Leather families are chosen families that come in many different types and are formed for many different reasons. Some people form leather families for play or sex, others for company or protection. Usually there is a hierarchy, one person or a couple that run the family and chose who is asked to join and who is asked to leave. Some families are highly organized; it takes a petition with references, followed by years of service to the family and their causes to even be considered. Once in, a person is given a position and usually a patch that represents their family. Other families are more relaxed and change frequently. They tend to be formed and disbanded depending on physical attraction in the moment. Some are very extensive, others are small and insular. Some do not allow a new person into the family unless the entire family agrees to this; others are solely governed by the head of the family. For some families bad behavior is taken care of inside the family and for other families the members are responsible for their own selves and expected to handle their own issues.
When I found myself in my leather family, it was something that had been forming itself for a few years. We had been through a lot together and one day we were talking and the word family came up and we all realized that that is what we were. My leather family is the people that know me the best, who I go to for advice and teaching, and who I know have my best interest at heart. They celebrated the buying of our house, they worried with me as my slave has struggled with her health, and they called me on my behavior when needed. They watched and helped me grow, and let me do all of this for them in return. My leather family has been there more for me then my bio family could be or wanted to be. My leather family is not the people that we play with or sleep with, and there is no recognized leader, per se, just a few people that rely on each other for support, guidance and love. But they are the first people that I call when I have something to celebrate, or something to worry over. They have come to mean the world to me over the years.
It is not to say that occasionally we don’t fail each other or make mistakes. Like all families leather families go through struggles as well. We are not immune to miscommunications, frustration, and fear. And sometimes we just grow apart. Recently a part of our leather family and ourselves have gone in two very different directions, and so we have separated from that part of our family. It was best for everyone involved. But this has gotten me thinking about family in general.
I have been very lucky to have the leather family that I have had for as long as it has been. The things that I have wanted from my bio family that will never happen I have joyfully received from my chosen one. I have mentioned that they were there when we bought out house, and celebrated with us this very important milestone. What I didn’t say was that my bio family never once said congratulations. When my slave was struggling with her health it is my leather family that was by my side, offering a shoulder, an ear, and support. All the while my bio family said nothing, not even I hope she feels better. Recently my slave and I have talked about celebrating our tenth anniversary together next year with a possible ceremony. I know that whatever I ask from my leather family will be no question. I also know that my bio family refused to attend our wedding because they wanted to use their time share. Last year when the blister beetles that accidentally got into the horse food supply killed several horses in our area and had possibly been ingested by my beloved horses I went to my leather family and lost it. I never told my bio family, I knew better.
It is the things that I have achieved in my life that I consider most important that are the things that I could never share with my bio family. The evolution of my leather identify as well as the project AEL Kinkskills would only bring disgust and accusations. Not because they view leather as dangerous and are concerned about my safety, but because as a person of size, with a partner of color, and a lesbian I am simply considered less then by them.
My chosen family is my heart. I am very blessed indeed. So when you look around the world and there are those very special people that want you to grow, push you to grow, and love you warts and all. Embrace them, love them, and make them your home. They are very rare indeed.
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New Mexico Fetlifers