It drives me crazy — this journalism style of withholding the who-what-when so we can ease into the story with quotes and anecdotes. Is the assumption that we want to read it before we know what it's about or that we wouldn't want to read it if we knew what it was about?
Turns out, it's a real pageant, organized by one Jeff Gruenberger, who, we're told, "realized the attire leathermen wear holds significance beyond expressing masculinity":
"While some people think it's just a fetish, just a kink, ... there's the core qualities of integrity, charity, brotherhood, honesty," he says. "Those are things that we truly believe in. The leather is just an outward sign of that."Things that are truly believed in...
Gruenberger breaks leather down into several categories, which he calls the "Big Five." Sirs, Daddies, Boys, Slaves and Pups. These categories co-exist in many leather communities, and are separated by power and experience.
"A Dad or father figure teaches a boy certain things growing up," he says. "You learn respect, being very structured. You're learning all those qualities from a Sir or a Daddy."Things that just make sense.
As a Boy becomes more involved in leather, he may ask around his community for a Sir or Daddy. He can later become a Daddy or Sir once his mentors feel he has earned the title. Gruenberger says this categorization is not universally accepted, nor are the boundaries as rigid as the labels suggest. But he thinks the model helps provides stability and perpetuates leather's history.
"We're one of the few communities in the gay community that's kind of like that," he says. "The leather community comes from a military background, the World War II military veterans. When you think of it in that terms, it just makes sense."