After four days of competing against women from around the world in San Jose, California, Melbourne’s girl ang took home the title of International Ms Leather (IMsL) this year.

Matthew Wade spoke with her about finding her place in the queer community, taking home the sash, and the common misconceptions around the leather and kink communities.

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When did you first get into leather?

I first got into leather about five or six years ago. I got into it because I appreciated the protocols, history, and values.

What are some common misconceptions around the leather and kink communities?

That we all like pain. Not all people are masochists. Leather and kink is inclusive of people with many different varieties of ‘turn-ons’. Also that there is only one true way [to be a part of the community]. I believe the ‘old guard’ guides and the ‘new guard’ breathes life. For the sustainability of our community, leather has to evolve.

Another misconception is that we have been traumatised in the past and that’s why we are into it now. As adults we all make decisions. Not all decisions are made as a result of past trauma, whether that be in kink, leather, or any other realm of our individual worlds.

How did you get involved in Melbourne’s leather community?

I started to learn about leather through the kink scene; reading, researching, attending events such as Vic Leather’s Gear Up, and the leather people who were a part of my life. My favourite thing about it is the family values that we as a community hold sacred.

Has it informed how you see the queer community and your place in it?

It helped shape my identity by showing me there were many others like me. I could finally see myself as part of a family who hold similar morals and values. It broadened the horizons of what I had previously thought the queer community was.

What was it like competing at this year’s International Ms Leather competition?

It was exciting, fun, and really challenging. I learned a lot and relied heavily on my amazing team of handlers. They were the people who made this possible.

Why is visibility important to less visible parts of the queer community, like the leather and kink communities?

Visibility is important so others like myself can see there is a place for them within the queer community too. While some stigma still exists there is a lot of work being done to reduce it. Sometimes stigma can be reduced with as little as a smile and having a conversation.

Now that you’ve won the big title, what do you hope to do with it?

My goal was to bring it home to the Australian community so they can feel visible on a larger scale. My title year will consist of attending events, speaking up about important issues within our community, traveling, judging contests, doing workshops, and having conversations with as many members of our community as I can.

Personally, I have the desire to learn as much from this experience as I possibly can.

Do you have a message for younger queer women in Australia?

Yes, embrace who you are. If you have questions, ask them. If you have goals, go for them. If I can help you in some way, please reach out. I am your IMsL.

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