What happened to the gay leather scene? That’s what Mike Miksche wanted to know. So he decided to do a deep dive investigation and find out.
“These days, even the young’uns are showing up to gay, kink-themed events, styling themselves in decorative neoprene harnesses as if performing some kind of butch drag,” he writes in a new piece of Slate.
But, Miksche says, the BDSM scene of today is “worlds away” from the more explicit, hardcore leather scene of the ’70s and ’80s, immortalized by folks like Robert Mapplethorpe and Tom of Finland.
“Be it the master and slave, the boot fetishist, or the fist-ee: They were rough personas, serious and perverse,” Miksche says.
Related: PHOTOS: Vulnerable Photo Series Captures The Softer Side Of Leather
But you just don’t see those guys around as much as you used to. Gone are the leather bars and fetish clubs. Gone are the dudes dressed in leather caps and chaps hanging out in the gayborhood. The adult cinemas. The kinky sex clubs. The bathhouses.
It’s like that whole part of gay culture has just… died.
Or has it?
“Well, the truth is,” Miksche says, “it’s not dying at all—it’s just gotten more concentrated.”
Miksche speaks to Race Bannon, a leather/kink columnist for the Bay Area Reporter, who tells him the leather scene hasn’t gone away, it’s just changed, and not necessarily in a bad way either.
“Everyone is equating the demise of leather bars with, ‘the scene is going away,’ as though leather bars were the be-all and end-all, and the only thing around which leather culture can exist,” Bannon says. “The leather bars were mostly offering a cruising venue, which is not necessary anymore.”
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This is thanks, in large part, to apps like Recon, Scruff, and Grindr, which make it easier for easier for fetishists to find exactly what they want exactly when they want it.
“This is far more efficient than cruising a leather bar after midnight, trying to sort the real players from those who are just playing around,” Miksche says.
The apps have also been extremely helpful when it comes to arranging private and semi-private BDSM parities, which Miksche says are thriving.
Edwin Morales, president of the board of directors for Folsom Street Events, explain, “I could tell you without blinking an eye that any given point in San Francisco after 6 p.m. there is some kind of BDSM-orientated sex party happening.”
Morales continues, “While it might not be at a venue; it might be at a private home. That scene is very much alive, very much well, and with the advent of all of the social media dating apps, it is stronger and stronger.”
Related: 5 Things I Learned At IML That Have (Almost) Nothing To Do With Leather Or Sex
Then, of course, there are things like IML in Chicago, which attracted over 15,000 kinksters this year, plus Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco, which sees crowds upwards of 400,000, Dore Alley, and Folsom Street East in New York.
So, yeah, there might not be as many actual bars that cater exclusively to the leather crowd as in the ’80, or sex clubs where kinksters could find one another before the Internet came around, but that’s no reason to brood.
After all, leather never really goes out of style.
“People always tend to look nostalgically at the past, particularly with the kink scene,” Miksche concludes, and “the scene is not nearly as visible as it was and there’s far more posing going on in the bars and clubs. But that’s no reason to lament.”
“Leather and the larger kink scene is far from dead. It just takes a more discerning eye to see it.”
Related: Five Ways To Embrace & Enjoy Your Kinky Fetish
Photo credit: Aaron Herrera via Queerty
Liberals want male homosexuality to be “scened away”. That is why they talk about scenes. It’s as if the libs cannot stand to see male homosexuality in the mainstream and direct us to exist as “scenes”.
As for leather and bdsm, it’s for narcissists. If wearing a dead cow and whipping someone turns you on, you need medical help.
I can’t say much to that BS since none of it makes any sense. You’re just an idiot.
Yes, someone definitely does need to seek help….
It was a manly thing I guess but there’s fewer real men now days and if you were in leather you were looking for rough sex as I was . Not just putting on drag .
1) You’ve confused Liberals with Conservatives, dear.
2) Who are you to dictate what turns someone else on. I’d recommend pulling the stick out of your own ass before criticizing other people’s kinks.
Ummm…I don’t know what you’re smoking, but you need to put it down and back away slowly. There’s too much nonsense in your words to ever take anything you say seriously, much less the challenge of educating you about our history, customs and traditions. Go. Away.
I was never into BDSM. Don’t care to be a “rough persona, serious and perverse”.
Agree with the original author about “butch drag” costumes. Leather has turned into a pageant. More generally, so has Pride. People play pretend for a day. There’s no substance.
And I’m not even “old.” I’ve seen this shift occur dramatically within just the last 10 or so years. It’s sad.
Hell, these days gender identity is more of a pageant than anything else. Everything people do is to make themselves look more interesting on social media, that’s far more important to them than actually being interesting or actually being part of something.
Sorry but seeing a guy in any sort of leather drag is pretty much an instant turn off.
it’s probably because gay kids are growing up with a lot more support so their sexual identities are more connective rather than shameful and therefore less focused on fetishizing that shame.
truckproductions – Exactly. You nailed it.
Its turned into a fashion show I was lucky to have been into the real leather scene starting in the 80s when if you were in leather you were into BDSM now I no longer attend leather ?? events there are the big buff title holders in sash but you slap that ass they go owww im not into that shit !! Same with guys at the bars its a look now days IML MAL has went down hill there Idea of a after hours party is to suck dick and get drunk used to be get out the toys and play Then there’s the total tops or what I call the Visa card masters that not have a clue what they are doing never have been on the bottom so they do not know what pain they are giving and they suck at swinging a flogger or paddle ! I judged a contest about 4 years ago and no one knew what the leather flag colors meant or the hankie code most of the questions from the other judges were stupid as hell I held a title many years ago not because I was hot looking but I knew the history of the scene and could work the playroom well maybe it will come full circle and get real again or maybe not at least I got to be in the REAL scene years ago .
This sounds like the typical oldster nostalgia. Every aspect of the LGBTQ world has changed over the last 40-50 years, including the leather scene. That doesn’t mean it’s dead or that all young leather people just play at it, but that it’s different and there are other venues and ways for people to connect. Also, the article misses Mid-Atlantic Leather Festival, MAL, in DC. It’s been around for a while and draws a huge attendance, including many people of color, and locals who are fascinated by the “dress up.”
I’m 22 and I don’t know a single person who is involved in this garbage. Also, there is no such thing as the “LGBTQ world.” Talk like a normal person.
Good riddance! May all of these other “scenes” based on loveless promiscuity also go missing!
Hopefully you’ll be first. Signed everyone.
Have a happy transition. 🙂
just before I saw the paycheck which was of $9068 , I did not believe …that…my father in law was like they say actually taking home money in there spare time on their computer. . there brothers friend haze done this for less than seven months and at present paid the loans on there apartment .. .??????? ?????____BIG…..EARN….MONEY..___???????-</b
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