What's a Leather Daddy?
(Reprinted with permission from the author)
In a favorite photo of mine an archetypal leather man stands wearing a sash proclaiming him "the Last Untitled Leather Man in S.F." Sometimes this seems all too true. The leather community may be second only to the Imperial Court in the number of sashes, badges, vests, and trophies we bestow on our members annually.
So what does it all mean and why do we do it?
All of us need positive role models. Sports figures, celebrities, politicians, religious leaders, or business tycoons may do it for much of the population, but not for us. As a subculture within a subculture, leather folk look within our tribe for individuals with the qualities that we admire and respect and created honors for them. In the late 70s, the leather icon we treasured was the rebel biker, clad head to toe in polished black, mirrored aviator glasses, and a cruel smirk framed by beard and a mustache. You know the type. Always ready for down and dirty sleazy sex. There was nothing safe about this stud and we reveled in his -- and our own -- outlaw status. This was the kind of guy I beat off to when I was fifteen. This was the birth of Mr. Drummer.
The we started dying and everything changed. The Daimler boots stayed the same, the polished black remained -- but our archetype altered. Safe, sane and consensual became the buzzwords. Our icon now negotiated sex in advance, had visible tattoos and seemed to be pierced everywhere. He was being lauded as much for his community service as for his sexual prowess. Fundraisers became the order of the day and he threw himself into helping his falling brothers with an intensity hitherto reserved for fucking.
And still we died. Today one of the rarest things in San Francisco is the 45-year-old gay man. More than ever, we need our role models, we need our leaders to bridge the chasms that lay before us. Old Guard or New Leather, we are all links in a chain united by our fiercely independent desires, fantasies and adventurous instincts.
When a major title is given out, it is an acknowledgment of past accomplishments as well as an incentive for future actions. Sometimes we misjudge and it goes to the hottest guy up on stage. Often though, the hottest guys onstage is also the hardest working "bottom to the community." I think of previous title holders like Wolf Mirasol (Mr. SF Leather), Jeff Tucker (International Mr. Leather), Lance Brittain (Mr. Alameda County Leather), and any number of my predecessor SF Leather Daddies: Steve Gaines (XII), past board member of the AIDS Emergency Fund, Irwin Kane (X), a treasure to our community, Philip Turner (XI), whose reputation as a fundraiser is legendary, Don Thompson (VIII), who five years after his title has only just stepped down from his hectic schedule of producing events, or Tom Rogers (V), the auctioneer to call when you want top dollar raised for your charity.
Of course, there are frivolous titles, too, fun titles that exist solely for the sake of having a good party. Let's face it, we all need to be able to cut loose and get silly from time to time. Last year's "Mr. I'd do anything for a title" contest probably summed it up best.
So what is a title? It's the recognition from a family that honors you for who you are, not for who they want you to be. It can be a great date bait. It can be pain in the ass. Sometimes I'm too busy or too tired to go out to yet another event and sometimes I don't go. But you know, I can count on one hand the number of times my community has disappointed me and I've lost track of the number of mind-blowing scenes I've been able to engage in because of my membership in the tribe.
Just remember: A few hours of hot leathersex is worth a month of therapy.