Friday, March 17, 2017

[KINK] On Leather

I realized that my blog has been mostly CRIT, and not very much KINK. With the Mr. Leather Colorado 2017 competition coming up tomorrow, I figured I should break that trend and start posting content for the other side of the ampersand.
During my preparation for the competition, I’ve been asked questions that I’ve never had the answers to; that is to say, I knew the answers, but had to take a good, hard look at my lifestyle and my values in order to articulate them.
I decided to put these questions and answers into a blogpost because it serves as a great reference for newcomers as to what Leather is and means. Just keep in mind that Leather is what you make of it; my own or my community’s interpretation of Leather could be different than yours and that’s okay.
If you plan on competing for a Leather title yourself, there are a few more questions that the judges will expect you to answer. I won’t answer them here since they’re especially subjective and not relevant to the reason why I’m making this post, but I will list them:
  • Tell us something unique about each of the judges!
  • Various questions about Leather history (I read Jill Carter’s Leather Titleholder Manual in preparation for the contest, and the answers to the questions she posits on pages 17-18 are good to know).
  • Pick three of the previous people who held the title. Tell us something each of them did that you liked, and something each of them did that you would do differently.
And remember: at any Leather title contest, you should focus on having fun. If the judges think you’re the best fit for the title, they’ll choose you. If not, it’s nothing personal; the “best fit” is determined by the needs of the community and the opinions of the judges. And if you don’t win, you should continue to serve and represent your Leather community as if you had!

Tell us about yourself!

Short Version: I’m Superhorse, a submissive, masochist, and ponyboy. My sponsors are Voodoo Leatherworks and the Marquis Lifestyle Center.
Long Version: I’m Superhorse, a submissive, masochist, and ponyboy who has been in the Leather community for 3 years.
I’ve been a member of Voodoo Leatherworks for the same amount of time, and serve it as an all-around workhorse and as a member of its Leadership Council. I’m also on the board of the Marquis Lifestyle Center (MLC), a new nonprofit dedicated to providing BDSM education to physical health, mental health, and law enforcement professionals so that they can better serve members of our community.
Both Voodoo and MLC are my sponsors for CLF. I owe to them much of my growth and involvement; I barely recognize who I was 3 years ago, and I’m pumped to see what new waters this next year will lead me to!

What is the one question you hope we don’t ask you?

I hope you don’t ask why I’m up here with only 3 years of community experience. Because when I look back on those 3 years, it certainly feels a lot longer:
I came out of my shell; realized my dreams of being a pony; was introduced to kinks I never knew I had; became involved with Voodoo by running the front counter, running petplay events and game nights, and becoming a member of the Leadership Council; worked numerous outreach events at bars, conventions, and lounges; participated in beer busts, the Exile fetish ball, Thunder in the Mountains...
I’m sure I could stand up here and keep rattling off ways in which I’ve grown and served my community over the past 3 years. You could take my years of experience at face value, but to me, the person I was before then feels like a lifetime away.

What does submission mean to you?

A submissive and a dominant is like a sword and its wielder: What is one without the other? The sword is a tool that will help its wielder accomplish its goals, but not if it’s wielded improperly or banged against rocks. Each sword is forged differently, and in the hands of a competent wielder, they both find fulfillment. Together, they accomplish things that neither could on their own.

Why are you a ponyboy?

Pony play was the kink that drew me into the Leather lifestyle. To be honest, it’s because I’m a huge showoff. I love being strictly disciplined to trot and whinny perfectly, even more perfectly than the last time I played. I will train until my muscles are jelly if it means I’m turning heads with my dressage and fabulous tack.
The only real place to practice ponyplay is in my local parks. Obviously I have a huge exhibitionist streak, and luckily my handler does to. People are more interested and entertained than shocked or freaked out, which means every scene is filled with positive vibes for us.

What does Leather mean to you?

To me, leather means exactly what the material means: it’s a timeless material that takes many shapes, forms strong bonds that last for lifetimes, and is extremely fucking sexy. So when I don leather, I am representing the many facets of this diverse community, I’m carrying with me years of history and tradition, and I’m wearing my sexuality and my lifestyle quite literally on my sleeve. It only makes sense that the members of a community so rooted in leather would take on its properties.

