To me, the Leather Community is a great community. It is one where we can all be who we are. It doesn't matter if you are male or female. It doesn't matter if you are gay, straight or bi. It doesn't matter if you are white, black, latino, asian, or none of the above. It doesn't matter about your body type. It doesn't even matter about your interests as the leather community has branched to include many of the other fetish interests too.
This is one of the reasons I advocate that people should not feel like they belong on the outside...but be part of the community. Especially since I have heard on more than one occasion that people have said that there are only a certain group of people that are true leathermen. I call bullshit on that. What you wear...and whether or not you have a boy/slave does not make you more of a leatherman/woman than the guy who finds his interest in neoprene, or rubber, or if they like S&M or if they don't.
But here is where I run into my conflict.
I have always lived a very compartmentalized life. I was in the military before Don't Ask Don't Tell was even around. I had to sign a form verifying that I was not homosexual when I joined the military. Even after DADT came out, I could not let anyone know I was gay. So for the longest time, no one knew I was gay.
Over time, I let some things slide. after I left the military, I told some friends. Some didn't care, others never talked to me again. I didn't even tell my family until right before my graduation from a Community College. I wanted my partner to be there for it too and didn't know how to explain his presence to my parents...so I finally told them a week before I graduated. Some of my barriers are breaking down. Like work knows I am part of the LGBT community as do my parents...but I still can't broach the topic of leather with them.
My mom can't even understand why I go to a bar since I have a partner. She and my brother (who is gay too) feel that we should be doing things like going to museums or theaters...not bars. That is where people go to hook up. So, if they can't handle us going to bars... I dread going more into some of the other aspects of what we are exploring. In addition to the family... I don't truly get to experience some of the S&M fetishes that are out there. Some because I know my partner wouldn't be into them...and others since I am scared to start since I don't want to risk hurting my partner due to inexperience.
But, then I see so many other people. They are able to live their lives being who they are. Their families are completely part of their lives. They even joke and share insights about stuff from the various fetish events. Then I see others being able to go to events to learn more about different fetishes, meet others around the nation that are into the same things as ourselves, learn more about our history and our future in the leather and fetish communities.
And when I look at myself. I almost feel like a fraud. I can put on leather, but I feel like someone who doesn't belong. I feel like the kid who will try to do anything to be part of the cool kids. And it makes me wonder. With separating my life so much...I have been so untrue to myself for so many years... who am I? Truly?
Then I wonder. Should I just step back from leather? Just I re-examine my life? In some aspects, I am so entrenched now, and in other aspects, I feel like if I were to abandon it, I would barely be missed.
I think this links to the fact I was never part of anything really before the military. I had always moved around. If I finished the school year in the same school that I started the year in...that was a blowout year for me. And to say that the military provided me stability...that is saying something.
But now I look at it. I feel like a number of people can take over being VP of our leather club. I feel there are others that could do such a better job. With me being fairly new to the leather community...what makes me deserving of such a role?
But then...I see the work we do for the numerous charities. I try to be out there whenever I can. Seeing that we are making a difference in someone else's life is something that always touches me. And this is something I would greatly miss out on if I were to leave our leather community. I also love the freedom I feel when I am in leather. People say I appear confident in leather even though I normally am a very timid introvert. This sense of freedom is also very incredible for me.
But through all of this... I sometimes I still feel like I don't fully belong. But when I truly examine why I feel like I don't belong...I see that I am looking at all the wrong reasons. True. I don't have a Sir or a boy. I don't often have the opportunity to get to play more with the various fetishes and how to improve in them (outside of major events). But what does make me belong is that I have the drive and desire to see our community grow and improve. What brings me to the leather community is that here in Dallas, we spend a lot of time helping others. And that is what I find important. So, what I lack in "play", I make up in heart.
I just have to remember that everyone is welcome in the leather community...Especially myself! We just all have to make sure we are not being distracted by issues that don't really matter.