Tell me about your favorite charity: The charity closest to my heart is RAD Remedy. “RAD Remedy's mission is to connect trans, gender non-conforming, intersex, and queer folks to accurate, safe, respectful, and comprehensive care in order to improve individual and community health.” My undergrad degree is in public health education and I believe that creating an even playing field for access to comfortable health care is important. So many folks struggle to find health care providers that not only listen to their needs, but are knowledgeable about obstacles they may face.
Tell me in your own words how you feel about community service: No matter what projects or events we have lined up, I never feel like I am doing enough! This community has given me so much, I can’t help but want to put my time and energy back into it. I think it's vital that we serve our communities in whatever capacity speaks to us most. Without volunteers working events, they can’t function or run as smooth as they do. Reaching outside to serve other communities allows us to not only build them up, but helps to create connections and build bridges.
What makes you a Leather Woman and/or Bootblack: For years, I made the choice not to claim Leather as an identity. I was surrounded by so many strong, inspiring, loyal and caring people, that I had no idea of how I could ever live up to that. I somehow felt that claiming Leather as my own was somehow doing a disservice to these people that I admired so greatly. I wasn’t comfortable calling myself a Leather person until I felt I had earned my place through serving this community. Discovering Bootblacking gave me a sense of belonging. My need to further my personal growth and education, I believe, makes me the Leatherwoman I am.
Who is your favorite Leather Woman…Why? My favorite Leather Woman, a fierce Femme Leatherman, would be Christina K Court. Not only is she a very talented filmmaker, but a personable and loving woman. Since first meeting Christina, I’ve always joked about wanting to be like her when I grow up. She spends her time serving her community through documenting our history and preserving our stories. Christina is also heavily involved at the Leather Archives & Museum working to preserve our beginnings. I am most inspired by her drive to not only highlight women and their contributions to our community, but also creating space for us to pave new paths. I am so thankful for positive role models like her in my life.
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? I believe it is incredibly damaging to perpetuate the idea that there is only one right way to be a Leather person. I’ve seen so many debates over what is ‘the right way’ to earn or gift Leather, how to be a Bootblack, or how to run an event. There are so many ways to achieve similar outcomes, we cannot get tunnel vision and disregard new and different ways of doing things. These cultural and regional differences help shine a light on the diversity of our community. These differences should be celebrated!
In 100 words or less what will you do as IMsL or IMsBB to promote your title? Should I go on to win the title, I would like to spend my year working to elevate the Bootblack community beyond the current perception. Bootblacks are multifaceted community members capable of so much more than just working a stand during an event or bar night. Bootblacks can judge different contests, give keynote speeches and teach classes outside of technical skill. I plan to continue my travel, seek new teaching opportunities and help to connect Bootblack communities across different regions. I also plan to strive for inclusion regardless of gender presentation or sexual identity in currently exclusive spaces.
What do you say to those who feel that the Title system is outdated and no longer necessary? So many of the events we attend are centered around contests. To me, contests can do so much for the community a contestant is coming from. They bring people in from across the country and allow us to have new experiences that we may not have had elsewhere. Personally, I believe titles can change a person's life. Since winning my first state level title, it’s been an experience that has changed me in more than one way. It’s given me the opportunity to meet new people, question who I am, and discover new things about myself. Whether a contest gives a person a sense of belonging, validation or importance, as long as we still have contestants to run, there is still room for titleholders.