For as long as I can remember I have been in love with leather. It seems it’s just always been there, though I was not always aware of it. There is just something comforting and wonderful about it. The look, the feel, the smell; they combine to produce an effect in me that just feels like home.
As a kid I read a lot; I mean a LOT. I was mostly drawn to science fiction and fantasy novels, and when I discovered stories about Conan the Barbarian and other similar characters I was hooked and read everything I could get my hands on. The main characters in these stories were always powerful men, warriors clad in leather and furs, be it hardened leather armor or plain animal skins for warmth; leather was always very prominent. There were also frequent references to gear, whips, flogs, bindings, and various other things that would eventually become much more familiar to me. It began to form a perception in my mind about the relationship between dominant, warrior men and leather. Little did I realize how important this would become to me later in life.
My adolescent idols were always rock stars, and especially heavy metal bands. Groups like Judas Priest and KISS, all decked out in their leather and chrome studded outfits not only appealed to me because of their music, but because of their style as well. It just seemed like the epitome of masculine power to my teenaged brain.
I can distinctly remember buying my very first leather jacket. I was 18 years old and made my first trip to the Wilson’s leather store. You didn’t even have to enter the store before the smell would wash over you like a warm smothering wind. Just stepping into that place was like entering heaven for me.
I tried on many items that day; pants, gloves, overcoats, but finally settled on a simple, waist length, black leather jacket; not quite motorcycle style, but very masculine looking. It felt powerful and primal and as I looked at myself wearing it in the mirror, seemingly transformed by it somehow, it felt like a rite of passage. For years afterward that jacket went everywhere I did. I wore it ALL the time.
So I suppose it’s no real surprise that as an adult entering the lifestyle, I was drawn immediately to the leather culture. However at that time I was very inexperienced in all the idiosyncrasies of kink lifestyle, and at first it seemed that the leather culture was primarily dominated by gay males; which is in fact where the male leather culture originally comes from. But one thing I knew for certain, even at that time, was that I was not gay, and didn’t really care to engage in any kinky activity with gay men. No judgement, just not my thing.
Regardless, I was determined to be who I am, even if I was the only one. Before attending my first public kink party on New Year’s Eve in Vancouver, BC, I headed to the local motorcycle shop in search of leathers to wear to the party. I found a great pair of pants and a black leather vest which seemed perfect. Party attire secured, I set out to make a bold impression right out of the gate. Unfortunately being so new to the scene I didn’t realize that the spiked leather dog collar I also included in my outfit would single me out as a submissive!!
So, after having to turn down several would-be male suitors, I decided to ditch the collar. Lesson learned. I obviously had much to figure out.
Eventually I made my way back home to Los Angeles only to discover a veritable beehive of kink and fetish related activity, and soon I was attending munches and parties and gaining a small circle of friends. By this time I had a leather motorcycle jacket and wore either it or my trusty vest everywhere I went. But I didn’t see many other men wearing leather like I did. I knew I had to be missing something.
Then one night at my regular munch I spotted one, a tall, imposing male figure clad in a leather vest just like I was. But where mine was plain, his was emblazoned proudly with a series of patches on the front, his name, a tri-colored flag and other things I couldn’t quite make out. And on the back of his vest, big and bold in Red, Black and Silver, a crest with a crown and the name of what I assumed must be a motorcycle club. He was confident, intimidating and looked like he wouldn’t take any crap from anyone.
I asked the munch host if she knew who he was and she told me what little she knew, but then before I had a chance to go introduce myself, he was gone. But I had some hope at last that there were others like me out there, if only I could find them.
It wasn’t long into my time in the scene here in LA, that I began looking for a mentor. I was at a stage where I wanted to really take my lifestyle seriously and I knew I needed help. A former girlfriend recommended someone she had met and was playing with and he was one of the men I reached out to regarding mentorship, and as it turns out the only one to respond. He recommended that I attend a meeting of the Los Angeles chapter of the MDHL, where he said he and some of his friends would be in attendance.
I didn’t even know what MDHL was, but I wanted to talk to him so I agreed to go. I had even less of an idea how much this one small thing would change my life.
I showed up, leather vest and all only to find myself soon surrounded by more than a dozen men in leather; vests, jackets, and most with that same crest I had seen at the munch a couple of months earlier. I had found them!!
