Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Does your mother know?

During Mr. MAL 2011's very motivational and energetic step-down speech he brought his parents to the stage. This made me cry like a baby. Maybe it was the fact that my husband was in the contest and I was already emotional, but it is always moving when someone shares the community with their biological family.

The leather community is a fundamental part of my social life, and sometimes it's uncomfortable living in both worlds. I make a lot of choices of what I share with family, vanilla friends, and co-workers. At the end of the day I consider my involvement in the leather community to be such a positive experience that everyone knows, even if I leave out some of the details about sex. This survey explores what you share about your involvement in the leather community.

Happy ______!

Before joining the leather community my winter holidays were uniformly  Christmas oriented. Now I have friends of many faiths  and exposure to more and more people from different backgrounds have introduced me to new traditions. The leather community is one of choice, and consequently it's a melting pot that society at large could never be.  I wanted this survey to be an exploration of what is considered to be one of the happiest, if not most stressful, times of year. 

Christmas and New Years are the most celebrated holidays, but Winter Solstice has a significant percentage of participants. I was surprised how few participants reported celebrating Hanukah. It will be interesting to explore the religious elements of this survey in a future survey.

This survey reviled that those not close their families are twice as likely to spend the holidays alone, and also a third less likely to spend it with a significant other. My survey didn't ask how many wanted to spend the holidays alone, but it does show that only half of those who spend the holiday season alone also do not celebrate any holidays at all. 

Chosen families are an important component of the leather community. One community leader often refers to his home as "the island of misfit toys," which is particularly relevant considering it references a Christmas holiday classic. Loosing ties with one's biological family is an unfortunate reality for some. Creating new families is a powerful option. Nearly half of participants entertain during the holidays. If you are fortunate enough to be near a leather bar, some are open 365 days a year, including holidays.

Clarification on "Sex Role Preferences"

I'd like to take a moment to clarify one of the questions I use in every survey. It is my view that human sexuality is far more complicated than defining between dominant and submissive. In fact I have a three dimensional view of sexuality shown in the chart below.

The reason I ask everyone to define themselves as dom, sub, or switch is because I believe sex role preference influences opinions in the community. For me, sex role is limited to dominant, submissive, and switch because I consider "level of sexuality" and "level of kinkiness" as separate dimensions of sexuality. People can be anything from asexual doms to vanilla subs. I've also deliberately simplified the vocabulary to preclude words which have different meanings in different circles. Subs and doms do not always see eye to eye and switches often see issues differently. I ask you to define yourself not because I am trying to box you in, but because it's a spectrum that everyone falls on. If you feel that neither "dom" or "sub" defines you, I challenge you to ask "do I desire to take or give control to an other?" If you do both depending on sexual chemistry, then perhaps you should consider identifying as a switch

I also draw a destination between labels and sex role preferences. Some labels are clearly defined as dominant or submissive, others are not. I am a boy, but I see myself as a switch much of the time. I've learned a lot in my years and situations arise where I feel more comfortable taking control. These roles are fluid, so if you feel dominant today, it doesn't mean you have to identify as "dominant" tomorrow.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Survey: 'Barrier to Entry,' attendance at leather bars

For some, leather bars are the center of our social universe. They represent a second  home, a meeting place for all of our friends and 'family.' For others they are unwelcoming holes that don't tolerate those who break from the pack.

Whatever your view point, leather and leather friendly bars are an important part of our subculture. While some notable bars have closed in the past few years, it is good to see other bars taking the opportunity to open their doors to the leather community. I hope this indicates that leather bars, in general, are here to stay.

The aim of this survey is to explore what keeps people coming back to leather bars and also what prevents those who attend leather events like MAL from frequenting bars. I've opted for free form answers in parts of this survey, which adds a lot of work for me when I tabulate. I hope those taking the survey will take the opportunity to speak up on what they love and hate about leather bars.