Patrick Califia (born 1954; formerly also known as Pat Califia and by the last name Califia-Rice) was an activist in the San Francisco leather subculture and identified as a lesbian at the time (though now identifies as a bisexual transgender man) and is credited for defining the emergence of lesbian leather subculture. In 1978 in San Francisco, Califia co-founded one of the first lesbian BDSM groups, Samois. Califia also became a prolific contributor to lesbian and BDSM literary erotica and sex guides.
However, Califia is also known for having formerly supported pedophilia.
In 1992 Califia published “Feminism, Paedophilia, and Children’s Rights” in a special women’s issue of the pro-pedophile scholarly journal Paidika. Califia asserted that he “support[s] Paidika and enjoyed working with the editors of this special issue”. Califia also criticized federal laws against child abuse imagery because it would have “guaranteed that it [child abuse imagery] would disappear from the shelves of adult book stores.” In his book Public Sex: The Culture of Radical Sex, Califia criticized anti child abuse / anti child pornography laws because they are applied disproportionately to gay men, commenting that he “knew several gay men who proudly called themselves boy-lovers.” Califia asserted that all age of consent laws should be repealed, describing pedophilia as “erotic initiation”. However, after becoming a parent, Califia reconsidered his stance on the age of consent and adult / child sex, stating: “I was naive about the developmental issues that make sex between adults and prepubescent children unacceptable,”; “I’ve become much more cynical about the ability of adults to listen to children”; “Perhaps because I am a parent now, I am less idealistic about the possibilities for an equal adult / child relationship”.
Notable Other Work
Califia became 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 Califia (who identified as a lesbian at the time), Gayle Rubin, and sixteen others, were inspired to start Samois on June 13, 1978, as an exclusively lesbian BDSM group. Thus Califia 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.
Also in 1992, Califia founded the leatherwomen’s quarterly Venus Infers.
The 1996 anthology The second coming: a leatherdyke reader was edited by Califia and Robin Sweeney.
In 2000 Califia received the Forebear Award as part of the Pantheon of Leather Awards.
Califia presented a paper for the American Academy of Religion conference in Montréal, November 19–22, 2009, on the gay marriage debate, and how arguments about monogamy and S/M (meaning sadism and masochism) have been used to try to control the argument.
- Sapphistry: The Book of Lesbian Sexuality (1980) (ISBN 978-0-93-004414-5)
- Public Sex: The Culture of Radical Sex (1994) (ISBN 978-0-93-941689-9)
- Feminism and Sadomasochism, a chapter/article in Feminism and Sexuality: A Reader (1996)
(edited by Stevi Jackson and Sue Scott) (ISBN 978-0-23-110708-2)
- Macho Sluts: Erotic Fiction (July 1994) (ISBN 978-1-55-583115-8)
- (as editor) Doing It for Daddy: Short and Sexy Fiction about a Very Forbidden Fantasy (December 1994) (ISBN 978-1-55-583227-8)
- No Mercy: Short Stories (June 2000) (ISBN 978-1-55-583542-2)
In 1992, Califia received the Woman of the Year award as part of the Pantheon of Leather Awards.
Califia is an inductee of the Society of Janus‘s Hall of Fame.
Califia has a son, Blake Califia-Rice (born October 1999), to whom his ex-partner, Matt Rice, a trans man, gave birth.
Califia has said that, since the 1990s, he has had fibromyalgia.
Califia has said he incorporates elements of Mormonism in his approach to life. One tenet of Mormonism he said he believes in is “if the truth has been revealed to you and you don’t speak out, you are culpable for any wrongs that are committed in those realms of life.”
Califia formerly identified as a lesbian, and now identifies as bisexual.
In 1999, Califia decided to begin hormone replacement therapy as a part of his transition. Califia had considered sex reassignment in his twenties, but had been hesitant, for one reason, because there were many dangers to the surgery at that time. He also hesitated because his career had been built around a reputation as a lesbian writer and activist. Califia had entered age-related perimenopause when he began his transition. He has stated that being a man or a woman was never a good fit for him but sex reassignment seemed to be the most reasonable option.