TLJ-VT: Tell me about your favorite charity.
IMsL Contestant Diana: Charity, or nonprofit? My current favorite project is the Trans Lifeline (Facebook) but they are still waiting on their 501(c)(3) to be approved for full legal non-profit status.
Rainbow Railroad and my local LGBT center Billy DeFrank Center are the two other groups closest to my heart.
TLJ-VT: Tell me in your own words how you feel about community service.
IMsL Contestant Diana: I think it's absolutely vital. Community is something that has to be created – it doesn't instantly spring full-formed once the desire for it is expressed. I usually end up in my volunteer positions by saying “well, someone had to do it, and I'm someone.”
In every group, club, and non-profit I have been involved in, volunteer burnout is the largest problem. Everyone wants the community to exist, but there are rarely enough people willing to step up and do the dirty work to keep things at full capacity, and four or five people end up doing the work of a dozen until they have nothing left to give.
I'm not saying everyone needs to run for a title, be the club president, or make a huge charity donation. But if everyone helped where they could, our community would be so much richer for it. So if you can, volunteer: run the webpage, post flyers in your local bar, make cookies for a bake sale, just do SOMETHING.
TLJ-VT: What makes you a Leather Woman and/or Bootblack?
IMsL Contestant Diana: Simply, it's where my heart is at Home.
TLJ-VT: Who is your favorite Leather Woman…Why?
IMsL Contestant Diana: MsKitNboots, known locally as Ms. Margaret. She passed away about a year ago, but she will always epitomize what it is to be a Leather Woman to me. She was gracious, friendly, welcoming, inclusive, fierce, passionate, witty, and clever. My first event out, she sought me out as a new face, introduced herself, greeted me like an old friend, and made me feel like this was indeed a place I could belong. She always had a cause or five, half a dozen more volunteer commitments, and still tried to take on more whenever she could.
TLJ-VT: What do you feel is the most dangerous mis-information passed through traditional & social media affecting our community today, and how would you combat it should the opportunity arise?
IMsL Contestant Diana: The most dangerous mis-information within our community is and always will be the myth of the “One True Way of the Old Guard”. Of course Leather has a history and a life of its own, but “well, WE always did it THIS way, the RIGHT way” creates nothing but infighting, drama, and exclusion.
If you want to work your way from the bottom to the top and earn your leathers, more power to you. If you want to kit up and jump in, flogger in hand, go for it. But identity policing and telling others they aren't 'real' enough is one of the most damaging things any group can do to interested potential members.
TLJ-VT: In 100 words or less what will you do as IMsL or IMsBB to promote your title?
IMsL Contestant Diana: My focus as IMsL would be the same as it is as Ms SCCL 2014. I am working to increase visibility, awareness, inclusion, and accommodation for disabled kinksters, and TGQI (transgender, genderqueer, questioning, and intersexed) kinksters. Both groups are at best overlooked and at worst actively excluded in the kink community, and my goal is to help break up these log-jams.
TLJ-VT: What do you say to those who feel that the Title system is outdated and no longer necessary?
IMsL Contestant Diana: Frankly, I think it's more important than ever. Mainstream American culture is so steeped in celebrity worship, the best we can do to raise public awareness is to give them a minor celebrity with whom to be smitten.
Day to day everypersons will always be the best way to truly win hearts – more people come to grudging acceptance of the “alternative” (LGBTQ, polyamorous, leather, what have you) by having someone personally close to them come out.
But engaging public awareness requires an idol to rally behind. Laverne Cox has hugely expanded transgender awareness – the precursor to acceptance – by being smart, glamorous, open, funny, interesting, articulate, and dazzling enough to draw a following. It takes someone larger than life.
And today? Right now? The public is infatuated with “kink” thanks to the omnipresent 50 Shades. The curiosity, be it morbid or enthusiastic, is there. If we can give them real-life characters more interesting, more articulate, and more complex than our titular Mr Gray, we can ride that crest a long way.