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Leather Power
Leather & vanilla power dynamics
Life before leatherprentice 
1st-Nov-2007 09:24 pm
Below are the entries that I posted at my old leather journal in the winter before I met leatherprentice. I switched to posting at this comm after that, and then nearly abandoned posting here altogether, because I was so discouraged at not being able to find a place for myself in the leather community.

It's interesting rereading the entries and discovering how many of my predictions were way off the reality of what type of DS relationship I entered into ("I don't feel I'm qualified to take over another person's entire life or even most aspects of their life"), as well as the passages where I was spot on ("I know now that what I want is to have a leatherboy or girl apprenticed under me, preferably so that I can train them in how to be better at writing and research").

What I find most amusing, in retrospect, is the title I chose for the journal: "No sex. No SM. No BD. No fetish. Just plain DS." At the time, I thought that combination would scare off every submissive in the world. As it turned out, that was exactly what leatherprentice was searching for.

18 December 2006

I'm a bisexual member of the gay leather community, and I wear my keys on the left. I'm also a leather writer. As my keywords for this blog suggest, I'm interested in master/apprentice relationships.

I've spent time hanging out with leathermen, leatherwomen, members of the pansexual BDSM community, and people in related communities, such as femdom/malesub groups - not to mention a lot of vanilla folk in many different communities. I'm interested in getting to know you all.


Calling myself a sir may be stretching matters, since I've never had the opportunity to care for another person, except within vanilla boundaries or in purely social situations within the leather community. Nevertheless, I have the training and the desire to be a sir, and I've been able to exercise my dominance through service within the leather community.

As you will gather from the above, I am very much a service top, though hopefully not in the negative sense.

I'm androgynous in gender identity, so my life would be a lot easier if I weren't drawn to the gay leather community. Nevertheless, it is love of that highly masculine culture which brought me out of the closet after many years of only allowing my fictional characters to live out my impulses.

A few other facts about me:

* I'm a lifestyler. Though I get along fine with BDSM players, leather relationships are not something I do for play.

* I don't do SM, bondage, age-play, or fetish. (Though it can be tricky to figure out what constitutes "fetish" in a community where wearing leather is a fetish.) Again, I get along fine with those who do.

* Because I have a vanilla partner (who has given his approval to my leather activities), I don't do sexual activities with anyone in the leather community.

* Because of my vanilla relationship, it's not possible for me to establish a live-in leather relationship. I'm fine with either online or real-life relationships.

* I don't feel I'm qualified to take over another person's entire life or even most aspects of their life. I'm only interested in guiding and/or training someone else in specific areas of their life where they need help. The area where I'm best qualified to train is in writing - leather or vanilla - and historical research. (I'm talking here about a master/apprentice relationship, if you haven't already figured that out.) But I'm willing to consider guiding in other areas, whether those areas involve social life - leather or vanilla - or involve specific skills.


You may well be asking by this point what I'm doing in the leather community. I ask myself that often, because everyone else whom I know in the leather and BDSM communities falls into one of the above categories that I don't fall into. I certainly don't know anyone in the leather or BDSM communities whose idea of their ideal leather relationship is the sir training the boy or girl in how to be a better writer.

So what connects me to the leather community?

* Hierarchy. In twenty-first-century America, personal relationships that are deliberately centered upon a blatantly hierarchical arrangement between adults are few and far between. Even in cases where the hierarchy exists, the most common custom is to keep the hierarchy as understated as possible. Unashamed, obvious hierarchy in personal relationships is looked upon with distrust by most vanilla folk (understandably, given the long history of abuse that has taken place within such relationships).

Although I enjoy my egalitarian relationship with my partner, I have a deep need for hierarchy that remains unmet. Only a small part of this need is erotic - the vast majority of my hierarchical feelings are on the emotional and intellectual level. I'm quite capable of entering into a leather relationship with someone who doesn't turn me on erotically, and such a relationship could be strongly satisfying to me. Nevertheless, the fact that I'm wired sexually to be turned on by hierarchy means that I can't talk with full honesty about my hierarchical feelings in the vanilla world.

* Ritual. I was raised in a form of Christianity that draws strongly upon medieval hierarchical ritual. The first time I practiced protocol in the leather community, it came as naturally to me as though I'd been doing it since childhood - as indeed I had. The protocol I'd practiced in church was different from the protocol I've practiced in the leather community, but they are both outward and visible signs of an inward grace, as the phrase goes.

There aren't many places left in modern America where one can practice hierarchical ritual, aside from the leather and BDSM communities. I understand that the degree to which people feel comfortable practicing protocol differs. A submissive may feel that doing anything more than calling her dominant "sir" is silly. A leatherboy may happily practice one of the military-style protocols that the leather community has inherited. I don't think the exact form of protocol that is chosen matters as much as the recognition that outward signs of hierarchy support the inward symbolism of the relationship - and also bind the participants in fellowship with others who practice the same protocol.

* Gay leather culture. When I first began getting to know about leathermen, I expected their culture to be the same as pansexual BDSM culture - a culture centered upon BD, DS, and SM. I soon discovered how wrong I was. Gay leather culture is centered upon masculinity, which means that many of its activities are also practiced by vanilla men: brotherhood, trials and initiations, and other traditions derived from the motorcycle world. Some leathermen are vanilla.

Straddling as I do the vanilla and leather/BDSM worlds, I feel more comfortable in a community where my identity isn't defined purely in kinky terms. And the particular traditions that are followed by leathermen move me deeply on an emotional level.

* Vocation. As I mentioned before, I'm a leather writer. Writing is my vocation. Of course I could be a leather writer without being a leatherperson. But even in cases in the past where I couldn't "be" the people I was writing about, I've always believed it's important, when one is writing about a group of people, to become part of their community.

