So I have often been told by my friends that I am the most straight acting gay guy in the world. This makes some sense because most of my friends are straight and associate anything related to gay guys with what they see on TV. For many of my friends, I am their only gay friend they have, and since I don’t fit the stereotype of what they see on TV they think I am straight acting. At times I have found this somewhat offensive, since I felt like my friends were constantly comparing me to a stereotype. Because of this fear I never told my friends about my boot and leather fetish, even though they were often telling me about their sexual interests. I essentially led two lives until recently, when I finally told my friends I am a bootman. But before we get to far ahead, let me give you some back story.
I grew up as a military brat on military bases. From a very early age I was surrounded by men in boots. My father, a military aviator, used to take me to his squadron when I wasn’t in school. Back when I was 5 or 6, only men flew combat jets, and it was a very masculine career field. Even my dad will tell you, back in those days it was a boys club. I remember how cool my dad and his fellow squadron mates were. The flew sleek fast jets, they were always warm and welcoming to me, always having a good time, and above all had a damn good wardrobe. Flight boots and flight suits. Almost every masculine figure in my life from when I was born until I was 20 wore boots and flew jets. It was all I was ever surrounded by, and I knew that when I grew up, I wanted to be just like them wearing boots and flying jets.
When I was in 1st grade I got a pair of cowboy boots, they were great and I wore them every day, but what I really wanted was a pair of flight boots like my dad’s. When I was ten, after I begged and pleaded with my mother, I got her to take me to the base uniform store and buy me a pair of flight boots. I remember they had to do some searching to find a size small enough to fit my feet but eventually they did. I was so happy, and was very proud to show my dad that I was one step closer to becoming an aviator like him. My father went even further by purchasing me a flight jacket and giving me some of his squadron patches. I proudly wore my boots and flight jacket to school, even though some kids thought it was funny that I preferred boots over the newest pair of Nikes.
As I got older and moved into middle school, I became very self-conscious of what others thought about me. I was beginning to realize I was gay, and that my fascination with boots went much further than just wearing them. Growing up in a strict Catholic family didn’t present the warmest environment for a young gay kid, and as always I desperately sought the approval of my parents in everything I did, so I decided to repress being gay. I continued to wear boots everyday until I was in the 8th grade. A the time I was in a new school and was constantly made fun of for wearing boots. The kids used to make fun of me and my boots when I just wanted to be liked. Although I had a beautiful pair of Sketchers Engineer boots and another pair of GBX 4 Buckle Boots and Frye Harness Boots, I stopped wearing boots regularly by my Freshman year of HS. I felt that by wearing boots they might find out I was gay, which didn’t make any sense but between puberty and being made fun of I wasn’t thinking straight.
I felt terrible through HS. I was repressing my emotions and desires to date guys and I was repressing my desire to wear boots. I ran track to impress my father and to try to get friends in HS but that didn’t work. I ended up playing ice hockey for many years because at least the skates were boots and the people on my team seemed to be a bit more accepting of me. One guy on the team wore engineer boots everyday and I greatly admired him for the fact that he didn’t care what other people thought. I wish at the time I had the courage he did but I didn’t and I felt terrible about it.
Then I went to college and things began to change. I went to a university in Texas, and almost all of my friends were country kids. They wore tight jeans and cowboy boots everyday and within a month or so of starting my freshman year I was dressed just like them. They were great friends who introduced me to a lot of new things such as horseback riding, hunting, and fishing. They loved their cowboy boots so much they wore them with their pants tucked in to show them off, wore them with shorts, wore them to the beach, and wore them to class. They used to tell me, a cowboy only takes off his boots to take a bath or to try on a new pair, and they lived by that. They were proud of wear they came from, and they wore cowboy boots to show it.
