20 Black Leatherwomen by Carmelle La Sirena

Issa Arden: “Before I entered the scene, I didn’t see anyone that looked like me (a black woman). After I became more involved I met some amazing women of color and they made the community a better place for me. So maybe that is why, when people come into the leather or rubber communities, I often reach out and welcome them. I don’t feel a responsibility per se I just like to help people feel more comfortable when they are entering something that can be overwhelming in so many other ways. I personally feel welcome in many spaces now but there are certainly, events, bars, or other places where I am made very aware I am not wanted or expected to be there. It is more often a matter of gender, but I think that just keeps them from getting around to race. I am most often made aware a space being unwelcoming racially through micro-aggressions, things like racist jokes being made and/or defended, especially if there is an expectation that I won’t say anything (I will and I do). Also when people reinforce a desire to see spaces only for white, gay (cis) men. I feel that visibility is key to letting people know the intentions of a space. How will people know they are welcome at an event if all of the media uses the same picture of the same type of man? I think things are changing in some spaces and I love that more spaces by and for people of color exclusively are coming into being.”