On the heels of our July 27th "Is Leather Dead?" panel, with its phenomenal turnout and great energy, LDG has been asked to host a discussion posing the question a different way: What is the future of the men’s leather/fetish/BDSM community?
First: Does a men’s community exist? With the passing of “leather” as our umbrella term, is there still a critical mass of men engaging in radical sex with other men who acknowledge and value our commonality, irrespective of our differences? Or do we now identify foremost with others who share our fetishes – latex, leather, M/s or D/s, animal play – regardless of gender and orientation?
Certainly it's clear there are men with a same-sex orientation who prefer mixed "pansexual"/genderqueer spaces and communities.
However. With more than 20,000 men in Chicago for IML this year, it's also clear there are still men who seek out spaces and events dedicated to men, whether they always identify as "leather" or not.
If we think there's still life in the idea of a broader community of kinky gay men, then who do we think is in it? And isn't it time to stop complaining about the loss of our bars and clubs and instead hammer out new priorities for our leaders?
But, second: Who are our men’s community leaders? How do we select and identify them? We have a process for choosing titleholders and bare chests, but can we count on them to lead us anywhere but the next fundraiser, the next contest?
Third: If we want to preserve a men's community, what new institutions will serve us best? If we don’t need bars to cruise and socialize, what businesses can we support? The reigning event models are contests, conferences and “runs.” Is that enough?
Fourth: And how do we feel about being guests wherever we go? We used to own the spaces where we congregated – bars, clubs, dungeons too. Now wherever we meet, wherever we play, we’re there at somebody else’s tolerance and obliged to abide by their rules (which some blame for the decline in men’s play parties). Women addressed the same situation by establishing a Women’s Building. What would it take to create, support and subscribe some kind of Men’s Building?
Let’s not let the energy and ideas generated by our July 27th panel go cold. Add your voice and your thoughts to the visioning-forth of the men’s community we want and can be now.
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The Leathermen's Discussion Group is in its fifteenth year of presenting topics of interest to the men's leather/fetish/BDSM community and our allies.
LDG programs start promptly at 7:30 p.m. We advise arriving early as seating is limited.