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Leather Pride flag

Bondage, domination and sado-masochism

Last modified: 2000-12-08 by antonio martins
Keywords: leather | heart | frisia | east frisia | lily | error | deblase (tony) | permanence | devotion | loyalty | community | love | bdsm | bondage | domination | sado-masochism | federation star |
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[Leather Pride flag]
by António Martins
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Origin of the flag

There is an article in International Leatherman magazine (Issue 25 published July-August 1999) about the history of the Leather Pride flag. According to this article, the flag was designed in Chicago by Tony DeBlase in May 1989 as a working design from which a permanent flag was to be designed through community consensus. The first prototype was displayed at the Mr. Leather contest in Chicago on May 28, 1989, and was enthusiastically welcomed. The creator of the flag leaves the interpretation of the colors up to the viewer. (Although the creator of the flag did not attribute any colors to the flag, many times I have heard or read the following (sometimes vague) descriptions: black is for leather and for permanence; blue is for devotion, loyalty, and community; white is for purity and innocence; and the red heart is for the love of leathermen for each other and for their community.)

There was some objection to Mr. DeBlase taking it upon himself to design a flag for the leather community. However, he defended his position that it was only a temporary design meant to inspire others in creating a permanent flag. Nevertheless, the design caught on so fast that before anyone could do anything, the prototype design was seen everywhere: in magazines, in parades, on flags, on t-shirts, in logos, etc. The original prototype flag is now on display at the Leather Archives and Museum in Chicago.

Michael Wilson, 30 Sep 2000

Localized variants


The following September [1989] the first variant of the flag was seen: An Australian Leather Pride flag with the black-blue-white stripes as the field, the red heart in the canton, and the Australian stars in the fly.
Michael Wilson, 30 Sep 2000

I do not know if the flag had just the Southern Cross or if it included the Federation Star too. The did not include a photo or drawing of the flag. I believe, however, that the flag did have the Federation Star. The following paragraph from the article provides the following details:

The following September, at the next “Mr. Drummer” contest, one of the most interesting events was the arrival of Clive Platman, a New Zealander in San Francisco to represent Australia in the “Mr. Drummer” finals. He brought with him a new version of the flag, its first major variant. Over the now-established stripes, Laurie Lane of “Laurie Lane’s Leather World”, had appliqued the stars that also appear on Australia’s national flag.
The article leads me to believe that the flag did bear the Federation Star. First, it clearly mentions that the flag bore the stars of the Australian national flag, which one would assume would include all the stars. Second, because the Federation Star is the major difference between the Australian and New Zealand flags, and because the flag was identified as being Australian, one would also assume the Federation Star was included. Third, despite being from New Zealand, Mr. Platman was representing Australia in the contest and brought with him the Australian variant. Should he have brought a New Zealand flag instead while representing Australia, then it would have been a noteworthy event in the contest. Nothing of this sort is mentioned in the article.
Michael Wilson, 03 Nov 2000

Alternate origin report?...

If I am correct, there is a very funny story about that flag. The flag factories in Taiwan are not flag experts. They produce flags from artwork presented to them. They offer these flags for sale to various flag importers in the U.S. and elsewhere. They produced flags for Friesland and East Frisia. These come in several variations. Some have blue and white diagonal stripes with 7 red lily pads (not hearts, but very heart shaped) and some come with one heart and variations exist with blue and grey stripes. One importer received some by accident and because he was a Palestinian, he did not know what it was and even if he did he had no (or a very limited) market for them. He listed them in his catalog as leather pride and it caught on. Now it has been reproduced several times and is sold not as a Frisian flag, but as a flag for those who use leather as a sexual fetish.
William M. Grimes-Wyatt, 24 May 1996

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