Layers of leather: The identity formation of leathermen as a process of transforming meanings of masculinity.
Mosher CM, Levitt HM, Manley E.
Counseling Psychology Program, The University of Memphis, Memphis, TN, USA.
Leathermen form a gay male subculture that eroticizes leather dress and symbols. This investigation examined the relationship of participants’ leather identity to their gender and sexual identities. In addition, the participants described their process of leather identity development, and its meanings and purposes. Six self-identified leathermen participated in semi-structured interviews that were subjected to a grounded-theory analysis. The analysis suggested that leathermen develop a unique form of masculinity, integrating care and vulnerability with an aesthetic of heightened masculine appearance. Flexible interactional scripts allow for gendered signs to be enacted, designating a social status that is not recognized by the mainstream gay community. Findings are discussed in relation to previous research on gay male masculinity, gay community, sexual identity formation, and internalized homophobia.
PMID: 17135117 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]