Tell me about your favorite charity: My favorite charity is Philadelphia’s William Way LGBT Community Center. This was the first LGBT space I walked into in Philadelphia and it immediately felt like home. William Way LGBT Community Center hosts meetings, workshops, and arts and entertainment events throughout the month that truly reflect and support Philadelphia’s diverse LGBT community. They are also very leather and kink friendly! Leather Leadership Conference was housed there in 2014, and in 2015 the inaugural Philadelphia Fetish and Bootblack Contest was held in their ballroom. Currently, each month a local play party called The Aviary takes over the entire building. The William Way public archives also contains a rich history of our local leather community. I have produced events there as well and I often contribute my talents to fundraising events that support their amazing mission.
Tell me in your own words how you feel about community service: To me, community service and giving back is something that I value. I consider this to be integral to our Leather Community. From volunteering as member of the Boy Scouts of Canada to volunteering at my first pride events to the community organizing I have been part of over the past number of years. I see community service as an key value of how my family raised me and how I continue to live my life.
Additionally, community service is a great way to meet people in our community whose paths you might not otherwise cross. It continues to be a valuable way to not only give back to a community or organization but also helps to build and unite us around common goals. We all have different skills, strengths, and talents that can be put to use in service to our communities. I give back to the Leather Community through my time, energy, and creativity by organizing and participating at local and national events. It is essential to build, nurture, and support those that support us. Our Leather Community’s dedication to fundraising and service is one thing that I draw great inspiration from as a Leather Woman.
What makes you a Leather Woman and/or Bootblack: A Leather Woman is not defined by how much, or how little, leather hangs in her closet. Neither is she defined by how many events she attends or how much she plays in public. I am a Leather Woman because I refuse to let anyone dictate to me how to express my sexuality, my gender, or how to live my life. I am a Leather Woman because it is something I have lived in private for so long and finally got the support in the past few years to live who I am openly, and have found our community so very welcoming. Leather has become integrated into everything I do from my relationships to my service work to my performance to how I fuck. Leather is how I live my life.
Who is your favorite Leather Woman…Why? With all the amazing women I could name in our community, it is hard to pick just one. I have to say that my favorite Leather Woman is my fierce sister Kristine, 2014 Mid-Atlantic Leather Woman. From the moment we met I have been intrigued and inspired by her. How she manages to balance work, homeschooling her kids, community activism, and not to mention the busy year (and a half!) she had as a titleholder continues to amaze me. Competing with her in 2014 for the Mid-Atlantic Leather Woman was one of the highlights of that year and the beginning of a beautiful friendship. The bonding we experienced backstage was so beautiful and life-changing for both of us. It left us leather sisters for life. I love how inspiring her motto is: “Fall madly in love with who you are in leather” and how beautifully she leads by example!
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 think that the preconceived notions of kink as abusive is one of the most dangerous ways that the media misrepresents our community. Additionally, that the notion of consent is absolute once given, not something that needs to be communicated about consistently and enthusiastically throughout every encounter. Combating these two issues is something I do regularly and proactively, not just when the opportunity arrises. My social media is like an open book, I live fully out and open and very much out loud as a kinky Leather Woman. I use social media to post links to articles about BDSM and consent as well as having personal conversations with people who have questions or concerns. Even with my parents - my much more conservative, and Catholic Mom reads EVERYTHING I post (including all comments on my profile) - you can imagine those conversations!
In 100 words or less what will you do as IMsL or IMsBB to promote your title? One thing I have enjoyed this year is working with my sash Husbear to bridge the women’s, men’s and queer communities by attending and producing a diverse array of events together. I would like to partner with other Titleholders to coordinate fundraising efforts and work together in service to our community. In addition, I am a voracious user of social media and I would continue to use this global platform to bridge these and other communities, document my title year and be a positive and visible representation of International Ms Leather.
What do you say to those who feel that the Title system is outdated and no longer necessary? I think there is value in our traditions and history. I understand that we are in a very different place than 30 years ago when International Ms Leather started, it is easier to meet leather people, many of us live our lives more openly, and social media makes connecting easier than at any other time in history. However, as someone who lived on the fringes and had a hard time finding my community, title contests were one of the first things I heard about and what drew me deeper into this community. A Titleholder is a representative of our community and as such they can share our stories, history and traditions. Titleholders are positive reflection on our community. The service Titleholders provide during our title year can not only help draw people out of the fringes and make them feel at home in our community, but we also have a powerful platform to bring attention to organizations and causes that we support.