“Be the change you wish to see in the world”. We talk to Kenzo Onyx about ABDL. “As a Black Queer Man, I didn’t see many people who looked like me in kink spaces.”Open/close this story
Hi Kezno, welcome at #WeAreFetish? Can you tell us a bit more about yourself??
My name is Kenzo ONYX, but everyone can call me Kenzo. I am from New York City. I am 28 years young, I am Black and Latino, I am Fierce and Fabulous and I am Mr. Eagle NYC 2022. My kinks are Age Play (ABDL), Leather, Rubber, Dom/Sub, Sadomasicism, Bondage and many more.
Can ABDL lovers come out easily with their fetish?
think, when it comes to the ABDL community, to come out NOW is a bit easier as it was back then. We are normalizing the ABDL community and educating others on who we are. We have more visibility in our community than we have ever had before. Do I think social media has a big part of that ABSOLUTELY! Social Media for many people has been the reason why more and more people are exposed to the community.
How was your road since you’ve been Mr. Eagle NYC 2022?
Being named Mr. Eagle NYC is not only a complete honor, but it is the validation that all the work that I have ever done in and for my community is being seen. I received both positive and negative remarks about having this title because I don't fit the "LOOK" of a leatherman or because of the kinks that I represent. As a Black Queer Man, I didn’t see many people who looked like me in kink spaces. In fact I remember some once told me "if i was not white, then I didn't belong”. My favorite quote that resonates with me is "Be the change you wish to see in the world”. What it means for me is that if I want to see change in others I must be the change I wish to see. As a Leatherman, Kinkster and a Big Baby, my duty to my community is to live as truly authentic as possible and show the world that there is a space for everyone free from judgment.
Is there room for improvement to promote visibility within the fetishscene?
Absolutely! But I also think that we are making progress. I see more and more people everyday getting into the kink and fetish scene and opening up about their fetishes. It's beautiful to see.
What I feel, like we need more, is opportunity for people to tell their stories and teach about the kinks they love. Seeing a picture online is one thing, but listening to someone's experience about their kink and fetish journey is what makes people want to continue being free.
How do you combine your fetish in daily life?
Well, One thing is that I wear my diapers everyday. For me it grounds me and it gives me away that I can connect with my kink and with others who have questions about my kink.
Do specific events or social media platforms exist for ABDL lovers?
Absolutely! The ABDL and Fetish communities are really huge on Instagram and Twitter. I've personally seen and posted events every month on Instagram and Twitter. Also FetLife.com, Which was designed for Kinksters from all around the world.
What are your fetishplans for the next couple of months?
My next plans are to continue and create spaces for people like us in the world to be themselves. I run a little parties where ABDL's can be themselves without judgement. I host Pup Nights in multiple bars in NYC with the idea of bringing inclusivity to the pup play community. Leading the Leather Contingent for NYC Pride and the NYC Queer Liberation March.
Thank you very much for this interview! How can people get in touch with you?
People can contact me at:
Twitter : @pup_Kenzo
Recon : @KENZOpup
“You never know what can happen”. We talk to Dany Millan a.k.a Dany Bear. “Meeting people from other communities is something very interesting, you never know what can happen”Open/close this story
Hi Dany, welcome at #WeAreFetish? Can you tell us a bit more about yourself??
Hola Amigos! My name is Dany Zichem Arias Millan, but everyone knows my as Dany Bear. I am 38 years old and I was born in Palma de Mallorca in Spain. I moved to The Netherlands 15 years ago for my great love and I’m living still with my Aruban DaddyBear.
Moving to The Netherlands wasn't easy, especially because of the language barrier. After all these years I still don't speak Dutch perfectly, but I am the way I am.
I‘m Ambassador of the Dusty Foundation, a small ngo that fights against violence and discrimination towards the LGBTQI+ community.
My hobbies and passions are: Sports, Dancing, Animals, and occasionally baking cakes and I am very much interested in culture and getting to know different countries.
Others describe me as very sociable and spontaneous boy who is ready for everyone , likes to get to know people and also carries the Bear Community and our 7 Colors from the flag with great pride in my heart.
I enjoy the beautiful life together with my DaddyBear, family and Friends.
That is also the purpose of life: we should enjoy together and be ready to help others and show respect to each other. Despite everything I am proud of who I am and also respect whatever fetish you wear!
Are you a Proud Bear?
Yes! I’m a very proud bear in the Bear community. This community is a subculture within the Gay Community that emerged in the late 1980’s in San Francisco (California). Since then Bears have gradually come out of their proverbial caves to proudly show themselves and be recognized and visible, although there is still much to do… Members of this community are (usually) Gay men, mainly mature, with a stocky build and abundant facial and body hair, exhibiting a masculine attitude. Of course there’s exceptions to any one of these. The beard, the hairy body, maturity, corpulence or the belly also attracts men who happen to be into these things.
Within the bear community we differentiate between different body types, for example:
The Bear community is a very socializing and loving community with a big heart and protective of our members … We accept any person as they are. As far as I’m concerned it’s one of the nicest subcultures in the gay community, members can be very much on their own and at ease. We’re not very visible as a group, but we’re one big family. We have our own parties, and I really feel a sence of belonging. If there is a bear activity that we can join, my husband and I always try to visit it, wherever it may be.
We also have our own flag; designed by Craig Byrne in 1995; also in San Fransisco. He thought this different design with 7 colors would better represent the bear community. The different colors represent the differens skin colours and nationalities, though others say it’s beard colors.
How do you identify within this community?
I feel more like a Chubby Bear and a hairy little Bear…
What I like the most is to HUG… A good hug to me is an act of love towards the person. Touching the warmth and feeling that positive energy is what makes me happy. I’m a person who really likes personal contact, meeting people from any community that makes me feel very good about myself and knowing that we are all fighting for the same reasons….
I’m a Bear willing to meet different fetishes and to experience new things in life.
New experiences in life, that is to say that I really like to try to know what exists and which one I feel more comfortable with. To know the feeling of the Fetisj…
I believe and think that being a Teddy Bear makes it easier for me to try different Fetishes…
How would you describe the fetish scene in general?
Personally, I love it... I like to try all kinds of fetisj to find out what it feels like, that's why I try to go to all the fetish parties and not only the Bear Fetish events… I am very interested to get to know people’s kinks and naturally meet people and exchange ideas, expressions, etc. Let’s say I’m curious to know new people and their fetishes.
As I said, I am a very open minded person and I like to know more things outside the Bear Community... Meeting people from other communities is something very interesting, you never know what can happen, maybe a Bear needs a Trans or a Trans needs a Bear…
The world is so, so small and we have to enjoy it every day!
When you like meeting other people like that, and you want to enjoy life every day, I can imagine the last couple of years have been hard: how has the covid-pandemic impacted you?
The truth is that at the first time it was very difficult… As you may know, I was a candidate for the Mister Bear Netherlands 2020 election. Two days before the big event it had to be canceled due to COVID19; the right choice, understandable and logical. At the same time I was anxious: we had been at the Darklands festival where a lot of people turned out to get infected. After a couple of weeks you started hearing of people who got sick, the worst was Daniel Dumont… That news was a bombshell for me. I knew him, and now regret never having taken a picture of the two of us together. From then on it got worse and before we know it, we were inside for two years. Sitting inside wasn’t the hard part for me, it was the waiting, the uncertainty. Hearing people have died, more and more shops closing.
Then the pandemic came closer and you couldn’t even go to a funeral. Once again I want to wish everyone who has lost someone a lot of strength.
Shortly after getting his second vaccine, my Daddy-Bear got a Cerebral infarction. This was very hard on me and scared me a lot. After he left the hospital and started therapy things started to turn around. Now we could enjoy Pride again, go on holiday,… True, with rules around covid, but still…
I don’t really want to go very deep into the whole pandemic. We all lost people and it hurts a lot. I hope everyone will grab this as a fresh start and make something beautiful out of it.
Do you have a full calendar again, now?
Yes, I’m going to attend a lot, I’ll be at about every pride in the Netherlands and some international ones, like Brussels, antwerp, bear weekend sitges, etc. I’m trying to be everywhere because the Bear Community needs to be seen and I’m ready to help with this!
Thank you very much for this interview! How can people get in touch with you?
People can contact me at:
Facebook : DanyBear@hotmail.com or DanyZichem@hotmail.com
Twitter : @Zichem2
Telegram : @DanyBear21
Skyper : Daniel.Arias.Millan
After that I have a few app
“We become free”. We talk to Damien a.k.a Prince of Rubber . “We become free to be people we wouldn't normally be in daily life.”Open/close this story
Welcome at #WeAreFetish Damien. For those might not know you, who are you?
