In honor of Black History Month, prominent members of Atlanta’s Black leather scene discuss race, exclusion in the community, the freedom of leather, and the vision of a better future.
“My hope for the Black Atlanta Leather community is that we focus on intentional healing internally and achieving sustainable equity externally. According to Malcolm X:
‘If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there’s no progress. If you pull it all the way out that’s not progress. Progress is healing the wound that the blow made. And they haven’t even pulled the knife out much less heal the wound…’
My prayer is that we heal the wounds caused by historic systemic racism, provide salve of compassion for our present divisions and join for a better future for everyone.”
— Mstrs Dionne ‘Choc-Trei’ Henderson
“What if we didn’t have to settle?
What if we didn’t have to hide?
These are some of the questions I allowed to lead my search for a retreat center as a Black, queer, kinky sex worker/witch hosting retreats for folks that look, think, and play like I do. I am out, visible (showed my whole ass, literally, on Netflix) and easily located on Google. The number of times I have been told, after having my deposit refunded, that I am probably not a good fit for their facility affirmed my need to hide who I am to hold space for my community.
Thankfully, I was built for this. My background in non-profit management made me hear an opportunity in a ‘no,’ and after over 15 years of fundraising for communities that are often relegated to the shadows by mainstream society, I understand the need for space very differently than I might if I were privileged differently.
It is in that light that I create and hold space, knowing the way a sense of home affirms and how worthy we are of being affirmed. I know firsthand how much the worry of being outed by those who have enough financial means to build the spaces we need to retreat to can steal away bits of our humanness. No more hiding in the shadows.
Luxury. Comfort. Rest. All of that for all of us.”
“The Black Atlanta community will always have a special place in my life! I came of age in this city, still evolving as a slave, as a man of trans experience, and as a gay man. The Founding men of Onyx Southeast were welcoming and showed strength in Black faggotry, without a glimmer of shame, yet still leather. It was no doubt I wanted to be a full brother of Onyx. Atlanta is full of the history of strong Black people; let their memories continue to uplift the Black Atlanta community and let that energy flow through them to help welcome in the future.”
“The Atlanta Leather Community is diverse, persistent and evolutionary! We’re not always seen, but ALWAYS PRESENT!”
“I have been in this lifestyle a long time, and I can remember a time when the Black leather community was very underground and hidden. Over the years, I have seen this change more and more. POCs are coming forward and making themselves known through education, visibility in events and contributions and even becoming title holders. I feel this will continue even through adversity as long as we always remember to “Keep LOVE in the Lifestyle!””