Spoiler alert and big shock: looking like a Tom of Finland drawing is far less important than actually being a Leatherman. You don’t need to buy Leather and tons of gear to be a Leatherman, because it’s not all about a dressup (like it seems in today’s scene). You will earn gear as you progress in your journey.
One of the things that I’ve encountered very in talking to newcomers to the lifestyle or kinky people in general, is that Leather is expensive, and therefor the whole idea of being a Leatherman must be associated with an exclusive lifestyle based on wealth and the imperative need to buy leather or have a huge collection.
There are several reasons why this is inaccurate, and I believe it’s important to point out why and in what measure.
Table of Contents
- Old Guard is behavior exclusive, not gear exclusive
- You don’t need to buy Leather to be part of the Community
- What is the Gatekeeping about
- The difference between BLUF and Old Guard Leather
- You don’t need Gear to enter Old Guard Leather
- Leather is earned trough the journey
Old Guard Leather is behavior exclusive. Not Gear exclusive.
Many young (and not so young) people affirm that the reason they are not interested in Old Guard or Traditional Leather Lifestyle, is because they cant afford the price of Langlitz Leathers, Wesco, Chippewa and other notorious name brands for their gear.
It seems like the gay pop community, in its ingestion of the Leather subculture and lifestyle, has transmitted a very wrong message, which is the result of the assimilation of the looks of this culture, without its values or deep meanings, without mentioning the respect of traditions.
Yes, its true that traditional Leather, Old Guard, is a very exclusive community. But its exclusiveness, unlike other communities in the modern kink scene, doesn’t depend on what you can buy with money; it depends on what you deserve through your humility, respect and dedication to service and discipline.
Humility, respect and dedication to service and discipline are values hardly found in a vaste majority of modern culture, especially (but not only) for younger people, where there is always an immediate need to achieve a “prize for showing up”, without taking the time to understand the meaning, assimilate a culture, and invest in commitment.
Old Guard traditions prove that you don’t need to buy Leather to be part of the Community
In Old Guard Leather traditions, a boy (who could be just overage or even an older person, as explained in the article about what does it mean to be a leather boy) is a newcomer to the gay scene who relates strongly to what leathermen represent, and who is seeking to have access to this world.
The only way to get in, would have been to find a Leather Daddy or a Mentor (could be a Sir, a Master, a sub, a Mommy.. ) who would have taken the boy under his care and training, to teach him the ropes, introduce him to the Community, and help the boy find out who he is or want to become in this complex ecosystem, which has a history, rules and a vaste set of protocols and etiquettes which are in place since generation to maintain balance and sustainability within bdsm communities.
Often, this mentorship translates into a relationship and the boy becomes, if he so wishes of course to continue in the training to become a Leatherman, part of the of the Mentor’s Family. There might be ownership, which can be temporary, for the duration of the training, or could translate (like in the best cases does) in one of the different relationships present into a Leatherfamily environment.
In all of this, the boy is never evaluated because of is social status, financial possibilities, the gear he owns or his talents (big dick, nice ass, and so on). So its absolutely false and wrong credence, that Old Guard people won’t consider you because you don’t own good gear.
Gear Gatekeeping as a filter, but just in very ancient times
In the past, because of the fact that you would have tried to access a Leather bar or club which was in the vaste majority of cases an actual motorcycle club, you might have been bounced off because you didn’t wear Boots or a Vest clearly stating to which Club you belonged to.
You must understand that this was an important filtering mechanism: behind the closed doors of a Leather club, before the normalization of gay clubs or gay sex per se, were carried on activities considered illegal at the time, to say the least. Leather was an extremely taboo sexuality (and is becoming again, today, thanks to the woke movement), and if you were a Leatherman ready to enter a Leather bar, you would have had at least a pair of Boots or a Vest.
Of course, since nowadays everyone can just purchase some fake Leather on Amazon to look like a Leatherman, this kind of filtering doesn’t have any function, and is not practiced.