Hi, my name is Prince (the "of rubber" is optional). I'm a twenty-seven year old kinkster living in the lively city of Manchester. I've been actively enjoying fetish for about seven years now but I've been searching fetish porn long before - from about the age of sixteen. My journey began when I realised I wasn't into the "vanilla straight porn" my other friends were obsessed with. Instead I spent a lot of my time looking at men wearing hazmat and heavy industrial outfits. These were often full coverage and made from shiny materials which covered the identity of the men. I very quickly realised this isn't what the other boys in my class were looking at when they jerked off - so I felt very alone in my fetish. This continued for a few years, which was a difficult time in my life. I only practiced fetish in my bedroom alone until the age of twenty. I caved and purchased my first rubber suit, gloves and hood from Libidex Rubber in London. It was expensive but gosh it was an amazing feeling. Pulling it on my body I felt exhilarated. I quickly started snapping pictures of myself in all kinds of poses and would later jerk off over them. One day, I discovered the existence of Fetlife.com and soon after, started posting pictures of myself on there. I began chatting with other fetishists from around the world who shared the same passion that I did. It was such a moving realisation to know that I was no longer alone that there were people who shared my same love of fetish and rubber. Follow on a year or two and I met my first other fetishist at the age of about twenty-one. It was an erotic fusion of nervousness mixed with desperate horniness, as I pushed my rubbered frame against another rubber boy. That night is something I look back on regularly and it started my life as this fetishist, with the original name of "Koinu" (meaning 'puppy' in Japanese). I used the name as a placeholder while I came up with a name which better felt like 'me'. After a lot of consideration I decided on a name which would encapsulate how I felt in rubber. The terms "powerful", "protected" and "poised" came to mind, which led to something beginning with "P". I quickly made the connection between all of these terms and my name standing for something integral to my journey. I believed I was the Prince of my own destiny leading me on this crazy but exhilarating path. This is where the name came from. In terms of who I am outside of rubber and gear. I'm actually a pretty normal guy. I think, if many of my co-workers, vanilla friends and family were to find out that I'm actually a sexual deviant they would be shocked beyond belief. Perhaps this is also the fun part of fetish, we become free to be people we wouldn't normally be in daily life.
What makes rubber the most appealing to you, instead of other materials?
I get asked this quite a lot and I have a variety of responses. I think the main thing for me is the transformative aspect of the material. By putting it on, you become a different person, thing or animal. Then you have the senses that come from wearing it, such as, the taste, smell, feel, sound. It's a material that encapsulates a person and they feel both powerful and protected. When I started my fetish journey, I immediately became addicted to rubber. Something about how I looked in the mirror combined with the tight, insulated feeling all over. I think it was also down to the fact that sportswear, leather and cotton are all things so easily acceptable and worn daily in our lives. But - rubber and latex was such an extremely taboo material which makes it even more exciting to wear. I was once worried that I would become tired of rubber and move onto another fetish but seven years later I can safely say I'm still as addicted as ever.
Do you feel comfortable in joining Fetish-events where multiple fetishes are present?
I very much approve of events which encourage multiple fetishes. I have a rule of always trying something once, unless it's one of my hard limits. I think because of being so open it's led me to have quite a wide variety of fetishes myself. In regards to events and rubber, they're pretty welcoming and open - I guess given that it's a huge kink overall. I feel regarding more niche fetishes like ABDL, sissification, uniforms or scally - I think they carry a bit of a taboo with them. In regards to people's responses they can sometimes be negative - as some are uncomfortable sexualising such things. I think people who organise events could potentially do more to encourage acceptance of fetishes through openly acknowledging these fetishes with positive messaging and acceptance.
How would you improve inclusion within the fetishscene?
Probably one of the most difficult things the scene faces at this time. I have to highlight some fantastic work that are being done by the likes of Recon in regards to highlighting inequality in the fetish scene specifically around members of the BAME group. I think privilege plays a large part in the problems that the scene face. Not by design, the scene is mostly white middle class gay men who don't understand some of the hurdles others may face in joining the scene or who feel that scene is safer if it's not open. I think it's inevitable that the scene will become more open in terms of different LGBTQ+ groups but we need to work together to ensure that people from BAME groups are also welcomed. The hurdles to joining the fetish scene could be a result of religious backgrounds, family issues, financial problems or social barriers. I think spreading more knowledge about these hurdles could make everyone in the scene more aware when helping to make things more inclusive. Along with having these conversations, I think a lot could be done in terms of the companies that run fetish brands, dating apps and events to highlight these inequalities and take action to better represent these minority groups.
Any events you will attend this year?
I've made it a habit to always attend Folsom Berlin in September. It's by far my favourite event with the street fair and parties in the city. Other than that I'm also looking at doing Fetish Week London, MIR and Manchester Rubbermen. The lucky thing about living in somewhere like Manchester is that there's plenty of events on each month - Locked, Stretch and Alert! to name a few. It really is the city to be for fetish events.
How can we connect with you?
Website - www.princeofrubber.com Twitter - @prince_rubber Instagram - @prince.rubber
Thank you very much for your time, Prince of Rubber!
“Furies Fandom”. We talk to Erick about Furies Fandom. “Furry fandom isn't primarily driven by fetishism. Some furries are indeed fetishists but this does not correspond to the majority in my experience.”Open/close this story
Hi Erick, can you introduce yourself?
I am known as Erick Le Renard (the fox). I have evolved in one form or another in the fetish world for almost 10 years now. I started exploring the Furry Fandom in my 20th year. At first it was mainly through an interest in art and characters in a purely non-fetishistic way, and then eventually I discovered the subcultures within the fandom that led to other explorations, notably leather and ABDL (Adult Baby Diaper Lover). Since then I have explored other interests including role playing, bondage and pet play. These interests have taken a more important part in my identity in the meantime, which has led me to get more involved and to create the Quebec group, Pet Play Quebec, which brings together a few hundred pet play fetishists in the province.
Who are the Furies? Does it have something to do with domination or submission? What is your role as Handler? Is the world of Furies more present in America and Canada than in Europe?
Furries are individuals who have an interest in anthropomorphic characters (animals with human characteristics, let's think of Bugs Bunny here for example). From my experience, this interest can be motivated by different input factors. For some, artistic productions have sparked an interest (think of Zootopia, or Disney's Robin Hood). Fursuits (costumes) were a big factor. Who would refuse a warm hug from an adorable big adult sized teddy bear? I have also observed how the inclusive aspect of the fandom has the effect of interesting people, as everyone can create their alter-ego there, giving free rein to their imagination, to imagine a character with the most fabulous characteristics and to embody it. It's important to consider that the furry fandom isn't primarily driven by fetishism. Some furries are indeed fetishists but this does not correspond to the majority in my experience. In fact, defining fandom under one main identity or interest is difficult, since it is in fact a universe of very diverse subcultures. However, there are connections with other BDSM cultures that are expressed. Over the past few years, I have seen these interests intersect. Latex seems to have grown in popularity. Ironically, pet play isn't the most voiced fetish I've seen within the fandom, but it is slowly gaining ground. In fact, I think the most adequate way to relate fetishism to furry is to think of it as adding a "color", a "flavor" to the way you do fetishism. So, some include power play, but not all, same for pet play, bondage, latex or leather. A Handler's role in furries usually has a different meaning than in pet play. In fact, the role was created for strictly practical reasons. Fursuit generally having a limited field of vision and dexterity movements are more difficult. The role of handlers consists in assisting fursuiters (people wearing a costume) to ensure that they do not inadvertently walk into a person, or to pick up smaller objects because the paws would have greater difficulty to grab.
What is your role as Handler? Is the world of Furies more present in America and Canada than in Europe?
For people like me who have a "BDSM first" approach, the role of Handler takes on a wider meaning, insofar as I embody my role as much from a perspective of protection as of control. It's less physical than gestural and psychological though, with conventions in America tending not to allow fursuiters to be pulled on a leash, primarily for safety reasons. As far as popularity is concerned, that's a very good question. Unfortunately, I do not have precise statistics to rely on, however, based on the number of convention participants in America I have the feeling that the population would be significantly larger (this of course does not take into account European visitors visiting American conventions and multiple participations).
Is there a sexual side that comes with it, or not necessarily?
The sexual aspect does not necessarily comes with the fandom, no. In fact, I doubt that a majority is practicing some form of sexuality with their fursuit. There is a joke going around the fandom on the subject.
There are 2 types of fursuiters.
* at the price I paid for my fursuit, it is clear that I do not want to get it dirty with sexuality
* at the price I paid, I will definitely use my fursuit to its full potential and include sexuality
For several fursuiters that I have known, their interest was in wearing the costume, going to public family events, and entertaining people. The goal was entirely non-sexual and purely to play a fun character.
There are other types of people, including me here, whose fursuit has a dose of eroticism. Hugging a naked fursuit is like hugging a big teddy bear, it's soft, it's warm and it's conscious, with all the closeness it can bring. In addition, nothing prevents accessorizing the fursuit with neoprene, diapers, leather or others, honestly the limit is only the creativity of the person, and the maximum physical size of the accessories.
Do you think that the fetish scene, dominated by leather, latex, sportswear,… is welcoming towards furries? How easy is it to attend fetishevents?
It's an interesting question here, it brings a lot of subjective factors, some of which I know and others less. So my answer is cautious here. From my experience, predominantly leather communities are generally more closed and more traditional in their approach. Latex seems more open to me, however, at none of the local leather / latex clubs have I seen any fursuits. It may or may not be related to this more traditional attitude. I don't believe that there is any active discrimination against the community really, more a real disregard. Without wanting to systematize, I believe that there is a tendency towards a softer and more sensual approach in furry sexuality compared to what I have observed in the leather communities in which the SM is more present. It should also be considered that fandom tends to attract a younger population, leather tends to attract a more mature population. Having said that, I am basing myself on my experiences here, and I could be seriously wrong internationally. I haven't had the opportunity so far to go to major European public events, however in order for an event to be accessible for furries certain points need to be considered. The design of fursuits can be compared to winter coats. They are quite warm, and with variable ventilation / air conditioning. In addition, as I had mentioned, vision and dexterity is limited. In my fursuits so far, I have observed that my field of vision drops to just over 90 degrees. We can say that it reduces the lateral vision quite a bit. Furry conventions have several ways of easing these complexities. Among other things, rooms reserved for fursuiters are fitted out with many performance fans (we call them headless lounges, literally, headless room). So fursuiters have the opportunity to remove their costume head and ventilate to cool off. Another means of accessibility that several conventions have established is to prioritize access to the elevators of the hotel from the event to the fursuiters. This allows the costume to be removed more quickly. You should know that it can be very hot inside a fursuit and people are more likely to suffer from heat stroke and dehydration, so make sure you have a safe environment during public events.
