I'm confused by the leather scene. Is it strictly a gay scene? What exactly does it consist of? What is the homoerotic appeal of leather? Anon.
Last year I did a piece for The New York Blade on exactly how gay or not the leather scene was. Unfortunately since the Blade web site has been restructured the piece is no longer available in their archives.
So I'll sum up.
The leather -- or leather/s & m/kink/fetish -- scene is not strictly a gay scene by any means. There are many heterosexuals interested in the various aspects of the scene. In fact gay men and lesbians only account for perhaps 20% of the scene with perhaps another 20% identifying as bi. Many gay/bi leather fetishists identify more with the leather community than they do with the LGBT community. In some cases it's considered a separate sexuality and/or way of life. Some "scenes" are erotic without necessarily being sexual -- that is, involving intercourse or some kind of physical sexual conduct that we generally refer to as "sex." The leather/kink scene is considered separate from what some of its participants call "vanilla sex" -- the everyday stuff that the rest of us engage in.
The leather scene runs the spectrum from guys in leather outfits who may simply like the look of, or have a genuine fetish for, leather [or guys who simply like the masculine atmosphere of gay leather bars, although bear culture has superseded this a bit] to people of all kinds of persuasions who get involved in kinky scenes involving role-playing. S & M [sadomasochistic] activities may consist of mild spanking to tying someone up [bondage and discipline or B & D] to role-playing wherein a couple operate as slave and master in their relationship -- all the time.
Frankly, whether you find some of this stuff a turn-on, repellent, or just plain silly, depends on your interest, sensibilities, and whatever excites you. Most people have some sort of fetishes, particular things that turn them on. This has nothing to do with their characters or what kind of people they are. Most of it is just harmless, kinky fun although I've no doubt there are scenes that some of us might find scary. [One "extreme" gay sport is fist-fucking, with a fist substituting for a penis. It has always been considered risky behavior, and most gay men don't practice it. It may well be done by heterosexual couples into analism as well.]
When it comes to the leather scene, the whole business of sexual orientation can become muddled anyway. In other words, a man who wants to be spanked or humiliated by another man may not necessarily be attracted to that man or want to have "regular" sex with him. Yet since the spanking is erotic, it could be called a homoerotic scene. Presumably most heterosexual men would therefore rather be spanked etc. by women (and vice versa). This may also be why some leather people identify as bi -- not because (in their cases) they are attracted to both men and women but because they'll get involved in certain scenes with both men and women or both at the same time. [A self-hating repressed homosexual may want to be debased/humiliated by another man.]
Yes, there are leather lesbians. And there are straight leather guys who dress up much like gay leather men [that is in full leather regalia and not just a leather jacket] but who do their thing at private clubs or homes or leather expos instead of meeting up at gay bars.
As for the homoeroticism of leather?
All I can say is: don't most guys look kind of hot in a leather jacket?
But while there certainly are gay people involved in the leather scene (although most are not), it is not strictly a gay scene by any means.
Now excuse me, I have to go spank someone. Kiddin'!