Finding Your People

Xavier Espejo, California Drummer 2017, on taking advantage of opportunities that come your way.

BY KIAN KAMATAKI  |  PHOTO BY DUSTI CUNNINGHAM

California Drummer 2017, Xavier Espejo, leaving this month for Chicago to participate in International Mr Leather 2018 contest (IML), talks to THE FIGHT about racial diversity, sex positivity and representing his title to the best of his ability.

When did you first realize you were interested leather and kink?

After attending my first Folsom I knew I liked leather and kink… I had done a little research on the leather community, but I was shy and I kept thinking that the men would make fun of a 22-year-old Latino twink. At the time, it felt like all leather guys were older white men so I would just go to MJs and Folsom. Fast forward to the end of 2013, I met a member of the leather community who invited me to go to an event—a bootcamp for those interested in running for a leather title. I didn’t even know what that all meant, but I was impressed with how racially diverse and young the men attending were and also how friendly and sex-positive they were. It was then where I knew I had found my people. Two months later, I was at the Eagle running for the Mr. SoCal Leather title and I won. I haven’t stopped being an active member of the community since then. 

There were trans men and women, lesbians, gay, pansexual people, bears, otters, Sirs, boys, bootblacks, and everything in between. It was somewhat eye opening for me because I had not been exposed to that side of the community, but I liked it.” 

How did you get involved with the Drummer North America (drummerna.com)?

I had been approached to run for the California Drummer contest right after I had stepped down from the Mr. SoCal title, but I wanted to take a break and focus on my MBA. Then last year, I had the time to do it and I wanted to experience another facet of the leather community. I had been told that this title was an inclusive title meaning that it was open to trans, bi and gay men, and that it was not only leather title, but a player’s title which celebrated other sub-groups within the community (like rubber, uniforms or whatever else you were into), which sounded intriguing and exciting so I decided to do it. 

The contest took place the weekend of July 4th in Palm Springs. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was really excited. The California Drummer family comprised of the producers, previous Drummer title holders and people affiliated with and friends of Drummer was very diverse. There were trans men and women, lesbians, gay, pansexual people, bears, otters, Sirs, boys, bootblacks, and everything in between. It was somewhat eye opening for me because I had not been exposed to that side of the community, but I liked it. 

Tell us about “Positively Proud: CA Sex-Positive Men Calendar.”

The two platforms I ran for the California Drummer title were to fight slut shaming and HIV stigma. This calendar, which runs on a LA Leather calendar year (April 2018 through March 2019), is the materialization of these two platforms. On one hand, it celebrates being sex-positive by showcasing men, many of them leather title holders, who are proud and secure of their sexuality. Since I am a representative for the entire state, I wanted to not only include models but also photographers from Los Angeles, Palm Springs, San Diego and San Francisco. I chose Being Alive Los Angeles as the beneficiary for the funds raised through this calendar as they are an organization that provides many services including medical and mental services for people with HIV/AIDS, while also fighting stigmas associated with being positive. The calendar is $20 and you can order it online from the Positively Proud: CA Sex-Positive Men Calendar Facebook page (www.facebook.com/CAsexpozcalendar).

You’re on your way to IML. What do you expect to gain from that experience?

I had always wanted to be on the IML stage at some point, and while I never thought it would happen like this, I believe a person needs to take advantage of opportunities that come your way.  What I expect to gain from it is an experience that I will always cherish. All my previous leather contest experiences have been special and I don’t foresee this one being any different, if anything, it will probably be more rewarding than all the other ones as I’ll be sharing the stage with more than 70 other men, my brothers, all representing our titles to the best of our abilities. I know it will be stressful, emotionally and physically draining, but I’m going into it with an open mind and heart, never forgetting to have fun. I’m not seeing it as a competition with other guys, I’m seeing it as a competition against myself and I will do the best I can and whatever the outcome is, I know I will be happy and proud of myself for doing that.