How is the costume maintenance done? Where can we find suitable gear? I imagine a complete suit must be expensive?
The maintenance requires a certain application and gentleness. Since fursuits are designed with synthetic bristles and are custom made, they can be relatively fragile. It is generally recommended to wash the body in cold water with a mild soap (woolies and a fairly used mild detergent). The costume can sometimes be machine washed, hung up to air dry and then brushed off, but you really have to talk to the costume builder as each tailoring technique is different and maintenance will vary. There are a few ways to take care of the heads, but since the parts are often held together with hot glue, I have generally seen that we recommend immersing the head in cold water with a little detergent and rubbing gently in order to cleaning up dirt and sweat-related bacteria. In terms of gear, the fursuit is broken down into a few categories. We consider the "fullsuit" and the "partial suits". Fullsuits, as the name suggests, include the full costume from head to toe. As for the partial, they usually consist of feet, paws (hands), tail and head. We will therefore wear them with normal clothes, or more naked showing us more skin. The act of voluntarily letting the skin be seen is called "poodling" in the fandom. Since each costume is entirely unique, it necessarily has an associated price. Usually partial follows can sail between $ 1000 and $ 2000 USD. Fullsuits have substantially higher prices, we are talking here about $ 2500 to $ 5000 USD for a full costume, or even more depending on the style of fursuit, its accessories and its features (for example, cartoon style, realistic, LED eyes , fans in the head).
How can people get in touch with you? What is “House Le Renard”?
I can be reached via Twitter / Instagram on the handle of “mechantrenard”. I am also known as “Atreus”, the black/orange fox “House Le Renard” was created two years ago. I was very inspired by the Leather Houses of the past. I am exceptionally fortunate to have three exemplary men at my service. I offered them the idea of formalizing the relationship of friendship, power relationship and close circle in a form that spoke to us. House Le Renard was born out of this conversation. Special thanks to Psychbunn (the yellow bunny), Pinotte (the black/orange coloured dog).
Thank you very much for your time, Erick !
“fetish has no age”. We talk to Ralph about growing in the fetish scene. “I’m not sure there’s ever going to be a monolithic fetish scene that includes everyone’s identities and desires but I hope we are making a large enough scene to house a multitude of smaller scenes.”Open/close this story
For people who may have been living on another planet for the past few years, who is Ralph Bruneau?
I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame. My work in this field began more than 30 years ago as a paraprofessional counselor. The profound nature of the work inspired me to go on to receive a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University and then a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. I served as faculty member at Antioch University, in the Family Training Program at the Southern California Counseling Center, and have provided training to clinicians regarding chemical dependency, psychopharmacology, and sexuality/intimacy. I am a clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, an AAMFT approved supervisor, and, in 2016, received one of 2 national awards from AAMFT for my contributions to the field of marriage and family therapy in the state of California. I served 6 years on AAMFT-CA Board of Directors and currently serve on the Board of Directors for the LA Gender Center, CLAW, and Avatar Los Angeles (President). Additionally, I am EMDR Certified, a Certified Treatment Specialist for Diverse Populations (AATBS), Certified LGBT Affirmative Psychotherapy Provider (AAMFT-CA) and Certified Substance Use Disorder Provider (AAMFT-CA). Outside my consulting room, I have been actively involved with the effort to ban licensed mental health professionals from providing Conversion Therapy to minors since AB1172 was crafted. California was the first state to ban this dangerous practice. I have been actively involved in this effort for over 8 years. In 2017, I was named International Mr. Leather. Part of my platform entailed traveling around the world raising funds and awareness for NCLR’s #BornPerfect campaign to ban Conversion Therapy in all 50 states and around the world. 18 states, DC and Puerto Rico now have bans on the practice. I have written for, or been profiled in, Alphatribe, The Leather Journal, GayStarNews, Bound and Black, Box, Time Out, Advocate, Huffington Post, and most recently was one of 6 individuals (I was the only therapist) chosen for an eight-page feature in Playboy magazine (in collaboration with the Trevor Project) because of my work with #BornPerfect and activism in fighting Conversion Therapy. I was the Payasos Leatherman of the Year 2017 and the George Wong person of the Year 2018 presented by the LALC. My IML step-aside video was awarded the 2019 Best Musical Short by CineKink and is touring in festivals nationwide. I believe the therapeutic process sits squarely within a context of heteronormative, gender, and sexual politics. These influences restrain our expression whether it be cultural, familial, relational alienation, an unwanted and unhealthy relationship with substances or maladaptive patterns, or a partially expressive sexual expression, to name a few. In this regard, I see the psychotherapeutic process as one, which attempts the collaborative release of these restraining influences returning to the innate capacity for full range of self-expression.
For how long have you been in the fetish scene? How did it al started? Was it easy back then to step into the world of fetish?
I started my leather life in NCY in the mid/late 70’s. It was a wild time. The piers, the trucks, Fire Island. My first gay bar was the legendary Mineshaft in the meat packing district. It was legendary from jump. They had a strict dress code and it was everything a fetish bar could be. Pre AIDS. All freedom of expression. Piss tub, bondage table, St Andrew’s Cross etc. What made it special was the hard core play with a safe and supportive group. One of my first times there I made eye contact with an older (30) guy. He gave me the nod and I nodded back and dropped my head in submission. He pulled me close and passionately kissed me. I melted in his arms. He told me to strip. I did. He tied a leash of hemp around my cock and balls and led me in just my engineer boots to his friends. I was home. They were my pack, my protectors. I was safe to explore anything with them nearby. I was so lucky. I do that for others now with my club, Avatar Los Angeles. We mentor and teach others about safe and sane BDSM play. It’s paying forward all knowledge and safety I enjoyed coming up in the scene.
You lived through the aids pandemic? How do you look back at this dark side? Do you think the youth of today is really aware of what happened back then?
I did. I came to Manhattan in ‘74 and left at the worst point in the epidemic in ‘84. Those years were the most free and then the most frightening of my life. I look back often. Maybe too often. All the men I loved in those years are gone. All of them. My 2 partners, my housemates, friends. They’re gone but never forgotten. I carry those men in my memories. I owe them that much. I stopped my career as an actor and became a hospice volunteer before getting another masters and doctorate in Clinical Psychology. I felt, if I’m going to be one of those that make it, I need my life to mean something. It’s still what drives me to service. Even as IML. I had been involved in the effort to ban Conversion Therapy for minors. I was able to take that fight all over the world. Born Perfect is the organization I support and it was the focal point of my title year and in the center of my title vest as IML. As far as the younger generations and AIDS awareness goes, it’s a mixed bag for me. I want them to know what we did, who we were, and how we died. But. In some ways I’m glad they don’t have to carry the trauma that I live with. I wouldn’t wish that for them. I just spent a week at eve Russian River in NorCal. I’d never been. It’s where so many SF queers went to escape the city as we did on Fire Island from NYC. We went to the graveyard where many gay men from that time are interred. Ashes of thousands of men who died of AIDS were scattered directly below our cabin. There’s always more stories of those grim times to be learned. It was profoundly moving. I hope future Lazy Bear events will include the history of that place. Where we lived, played, died. Important remembrances. IMHO
Did the fetish scene evolved through all these years?
Of course it’s evolved. We needed a road map when I was young. We were creating and organizing at the same time. We needed to look and act alike to find each other. AKA clones. White tees, 501’s, engineer boots and motorcycle jacket.
We played in defined ways and in defined spaces so we could make safety in rules and rituals. But. Systems evolve or degrade and our systems of play can now be so much more diverse and creative. It’s great. Moving from an arborescent to a risomatic paradigm. Not linear growth but roots reaching out in every direction and creating new growth as they do. Exciting to see.
How did your IML-title changed your life? How important is it to remain active and encourage young kinksters into their fetish discovery?
Being IML was completely unexpected and remarkable. I represented Gay Naturists International as Mr GNI Leather 2016. No naturist contestant had ever made the top 20 let alone win. I just wanted to represent that we can be leather in and out of our gear. I love to go out and play in leather and I also love to wear a jock and boots to play. I’m always a leatherman. It’s about who I am and how I play as much as what I wear. Taking that message out in the world was fun and exciting. Play and politics. Two things I feel passionately. I think it helps folks coming up in the scene. They don’t need to drop a grand on formals to be leather or fetish. A harness or vest, boots and jock are as likely to be worn out at the Eagle for me as full BLUF. Own the gear and don’t let the gear own you and you’re good to go no matter what.
Any thoughts on “Wisdom comes with age”. Is age a struggle within the fetish scene? ( for youngsters, and silver foxes, … )
I don’t know that wisdom comes with age but experience should. I was the oldest man to win IML, by a lot. I was 64. I started collecting Social Security during my IML year. That was unique ;) I think that daddy culture is a big part of that. I think a lot of younger guys are attracted to stability, assurances and the power that sometimes comes with age. There is, of course, ageism in our scene as there is everywhere. I try to stay buoyant and educate where I can. My husband is an amputee. I see so much ableism in witnessing his journey. We are lucky we can invite self reflection without aggression—most of the time. It’s a privilege. We’re both still attractive and viable so people can identify and that’s crucial. I also love hearing from men my age how important it is to them to have me/us be seen as vital. That means a lot. And if younger guys think I’m a sexy daddy they might be interested in learning what it was like back in the old days ;).
