A History of Leather at Pride: 1965-1995

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The 1979 Gay Freedom Day Committee will apparently take the advice of its March Subcommittee and not attempt to bar persons who appear in chains, leather and other bondage symbolism in the eighth annual parade on June 24. Several of the core of 60 people who have participated in this year's planning meetings had objected to a 1978 "parade" occurrence. Some "S&M" entries had immediately followed Women Opposed to Violence and Pornography in the Media. Bondage symbolism, objectors this year contend, provides not only sensation for non-Gay media coverage, but also emits a message contrary to the freedom theme of Gay Pride Week. Thus, they proposed a ban on leather and chains for this year's celebration. The 1977 and 1978 events in San Francisco attracted 250,000 to 300,000 people and received national publicity. However, a majority of the GFDC had decided that the "freedom" theme itself requires that people be allowed the attire of their choice. Many subcommittee members see a parallel between this latest controversy and another of several years' standing involving men in female attire ("drag"). A 1976 guideline on sexism (adopted also by succeeding committees) resolved that "dressing in drag on the part of either sex is not sexist of itself" and is offensive only if it "demeans women or is degrading to Gay men." Bay Area Reporter, 1979


The argument goes like this.

Kink, leather, and BDSM do not belong at Pride. First, they aren't actually LGBTQ: kink is also practiced by straight people (Baker-Jordan, 2021). Moreover, those queer people who do display kink at Pride expose vulnerable people to harmful symbols and acts. They wear pup hoods and rubber bodices, they dress in studded codpieces and leather harnesses, they sport floggers, handcuffs, and nipple clamps (lesbiansofpower, 2021; stellar_seabass,…
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