Leather Education: Leather and Cigars

Cigar lounges the world over are filled with people of disparate backgrounds and opinions, but their passion for cigars transcends politics and other barriers that would otherwise separate them.  Among these enthusiasts are a significant number of Leatherfolx who continue to add to the long history of cigar smoking within the Leather community.  As an activity that simultaneously celebrates the individual and creates a kinship centered on this passion, cigars serve several functions for us.  They are a hobby, a fetish, a tool for play, and confer status upon those who are knowledgeable about them and skilled in their uses.  In this video which showcased at BV Online 2020, Fred gives us an introduction to the world of cigars; and Sir Badge, Alice, and Rebel show us some of the fun to be had with cigar service.  Enjoy!

Community Flags: Leather Girl Pride

The most common flag for female-identifying Leatherfolkx is the Leather Girl Pride Flag.  According to Las Vegas Pride, the black stripes represent Leather and permanence, the pink ones represent female leather, the white are for purity and innocence, and the red heart is for the love of Leather women.  It sometimes appears with the stripes placed diagonally but is more commonly seen mirroring the Leather Pride Flag.  A woman named Tori Jones has designed a Leather Woman Pride Flag where the blue of the Leather Pride Flag is replaced by purple instead of pink; she chose purple for its royal color, which she feels represents her and many other women in the Leather Community.  While it does not appear to have been as widely adopted, merchandise is available with this flag.  Click here to see various offerings.

Leather Girl Pride Flag
Leather Woman Pride Flag by Tori Jones

Community Flags: Leather Boy/Boi

Boy Pride (or Boi Pride) flag is meant to represent Boys/Bois, a sub-group of the leather culture. The word originally denoted younger and submissive gay men, often newcomers to the community, with an appreciation for older and dominant men (these being called Sirs, Masters or Daddys). In time, it has become a beacon for anyone who identifies as a leather boy/boi, no matter the duration of time spent in the community.

The whole design obviously reflects the original use of  the word “boy/boi”, even though it seems to have little in common with its present-day use as the basis for logos of some leathermen clubs which use the phrase “boys of leather” in their name.

The original design by Keith Pollanen was based off of Tony Deblases’ Leather Pride flag; it retains the original’s equal number of stripes, but they are diagonal from left to right, with the left higher symbolizing the Sir, and the right lower representing the boy. The heart was moved to the right to show where the boy’s heart is, and the blue was replaced with green to represent the boys/bois as newbies or greenhorns. The size of heart might vary according to presented images, however the flag appears to be designed with the heart overlapping only 2 of the bars.

Roughly 3 feet by 5 feet, the first ever physical Leatherboy Pride flag was created in January 2000 by Robert Dogan. Robert had excellent sewing skills, and Keith called on him to assist in making the flag so that DCBOL could carry it in the DC Pride Parade. It took 6 hours and looked like what a 10 year old could have done in 15 minutes, but it is a grand flag.  Later that year it was donated to the Leather Archives and Museum, where it still is today.

Community Spotlight: Sharon St. Cyr (SSC) Fund

The Sharon St. Cyr (SSC) Fund is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that strives to raise money to provide hearing aids for hearing-impaired individuals as well as offer grants to organizations for ASL interpreting services. The SSC Fund was born in 2009 by Jeffrey Payne when he recognized a need and created a solution. He explains the need this way: “For most people, insurance coverage is non-existent or bare minimum as to reimbursement. There were those within our community who had neither insurance nor a means with which to purchase the materials needed to successfully continue on with employment, schooling, etc. Since I am hard of hearing, as are other family members, I felt we needed to bring this to the forefront since it was not in the mainstream arena.” Sharon St. Cyr Fund was affectionately named in honor of Jeffrey’s mother who passed away when he was only 4 years old.

Attendees at the October NLA-Dallas general membership meeting learned about the SSC Fund from Board Member Amie McNamara, who shared an overview of how the organization works and the process of awarding grants. Those seeking assistance will find two applications available on the fund’s website: one for hearing aid assistance and the other for an interpreter grant for events. Once the appropriate application is filled out and submitted with supporting documentation, the Board of Directors discusses it and makes a determination based exclusively on financial need, as all personal identifying information is removed to avoid any bias.  

Support for the fund comes from various sources.  Typically, several fundraising events occur each year, including the Annual Wreath Auction & Ice Cream Social; and many local charities and groups hold events to raise money to benefit this worthy cause. Donations can be made on their website by clicking the “Donate” button on the top.  Transparent with their use of funds, even posting tax returns on their website, potential donors can be confident that 100% of all donations go directly to providing monetary assistance to those in need and organizations who wish to be more inclusive by offering ASL interpreters.  