How inclusive is the fetish community? Is there space for improvement?
I like that you call it the fetish community. I think there are a lot of loosely associated communities under that umbrella. I just went to Lazy Bear. That community has always been attractive and inviting to me. I usually go to IMsL, MIR, CLAW, Darklands, and IML. I personally don’t feel I need to be an insider in all but I’m glad there are enough choices to keep my dance card full as a participant I think people continue to create groups around their identity and desires. We’ve always done that. I’m not sure there’s ever going to be a monolithic fetish scene that includes everyone’s identities and desires but I hope we are making a large enough scene to house a multitude of smaller scenes.
Which upcoming events will you attend?
IML and MIR on the agenda until IML was cancelled again. My club is hosting the dungeon space at LA CLAW in November. Maybe Easter In Berlin and then IML. I’m writing this interview on a plane to Barcelona but not for an event. Just for fun. I’d like to have more non-event vacations in the future. A nice balance
How can people get in touch with you?
I’m on FB under my name and on Instagram as @IML_2017
Thank you very much for your time, Ralph !
“fetish has no gender”. We talk to Bee about inclusion in the fetishscene. “I don’t regret pushing boundaries, it was important to create space for everyone, and everyone deserved to be included.”Open/close this story
Hello Bee, where is this fascination for Bees coming from?
Originally my nickname was Bee, named after the beautiful solidary bumble bee from NZ. At the time, I had depression from being bullied at work and I felt small like a tiny bee. I worked through it and became a strong and formidable Bee, sometimes Queen Bee! Since that time, I have also taken up bee keeping as a hobby, I am fascinated with the sociology of the beehive and how all the bees work together for a common goal. I’ve learnt so much from bees, we don’t need a leader, we need a common goal of growing the community. Queen Bees work hard their entire life creating new bees and helping the hive grow and survive. Bees adapt to their environment to keep their colony strong, where everyone plays an important role. I think there is a great commonality with the leather and fetish community here.
How long have you been active in the fetish scene? What is your main fetish? Where and when did you buy your first gear? Is it easy to find gear down under, far away from the main fetish brands?
I have been active in the fetish scene for 21 years, it started when I first arrived in Australia. I went to the Sydney Hellfire Club, a monthly event where all genders, sexualities and fetishes were welcomed. From this time, I became drawn to leather, my first piece was a leather lap lap from Karnal Leather in Sydney. Two leather dykes owned the shop in the infamous Oxford St gay strip, I felt scared going in the first, second and third time but they were so welcoming. I am still friends with them today, and still wear their gear. One of them even made my leather wedding gown 15 years later! It can be easy to find gear in Australia if you know where to look… There are many leather and fetish businesses that really get behind social events in Australia, companies such as Sax Fetish, Extra Dirty, Studio Kink, Army of Men, Punkuture and Eagle Leather. While I love my custom pieces, you will always see me scouring the markets for new items to add to my very large leather collection from around the world. I think being a woman in the leather/fetish scene, we always like to change it up with our look/outfits. This means more shopping, never a bad thing!
When and why did you decide to run for Ms Leather Sydney? Has the title changed things in your life?
was encouraged by a close friend to run for Ms Sydney Leather back in 2015, a leather femme ally who was always supportive of gaining visibility of femmes in the GLBTA+ community. The title has changed a lot of things for me, things I would never have imagined being given the opportunity to do. I have done a lot of community work around the world that I’m very proud of. I’ve mentored titleholders, raised tens of thousands of dollars for the fetish/leather community, held fund raising events, judged leather and Pup/Handler competitions, MC’d leather competitions, hosted leather parties, taught workshops, I’ve been a committee member for fetish/leather float for the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras for 5 years with Fetish Australia, and led work in the activist space. This included Chechnya 100 work where I represented Sydney in a vigil in front of the Russian Consulate where I spoke, I’ve been a guest speaker at IDAHOT Day in Taylor Square, Sydney, and speaking at the Marriage Equality Rally in Parramatta when legalising gay marriage was ‘voted’ by the general public. I stood next to politicians in a town where the “NO” vote represented over 65% of the population. I was given the opportunity of representing Sydney in International Ms Leather in 2016, this experience forged my resilience to continue to work in the community, not for money or fame but for inclusion of everyone. Everyone deserves to be celebrated. We will never ‘fix’ this, but we can keep trying and every time we try, we may make waves. Those waves create change, and more often than not, positive change.
We have seen you as judge for the Mister Leather Belgium election at Darklands. Do you experience any difference between the OZ scene and European scene? Do you feel welcome and accepted at fetish events?
I’ve been very thankful for the opportunity to judge at the Mister Leather Belgium election at Darklands, the travel to come each year has always been a joy. I feel my time at Darklands is like a family reunion with my leather family and friends from around the world. It’s something that is still very special for me. The European scene has made the necessary shift from all men to becoming a more welcoming scene to all. While there will always be work to do, I feel proud I was part of the conversation to challenge status quo, in a community that talks about and is more inclusive.
I always remember speaking at the European Titleholders Conference at Folsom Berlin (2015) and speaking very candidly about how to be inclusive of women and ‘others’ in the leather/fetish community. This forged many new friendships, friendships for life. This was the day I met Daniel Dumont, and I told Georges ( Mister Leather Belgium 2016 ) I would come to his step down in Antwerp. I gave the Leather/Rubber Misters from Europe some pointers on being visibility inclusive and to my delight - they started do it. It is with much support from leaders within the European fetish/leather community that we now see Darklands attended by more women, trans and non-binary folk, we also see more of these folk at socials and on panels, taking up MC spaces filled and more. Since that time, I am super proud that I am the first female member of ECMC and MSC Belgium, I wear these patches on my title vest with honour.
The Australian scene has had a long history (50+ years) of leather/fetish. There are still some men only clubs/bars//titles that have an extensive history (BootCo and Laird Leathermen) but this hasn’t stopped friendships and support growing between titleholders. There are many groups here in Australia that encourage diversity with the addition of the Ms Melbourne Rubber title being announced this year. Pride of the Hide, Adelaide Leather & Fetish, Australian Pups/Handlers, QLD Pups/Handlers and now Melbourne Rubber all hold space for women/non-binary folks to hold titles should they wish.
Darklands 2022…. I have my tickets! I am hoping to come back – let’s see if I can fly. See you there x
Folsom Berlin and other fetish events – I feel very welcome, for me – it’s a family reunion so Darklands is always a favourite.
Have you noticed any disregard coming from a mostly men dominated fetish scene towards you. In real life, online, …. Do you think there is still work to do on the inclusion of women in the leatherscene? How could we improve acceptance of minorities? Have things changed since you came into the kinkscene?
I feel women/trans/non-binary folk are sometimes misunderstood in a male dominated fetish scene, the way I have tackled this is to be friendly and open. This has really helped forge a good energy and openness with folks we share space with. I also feel, if someone doesn’t want to be open/friendly, that’s their decision and I not going to change that. I think picking your battles, not letting the small things upset you gets you a long way where there may be resistance. Online….I have worked hard to invite and open fetish/leather support groups to women/non-binary and trans. I have felt resistance (strangely in Sydney) for this, the Gear365 group was one. I was bullied and personally attacked, but I believed in holding space. The group is now open and has a very strong global following by all genders. I don’t regret pushing boundaries here, it was important to create space for everyone, and everyone deserved to be included. I feel if we all do our bit, the inclusion of women and all others in the leather scene will happen. If we continue to look beyond our own demographic and think – maybe we try this approach… the rewards are tenfold, every time. Jerome from Darklands has made significant efforts over the years to encourage diversity and inclusion. I saw recently 2 of the 2022 MCs are former Ms Netherland Leather titleholders, who would have thought! Acceptance of minorities starts with community and its leaders. When we make minority groups more visible with social pics/media and advertising, invite them to our committees, when we actively welcome them to share space, we all benefit from a more diverse community. We can never say we have walked the same path as the next person, if we walk along side them, we have more chance of understanding and growing as a community. Things have changed in the kink scene, I’ve personally seen a withdrawal of women/non-binary folk in the kink scene, with communities retracting in Sydney since it all began for me decades ago. However, we have a thriving fetish/leather scene still in Sydney, the question now is – how do we encourage and support everyone attend… there are some good folk working through this at the moment, I hope to continue to be part of that conversation.
How did the pandemic influenced your way of living past year?
The pandemic… the forced closure of events has meant I haven’t been stuck finding someone to tie my corset! Its hard work getting these corsets tied, I tell you! Friendships have blossomed, there is always a silver lining.
Where do you see yourself within 10 years ?
I see an older Bee getting around in her leather outfits, maybe flatter boots so I can stay out a little longer. I don’t expect much will change, leather is in my blood and is part of my identity.
Thank you very much for your time, Bee !
