Titleholder Blog: Leather's Classism Conundrum

Posted by Victoria, SFBB 2018 on 17 July 2018
Categories: TitleholderBlog   SFBB2018

RealTalk. it is not easy to be a leather titleholder and be poor.

i have shit to say that folks need to hear, my presence alone challenges conventions and creates conversation, and my visibility can encourage other folks to take up the space they deserve. so i will continue to show up, i will keep investing in this process because i believe that what i am doing is important. also, it’s pretty fucking fun.

but when i was running for SFBB, the sense of dread i felt about what the FUCK i was gonna wear and how many outfits i needed and how i could get my hands on some more leather before the contest was ever-present. and after i won, when folks jested about how i had to “get some leathers,” and when i got feedback about how as a bootblack, i should probably wear more boots, i felt discouraged and unwelcome. seriously? like, are you buying?

i knew that i deserved my title because i showed the best of myself and earned that shit! yet and still, to some, none of that was enough to make up for the fact that the looks i was turning weren’t what the people wanted to see.

as i look ahead to the rest of my year, i think about the sacrifices i will make in order to show up to the places where my presence is most impactful (either for myself or for others). i think about the careful calculations: (how many volunteer hours & bootblacking shifts i can fit in )➕ (how much my back/body is actually up for) ✖️ (actually having the time/energy to still represent myself and my title) and my head hurts.

and when i look forward and think about what’s next for me, and consider that thing that happens in April, i begin to feel those familiar waves of dread again.

the fuck would i wear? what do i already have that can be augmented will smaller leather pieces that are maybe accessible to me? can my substance, skills, and personality once again shine bright enough to make up for the fact that i will likely never be able to afford head-to-toe formals? (and honestly, even if i did have the money for them, i’d more than likely still spend it on something else like getting out of debt or just give it to my parents who have supported me through this new poverty adventure.) not to mention all the new questions/worries that would come up if i won!

a person’s wealth is not an indicator of the content of their heart, their sense of integrity, the drive they have to create a world where we can all flourish, or their ability to speak passionately about this community that binds us; and those are the things that i believe a title holder should have.

and then there’s the guilt. well maybe if the title system is so difficult for me to participate in, i just shouldn’t do it right? or at least wait until things are more comfortable? (HA)

but… fuck that noise right?

a person’s wealth is not an indicator of the content of their heart, their sense of integrity, the drive they have to create a world where we can all flourish, or their ability to speak passionately about this community that binds us; and those are the things that i believe a title holder should have.

so why do we tie these substantive traits to someone’s possession of the resources to present themselves in “the right way” and show up & out at all the things?

some of us are poor. some of us didn’t grow up in a setting where we could establish relationships with mentor-types who might gift us leathers or allow us to earn them. some of us have families who we are committed to (be those commitments financial, emotional, or investments of time) regardless of their level of acceptance/understanding of our “lifestyle.” some of us have careers that we are dedicated to (idealistically, financially, both or neither) that we cannot/will not put on hold simply because there is other work we want to do too.

Run for a title however works for you.

if so many of us occupy one or more of these boats, but ALSO still have what it takes to represent our community, maybe we should be thinking about how to bridge this gap? (hint: we should)

so yeah, if you’ve ever thought about running for a title and then dismissed it because pieces of your life don’t fit into the titleholder equation, who fucking cares? run for a title and don’t buy a single new piece of gear. run for a title and then make your boundaries clear about the other commitments in your life. run for a title and don’t go to events that won’t work with you to make participation accessible for you.

run for a title however works for you.

and to the folks who hold the keys to the title system: the onus shouldn’t be on us (the disenfranchised) to make the system work for us. the system should change to be more accessible to the community it serves. -visibly prioritize the aspects of your title that you are passionate about. -tell your judges what key-traits you want your titleholders to have. -make the travel requirements for your title known to all and not just the folks who sign the contract so your titleholders don’t get accused of being lazy when they’re not at every single event.

the title system can be an amazing and beautiful tool for creating change and goodness in this community of ours, but only if it’s accessible to EVERYONE in the community. we can do better.

#SFBB2018 #firstbootblackofWakanda #reclaimingmytime

San Francisco Bootblack 2018 Victoria!

