Friday, December 11, 2009

Wesco Boots -- Gay?

Someone visited the post on this website titled, Wesco Boots and Gay Culture and attempted to leave a comment on that post. The post was written on December 27, 2008, but continues to rank high in Google searches.

The person made a number of broad generalizations and asked a number of questions, so his statements fit best in an entire blog post rather than a comment on a post that is almost a year old. (By the way, the plural of "Wesco" is "Wescos" -- in American English, one does NOT add an apostrophe to make a word plural.)

I shared that guy's message with several straight and gay friends varying in age from 23 to 68 who like to wear boots. Following are some things this commenter said, and the responses I received from my friends. Interestingly, there really was not a difference in response or reaction between straight and gay men. Below, "SG" means "straight guy" and "GG" means "gay guy."

I love these boots, but I don't get a hard-on for 'em like all these gay fetishist that obsess over them.

GG: He's correct in observing, and reinforcing the statement from your original post that some gay men have a fetish interest in boots and like you he appreciates the boots because of their style, function and quality workmanship. It's funny how easily we think that what we see on-line and via YouTube is highly representative of current thought and practice. It's been my observation that those who take the time to create video do so not from the perspective of showing life as it exists, but from a creative or artistic eye that is meant to entertain more so than to be instructive. Extremes get the most attention and in a sea of millions of videos, it's the extreme that allows your video to be seen and not overlooked or ignored.

GG: He may see more gay men who have a fetish interest as the authors of the videos because by and large this demographic has been more exposed to role playing venues where the boots, leather, and Tom of Finland inspired scenes have been such a staple in gay culture. So, it's easy to see how a creative medium like YouTube and web would have more gay men creating these images.

GG: Interest in the power these boots may represent can't only be confined to those with fetish interest. Wesco boots are sturdy and come with lug soles, for the most part, and harness and engineer boot styles were originally worn by men who worked in professions associated with strength. There is also the association of power produced by 50s icons like Brando and James Dean that has clearly left a mark on our society's perception of the boots. The characters these men created spoke to the personal power of the rebel who called his own shots. Taken in this context, the boots were seen as highly masculine and it's this concept that many masculine gay men found attractive. There are just as many, if not more, straight men who were inspired by this image. Unfortunately, they're not the ones creating the on-line images, for the most part.

My interest in these boots are for their function and style and quality workmanship.

SG: Many guys wear them for protection for their jobs/hobbies etc. With those guys, their boots are just another piece of gear and thats all they are. They don't think twice about them.

I've never touched or seen a pair of these boss boots, only from the internet and your videos and everywhere I look, there are these "GG Allen" types licking them and being all gay with them.

GG: Who is GG Allen? [I think he means GG Allin, who died in 1993. He was a punk rocker, and was rather perverse in his antics on stage. I had to look this up, because I didn't know who he was, either.]

SG: His past observations about one crazy punk rocker influence him now.

GG: He (the writer) watches too many YouTube videos. He should know that what he sees on YouTube isn't what the majority of men who wear Wesco boots are like. Think about it: would a straight guy post a video of himself in a pair of Wesco Boots just walking around, riding his motorcycle, or smoking? Of course not. Guys who post on YouTube usually are showing some sort of fetish interest.

My concern, is how gay are the boots?

SG: My guess is if the guy is thinking Wescos and gay go hand-in-hand then something in his past caused that association. Also, when you see sites on the web showing the boots - as with most boots, they seem to somehow be connected to a gay or sex related site.

GG: I've never heard Wesco boots being labeled as "gay"

GG: If they are "gay boots," I want more!

You say, "It's all about the boots. Boot up. When I'm on my HARLEY." Like the gay community stole the rainbow. And Hitler stole the "Chaplin" Moustache. The KKK stole pointy robes.

GG: He's afraid of guilt by association. It's only when we begin wearing something new that people take notice. By and large, in the real off-line world, after the first few weeks, gays and straights could care less about your choice of footwear. That's not to say that some will leap to conclusions, but people will leap to erroneous conclusions regardless of what he chooses to wear and his point about co-opted styles can be easily said any number of clothing choices. Of course, all this gets thrown out of the window if he finds himself in the Castro or in a leather bar. LOL But, as you've pointed out on your blog, there are a good number of gay men attending leather bars wearing sneakers and jeans. Sometimes a banana is just a banana.

SG: What does he mean by you wearing Wesco boots on your Harley and then immediately say that the gay community stole the rainbow? What do these two things have to do with each other? This guy doesn't make any sense.

No comparison to gay people, I'm just talking styles, that have almost become like their proprietary 'uniform' in a sense.

GG: If Wesco boots have become the "uniform" of gay people, then this guy doesn't know many gay men. I think he watches too many videos on YouTube which are causing many misperceptions in his mind.

