Vancouver
2 min

Clothes cow

Shifting the focus from what we wear to what we do

Credit: Xtra West files

Once, wondering what might happen, I attended a pansexual play party in white cotton sneakers and grey sweats, naked-faced with my hair casually ponytailed.



At the party, leather-clad people actually came to me and asked me if I was okay, as if I’d dropped by the play party on my way back from the hospital, after an appendectomy or something. Or maybe they thought I was sleepwalking, and these were my jammies?



There’s something to this clothing thing.



What we wear makes us feel good when it fits our own perception of ourselves or our roles. It sends a message to others around us about who we felt like when we left the house that morning-and that might be one of the more important reasons we kinky queers dress up.



In a world full of others unlike us, it’s cool to be able to recognize each other on the street.



We take the identification with clothing pretty far, though.



We name our community after our most commonly fetishized clothing material: leather. He’s a leatherman, she’s a leatherwoman, collectively, we are leatherfolk of the leather community-including those of us who own no leather.



We leatherfolk have parties where the invitations dictate what we must wear in order to enter. Leather. Latex. Uniforms. Fetish. We go to play parties to play, to dance, to socialize, but we still enforce a dress code, even though people who don’t own the commonly fetishized type of clothing can easily feel unwelcome at such kink events.



We even use clothing choice within our community to differentiate top from bottom. The more naked or frilly you are, the more likely you are to be perceived as a bottom. The stiffer your cap brim and the bigger your boot soles, the more likely you’ll be approached as a top.



I often wonder why we care so much about what we wear while we play together. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a leather fetish all my life. I own enough leather to make a whole herd of cattle wince, and am no stranger to black and shiny.



It’s just that I want us to welcome fellow kinksters whether they’re in fireman’s boots or corduroy slacks. I want the freedom to be seen as the pervert I am, no matter what I’m wearing.



I want the focus to shift from what we wear, to what we do.



At a play party, if someone feels that I am not kinky enough without my leathers, then I’m going to assume they have a fetish for my clothing and not for me. In that case, maybe they can go home with just the clothes. I’ll stay here naked and play all night.



* Elaine Miller almost never has a clothing crisis.