I soon learned that MDHL stands for Male Dominant Heterosexual Leather, and that like LGBT, it is a community, a means of identification, and a specific lifestyle. I thought I’d died and found nirvana!! (the paradise, not the band) Finally! My people, and in organized numbers!
As I sat there listening to the open discussion of MDHL/female submissive relationships, and the lifestyle itself, I became overwhelmed with a sense of belonging, and could tell that these men and women were among the most serious about this way of life of anyone I had met so far. They talked about things like respect, honor, commitment and service to the community. These were no mere amateurs, this meant something to them.
I met my mentor that night, one of the men in that vest, and after talking with him for a while, asked for his help and guidance in my path. There was just something about the way he spoke and carried himself that impressed me greatly.
As time went on under his example and friendship I learned a great deal about what it means to be a dominant Leatherman, as well as what the leather lifestyle means to me and those around me. To us, leather is more than just a fashion statement, and MDHL more than a casual means of identification. The brotherhood runs deep. The bond of leather is something we all respect, cherish and protect enthusiastically. Leather Dominants often refer to each other as brothers and express genuine love and respect for each other.
Leather means brotherhood, self-discipline and honor. There is a tradition of respect, for oneself and for others that earn it, an open minded exchange of ideas and information, and eager activity in the community at large.
I also learned that those men wearing the crest on their vests were a close knit group of leathermen who had formed a fraternal organization among themselves. A group of very serious and experienced players who shared their love of the lifestyle and each other like family. This is, in my experience, a rare thing, especially among dominant men. It can sometimes be hard to just have a friendly conversation with another dominant in the room, or even form a casual friendship, let alone a lifelong bond. There is often so much ego based posturing and defensiveness that any real relationship is blocked; but not so with these men. I am now honored to be prospecting to more closely join this brotherhood, and proudly display a prospect patch right above my MDHL flag.
Surprisingly those of us that are MDHL have had perhaps more than our share of discrimination in our own community. It’s odd to me that in a world where literally almost anything goes, those of us who are heterosexual men, who like to wear leather and have our S and M scenes with submissive women get a fair amount of negative reaction from other factions, even though we may be doing the exact same things. It seems that, for some, its fine for a man to tie up and beat on another man, or for a woman to do so to another woman, or even for a woman to do it to a man. But the minute you get a man doing these things to a woman, there is a discomfort level that some folks just can’t seem to handle. Throw a black leather jacket or, god forbid, a motorcycle into the mix and watch out!
I think this may be a remnant left over from what I like to call “vanilla conditioning”; or a set or perceived values that is not necessarily coming from what the person feels, but rather from what society at large deems appropriate. Which if you think about it, in our community is pretty ridiculous, but hey, it happens. Certainly genuine abuse is wrong, and should not be condoned in any sense. But there is such a stigma over men beating up women that, even though we absolutely operate within the bounds of consent just like anyone else in the lifestyle, we are viewed by some as abusers for indulging in very common practices found in BDSM relationships. Practices nearly everyone else is also doing.
So part of the benefit of openly identifying as MDHL, and further, in being a part of a close group of like-minded folks, is gaining and sharing an awareness, creating a safe place where we can commune and be ourselves, knowing that we are not alone, and doing our part to educate the community at large. This is something I’m sure anyone who thinks back to their early days of first being aware that there was something “different” about their sexuality, and maybe even being ashamed of it, can identify with and agree is supremely important. Because the simple fact is we are out there, doing our thing, and we’re not going anywhere.
We are not abusers. We are in fact some of the most conscientious and respectful people in the scene today. Men like me take ownership of their actions and always strive to provide a safe environment for their submissives to express their sexuality. We absolutely cherish and protect our submissives because they are precious to us. We place an extremely high value on tradition, order, honor and respect. BDSM and the MDHL lifestyle are inextricably linked to who I am as a person and a sexual being, and it has taken me a lot to become comfortable with that. So I won’t stand by quietly and hear my lifestyle judged or torn down by anyone who doesn’t approve or understand it.
For me, it has certainly been a long and winding road, and in many waysI feel like I’m still near the beginning of my journey. But I feel very fortunate to have found my niche, and even more so to have found a safe haven to express myself in the way I need to without being judged or black balled. This is what the leather community has meant to me, and I look forward to even more experiences within it as my journey continues.
Frederick M. is 24/7 MDHL; Male Dominant Heterosexual Leather and proudly mentored by a member of the Monarchs. He currently resides in Los Angeles practicing polyamory with his two lovely submissives.