Devotions: Spirituality and Religion in LGBTQ Leather and BDSM Communities

Devotions is my current major research project, which has as its goal the production of the first scholarly book on religion and spirituality in queer and trans leather/BDSM communities. Leatherfolk, of course, have been exploring and writing about the connections between leather and spirituality for years; Metropolitan Community Church founder Troy Perry has written about being a leatherman, and the 1980s saw the rise of leather spirituality groups ranging from The Defenders (an affiliate of Dignity) to the Black Leather Wings. There are personal and theological reflections on leather and BDSM spiritualities, but very little has been written about how leatherfolk and BDSM practitioners in general experience the intersections of leather, BDSM, religion, and spirituality. Research is ongoing on this project and is expected to last at least through 2025; I expect the book to be in publication by 2030 (really in-depth scholarly work takes a long time to research and to write up).

I’m interested in how queer and trans identified leather and BDSM folks play with religion, and how they find spirituality in their play. If you do either, and you’re at least 18 years old, I’d love to talk with you! I’m also attending events that focus or touch on leather/BDSM spirituality and/or on religion play. I welcome invitations! Please reach out to me at melissa.wilcox@ucr.edu. I’m also on Facebook as Melissa M. Wilcox.

As I begin to publish writings based on this project, wherever possible (in other words, as allowed by publishers) I’ll post links to those writings on this site. Please be patient – remember that academic publishing takes a long time!