Everyone has their own day — legit, every one. In 2009, some members of the BDSM community adopted the third Friday of each year as International Fetish Day. The point: to increase awareness and support of their various communities. So while that community currently is under siege, having their online spaces continuously censored and erased, we asked five international fetish holders to write about of the state of their community in an address to those communities and the greater publicly.
International Mr Leather 2019 James Lee
Leather: a family, a community, a brotherhood, and a way of life. Kinky and free, unashamed, strong in personality. This is where I learned that one should not chase diversity and inclusion, but to instead, be it. They say we are divided in community, but our intersectionality has proven otherwise. Our values of community and family run deep and one of our most precious treasures is simply being one's authentic self. While exploring our radical sexualities we are also the educators for empowering those without a voice and showing them the ways of living their best lives.
In my travels as International Mr. Leather, I've seen great examples of community and brotherhood. When we reach out, we do so with open hearts and minds letting people know that we are there with an army of support and we care enough to see them succeed. These actions are what makes our whole community unbreakable; race, gender, background, and experiences are but artillery. Love, patience, and perseverance are the catalysts that hold our foundations strong. We are growing, and we will not be stopped by ignorance, or just accepted by tolerance. Effort in equals success out. Be the change you want to see; bring it to reality. Why chase diversity and inclusion with it should be chasing you?
International Ms. Bootblack Teagan Widmer
My fellow kinksters and leather folk. The state of our fetish communities is strong, but at risk. Our fetish communities are but a microcosm of the larger society. The current US political climate has created vast inequities for racial, sexual, gender, socio-economic, and both visible and invisibly disabled minorities. We enact these same inequities in our communities even though we like to pretend that we are more enlightened. Like the political climate in the United States, our scene has been highly partisan and had many divisions over the years. We must increasingly take an intersectional approach to the way we organize community. Those who have easy access to our play spaces, conferences, and gear nights must do more to increase access for everyone. Our communities are stronger together and weaker when separate. We are losing our spaces, our funding, and our ability to be ourselves. And we are at risk of faltering.
And yet, we have the strength to persevere. For our scene to survive we must learn to truly listen to each other. We are so incredibly strong when we are able to come together as a community and put aside our egos. But to do this we must assume the best intentions. When events are criticized, this is not an attempt to destroy, it's an attempt to cause growth. If leather people are good at anything: it's personal growth. My kinks and fetishes have grown 100-fold. I'm into a myriad of things I once never thought I would be. We have the skills we need to grow and expand our horizons. Now we just need to execute.
International Ms. Leather 2018 Girl Ang
For me this year, new family members popped up from all corners of the earth, the overwhelming love and hugs have made my arms grow 3 feet to accommodate. My ability to throw floggers has been practiced however progress is slow, I suggest to my bottoms they wrap their shirt around their neck for legit reasons! My desire to see masculine bodies in feminine lacy panties has increased insurmountably. Community shared their laughter, tears, food and time with me, now they are family and hold a place in my heart.
I’ve seen community become more welcoming of trans people. Gender existing on a spectrum has become more visible and understood. More Ms and Mx titles have begun. Consent became sexy, explored and enthusiastically mandatory. Heartache rocked our community many times over. We held each other, people grew together, we persisted, we learned.
Change can equal growth. That choice is ours.
Mister International Rubber Guillaume Dupuis
A very common misconception about latex is that to wear it and enjoy it, you need a certain body type. Because the material is shiny and skin-tight, it can make people very self-conscious of their bodies and how they look. As our community at large suffers from oppressive ideas of “ideal body types” that society has placed on us as well as body shaming, sometimes from our own peers, this can prove to be quite a unique internal battle to fight.
Fetish wear allows us to embrace our body, to feel sexy inside and out. This is something that I have seen often when I’ve helped people try out latex for the first time, both as a friend and as a titleholder. Latex can be (and is) for everyone, of all sizes, genders and sexual preferences; it’s all a matter of finding the right piece of latex for you. We are a diverse and beautiful community with all types of people and we should all be embracing who we are. And it’s that day, when everyone can enjoy their bodies and their own sexiness without being afraid of being shamed by someone else, that I wish for. It’s a day where we can finally enjoy all the colors of the rainbow.
IPC International Puppy 2019 Pup Havok
Our pup communities, and the puppies within it are powerful. When we get together, the energy is felt in the air and we can do anything: we are your volunteers for your events; we are boot blacks; we are teachers, and our lessons go beyond just puppy play. We are a vibrant force of good in a world that can, at times, be too harsh. We are your warriors, your emotional support animals. We are your partners. We greet you with a wagging tail and nothing but love to give. We are lesbians, trans, queer, gay and bisexual. We are men, women, and nonbinary people.
This past year as IPC International Puppy has been amazing because I get to bear witness to all the amazing things puppies and handlers are doing for our community. We are running events, we are on boards, we are judges and emcees. I don’t think you could find a more well-versed group of folks in our community and I’m proud to represent all of that and more.