The Board of Directors currently consists of 7 members: President: Christopher Edwards, Vice President: Roger “Lipps LaRue” Wheeler, Secretary: Joel Legget, Treasurer: Jeffrey Payne, and three Board Members: Christopher Stinnett, Tracy Diaz, and Amie McNamara. Their tireless dedication has been integral to raising funds that through the years have benefitted over 150 events and 101 individuals with an additional 13 people in the pipeline. 

Vendor’s Corner: Foxy Feisty Redhead

Kinky chainmaille made by a curvy redhead – Foxy Feisty Redhead

AJ of Foxy Feisty Redhead has a goal, which is to make chainmaille feel fun and body positive! She started creating these quality, made-by-hand works of art around 3 years ago because she wanted to have beautiful chainmaille pieces for herself but was having trouble finding that for larger bodies. Making pieces that are size inclusive is really important to her. She loves having people of all shapes and sizes be able to come up to her booth when vending and be able to try something on or find an item with their pride flag. As such, she has made a commitment to keep her scale halter tops the same price across all sizes and is adamant about having pieces that are available for all sizes that do not make the wearer feel “taxed” over their body.  In addition, she takes great care to make sure she offers at least 9 or 10 different flag options when she vends so people do not feel left out. AJ says “my goal is that people feel seen, even if they don’t walk away with a purchase.”

Foxy Feisty Redhead is an avid supporter of the community and regularly donates to raffles or auctions where she is vending. This pandemic has not stopped her from giving back to her community. She has donated to groups that have raised tens of thousands of dollars for lifestyle related charities.  She also runs raffles on her own facebook page to support Leather Heart Foundation and several POC and Trans mental health funds. Additionally, mystery bags are available for purchase on her website, with $3 of each one going to an organization that helps folks in the Leather, kink, and sex worker community who are financially impacted by the pandemic.

Although selling online has been an interesting experience for everyone, it has not held back Foxy Feisty Redhead. It has presented her with a new experience and a client base that she may not have been able to reach before, though she cannot wait to return to business as usual vending and teaching in person! Covid has allowed AJ the time to build up quite a bit of stock, and she is ready to get out and show it to the masses. She is currently working on some beautiful holiday pieces and smaller items such as necklaces, earrings and bookmarks. She is always available to do larger personalized orders as well. She loves to experiment with patterns and colors while creating something personal just for you!  For more information,check out her website, FoxyFeistyRedhead.com, or find her on Facebook as Foxy Feisty Redhead.

Disclaimer: We seek to introduce our members to the wide variety of kink merchants, with no explicit or implicit endorsement by NLA-Dallas.

Writings To The Editor: A Poem by JustAsheli

 I asked you what you loved about yourself

and pressed my lips to your silence

as if I hoped

I could make you understand me

by osmosis.

I will kiss you until the final breath leaves my lungs,

and if you only take in

a tenth of my love for you,

even that would be enough.

You will know there is no one alive more beloved than you.

*The NewsLeather Editors graciously thank JustAsheli for allowing us to reprint this poem.

Clubs and Charities: New Leather Dallas

Are you new to the lifestyle or maybe just new to the Dallas area? Well there is a group for that!  New Leather Dallas is a group dedicated to education for LGBTQIA+. Originally started as a group for 18- 21 year olds so that these people have the opportunity to acclimate to the kink environment before integrating into the community, it now welcomes the new kink generation, regardless of age.

Started 5 to 6 years ago by Steven Grant, the group’s current leadership took on growing and guiding the group as a love project. These 3 individuals have many years of experience between them. Giant, Laurel, and Ursus make up a great team that invites the new generation to kink, be you 18 or 45. In this leadership panel, Giant handles a lot of their social media presence, Laurel handles a lot of the planning and coordinating, and Ursus, being the social butterfly, mingles amongst the people and is a welcoming pair of open arms.

Monthly coffees, munches, or dinners give you the opportunity to speak and learn in a sex positive atmosphere. There is no donation, charge, or age limit for this opportunity to learn and meet others. The munches usually include a lesson, and the group holds a Leather Educational panel twice a year. They choose the topic of discussion based on the ebb and flow of the community, with a beginners education course tossed in as needed. The panels are usually held at the Dallas Eagle and during South Central Leather competition and ILSB and include an opportunity to ask questions and learn more. These panels have featured names such as Hardy Haberman, Donna Dumae, Valerie, Sugar Bear, and Miss Elizabeth.

