Q: I’m fairly new to BDSM and saw something on FetLife that I’m not really sure I understand. What exactly is a leather family? What is a ‘house’? – Asked anonymously through our form here
A: That’s a great question! You might see the term ‘leather family’ pop up from time to time on kink related sites such as FetLife.com, which allows users to link themselves together with other people to denote some time of relationship.
A leather family is a group of people who all share similar ideas on BDSM/kink, who feel a kinship between them, and who wish to show that
bond in some way. Often the ideals reflect the ‘Old Guard leather’ train of thought, which focused on honour and knowledge of BDSM techniques.
Most leather families exist in name only, as a grouping of friends called a ‘leather family’ or ‘house’ who consider each other to be as close as family. Some such leather families might have an aspect of power dynamics between members. Others may choose to combine into a live-in household. In such a situation there is usually one head of a ‘house’, who sets rules, holds members accountable, and is regarded as the leader. In some examples of houses that I’ve seen, each member takes a certain role, with the goal of supporting the rest of the family. For instance, one person might take on all cooking duties, while another may clean, and another might handle finances. Such arrangements are, quite frankly, very rare.