• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • You already know Dokkio is an AI-powered assistant to organize & manage your digital files & messages. Very soon, Dokkio will support Outlook as well as One Drive. Check it out today!



This version was saved 18 years ago View current version     Page history
Saved by PBworks
on June 20, 2006 at 3:16:36 pm

Hot, sweaty bears in leather . . . WOOF!!


Leather Subculture



The Leather Pride flag, which has become a symbol of the BDSM and fetish subculture.

Start of the Leather Contingent at the 2004 San Francisco Gay Pride ParadeThe leather culture typically includes both a style of dress and an affiliation with BDSM (Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/Submission, Sado/Masochism, also called "SM") practice. Both the style of dress and the kinds of BDSM activities characteristic of a community may differ between gay, lesbian, and straight communities, and between Old Guard and newer generations of players. While most people who engage in the leather culture style of dress are also affiliated with BDSM practice, not all BDSM practitioners wear leather culture apparel.


Contents hide

1 History

2 Controversy

3 Museums and exhibitions

4 See also

5 External links






Gay male BDSM leather culture grew out of post-WWII biker culture. Some men returning from World War II with no desire to return to their hometowns received surplus motor cycles, leather jackets, and other military gear before setting out to re-establish their lives. For many gay men, the military had provided camaraderie and a closeness to other men that they sought to continue once they returned. The first gay motorcycle clubs evolved from the groups of men that bonded together. The first gay leather bars were the club houses of these early biker clubs that opened later to the public.


Leather culture is also inspired by the chains and leather or denim and leather look espoused by heavy metal bands. (Although it is arguably more likely that these groups were more influenced by the gay and straight biker clubs themselves.) The first practitioner of this look in a heavy metal context was Rob Halford, the lead singer of the influential NWOBHM band Judas Priest, who wore a leather suit on stage as early as 1978. Halford, a gay man, picked up the image from leather-culture bars on tour. The rest of the band quickly joined in, and so did subsequent metal bands.


The early gay male leather subculture is epitomized by the Leatherman's Handbook by Larry Townsend, published in 1972, which essentially defined one specific order of the Old Guard leather culture. This code emphasized strict formality and fixed roles (i.e. no switching). There is another order of the Old Guard that emphasizes discipline, honor, brotherhood, and respect and promotes and even stricter lifestyle promoting education, knowledge, and privilege based on successive ranks or levels. Leather submissives start as novice trainees and systematically earn their leather while progressing through the levels of third class, second class, first class, and senior trainee. Once a submissive completes his training and earns the Senior title, he is ready to go into part time or full time service as a houseboy in an Old Guard Master's household. Another source of graphical illustrations of leathermen can be found in the books and work of Tom of Finland .Very few lesbian women or heterosexuals were visible during the early emergence of gay male leather subculture. Pat Califia was inspired by the gay male leather culture and is credited for defining the emergence of lesbian leather culture. In 1978, Califia co-founded one of the first lesbian S/M support groups, Samois, and is best known for prolific contributions to the body of lesbian BDSM erotica and sex-guides.


New Guard leather culture appeared in the 1990s, as a reaction to the restrictions of Old Guard style. New Guard, or new leather, embraced switching and often combined spirituality with their play. An increasing number of pansexual clubs evolved as well. The leather community has been considered a subset of BDSM culture rather than a direct descendant of gay culture as a whole, despite the fact that in years past much of the organized SM community was in fact homosexual. Today, while some may still use the term strictly in the old fashioned sense (confusing it with old guard, the "leather community" or "leather culture" includes all BDSM practitioners, gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual, or pansexual whether high or low protocol).




S&M Resources

Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.