In response to the recent changes to the International Leather Sir/boy Competition, The Men of ONYX have released the following statement:
Dear Leather Community,
The Men of ONYX write to you to share our thoughts on some recent major changes to the International Leather SIR/boy contests. ONYX was founded in 1995 in Chicago by five Men of Color to provide education, fraternization and serve as a bridge for Men of Color to the greater Leather community and to build a safe space amongst Men of Color. This safe space idea came about due to the lack of camaraderie in the leather community amongst other Men of Color, as well as the discrimination experienced by some People of Color in the Leather community. ONYX has always been a space where People of Color who are male-identified have come to begin their leather journey, build safe spaces, engage in dialogue about leather and kink, and educate community members about the challenges and barriers we face in our lives. Therefore, it is disheartening to learn of the
decision to exclude Trans Men by the new leadership of the International Leather SIR/boy contests.
Before, during, and after the Compton Cafeteria Riots in 1966, and the Stonewall Riots in 1969, Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning (LGBTQ) folks have been fighting for our rights. LGBTQ People have been fighting for a space to be themselves without fear, to seek community and understanding, and to live in a world free of prejudice and violence. We applaud all of the people who have fought for those rights and celebrate those in our very own Leather Community who were a part of these movements. In spite of this, we ask the question: How can we continue to build community, love and support one another, and live our lives in a safe, sane, and consensual way, when members of our very own community are being left out and excluded from making history? Transgender people face a wide variety of discrimination. Many people have a lack of understanding of what it means to be transgender. The Men of ONYX are both witnesses and victims of this discrimination, having a club that is inclusive of and welcoming to Trans-identified members.
ONYX is very proud to have several Trans men who are Full and Associate members of our organization, including several who hold leadership positions. It is with pride that we note the achievement of our Trans brother, Mr. Southeast Leather Fest 2013. This inclusive and affirmative space is part of ONYX’s mission, which includes educating those who may have a misunderstanding about the Trans community!
We denounce any form of transphobia in this community and the idea that Trans men cannot identify as gay men or any other identity. The statement that the titles of Leather Sir and Leatherboy belong to the gay male community implies that Trans men cannot be gay men. As we continue to break down the stereotypes of the Leather community and how the world views us, we must educate ourselves and our community on those who would seek the same safe space we all desire and deserve. We understand that the eligibility requirements to compete for the title of International Leather SIR/boy rest with the leadership of ILSb, however we do not support this decision. Therefore, we call upon the leadership of the International Leather SIR/boy contests to reconsider the changes to
its policies, and give Trans folk the right to self- identify and continue to make history.
In Leather and Love,
ONYX National Council