Community Comment: My Leather Identity

I think many of you readers know me from either my educational presentations at lifestyle events, my unique performance art, or perhaps from watching the fetish porn I have made or modeled for. Currently, I am the reigning Great Lakes Ms. Leather Pride, but to most people I am “TheFabulous Ms CherriesJubalie.”

Community Comment is an occasional column written by community members on various topics of living a leather, bear and kink lifestyle.

Community Comment is an occasional column written by community members on various topics of living a leather, bear and kink lifestyle.

For the last two years I have been involved in our lifestyle on a path that I had no idea I was getting into when I started.  While I have presented, performed and attended events for the last 8 or 9 years, nothing prepared me for being a “Titleholder.”

Over the last six months of my title year as Great Lakes Ms. Leather Pride, I have had multiple meditation sessions over what actually constitutes my identity and true authentic self.  “Who am I and what am I supposed to be doing with this sash?”  I asked myself.

I used to be pretty flippant about who I am…I am “me.”  Seems simple enough right?  Yet some of the days over the past couple of years my identity has been damned hard to define.  The sash often told people I was one thing or another and became a barrier for some people to get through to know the real me.  Yet my title also was looked at as “outdated” or just something I wore as a fashion statement. I even had someone very well respected in the Leather community ridicule me for wearing it and making fun of the contest path I was considering.  The contradictory messages I got when I arrived at events wearing my sash made me question what people saw.

When I first ran for Ms. IL Leather Pride in 2012, I had just come out of a BAD M/s relationship.  Tragic ending, I personally didn’t know if I would stay in the kink community and was looking for a path of acceptance perhaps.  A good friend said I should run and see what happens.  That contest opened my eyes to the “back door” so to speak of the Leather community and made me realize that there was more to identity than popularity there was also “history.”  Ironically, my history made me also realize that I had no clue who my authentic self was, because people saw me as kind of a “Leather Barbie Doll.”

The IL Leather Pride contest really helped me get my 6” heels back on the ground and rebuild the foundation of my Leather soul.  Got me to think about my roots and where I came from.  I came from a motorcycle/Navy background with my dad–Redneck and all with my androgynous sexcapades growing up which sort of clouded my sense of Leather.

I am obviously not a Gay Male, though I actually played one in my first burlesque experience, so my Femme…pansexual experiences didn’t allow me to connect to that aspect of the community as other than a friend.  Though I respect that part of the lifestyle, have great strong friendships and play with members of that lifestyle regularly now.  The Title actually helped me commune with the Gay Leather Lifestyle and see the history of how we have come so damn far in my lifetime.  I am also well acquainted now with “Gay Time.”  That doesn’t work well with my OCD need to be early to be on time personality, but I have adapted.

I had hoped to use the title as a means to connect all the BDSM related communities together.  I am a Rope Rigger and Heavy Bottom, I am a Sensual Sadist and Extreme Masochist.  I am also a Bisexual who tends to prefer dominant cock.  Well actually, I don’t discriminate, I am a Try-sexual.  I will pretty much try anything at least once and more often if I like it.  So I guess I am a Femme Gender Fluid Pansexual Leather Doll.  Oh hell, categorizing is so damned hard.

I found that having a “SEX Title” will connect you to many different people.  Ooh…that time in Atlanta in the hotel room where I cuckholded my sub while being tied up, flogged, caned, and f…um okay ask me to tell you the story sometime.  In fact, after winning Great Lakes I had more sex while actually wearing the sash than you can imagine.  I think I properly christened it, and yes it has been cleaned and properly bootblacked a few times since.

But many people even in the Leather community seemed to take the attitude that Titleholding doesn’t matter.  That it was “Old Guard” and the current generation of Leather, BDSM, Kink really doesn’t care or even need the contests to make a difference.  I wore my sash to a Rope centric event and they literally went “huh?”  I didn’t run for the titles to be ridiculed, and even at and old school Leather event meet and greet I was literally scoffed at because I wore the sash.  The patronizing verbal “pat on the head” was not what I expected from a Gay Leatherman in the lifestyle for 40 plus years.

One attitude that has stood out these past two years is that while people in the community want change and to bring in the newer generation into the fold, change is too hard to deal with.  Our community identity wants to have change but still wants to hold on to the “Old Guard” mentality.  We still want to categorize ourselves not let anyone else in.  That left me to question my own identity.  Did I really want to be involved in a community in which I felt ostracized to a certain extent?

Didn’t we start with being proud to march to the beat of a different “Drummer?”  Why does my drumbeat have to match yours exactly?  If acceptance of “different” drove us to face issues from Stonewall, to fight AIDS, to DOMA—how come we want those want to come in to the lifestyle identify homogeonously?

As a Titleholder I saw both positive and negative aspects of our community.  I think it helped me see a lot more of the politics.  I am the type of person who will try to change and fix the errors I see in judgemental attitudes, especially my own.  I believe in my core that if we judge our own people for what it is that we do, then no one outside our community will take us seriously.

Recently, I have come full circle.  I step down in a few weeks as Great Lakes Ms. Leather Pride.  I am more centered from my experience as a Titleholder.  I have seen the dark side, and it doesn’t scare me.  In fact, knowing that there is a great deal of work to do in educating our community about ourselves invigorates me.  From someone who questioned her path two years ago to the strong, Switchy Sex Doll I have allowed to emerge—I have found my passion and know that my role in the Leather community will constantly redefine itself.

I don’t really need to say I am Queer, or Gay, or Femme, or a Drag Queen Diva trapped in a bio-feminine body.  For that matter, wearing a sash doesn’t define who I am authentically.  I can truly say, “I am me.”  For better or worse, it doesn’t matter what you think of me, I won’t judge because I know who I am.  I know what I like and don’t like.  And I have a passion for serving individuals and educating the community.  I learn more of my history every day and strive to help people find their authentic self and their voice like I have.

I am very proud to have served these past two years and will continue in perpetuity. Whether I wear a sash, or stand before you naked and in chains–I live by the vow of Honor, Respect, and Community.

Cherries Jubalie