Community Service [cover feature]

Ms. LA Leather 2016, Goddess Moon, and Mr. LA Leather 2016, Jeffrey Erdman on their year as titleholders.

BY VICTOR MELAMED  |  PHOTOS BY DUSTI CUNNINGHAM

How would you describe your past year as Mr / Miss LA Leather?

Goddess Moon: It has been an overwhelming joy. I am humbly thankful for those who choose me to represent such a diverse and bubbling community. I have been able to revitalize this title with what I hope has been a beautiful representation of the heart and spirit of the women and men in LA.

Jeffrey Edman: It has been truly life changing for me.  I went into the leather contest process being a bit unsure of myself and my place within the leather community.  But throughout this time, I have been treated with love, respect, admiration and support.  I have been transformed by the experience into a confident and valued member of this wonderful family, with a strong sense of self-worth and an even greater capacity for love.

Has being a title holder changed your outlook on the community?

Goddess Moon: Absolutely. It showed me the things that need to be changed, and it also showed me that when things need to be done that LA puts its best foot forward.

Jeffrey Edman: I have come to better understand and appreciate how members of the community can come together in support and appreciation for one another.  The leather tribe is a large and accepting family, all coming together to make a positive impact in people’s lives while celebrating their sex positive diversity.  Leading by example, we can fight against shame and stigmatization still prevalent in the larger gay community.

What did you want to accomplish as a title holder?

Goddess Moon: What I wanted to do as Ms. LAL 2016 was to show up and support. I wanted to be there for my sisters and brothers. I wanted to show others that you don’t have to look a certain way, have a particular amount in the bank to be a light for your community. Doing the best you can and being the best version of yourself is what others need to see. That’s how you inspire others to their best… Have I accomplished that goal? I truly hope so. But, that’s really not for me to say. It’s for my community to show.

Jeffrey Edman: I have dedicated myself to increasing awareness and understanding of the issues affecting older LGBT people. By partnering with national organizations like SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) and working with the senior services program of the Los Angeles LGBT Center, I hope to bring light to the needs of older LGBT adults and find better ways to meet those needs…  Older LGBT people have too long been the lost generation, and we need to do more to rally behind this community of pioneers and make sure they are never forgotten.

What advice would you give to the next title holder?

Goddess Moon: Be you! Don’t try to emulate anyone else.

Have fun! Listen to those who you trust to tell you the truth. They will keep you grounded. Take time for you and those you love. They were beside you before the title and you want them beside you during and after it… Choose one thing you really want to do during your year (teach, host an event, raise money for charity) and do it well. Try to attend at least one conference or event that you never thought about before, or one that you’ve always wanted to attend. It could be life changing.

Jeffrey Edman: Find your passion and make it count… Don’t waste this precious opportunity to do good in this world.  And, also, have fun with it. But more importantly, be your authentic self and let the world see you for who you are, because you will see that is the person people want to look up to and respect.  If the winner of Mr. Los Angeles Leather 2017 can combine a passion for positive change with a commitment to service to the community, all while having a blast along the way, he will be forever changed as I have been.

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