Editor’s note: This column may contain content that is offensive to some people.
Recently several of us had a discussion about Switching. First let me explain in the leather world what switches are. Switches are individuals who like to play both Dom and sub roles. They enjoy both aspects of a D/s relationship.
While there is nothing wrong with switching, there are some things that need to be considered. Historically, when the leather community was going through its initial creation and then well into the 1980’s, switches were regarded as someone who had not made up their mind. It was either you were a sub or you were a Dom. And while some sub’s graduated to being a Dom, it still was either you were a sub or you were a Dom.
Nowadays, it’s more accepted but the old saying was that if you were someone who liked to switch, that was fine, but don’t do it in your own community. If you wanted to switch, you went to another city to do so.
There is a lot of wisdom in this. It makes it very difficult to the locals if you are always switching. They never know which you will be each time they see you. That’s why it’s easier for everyone if you play one role in your local community and the other elsewhere. I’ve seen many times where someone would switch and people would come up to me all confused and ask what was going on because the last time they saw the person, they were something else. It makes it very hard for people who are new to the leather community to understand the community in general without having to try and understand why a person is one way one time and another way another time.
Now realize, this bit of wisdom is for when you are out in the greater community. What you do in your own house is totally different. You be what you want to be in private. It’s the public setting I’m talking about here. (Because, personally, I don’t care what you do in the privacy of your own home or bedroom).
So yes, you can be a switch, but to make it easier for those around you to understand, it’s best that when you’re in your local community you always present as one specific way, Dom or sub. This is also true for topping and bottoming although it seems to have much more leeway. Now for those who are prominent members of the leather community, it becomes harder for you - especially if you are known nationally - it becomes very hard to switch because everyone knows what role you are.
One of the holdovers from the old original leather traditions is that there are still people who will not respect someone who is a switch, especially if they are switching within their own community. We’ve come a long way from the 50’s, where there was no respect at all, but there is still a long way to go when it comes to respecting switches in the current times. We still are not quite there yet. So, don’t be offended if you are a switch and it seems that people don’t respect you. We are still evolving and learning. l