There is a tradition in leather culture of earning your leathers. The theory is that leather gear should be bestowed upon you by the community or by your top or by an elder because you have achieved something. This is of course a fairly vague definition, but in being so it kinda encompasses the various permutations of earning I’ve seen/heard about/read about/participated in.

Like many things, this tradition started with the gay boys and their motorcycle clubs.  And as the notion of leather family has broadened and encompassed more identities, the ways in which I have seen this idea of earning your leathers be adapted has similarly broadened. In Robin Sweeney’s short story Daddy (from doing it for Daddy, an anthology edited by Patrick Califia in the mid 90s), a genderqueer boy earns her leathers when her Daddy confiscates them and only returns them to the boy as challenges are…

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