Community Comment: Reclaiming our Leather Victimhood

By Rabbit Redd

It’s 2018 and in the Leather Community, victims are the enemy.

Community Comment is an occasional column written by community members on various topics of living a leather, bear and kink lifestyle.

Not just any victims, mind, just the ones who choose not to be. “Drama” is the sin, not injustice. “Exclusion” is the virtue, not change. We have always been at war with East Asia.

The “1984” allusion might have been a tad hyperbolic, but in light of “International Leather Victim 2018”, an article published by an IML 2017 top 20 contestant, we’re forced to ask ourselves how did this happen? Well, how could it not? Chomper’s article doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It exists in a world were ‘Antifa’ can be used as a slur, where Milo Yiannopoulis can campaign on a platform of “Twinks for Trump” (and win), and where the owner of Drummer has made his views on anything other than G part of LGBTQ devastatingly clear. It was also allowed to exist on Martin Luther King Day. That should tell you all you need.

I don’t pretend to be a Leather Historian. Our good friends at the Leather Archives and Museum can help you with that. However, I do know that “Exclusion” isn’t what we’re about. We’re about Challenge. We challenge what it means to be sexual in a sex-negative society. We challenge what it means to be honorable in a country that treats its minorities (ALL its minorities) cruelly. And most of all, we challenge each other. Don’t believe me? Do a Dom/sub scene. Any scene. If you’re not challenged, then I can firmly contest you are doing it wrong as either a Dom or a sub.

Challenge isn’t a bad thing. It lets us know that injustice exists and that we can learn from it. Transpeople still aren’t being heard. People of Color still face a system of oppression. HIV still hasn’t gone away. Even women and Bi people still don’t have full equality.

We’ve chosen the path of the rebel. By being Leather, we rebel every day. It’s okay to not like “drama” but don’t confuse that with the turbulence that comes with change. Our community should be questioned. Loudly. “Playing the Victim Card” isn’t a real aphorism because there’s nothing wrong with being a victim of a broken system and wanting change. Time to start reclaiming the word.

Much like the original article though this opinion piece doesn’t exist in a vacuum. I’m a cis guy. I’m Black. I’m poz. I’m queer. And I have never run for, nor achieved any sort of title. So why should you listen to me? The same reason you should listen to anyone: we’re all victims and we presumably should empathize with other victims.

I understand the “I’m not a victim I’m a survivor” mentality as a means to cope but it erases what you survived in the first place. Being a victim doesn’t mean you get a consolation prize for being getting marginalized. It means you get a chance to stop the hurt altogether. It doesn’t mean you’ve lost, it means you get to evolve. Victimhood is not an irrelevancy. Tell that those dead of HIV and the Black transwomen who’s average life expectancy is till 35.

So question everyone. Question me! This is a punctuation mark in a long conversation. I saw a chance to speak so I’m speaking. I’m not the only voice though. Notably, I’m not Trans or a woman (among many other things). if you want to question me or continue the conversation it’s my ardent wish that you do so. Especially if you find a way to eliminate the new “virtue” of exclusion.

So go out to your local Leather Worker and get your International Leather Victim 2018 sash today and wear it proudly! Real Victors are Victims. Most of all remember some other victims that inspire you in the community. You have lots of options. May you always be willing to carve out more seats at the table. And while you dine may you always have more conversations about what it means to sit.

Rabbit Redd lives in Madison, Wisc. He can be contacted at