I have enjoyed sharing my knowledge with fellow SA Leather members and when I hear from the people attending my workshops say that they can clearly see my passion for bootblacking; it makes me realise that this is my path. They have mentioned a seen a change in me it makes me realise that the change that I have felt myself is showing in my approach to being part of a community. That is what makes me a leather woman/bootblack.
Who is your favorite Leather Woman…Why? My favourite leather woman...only one? There are a few that come to mind; Leslie J. Anderson, Dara, Patty, Lamalani, Sarge but for me its Sandy ‘Mama’ Reinhardt. Mama’s family started over 18 years ago in Phoenix where a tradition was created after a drag queen said the phrase ‘you must be my mama” It was soon after that Mama Reinhardt started pinning gold badges to people who she noticed within the Leather and LGBTI community.
She recognizes people who give and do a lot for the community whether it’s with volunteer or charity work. I think it’s wonderful that someone like Mama is out there that recognize the efforts of people who give selflessly to their communities. There are over 2000 of Mama’s babies out there and in South Africa Mama Reinhardt has 7 family members. I am proud to say that I am Mama’s SA Rainbow.
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? Most people that I have spoken to about the leather community think that we are simply a bunch of weird abusive freaks. People do not understand how diverse sexuality and gender identity can be because of religious, conservative views or they have not been educated about our community. This does have an influence how the media presents our community to the world because they don’t understand.
I think that social media allows people to discuss their views but a person’s perspective can sometimes be twisted by emotions and assumptions; not by facts which snowballs into something else completely.
I think that we should engage and invite people to attend workshops to ask the questions, to address the misunderstandings and concerns they may have. Hopefully when people leave these workshops that they will understand the people who are involved in the leather community despite their beliefs.
In 100 words or less what will you do as IMsL or IMsBB to promote your title? The way I would promote the IMsBB title would be to attend events within a diverse group of organisations within South Africa; to educate them about the leather/bootblack community and give people a chance to ask questions about its all about. I would like to go to countries where they don’t have a bootblack in their clubs and bars to share my journey. I would like to get people to enthusiastic about leather care and start their journey as a bootblack like Leslie Anderson did for me. Mentorship would be a good way to encourage that process even more.
What do you say to those who think there are too many titles and that it has diluted the meaning of holding a title? Holding a title is important to the community at large because not only does the title holder celebrate the existence & being proud to be part of the leather community but it should show a commitment and a will to want to do something positive for the community. To me that is what having a title is about! Doing something positive whether its holding a workshop, a Q & A session, giving your time to charity or someone in need. It could bring people together and a title holder is a leader who can start something that could change a point of view or a life.