Last weekend I attended SELF, the Southeast Leather Fest. I was invited to do an author reading and sell some books, but that only took up three hours, so I had a lot of time to do other stuff.
Thing is, I’m not leather. It’s something you are or you aren’t, and I’m not it. That’s totally fine — but when you go to a leather event, you’re surrounded by it. Everyone there was extremely nice, and everyone I talked to made an effort to help me feel like I belonged, but as a whole I just didn’t feel like it was my thing.
That said, the leather community has a lot of positives. It’s very much family-oriented (chosen family), and they focus on service and respect (as well as kinky stuff). They’re extremely inclusive as well, and this was by far the most diverse kink-adjacent convention I’ve ever been to — race, sex, orientation, you name it. And leather folks tend to do a lot for their local kinky community. Plus, the classes at SELF were generally more advanced than those at other cons I’ve been to (most notably Frolicon) as well as classes at the local dungeon and/or private events.
If there’s a negative to all of this, it’s that it’s June in Atlanta — one of the hottest Junes we’ve experienced — and leather is heavy and holds in heat. The hotel was air conditioned, but the A/C wasn’t perfect and some of the rooms were quite warm. I have to imagine the folks wearing their leather had to make a choice between comfort and style.
As far as my reading goes, I had two people attend — when there are only 700 people at the convention, and 10 different things going on at the same time, there’s a lot competing for attendee attention. However, a lot of folks stopped by my table, drawn in by my Butt Stuff short-story collection, and I did make a few sales.
Overall, I’d say I had a pretty good weekend. I met some nice folks, attended a few classes, hung out with (and spanked — multiple times) someone I knew. I’m not sure if I’ll go back, but I know that if I do I’ll be welcome.