Ms. NJ Leather 2019, girl Jen

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Lynx Onyx (on right) is Mr. NJ Leather 2019. He is pictured here with Ms. NJ Leather 2019 J.L. Gaynor.
Lynx Onyx (on right) is Mr. NJ Leather 2019. He is pictured here with Ms. NJ Leather 2019 J.L. Gaynor. Photo by Christopher Krakora.

NJ Leather Weekend starts Friday in Asbury Park

As October arrives, we find the Leather Community contest circuit picking up speed. Over the next several weeks and months, Leather contests will begin to pop up all over the nation and in the midst of these contests is the New Jersey Leather Weekend featuring the Mr. and Ms. New Jersey Leather Contest. Each October, hundreds of Leather Folk and their supporters descend upon Asbury Park, New Jersey, to see the crowning of the man and woman who will carry the title for the next 12 months.

I was approached by the current Ms. New Jersey Leather to collaborate on an “exit interview” of sorts. We both posed a few questions to one another that invited us to reflect on the year we have shared as sash husband and wife. It’s always nice to climb inside the thoughts and feelings of people you know and love; if only to have insight into their perspective and point-of-view on things that matter.

girl Jen shares with us her thoughts on the year shes spent as Ms. New Jersey Leather and her hopes for the future of our community and family.

Lynx Onyx: So, it’s been a year. You’ve served as Ms. NJ Leather 2019. In one word, how would you sum up the experience and why that word?

girl Jen: Exhilarating! I’ve gotten to travel a bit this year and meet so many different folks. I’ve had some great conversations and experiences, from Asbury to Philly to Baltimore, DC, Richmond, and San Jose. It’s been a whirlwind, but it’s been one hell of a year.

During your contest speech, you mentioned that you wanted to run for this title so that the Title would be represented and not go unoccupied. As a visible representative of the Leather Community in New Jersey and its deeply connected Leather Family, how would you encourage anyone else to get out there and give it a shot as your successor or later on down the line?

gJ: We have something great with the New Jersey Leather Family, with an emphasis on ‘Family.’ Collectively, we do great things for our community, in leather and at large, and we have fun while doing it. There’s also a strong loyalty between the title siblings. I know that no matter what I need or what I could possibly ask for, there will be at least four or five siblings immediately asking what they can do to help. You’re always supported in your endeavors and you never feel alone.

We’re about to enter the land of the “Wuzzie”…what are your thoughts on that and are you looking forward to it?

gJ: I’m looking forward to just staying home! No, really, I’m looking forward to a little bit of relaxation. Amy, my partner, just stepped aside from Mid-Atlantic Leather Woman Bootblack and we’ve bought a house in Maryland. I’m looking forward to getting settled in my new home city and once I’m settled, getting back to work in the community and see where else my map will lead me.

Throughout our year we’ve seen some really, really good stuff, and once in a while some not-so-good stuff (socially speaking). What’s your hope for the community at-large as we step aside and out of the “limelight” of title holding?

gJ: My hope is that we continue to make progress as a community. I’ve seen some progress this year and it’s been encouraging even while appalling behavior is happening. All of us are different; we all bring various strengths with us and contribute different ideas to the whole. We shouldn’t be made to feel inadequate or that we don’t belong because we don’t match up to some impossible ideal. No one should be marginalized or made to feel like they don’t belong. Everyone deserves a space; everyone deserves a place to feel comfortable in just being them. My hope is that we see more acceptance of all of our siblings.

What advice have you received this year as Ms. NJ Leather 2019 that will follow you beyond this year?

gJ: I think the biggest thing was don’t be afraid to say no. You need to look after yourself and not wear yourself down. Being kind to yourself and taking time off for R&R isn’t selfish or letting anyone down. You need to recharge the batteries so you can go out, have the fun, talk to the folks, and interact with the community. I did say no when I had to this year but I also took some down time in the middle of big events, like International Ms. Leather, to just watch Netflix for 20 minutes or go to the pool. It’s advice I’d definitely pass along to my successor because self-care is absolutely vital.

I’m personally always in awe of the energy and spirit of Jen. She gives of herself without hesitation and serves from a place of heart. She’s not just a leatherwoman, a titleholder or my sash wife. I’m proud and honored to also say she’s my friend. We both look forward to the 20th Anniversary of the Mr. and Ms. New Jersey Leather contest and supporting the man and woman chosen to represent the Garden State for the year 2020.