Mama’s Family. (No, not the TV show!)

Having Family, whether the one into which you are born, the one you make, the one you stumble into, or the one that welcomes you in, is vital. I have several Families to whom I belong, and they play various roles in my life. My born family, my Hunter Family, my Theater family, my Family in Recovery…the Family of fellow Titleholders, my small circle of Leather Family, the Family that is my theater company, Crowded Fire…my new far-flung International Family of fellow Leatherfolk and Kinky peeps.

Regardless of whatever draws Family together, what keeps Family together is a common desire for camaraderie, support, love, and a “safe haven” from the slings and arrows, the judgement and ebb and flow of the default world. For Leatherfolks, this can be lifesaving: we sometimes can’t hope to find unconditional acceptance “Out There.” So. We make our own Family.

GodDAM was it hot up in that bitch! That fan came in handy!

Canadian Leather Bear, Mama Reinhardt and Mo at IML 2010

A few months ago, someone I respect deeply and admire fully invited me into one of the more unique and wonderful Families I’ve had the pleasure to know.

“Mama” Sandy Reinhardt has been a central figure in the Leather community for quite some time. I’d heard of her, and of her extended Family, before I’d even fully entered the Leather / BDSM Community.  “Mama’s Family” was well known for their numbers, their massive efforts at fundraising, and their camaraderie. I was curious, back then, of what it was all about.  I wondered if I would ever know, and then I filed it away as information I should keep handy as I processed the possibility that this journey I was considering would radically alter my life.

In the intervening years, I learned more about the charitable and community-building efforts of Mama’s Family, and saw how they formed a network that stretched around the world.  I noted the diligence, dedication, warmth and humor with which people treated their status as members of “Mama’s Family.”  And in my heart? I was fiercely proud that another woman of color was a force to be reckoned with in a Community where we are wildly underrepresented

This spring at International Mr. Leather as I awaited the main part of the contest, Mama Reinhardt beckoned me over to her table. After a bit of catching up, she took my hand in hers and invited me to be a part of her Family. I admit I had to blink at a superfast pace to avoid fucking up my eyeliner there and then, and I thanked her for the honor.  I was glad I managed not to cry, because then I’d have been all racoony for that there photo op!

Part of the honor also involves being able to wear a pin that indicates your place in Mama’s Family, and announces your nickname.  Some of the names are chosen, some requested, some a total surprise to the new Family member. My input was requested, I came up with a couple of nicknames that might be more or less suitable, and the rest is up to Mama ;-)

Life has been…a little busy for me, so I haven’t had the chance to see Mama Reinhardt in person to receive my pin. Lo and behold, the heavens opened and, thanks to a party being hosted by the American Brotherhood Weekend Family, I will have the singular honor of receiving my Mama’s Family pin from Mama Reinhardt very soon!

If you can, please join me and a bunch of other people in the extended Families  of outlaws, renegades, perverts and Leatherfolk at the SF Eagle Tavern on Sunday, September 12th! The party is from 3:00 – 6:00, and we’ll probably gather around 4:00 on the patio for the pinning.

I would love to see you there, regardless of whatever circle of my life’s Venn diagram in which you dwell.

Mama Reinhardt, thank you. This globe-trotting leather-clad freak is so, so humbled and grateful to be able to have a place in Your Family.

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