Leather Life: BIPOC Leatherfolk, Pt. 2


Image courtesy of Twin Cities Spectrum

Interview with members of Twin Cities Spectrum, Part 2

This issue’s Leather Life column continues the discussion started last issue with members of Twin Cities Spectrum, “a club by people of color across the age, ability, sexual orientation, and gender identity spectrum, interested in leather and kink.”

Two other clubs were mentioned during this conversation. They are Twin Cities Sirens, “an inclusive leather club for trans women and trans-feminine individuals,” and Twin Cities T-Rexx, “a leather club for trans masculine identified people.”

(Interview has been edited and condensed.)

Do you feel welcome and included at community events? What could the community do to be more welcoming and inclusive?

Roxanne Anderson: I’m kind of like laughing and shaking my head because this is, you know, one of the reasons why there is Sirens and T-Rexx and Spectrum. Historically, because of racism, misogyny, sexism, white supremacy—sometimes those spaces in the larger community, be it leather or just the larger queer community, don’t feel super-welcoming to us.

Whiskey: I think if the community as a whole was interested, they would show up to meetings and events that were held by the smaller clubs. It speaks for itself, I think.

Ivan Nunez: I think the gay community at large needs to really make the effort, to Whiskey’s point, to consciously get out of their comfort zone and reach out to people. It’s going to require us to open our circles to others that are different than us. It’s not only that we as people of color may not feel welcome in some spaces and events, it’s that our community at large is not very welcoming to people. I think that we have a great opportunity here to make it better not only for people of color but for everyone.

At least for me, thriving means we participate equally and extensively as clubs, as titleholders, as organizers for events, as making a difference in our community—that we are seen, that our voices are heard and valued.

Danielle Nevels: And keep in mind when we bring up issues like this, we’re not saying the community is bad and will always be bad. We want it to change. We want to be a part of this community. That’s why we bring up things like this.

IN: We also have to keep in mind how much of a pioneer the Minnesota leather community has been. Look at how most of our leather contests have been diversified and how the rules have changed to make them accessible to a broad demographic in our community. These things are so, so unique for leather in general around the country. T-Rexx and Sirens are the only clubs of their type in the nation. There are other clubs around the country for people of color, but focused on our transgender community, not many. So we are doing great things here.

What do you want other members of the leather/BDSM/fetish community to know about you as individuals and Twin Cities Spectrum as a club?

Ashley Scott: We are dressed like you. There’s no difference—we act just like any other club. Give us a chance, come meet the members, pledge if you want to and, you know, come support us.

How do you all feel about voting? We have elections coming up. Is it worth voting, or do you feel it’s not going to make any difference?

W: Excuse my language, but fucking vote. My life depends on it. So many other people’s lives depend on it. You gotta vote.

AS: Yeah, you gotta vote, even if you have just given up on everything and think, I’m not gonna vote because it’s not going to change anything. That’s why things aren’t changing—because you’re not helping people make the change. You definitely need to vote so that you can be heard.

DN: I would say vote, but don’t let that be the end.

Anna Meyer: Voting is one piece of what everybody should be doing. We have a system that’s in place that impacts our lives daily, and those of our communities. It’s important that we make the system that’s here the best it can be.

I’m going to add that folks should get counted for the census. It’s really important for folks to vote and also to participate in the census and not leave us undercounted or underrepresented anywhere.

RA: Vote, fill out your census and get to know your elected officials. The democratic process is one that we can access more than when it’s time to vote. Make sure that your elected officials know how you stand. It’s important. That’s how they make their decisions.

IN: Yeah, 100 percent vote, and vote every single time. Vote for your club leadership, your neighborhood organization, your school board, vote for everything. Change happens in your immediate local community, so it’s not just voting in the national elections. It is voting in the things that sometimes affect us the most.

Final thoughts?

AS: When this [the killing of George Floyd and subsequent protests] happened I was sitting in my living room with my dog, tears streaming down my face, because I had noticed I had stopped walking my dog in fear of things going on. Because of where I live, and me being a black man, I have to be scared walking at a certain time because of the color of my skin. Other people cannot grasp that concept, but the fact that they can’t grasp that concept means that there’s something wrong.

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