I recently got wind of a local Leatherperson complaining about the dress code at local fetish events. The complaint was that denim is not acceptable, when jeans with a white undershirt is a standard in Leather culture. I understand why denim is not accepted at fetish events – and why blue denim, specifically, is not accepted at almost all BDSM events – but it does raise an important question regarding the pragmatics of a pansexual BDSM community.
The heterosexual BDSM community was built on the foundations of Leather culture, and heterosexual BDSM groups are welcome to walk in Pride parades and carry the Leather Pride flag. But is it a two-way relationship? It used to be – but is it now? It wasn’t that many years ago that a local bisexual woman successfully fought for women of all sexual orientations to be permitted to join Women In Leather, (which had previously only allowed lesbian members). And there was a time when Vancouver’s scene was loud and proud about its pansexual orientation. But these days – when the doors have opened to accept more and more people who are interested in kink as a diversion – rather than an expression of their sexual orientation – the traditions that our culture were built upon can seem unwelcome and out of date.
So what can we do about it? As the community becomes more diverse, it becomes more difficult to make everybody happy. And those that host events and run local groups can only do so much. But I mourn the loss of the old in order to welcome the new, and I find it rather hypocritical too – given how much we all owe to the GLBTQ and Leather communities. So is there a way that we can reach a compromise?
Can a Leather dress code disclaimer be set up within the dress code regulations? Rules such as: polished boots, no torn jeans, leather cap, etc, could bridge the divide between Leatherpeople looking under-dressed for a fetish event, and being easily identified as fetishists and kinksters. Surely there is a way where a simple issue of wardrobe can be resolved in order to open the doors to valuable members of our community. If you are reading this and you run, or help run, a local event – please think on this. Because, personally, I find it disappointing and unfair to let vanilla people in the door (who stocked up at the local stripper-wear store), while lifestylers are turned away. If the Leather community was willing to open its arms to the heterosexual BDSM community, we owe it to them to always have a place for them too.