Meet Ms. NJ Leather, J.L. Gaynor

J.L. Gaynor is Ms. NJ Leather 2019 (center) Photo by Christopher Krakora.
J.L. Gaynor is Ms. NJ Leather 2019 (center) Photo by Christopher Krakora.

The New Jersey leather community crowns 2019 winners

In 2019, Out In Jersey’s own, J.L. Gaynor, will represent the leather community along with the new Mr. NJ Leather 2019 Lynx Onyx.

I had a chance to talk to Ms. New Jersey Leather to find out what she has set her sights on for the future, and what she hopes to accomplish during her reign as Ms. New Jerseys Leather queen bee.

Congratulations on your success. What motivated you to run in the Ms. Leather competition this year?

J.L. Gaynor is Ms. NJ Leather 2019 (left) Photo by Christopher Krakora.
J.L. Gaynor is Ms. NJ Leather 2019 (left) Photo by Christopher Krakora.

J.L. Gaynor: The women’s title went dormant last year, with no women running, and I didn’t want to see the title go dormant again this year. I felt I was in a good place where I could represent my home state in a positive way.

What are you hoping to accomplish during your title year as Ms. New Jersey leather?

JLG: I want to give people who are new to the community a place to feel welcome, a place where they belong. I’d always been fascinated by the men and women in leather. The attitude of the more mainstream LGBT community was that they were freaks and you avoided places like leather bars because it just wasn’t normal. Well, I found no judgment with those in the leather community. I found acceptance and support. I want others like me to have the same welcoming place, the same sense of belonging. I’d also like to give everyone a safe space to educate them on the different aspects of the leather community, whether they are new to leather or curious about it.

When did you find the leather life style was for you, and what does that mean for you?

JLG: I found leather about three years ago when I was assigned to cover the 2015 New Jersey Leather contest. I started talking to members of the leather community, finding a welcoming place. Leather to me means being comfortable in my own skin, something I’ve struggled with for a very long time. It’s a community, and a place to belong.

Do you feel that leather women have the same support as the men in leather?

JLG: I think we do. I know with the New Jersey Leather Family everyone helps each other out, looks out for each other. The camaraderie is great, and I know that every single man and woman who offered assistance throughout my title year will be there to assist should I need them to.

Is there a strong women’s leather community in New Jersey? 

JLG: I think there is. The women of the NJ Leather Family have been amazing in offering support, giving advice, and making me feel welcome. I’m grateful for all of it because my road traveled so far hasn’t always been smooth.

Both Mr. and Ms. New Jersey Leather 2019 can be found on Facebook, on their own pages that will list upcoming events and fundraisers.

Sam Martino
Maria Sammartino (aka Sam Martino), is a writer and artist for over 15 years. Maria started at Out In Jersey as the news editor in 2009, and shortly thereafter became the Editor-In-Chief. She has been published in the Philadelphia Gay News, The International Journal of MS Care, and others. Maria goes by Sam Martino because she believes that women are never given a fair shot - and doesn’t want her art or her writing to be judged based on her sex, but on the merit of the work.