“fetish has no color”. We talk to Jinx about life as a young kinkster of color. “I’ve had men tell me I’m too black to be in the community and that I deserve to be a slave because I’m African”Open/close this story
I’m honored that you chose me to be involved in this movement. Thank you for allowing my voice to be heard. Well to start my journey I randomly made a Instagram page back in 2017 (I was 15) and I made it to just stare at guys :-) and one day I typed in leather men and a bunch of guys showed up. Of course they didn’t respond to me but one guy did and I asked for his advice and his exact words were “Be yourself and don’t let social media ruin your experience” Instagram was my exposure to the fetish community since I was too young to go to a bar here. After that I got deleted on Instagram by some leathermen who were very racist and ageist, of course I understand I wasn’t 18 so I don’t hold a grudge for that, but the comments and messages I received made me very depressed. Fast forward to 2018 and I decided to try it again but this time I didn’t want to show my face or my age since I was mistreated the last time. Fast forward to 2021 and the name “Jinx” is known all over even if people don’t like me (haha), I forced myself into the community since I wasn’t welcomed like others. My name is Jinx and I’m from Portland Oregon and I’m a 19 year old multiracial black man who’s a aspiring pastry chef and wedding cake designer and my daily life is working on my school and doing my kink interviews on the side. I’ve found a somewhat balance of my kink life and my regular life.
You’re one of the youngest kinkster active on social media. What is/are your main fetish(es) ?
My main fetish is definitely leather and not for its “macho appearance”. I love leather because it made me feel strong and sexy since I had no confidence back then. The smell, touch and look is just amazing to me and I can’t believe where I am now, a kinkster who’s only 19 with a grey bin full of gear. I’m very grateful for my position and I truly feel I have nothing to complain about, I also recently got into rubber and I do find the rubber company is way more accepting of non-binary, trans, bisexual, BIPOC, etc in the gay world unlike the leather community… The leather community has been dominated by the white race for sometime now and some guys feel like us “kids” and people of color have no place in the community, that we’re playing dress up or that we’re too fem, it’s ridiculous.
Do you experience any difficulties to merge into this big fetish crowd? Do you think your young age helps to find your way through it?
Most of my experience in the community has been, for a lack of better words, shit, I’ve been bullied, harassed and witch hunted off Instagram in my early days for being a man of color and for being 16 at the time. The biggest issue is that only certain shades of black seem to be accepted and this is because of colorism in the leather community. I’ve seen men of color who are my complexion or darker get mistreated but if your are more fair or lighter skin than myself then all of a sudden you are this attractive man who needs to be on every app and billboard possible and the online and physical leather community is no exception. I’ve had men tell me I’m too black to be in the community and that I deserve to be a slave because I’m African and it hasn’t changed that much since I was a little boy because it’s gotten worse because of the pandemic and social media. I don’t feel welcome in the community and I don’t feel welcome where I live as well. Men don’t give you attention unless you are skinny and own expensive gear and if you’re a POC (person of color) they won’t respect you or stand up for injustice because it doesn’t “affect them”. I feel my age hinders me since I’m not 21+ like most kinksters and that makes people not interested in me or they simply won’t even be kind to me, instead I’ll be called “little kid” or “this is an adults world”.
How does skincolor influence your view on fetish? Have you noticed any particular negative feeling because of your background?
My skin is beautiful and I’m proud of my brown skin but to some guys it’s disgusting and they can’t keep opinions to themselves. My influence is that I have to stay here and fight to be seen so some other kinksters can see themselves on social media or a website allowing them to have an escape for this world. I didn’t have that so I made my job to step up and be here even if it gets tough. I’ve noticed a lot of hate for my recon article I did and I’ve gotten hate for quitting my shoutouts I used to do since I wanted to expand my brand and be something better. Sometimes when I used to do shoutouts I had Sergens face (he’s a model for RoB Paris) as my profile picture for my bigger account and people would always respond to me there, but once I used my personal account I was invisible to everyone and it was degrading sometimes how people only wanted to be nice to me for a shoutout. I’ve been made fun of and attacked by people online for my background about not being too “black” or not “masculine” enough and it does bother me how most fetish brands only show fit men knowing that’s there’s so many other body types and cultures out there that need to be seen.
Do you think there is place for improvement concerning acceptance in the community ?
I believe there is, but I need the majority of the white leathermen to finally step up and use their platform to shut down these racist kinksters and bodyshamers. Instead they ignore it because it doesn’t affect their “slim 6-pack body” and that’s the issue, WE as a community need to stand together and not make cliques like high school and hurt people’s feelings because they aren’t fit or have the best gear, it’s time we put an end to that seriously.
Have you been to a fetish event ? Are you planning to visit any soon?
I’ve never been to a fetish event since I can’t drive and I can’t really go to an event in California since Oregon doesn’t really have that much going on. I feel like I would be mistreated by others at a event like Folsom since most guys there are white and European so my American butt would feel out of place especially since most guys are very rude to me, so I don’t know how I’d feel going alone because that scares me, I’d love to go to a event I just need to have one or two friends to go with to feel safe because I don’t feel welcome at events.
Is social media helpful when it comes to someone’s first fetish steps?
I believe it is, because it’s a way of finding people around you and it helps you potentially to find people down the street or across the ocean from you. I still believe it’s a musthave sometimes, especially if you’re a title holder because it gives people an easy way to message you.
Where do you see yourself within 10 years ? What would be your advice for staring kinksters?
I definitely see myself in a committed relationship with my own bakery or online business. I’d love to make support groups for younger kinksters or run for a Title someday. I want to be someone’s support in the beginning since that’s something I never had. My best advice would be : Don’t let social media ruin you’re experience for the kinkworld because at the end of the day you bought the gear for yourself not for a Instagram story. We need to pull back and remember the purpose of gear which was to make ourselves feel better and stronger!
How can people connect with you?
You can find my pretty face on social media.
Instagram as @lthr_jinx , my interview page @jinxs_leather and also on Facebook @leatherboy jinx
Thank you very much for your time, Jinx !
Close this story
Thank you very much for your time, Jinx !
“fetish has no race”. We talk to Leather Mister X about the Asian fetish scene.Open/close this story
Thanks for having me. My name is Billy but many people on social media know me as Leather Mister X. I was born and grew up in a small town in Malaysia. I knew I was gay at a very young age and growing up in a country where homosexuality is illegal was not easy. I had to hide my sexuality from everyone including my friends and family. I knew I was different, I became a loner and a teen rebellion but I was a bright student. Because I knew the only way for me to live a happy life as a gay man was to get out of the country. I worked hard at school and college for good results to ensure the opportunity to pursue further studies overseas. I moved to Australia when I was 19yo, and never looked back. Now I am a happy gay man living in Sydney with my partner of 18 years.
What about the Asian fetish scene? Is there any? Do you feel like Asians are a minority? Is there an underground anonymous scene?
Yes, there are Asian fetish scenes out there but at the same time, I am actually very disappointed that it has been subcategorised within the fetish community. I can understand why there is a separate Asian fetish scene due to many different reasons - geographical location and language barrier for instance, but skin colour and body attributes should never, ever be an excuse for Asians to feel being marginalized.
Taiwan is the first country with legalized same sex-mariage. Have you been to Taipei Pride? Do Asians kinksters travel to Taipei for the Pride? Is something changing within Asia?
No, I haven’t been to Taipei Pride. I was actually planning to attend the event in October this year but sadly due to the Covid-19 pandemic and travel restrictions, I will have to postpone. Taipei Pride is possibly one of the main events that attracts all the Asian kinksters to come together in one spot. I’ve seen photos of a large group of Asian kinksters at the parade last year, at least a hundred strong. Definitely something I would like to be part of one day. Not all Asian countries, but Asia is definitely changing and becoming more accepting of the LGBTQ community. Having said that, the fetish scene in Asia is still very underground.
How were your first steps into fetish? Are you experiencing an evolution? We know you as Leather Mister X. Can we presume you’re a dominant master?
Despite I have only just started collecting leather gear recently and finally took the plunge to become a leather man, my fetish for leather was well established way back. I still remember my first encounter was in my 20s when a couple invited me over for some play. The next thing I knew I was in a pair of leather chaps and the rest is history.
But when I am in a relationship for so long and the other half isn’t really a leather enthusiast, I just never really had the opportunity to explore that side of things. Not to mention, we all know leather ain’t cheap. Last year both of us decided to learn how to ride motorbike and I bought myself a leather jacket for it, it instantly reignited my passion for leather and it hasn’t stopped since!
I guess I would consider myself quite a provocative, voyeuristic kinky person, hence the name ‘Mister X’ came along. It is my pseudonym on Instagram for many years before I decided to become a leatherman, then I started a new account just to document my journey as a leatherman, now everyone knows me as Leather Mister X.
A dominant master? HA! I actually can be both, a dom or a sub, it’s all part of the fun. However, in my opinion, there’s a difference between a Dom and a Master, a Sub and a Slave. A master not necessarily always the dominant one, I believe a sub sometimes can actually have more control in certain situations. It is all about the connections between the two individuals, physically and mentally. I love the mind game.
But you can call me ‘Sir’ if you’re nasty. 😈
Have you witnessed any negative comments for being an Asian Leatherguy? Do you feel you have to put more effort for being taken more seriously and feeling accepted?
If we were in a perfect world, I would be called a “leatherman”, that’s that. But in reality, sadly we still do have to fight for inclusivity, just to be part of the fetish community. Since I became a leatherman, I always try my best to look good in my leather gear, to normalize other people’s perception of me, I want them to see through my skin colour and it is working. Now, many see me as a ‘leatherman’ and not an ‘Asian leatherman’ anymore. But I feel embarrassed and disappointed to even think that I still have to fight for inclusivity in the first place.
Do you have a message to all the Asian kinksters afraid to live their fetish?
It’s never too late to live your fetish dream. You will know when the time is right. Be true and honest to yourself, that’s the first step to be a proud leatherman. Because confident is sexy.
You want to share your social media with us?
