Boy Andy: SELF Boy 2012
February 27, 2018
Almost 5 years ago I wrote my last column for my last title year. I spoke of family drama, of times being tough but looking towards the future. I also spoke of title holding and what it meant to me. The years I held my titles were some of the best of my life. I learned more than I ever thought possible and grew in ways I couldn't imagine when I first started on this road.
The first time I stood on a stage was almost a decade ago. I was scared out of my mind. I can still remember standing behind the curtain waiting for the emcee to call my name for the first time. I had only been in the community for about a year. I was taking my first steps down a long and winding road. I had no idea where I would end up. Hell, I barely knew who I was. But, I knew at that moment, when I stepped out on that stage and looked over that crowd of people all watching me, that I wanted to be a person they could be proud of.
10 years later, I believe that I have become that person. I was reading over my speech from 2008 the other day. I spoke of being young leather and what it meant to me. I had a drive and a desire to stay focused and learn from my elders. I desired nothing more than to sit at the knee of every person I could. I have done that, and I will continue to do it for as long as people will tell me their stories. Only now, from time to time, I come across someone who asks to sit at my knee and hear my stories. Talk about mind blowing. My first reaction is always to want to send them to someone more experienced, to tell them that I have nothing to share. But, this isn't true. Yes, I have my stories to share. But, I also have the wisdom and insight that I have learned from my elders to pass on to other generations as well.
As a bootblack, I am one of the physical historians of a leather persons journey. I have hundreds upon hundreds of stories of boots, pants, chaps, and various pieces of leather that I have cared for. I tell those stories often in classes, one on one lessons, and in my chair. I tell the stories of the amazing leather people I have been fortunate enough to have in my chair over the last decade.
I share the stories I have been told about the Sanctuary and the many other bars and clubs that are no longer around. I share stories from and about leather folk we have lost over the years, some I was blessed to hear first hand and some that have been passed down to me through others. I also share my stories about the things I have done and the things I have seen. Being a title holder gives one a unique perspective on the community. We see the best this country and others have to offer. We also sometimes see the worst. We travel to many events and meet many people. We have an opportunity to impact so many lives and journeys. Often more than we realize. Our days of title holding seldom end when we give that step down speech and patch or sash the next person in. There have been many SELF bootblacks and boys both before and after me, but I am the only SELF Bootblack 2008 and SELF Boy 2012. I will always be a part of the amazing family of SELF titleholders.
So, where am I today, 10 years after the first title and 5 years after the second? I am living in Charlotte, North Carolina with my husband and our girl. I'm in service to an amazing leather woman in Atlanta. I still teach when and where I can. I bootblack at events and bar nights in NC and the surrounding areas. I mentor as much as I can. I enjoy traveling whenever possible. I'm still learning every day. I'm still listening more than I speak. I hope I will always be that way.
The thing I will never stop doing is encouraging people to run for titles. It changed my life. It may not be for everyone, but if you think it might be for you, you should reach out to me or anyone of our titleholders. Come on out and join us. You won't regret it!
Thank you so much for reading. Love one another and stay strong.
SELF Bootblack 2008
SELF Boy 2012