What are Leather values?

To me, the main leather values are pride, community, and intensity:
  • Pride: Above all else, to be Leather means never compromising a part of your identity for any reason. You may think that “integrity” would be a better word, but how can you have integrity if you can’t acknowledge every aspect of your identity without shame?
  • Community: Without community, having pride is much harder. Leather is composed of minority groups that are marginalized individually and under the umbrella of Leather. I’ve heard Leather referred to as a family more often than as a community.
  • Intensity: This is why we’re all here in the first place! The imposing look, the cracking of whips, the overloading of all of our senses. At the end of the day, none of this matters if it isn’t fucking sexy. Which it so very much is!

Why are you competing for the Mr. Leather Colorado title?

I’m competing for Mr. Leather Colorado because I want to wear my Leather on my sleeve for those who can’t. Identifying with our community can still result in the loss of jobs, housing, and families; it can result in life-changingly negative experiences with health professionals and law enforcement.
One of the things I’m passionate about is serving the greater community around us so that they’ll serve us in the same capacity. And a lot of that comes down to visibility. But there’s a lot of people who don’t have the opportunity to be visible. It’s a titleholder’s responsibility to represent them.

What makes you qualified to be Mr. Leather Colorado?

Sometimes it’s hard for me to comprehend the amount I’ve done and changed in the 3 years I’ve been involved with Leather. And I don’t see myself slowing down, whether or not I win the title. I have huge plans for how I want to serve the community, and I have the momentum to see those plans through. I see Mr. Leather Colorado as a natural part of this trajectory.

If you win the Mr. Leather Colorado title, what do you plan on doing with it?

When I was taking a drive up to the family cabin in Craig, Colorado, I looked at the FetLife groups for each town along the way. Steamboat Springs had 240 registered users, but no events and no places to go. This trend continued for every city I travelled through on the Western slope.
If I win Mr. Leather Colorado, I really want to emphasize on the fact that this is a state title. I’d start by bringing more Leather down to the Springs, where Voodoo Leatherworks has already laid a great foundation; then to Pueblo, where a lot of our members commute from; then along the western slope, travelling northward. Simple events like beer busts, tastings, education, and outreach could be all these communities need to get the juices flowing.

Some people think that there are so many titles that they lost their value. Thoughts?

There could be as many titles as stars in the sky, and they wouldn’t lose their value. A title’s value is determined by the stock that its community places in it. If there is a title for a community of ten people, it’s just as valid as a title for a community of a hundred thousand.
Titleholders are elected because they can do what their community needs at that given time. They also represent their community, show why their star is important among those thousands of other stars. They are their community putting their best foot forward. As long as titleholders do these things, their title is a valid one.

How would you introduce Leather to somebody brand new?

I remember when I was first introduced to leather: it involved two different nights of sitting outside the dungeon for half-an-hour, sweating through my clothes, before turning around and going home. I find that most people are like that, and I think the reason is because of how intense we are: how we dress, the things we do, the ways in which we carry ourselves.
The first thing I tell new people is that it is intimidating. But that’s part of the fun. Leather is a celebration of that intensity! That apprehension you feel when you’re new is less raw intimidation, and more being on the precipice of realizing your most taboo fantasies. When I tell them that, that fear starts to convert to excitement.

Some people think that pride parades are becoming more like protests. Thoughts?

The queer liberation movement began with the Stonewall riots, a violent protest that fought against institutional violence. The “validity” of queer identities are still being debated in our federal government and society at large. I think the idea that pride parades are becoming like protests is the wrong approach: being visible as a queer is an act of protest; it’s the best weapon we’ve got against institutionalized violence.
The pride parade in Colorado Springs is cordoned off to a section of the city that nobody goes to. It goes through a rotten part of town, beneath a bridge, to a park that nobody knows how the hell to get to. And if pride parades and queer communities are complacent, that’s where we’ll stay.