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  • Writer's pictureEli

Leather Leadership

Dear Leather Journey into Onyx.

Questioning the intentions and integrity of those who have been appointed to be in charge of protecting my best interests started in my early teens; so it should be no surprise that it started showing up and showing out in my leather too!

It all began growing up as a church goer. I remember attending every Sunday religiously, faithfully giving of my time and service, and being obedient to the financial responsibilities that we referred to as tithes and offerings. I even committed myself to the choir and joined the Junior board participating in all the holiday activities.

Over time though, my commitment and passion for the things I joined were let down by the shortcomings of those in authority. I saw leaders within the church show themselves and their hypocrisy by lying to their congregation, stealing from their organizations, and casting stones instead of practicing what they preached. Though I became more and more disappointed in the humans who ran the churches I once attended, I remained faithful and hopeful that some day I would find people of color who would refuse to use their power in the same ways I’ve often heard POC talk about caucasian men who had misused their authority throughout history.

As many of you know, I first entered the culture of leather in 1999 and immediately went to work studying its history. With both boots on the ground, I’ve strived ever since to understand my placement within its community. Always desiring to be grounded since day one, I made it my business to actually seek out POC within this culture; Hence, I found Sir Nagrom in a leather AOL chat group. Later in my journey during Martin Luther King Jr. birthday weekend, I stumbled into the Washington plaza hotel hosting the Mid-Atlantic Leather event. It was there that I first met Rod Onyx who invited me upstairs to the Onyx party. This was also the same year the party was shut down due to reaching such a capacity that it overflowed into the hallways. It was so big, the party actually started as soon as you got off the elevator!

Needless to say, it was definitely important for men of color who shared a common interest to create a safer space for unity.

After many conversations with Rod Onyx sharing his thoughts of starting an Onyx chapter in DC / MD, I agreed to have meetings in the basement of my home.

Though there was a lot of strategizing to coordinate membership in the Mid-Atlantic region, Mufasa of the original Chicago chapter denied us the permission to initiate full members. It was stated that we could start a chapter, but we would only be considered associate members of ONYX. However, we were expected to host every MAL party every year and volunteer at the annual Onyx party in Chicago during IML. Seven of the eight original black founding men ended up disagreeing with this policy which ultimately shut down our operations. Not only were our hopes in starting a new chapter dismantled, it also lowered the morale of those black men wishing to unite for the freedom of their sexuality as gay, kinky, black men.

Though I was disappointed after all the efforts that were made, I stayed in close contact with Rod Onyx who ended up connecting me with the Onyx brothers in NYC. I remember Brother CeeJay became my contact person when I attended my first BLACKOUT hosted by the NYC Chapter. I learned through them however that the Northeast Onyx chapter had initially formed with the ability to install full-fledged members. The original ruling handed down to the Mid-Atlantic chapter apparently did not apply to the forming of the Northeast chapter.

Learning this information caused more than a little animosity between the two chapter presidents at the time. Though it was never mentioned at that BLACKOUT, it was surely felt and seen by all those who attended. As an observer and participant in the Ballrooms of NYC, I saw the underlying catty behavior at that party that I already knew so well. Yea, let the record show that I am a “Balloon Kid“ from the House of Pendarvis; I recognize shade, drama, and insecure human behavior very quickly!

Two years after that BLACKOUT party, I started my own business opening a salon in downtown Silver Spring, MD. The same year while sharing a bus ride to work with Rod Onyx (since my car was in the shop), he mentioned that the Mid-Atlantic chapter had finally formed and they were authorized to obtain full memberships. Rod Onyx asked me back then in 2013 if I was still interested in joining that chapter.

Needless to say, this year marks the tenth anniversary of my being a full member of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter; a distinction I wore proudly.

However, due to a personal relationship dynamic breaking apart which has come with allegations placing my reputation, integrity, honor, respect, and loyalty within O/our community on the line, the Mid-Atlantic executive board decided to put me on a one-year probation.

This decision stipulates that I am banned from attending and/or participating in any events hosted by my chapter while in suspension, and yet I have continuously received emails and texts from the current President, Papa Onyx,

requesting membership dues for my inactive participation.

This organization that has barred me from its activities and written an open letter to its community stating that the ONYX Mid-Atlantic Chapter will not support a full member before or during any legal actions that can confirm or deny any allegations, rumors, or lies justified by a court of law is repeatedly demanding my financial support.

at No time have either Popa Onyx Not Rod Onyx reached out to me to share support during the Trial .. yet on the first day of court. both the Current ONYX Mid-Atlantinc President and the original founder of ONYX Mid-Atlantic chapter show up at PG COURT House at 8am sitting in support of the complaint StarAsia Roberts, and his guardians Glinda Rider.

later I receive a text from Rod Onyx .

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