I started this survey as a fun way to explore the prevalence of kinks in the community and explore a number of talking points. Fetishes like "leather," "bondage," and "S&M" were nearly universal, but for many less common and less specific fetishes are what get them to come out in the first place.
We are often talking about "inviting new people into the community" and how "the leather community embraces individuality," but we have a lot of rules too. Sometimes our "limits" turn off the newbies.
Over 40% of those polled are into sports gear. It's one of the most popular kinks out there. Fewer than 3% consider it a limit. Given this disconnect why do I frequently hear about how "it's not appropriate." Similar stats are true for rubber and other gear fetishes. I'm not the first to suggest that Leather is gear, and although I agree that it’s HOT, it also has a high cost component. For many people sports gear, lycra, and neoprene are HOT for a lower cost. By limiting appropriate attire we are preventing those new to the scene from coming in at all. Sure, there are events like "Leather Cocktails" and other formal events where you wouldn't want someone in a wrestling singlet or football pads, but the success of events like CODE in DC show the power of inviting everyone out.
"Inviting young people into the community" is often a talking point in conversations. I was fortunate to have two sources of guidance when entering the community, my friend Ruff and the members of the DC boys of Leather. Both taught me that this community is about being yourself, playing safe, and having fun. By expecting a high standard for entry we are providing a disservice to those finding partners online and taking unnecessary risks. If you don't believe they are taking unnecessary risks I invite you to look at the "Safe Sex" data for HIV status in those 20-30.
Kinks are fun! For many this community is one of few places where you can explore them without judgment. I had the benefit of teachers who helped me explore my kinks safely, and I do my best to do the same for others.