How is Leather traditionally acquired by a boy
The leather gear a boy owns, traditionally, is the leather gifted from his Mentor or a third significant other, and only when a boy is ready to understand the value and meaning of gear (and understood who he wants to be), he will eventually buy his own gear.
So, again, according also to Old Guard Leather very ground rules, there is no such a thing of being excluded because you don’t have enough gear or money. Ideally, you should actually start with no gear. I would personally consider with much more interest a boy who has no gear and no money but a true heart made for leather, than a boy all geared up telling me “you’re hot”.
If owning Leather Gear is not so important, why so much Gatekeeping?
If Old Guard people won’t consider you is probably because of a different set of reasons than you would imagine. Without its soul, Leather is just a dead piece of fabric, a dead cow. It’s what sits beneath the reason you wear Leather, that makes the Leatherman you are. It’s your behavior that shows who you are, and not what you can afford or choose to wear.
Here are some core reasons why as an Old Guard Leatherman I would not want to involve a person in my intimacy and Community:
- It doesn’t matter how hot you look or how much you’ve just spent on Leather gear. If you approach with no respect and showing no interest for some cardinal concepts about Leather (formalism, respect, education, hierarchy..), I can’t consider you a Leatherman.
- Many people pretend to be what they’re not, just to enjoy a good sex session. For an experienced BDSM person, though, behavior speaks before gear does
- Sometimes it’s because Old Guard Leathermen are received as intimidatory, and are often judged before even starting a conversation
The fact that Old Guard people tend to stay between them and not participate to the pop trends of main events and parties, is because we know we are different; we know that we live in a way that to the masses can be off putting or not well seen, and therefor we have the respect to avoid these situations and spend time instead with those who appreciate the same ideals.
We might believe that what new guard and general pop leather culture is living today is an extremely washed out version of what things are to us, but thats fine. You’re free to be whoever you want, as long as you respect others and you don’t try to wash away lives, history and cultures to suit your own sexual agenda.
Most of the times, when a man is not accepted within a community because of the gear he owns or doesnt own, is for two possible reasons:
- wether we’re talking about a community which has a very specific dresscode requirement, such as BLUF
- or we’re talking about shallow people who take comfort in making other people uncomfortable.
Fact: I’ve seen this dynamic far more frequently in the pup community than in the Leather one. I distinctively remember an episode that scarred me for good towards that community. We brought a puppy who only owned a pup mask we bought for him. It was his first piece of gear and he was so happy. He joined a puppy event where puppies were supposed to “meet and play”. Nobody wanted to play with him, because he didn’t have enough shiny colored rubber on. Just a neoprene dog mask, and knee pads. They also didn’t want him in their group picture, with all sorts of guys being welcomed, as long as they had head-to-toe expensive pup gear.
BLUF and Old Guard Leather are not the same thing
BLUF is an online and offline community; the name stands for breeches & leather uniforms fanslub. The name itself should give out pretty quickly that, in order to be part of this club, you need to be in gear; and not just any gear, a specific dresscode that is detailed on their website. Its a community of people who share of course interest for leather and uniforms, but not necessarily BDSM. Not necessarily with the same values, or interests, or education.
BLUF is a diverse group of many different people, personalities and stories. BLUF itself isn’t about Old Guard, or any specific tradition – it’s simply a community for men who share the love of the Uniforms. However, for many people the strictness about the dresscode is a tradition in itself, and indeed some BLUF members do identify as Old Guard (frequently said “Old School”).
We are friends with BLUF and we have been one of their supporting vendors too; we believe its an historical hallmark and community, and we support what they do. While we also have very different identities, there is some overlap.
You may find old guard people who are part of BLUF and viceversa, but these are two different, separate groups.
Where Old Guard is a community which is mainly underground and off the grid, made of men (and women) who like to live accordingly to standards (based on consent) which are considered non convenient and out of fashion today, and where the gear you wear is something linked to everyday lifestyle, BLUF is a group of different people with different cultures, united by the fetish for the gear.
