Editor’s note: This article is an opinion piece written by a non-staff writer who is a longtime member of the leather community and one who chose to remain anonymous.
The leather world has representatives known as “titleholders.” In essence, they’re the leather equivalent of the Miss America pageant system. Upon winning a title, titleholders are seen as the representatives of particular leather communities and they suddenly get an expanded platform within the leather and BDSM world.
One of these titleholders, called Chomper Schuld, is a former Mr. Wisconsin Leather who now lives in Chicago. Chomper penned an article in an older leather magazine called Instigator that discussed how the culture of “victim blaming” has corrupted our leather community.
The need for validation appears to be growing among younger members of the community. We are letting them believe the only way to get out attention is to play the ‘victim cards’ of race, sexual orientation, and claims of gender performance . . . individuals playing this victim card are not only poisoning the system, but turning it into a system of inclusion. ‘Faggotry Politics’ of this nature ruins the risk of turning our once powerful community into a weakened joke defined by its passion for drama over just helping one another achieve orgasmic results….
Echoing conservative pundits, like Jeffrey Lord, he offers a conservative rehash of “identity politics,” namely, “victim cards,” as a threat to the stability of the leather community. But this where it gets scary.
Chomper also writes, “The victim card thing is becoming routine and forcing otherwise stellar leaders to rethink their commitment to the role [of mentoring the next generation]; thus, shrinking our gene pool.”
That’s right. When basically saying that the “older leather people” do not want to mentor the next generation, Chomper evokes the idea of a “shrinking gene pool. ”
Yes, we are now getting into the language of “gene pools,” a similar language to the language espoused by Nazi leaders, such as Adolf Hitler and the American eugenicists before him in the 1920s and 1930s. These people advocated pure “races” of people; and to get there, we would have to ethnically cleanse a population by sterilization and extermination.
Whether or not he is aware of the context of these words is up for speculation. But at the same time, it is clear that he’s making a relationship between individuals “playing the victim” and the supposed dearth of the “gene pool.”
So when marginalized people advocate for civil rights within the leather community (being treated with respect as leather community leaders and not being harassed), this supposedly threatens Chomper’s dream world of older people teaching younger people how to “orgasm.” Talk about purifying gene pools is alive and well in the leather/BDSM world just as it was In Nazi Germany and Trump’s America.
The producers at Mr. Wisconsin Leather distanced themselves from Chomper’s statement. But that didn’t stop people from trying to gloss over these comments. A title-holder from Nebraska writes:
Leather community… We are inclusive, loving, accepting, forgiving. We all have a voice and the right to be heard without judgment or fear. We fight and speak for those without a voice. We welcome all regardless of race, gender, creed, color, sexual orientation or religion into our safe spaces.
Until… You say something that someone doesn’t agree with or is offended by. Then, we ridicule, persecute, humiliate and seek to destroy all they are, not just by our own hand but we rally all to ensure that every bit of you is destroyed, possibly even your job and livelihood.
The sooner we wake up and realize that when we attack, we destroy any hope of educating correctly, we remove any chance of opening lines of communication, we further this person’s anger on whatever they believe and ultimately, we make a new enemy. The killing comes from within and unless we change our ways, we will lose far more than we have gained.
Here, this person tries to offer his version of “everyone is entitled to their opinion.” Another person takes a page out of Donald Trump’s playbook.
Particularly, a Palm Springs elder in the leather community espouses the “both sides argument” made by our Commander-in-Chief during Charlottesville Riots. As a reminder, the Charlottesville Riots was lead by white supremacists and Nazi sympathizers in their march for White Nationalism in 2017. This elder writes:
A few thoughts on living together. My mother always said treat everyone like a friend. Be respectful. Have manners. Remember you can never unsay something after it is said. FB makes it easy to forget manners and respect. We all need to somehow live together so let’s remember manners and stop throwing words that hurt around. I know some are tired of being used and treated unfairly. On all sides. Please stop and think before you write or speak. If you have an issue take it up with the person or or, not on a rant on FB. We can all get along but it takes respect and manners which seem to be desperately lacking lately….
Similar to how Trump argued that “all sides are to blame,” this elder makes a similar argument.
Furthermore, this LA-based titleholder writes a needlessly expanded Facebook status (potentially trying to cover up his own white supremacy) to describe how he wants an all-inclusive leather community. However, in the beginning, he writes:
I am truly saddened by the personal attacks, threats and name calling that has become part of the debate around the opinion piece written by Chomper for Instigator magazine — by those who support Chomper’s views and by those who oppose them. Not only is it offensive to read, if not outright alarming, but it makes it hard for people to actually consider and discuss the central point at issue….
All in all, one representative makes a statement talking about the victim blaming as a threat to the leather community. This representative evokes eugenicist imagery. But, other people in the community decide they want “both sides” to engage in civil discourse.
We live in a time where Latinos are painted as “rapists,” Muslims are painted as “terrorists,” black people are seen as a threat to the police and are labeled “thugs,” trans people’s rights are at stake and women are sexually objectified and assaulted.
If you play by Trump’s logic, there are “two sides”: the pro-equality side and the anti-equality side. The latter not only advocates for outright discrimination against marginalized communities, but also, the very people that remain silent. These people, regardless of community, are complicit in a pro-bigotry stance and are also part of the problem.
People have this conception that the leather world is a place where there are no rules. They think that leather is its own world separate from the larger world of LGBTQ politics. But leatherfolks are no different than any other community. In fact, when it comes to minority politics, we’re just like the rest of the world.
We have people that believe in equality. These people believe that everyone, regardless of their race, gender, sexuality, ability, etc. has the potential to explore their sexuality in a space that’s safe and consensual.
We also have our own quasi-Donald Trump fans. These people believe that wanting equality has nothing to do with leather/BDSM, but instead exists to further divide the leather community. Further, these people believe that it’s acceptable to be politically neutral on civil rights issues.
In a world that’s supposed to be inclusionary, we have our own internal contradictions that have gained a loud megaphone, especially thanks to rise in conservative American politics. Talking about race in the leather world mirrors the LGBTQ world and the rest of society.