I am Bluf 4028, and you will find me on Instagram/Recon as ‘Leather Mister X’.
Thank you very much for your time, Billy !
We talk to Max Groen, formerly known as Joke about gender fluidity.Open/close this story
Hello Max, can you give a little introduction of yourself?
Thanks for having me ! My name is Max. I chose this name two years ago. But therefore I was known as Joke, which is a typical Dutch name, given by my parents. I am originally from Bergen (The Netherlands) but moved to Amsterdam back in 1991, married my partner Stef in 2005 and I have been working for mister B Since 1999 and still am. In November 2018, I started with testosterone.
We know you as a genderfluid person. Can you tell us what t means to you?
I call myself genderfluid, because I don’t feel comfortable with either the terms “a woman” or “a man”. It took a while to understand and recognize this feeling and be able to finally accept it. I always felt like a stranger in our midst. In fact, when I grew up, I never understood what was happening to me.At one point in my life as a woman, I fell in love with women. Things became clear, I must be a lesbian and I thought I could finally start living my life. Think again… I still struggled, I wasn’t happy and I couldn’t find peace with myself. It was an ongoing process of therapies and to learn how to love myself. And I still felt like a stranger. For example, I was scared to dress up in changing rooms because I felt so uncomfortable with my body. Today, with the use of testosterone, my body has changed. I get more muscles, I have hair growth, I’m even getting a belly and so much more. All that as 53 year old woman. And to be honest, it makes me feel complete with all these characteristics.
You are a longtime Mister B employee. Do you think it’s easier to come out as genderfluid when you’re active in the fetish scene? Have you ever been confronted wit bad comments or incomprehension?
At work I never experienced any negative reactions. But I get a lot of questions, which is good. People ask questions, because they are genuinely curious, but always with respect. Recently a client asked me if I already had a penis… You know, when you are selling dildos, you can talk about stuff like that. (laughing).On the private part, it was a little more difficult. I was the tough butch, taking male hormones and I jumped into the manly side. In fact, I always was the butch type. Since it was known I took hormones, I wasn’t welcome any longer at some SM parties, besides the fact I went there for years. It’s just how it goes. Sometimes doors close, and other open. And I feel more than welcome at other events. All my friends have been supportive in my journey, so that’s the best part.Changing rooms at the gym are still a struggle. I don’t feel comfortable changing at the women’s room. And at the same time, I don’t want to go the men’s room. Of course I talked about it with the manager, because communication is key to be understood. And I have to admit, sometimes I do have good talks in the changing room. But I still have this little voice in my head, telling me there is still #workinprogress.
Do you think there is enough visibility? Do you experience genderfluidity as a minority within the fetish community?
We are definitely a minority in the fetish community. But honestly, I don’t experience it in a negative way. Everyone I talk to in the scene is openminded and is ready to learn about the topic. They are all willing to help if the scene could use some help. I am very open about it. But I don’t know everything. I am still in this process of learning. And it’s definitely something that could be different for each one of us..
How did you get in the fetish-scene?
I have always felt a huge attraction to women of the SM-group Wildside. When I was 25 years old, I was bold enough to attend one of their events at COC Amsterdam. Later on, friends took me under their wings, to go to play-parties and let me have fun with their play dates. That’s how it all started.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I really want a farm with my partner, with a lot of animals around us.
Something else you’d like to share with us?
The world would be a better place if everybody would treat each other with respect. Always ask yourself how you want to be treated by others or how you don’t want to be treated. If you don’t want to be treated one certain way, there is a big chance the other persons wants it the same way ( unless you’re in a consensual roleplay, haha ). I love the fetish scene. It’s a world where I feel home, and where people treat me with respect. That is very exceptional !I don’t have all the wisdom about gender fluidity. This is my story, which means, it isn’t a guideline for each one of us. Everyone who needs a talk or wants to connect with me can find me on Facebook : Max Groen
Special thanks to :
Thank you very much for your time, Max !
We’re talking to Tris, one of the youngest leatherguys around.Open/close this story
Hi Tris , I discovered you through Instagram but for those who do not know you, could you introduce yourself?
Hello everyone, I’m Tris, a 22 year old guy from Belgium, living not far from Liège. I still embrace the university atmosphere as I am a tax law student. I show interest in many subjects such as travels, politics, culture and I am always happy to expand my knowledges.
This is the visible part of the iceberg… on the other side, I am absolutely crazy about leather, as you will have understood. I think I can call myself a member of that warm community. Leather occupies quite a big part of my life now and I really enjoy attending events with my friends and making some new connections. .
You are part of the leather community. How did you get into it and since when?
I don’t like the expression “getting into it” because I didn’t get into it, it is a part of me and it has always been there. For as far as I remember, I’ve always been attracted to leather. I started my collection as soon as I turned 18 and I slowly started to make contacts with guys through the Internet then I met some of them, created links and discovered some events.
You are the first guy I meet who has evolved so quickly and at such a young age in the leather scene. Do you sometimes feel uncomfortable in that scene owned by an older audience? Do you sometimes get negative comments regarding your age?
You’re making me blush now! I used to feel very shy at the beginning and I think that it is completely normal as it’s something brand new. The fact that I had not much gear at the beginning was also a problem to get accepted, it is less easy than if we are fully equipped.
If I have to give a piece of advice, I would say to surround ourselves with great people. I had the chance to meet extraordinary men in the community and I owe them a lot! It’s thanks to them if I could evolve that fast and gain confidence.The age is not a real big deal for me, in fact I tend to have better links with “older” people than with people around my age. So far, I’ve only received positive reactions about my age, never uncomfortable comments or anything
In your opinion, why do young people need years in order to discover leather? What was your first purchase?
Well, let’s be clear, leather costs an arm and a leg! That is in my sense, probably the main reason why it is an older scene than for example the rubber one which is more affordable. Second, I’d say the fear. This is not easy when we are alone to simply enter a community we know nothing and even more if we have no contact.My first purchase included 10-hole military boots and the Mister B FuXXX pants.
Do your parents know ?
That’s a question I’m often asked! As I am still a student, I’m still living with them and yes, they know about the leather and they even saw me in my full BLUF uniform more than once. The great thing is that they totally accept that. It is also easier for me as I do not have to hide it and I can be open.
How do you combine your fetish in your daily life?
It depends. I feel comfortable wearing some leather with my regular friends or to go to restaurants for example. It often happens that I am wearing my leather jeans or my Langlitz jacket. However, when it comes to university, I remain neutral because we do lots of networking for a future job and I do not want to be prejudiced because of my fetish. I would therefore say that my fetish is present in my daily life but with some limits.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
That’s a tricky question… I’d say at Folsom with a beer and my friends around haha! More seriously, I don’t really know. So many things will change in 10 years… I still have one more year to do at university then jumping in the work world and as I like to take any opportunity that shows up, I can’t precisely say how my life’s going to happen. The only sure thing is that by that time, my leather collection will have increased A LOT!
You can find me on Instagram: Tris_lthr, Recon: Trislthr and I'm a proud BLUF-member: 1442
Photo credits to: lthrslad (Instagram)
Thank you very much for your time, Tris !Close this story
We’re talking to Wim Bos, founder of Mister B and a central figure in de European fetish scene for decades.Open/close this story
Hello Wim, for those who don’t know you, can you tell us a bit about your life?
I was born in Arnhem on September 14th 1950. The world back then was recovering from the war, it was very ecclesiastical and normative. It was a world without traffic, cars were rare, heating was done with coal since natural gas had yet to be found in the Netherlands. A very frugal life. Unimaginable by today’s standards.
Life was so one-sided and normative that sexuality was restricted to dark bedrooms and acceptance of other sexual expressions like homosexuality was out of the question. If there was a lonely artist who was known to be gay it was something to be laughed about or spoken ill of. To understand and accept your own sexuality in a culture like that was very challenging. It took quite some problematic years for me to truly learn to understand myself and finally, at the age of 32, come out of the closet. When at last I did come out, I quickly found my way in gay life. I soon met my husband Peter and together we started to look for and build a life and future together.
After a couple of years the late Rob Meijer, owner of RoB leather, offered me a job in administration and sales in his shop on the Weteringschans in Amsterdam. The AIDS crisis was in full effect back then. Many people wouldn’t admit to being infected, but got visibly sicker and many died. Losing someone you knew was a monthly occurrence. Rob and many of his employees fell ill and in the end 50% of my male colleagues died from AIDS within just a couple of years. After the company got a new owner I lost my job. That prompted me to found my own company. After some searching and playing with possible names, I settled on “Mister B”. About a year of preparations, designing models and setting up production later, the shop opened on march 2 1994. Many customers from my RoB days were happy to get their leather gear and toys from Mister B in the Warmoesstraat from then on.
What role does fetish play to you and how do you experience it? How did you discover it, and do you feel that you have grown or changed in it? Is it still changeing?
A preference for fetish is something I slowly learned to recognize for myself. It started with proudly purchasing a black leather jacket in a fashion store and developed from that. Especially when I came to work for Rob I was exposed to many things I didn’t know until then but were exciting to try and explore my fetish and predispositions. Gradually you are introduced in a leather and fetish world that you map out and try based on your own preferences and ideas. Before long I had 25 years of building both a company and a collection of fetish clothing and toys in which I had my own choice and penchants. Before I started my company I liked to frequent bars such as the Argos or the Eagle in the Warmoesstraat. When I had Mister B and lived 24/7 in the scene I began to make it more private with my husband. Obviously I participated in the large events and parties in the motherland or abroad, wether or not as a co-organizer. But being well-known within the scene takes some of the fun out of going out for that which you are passionate about in sex.
