December 2, 2013

“Hey there Daddy Kenneth,

“Is it possible for someone with a casual interest in leather/kink to fill a title-holding role in the leather/kink community?

“[I recently attended a leather contest weekend] – it was an incredible event and I met quite a few very cool people. But I’m not a hard-core leather/kink person – I love it all, from bondage, water sports, fisting, fire play, flogging, CBT, etc. But I just don’t carry these fetishes around with me all the time – they’re a casual interest of mine that I pursue when I’m in the mood and with the right people.

“The majority of individuals I met at the competition seem to have deeply integrated their fetishes into their self-identification, and that’s something I’ve never done and don’t really see a need to do.

“However, I still enjoy being active and involved in these various leather and kink events, and I’d like to see them become more mainstream and accepted by the general population. I just feel like my casual approach to leather and kink in my personal life would be a deterrent from ever filing one of these highly visible roles.

“Or do most of these people feel the same way I do, but they just build a persona around a particular fetish for filling these roles in the community?”

I have seen newcomers to the BDSM Leather Scene win leather titles (because they studied hard, found the right contest mentor, and looked really good in the leather they recently purchased or borrowed for the contest) who went on to become integral to their local scene. I’ve seen title holders who were active before their contest disappear after their title year (or in some cases before the end of their title year.) Title holding is a test of your heart more than it is a test of your kinks, and unfortunately too many title holders are busy “preserving a public image,” fund raising or fulfilling their contact duties to actually participate in their favorite kinks or fetishes. It’s ironic and a tad sad that many title holders don’t get to do their favorite things while they are holding that title. So, in short, yes; yes it is possible for a new BDSM/Fetish/Leather person to hold a title, whether s/he is a weekend warrior, or a 24/7 community member.

The concept of “casual” vs “hardcore” leather people needs to stop. It is just another artificial divide that creates an “us vs them” mentality, and gives us an excuse to not reach out and talk to and mentor people. It’s a sign of laziness. Whatever it is that you do, whatever it is that you like, it is more “hardcore” than some people and less “hardcore” than others. Some folks who consider themselves “hardcore” won’t even consider a casual relationship with water sports, and even though all my formal leather is trimmed in yellow, I don’t piss on people when I’m at work. In fact, no matter how much it turns me on to piss on people, I rarely do it at all. I have to be at a dedicated water sports event usually, which I do once or twice a year at most (if I’m lucky.)

Whether or not you engage in your fetishes on a daily basis, a weekly basis, an annual basis, or only when Uranus is in retrograde, it is your fetish and you carry it around with you wherever you go. If being a leather person is in your heart and you believe in community, trust, honor, respect, family and support then you can be a part of this community. It really doesn’t matter what gear you have, or how big your toy collection is, or how often you engage in those fetish activities. I’ve seen a hot leather man in gym shorts and gym shoes pull off a hot impromptu leather scene with his partner’s bootlace and belt while the fully “dressed” guy with all the right gear and accessories stood helplessly by and didn’t know what the fuck to do.

The majority of people that you are going to meet at a competition are expressing a part of themselves that they only get a chance to express occasionally, so they tend to be “in the mood,” and surrounded by all the “right people.” To the person who is new to the scene, this creates a deceptive perception of how these people are in their day to day lives. I can go for weeks, sometimes even months without getting my rope out, and then suddenly one night I might tie up six different people. Is my interest in rope casual or hardcore? Sometimes our fetish-selves spill over into our mundane lives, for instance I wear my boots to – well almost everywhere.

If you chose to try to become a leather title holder, you will have to remember a few things: Title holder exist to support their community, not the other way around. Your community will expect you to become a visible advocate for them, that’s why they usually give you a patch to put on your vest, a medal to put around your neck, and/or a sash to wear. They want you to wear these things and represent the title they’ve given you, and answer questions. Get yourself a mentor, get yourself some gear, get yourself a platform and go have fun! Remember that competing and making friends is half the reason to do it, winning is just the other half.As for mainstream acceptance: I think this is one of the cases where tolerance is better because sometimes they don’t want us, and we don’t want them. It also makes it somewhat sexier to be part of something that is “dark” and “dirty.” It tickles me when people are afraid to go to the leather bar, because we’re all scary folks in leather. It preserves a part of the fantasy for me.

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