Hold onto your harness
It’s a celebration of leather and fetish culture but Leather Pride Week is also an opportunity to educate and demystify the BDSM lifestyle. President of the Sydney Leather Pride Association, Aaron Sinclair, spoke to Garrett Bithell.
When we think of the leather community, what images come to mind? Big, surly bears hanging out of their chaps? Sweaty underground dungeons devoid of any natural light? Men in gimp masks being dragged around on leashes by their ‘masters’?
All this certainly goes on, let’s face the facts, but according to Aaron Sinclair, president of the Sydney Leather Pride Association (SLPA), there’s more to the leather scene than slings and harnesses.
“The greatest misconception is that everyone who’s into leather is into kink,” he tells SX. “That is not always the case. For me personally it is, however we have some members heavily involved in kink that could easily pass off as part of the vanilla crowd during the day, and then by night be something completely different. Then we have members who love the leather look, but enjoy the vanilla side of sex.
“Another misconception is that BDSM [Bondage, Discipline, Sadism and Masochism] is dangerous. It can be, however if people are educated properly and it’s played safe, sane and consensual, then the risk of something going wrong is heavily reduced.”
Indeed the main objective of the SLPA is to “educate and demystify the BDSM lifestyle”. “The organisation has been running for over 23 years now, and even though it is open to everyone, the bulk of our members and associates are from the GLBTIQ community,” Sinclair says. “We are generally run by a committee of nine people, and throughout the year hold numerous events, from our monthly pub night ‘SLPA Dog Tag’, within the Oxford Hotel’s weekly Friday night leather events, to one-off dance parties.”
Sinclair first ventured onto the leather scene “eight years ago as a straight boy”. “I disappeared for a few years and came back with slightly expanded tastes, shall we say,” he tells. “I won tickets to my first Sleaze Ball and wearing my PVC hot-pant chaps and a rubber shirt, I bumped into people I met years before. This started the ball rolling and started a relationship with my first playmate, ‘The Lioness’, who introduced me to lots of shiny things, one being Inquisition and the SLPA.
“From there I was hooked – boys, girls, leather, rubber, uniforms, dirty sex. What more could a boy want? Henry Rollins once said, ‘the best thing about being bisexual is that when you walk into a room, everyone is potential.’ He certainly wasn’t wrong.”
It’s also the “strong camaraderie” intrinsic to the leather community that impresses Sinclair. “It doesn’t matter where in the world you are; if you go to a leather event you are always welcomed with open arms – and legs.”
Moreover, this week is Sydney Leather Pride Week, with a comprehensive program of events designed to “celebrate everything leather and kink”.
“Throughout the week, we have our annual ‘Artspace’, trivia, education sessions on sadomasochism and the law, a fine cocktail party, leather life drawing, and then the grand finale, Inquisition – the filthiest party in Sydney.”
Leather Pride Week runs until August 7. For the full program and details, head to www.sydneyleatherpride.org.
Pictured: Leather enthusiasts and Sydney Leather Pride Association members Ilan and Bailey. Photo: Rod Spark