Kink is paradoxical in many ways. Subs want treatment they don’t want. Doms express affection and love through cruelty. Kink is a code language, expressing deep truths through coarse physical acts. For me, one of the most profound elements of kink is that way that allows me to connect to something far greater than myself through something which is merely a performance.
Although most people would see drag and queens and leathermen as being drastically different, I think of them as being quite similar. Both the drag queen and the leatherman are performers, giving a performance of exaggerated gender. While the traditional drag queen is enacting an exaggerated version of womanly glamour as it was conceived in the 1950s, the leatherman is enacting an exaggerated version of masculinity from the same era.
When I am leathered up and presenting myself to a boy, I strut and posture like a hyper-masculine tough guy. I am commanding, dominating, supremely self-confident, tough, emotionally reserved, arrogant, and ruggedly self-sufficient. My leather simultaneously conceals and exaggerates my body and its sexual characteristics. My body and its needs take up all the psychic space in the room, and my sexual desires deserve total attention and complete fulfillment. I expect to have my boy’s total attention and obedience, and I know that I am the hottest creature in the universe. My ego and my sexuality feel boundless and unlimited.
Needless to say, I am not that man 100% of the time. I can’t be. That hyper- masculine being doesn’t leave any room for all my normal worries. He doesn’t give a shit about my bills or the work I have waiting for me at my job. He doesn’t have time for the small problem in my foot that my podiatrist can’t resolve. He doesn’t have a mother and siblings and friends to play board games with. He is me if all I were was libido and aggression. So he is a role I perform for my boy.
But he’s no less true for being a performance. I have him within me. When I get leathered up, I am making a choice to let that part of me out for a while. And when that performance is really firing on all cylinders, when my boy is responding to me the way I need, something magical happens.
When I allow myself to be fully a leather man, I transcend myself. I feel myself become something much greater than me. I connect to the Platonic Ideal of Aggressive Masculinity. Somehow, leather draws into me a masculine power that far exceeds my own limited identity. I know–I know–that I am on fire with masculinity in a way I cannot entirely understand, and that masculinity draws in my boy, who craves not just me but the hyper-masculine reality that is manifesting through me.
I think of this hyper-masculinity as the Leather God. It feels so much bigger than I am that it transcends my mortal limits and feels like a piece of the divine. My human body cannot contain it, merely channel it to my boy. So leather allows me a moment when I can draw down something vastly greater than myself and manifest it in the world. It connects me briefly with all the thousands of leathermen who have gone before me and will come after me in a way that I can only describe as religious.
Not spiritual, religious. Spirituality can function on the individual level, but religion requires community. I cannot be the Leather God all by myself. I need to have a boy with me to receive the presence of the Leather God and worship it. For me, this is why we use the term ‘worship’, because it is an attempt by the boy to connect to that divine sexual force that expresses itself through me.
The Leather God has an opposite number, the Leather Bitch, the abjectly submissive masculine principle that exists to receive the Leather God’s awe-some sexuality. The Leather Bitch is utterly worthless, totally self-negated, desperately yearning to be filled up by the Leather God, the Yin pussy to the Leather God’s Yang cock. When I subbed, I occasionally glimpsed the Leather Bitch but he never manifested through me, perhaps because I’m too much of a control freak. But sometimes I see him in a boy, never fully-realized, but there for me if I can call him out skillfully enough.
I explored this concept in Leather God Descending; indeed that’s what the title is about. In that novel, Adam experiences the Leather God, but thinks of it as something out of his control that manifests capriciously, because he doesn’t understand the way his own crisis of self-confidence hampers him. It’s not until he meets Riley and becomes confident in his ownership of the boy that he starts to reconnect to this power in himself. So in that novel, the Leather God serves as a barometer of Adam’s confidence in his dominance. The narrator of Claiming the Slave also deals with this idea, although not so explicitly. There, the narrator is initially afraid to fully accept his own dominance and only learns to do so when he meets Carter, a boy who is able to accept everything the narrator needs to give.
And this is why I find kink so paradoxical. Through a performance I become something deeply real. By connecting to my own body through leather clothing, I transcend myself. By channelling my own selfishness, I connect to others. It is one of the most profound things I know.