The first time I saw a leather man, I was 24 years old at Crash nightclub in London — the original Crash under the arches in Vauxhall.

I walked from the main dancefloor into the centre bar area and saw two leather men. They were both just over six feet tall and were wearing black leather chaps. Their bare chests and muscular arms had a light coating of fur as did their leather-framed butt cheeks.

I stopped dead in my tracks as soon as I saw then, my heart rate quickening and a lump building in my throat (as well as my groin). I subsequently learned they had been at the Hoist, an infamous leather bar in London, and had come up to see what was happening at Crash.

I was too shy and self-conscious to approach them but hovered within earshot for some time in awe of their presence.

In hindsight, it was that night that I discovered leather but, like many, it was several years before I really got into the leather scene.

I struggled as a young gay man to find my place within the gay community. While I could ‘camp it up’ when I had to, I had no attraction to the mainstream gay culture. I felt just as uncomfortable in a gay club dancing to Kylie as I did in a straight club.

It was after I started to explore the leather scene that I really found my space. I discovered masculine gay men (and the odd leather-clad queen) who were down to earth, friendly and easy to chat to. They were not worried about what I did for work, whether I had the latest Nike runners or wore that season’s overpriced jeans.

The leather community offered me acceptance and a freedom to explore a new part of my sexuality.

Unfortunately, Sydney does not have a dedicated leather or fetish bar for people to discover this part of the community, so Sydney Leather Pride Association has teamed up with the Oxford Hotel to resurrect Dog Tag, Down Right Dirty on

Friday, April 8, a monthly leather/ fetish/ uniform night in the Oxford Underground Bar. Dog Tag is a social night with DJs, spontaneous fetish shows and a place for all to explore and express their fetish desires.

Who knows — you might see me bound to a pole, gagged and tortured like last year!

By KEVIN FORWARD, SLPA

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