I also know many people outside the leather and BDSM communities who write about those topics and who sometimes turn to me for advice. The more time I spend with folks who are knowledgeable about leather and BDSM, the more likely I am to be able to pass on that knowledge to others outside those communities.

* Fellowship. I've taken part in the activities of a leather/levi club. I've been mentored by a leatherman who introduced me to his social circle. I've been trained to be a sir and have gotten to know other people who went through similar training. I've established friendships and working relationships with a number of people in the leather and BDSM communities.

This is my home.


Although I write about leather professionally, I also write vanilla works under the same name. Establishing a separate blog will allow me to talk about the things I usually never talk about, except on rare occasions with close friends. I hope that a happy byproduct will be that I get to know other folks who are interested in the topics discussed in this blog.

Training trials
22 December 2006

[Long passage snipped about my difficulties in training and how I ended up questioning whether I belonged in the leather community.]

I spent a lot of time thinking alone during those the months that followed my training. I stopped writing about the leather community in my private journal to friends. I stopped going to the activities of my local leather/levi club. When I had to move house, I chose a new location that happened to be out of easy reach of any leather events. After one final leather event - where everyone stared blankly at me whenever I explained that I didn't practice dominance through SM or bondage or sex - I stopped having contact with any leatherfolk or BDSM folk.

You can take a dominant out of the leather world. Unfortunately, you can't take the dominance out of a dominant.

The problem was that I was still writing professionally about leather. And every now and then I'd get an e-mail from a reader who assumed that I must be a top. "SIR!" such letters would begin. Nicely worded, and I didn't make the mistake of assuming this was anything but the politeness of a well-trained boy or slave. But it fed a part of me that was starving. So did the vanilla work I was doing that required me to be in a supervisory capacity over other writers.

I haven't really found a solution to my dilemma. Thanks to my supervisory vanilla work, I have a much clearer notion now of what I want as a sir than I did during my training. I know now that what I want is to have a leatherboy or girl apprenticed under me, preferably so that I can train them in how to be better at writing and research. What I want turns out of be even further from the leather/BDSM norms than I'd suspected at the start. Yet I wouldn't be fully satisfied with such an apprenticeship in vanilla terms (though I'm certainly pursuing that as well; I've signed up to be a writing mentor at a writers' forum). I want a deeper and more ritualistic hierarchy than the vanilla world can offer me.

What disturbs me most is how self-centered my thoughts have become since my training. I don't want to spend my time thinking about myself. Been there, done that; I want to do something new. I want to spend my time thinking about another person; I want their needs to fill my mind, to shape my actions. Tapping into that giving part of me was the first and clearest sign I received, when I first entered the leather community, that pursuing my dominance was right and good. If I can't keep hold of that giving impulse, it would be dangerous for me to stay in the leather world.

Yet I know that staying away from the leather world wasn't working. I was beginning to talk about leather everywhere I went, in places where it wouldn't have been appropriate for people to know of my personal interest in the subject (as opposed to my professional interest). When I woke up one morning and realized that I'd been wearing my leather uniform (which can pass as civilian clothes in my part of the world) every time I'd walked out of the house for four months, I realized it was time I found a way to come back to the leather community.

So here I am.

A mildly leatherish Christmas
25 December 2007

Much to my surprise, because I didn't expect it to be. But on Christmas Eve, I got letters from two different boys - one of whom I met through this account and one of whom I met professionally - as well as an e-card from one of my readers, depicting a naked bottom being spanked by Santa. I do get interesting mail from my readers.

Since things are rather quiet for me these days, leatherwise, I thought I'd reprint an old entry from a private journal of mine, about my early days in the leather community.

But first: While the previous post served its purpose of letting me unburden myself about things that have been on my mind for over a year, I've snipped most that post (the first time I've ever done such a thing on a blog), partly for the sake of the folks mentioned in that entry.

Now the old journal entry, from the first month that I came out in the real-life leather community [March 2005]. Reading that entry, I'm amused to see how much more defensive and easily wilted I was in those days. No doubt I'll get the same impression if I look back on these blog entries a few years from now.

[And indeed I do, reading these entries less than a year later. :)]

* * *

"I'm not just a slave, sir," the leatherman said. "I'm an American. I'm a man, sir. I'm a gay man. But being a slave is the heart of what I am, sir."

"Sir" - namely, me - nodded silently.

This delightful conversation started off on absolutely the wrong foot. I fell into conversation with the slave in question after I asked his permission to quote, in an article, remarks I'd heard him and his master make to each other. Once he learned that I already had his master's permission, he dismissed the matter as a done deal. I'd seen him and his master at the latest Masters And slaves Together meeting; he remembered me because I'd asked a question during Q&A. He noted that I was wearing a Master/slave Conference tee-shirt.

Then he asked me whether I'd found myself a master.

Oh, dear.

I put aside all thoughts of ritual suicide and corrected his misapprehension. He was immediately embarrassed and contrite. I told him I was honored that he regarded me as a bottom. He liked that. He apologized again, blaming his mistake on the fact that I wasn't wearing keys, and implying that he'd misunderstood the reason I was wearing my watch on my right wrist.

Oh, great. So leathermen flag through their watches. Why am I always the last one to figure out these things? I assured him again that I wasn't offended. (Crushed, yes. But not offended.)

He proceeded to "sir" me for the next three-quarters of an hour. It was the most sustained performance of deference I'd ever witnessed. He'd put an English butler to shame.
8th-Nov-2007 12:18 am (UTC)

I like that last bit.

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