Always been sort of tempted by the leather community, but felt too intimidated to reach out? There’s a new leather club starting in Philadelphia that may offer just the baby-bear-step approach you’ve been looking for.
The Queer Leather Alliance (QLA) recently kicked off with a mission that co-founder Damon Stango says “offers a space for people like me that I haven’t found in any other club.”
The group's mission statement says that the organization seeks to honor the rich history of the leather world while incorporating more modern perspectives on gender and sexuality, something Stango hopes will attract younger folks interested in the world of leather. "The younger/newer crowds are definitely attracted to leather, but they want to know more."
QLA will provide that in the form of educational workshops, like Trans 101 and Queer 101, and other community-bonding activities. "We'll definitely do the typical bar nights and field trips to other events, but we also want to mesh a few more glittery things, like drag and burlesque."
There are two ways to join QLA: As a full or associate member. The former, kind of like a fraternity, requires completion of a probationary period before being granted all membership rights, including the right to vote on new policies and run for office. This period lasts about three to four months, and requires 12 hours of community service, half of which must involve the leather and/or queer communities. "They also need four hours of education," Stango says. "The biggest component is the class project, where they get to plan an event for the club."
Associate members can participate in functions, but they won't have the opportunity to vote at meetings. Maybe a good idea for someone wanting to test the waters before jumping right in.
Everyone is welcome to join: "We want anyone who feels they have a place in the queer community—butches, femmes, trans men, trans women, nongendered, genderqueer, or folks who don't use a label, we want them all."
Folks interested in joining can attend the next informational session on Saturday, September 13th a 7 p.m. at Midtown Diner II (122 South 11th Street). More information about QLA can be found here.