Luckily it’s easy for us to experience our fetish at home by wearing leather or enjoying the possibilities of our playroom. It’s still a good part of an anything but one-note sex life.
As we have established, you’re one of the pioneers of Europe’s Fetish scene, with Mister B a household name for over 25 years. Can you tell us something about the fetish scene back then and how it changed in all those years?
25 years ago fetish life was much more private. Sex shops or leather stores aimed at S and M or even at gay men were sparse. Despite carefree sex before, AIDS had turned sex into something to be careful about. When I founded Mister B, I decided to make our existence and our pride visible. I deliberately chose for a shop with big open window panes, so everybody could see what was for sale inside. That turned against us a bit through all the straight tourists in Amsterdam. Especially the loudly gawking and staring ones. When some came buffooning in to laugh and stare it was annoying. When organizing sex parties back then you had to be careful about the true nature of the events and agree on everything and you’d need permits for everything, later that was less of a problem. New problems presented in the form of drug abuse in the scene with all it’s associated health problems. For those organizing events the association with or risks from drug use mad it quite hard. Yet by supporting the scene, by participation in Gay Pride parades with our own boats and the co-organization of leather prides Mister B became a succes. As a result, we could build a well-running webshop and a wholesale division that supplies some 500 other companies with nice and beautiful things.
Did you experience many difficulties in the experience of your fetish, both individually and in the fetish scene or in the gay scene in general? And beyond? By contrast, are there times where you have experienced support from the community?
Did you experience many difficulties in the experience of your fetish, both individually and in the fetish scene or in the gay scene in general? And beyond? By contrast, are there times where you have experienced support from the community?
The flip side of being well-known is that you no longer have privacy. Experience your fetish also needs a bit of personal space. If people only regard you as a walking company that can be continued to be asked questions or be conquered because of what you are instead of who you are even in the darkroom, that robs some of the pleasure. It made me enjoy sex and fetish life more in private with my partner. In the “regular” business world I was, of course, always seen as an outsider because of my appearance and clothing, but through the reputation of Mister B and it’s involvement with society I ultimately came to be respected even there.
In the first years of Mister B I noticed tremendous support from the gay leather, rubber and sm scene. Clients liked to come back and supported the company. Problems were never so dire that I had to fall back on that support except in the very beginning. Back then the city of Amsterdam didn’t agree with the nature of the new fetish and lifestyle company, so they wanted to shut down the sex shop as they saw it. Fortunately people from the scene publicized this intention, causing support in the press for this beautiful new shop so that the local government abandoned their plans.
You are now retired. Do you notice that age plays a role in the fetish scene and has that been positive or negative for you?
I’ve been completely retired for a couple of years now and no longer remain at Mister B. In the last few years before that, I physically noticed that managing a large company was getting too cumbersome. The burden of work got me in hospital for several days every year with varying annoying ailments. My body signaled me that I was stretching beyond my limits. After saying goodbye to Mister B I’ve had no more problems whatsoever. My husband was also able to retire, so now we can enjoy our free life to the fullest. We enjoy life in the Amsterdam Watergraafsmeer and enjoy traveling with our camper to sunny places a couple of times a year. We enjoy the heat, nature, rest and the good life. Of course people still know me. When we go to a party like Darklands in Antwerp, many people are happy to see me again an talk. It’s nice to then wander around in one of the outfits. I don’t mind that some don’t know me anymore or don’t want to know me anymore.
Given your unique perspective, are there things you can advise or recommend to youngsters who are now taking their first steps in the fetish scene?
I remember all too well how much effort it took me to discover and accept myself. After that, I always fought for accepting everyone as they are. Even though it might not seem like an issue anymore, it still is quite hard for lots of people to accept their own sexual interests, especially when that is rather different from the norms at school or in society. The pressure of the community and faith is still very present for many. Yet all you can do is accept yourself the way you were put on this earth. If you want to live a happy life, then you cannot accept to play a part that is untrue to yourself and limiting. Be proud of what you feel and how you want to live. This advise is of course limited by some illegal and unwanted things like sex with children or excessive drug use. Sexuality should always take place with consent and in confidence without anyone being harmed. So dare to discover yourself and be yourself. You can be proud of that!
How are you experiencing this lockdown in times of corona? What do you miss the most? What are you looking forward to when the measures disappear?
We now live in times that are incredibly different for everbody. In many ways it looks like the AIDS period. Back then nobody knew what caused or transmitted the disease. People went out of their way to avoid gay people. Everybody was afraid to get sick from just touching or kissing. Being sick of AIDS was just as incapacitating as being sick with COVID with the absolute certainty that after many weeks or months you’d die in horrible way, completely derelict. It was indescribable. Nu people are usually recovering in a few days or weeks. Only the recovery period, even for younger people, can be quite long. Hopefully each of the sometimes serious residual symptoms will eventually reside. Some people think that this disease isn’t such a threat, especially because they don’t see it in their (younger) environment. They don’t consider it that important for themselves and want to resume normalcy again. Therefor, they don’t want to bother with the security measures. This means that sometimes older people are more at risk of becoming seriously ill or death. Especially in the coming winter this might get seriously out of hand.
I long for the moment that I no longer have to worry for my health and possibly dying soon from infection. That would also reopen the possibility of freely moving and going on holiday again. Until then we’ll have to respect the one-and-a-half meter society and only enjoy our home and garden.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
In ten years I’ll be 80. I hope to still be fit and to be able to enjoy going away with the camper or go cycling. Maybe I won’t, but still go to a concert hall to enjoy a concert or visit a museum. Eating out or visiting friends will still be an enjoyment. As long as I can keep my wonderful relationship with my husband Peter, we’ll, if we succeed, have been enjoyingly together for 48 years.
Anything else you’d like to share?
What I have learned in life is that love and understanding of everyone is a necessity. You should allow yourself that too. Everyone, straight/gay/trans/fetish/thin/fat/black/white/young or old, however you are, is just as valuable and deserving of pride of his or her existence as he or she works on that. Others oughtn’t judge that but should accept everyone with respect. You are the measure of your existence.
Thank you very much for your time, Wim!Close this story
Known throughout the fetish scene. Mister Leather judge. Lady? Today we're talking to Leena. Let's dive in!Open/close this story
It’s an honor to have you here for #WeAreFetish. You are often being seen at many international Fetish Events, but for those who don’t know you, Who is Leena ?
I live in Helsinki, Finland. I see myself as a common lady, who is really interested in people, no matter who you are. People and friends are very important to me. I think the next lines will give you the answers.
For how long have you been around in the scene and what brought you into the Fetish community? What makes Fetish interesting to you?
I have been in this scene since 2016. I have always had gay friends, but when my best friend became Mr Fetish Finland 2016, I started to travel with him. My first trip was to Nice in November 2016. I asked the organizers if I could come with my friend. They said yes! So this was my first fetish event and I had a very warm welcome. After that I went to London, Padova, Berlin and so on. In the beginning I asked is it was ok if I came. Because there weren't any ladies in those events. Nowadays there are a few. So these events were wonderful: I could meet different people from different countries. I loved it and I still love it. There is so much love and care in these events. I even started traveling alone to events.
After some trips to Europe I was judging Mr Leather or Fetish competitions in Rome, Barcelona and Milan. My main topics are spreading the joy and pushing more diversity and tolerance to the fetish scene. I think I did something good, because I was awarded with a sash: Miss "titleholder" Best Friend Europe 2019 at Folsom Berlin. But I noticed soon, that a straight woman between gay men is still something strange.
The gay fetish scene is usually a male dominated circuit. Have you ever witnessed any negative comments towards you being present at events? And what is your response to that?
People have been friendly to me. I have been told that some people have been asked what I'm doing there or that I don't belong there. Those people don't ask or tell me directly. I wonder why. If they ask, I will tell them and I will talk with them. I'm not going to displace the gay scene or I'm not going into the darkrooms. I don't have any interest in that. If I feel something negative around me, I just smile and go to talk to the people. I just behave normally. And that works. By the way, nowadays I don't have to ask the organizers if I can come. They ask me if I want to come.
Tom of Finland was and still is a big source of inspiration for Leather kinksters around the globe. How is his art and power experienced in Finland? Does it feel like a national Pride?
I am very proud of Tom of Finland. Touko Laaksonen was a great artist. In my opinion Finns should be more proud of him and appreciate his art. His drawings are amazing. There should have been an exhibition this year in Finland to celebrate his 100 year birthday. But unfortunately there isn't any. It is in Estonia, Tallinn.
Everyone knows Tom of Finland in Europe and everyone should see the movie. Seeing that helps us to understand Finnish gay history.
We are slowly getting out of COVID-restrictions. Are you already planning on your next Fetish trips?
Yes, I'm planning. Maybe nothing this Autumn. I hope right away next year. I have so many events where I want to go and I was invited. But I'm looking forward to go to Chicago in May to judge the International Mr Leather 2021!
Thank you Leena!Close this story
We talk to Dries, a young, handsome, pansexual pup into bondage and kink. He survived cancer, lives with a stoma, but is still alive and kicking and kinky! Let's hear his story!Open/close this story
Can you give an introduction of yourself, Where do you live, work ? What do you want us to know about you?
My name is Dries but in the fetish world most will know me by the name Spunk. I started out as a sub about 8 years ago, tried puppy play in 2016 and transitioned to being a rigger around late 2017. These days I am much more interested in being more Dominant.
