Gayle Rubin [Edit]

Gayle Rubin (born 1949) is an American BDSM/leather activist and anthropologist.

Involvement in BDSM/Leather

Rubin was part of a women’s discussion group called Cardea, which itself was part of the San Francisco-based BDSM organization called the Society of Janus. Cardea existed from 1977 to 1978 before discontinuing, and a group of lesbian members of Cardea, including Rubin, Pat Califia (who identified as a lesbian at the time), and sixteen others, were inspired to start Samois on June 13, 1978, as an exclusively lesbian BDSM group. Thus Rubin became a cofounder of Samois, a lesbian-feminist BDSM organization based in San Francisco that existed from 1978 to 1983 and was the first lesbian BDSM group in the United States.

In 1984 Rubin cofounded The Outcasts, a social and educational organization for women interested in BDSM with other women which grew partly from Samois and the Society of Janus, and was also based in San Francisco. The Outcasts was disbanded in the mid-1990s, although its successor organization The Exiles is still active. In 2012, The Exiles in San Francisco received the Small Club of the Year award as part of the Pantheon of Leather Awards.

In the 1980s Rubin was at the first planning meeting for the International Ms. Leather Contest.

In 1991 she became the first woman to judge a major national gay male leather title contest, when she judged the Mr. Drummer contest.

From 1992 to 2000 she served on the Board of Directors of the Leather Archives & Museum.

In 1994 she completed her Ph.D. in anthropology at the University of Michigan with a dissertation entitled The valley of kings: Leathermen in San Francisco, 1960–1990.

She is currently on the Board of Governors of the Leather Hall of Fame.

Notable Honors

Personal Life

She is Jewish and lesbian.