I have been personally involved as either a full member, associate or officer in various old-school/old guard leather/motorcycle clubs since moving out of my parents' home at a teen. Many of my close friends have been members as well (or at least, major supporters of gay leather/motorcycle clubs, which are truly "the original leather community".)
Some people consider the leather club community to be a "relic" or "dinosaur" -- something that should be taken out back and shot between the eyes and put out of it's misery like a lame horse. I simply don't believe this. I know a few things that today's "new" leather-wearing gay men don't:
- Leather/Club Colours go beyond what you wear -- the true lifestyle is in your blood. It's not about the crap you read in the books sold at the leather market or what you see on the internet.
- The M.C. club community isn't just about wearing your club's colours proudly and with respect -- it's also about the extended family you have chosen to join and, in return, have been accepted as a member.
- Being a club member does not mean you're into S&M or are a master, slave, boy or sir... it's something completely different. It publically shows that you respect yourself as well as your brothers.
My club colours demand the respect of others. In turn, I demand respect for my colours from others as I respect them.
When the dust settles and the shallowness of "leather contests" and "internet dating" fades, you'll find yourself getting older. Maybe perhaps your "Chelsea Boy looks" begin to fade as you lose your hair. When you look back for mates to accompany you down your later half of your life, who will you turn to? If you've surrounded yourself with nothing tangible and no one of depth or substance, you're all set for a very lonely life.
This is not the case in the real club/leather community. We're there for each other. We see beyond outward appearances. We all get by with a little help from our friends, but as the saying goes a friend will come bail you out of jail, but a real friend will be sitting beside you saying "Didn't we have fun!!".
So, before you go out and spend that $500 on some shiny new leather, why not investigate the existing underground culture of the real leather/motorcycle clubs in your area? It costs far less and offers far better rewards. Don't know where to start? Ask me.