Approximately 10,000 pieces of leather, fetish and S&M history will be visiting Chicago next week courtesy of the Carter-Johnson Leather Library. Organized by Risk-Aware Consensual Kink, LRA and Trident International Windy City ( TIWC ) , the library will let people view books, magazines, photos, art, posters and more dating from the 1700s until the present.
"It's a phenomenal resource," said Larry Glantz, vice-president of LRA and TIWC member. "It gives people a chance to see what was around before the Internet."
RACK, the University of Chicago's BDSM club, came up with the idea to host the library. Glantz said there is a "pretty significant student interest" in the BDSM community, adding that LRA recently changed its age requirement from 21 to 19 to accommodate younger members.
The younger generation is "wanting to connect to the history" of the BDSM community according to Glantz, and he said the library visit is a perfect chance for them to do so.
All of the leather clubs in Chicago have been invited to the event's opening gala, and Glantz would "like to see some younger people get a chance to connect to people who've been involved in the leather community for a long time."
Glantz said Chicago has a wide range of BDSM clubs that "span the whole spectrum," from social organizations to clubs that engage in activities and play and cover both the LGBT and heterosexual communities.
Founded by Viola Johnson, the leather library started as a personal collection in the early '70s and over the years grew into the vast array of items it holds today. Inspired by incidents of book-burning by those who thought the materials were questionable, Johnson decided to save all that she could, and the library was born. It began traveling to various events in 2003.
Glantz hopes to see "people just getting involved and those who have been for a while" at the library. He also said that this is a chance for people who aren't in the community to see different sexualities and how long their history really is.
The Carter-Johnson Leather Library will be open April 25-27 at the University of Chicago's International House, 1414 E. 59th, and April 28-30 at LRA, 6525 N. Clark. All events are free to the public. Visit rack.uchicago.edu/events for a full schedule.