Special Interest Groups
So we had our SIG meeting this afternoon and the topic, which had been requested in our topic listing, was Leather History.
I did a bit of prep for the meeting, which included going through the Leather Archives and Museum Leather History Timeline. If you’re interested you can find that here.
I pulled out items that I thought were particularly interesting from that time line:
1954: Satyrs MC founded in Los Angeles, the first gay motorcycle club.
1955, Sept. 21: The Daughters of Bilitis, the first Lesbian organization in America, is formed in San Francisco.
1958: Oedipus MC founded in Los Angeles, the second gay motorcycle club.
1958, June: Chuck Renslow becomes manager of The Gold Coast in Chicago and creates the first Leather Bar.
1960, March 16: The Gold Coast, Chicago’s first leather bar, (opened June 1958) is purchased by Chuck Renslow and Associates.
1960: Warlocks MC, and California Motor Club formed in southern California and San Francisco respectively.
1963, Sept. 15: Second City Motorcycle Club founded in Chicago.
1964, June 26: Life magazine features “Homosexuality in America,” an article by Paul Welch that includes a two page spread on the Tool Box, San Francisco’s premier leather bar, and sparks a migration of eager leathermen to “Baghdad by the Bay.”
1964: Empire City MC founded in NYC and holds first Empire City Christmas Party and Toys for Tots.
1964: Recon MC founded in San Francisco.
1965, Apr.: Second City MC founded in Chicago. The first such club in the Midwest.
1969: Time magazine declares 1969 “The Year of the Newly Militant Homosexual”
1969, June 28: New York City Police raid the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar on Christopher St. near 7th Ave. triggering riots that last several nights, and becoming the seminal event in public awareness of the fight for gay rights.
1969, June 29: “Four Policemen Hurt in Village Raid” reported the New York Times, on page 33.
1969, July: Reporting on the Stonewall riots, Time magazine says, “The love that once dared not speak its name now can’t seem to keep its mouth shut.”
1969, July: The Gay Liberation Front is formed in New York City.
1970, June: Celebrating the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the first gay pride parades/marches/rallies are held in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Cycle MC marches in the Christopher Street Liberation Day parade in NYC.
1971, Jan. 3: First lesbian center in the US opens in New York City, sponsored by the NY Chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis.
1971, Feb.: The Eulenspiegel Society is founded in New York City as North America’s first SM organization. It is open to all sexes and orientations.
1971, Apr.: Bob Ross begins publishing the Bay Area Reporter, aka the B.A.R., in San Francisco. Mr. Marcus begins his leather column in this newspaper in August of 1971. As of this writing in Jan,. 1999, both the paper and the column are still going strong after 28 years!
1971, Aug.: In Chicago: Thirteen men decide to organize a group specifically to hold gay male SM play parties and the Chicago Hellfire Club is created…
1972, April: The (San Francisco) Bay Area Reporter newspaper begins publishing a column devoted to leather related news, gossip and information written by “Mr. Marcus,” (Marcus Hernandez.) The first, and longest running, column of its type, in 1999 it is still going strong!
1972, Oct.: In a contest held at the Chicago Leather bar, the Gold Coast, John Lunning becomes Mr. Gold Coast. The FIRST leather title holder.
1974: Bella Abzug and Edward Koch become the first members of the US House of Representatives to introduce legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.
1974: The Society of Janus is started in the San Francisco Bay area by Cynthia Slater. It is an SM interest group open to all genders and orientations.
1974, Apr. 8: Members of the American Psychiatric Association agree with its trustees to stop listing homosexuality as a mental disorder.
1976, Oct. 26: The Mineshaft in New York City opens. This after-hours club allowed and encouraged virtually all forms of sexual activity among its hot male patrons. It was a Mecca for leather/SM types in the Eastern US and Canada. Closed in Nov. 1985.
1977, Feb. 7: US State Dept. announces it will no longer automatically bar gays and lesbians from employment.
1978, Nov 27: Harvey Milk, openly gay San Francisco Supervisor, assassinated, along with mayor George Moscone, by former Supervisor Dan White.
1989, May 28: Tony DeBlase presents his design for a leather pride flag to the audience at International Mr. Leather, the first time the flag is presented to the public.