Posted by Contest Producers on 04 March 2018

Last night, Victoria earned the title of San Francisco Bootblack 2018, after a fiercely close competition between the three contestants. This was such an amazing first year of San Francisco Bootblack. We are all incredibly excited to see what all of the contestants do in the months and years ahead. All of the contestants should be very proud of what they put forth on that stage this weekend.

Victoria’s speech garnered a standing ovation from the audience, while Kenzi’s moved a few to tears, Camryn left the audience contemplative. Every contestant impacted the crowd last night. The crowd was buzzing about the contest all weekend.

We are all looking forward to see what Victoria does this year with the San Francisco Bootblack tile. We know you will represent this title well.

Matt Welch, contestant number 4, earned the title of Mr San Francisco Leather completing the 2018 San Francisco Leather Title Family. Victoria and Matt join Haley as this years ambassadors for our community.

Open Interview Schedule Announced

Posted by Contest Producers on 27 February 2018

The open interview schedule is finalized. All interviews will take place at SF Catalyst - 1060 Folsom St. The Interviews are open to the public this year, and completely free.

Come out and support the contestants!


  • No cell phones allowed.
  • The room will be emptied after each interview with a short break.
  • No entry once the interview has started will be allowed.
  • No audience participation.
  • Luch is only provided for contestants, judges, and staff.
  • All others will be asked to clear the room during Lunch. We suggest a quick trip to Wicked Grounds, which is just over a block away.

Tickets On Sale

Posted by SF Bootblack Producer on 12 February 2018

Tickets for the 2018 San Francisco Bay Area Leather Alliance Weekend, including the Mr. San Francisco Leather 2018 Contest, the San Francisco Bootblack 2018 Contest, and the San Francisco Leather Community Awards are now on sale here.

We recommend the “Weekend Package” for $119. This includes the Friday Formal Dinner and Awards (VIP seating, first to be served, close to the stage, 2 drink tickets), the Saturday night Mr. San Francisco Leather 2018 and San Francisco Bootblack 2018 Contests (VIP seating, 2 drink tickets), the Saturday night Victory Play Party, the Sunday Victory Beer Bust, the Weekend T-shirt, the Contest pin, and access to the Saturday workshops and vendor mart.

A la carte ticket purchases are also available:

  • $40 Friday Formal Dinner
  • $10 Friday Awards only – no dinner
  • $30 Contest – general seating (in advance)
  • $35 Contest – general seating (at the door)
  • $20 Play Party (in advance)
  • $25 Play Party (at the door)
  • $2 Drink tickets (see details below)

Scholarships are available! You can donate towards making the parts of the weekend available to a community member who can’t afford all or part of the event. Please email lawscholarships@leatheralliance.org to arrange to donate funds to help someone get to the event, or simply make a donation when you buy your own advance tickets. Want to attend but short on funds? Email the same address for information on reduced priced tickets, made possible by the funds donated.

Drink Tickets

Drink tickets are $2 per ticket. Soda or water cost 1 ticket, beer or wine 2 tickets, spirits 3 tickets. If you buy 2 drink tickets in advance, you get one additional free ticket at the door.

Beer Bust

The “Victory Beer Bust” will be held at the San Francisco Eagle, 398 12th Street at Harrison. This San Francisco Sunday afternoon tradition has a regular price of $15, which includes a plate of delicious food and all the beer or soda you care to drink, from 3 to 6 pm. Admission is 21+ only.

All other Leather Alliance Weekend events are for folks age 18+ only.


The Saturday daytime events (judges’ interviews, workshops, and vendor mart) are free and open to all.

All tickets are “will call”, and may be picked up at the registration table at SOMArts on Friday or Saturday. Tickets will be held in the name of the purchaser. Please bring ID. You do NOT need to print out or bring your purchase receipt.

Leather Alliance Weekend proceeds benefit the programs of the SF Bay Area Leather Alliance, an all-volunteer 501(c)3 organization. Please visit www.leatheralliance.org for more info on our programs and events.

Meet Your 2018 Contestants At Bay Area Bootlab

Posted by SF Bootblack Producer on 07 February 2018

With only 4 weeks to go until the first San Francisco Bootblack titleholder will be chosen, we know you want to meet the contestants. Come meet the contestants

All three of our contestants will be there hanging out, meeting all of you, and prepping for their upcoming run. The Boot Brunch and Open Leather Lounge hosted by The Bay Area Bootlab. The monthly skill share and leather care lounge is held every month at SF Catalyst, 1060 Folsom Street, San Francisco.

Facebook Event Link