Eventually I got a job on a ranch as a ranch hand and got to become a working cowboy. I loved the job as it allowed me to wear boots everyday to work. Above all these friends taught me about overcoming my fears and not caring about what others thought. When ever someone would say something about how they dressed, they would just blow them off and tell them that a real man wore boots and drove a Ford unlike most of the guys that wore Toms and drove Porsches and BMWs at our school. I felt great, I was wearing boots again and from that day forward I never took them off except for running, bathing, and occasionally for sleeping.
When I came out of the closet to my friends in college, I was very nervous considering some of their political leanings. I thought I might loose my friends but at the age of 22, at the advice of a close family friend, I came out to my friends. At 24 I came out to my family. I was astonished that I didn’t loose any friends. My family, although reluctantly at first, welcomed me with open arms. I realized that all my fears were unfounded and created by me. This taught me a valuable life lesson, in that the fears that we face are often created by ourselves.
I’ve had a series of boyfriends over the years since I came out, each one was progressively more kinky than the last one. My last boyfriend enjoyed my love for boots and leather as much as I did. Eventually we broke up because he was a bit of controlling jackass, but the relationship allowed me to feed my desires surrounding boots and leather. I became more and more involved with the leather and boots subculture, and it became part of my life just as my friends, my family, and my career in aviation were. But it was part of my life I kept private because I was afraid my friends would associate me with a stereotype as they had before in comparing me to gay guys on TV.
Eventually like most things in life, sooner or later your friends and family find out or at least get suspicious. My parents often commented on my ever increasing collection of boots and leather, despite the fact I hadn’t worked on a ranch in years nor did I own a motorcycle. My friends often made similar observations. Yet what made me decide to tell my friends about my fetish for leather and boots came from a self-realization I had some time ago.
When I first came out my friends said I was the straightest acting gay guy in the world. Initially this frustrated me because they were comparing me to a stereotype, but eventually I took it as an opportunity to educate them. I was the only gay guy they were friends with, so it was only natural for them to compare me to the only other gay people they knew, the folks on MTV and VH1 and LOGO. So I did that, I educated them on the gay community, took them to gay clubs, and gay friendly businesses and showed them that the gay community is as diverse as the straight one. They very much benefitted from this and it changed their views in a positive way. Since then many of them have thanked me for what I did for them. This taught me a couple things. First I shouldn’t underestimate my friends, with a little help they can be very open minded. Second it taught me that as my friends, they wanted to know about all the different aspects of my life even if I thought they might not want too. So I decided to introduce them to the leather and boots side of things.
I started by nonchalantly making a remark about it one day when a friend made a comment about my boots. From their it developed into a conversation with one friend and blossomed into conversations with other friends. Most of them initially, were actually kind of scared of the gay leather and boots community. I can see how a guy dressed in all leather could be intimidating. The most they knew about it was from what they had seen on TV or in a movie like Al Pacino’s ‘Cruising.’ It took a lot of convincing on my part to get them to even discuss it at first. Eventually I surmised that the only way they would feel comfortable talking about it was too show them that it wasn’t as stereotypical as they thought. So one day I showed up to hang out with my friends wearing knee high leather boots, a black leather motorcycle jacket, a Tom Finland shirt, and a leather hat much like Brando’s. I wasn’t quite sure how they would react so I did this with a small group of them at first (only three). Their response was actually quite surprising.
They were entirely surprised and didn’t know I was going to show up like this. But even though they were surprised they commented on how they thought I looked really hot, very masculine, and really cool. One of my straight friend’s even asked if he could try on some of my leather gear to see how he looked. Several others wanted to go to a gay leather bar. The overall response was very positive. Since then I have had some of my more artistically inclined friends take photos of me in leather for fashion classes and for my own personal collection. I personally feel better because I’ve educated them and helped make them more accepting of other people. Many of my friends take as great an interest in this part of my life as I do. I feel closer to my friends now more then ever before.
Ultimately though I have gained the confidence to be who I am, and to never hide any part of my life. I am proud of who I am, proud to be a Texan, proud to be an aviator, proud to be gay, and proud to be a bootman.