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Stupid Me, I Went to the Leather Bar
By the Rev. Troy D. Perry
From an interview by Shaun ProulxI fell into leather in a weird way. I had separated from my wife and had moved to Los Angeles. I was thrown out of my church for being gay and I started my journey into the gay and lesbian community. I worked with someone who was into leather and I didn't know what that meant exactly. But one day he asked me, "Would you meet me at this bar?"
Well, stupid me, I went to the leather bar. I'd never been to one and didn't know what it was. . . . And I'm wearing my polyester pants, shirt; I arrived at the door and tried to get in.
And the doorman said, "Where do you think you're going?"
And I said, "Well, I'm going in the bar, I guess."
"Not dressed like that," he tells me. "Pull off that coat and tie."
I went back to my car, took off my coat and tie and went back. The doorman looked at me and said, "Now where do you think you're going?"
And I'm thinking, "What is wrong with this man?"
"Leather's preferred here," he tells me.
So I said to the doorman, "Look, a friend of mine is in here, can I just go in and have him paged and then I'll leave?"
So he let me in. I asked the bartender to page my friend and waited. And it was very dark; I started looking around and all at once I saw this guy at the end of the bar: chaps, boots, no shirt and a leather vest on. He was looking at me like he was undressing me. But here I am, this little twenty-five-year-old guy! And all at once he said, "Here, pussy, pussy . . ."
He scared the living crap out of me and I thought, "This is a Hells Angels bar, I'm fixing to get beat up," and I left. But I could not get over the way he looked at me.
Then, after I founded MCC, I had four leathermen walk into my church. I thought again they were Hells Angels – we'd had some problems with bikers – and I told the ushers, "If they start anything, call the police." After service it turned out one of them was the president of a leather group. He invited me to meet other presidents of leather groups and asked if I'd ever been to a leather bar. I told him the story I just told you and he just laughed, laughed, laughed. And he took me out to one, but made me wear jeans, a black T-shirt and boots. The people that I met were genuinely interesting people, were professional for the most part. And I got cruised like mad and I just loved it. But I knew from that first visit before, when I saw that guy at the bar who turned me on with that first view – it was an exchange of energy. . . .
And so immediately I started going to leather bars from that day forward, and it was amazing, and still continues to be . . .
This passage originally appeared in "Shaun Proulx Talks to Reverend Troy Perry," which was published in the November 2002 issue of Gay Guide Toronto. It is reprinted here with permission of Mr. Proulx and the Rev. Perry.
Another version of this tale appears in the Rev. Perry's essay, "A Meditation on Religion and Leatherspace," which was published in Leatherfolk, edited by Mark Thompson (reprinted by Daedalus Publishing, 2004).
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