Photo courtesy of BigStock/pasiphae
Life has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that includes life in the leather/ BDSM/fetish community. The pandemic has been with us for months, and there seems to be no indication of how many more months we will need to keep washing our hands, wearing our face masks, and practicing social distancing.
We are a community, and a culture, that prioritizes safety. Currently, we can’t safely do many of the things we used to enjoy doing, and we don’t know when it will be safe to do them again. So what do we do in this state of limbo and lockdown? We have a choice: We can dwell on everything we can’t do right now, and we can wish circumstances were otherwise. Enough of that and we become bored, angry, disheartened, and depressed.
Or we can approach things differently. Yes, there are things we can’t do now, but a time will come when we will have fewer limitations and restrictions. Instead of bemoaning all the things we can’t do now, we can spend our time focusing on things we can do now— things that will prepare us for that future day when we can be with people again. We can make an investment now of our time, talents, and energy—doing things that we can accomplish within the health constraints of the pandemic, to prepare for the time when those health constraints will lessen. When that time comes, the investments we make now in preparing for that time will pay off handsomely.
If you’re like me, you have many tasks you want to accomplish and things you want to do “someday, when there’s time.” Well, someday is here, and now there’s plenty of time. Use it—invest it—wisely. Each activity you do now, in addition to being enjoyable, enriching, and fulfilling, is your own personal statement that you believe life will not always be like this. You’ll be better prepared for the time when the pandemic recedes and community life and events blossom again.
With these thoughts in mind, here is a beginning of a list of possible things that can be done now to prepare for the day when we can again enjoy each other’s company in person. Some of these activities can be done alone. Some can be done with a significant other, or one or more members of your pandemic pod or bubble, should you be lucky enough to have one.
• Let’s start with probably the most obvious suggestion: Clean and polish your boots, leathers, and other fetish gear. That way they will be ready to go when we can socialize again.
• Take up leathercraft, or use your existing skills to create something new that you’ll be able to wear or use when times get better. I have been part of many workshops dealing with how to create kinky toys or wearables from common household items—once you let your creativity run wild and get some ideas, making the ideas real isn’t that difficult.
Also keep in mind that hardware stores, those treasure houses of kinky raw materials, are considered “essential businesses” and are therefore open for shopping if you wear a face mask.
• Develop or practice your whipping skills. An excellent resource for beginners is Let’s Get Cracking! (Second Edition): The How-To Book of Bullwhip Skills, by Robert Dante. Learn about whip safety and technique, and then find a fence or set up a sawhorse, put some empty cans on it, and practice knocking them off with the whip. Practice makes perfect! Bonus: Since you want to maintain a “safety bubble” around the flying tip of the whip, you’re automatically doing social distancing at the same time.
• Practice or enhance your rope skills. Learn some new knots. Practice tying and untying them to get faster at it. You technically don’t need another person for this— although practicing with another person, done safely, could make things more interesting.
• Read a book you have been wanting to read “someday.” Maybe that book is already sitting on your bookshelf or in a pile to read later. Or maybe you can order the book or download it. Reading a book exploring leather history, technique, or philosophy can be interesting now and enriching for the future. Or enjoy a brief, exhilarating escape to another world (a world without a pandemic going on) by reading some fantasy fiction.
• Preserve your own personal leather history. Write a letter to future leather generations about your experiences in leather, and those of your friends and your generation. Or make an audio or video recording of yourself as you reminisce. And share those written or recorded reminiscences with the community by sending them to the Leather Archives & Museum and/or Minnesota Leather Pride, or share your reminiscences with other kinky folks on social media.
• Organize your photos and other leather memorabilia and put them in physical or digital scrapbooks or albums. This is another big “someday, when there’s time” project for most people. Well, someday is today, and there’s lots of time. Do it now while you have the opportunity. Both now and in the future, people will thank you.
• Be on the lookout for virtual community gatherings. The Leather Archives & Museum, Minnesota Leather Pride, Cleveland Leather Annual Weekend (CLAW), Knights of Leather, and others are organizing virtual events, gatherings, or hangouts. For now, it’s something, and it’s so much better than sitting alone, being bored, and resenting our circumstances.
Keep in mind that the above list is just a beginning. Perhaps this list will spark ideas for other things that can be done within the limitations of this strange time and that will pay big dividends when times are again not so strange.