Spend any amount of time in the online or local kink space and eventually someone will refer to “Old Guard” when talking about BDSM and specifically dominance and submission. “Oh, he’s Old Guard” is what you’ll probably hear. But what does that even mean? What is Old Guard? Kayla Lords explores the roots of this BDSM dynamic.

 

The Origins of the Old Guard

Anyone who might be classified as Old Guard would never have called themselves that so finding information is not as easy as you might think. The origins of Old Guard have little to do with BDSM. After World War II, gay soldiers (yes, gay people have served in the military since the beginning of time) came home to the United States from war with the experience of their military training and discipline and the experiences of having spent time with other gay men.
 

"It wasn’t something they wanted to give up simply because they were back home in a society that didn’t accept them."

They formed their own motorcycle clubs where leather was a necessity for riding. Over time, they developed codes and signs to determine if someone was butch - using leather as a practical means of riding, or they were into leather sex. Even then, D/s wasn’t an identification. For most, you were either an M (masochist) or an S (sadist). The kinky sex, relationships, and fetishes we know today evolved in part from these interactions.

The foundation of what we consider Old Guard began here with the value and pleasure of military-like discipline, a focus on leather and what it meant to the group as a whole, and underground, kinky pleasure that was kept secret from the outside world.

 

A man with Mr Louisiana Leather 2005 written on the back

One way to get your leathers!
 

What We Think of As Old Guard

Old Guard means something a little different to everyone, depending on where you live and the BDSM culture you’re used to. For the most part, when someone is thought to be “Old Guard” there are a few distinct characteristics common to most groups:

  • Mentorship within the group
  • Earning “leathers” as an evolution within the group and an individual’s mastery of BDSM, typically as a Dominant or Master
  • High protocol with a focus on discipline and rules

Those who prefer to follow these older traditions began their journey in a way that more modern kinksters may not fathom. It is very common for these seasoned dominants and masters to have started their kinky path as a submissive. There is a firm belief within parts of the BDSM community that you cannot truly dominate someone until you have submitted.

Not everyone follows this rule, obviously, but in certain leather traditions, and for those who want to earn their leathers, this may be a requirement within their community. To earn leathers in the newer Old Guard sense is not about completing a series of tasks or putting in a certain amount of hours as a dominant or master. Instead, it occurs when others in the community feel a person has attained a certain level of mastery and education within the kink community.

They’re often mentors to others and are seen as someone honorable and worthy. In most leather families, you do not ask to be given leathers. They are given to you when you are considered ready for them and worthy of them. The kinkster who earns their leathers is a testament to the community, someone who inspires others, and brings honor to the local community.
 

Joining a Leather Family

Just like Master/slave or Daddy Dom/little relationships aren’t for everyone, neither is the idea of Old Guard. Typically, but not always, to become involved in this style of BDSM, you’ll need to join a leather family. A leather family can take any form imaginable. They may or may not be sexual in nature. There will likely be a clear hierarchy with a definitive and single head of the household.

There are no rules that every family follows across the kinky spectrum. Each family will create its own rituals, hierarchy, and customs. As with everything else, you have to consent to those rules and customs. If not, you can choose not to join that family. Within the local community, you’ll discover the rituals and customs created for those interested in a more Old Guard, disciplined BDSM lifestyle. Some of those rituals may be implied and “understood” only after years of study and mentorship. They may also be explicit - laying out in detail what you have to do in order to attain a new level of mastery or hierarchy.

Don’t be surprised that some of these types of families and adherence to older traditions are hard to find and harder to maintain. Forming or joining a leather family isn’t going to work for everyone. Since there is no real “standard” for how these families can function and how different members can and should interact, it’s important to find what works for you.

 

Happy gay leather couple

Happy leather couple.

 

Old Guard Isn’t For Everyone

 

"Old Guard and leather communities were formed as a way for gay men to spend time together, have sexual encounters, and have their own experiences away from prying eyes and those who would jail or even kill them for their activities. In the early days of Old Guard, straight people and women weren’t allowed."

Over time, as the world changed, the idea of BDSM, kink, and leather communities became more diverse. It should come as no surprise that as our world has evolved and we’ve become linked across the world through technology that BDSM has continued to change and evolve. These days most new kinksters can’t imagine the protocol and discipline required to enjoy a more traditional BDSM lifestyle. (I say “traditional” with tongue firmly in cheek as even within Old Guard there are few traditions.)

For those who find the structure and hierarchy of today’s version of Old Guard intriguing, it’s out there if you’re willing to look for it and work for it. Many are inclusive of anyone into the general BDSM community but less so into their own private families and traditions. Respect should be earned in all facets of the kinky community but it’s extremely important when looking for someone to mentor you in the Old Guard tradition.

Old Guard isn’t for everyone. As someone who has friends who subscribe to the leather family, Old Guard style, I can’t imagine it for myself. In terms of how the world has changed and how more people have found their way to the BDSM lifestyle, it makes sense that no one tradition can work for everyone. Having an understanding of the origins of some of what we take for granted in kink today (like the love of black leather) is part of educating yourself about this kinky thing we do, but it can end there.

If the idea of black leather, hierarchy, and high protocol doesn’t do it for you, you’re free to explore other avenues. You have to wonder what those gay military vets might have done with the freedoms we have in BDSM today.

You have to wonder what BDSM communities and relationships will look like 60 years from now...

  • Will it even be recognizable to us today?
  • Will some of what we do today be the basis for new traditions many years from now?

 

What do you think? We wanna hear from you! Drop a comment below or start a thread in the forum. Spanks for reading! New here? Why knot try Fetish.com for free!

 

Sign-upo-now_-button.gif
 
Images torbakhopper & istolethetv & livenature

 


YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

0 comments

Your content will need to be approved by a moderator

Guest
You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoticons maximum are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.



There are no comments to display.

BDSM Magazine

Similar discussions