Wait, you say, how does that make you the reigning QUEEN of the LEATHER COMMUNITY? It's not like there was a pageant for a tiara in the back of The Eagle. No, it's true. It's a self proclaimed title that I will happily give up when someone else demonstrates that it's their time, but for now, I'm happy to wear the invisible, lightweight and yet, sparkly as all hell crown that goes with the territory.
When I was crowned Empress of New York in 2012, I took as my personal style, "The Elemental Broadway Empress of Community, Camp and Collaboration." It took me a long time to come up with those last four words, but those are the very concepts on which I based my coronation walk, my reign and my post-reign life.
Community is critical: though Gay Inc., would have you believe that we are winning the battle for marriage equality (and the platinum band on the third finger of my left hand would serve as testament to that assertion), we are still fighting wars for trans rights, economic justice, bullying and gay youth suicide and other topics that still need our help. Sadly, the "gay" community is more fractured than ever. We don't presume to know someone just because they're gay, and there are so many options for personal style, happy hours and political causes that we almost NEVER run into each other on the street. Until we do. And are reminded through acts of violence that our community NEEDS to come together once in a while and focus on the common good.
Camp. Girl, what's a drag queen without camp? Susan Sontag wrote about it brilliantly in her essay, "Notes on Camp." (Yes, kittens, click on the link to read it.) Somehow I've managed to bring a style of camp to the leatherworld that says, "yes, boys, I'm one of you and can occupy the same space in my corset, lashes, and HEY...nice boots!" Seriously, the leather world and the drag world are exactly the same except for the definition of "lash."
Collaboration: None of us can do it alone. We all have skills, backgrounds, ideas and resources that collectively can make this possible. It's why I help fundraise for Team Eagle, it's why I'm delighted to Emcee Leather Pride Night, and it's why the shows that I produce are so much fun: collaboration between different elements.
I'm not perfect, but I am usually pretty thoughtful about things of permanence. My style is one of them, and I take it very seriously. But with plenty of camp.
So, that said, I hope you'll help me collaborate in the coming week as we celebrate leather pride at LPNXXXI and Folsom Street East! I'll be looking for you to do your part, whether that's showing up fabulous or dropping $2,000 at an auction or both!!