The National Leather Association – International (NLA-I), formerly called the National Leather Association (NLA), is a BDSM/leather-rights organization that was founded in 1986 by Steve Maidhof, Jan Lyon, Vik Stump, Billy Jefferson, Cookie Andrews-Hunt, Doug Connell, George Nelson and Wayne Gloege.
The National Leather Association helped organize the leather conference that preceded the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. That conference sparked the infamous Dallas Conference, which met in February 1988 to discuss creating a national SM/leather/fetish organization. Best remembered for vitriolic arguments that exposed divisions in the community between women and men, the East Coast and West Coast, old clubs and new, and those not affiliated with any club, the conference created a new organization named Safe Sane Consensual Adults (SSCA). However, burdened by the political infighting of the Dallas Conference, the SSCA failed to gain support and merged with the National Leather Association.
International Deaf Leather was founded in 1989 as a chapter of the National Leather Association, called “NLA: Deaf Chapter”; its founders were Bobby Andrascik, Bob Donaldson, Jim Dunne, Michael Felts, Rolf Hagton, Philip Rubin, and Charles Wilkinson. Its name was changed to International Deaf Leather in 1991.
The name of the National Leather Association was changed to the National Leather Association – International in 1991 by request of members not living in America.
Soon after forming the organization began to have one female and one male co-chair in the name of gender equality, but this caused difficulties due to people living far apart, so they changed back to having presidents and vice presidents.
The organization staged Living in Leather gatherings until 2002. In 1994 Living in Leather VIII received the Large Event of the Year award as part of the Pantheon of Leather Awards.
In 1992 National Leather Association – International received the Large Nonprofit Organization of the Year award as part of the Pantheon of Leather Awards.
In 1993 Pride Night by National Leather Association – International: Metro New York, The Eulenspiegel Society, Excelsior MC, GMS/MA, and Lesbian Sex Mafia received the Large Event of the Year award as part of the Pantheon of Leather Awards.
After a period of decline around the turn of the millennium, National Leather Association – International has become more active again.
In 2007 the National Leather Association – International began awards for excellence in SM/fetish/leather writing. The categories are: the Geoff Mains award for non-fiction book, the Cynthia Slater award for non-fiction article, the Pauline Reage award for fiction novel, the John Preston award for short fiction and the Samois award for anthology. In 2019 the National Leather Association – International created the Erotic Art Awards. The categories are: Chéri Hérouard – Realism, Clovis Trouille – Surrealism, Gene Bilbrew – Animation, Aubrey Beardsley – Abstract, and Michael Kirwan – Expressionism.
The organization’s records are held at the Leather Archives & Museum.
Jan 2020 – Present ~ Vice President Elect Brian Hardy
Jan 2021 – Present ~ President Elect John Doan