Why our Historical Protocols are Needed

Editor’s note: This column may contain content that is offensive to some people.

Last month I was at an event where a young woman approached me and called me Captain. She knew enough about the Leather community to know that I should be addressed a certain way, but not enough to know exactly what. (For those out there, it should have been Sir).
    But the most disturbing thing I’m seeing is that there are some national presenters who are actively telling and teaching people that the traditions of the Leather community (often called Old Guard) didn’t happen and others are teaching that we don’t need them.
    By folks taking the approach that we don’t need our traditions, we lose the one thing that makes the Leather community different from the BDSM community in general. That’s our protocols (i.e. rules) that we use and adhere to. That girl who called me captain, didn’t know the protocols and therefore incorrectly addressed me.
    Our protocols are what make the Leather community unique and different. They have been defined and updated over many years, long before the currently living people were around. There are some of us who learned these rules from the very people who developed them. So there are two things I want to say about this: 1. Yes, traditional protocols did indeed exist, so if anyone tries to say otherwise, they are fools. And 2. We still need them. This is because it is what sets us apart from others.
    Many people in the BDSM world crave those protocols. They see how they work in the Leather community and they themselves want that. They know it creates structure and a sense of order. The protocols were developed to protect us and for a way for us to establish do’s and don’ts when we negotiate our relationships and play scenes.
    Now I know that the old traditional protocols, some are no longer applicable (like no women), but most of the others are (like how to correctly address others). Protocols are what make the Leather scene so hot (sexually). I watch the interaction between a Sir and his boy and I still to this day think it’s one of the hottest things to see. I love when my boy(s) are in total protocol mode. It’s a huge turn on for me and I know it is for others watching because it is the one thing that got me interested and excited about the Leather community. Watching negotiated control between two individuals is awesome.
    So if you want to know more about the rules and protocols of the Leather community, get with me or someone in WOOLF. We are one of the few groups who actively continue to teach these in the community. WOOLF gatherings are every fourth Saturday starting at 5pm with a munch at Club Boomerang with a class following that evening. We hope to see you there.

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WSU-TITO

Marcia McCoy, Ph.D.

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