Reflections on the 2014 Brisbane Leather Pride Festival

With the end of the Brisbane Leather Pride Festival, it is time to catch our breaths and reflect upon what we have achieved in 2014. We closed the Leather Pride Festival with a BLP munch and the Brisbane Pride March. Gathering with many members of the local LGBTIQ community, we walked down Brunswick street with our our BootCo. brothers and Krave Kink sisters. Sporting our leather, our latex, our leashes, our flags, and our somewhat less-than-practical footwear, the day served as a powerful reminder as to what we aim to accomplish through Brisbane Leather Pride, and why we embarked on this journey in the first place.

Upon the conclusion of BLP’s first elections, our Committee immediately began to envision the BLP Festival, a programme to engage the Kinky and the Curious, to offer a range of events that affirm, unite, celebrate, and incite the BDSM community.

This year’s theme, The Future of Kink, is an acknowledgement of the origins of BLP and an invitation to the community to envision how the scene is to continue to evolve. Queensland’s BDSM culture is constantly changing; those who have been involved over the decades can mark certain patterns and cycles, opportunities for engagement with a more mainstream culture, and negative reactions, necessitating withdrawal or conflict.

Nowadays, it is generally socially acceptable to read Anne Rice or E.L. James. Perhaps this signifies an increased interest in the mainstream to explore diverse sexual proclivities, yet there is still a struggle to define what consent looks and sounds like in a dorm, a club, or a household. In many ways the BDSM subculture has much to contribute to the wider community, however we are largely discounted, in turns targeted or ignored. I suspect this suits many of us, motley crew of Masochists, Sadists, Rebels, and Outliers as we are.

This is a diverse culture, united by our engagement with that which is taboo, unusual, and forbidden. Many of us fashion identities that both reveal and conceal, in order to create a buffer between this subculture and the day-to-day. Some of us must hide our interests from the mainstream, whilst others have found places to inhabit that are safe enough for us to be quite frank about our lifestyles. This creates unique challenges for each individual to navigate. Working on this festival has affirmed for me that “Leather Pride” is to not only engage fully with one’s own kinky pursuits free from shame, but to also take appropriate measures to live safely, to manage how one’s kinks are revealed and to whom, to have access to people and resources that support each person’s journey.

Whilst the Committee learned much along the way, as can be expected in attempting such an enormous undertaking for the first time, there is much to celebrate. The Fetish and Alternative Market was a massive success. Our workshops were very well received, and participants contributed wonderful feedback regarding what workshops BLP should offer in the near future. The Fetish Fridays trilogy took on another evolution this year; we showcased three different kink venues and were able to accommodate a larger audience. Our munch and panel were attended by small numbers, but this allowed for a level of affinity, a high degree of engagement, and excellent quality of discussion. We were also fortunate to forge relationships with other event organisers in Queensland, and featured these events as part of our programme, including BloodLust Ball, a kinky life drawing class at Grace Arts, open days at Spunk’d and Black Rabbit, and several BootCo. events.

Another highlight for several of our male BLP members was attendance at Corium for the Mr Leather Queensland Competition, which saw Maximus claim this year’s title by a narrow margin, and Queensland Leather Boy, Queensland Leather Daddy, and Queensland Leather Pup were also awarded over the course of the evening. Lastly, BLP is immensely proud to have raised over $800.00 to be donated to the Queensland’s Aids Council’s Gender Clinic through raffles, non-alcoholic drink sales, and donations.

In offering opportunities to share knowledge, celebrate our proclivities, and communicate our lived experiences, BLP aims to serve the kink community. I would therefore like to thank those who have taken the time to offer the Committee feedback about the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of this undertaking. As we look to the next year, we seek to improve, respond to the needs to the community, and build on the successes of 2014.

I can think of no better way to bring this to a close than to sincerely thank each of you who supported us, and to invite everyone to watch our website over the next few weeks to see what exciting projects are in the works!

Vandellous, BLP President
On Behalf of the Brisbane Leather Pride Committee

Community Not For Profit Organisation