2013 KEYNOTE SPEECH BY MS. KENDRA

 

Good evening. I would like to thank the producers of Beyond Leather for asking me to speak to you tonight at this wonderful event. I remember being here the first year of Beyond Leather, the event was big and bold the first year and has continued to get better and better each year. Thank you Sir Top and slave bonnie for all that you have done to make this a great event and one I truly enjoy.

 

So, why are you here this weekend? What caused you to come to Beyond Leather? Did you come for the playtime, the workshops, the contests or something else?

 

I would like to take a moment to speak with you about titleholders and why we have contests. There have been a lot of discussions online about the need to do away with contests and statements made that they serve no purpose other than to make titleholders’ egos bigger. I totally disagree with both of these ideas. Because of contests our community has grown tremendously and not just because of our contests but also because of the togetherness that it has instilled in this community. Titleholders and contests serve a great purpose. These contests that you have witnessed here this weekend help to strengthen our community. I can tell you this because, being a past titleholder, it gave me the opportunity to open doors that would not have been open to me if I would have not been a titleholder.

 

So, there are good titleholders and not so good titleholders. I think we can all agree with that! I don’t have to point out those in our community that have not been good titleholders, you probably already can think of one or two! Our contests over the past 30 years have changed and become more diverse. When our contests first started they were for those in our gay community. Today that is quite a different story.

 

I remember when I first became part of the Leather community. My parents thought I was joining a gang. My parents are from the 50’s and people from that time knew that people who wore black leather with a chain hanging here or there were usually in gangs or at least “up to no good.” I am sure my parent’s minds were running wild with thoughts of all the unspeakable things I might be doing or getting ready to do. We, my parents and I, laugh about it now, because over the past many years, they have even compared things that I have shared with them from our Leather community to actions that members of their church have done. I find it amusing that we are sometimes compared to members of a church where my Father preaches! ☺

 

A good friend of mine past away a few months ago. His name was Chuck Windemuth. Chuck was a leader in the Chicago Leather community since the late 1980’s. Chuck won the Mr. Chicago Leather contest back in 1991. He founded the Chicago Kennel Club. This Club held numerous titleholder prep meetings to help titleholders be the best they could be. Chuck had told me that this titleholder prep was never about changing anyone into something they were not but it was about bringing the contestants best qualities to the surface so they could be seen and appreciated. It was said that those titleholder prep meetings were great lessons learned the someone could apply to their daily lives not just being in a contest. Chuck was someone wonderful to know and someone that truly felt as I do, that our contests are a very important part of our community and our lives. For those of us who knew Chuck, we knew that contests and our Leather community were very important to him and he died a few months ago feeling that same way that he had always felt about our contests. We need them and they need us.

 

Having contests and selecting new titleholders each year at events give us new energy that continues to come into our community. Every year here at Beyond Leather, there are new titleholders that are selected. Like other contests, some of them stay and continue to work in the community while others we may never see or hear from again. It is the ones that stay and continue to work to build our community that are the jewels of our community. When someone wins a contest, there will be some people that make less than flattering comments about the winner. Will you give these new titleholders a chance to make their mark in our community before you run your mouth and try to tear them down? If you are busy doing something good for our community you probably don’t have the time to try and tear our titleholders and others down.

 

If you are a new titleholder, please keep in mind that you have not won the right to always think you are right about everything nor or you an overnight Super Star to the world. You are still a person that should be respectful and mind your manners, just like the rest of us. Our community is small and word gets around. When I hear something that someone said bad about me, I think to myself is this true, did I really seem that way to them? Did I really give them a bad impression of me? Why are they saying that? Is there anything I can do to fix it? The answer is I usually can’t do anything about it other than continue to do the best I can do for our community. After working in this community for over 30 years, I feel I have done the best I could do. I do believe in these contests and titleholders because I have seen the wonderful things that have come from all this.

 

When I stand at International contests with our titleholders several times each year and see the joy and pride they have in being titleholders, I am proud. When they say to me that being a titleholder has changed their lives in a positive way, I smile and feel proud of what we do here each year. When I see titleholders that started out “green”, you know what I mean by “green”, they are babies and don’t really know what they have gotten themselves into until they run for a title! J and by the end of the year, they are a little more grown up.

 

They have more confidence and their ideas of what will make our community better, are numerous. I welcome their ideas and I hope you will so. I know that many of their ideas have become part of events throughout the country and found a place in our community. Please don’t discount a new person’s ideas just because they are new. Give them some thought before you reject it, you just might find it useful.

 

I want to thank all those for standing up for our community and running for a title at a contest. Thank you for being willing to put yourself out there for some to look up to and for others to try and tear down. Thank you for being you and giving me a new way to look at things. But most of all thank you for continuing to be part of our contest system, so that our tradition can continue.

 

I hope that you will be inspired by who you meet here this weekend and think of what good and wonderful things you can to contribute to this event and other events throughout our community. This is your community and it is up to you to make it better.

 

Thank you all for listening to me tonight and I hope you will think about the importance of our contests and our titleholders.