We talked, too, about some of the “rules” of the Old Guard leather, which I also find quite interesting. Let me say that there are those who disagree that there ever even was an Old Guard, but regardless, I still find the list an interesting one:
Always wear boots, butch ones, and preferably black.
Always wear a wide black leather belt plain, not fancy.
Never mix brown leather with black leather.
Never mix chrome or silver trim with gold or brass trim.
Long pants only, Levi’s or leather, and no shorts.
Chaps indicate more commitment than Levi’s, and leather pants more commitment than chaps, especially when worn consistently.
Leather Jackets must have epaulets (bike riders excepted).
Head gear is reserved for Tops or experienced or heavy bottoms only.
Bottoms may not own collars unless a particular Top has allowed that bottom to be the custodian of the Top’s collar. A bottom wearing a collar is a slave, and belongs to the owner of the collar who, presumably, has the keys. Other Tops are not to engage a collared bottom in conversation, but other bottoms may do so. Should such a relationship end, the collar must be returned to the Top.
Never touch the bill of a bike cap, including your own.
Never touch another man’s cap (or head gear) unless you are very intimate friends or lovers.
Keep studs and other decorations to a tasteful minimum unless they happen to be club insignia.
Never wear another man’s leather unless he puts it on you.
Leather, other than boots and belt, must be ‘earned’ through the achievement of successively challenging ‘scenes.’
Wearing gloves is reserved for heavy players, glove fetishists or bike riders.
Always indicate SM preference, only with keys left or right.
If you are cruising seriously, wear the keys out; if not seriously, tuck them in a back pocket.
Always indicate strictly leather sex or ‘rough sex’ interest by wearing no keys at all.
Those who ‘switch’ are second class players and not to be taken as seriously because they haven’t made their minds up. If you must switch, do so in another town.
‘Full’ leather is reserved for after 10:00 P.M. only and only with ‘our own kind’.
Respect the public by wearing less of it during the day–don’t frighten old ladies (l did once by accident), or anyone else for that matter.
About Socializing and Cruising:
Experience in the Scene determines social seniority (Top or bottom), not age, not size, not amount of leather worn, and not offices held in organizations, awards received or titles won.
Tops and experienced bottoms should be accorded higher respect and deference unless and until they behave rudely–all are expected to observe rules of social courtesy-bad manners are inexcusable and can lower one’s status in the Scene (thereby reducing access to the Knowledgeable People for information or play),
Real Leathermen keep their word: they do not borrow or lend money; they conduct their affairs with honor and integrity-they don’t lie.
Preliminary social contact should be on the formal side.
‘Senior Persons’ (Top or bottom) are not to be interrupted when in conversation.
Experience being equal, Tops lead the conversation.
Junior Tops defer to Senior Tops and Senior bottoms in social situations.
Junior bottoms defer to all others in the Scene but not to outsiders.
When walking together, bottoms walk half-a-step behind and to the left of Tops with whom they are involved or playing.
It is up to the Top or the experienced bottom to extend a hand to invite a handshake. (All touching is highly restricted during initial contact between strangers.) NEVER over-indulge in drugs or alcohol in public, or otherwise attract scornful attention to one’s self–to do so brings dishonor on the men in the Scene,
Tops should always have the first two opportunities to make verbal or physical contact.
The more submissive one is, the less direct eye contact one makes-glance frequently at or stare at His boots only when cruising; less so in non-sexual conversation. The more dominant one is, the more direct the eye contact is unless there is no erotic interest (cruising only).
Men in the Scene do not discuss (or write about the Scene with outsiders. All men in the Scene must be able to spot outsiders with the ‘right stuff’ and be ready to facilitate them into the Scene after they indicate sincere interest.
None of these rules are taught or explained to anyone except by innuendo, inference, or example.
Erotic technical information is only shared among peers.
We talked about why people thought Leather history was important, and discussed the positives and negatives of both inclusion and exclusion within the community.
We spent some time specifically talking about Stonewall, an incident I find quite moving. If you don’t know a lot about Stonewall, the Wikipedia entry here is well-written and interesting.
All in all, I think it was a worthwhile discussion and one that people enjoyed. That’s always my hope, anyway.
On another topic, my website is up and running and it’s now possible to get yourself registered for Bluegrass Leather Pride and the Kinky Bloggers convention by going here. I look forward to seeing at least some of you there.