Capital Pride may be over for another year, but for the community’s newest titleholders the work is just beginning.
New to the roles of Mr and Ms National Capital Leather Pride (NCLP) are well-known community figures Pierre Girard and Shade Nyx, who say they hope their role as titleholders will show Ottawa’s broader community how diverse and accepting the kink scene can be.
“I’m very humbled and very touched and honoured that I would even be considered for this,” Nyx says of her new role as Ms NLCP.
Girard is similarly surprised and delighted by his win. “For me, I was supposed to go next year, but I decided to go this year. Why not?” Big plans for the leather community are part of what made Girard decide to compete earlier, he says. Having remained in the closet until age 40, he’s through with waiting.
“I was shy at 40 when I got out,” he says. “I always knew that I was gay, but I was too shy to get out.” When he finally did, he says, life got much better for him. He discovered leather nights at the Centretown Pub and went on to compete in the Mr Leather Ottawa (MLO) competition, finishing as first runner-up in 2013.
Today, Girard is happily married to Henry Maxwell, a member of Boot Black Ottawa and last year’s Mr NCLP. “I call him my angel,” Girard says.
For Nyx, her love of kink and leather grew out of her role as a performer. “I’ve been in the performance arts community for a long time, and I’ve always been into kink,” she says. “[It was] just a very natural progression for me; as a performer, I lost my inhibitions and wasn’t so closeted, I guess.” Nyx performs with Bourbon and Spice Burlesque and is also a belly dancer. She also performs solo at fundraisers and events.
At 33 and 52 respectively, Nyx and Girard represent the broad spectrum of ages that participate in the kink community in Ottawa. There is a lot of affection between the pair, who refer to each other as “leather husband” and “leather wife.”
“I remember seeing Pierre competing, and I instantly liked him,” Nyx says.
In their new roles as Mr and Ms NCLP, both say they have big plans for Ottawa’s kink scene. Nyx says she wants more women and people of colour to feel welcomed. “For me personally, coming into the leather community, the kink community, I don’t see a lot of people who look like me,” she says.
Nyx is Iranian Canadian and says it can be difficult for people who come from immigrant backgrounds to accept and explore their kinky sides because of fears of family and cultural disapproval. To combat this, she says she’d like to start a series of meetups for people to safely and privately explore their kinks.
Girard says that in his role as Mr NCLP, he plans to focus on raising money and awareness for suicide prevention, as well as fundraising for Bruce House. He also wants to promote more togetherness and says he’d like to challenge people to say hi to someone new every day. “I want to have one community,” he says. “People are still laughing at each other, and I don’t like that. I want to do something about it.”
Both Nyx and Girard acknowledge that interpersonal drama can be a problem within the broader LGBT community, as well as within the kink scene. “It’s not cool,” Girard says.
“You would think that as being gay, with all the struggles that you have to go through in life, that you would be more understanding,” Nyx adds. “But in a lot of cases that’s not true.”
Still, both say they’re committed to rising above the drama, particularly now that they hold public titles. “This is a Pride title . . . it’s not just a leather title; it’s a Pride title, and Pride is about being inclusive,” Nyx says. “You’re not always going to make everybody happy. There’s always going to be people out there who are not going to like you.”
While they’re looking forward to their upcoming year as titleholders, Nyx and Girard are also trying to remain cautious of taking on too much. “We don’t have to do it all in one year. This can be a continuous project,” Nyx says. Girard points out that support from the community will help lighten the load. “I’ve got a lot of work to do, but I’ve got help.”