One of the group’s projects for this year is an Intergenerational Mentorship Program. The basis is for the older and younger generations to teach each other. There’s some backlash when the older generation asks questions about new groups or identities that they aren’t familiar with, and it can lead to them feeling disconnected and ostracized for trying to understand.  Our younger generation is craving stories and information from their elders that can help them navigate the lifestyle long term. This program gives a safe place for both parties to do this.

New Leather Dallas uses their online presence to offer educational posts, advertise classes offered on zoom, and answer questions for people who are new in this community. They do a vetting process for that group by asking some security questions. In this group, you will find a number of different individuals with questions and in need of advice. If you are interested in participating, you can find them on Facebook by searching New Leather Dallas.

Pet/Handler Corner: little Jami and Aczucena

How long have you identified as a handler, pet, or both?

LJ: I have identified as a pet handler for a little over a year, but prior to that discovery I had extensive time working with Bio horses.

A:   I first identified as a Pony about a year and a month ago, but if you read my Fet Journal Entry “Every little girl wants a pony for her birthday,” you will find that I always wanted to be a pony.

What makes you the happiest in your identity?

LJ: Seeing how happy my pony is when being worked and in her own chosen identity.

A:   The freedom to be a fabulous Show Pony and Princess Pony and be silly and free.

What is your favorite activity?

LJ:  Working on gaits and commands with Azucena.

A:    Practicing my Puerto Rican Paso Fino natural gait!

What is the hardest thing about being a handler/pet/both?

LJ: Finding the sweet spot balancing my pony’s needs for a session with activities that meet those needs.

A:  Being a Pony is one of the most liberating events in my life. It has allowed me to explore another primal yet playful aspect of me.

Handler, if you could build a mini zoo of your 3 favorite species of pets, what would they be and why?

LJ:  A pony, a puppy and a sloth…ponies and puppies make me happy, and I have a fascination with sloths.

A:  No fair!!!  

What advice would you like to pass on to new handlers or pets?

LJ:  Study and figure out how to do this safely. Pony play, while not dealing with hurty implements, is very physically demanding, and the gear and activities associated with it can be physically dangerous. Know your partner’s physical limits and find ways to accommodate those limitations. For example, Azucena can’t handle bit gags, so we found her a bridle that works without a bit.

A:  Read! Research your Bio pet counterpart. Look at Bio horse training videos. Most importantly? Do your pet kink your way! Do not let anyone define your kink. Never.

What learning resources have you found most beneficial?

 LJ:

* The Human Pony by Rebecca Wilcox  

* PonyPlay with subMistressAnn

* Highly recommend any horse handling books by Joe Camp and Monty Roberts

* Horse handling/training videos by Mia Nielson, Warwick Schiller, Clinton Anderson, and Ken McNaab

A:

* The Human Pony Book by Rebecca Wilcox. 

* YouTube training videos on Bio Paso Fino horses.

little Jamie (she/her) and Aczucena (she/her)

Bootblack Corner: Brooklyn

We sat down with Brooklyn, a local Bootblack and Bootblack mentor extraordinaire.  She has competed in all three international title contests, and four of the many aspiring Bootblacks she has trained have gone on to compete and win titles themselves. 

When did you realize you were a Bootblack?

B:  I saw another group doing something very naughty to a boot, and I wanted to do it, too.

What does being a Bootblack mean to you?

B:  Being a bootblack means I’m an artist.  [We’re] very creative artists that can bring something from total devastation, bring it back to life again, and give it a second chance at a new day. I am still learning and maintaining my craft to this day.

Do you have a title or desire to have one ? If yes, would you tell us more?

B:  Apparently, I’m still the current  Alamo City Bootblack 2017, I was third runner up twice at International Mr. Bootblack (IMBB), and I was first alternate at International Ms. Bootblack (IMsLBB).  I have made history for all three bootblack competitions. 

Tell us about your Bootblack journey. How did you get started? Has it been a smooth one? Bumpy?

B:  I started at the Dallas Eagle back in 2011, and it’s been bumpy and smooth ever since – like peanut butter, the chunky kind! It’s been a wild ride, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

What’s been a memorable experience you’ve had as a Bootblack? 

B:  Walking as myself at IMsLBB !

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a Bootblack?

B:  I say go for it!  Welcome to the family!  Enjoy your stay, and stay out of trouble…or if you do get in trouble, at least enjoy it! (and don’t let TC catch you….LMAO!)

Brooklyn (she/her)