The oddest thing about attending Folsom Street East, the annual Leather Pride street fair, was hanging out at NYC’s last leather bar The Eagle with Jimmy and Michael, swimming in a sea of testosterone, me the sole biological female amidst hundreds upon hundreds of gay men sardine-packed all the way up to the open air rooftop – and feeling completely at ease. I could safely breathe even in the stifling body heat of the stairwells, forgetting my female form for the afternoon. Wearing a black wife-beater bearing the words “Rough Trade” and black jean shorts, I fit in just as well as anyone (Jimmy even spotted a guy sporting my same top!), thus was treated accordingly. I’d noticed two other biological women outside in front of the bar, looking down uncomfortably, awkwardly avoiding eye contact while winding their way through the crowd. They were with a guy who didn’t blend in any more than they did, all in somewhat preppie street attire. I shared nothing but white skin and a pussy with those two, I thought. Gender seemed such a ridiculous category.
I thought of why I’m such a big fan of boxing and kickboxing. I fit in with the male pugilists when I’m at the gym. After eleven years of Muay Thai training I’m accepted, respected. At The Eagle I’m first and foremost a leather aficionado. At the gym I’m just one of the kickboxing crew. My gender is checked at the door.