Titleholder Blog: Leather's Classism Conundrum

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

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