Dispelling the Myths about Leather

Dispelling the Myths about Leather

by Jack Rinella


Some think that if you walk into any Leather bar, you'll see people arrayed in various stages of dress, modeling an assortment of leather, Levi, and other kinds of uniforms, threatening each other with piercing stares. They sip or chug their drinks with indifferent nonchalance, occasionally striking up conversations in hushed tones. Some may play darts or pool; others circle the area like sharks seeking prey or pace about like caged lions. A few, dressed in more common street attire hover on the fringes, desperately hoping to enter this erotic world, terrified that they'll never survive the ordeal, if they do.

For them, this is the world of Leather, and it isn't what it appears to be. In fact the scene I just described belies the truth of the Leather community. For without actual experience, one only sees its exterior expression. Its heart is far differently clothed. Let me dispel what I call the "Myths about Leather." I've gleaned these from the many questions asked of me by readers who aren't into Leather and are often afraid to find out what it's like.

"It's All Pain." Leather's ruff and gruff exterior and the notoriety given to activities such as whipping, piercing, and paddling lead one to believe that our main emphasis is pain. It looks like we are all sadists seeking someone upon whom to inflict harm.

The number of Leather folk who thrive on injury is remarkably small, even minuscule. Even those who are into spanking, whipping, and such use pain as a pathway to pleasure. Seldom, if ever, is it an end in itself. In fact, the vast majority of tops, when inflicting pain, are careful not to hurt their partners. Injury is never part of a good Leather scene.

Fact is, most folks into Leather avoid pain and it is often omitted from scenes entirely, or if it is part of the scene, it is only a small part of it. In any case, without the assent of both parties, there ought to be no pain at all.

"You're a Top or a Bottom." The casual observer sees that members of the Leather community are either dominant or submissive. They hesitate to join in, since they are often reluctant to categorize themselves along such strictly drawn lines.

Appearances indicate that there are more bottoms than tops. In actuality, most Leather folk go both ways. Many in fact switch often, sometimes in the same scene with the same partner. No one is going to expect you to act the same way every time with the wide variety of men and women you are going to meet.

There are those who are strictly top or bottom but in the majority of instances, roles for a night are determined by mood, the participants, and their levels of experience. Many people start their Leather journey as one and move to the other role as they gain experience and learn more about their own preferences. Besides, it takes time to figure out what you really like. It took experienced Leatherfolk years to become who they are. We know it will take you time to.

"You Have to Own Leather." One of the major blocks to entering the Leather world is the cost of the "uniform". Black jackets, chaps or pants, and the myriad toys associated with Leather are not cheap. Dress codes seem to have been posted to keep people out, especially those who don't have the resources to "dress for the occasion."

In truth, there are ways to enter a Leather bar without mortgaging your life for the costume. Most bars will let you in with simple working attire (jeans and flannel or tee-shirt). For areas requiring more stringent dress, a bare chest will sometimes get you past the bouncer. On more than one occasion I've loaned a piece of leather to a friend. In any case, the eventual "attire" will most likely be naked flesh.

"It's Dangerous." In the age of the Epidemic, safety in sexual activity is an accepted requirement. Leather play seems dangerous, but actually provides an arena for sexual activity that is safer than more "vanilla" scenes. Clean toys and role playing don't transmit venereal disease. You can't get sick from the working side of a clean paddle!

Very satisfactory Leather play need not include fucking or sucking. Activities such as verbal abuse, body worship, and bondage don't exchange body fluids. Many scenes end with mutual masturbation, a safe way to get off.

Many public play parties, especially in the heterosexual scene, actually forbid sexual activity. They realize that sex is a private matter and ought to be done in private, at least when it's a matter of law and keeping the venue open for another play party later.

"Leather Has Got to Be This Way." The purists among us may certainly take exception to this remark, but the Leather world only asks for three conditions: Make it safe, sane, and consensual. Beyond that there is no one way to be part of the Leather scene. As everywhere else, variety is the norm in the Leather world. Once you meet Leather's participants, you'll see a wide range of tastes, activities, and preferences. We're all different ages, body types, personalities. Top, bottom, switch; anal, genital, oral; physical, psychological; committed, promiscuous, looking for a special one; carefree, strict, easy-going; leather clad and practically nude.

The truth of the matter is that very few of us are purists. We leave those feelings for the judgmental and the righteous who are quite welcome to practice their masochism in a right-wing church meeting.

"There's a Lot of Protocol to Learn." This myth is like the one above. Having gleaned their information from stroke books and jerk off stories that titillate with endless Master/slave routines, those who don't understand the essence of Leather want us to believe that there are all sorts of established and rigorously-enforced modes of behavior, that Leather must be done in a very certain, prescribed way. Nothing can be further from the truth.

The hallmark of real Leather folk is our rugged independence. The old guard were freedom-minded individuals who tolerated lots of shit because they wanted to be tolerated as well.

That's not to say that some folks don't have protocols. They do. But the wise among them realize that what they expect, they expect of themselves and their partners. They do not impose their ways on others. They are tolerant and accepting of those who live their Leather life differently, understanding that it takes all kinds to make the world go round and that variety, not conformity, is the spice of life.

"I can't bother anyone." OK, maybe there is a lot to learn. We love teaching novices. Helping someone else know more about Leather is a real turn-on for most of us. We love to show off what we know, talk about our favorite fetish, and brag about what we've done. Go ahead, we want you to ask us.

It's also fun to find a novice. He or she reminds us of what we were like. We love to see the recognition of discovery on the your face. We know that you are important to us and to our futures. We want you to join us. Remember that we all started somewhere. Even Jack Rinella had to go into a Leather bar, visit a Leather club, and tie someone up for the first time. There is, after all, as Mom says, a first time for everything.

You see, we're into cow hide, Levis, uniforms, jocks, hairy, smooth, dark and light skin. Older people and younger. Short scenes and long term commitments. The fact is we're just like everyone else, seeking to find ourselves and our pleasures. When you walk into that dimly lit, mysterious Leather bar, there is one idea you can rely on: these men and women into Leather are just as human as the next person.

Get beyond the myths and you'll find why they're my favorite kind of people.


You can obtain more information on this topic and other topics at Jack Rinella's website: http://www.LeatherViews.com