Can you tell us something about your fetish life and journey?
My Fetish journey really went in three big stages.
First I discovered the BDSM scene through porn stories and a leap in the dark via a dating website. I met a somewhat older couple (Man and Woman which is perfect for a Bisexual/pansexual as myself) they introduced me to many things. Nipple play, pain, Submission and many other “basic” BDSM concepts. It was very enjoyable!
After a few years this sizzled out through planning difficulties ( it was hard to find moments where all three of us had an opening in our busy calendars) and a Chronically immune condition I developed.
The last play session we did I walked away with a bad feeling that I couldn’t really place. I took some time off and started to meet up at a local fetish talk night. Just hanging out with people my age really made me feel more accepted in a way. I didn’t play anymore though.
Around that time I discovered Tumblr! There I found out about puppy play! The gear looked cute and cool ! I got interested and started roaming the internet. I rebooted my very old fetlife account, started to google many fetish terms and found Mister B through that. I pupped out in public at a mixed puppy/ageplay event (never been that deep in headspace ever since) and eventually had the balls to walk into the boots. On my first few nights, I met people I still am good friends with today. Along the way, I started a Facebook group for Belgian puppies that is still going!
This led me into going to darklands and meeting more and more people. I could keep on going on about my journey but that would take up many more pages I think so I’ll leave it at that.
Do you feel like you've grown in how you experience fetish?
II’ve grown a lot through all of this. I always like being different but in my teenage years I never really had the balls to act upon those feelings. Now I have a mohawk, have my first piercing, dress more unique/daring! I never cared what people thought of me but hearing from other people I looked great and “rock” a certain outfit really did make me push my limits.
In a more play-based way I’ve grown too. From being almost exclusively sub to 80% Dom is a giant leap for many. It started with an interest in rope bondage and all the other things came almost naturally after that. If I tied someone up I needed something to keep me and them busy. So I dived into things like nipple clamps, paddles, and edging.
You have, at your young age, lived through cancer. Can you tell us something about that?
Well, it all happened very suddenly. I already had some experience with hospitals, doctors, etc because of my previously mentioned condition. But my condition was improving. It just slowly started to become more and more of a problem. They scheduled an examination, that same day they told me to come back for a CT scan as they found an obstruction that prevented a full examination. Me being the optimist I didn’t expect anything serious. After this, it went very quickly. After a very early morning and a CT scan later the bomb was dropped: I had colon cancer that was metastasized to my liver. A few hours later and a transfer to the oncology consultation I was to be operated on the next day. Luckily my mother went to the hospital with me that day We called my father who drove over with some clothing and other stuff for my first night in the hospital. The next day around 8 am I was being wheeled away to the operation room. I woke up some hours later without a colon, a morphine pump going into my spine, a stoma on my belly, and intermittent nausea. I stayed in the hospital for about a week, stayed home with my parents, and started chemotherapy 3 weeks later. That lasted from May until November (I moved into my own house in august). In January we elected to go with immunotherapy since I was a very good candidate and results were very promising.
Have you been confronted with negativity or discrimination because of that? within the community or outside of it?
II haven’t had any major difficulties, but that has a lot to do with the fact that it takes a lot for me to play with someone in real life. I very much enjoy meeting people but to play with them I really need to get to know them and have that “spark”. So even before we get that intimate we will have chatted a lot and you will already know about it.
Practically it isn’t that much of a bother. I compare it to someone with bad knees. They might not be able to sit on their knees for a long time but there are ways around that and it makes no difference in their headspace if it really works. I for example can’t bottom during anal intercourse. This has forced me to try topping more and focus on stuff like oral! It’s Awesome!!!
The bag did irritate me in photos in the beginning but I’ve gotten used to it since then and post whether or not you can see it.
I got a lot of support from other ostomates being confident in showing their bag online. 2 in particular really inspired me! The day I saw them post a pic of their bags really filled my heart! In general, I also learned that if I don’t make a big deal about it others won’t either.
I went on a kinky weekend with friends in Germany and there was a pool. I spent the first day completely naked and jumping in and out of the pool. No one cared! It was good to see that nothing had really changed between me and them! Of course, there might be people who will be a dick about it but hey they’re not worth my time and attention!
Outside my kink life, it’s even easier. I don’t spend that much time without a shirt on and all my close friends and family know that it brings limitations. But it doesn’t really affect them! So life has gone on and even improved!
How are you living these Corona-times ? work, privately, lockdown ? And what are you missing the most. What are you looking forward to when the lockdown is over?
The biggest hurdle is that I can’t meetup or invite friends over. I live on my own and video chats only go so far. I was damn happy when measures got loosened a bit I finally could meet up with one person. It was great to finally have some actual interaction with another person.
I am looking forward to visiting all my friends again. I know a big amount of kinksters in The Netherlands and since the border is shut I really miss some of them.
But I still need to look out. Since my medication is somewhat new the medical community isn’t sure what all of the effects are in combination with Covid-19 so I’ve been advised to avoid big groups of people. So right now my bubble really is that one person.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
That’s a big question! I’m not really sure… Still alive and kicking. Happy with my situation. Back at work. Visiting some more international kink events maybe?
Do you have any wisdom to share with our readers?
For people afraid to approach anyone who is different I would tell them not to be afraid. If you show respect and genuine curiosity it’s okay to ask anything. Respect people regardless of age, race, gender, preference, and try not to be an asshole!
Thank you Dries! Readers interested in getting in contact with Dries, that they can find you through your instagram account: @pupspunk, your twitter: @pupspunk, or through your recon profile: pupantwerpClose this story
We talk to Allen, your typical leatherman. Only he's happily married to his wife, has kids, and visits church regularly. Let's dive in!Open/close this story
Can you give an introduction of yourself, Where do you live, work ? What do you want us to know about you?
Many people on here ask me why I use the name "weavingcowboy." I do a lot of work with textiles. I weave (hence the "weaving" part), knit, spin, dye and sew. Textiles give me a lot of joy. The "cowboy" part is much more obvious. I am addicted to cowboy boots, and have been ever since I used to see the "cool kids" at school wear boots when I was in high school. I really wanted a pair very much, but I was a nerd, and shy, so I was scared to ask for a pair from my parents. But somehow I got up the courage and got a pair for Christmas that year. I still have them and wear them sometimes. Now I have over 90 pairs. I wear them every single day. The only time I am not in boots is when I am running.
Every single day? Even to work?
Yes. I am in Jr. High music education. My students like my boots a lot. And they don't mess with me, ever. Well, you must live in Texas. No. Western NY state isn't exactly boot country.
Surely you don't wear leather to school!
I have worn leather publicly for about 18 months. I don't wear leather every day to work, but at least a few times a week. There is no reason to be afraid of wearing something that everybody else doesn't wear. I've worn a full leather suit to school concerts even. My principal likes my leather. Again, kids don't screw around with a leather dude.
Do I ever get negativity when I wear leather? No. Really. Women are very complimentary. Men don't say much but you see the looks of envy. Some guys will look at me with a half-sneer: half "what the heck" and half "wow." Only once did I get a look of scorn. That was from a female parent at a concert. She didn't say anything. But the look of disgust was obvious. Oh well. Can't please everyone.
You are living a religious life. How do you combine your fetish with religion? Can you tell something about how you live your religion? Did you get any negative reaction about it? Do you now other religious fetishists?
I also wear leather to church. Yes, church. I serve two churches as organist, and I am a Christian. During the cooler months I wear a leather suit to church. Does anyone run after me with Holy Water and try to exorcise me? No. Do people hide their children from the guy in the Muir cap? No. I do not get any negativity. I haven't even noticed any from church visitors. I firmly believe that there is nothing evil or sinful about wearing leather to church. It is a textile. Leather does not make you "bad" (yes, it makes you feel badass) and wearing leather does not exclude you from being a man of very deep faith. The only thing people at church will ask me is "aren't leather pants warm?" One Anglican priest was highly envious of my badass church clothes. He used to tell me, "I wish I could wear that to church." I always told him, "You can."
Some people ask me if my family is supportive of my boots and leather. I am very fortunate indeed. Both my wife and sons are supportive. Boots especially are a bit of a family joke. "They are going to overtake the house!" "Not another pair!" Boots and leather are just part of who I am.
Have you been confronted with negativity, discrimination? within the community? How did you react to that? What with the social media-hype of shouts, challenges, ...
It is interesting too that the leather community has welcomed me so well, given that I am not the typical leatherdude. Honestly, I have not gotten treated negatively at all. Of course, I may have a bit of a tiff with this one or that, but who doesn't? If I ever argue with someone it is because I want them to work to being inclusive of all leather folk, not just the cool kids or the ones with the perfect bodies and perfect gear. As a person who was severely bullied as a kid, I know what it is like to be left out or shamed. I want no one to go through that stuff.
How are you living these Corona-times ? work, privately, lockdown ? And what are you missing the most. What are you looking forward to when the lockdown is over?
We live in a strange era. The lockdown has been weird for me. I really miss my school kids and colleagues. I miss church a lot! It has been really bizarre seeing all the #workathomeinleather things on social media. I get the whole dress code thing at work, but really, guys, no one is going to arrest you if you wear a leather tie to work at the office. I hope that some guys will get over their fear of wearing their gear in public.
In closing: I am who I am. I have a complex story. I am not your typical leather guy, and maybe, because I am not, I don't have the fear that some do about being themselves. I work tirelessly to encourage those who need a bit of a push. I lived most of my life in fear of my real self. I don't want anyone to go through what I did.