Friday, June 24, 2011

Lesson 5 - a History Lesson

Almost every organisation has a symbol of some sort.....from world flags 

to religious symbols ............ 

to gay pride............ 

to BDSM............

BUT there is one BDSM symbol - the Leather Pride Flag - that for whatever reason doesn't seem to be as well known - or as visible.  (at least up here in the Eastern part of the Great White North)

I had known about the flag - even seen it a few times.  I assumed that it was a flag for gay leather men. WRONG!!  

I went looking to find the history of it....... (being as I am a bit of a history fan).

I discovered that the Leather Pride Flag was created by Tony DeBlase in 1989 in time for the Chicago Mr International Leather Contest.

In an article he wrote for the Drummer magazine he said:

"For the 20th anniversary of Stonewall, I felt that the time was right for the Leather men and women, who have been participating in these same parades and events more and more visibly in recent years, to have a similar, simple, elegant banner that would serve as a symbol of their own identity and interests.  I decided that calling a committee meeting to design it would be counterproductive, so I just did it.  I consulted with most of the staff here at Drummer, and some of their suggestions were incorporated.  I do not expect the design to be the final form, but (rather) the basis from which a widely accepted banner will evolve"

After the Chicago Mr. International Leather competition the flag gained a life of it's own and soon it was being seen all over the world.  The people had spoken - by majority - they liked it as it was.

Tony DeBlase will not assign any symbolic value to the flag - he says it stands for whatever you want it to stand for (paraphrasing his words)  I for one have a problem with that.  Tony says there are 9 stripes of equal width... alternating black and blue with one white stripe in the middle.  And a red heart in the upper left corner.  Needless to say there are more interpretations of the flag than there are Leather folk.  I can find no serious symbolism in it......... except for maybe the heart which is pretty damn obvious.  9 stripes ?? standing for what??? It is said that the blue stripe is for jeans........ JEANS??? excuse me - but if I try to get into a public play party in jeans I won't get past the front door !!!  Black could stand for leather - which like the heart seems pretty obvious...... especially since it is the LEATHER pride flag. 

BUT it seems to me if you are going to create a banner/flag to symbolize a community it should have some assigned symbolic value.  Otherwise you land up - like I did - assuming it stands for something it doesn't.  Though as I sit here typing this - I wonder if I was so wrong in my assumption that it was a flag for gay leather men....... It was after all designed for Mr. International Leather ....... and I would venture a guess that most that compete are gay or bisexual......... but then we all know what assume does right?? 


Seven years after the appearance of the Leather Pride Flag.... a number of people voiced some discontent with it.  They felt it was just too prominent.  They wanted something more discrete .......something more like a secret handshake.. something that "vanilla's" wouldn't quickly and easily see as BDSM.  And so the BDSM symbol was born.........

Now the symbolism of the emblem is very clearly stipulated by it's creator - who I believe was Quagmyr.  If you wish to visit his website ....... click HERE

First - the three sections represent 
"safe, sane, consensual" 
as well they represent the 3 main groups of BDSM
"B&D, D&S and S&M".  (bondage and discipline, Domination and submission, and sadism and masochism)

The holes in each section represent the incompleteness of each of us - BDSM cannot be done alone.

And the circle represents the continuing flow - no ending no beginning - a unity.

For me - truthfully - the BDSM emblem has much more meaning........ it is tattooed on my thigh....... I have earrings with the symbol on them........ I honestly can't see myself tattooing the flag or having flag earrings...... shrug.. but that's just me.

Class is now dismissed for the summer!!!


  1. Anonymous9:43 am

    You miss teaching, don't you!


  2. LOL............ does it show that much??? LOL

  3. Anonymous10:45 am

    great post! I'm in the learning process and I hadn't any idea there was a symbol/flag for BDSM. Thanks for sharing this! And I agree, I think the symbol has more meaning than the flag.

  4. I've always liked the symbol. =)

  5. Thanks for the lesson, I love learning about the meaning behind things.


  6. Spankedhortic - I want to make sure you see my comment from yesterday to you.........

    don't you stop letting me know when I have made a mistake!!! Otherwise how will *I* learn huh?? HUH??


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