Larry Hunt. Leather Pants. c. 1970s
Guy Baldwin: International Mr. Leather is a contest-slash-pageant event to choose a person to represent the leather world for the coming year. And by leather world, I refer to a very diverse community of people who are into radical sexualities.
My name is Guy Baldwin. I was chosen International Mr. Leather in 1989 and Mr. National Leather Association in the same year. The pants that you are looking at were the pants I wore the evening that I won that event.
The experience of wearing something that distinguishes you from the general population is indescribable. At some level it represents a kind of emotional armor. At another level it's an outward symbol to all those who speak the secret language of eroticism and fetishism. But it’s also a proclamation of unabashed acceptance of self.
People who are in any way erotically different, meaning outside the box, tend to feel isolated and disconnected from our families of origin. And as a consequence there is an effort to make community connections, to create a family of choice for oneself.
Following World War II, the U.S. Army decided to offer surplus motorcycles to service men for the princely sum of 50 dollars. Motorcycle guys who had been in the military hung out with one another. Gay men began to recognize each other, and the consequence of that was the first gay motorcycle club. People who fetishized leather began to gather at watering holes. That was how the first leather bars were created.