Leather Invasion: Kink The Vote

Date: Tuesday, November 4
Location: Your Designated Polling Place

Six months ago, I wrote a column with the headline “Sex and Politics” [Lavender, March 28]. I ended it by writing, “If politicians professing to be God-fearing Christians have made such a mess of things over the last few decades, it might take a bunch of people formerly known as ‘pervs’ to make things better.”

It’s time. On Tuesday, November 4, in the spirit of many “Rock The Vote!” and, more recently, “Queer The Vote” campaigns over the years, it’s time for “Kink The Vote!”—a nationwide Leather Invasion of the polls to help make sure the next four years are better than the last eight.

Robert Valin, a self-described “leather bear” who lives in New York City, invented the concept of a “Leather Invasion.” Dismayed by bar closings and other signs that New York City’s leather scene was dwindling, he set about to revitalize things by calling for “new and alternative social and cultural activities for those interested in the love, commraderie [sic], and kinship of the Leather/Fetish lifestyle.”

In one of the group’s early outings, New York City leatherfolk invaded MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art. Other Leather Invasions have included IKEA, Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center, Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

The idea has been adopted elsewhere, including the Twin Cities, where Leather Invasion nights have taken place at several local theaters and restaurants. As well, The Atons of Minneapolis long has held monthly Leather/Levi dinners at area restaurants—same idea.

Now, it’s time for the biggest and most important Leather Invasion ever: nationwide, at the polls on November 4.

I don’t have to tell you things are a mess. I don’t have to tell you how bad the last eight years have been for our community, our country, and the world in general. You can see it all around you.

I don’t have to tell you how you should vote. You’re smart enough to figure that out for yourself.

But consider this: The leather/BDSM/fetish community is a voting bloc. Or, it could be if we want it to be, and if we make it one.

The radical Christian right often is estimated to make up about 15 percent of the voting public. The GLBT community usually is estimated at roughly 10 percent of the population.

But according to the Stonewall Democrats, GLBT voters account for only between 4 percent and 5 percent of voters in national exit polls.

Kinky folk, according to author Gloria G. Brame (Come Hither: A Commonsense Guide to Kinky Sex), are estimated to be between 5 and 50 percent of the population. The consensus is 10 to 15 percent, but Brame suspects the true percentage is higher.

Now, consider that in 2004, about 64 percent of the general population voted. In the 2006 midterm elections, this figure fell to 40 percent. That’s a lot of people not voting. It means that if you do vote, your vote’s significance and influence is increased.

Imagine if we, the proud members of the leather/BDSM/fetish community, all showed up in force, and voted. Imagine if we all got our friends to come to the polls, and vote with us.

That’s what we must do. We need to vote, and in numbers large enough that the election results are a sound repudiation of the damaging and destructive politics and policies of the past eight years (and, in reality, most of the past 28).

Oh, and we need to vote in numbers that produce such a large margin of victory, the election can’t be stolen—or stolen again, for those of you who are into conspiracy theories.

You can bet the forces of intolerance will be at the polls. These people will be voting against our community’s best interests, but, ironically, against their own best interests as well.

Some people are so concerned with keeping an African American out of the White House; preventing gays and lesbians from marrying; trying to control what goes on in other people’s bedrooms; or taking away a woman’s right to make choices about her own body—they will base their vote on those issues, ignoring the economy, the environment, two wars, and our country’s tattered image.

These people will be voting. We need to outnumber them.

Remember, it’s not just a presidential election. Minnesotans, for example, will be voting also for a US senator, US representatives, state representatives, a variety of district and appellate judges, and a proposed amendment to the state constitution, as well as possibly for other city and county offices, and on various ballot issues.

Be an informed voter: Research candidates and issues before you go to the polls.

Not registered to vote? In Minnesota, you can register at the polls on Election Day—info at www.sos.state.mn.us. Wisconsin and Iowa also allow same-day registration at the polls.

By the way, the state with the highest voter turnout in the 2004 elections was Minnesota, with Wisconsin taking second-place honors.

You have every reason to vote, and no excuse not to. On November 4, everybody gets one vote, although not everyone will use it. Use yours. Kink the Vote!

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