them a
lot and I would have missed them.
involved and taking the well-being of the group on as
a part of my personal responsibility was a new level for
me. To be honest, I don't always like this part, and sometimes
I'd like to forget it and walk away. It is easier to fight
your own battles and forget the tribe, but as much as
I swear and gripe about it I don't think I could do it.
I'm in it now for the long haul, and understand unquestionably
that our fates are entwined.
willingness and drive to research what you are doing is
one of the other steps that I think is really important.
I couldn't calculate how many hours I've spent reading
materials, speaking with people in the lifestyle, and
learning about our history. I think a major step from
kinky to Leather is not just cruising around for SM porn,
but for SM history. It is a strange day when you wake
up and realize that you have enough knowledge that passing
it on is the thing to do. I've started to do that through
my email list, various web sites, and classes. I also
have started reviewing books for The Society for Human
Sexuality in order to give a Leather perspective on books
there. I can't get out to major cities often to participate
in public scenes, but I contribute what I can.
think everyone's journey to finding themselves in Leather
will be different. What draws us together and makes us
Leather is our commitment and feeling of personal responsibility
for other people in our tribe. It is a compulsion to share
knowledge that one has learned. It is an interest in the
community that goes beyond the sex and the fantasy to
the flesh and blood lives of the people in this lifestyle.
It is an interest in learning about our tribe and honoring
our history. It is a personal drive to add to the community
instead of take from it.
is how I found my way to the beginning of my Leather journey,
and that is what I think of when I hear the term Leather
Man or Leather Woman.
* * * *
Kalin AKA Vamp Ire has been involved in the Leather scene
for about three years as a rather polymorphous pervert.
In that time she has given some seminars and written a
few articles. She currently reviews books for Society
for Human Sexuality at http://www.sexuality.org
and manages a news list called WHACK
(Women Having A Consensual Kink).
2001 by Jack Rinella. This material may not be copied in
any manner. For permission to reproduce this essay, contact
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