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September: Embracing Our Community

By September 20, 2023September 21st, 2023No Comments

September is sizzling with passion as we celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, embrace all our bisexual cuties, and dive headfirst into a month of exploration and kink with your favorite sexual health & wellness baddies. 

Before we get into our September featured guest, we want to take a moment to celebrate some of the folx that make Austin the place we know and love. Coming in hot on September 23, we’re gearing up to uplift the cuties that we’re lucky to have in this community on Bisexual Visibility Day. It’s essential to recognize one of the many reasons that we must center and celebrate the bisexual community. According to studies conducted by the Williams Institute and the HRC Foundation, approximately 50 percent of LGBTQ+ individuals identify as bisexual. This makes the bisexual population the largest group within the LGBTQ+ community. Despite this significant presence, biphobia and bi erasure remain pervasive issues that lead to all matters of social and health issues. Bisexual individuals often face higher rates of depression, anxiety, domestic violence, sexual assault, and poverty compared to their lesbian, gay, and cis-straight counterparts. These challenges underscore the urgency of acknowledging and supporting the bisexual community’s unique experiences. For this reason, Saturday, September 23 — Bi Visibility Day — stands as a beacon for all our bisexual friends, highlighting their intrinsic worth and bringing attention to a community many try to erase. 

Among the vibrant communities that have shaped Austin’s identity, the Latinx community stands out as pillars of strength, progress, and unmatched cultural influence. The Latinx community has played an integral role in shaping Austin as we know it, contributing to the city’s dynamic arts scene, culinary landscape, and vibrant festivals. But these contributions aren’t new; the groundwork for interweaving Latinx culture into Austin goes back generations upon generations. Flashing back nearly a century ago, we find one example of the Latinx community making a historic impact on this town. Born on August 14, 1932, in Austin, Texas, Richard Moya made history by becoming the first Mexican American elected to public office in Travis County. His election as County Commissioner in 1970 marked a significant milestone, not only for his personal achievements but also for the entire Latinx community. Known as a legendary Chicano activist and political trailblazer, Moya’s contributions extended beyond his title. He was instrumental in centralizing county hiring by establishing the county’s first office of Human Resources. This pivotal move promoted diversity in county hiring, breaking down barriers that had previously limited opportunities for minorities. Thanks to individuals like Moya, Austin continues to this day promoting the spirit of diversity and inclusion as the focal point of its very culture. 

Austin’s strength lies in its diversity and inclusivity. By celebrating and embracing marginalized communities like the Latinx and bisexual communities, we enrich our city’s history and culture. We get to honor figures like Richard Moya who dedicated their lives to breaking down barriers and promoting equality by supporting it in every facet of our lives. 

As we settle in for the celebrations of Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re excited to introduce you to our friend and icon, Pedro, Mr. RGV (Rio Grande Valley) Leather! Pedro was kind enough to answer a few questions about his experience in the kink community, so strap in and listen up, y’all! We’ll catch you in October.

P.S. Don’t forget to get your Fetish Formal 2023 tickets by clicking the button below. If you buy your Fetish Formal tickets now through 9/30, you’ll receive a code for 25% off tickets to ASHwell’s Backyard BBQ Hoedown & Live Dessert Auction — our annual fundraiser on 11/2/23 — in your email within a couple weeks.

How has being a person of color influenced your experiences in the kink scene, and what advice would you give to fellow brown kinksters navigating similar spaces?

Born and raised on the TX/Mexico Border, knowing 3 languages (English, Spanish and Spanglish), and just being well rooted to our culture I think has helped me find ways to bring out the kink scene that has already been here for a long time.  I feel that there had to be a little push to get people out of their shell and be comfortable with their kinks.  Having title like Mr. RGV Leather and talking about the meaning behind the sash, has helped me break the ice and have those conversation with businesses to create safe kink spaces and allow people to ask questions without feeling shamed.

As reigning Mr. RGV Leather, could you share your journey to the title and highlight a memorable “Oops, did I just do that?” moment?

Well my ass is out there in pictures and video for all to see.  Literally my ass, lol.  It was more like, “Oops, I did it again.” When you run for these type of leather titles you have to not only show skin but completely open up to the community.  You have to show your vulnerability and at the same time letting them know that you will be their voice and their champion.  It’s been an amazing journey so far.  Being the first Mr. RGV Leather is a true honor.  Representing the RGV at an international stage when I competed at IML 2023 in Chicago was truly a humbling experience and also one that I took very serious because I was representing my community at a world stage.

Your work in sexual health is both impressive and invaluable. What’s the most bizarre myth you’ve encountered about sexual health during your educational sessions?

I always get that side eye look, like are you for real, when I mention U=U.  I just had a conversation with one of my fellow leather brothers from Austin and we had the same experience.  I just don’t think the message of U=U has really been freely discussed in our border communities.  Which is why people at the beginning are skeptical.  Even people who have HIV, from what some have mentioned to me, it is a little hard to believe that HIV is not transmittable once they reach undetectable level.  I feel that comes from a place of not wanting to feel responsible for passing HIV to another person. This is what I hear when I have those conversations.  Oh yeah and that if you douche with Sprite or 7up before and after sex it will clean out all the STI’s and HIV.

With your finger on the pulse, what are some emerging STI/HIV health trends you’ve observed within the Latinx community in the RGV?

Well now it seems condoms are becoming a thing of the past.  Now I hear more about lets bareback because I’m on PrEP.  I think that’s great and all but we know there is a rise in STI’s like syphilis and gonorrhea/chlamydia.  I think when someone in a kink space says that they want to use a condom, we should not shame them we should celebrate them.  Give it a try the condoms will not hurt you, unless you are allergic to latex. Tell them to put on a latex free condom.

Mixing humor and education can be quite a challenge. How do you manage to address sensitive sexual health topics while keeping the crowd engaged and maybe even chuckling?

It can be a touchy subject.  I think humor though is like lube for an educational conversation.  It makes it easier to take it (pun definitely intended). Sometimes I’ll make myself the butt of the joke just so they know it’s not a big deal, unless we don’t talk about it or take care of it.

We all know that leather gear can be quite the fashion statement, but what’s the one leather accessory you absolutely cannot live without, both on and off the stage?

My leather bracelets.  Now I know where Wonder Woman gets her confidence, those bracelets.

Using your platform to educate the community is a powerful move. Could you share a heartwarming or hilarious moment when you realized you were making a real difference in people’s lives?

I think when we are on that stage and all ears are on you, it’s important that the message you give will empower and uplift people.  You want to make every person feel like they matter and they are worthy to be in that space.  I think the moment I realize I’m making a different is when I’m providing some type of information and you hear have that aha moment.  You realize they just learned something new or you cleared up a misconception they had.  You can hear it in the crowd with what they say or the gestures they make.  At that point I know my job is done.