Leather consciousness or Leather awareness is a concept I’ve toyed with for some time now. It stems from the sense of self and perception that our self-awareness is like an energy that travels forth and can impact those we engage. Be it positive or negative, it can have a great influence on events and outcomes yet to reveal themselves. Here is an example.
Three years ago my House was able to attend the inaugural Oklahoma Leather Fest. We reveled and rejoiced in the communing with other Leather Identified folk and did the debauchery that we tend to do. In a moment of rest and fellowship of the leaf, I chatted casually with a cis-gendered woman who was explaining that they utilized male honorifics and were embarking on their journey as a Dominant. To which I greeted them “appropriately” as Sir and clarified whether it was appropriate to call them Brother or Sister? Brother was the preference and that was that.
Leap forward in that same year and we once again encountered that individual at another Leather event in Texas. Beyond Vanilla has a large cigar social and during it, I approached this person, waited to be acknowledged, and proceeded to address them in the only way I know to be appropriate- “Hello Sir, it’s been too long”. This was followed by a gesture denoting my intention to hug (Leather folk hug family) and reception of a kiss (Leather folk often kiss family-regardless of orientation or gender). Subsequently, I would introduce this Sir to someone I knew they didn’t know from their local scene stating, “Brother, allow me to introduce you to a fellow Sir from down your way”.
Now, fast forward to the 2019 Oklahoma Leather Fest. Following a long previous day of all the thangs- including conducting a panel, hob-knobbing in the cigar lounge and multiple scenes in the dungeon until 2:00 am, then a long day of judging, greeting folk and many micro scenes…I became aware that in less than 6 minutes I was to conduct ANOTHER panel on Non-Traditional Authority Based Relationships which I had not planned for. Such is the life of those seeking to support the community? So I began and the magic happened…
Somewhere after “doing YOU is the only right way” and before “thank you for sharing this sacred space with us”, I noticed my Brother and fellow Sir seeking to speak and damn- the feels were about to flow. Sir shared that they are now Trans. This was a truth that was beginning to emerge three years prior yet took time to become accepted within their conscious. They went on to tell of our two first meetings and note that I had been one of the few who accepted their truth off the break and who had never misgendered them once. They added folk would say, “I’m sorry, it’s your tits, or it’s your long nails, …or your such a pretty woman it’s hard not to say she or Ma’am”.
I was floored to learn that in their own community, the frustration and sadness had grown to the point of being “done with it all” and ready to leave the community by the time we encountered one another at Beyond Vanilla.
Being greeted as Sir and Brother by me was noted as being a much-needed affirmation in a time of despair. The reassurance of them in body, path, and purpose. Proof that their truth and direction was worthy of pursuing and possible to attain.
Yet to me it had just been two Leather moments.
Seeing one of us as they seek to be seen and continue to do so each time we meet. As I seek to be received within my truth, so do I receive others within theirs. I have no question of my validity, nor do I seek to question that of another. Yet that simple acknowledgment of their being as valid, as undeniable, as truth had an unforeseen impact upon their “young Leather life”. We have power in self-awareness, and living that power may imbue others with the strength to channel their own. This person was attending OKLF as a first time presenter yet had considered exiting the tribe 3 years ago. What would our whole have lost if they had done so? Do we not already lose enough from forces outside our tribe to lose them from within?
It’s such a simple thing to exercise our self-awareness amid our own, really nothing. To be seen, and see others. Yet it is an act that so often plants a wonderful Leather seed which may germinate into a great sequoia, and be used to build our future. That is the power within us all.
HOH – House of Nia