Farewell SouthEast!

Posted: March 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

This weekend, I will be stepping down from my regional title, SouthEast Community Bootblack 2010 and I will be cheering on the contestant for the Florida Community Bootblack title. I will remain the International Community Bootblack until the ICBB contest in July, but this is definitely a milestone for me this year and this week I’ve been taking some time to think back over the year as I write my step down speech.

Last April, I stood on a stage at Beyond Leather, nervous as anything, in front of a panel of judges filled with “scary Leathermen.” I asked them to give me a chance to try to share my passion for bootblacking and Leather with others. I told them about my own journey from the pansexual BDSM community into Leather and how I wanted to try to be a bridge between those two communities, helping to increase understanding and cooperation between them. I asked for a bigger voice and a bigger reach, even as my knees shook and I felt so much like I had to pee.

Those judges, for whatever their reasons, responded by awarding me the title of SouthEast Community Bootblack 2010.

I remember how tired I was the next day when we met to go over the responsibilities and the contracts. To say it was overwhelming would be an understatement. I had set out to do my best and to learn during the contest and now I found myself feeling a new weight of responsibility. People already told me that life for my Master and I was going to change. We had the International competition just months away to prepare for. I was dizzy just thinking about everything that needed to be done.

I began by reaching out to my local groups, asking for opportunities to help and to present to them, starting out in Jacksonville and later moving across the state. I bootblacked at The Woodshed for the kinky flea. I did my first fundraiser at ALE, a basket raffle with help from ziggyFL, the Kink Shop, and Decadent Transitions. I prepared and planned for ICBB. Those first few months were amazing and I felt such support from my local community even as I adjusted to the sometimes uncomfortable spotlight I was now in.

Then, I got on the plane for San Francisco and ICBB. I remember feeling like I would never be the same after that trip, even as I waited for the flight.

I was right.

I never expected or dreamed that I would win at ICBB. My goal was, again, to do well and to learn. I was excited to see more bootblacks gathered in one place than I ever had before. Again, I stood on a stage, this time a bit bigger, and asked a panel of rather scary looking judges to give me a bigger voice and a bigger reach, fully prepared to come back to Florida and concentrate on my region.

Those judges, for whatever their reasons, responded by awarding me the title of International Community Bootblack 2010.

I returned to Florida with a whole new set of responsibilities, but I still maintained my regional title. Unlike most regions, where the titleholder competes at ICBB the year following their title or comes home with only a few months left to go in their regional title, most of my year as SECBb was left to go. I still had much work that I wanted to do in Florida, particularly as I learned that Florida would now be its own ILSb/ICBB region.

In practical terms, what this meant is that I needed to make the most of whatever time I was in Florida and not attending events out of the state for ICBB. I was honored to be invited to places as far as Ft. Lauderdale, Tallahasee, and even Palatka. I presented whenver I could and I started the first annual Bootblack Intensive with the help of chris, my mentor and the SouthEast Community Bootblack 2009. It was amazing meeting so many wonderful people throughout Florida as well as having the opportunity to represent them all over the country and Canada. I tried to never lose sight of the work that needed to be done in my region even as I traveled to do work outside.

Even now, looking at my calendar, most of the weekends I am in the state are booked with something in my local community or around Florida. I don’t see that changing even as I prepare for my last few months as ICBB. This state has a wonderful, thriving collection of communities that go beyond any attempts at generalization, whether it’s the men’s community of Tampa, the munches in the panhandle, WOLF in Ft. Lauderdale, Black Monday Society in Tally, or my own diverse community here in Jacksonville or anything in between. I’ve made friends across this state and had experiences that I know I never would have if I hadn’t gotten on that stage, nerves and need to pee and all.

In my step-down speech, I will have a chance to thank those who supported me this year as well as those who took a chance on me and gave me this opportunity. There are too many people to count who, in ways big and small, contributed to making this year what it was. Even those who challenged me this year helped me by helping me grow stronger. Florida is like that. It’s not always an “easy” region…it makes you work and challenges you to grow and become something more than what you are.

It has been my great honor to serve you as SouthEast Community Bootblack 2010 and I look forward to continuing to serve Florida…if a bit more behind the scenes, where I feel most at home.

Thank you all.

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