Speaking of spirituality for many GLBT people understandably brings back negative and often highly charged memories of fundamentalist or puritanical upbringing. Too many of us were subjected to judgmental, anti-sexual and homophobic teachings in our churches and/or families, and so have been turned off to the whole subject.
HEALING AND GROWING
The possible problem is that we may have "thrown out the baby with the bath-water", as the old saying goes. A major goal of the Defenders/SF is to help ourselves and others to grow beyond those old wounds and to develop a more wholesome, integrated sense of self, which includes a robust sexuality and spirituality.
Many of us have found that there are aspects of the leather sexuality experience which invite a connection to what we call "spirituality". We may or may not link that with belonging to an organized religious group or going to church or synagogue.
What we notice about our sexual experience as leather people is that much of what turns us on sexually has to do with such things as power exchange (dominance/submission); trust in s/m scenes where we feel the power of vulnerability and even fear, whether our own or the placing of another's in our hands; and the intimacy of intense physical bonding which carries deeper meaning beyond the outward act itself. Words we use in the leather community, such as "honor" and "respect" reflect that as well.
A DEEPER MEANING
For us this has taken us into acknowledging the deeper meanings of our sexuality and its connection to the interior life. We choose to identify that dimension of our life as our spirituality. For us, that connection both grounds "spirituality" in a healthy, freely given sexual life and acknowledges our capacity in sexual activity to have deep and soaring, even ecstatic, experience. Defined in this way, the degree to which we connect spirituality and religion is entirely a personal matter with a variety typical of our diversity as leather people.
When viewed this way, spirituality naturally leads to a greater sense of companionship with other persons identifying in one degree or another as leather people. It also gives us some opportunity to talk with others about the ways we understand the sexuality/spirituality connection.