Seasoned Leatherman

I really don’t want to let this blog die. I just have trouble coming up with new content or things to write about.

Over the last several months, I have received messages via email from guys who respectfully say things like:

I have been following you through your blog for a long time. I have learned a lot about leather, boots, and gay culture.

… followed by more compliments on the information I have shared and my general perspective of being a regular guy who likes to wear leather and boots and just happens to be gay.

In fact today I received another respectful email addressing me as “Sir” and suggesting he would enjoy hearing stories from a “seasoned leatherman.”

I was honored to read that, to tell you the truth.

At first I was going to summarily reject the compliments with sort of an “aw shucks” shrug. However, on further thought…

… I do have a story. Mostly historical.

Here’s my story in a nutshell (more details are on this blog over its 15 years of existence.)

I was born into a large family, among the last of 15 kids. I didn’t know I was born gay. In fact, I did not realize I preferred men until well into my 20s.

During high school, I was socially shy and hated events like school dances or proms. At the time, I shrugged it off to being an awkward klutz who could not dance (no matter how hard my sisters tried to teach me) and that I was a “nerd” in school, regularly picked on by the jocks. I avoided the worst of bullying because my twin brother was Mr. All-American athlete — to bully me, you had to go through him and he always, always had my back.

In college, I was Mr. Man-About-Campus. I was involved and led a number of student organizations while pursuing not one but two undergraduate degrees. I did not have time to date (male or female) while juggling classes, meetings, and part-time work (I put myself through college.)

However, it was during my last year of college that I had sex with a guy, and learned it was something I enjoyed. Woo-hoo, not celibate as I thought I might have been.

When I began working, I was really busy with my first job(s), establishing my career path. I also bought my first “fixer-upper” house and since I didn’t have much money, I totally remodeled it mostly by myself. Dating was not on my radar with lack of time, and then… “the AIDS Scare.

The 1980s were hard for me as a gay man with a degree that gave me knowledge of infectious disease. The “AIDS Scare” sent me right back into the proverbial closet. I did not go out to bars or other gay nightspots because I was afraid. Also, remember, I was a shy kid and a shy young adult.

During the ’80s, I bought my first motorcycle as a means of fun transportation. That is also when I began to buy and wear leather (chaps, jacket, vest, leather jeans, and of course, motorcycle boots!) I began wearing leather as a rebellion against the staid and drab clothing that men wore (suits, ties, dress shoes.) Yeah, I wore that clothing when I had to, but preferred when on my own time to show up in full leather.

I learned that no one really cared about the leather I wore — they cared about what I was saying, doing, and groups I was leading. I got elected to non-partisan public office while campaigning a lot in leather, using my motorcycle as an “excuse” for the few who questioned my attire.

As I was climbing the ladder of a successful career, I separated my personal “leather/boot life” from my “work life.” Yeah, I wore shirts/ties and even the occasional sportcoat or suit with dress boots to work.

Also in the ’80s, besides full-time work and renovating my house, I also earned a Master’s then a Doctorate degree. Talk about busy with no time to date or have any kind of social life!

In 1993, my life was transformed when I met the man with whom I fell in love. We dated for five years then built our “forever home” in the hometown where I grew up. (this post explains where and how we met.)

Notice I did not say that I was dating? When I met the man I would eventually marry, he was really about the only guy I dated seriously. Ever.

Our lives intertwined and we became “one” — one in marriage; one in life together. My husband was always my #1 champion and cheered for me as I continued to excel on my career path.

By the time we could marry legally in the state where we lived (and where I was born and raised), it was rather anticlimactic. We loudly said, “we didn’t have a wedding — we had a marriage ceremony to recognize our relationship under state law.” No wedding frill for us! (That’s another thing where my husband and I shunned over-the-top gay stuff.)

My husband and I settled in to a comfortable routine, happy in the house we transformed into our home.

My husband also wore leather (a little.) When younger, he would wear his leathers while riding as a passenger on my bike, then “our bike” (a Harley we bought together). While we attended the occasional gathering of “the leather clan” at MAL and IML (once), we found these gatherings to be difficult for us. Particularly for me since I never could stay awake past 9pm.

Also, we were and remained monogamous — even before we took the vows of marriage — so some of these events were also difficult for us because we were not interested in sex with anyone else. Plus, my husband (bless him) was quite the recluse. He detested social events and as he got older, he did not want to attend them again, or go to gay bars or nightspots. Ever.

Fast forward to 2019 when I decided to retire. My husband had retired a few years before. We were planning on exploring my new-found freedom to travel during 2020. However, as happened to all of us, the pandemic put the kibosh on going further than the grocery store for essentials and our back yard.

My story has two more points.

In summer 2020, my husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He endured surgery and several (failed) attempts at chemotherapy. I poured 1000% of myself into caring for him.

With deep sorrow, my husband died due to organ failure due to chemotherapy intolerance in January 2021. The entire year of 2021 was devoted to grieving, mourning, and figuring out what my new life might become.

Second point — with the help of my family, very close friends, a professional therapist, and a Support Group, I have “re-emerged” into my “new me.” While I miss my husband, I have a life of great promise to enjoy.

Me / Harley / Iconic Monument Valley Scenic Road

While I truly am a “seasoned citizen” by age, bedtime comes even earlier (so I will not attend evening events), and I am not interested in “meet-ups” with men looking for a sexual encounter, I am enjoying my life by:

  • serving my community as a volunteer two or three days each week.
  • participating on several professional and community organizations as a mentor, guider, and old sage.
  • traveling to favorite spots (like my “lugar feliz” — Puerto Rico), new spots (Canada), and still going on crazy-awesome motorcycle adventures. Woo-hoo! You only live once!

Life is short: that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!

3 thoughts on “Seasoned Leatherman

  1. With my own collection of 139 pairs of boots at age 28, you’re still very much a big inspiration on how I plan to do things when I get older!

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