What Is Leather?

What do these event names have in common?

  • Colorado Leather Fest
  • Southwest Leather Conference
  • International Mr Leather
  • South Plains Leather Fest

Okay, that wasn’t a very hard question. The common factor is obviously “Leather”. But what do we mean when we say “Leather”? We get asked that question a lot. It’s not easy to answer, because Leather means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. For many people, Leather conjures up an image of men in a dark gay bar wearing leather vests and chaps and engaging in hot, steamy sex. And that’s a great image! But Leather can mean much more.

Leather can be a style of dress. It can be a formal set of protocols and rules for maintaining a Dominant/submissive relationship. It can be a code by which you live. It can be hot, nasty sex or amazing S&M play. It can be a No Fucks Given response to those who criticize our lifestyle. It can be a community, a tribe, a family.

A lot of people have written eloquently about what Leather means. Hardy Haberman, a gay leatherman, gave a keynote speech at the GLUE Event (Gear, Leather, Uniform, Etc) where he talked about what Leather means to him. Now, he is a gay leatherman, so a lot of his definition is about hot, steamy sex. There’s that great image again! If you want all the details, here’s the complete speech:

GLUE Weekend Keynote Speech

But he also talks about some of the other aspects of Leather. Here are some excerpts.

When you answer the late night phone call from a friend who needs to talk.
When they bend your ear about a relationship that has soured and they just don’t know what to do.
When you listen patiently because you know that simple act is exactly what they are really seeking, and you refrain from giving advice.
Just listen.
When they thank you and apologize for waking you at 3:00am and before they hang up, say “thanks for being there for me”.

That’s leather.

When you help your friends clean out the house of a leatherman who died before his family arrives and discovers his personal dungeon.
When you pack up years of memorabilia and move it to storage and unkink an apartment before relatives who never really knew him throw it all away.
When you attend a memorial service and sit with a leatherman’s extended family, and endure the nervous stares of his blood relatives to pay your last respects.

That’s leather.

When you take in a timid newcomer and show her the proper way to tie a person’s wrists so the circulation still flows to their hands.
When you explain how to hold a flogger and use it like an instrument to elicit moans and whimpers from a willing bottom.
When you guide her through a scene step by step and then watch her grow and bloom on her own.

That’s leather.

When you think you have done it all and still find something new and exciting to try.
When you find that you still have something to offer even if you never looked like a Tom of Finland illustration and you will never fit into those sexy chaps again.
When you find yourself being asked to speak at events, month after month and though you say you are going to finally say “no” you say “yes” instead.
When you feel so much gratitude to your brothers and sisters in leather that it almost brings you to tears.

That my friends, is leather.

And here are some excerpts from “Being Leather”, an essay by Chris M.

Being Leather

Being leather is standing naked in front of no fewer than five people, at least some of whom are clothed.

Being leather is doing something very, very bad and making someone feel very, very good.

Being Leather is reading the hundred year old case studies of “Psychopathia Sexualis” and realizing that instead of therapy the patients should have thrown a great big dungeon party.

It’s reading Joseph Campbell and National Geographic for the pictures of tribesmen with their piercings, shamanic rituals and tatoos and getting it, in a way you never had before.

Being leather means finding yourself at the threshhold of something you said you’d never ever do, and bravely stepping forward into the unknown.

Being leather is courage in the face of adversity.

Being leather means the sting of not being able to tell people at work about the amazing time you had on Saturday night.

Being leather means discovering 42 minutes into the scene that you’ve made a deep connection with someone that may well last a lifetime.

Did any of that touch something inside you?

If it did, you just might be Leather! Leather isn’t all about sex, it’s not just in the genitals. It’s also in the heart, and in the mind, and in the soul.

Here’s another question that we get asked a lot:

“That’s great, but I still don’t identify as Leather. Will I be welcome at Colorado Leather Fest? Will I get anything out of it?”

Absolutely! Everyone is welcome at CLF, regardless of how they identify. Our sessions cover a variety of lifestyle relationships, as well as Leather and BDSM history and traditions, service skills, and a lot more. And we’re about community as well. Building relationships, making connections, and having fun! And bringing our community together. That’s been reflected in the theme of our events:

2015: Standing Together

2016: Building Together

2017: Coming Together

2018: Growing Together

2019: Celebrating Together

2020: Connecting Together

Keep an eye on our news channels, and take a look at our presenters and classes when they’re posted. If you see something that interests you, come to Colorado Leather Fest 2020! (Leather optional.)

Colorado Leather Fest website: https://www.coloradoleatherfest.com

CLF Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/coloradoleatherfest/

CLF FetLife Profile: https://fetlife.com/users/3754564

CLF FetLife Group: https://fetlife.com/groups/103833