To enter Old Guard Leather lifestyle, you don’t to buy any gear
At this point, the reader will be thinking “so whats necessary to be considered fit to be part of this brotherhood? I feel like I need more than what the scene offers, I feel like Old Guard lifestyle resonates a lot to me, but I don’t know where to start from.”
First off, you need to understand what Old Guard is about in Leather lifestyle. If everything rings the right bells in you and you feel a natural adherence and understanding of this lifestyle, you should manifest your interest (respectfully, as you’re not in a supermarket ordering your food) to learn more from someone who is known to be an Old Guard Leatherman. In our “about” page, you’ll find the direct profiles of most of us.
This applies wether you’re a sub or a Dom, wether you are young or older. The main needed step is to let go of your Ego, to allow growth and evolution in you. You cant achieve this if you don’t let go of your Ego. It’s a work on yourself and your mind, not on your wallet and your gear collection.
Thats why this website exists, as an example; we’ve decided to expose our lives, lifestyle, rules and thoughts to the public exactly with the aim of offering the possibility of giving support or guidance to those who seek it.
Before thinking you’re fit to enter this lifestyle, you need to understand that the first and foremost thing you need is, as said, to drop your ego. If reading these lines is making you feel uncomfortable, offended or angry, that’s your ego speaking.
Your Ego was built in years and years through defense mechanisms to keep you safe and to aid you achieve your goals; but now that you want to become something else, your Ego needs to be built down, so you can build yourself up again, this time in the environment you’ve always wanted. Your Ego works subconsciously, and wants to defend itself and you, and when feeling threatened, will create oppositions. So if you feel that your life is going great and that you don’t need a radical change, or that you like an occasional role play, you probably wouldn’t be happy with being included in Old Guard anyway.
Leather Gear is earned with commitment and dedication
Leather carries with it an ancestral symbolism; its the first piece of fabric used by men to build homes and as clothing and armors. Its a garment that protects horse riders and bikers. It has a meaning when used for a purpose, or when linked to symbolic and historical meaning.
Otherwise, its just a dead piece of animal.
This is why in our community, a newcomer covered in brand new gear showing no cracks or patches and such, is not seen with an enthusiastic eye. You don’t need to buy anything to be a man, as much as you don’t need to buy anything to be a Leatherman.
Being a Leatherman is something that goes way beyond buying yourself a piece of garment to snap a few shots for instagram. It has do to with a lifestyle born between bikers and military people, who wore leather most of their time, and therefor, the term leathermen.
Nowadays almost nobody in the western countries wears leather as a lifestyle, as time changed and new fabrics were discovered and we all dress adapting to our lifestyle, which often doesn’t include being a biker as a lifestyle, nor a cowboy or a Parade Officer. So the mere use of leather to identify with a trend in the hope that it’ll get you some popularity or new friends, and thinking that this is all that it means to be a Leatherman, is a quite sterile and reductive argument.
Being a Leatherman has to do with set values of ideals, codes, ways of intending relationships between men, and only after this comes the Boot and the Jacket.
And after all, this is the difference between wearing a Uniform, and just wearing a costume.
What is the main misconception about being a Leatherman in today's scene?
The main misconception is that being a Leatherman is solely about dressing the part and owning expensive gear. In reality, it's about embracing a set of values, including humility, respect, dedication to service, and discipline.
How does Old Guard Leather differ from modern interpretations of the Leather lifestyle?
Is it true that being a Leatherman is associated with wealth and buying expensive gear?
How was Leather traditionally acquired by newcomers to the community?
What is the role of gatekeeping in the Leather community's history?
Gatekeeping was a way to maintain the integrity and safety of Leather spaces in the past, and is becoming more and more relevant today due to changes in society and the community, where the whole meaning of Leather is being watered down as a glbt ideological property.