GG: The gay friends who I hang out with never would wear Wesco boots. Heck, most of them won't wear boots at all.

SG: He almost makes it sound as though without support from the gay community, Wesco would go out of business. How ridiculous. That is like believing that companies that make colored handkerchiefs are dependent on the gay community for their existence or Doc Martens depend on restless teens and rock stars to survive.

You seem friendly and nice, and flaming homosexuals are free and fun, but many of the Wesco Boot Fetishists seem pretty hardcore. Like, I wouldn't want to hang out with most of them.

GG: I'd venture to say that he wouldn't find himself at places frequented by the Wesco Boot Fetishists as he terms them. Any one of us runs the risk of unwanted attention because someone perceives we are like-minded because of what we've chosen to wear. Even the most confident of us have periods of self-doubt about our appearance. We are conditioned to believe that appearances are important. It's a way we try to make sense of things. But, at the end of the day, we all have to ask ourselves if we can not just live with our decisions, but with our regrets created by giving in to our insecurities and deciding against wearing what we like.

GG: He is making assumptions based on some of the more "active" videos he is seeing on YouTube.

SG: I guess he saw too many pictures from Folsom Street [Fair in San Francisco]. While I can't imagine wearing some of that leatherwear in public, on the other hand my curiosity could ask what it might feel like to wear it, just as I am curious what it would be like to don a full set of football gear (from pads to cleats) or professional ice hockey equipment. I also wonder if, in that sea of leather-clad men, any of those men are straight and how well they might be accepted.

SG: I am a hardcore biker. I wear Wescos. You think he thinks I am going to challenge him to a fight?

So is wearing these super-gay boots the equivalent to a girl wearing a slutty dress, in your eyes? Like, If I was wearing the uniform of these GG Allen Leather Boys, Is that asking for gay trouble?

SG: Where did that come from? Yes, many gay men may enjoy wearing Wescos or any other boots for that matter but so what. Many straight men wear boots and possibly for the same reason that gay men do. It is what the boots feel like, the appearance they give (Masculine) and perhaps sexual stimulation. Can a straight man be "turned on" (sexually) by wearing boots or seeing other men in boots. Absolutely. It is the boots, not the gender of the person wearing them.

GG: You are asking for trouble from Gay Guys by holding such narrow, incorrect, points of view. [BHD] did not publish your comment because you refused to identify yourself. Would you dare say something like that in public? I doubt it.

SG: Wescos are not "super gay". This guy is way off base and has jumped to a lot of conclusions, again probably from what he is seeing on YouTube.

Would I have to constantly explain myself to "booted men" that I'm not into sodomy, I just like gay boots? Thanks for taking the time, and I really hope you can shine some light on this.

GG: You would only have to explain yourself if you opened your mouth and stuff like this fell out of it. You're way off base.

SG: This guy said that he doesn't even own a pair of Wesco boots, and he probably never will because he is so obsessed over perceptions about them, and jumped to conclusions based on observations from what he has been seeing on the Internet.

SG: He has to realize that most straight guys who wear Wesco boots -- linemen, cable guys, and so forth -- don't post information about their footwear on the internet. Guys who do post about Wesco boots on the internet, including youtube, are giving him a false impression.

GG: As long as he keeps referring to Wesco Boots as "gay boots," he has much to learn. He probably should not get any, because he is so far off base and it seems that he has already made up his mind.

BHD says -- Life is short: Wear your Wescos (if you're man enough!) Thanks to my friends who provided review and feedback for me. Out of respect for them, I am not revealing who they are -- even their screen names -- which would be recognized by many who frequent "Boots on Line."

3 comments:

Tef said...

Whatever it is, I'm saving up real hard for a pair of those Wescoes.

Straitjacketed said...

Well, this is news to me. I didn't even know boots had a sexual orientation...

Baphomet68 said...

I enjoyed this post. While the comment being addressed seemed like it was rife with preconceptions and media distortions, I thought that there was a question hidden in there that I have wondered about myself.
I am a SG into leather. At 44, I have been wearing knee-high engineer boots for 30 years. A number of years back, I stumbled across Wescos super-tall engineer boots online. I loved how they looked, but as I searched online for more pics, all I saw were fetish-type pics of gay men. I got worried that I would be, like, usurping another social groups uniform. Like, the "Tom of Finland" nazi leather motorcycle cop archetype has been associated with a part of the gay community - it would be kind of rude to try to re-brand or appropriate it.
Anybody have an opinion about whether 24-35 inch engineer boots are "staked out" by the gay leather community? Or, about whether or not it is bad manners to appropriate other extant social groups' emblematic clothing items/accessories? Like, would Gay Leathermen mind if gangster rappers or rave kids all started sporting muir caps? And, are super tall jackboots that kind of emblematic accessory or uniform?