Last weekend I attended the second annual CHOMP dinner, a leather benefit for NYC’s LGBT Center’s HIV Services. This event organized by Team Eagle, a brave group of kinky folks who do a 3 day, 275 mile ride from Boston to New York to raise funds and awareness for HIV/AIDs, was an elegant night of formal leather and community. The members of Team Eagle worked very hard and put on a great event that included fancy dining, FANTASTIC raffle prizes, and a civilized setting for one to wear his gear. Afterward we were all shuttled to the Eagle where we enjoyed cigars on the roof deck and reflected on the current state of affairs.
Among these topics of discussion was one about guys in gear at the Eagle (or anywhere in the city for that matter). On the night of CHOMP, there were dozens of leathermen assembled at the bar…it’s what one would love to see on a weekly basis. BUT, for any number of reasons, the site of leathermen is something a bit more rare these days…like an endangered species fading from the landscape.
Thursday CODE is when most guys wear their gear to the Eagle. It’s when most leathermen choose to go to the Eagle. Other nights of the week are for other reasons and outfits…but still on these nights you mostly see just jeans and shirtless men.
But as proven by CHOMP and other events out there, the leathermen do still thrive!
“The bars aren’t the place for men in gear so much anymore,” one of the guys said to me. “Nowadays guys prefer to wear their leather to events like MAL.”
“Most of your dedicated leathermen are getting older…they don’t want to spend weekday nights at a bar. They’d rather be relaxing at home,” someone else said.
“You also get a lot of guys who love the gear, love the play, but they don’t want a social group centered around it. Leather is for Recon profiles.”
All interesting points…and makes me wonder if there really is this shift from wearing gear to bars to wearing gear just to events…and behind closed doors. I think guys should wear their gear whenever possible! I wear my tank boots and leather suspenders to work…and the other week I put on my leather pants with a coat and tie for a wedding. It’s fun to play with the identity and I do feel more empowered in my gear.
It’s easy to get caught up in trying to figure out the WHAT and WHY of the continuously evolving community. For today I’m just going to enjoy the NOW and keep wearing my gear see where it takes me. Enjoy the images below from CHOMP courtesy of photographer Pete Philomey.