Walk the Walk of Inclusivity

The word ‘diversity’ is a loaded gun in that it encompasses so many different aspects. A single person can’t stand up for every good cause on this planet, but everyone can choose a cause that they feel passionate about.
How did you end up joining the fetish community?
Like with many people, my interest in leather started very young, and I nervously bought my first leather gear in my early 20s. At around the same time I started to talk to guys online, namely on Recon and in 2013 went to Folsom Europe which was my first time at the big event. 
Some people - both online and in real life - were welcoming, and some were not. Thankfully many wonderful guys took me under their wings, which then led me to discover the scene in its full glory, and over the years these people have become some of my closest friends.
What are some positives traits and negative traits in the fetish community, what sticks out to you the most?
At its best, our community is truly like a family of like-minded people sharing and embracing our commonalities.  
But the negative flip side of the community as I’ve seen and experienced would be that it can often very much be a ‘cool kids only club’, where only a select few are made to feel welcome, and others ignored and rejected. This also sadly and unacceptably includes rejection of People of Colour kinksters in the scene.
What can we do to solve this issue?
I think we all ought to really walk the walk of inclusivity. Many of us often talk about it - and certainly we should continue to discuss it - but we as a community should also think about what we can actively DO about inclusion, and examine what actions we can take to make people feel welcome in our scene.

What’s one thing you'd change in the fetish community to help BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) feel more welcome?
Hmm… maybe one way would be to encourage people to be less cliquey? I feel like the ‘mean girls’ mentality, where only the so-called ‘hottest’ and ‘most attractive’ are celebrated has also extended itself to BIPOC. As I’ve said already, this for me is unacceptable. 
I don’t want to sound like a broken record but here again I’d like to repeat that regular, continuous discussions about how racism affects BIPOC folk deeply need to be had, and that consequently actions also need to be taken by leaders in our community, which in turn must be listened to and amplified by all of us. We all need play a part in stopping divisions, and to put on a united front in the place of said divisions.
Do you feel represented in the fetish community? If not, explain why.
Well, when I first started out in the scene, I certainly did not feel represented, because I hardly saw people like myself at the events I attended. I then noticed a slow but visible change, when I started to see more and more POC kinksters at large events. We are still in the big minority, though.
What’s your favorite memory from your fetish experiences?
By now there are too many favourite memories to mention but one highlight is when I played at the annual Classic Meets Fetish concert at Folsom Europe in Berlin (I’ve played at this concert almost every year since its inception in 2015, so I’m definitely one of the OGs!):
During one Folsom Europe a few years ago, an Asian kinkster came up to me to have a chat, and they explained that they’d attended the concert, and how seeing me inspired them and how it made them feel like they belonged and that they were not alone. That remains an unforgettable moment and one of the reasons why I keep performing in the concert: to be visible and to amplify people like me in the scene.
What is your advice for someone joining the fetish community?
Don’t be afraid. We don’t bite (unless you want us to ;)
Don’t be shy to ask questions. There are many in our community that have the patience to welcome and guide newcomers.
And let’s face it, we were ALL newbies once. A bit of kindness really goes a long way.
How do you feel about the fetish community when it comes to diversity?
Oh, I think a lot of work still needs to be done. The word ‘diversity’ is a loaded gun in that it encompasses so many different aspects. A single person can’t stand up for every good cause on this planet, but everyone can choose a cause that they feel passionate about. I consciously chose (and choose) to invest my energies and be a voice for racial diversity and justice in our scene precisely because it’s an issue that has always affected me personally. We all have to keep learning in order to be more aware and empathetic, which in turn helps enable openness. 
Let’s work to put the ‘Human’ in ‘Humanity’ again. It’s high time.

You can find Paul on Instagram as @Lthrprnz.