By Bushido Bard
“Does wearing leather make you Leather?” Ms. Boots asked the assembled crowd gathered at the Dallas Eagle. What is Leather and what is being “into leather”? Is there a difference? She asked these questions and waited to hear everyone’s responses. Everyone’s answer was similar but the idea was to gauge how the older and younger members of Leather replied. For the June Leather Perspectives we were treated to the wisdom and advice from Ms. Boots.
“There is a clear distinction between being Leather and ‘into leather’,” Ms. Boots continued. She continued to say that a person of Leather demonstrates with their actions that they are indeed Leather. Someone who is simply interested in leather or maybe is just “into” leather, does not commit to the culture or principals of Leather. There is nothing wrong between the two; it is important to know the difference and know who you are. One is a culture or a family, the other simply a fashion choice. Both are equally fine!
Ms. Boots received her introduction into Leather when she came into contact with a biker gang. During those days Leather folk wore denim but the family environment was still the same. Immediately she was struck by the sense of duty and honor that these people demonstrated to each other! “That’s when I learned that Leather looks out for each other”, she stated. She suffered some hard times and the Leather folk there helped her out as best they could; she was never abandoned. She eventually had to move herself and her family to a different area of the country but she knew she could seek out other Leather folk wherever she went.
Leather is more than just what we wear. Leather is something you are and you do not cease to be simply because of what you’re clothed in. “If I walk in here without wearing leathers am I still Leather?” she asked the assembled group. She continued, “If I put on my Master’s Cover, am I now Leather?” The questions received non-verbal answers as she further explained that what we wear does not define us so much as our attitude and actions. As a community, it does not matter what we wear but if we define ourselves as Leather, then we should hold ourselves to these standards regardless of where we are.
“Leather promotes the values of duty, honor, respect, and integrity; these are things that bind us together and make us a family.” This particular part of the presentation meant a great deal to her as she seemed to concentrate more and it was as if she wanted to stress these points. “Be true to yourself.” After this she paused and continued, “Leather is freedom. Leather is also family. Whatever brought you here, wherever you’re from, whatever called you to this point, you are now in a family.” This statement was received with grand approval from those listening to her this day. “We look out for each other because we all chose this path; we know hardships about a society that does not accept what we do. Although our world is slowly beginning to recognize and possibly accept BDSM, we are still not totally there.”
She also shed some light on the modern thought that BDSM and Leather are the same thing. While certainly BDSM culture follows very similar practices of Leather, the two were once separate. Even today, the two can still be separate; it is not required that you practice both. “Twenty or so years ago everything about Leather or BDSM was still very much underground; that was before the Internet happened,” she smirked. Not wanting to comment on the why’s and how’s the Internet has changed our lifestyle, she was quick to point out that BDSM, Power Exchanges, M/s relationships, and erotica in general is slowly becoming more accepted in vanilla society. She smiled and said, “We still have a ways to go folks!”
On the subject of change Ms. Boots was prolific in the telling of her personal experiences and to remember that everything changes. “Your life, your family, your Leather identity, and even your desires; all will change,” she solemnly intoned. Drawing from her own life she explained that she started with one goal in Leather and it changed; over and over. She began as a submissive but her mentor helped her realize that her calling was not submissive at all… After some time she became the social director for Beyond Vanilla and instituted changes that still reach us today. The most notable being the Friday Night Entertainment! She also held several officer positions within the National Leather Association Dallas Chapter including co-chair. In this way, she humbly said to us all, she fulfilled her sense of duty to the principles of Leather.
When Ms. Boots suffered some health issues, she had to cut back on her participation in Leather activities. “This comes back to when I said that things will always change,” she restated. With a heavy heart she continued, “I cannot commit myself like I used to; this hurts! Because of my health issues I do not know if I can attend or perform at events like I used to.” She further explained that this is when you learn how to support your local Leather community in different ways. Again, she reminded us of the inevitability of change.
Her dedication has never wavered away from her Leather path. Currently Ms. Boots still offers wisdom and advice, with great humility, to anyone who will ask. After she finished her presentation, to grateful and incredible applause, she entertained questions from the audience. Some of the members of the audience had known Ms. Boots for many years and shared some of their favorite memories of her. It was clear to anyone that knew her that she has been an influential member of the Dallas Leather community.
When asked what her fondest memory of her NLA Dallas experience was she was fast with her response, “the family and camaraderie! The knowledge that Leather is acceptance, friendship, and the family you choose.” However Ms. Boots chooses to spend her time within the Dallas Leather community from now on, she has already left a lasting legacy that will live on in many Leather folk. A wonderful woman who gave us a few hours of her time had these lasting words, “Your kink and your life will evolve, but never lose your Leather!”