Moonrise Kingdom

MOON_0216

Goddess Moon, winner of the Ms. Los Angeles  Leather 2016 Contest, on human sexuality and  representing women and people of color.

BY BRENDEN SHUCART   |   PHOTO BY ROBERT GREEN, MOTORBOOT PHOTOGRAPHY

First of all—congratulations on your victory. You are the inaugural holder of the newly reborn Ms. Los Angeles Leather title—how does it feel?

It feels amazing! I’m still a little bit in shock, but I’m really excited for what this year will bring and the opportunity to represent Los Angeles.

You are the first person in 17 years to hold this title, I’m curious about two things; What does this victory mean for you personally, and what does this title mean for your community?

For me personally, it’s a great opportunity to represent not only the BDSM community of Los Angeles, but also women and people of color. We definitely are making strides toward making our own space and having a voice within the BDSM community—both women and people of color—and I think by having a title-holder who represents this large portion of our community … gives others the ability to dream, to say “yes. This community is for me and represents me.” That’s a wonderful opportunity.

A leather heart is about giving. It’s the absolute ability to give and support and to love  your brothers and sisters without expecting anything in return. 

When you were coming into the BDSM community were there people who looked like you? Who represented you? Did you have leaders and mentors that you recognized?

When I first came into the community there were very few people of color out and about.  Over the years it has grown immensely, to where we are holding our own space. Are there people who feel like they don’t have a space within the L.A. BDSM/Leather community? Yes. And that is what I, and groups like Onyx that was started out here last year, and others, are trying to let people know “There is a space for you. You are welcome within the broader community.”

I have had friends, persons of color who are active within the Leathermen community, who have experienced a lot of racial tension, and a sense of not always feeling entirely welcome. Have you experienced a similar tension within the Women’s community?

I have not felt that. I’ve been very fortunate in who I’ve been able to connect with in both communities. The women that I’ve met, the women that I’ve connected with, the women that I consider family have always been very welcoming. Can there be tension? Yes. I fortunately haven’t felt it. Even the men have been very welcoming for the most part.

And I think with the start of Onyx, those tensions which have been felt are definitely decreasing because we are holding our own space and saying “We’re here,” because like it or not, we are here. So get used to it, we aren’t going anywhere…” [laughs]

Let’s shift gears a little bit. I want to talk about how you came to identify as part of the leather community. First of all, I don’t think I’ve ever explicitly asked you; how do you identify sexually?

[Laughs]… I’m a black-bisexual-Wiccan-dominate-switch. That’s all of my labels wrapped into one.

Where did you grow up? What’s your origin story?

I was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland—in the summer of ‘79—to a very uber-catholic West Indian family. My mom’s side of the family is from Trinidad and Tobago. I am part of the first generation of Trinidadian Americans in my family. My dad is Southern, he was born in North Carolina.

When I was 10 my mom got sick and tired of what was going on in her life and moved she and I to California. First to Fullerton, then to the beautiful city of Irvine. That’s where I live today.

So how did you come to be a part of the leather community?

I took a Human Sexuality course in college. The professor was awesome in that she would have panels come in for whatever topic we were talking about. So if we were talking about porn she had porn stars come in and we’d be able to ask them questions, for the gay community we had PFLAG and members of the campus gay-straight alliance come in and speak, for BDSM she had members of the Leather community come in and talk about how they got their start, and how long they’ve been a part of the community, and what their favorite fetishes were. And they had a show and tell of their favorite toys.

When I took the class one of the gentlemen brought in what looked like a metal tennis racket—actually an electric flyswatter which, in the community, we use for electricity play—and he went around the room asking if anyone wanted to try it. Of course I did, and I said “Oooh! That was fun! Do it again!”

After the class the professor told me that there were some people I should meet. People I aught to talk to. The people she was talking about were an organization called the Orange County Leather Assembly. They did workshops and presentations, and some of the members held private play parties. That’s where I started back in 1999.

I met a wonderful woman, and I was of service to her—a collared submissive—for two and a half years. When I had learned all I could learn from her she gifted me a pair of boots and sent me on my way. She said “I’ve gotten you where I can get you, it’s time to spread your wings and fly.”

So I started with Leather, but later I moved more into the Kink community … but there was this gradual progression back into the Leather scene, realizing that the people i was hanging out with, the events I was supporting, the place I was going—they were all Leather.

About six years ago I was having a conversation with someone and they asked me, “What do you think of the women’s Leather community?” And I said “I guess it’s okay. I don’t know, I’m not really Leather.” And they said “Yes you are. You have a leather heart.”

What is a leather heart?

A leather heart is about giving. It’s the absolute ability to give and support and to love  your brothers and sisters without expecting anything in return. And it took me couple of years to see that that was me. And still sometimes I struggle with this, because I don’t see anything I do for my community as anything of grandeur or greatness.

What do you do?

I talk to the wallflower who is just sitting back and observing, I try to get to know them and make them feel included, because I don’t want anyone to feel like they don’t have a space or don’t belong. I go to bars and I try to talk to everyone there. If someone needs help I try and help them. I’m a service person, I don’t see it as anything to write home to mom about.

I want to talk about your plans for the future. Shae Flanigan—who held the Ms. Sanctuary Leather title before you, and who resurrected the Ms. Los Angeles Leather title—has done so much for your community.  You must feel inspired to do the same.

One of the great things about having Shae as my sash-mommy before stepping into this role, when I won my title I looked at her and said “I’m just letting you know, I’m not doing half of what you did. It’s not possible.” And she said “You do you, don’t worry about trying to be me.” That’s what I did as Ms. Sanctuary and that’s what I will continue to do as Ms. L.A.

One thing I feel very passionate about: I want to become a voice for women in PrEP. I feel that the women’s community as a whole—whether gay or straight—is not really being represented in conversations about PrEP, especially women of color.

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