I recently went to a Leather Community educational event. I was subsequently informed that I am “Leather.” I identify as many things, but Leather isn’t one of them. However, in the interest of keeping an open mind, I decided to do some research on what being “Leather” in the BDSM community means. Perhaps I was Leather and just didn’t realize it.
Wikipedia was useless in determining any set of values. The most it could offer was that there is some association with the military, drugs, motorcycles, and BDSM. Of those, I’m only interested in BDSM. Other articles from various BDSM or Leather sites suggest that Leather involves wearing leather clothing. Then I found a few sites specifically meant for the leather community. Now we’re on to something!
So according to one, Leather values include loyalty, respect, integrity, and courage. Another Leather site additionally listed empathy, a desire to learn, and self knowledge as important Leather values. The National Leather Association says that Leather values include honesty, accountability, education, and community service. I’m seeing a bit of a trend here. So maybe I could be considered Leather after all. Except…
I don’t think these values are so much “Leather Values” as they are “being a decent human being values.” Well, to be honest, I’m not much for volunteering or community service. But I do strive to be empathetic, know myself, be honest, keep learning and improving myself, etc. Except…
It reminds me of a scene from the old movie, “Amadeus.” They are trying to decide which language an opera should be in. It goes something like this:
Mozart: “It’s highly moral, Majesty, it’s full of proper German virtues.”
Salieri: “Excuse me, Majesty, but what do you think these could be? Being a foreigner, I would love to learn.”
Emperor: “Well, tell him Mozart. Name us a German virtue.”
Mozart: “Love, sire.”
Salieri : “Oh! Love! Well, of course, in Italy we know nothing about love.”
And, of course, Salieri is right. Love isn’t exclusively a “German” virtue any more than loyalty or respect or education are exclusively “Leather” values. So I don’t think I’ll be calling myself Leather any time soon.