Ramien Pierre is two-for-two when it comes to winning leather contests. Last November he was named Mr. D.C. Eagle and over Memorial Day Weekend in Chicago, he beat 45 other contestants for the title of International Mr. Leather.
He says despite being a relative newbie on the scene — he started dabbling in the gay leather scene about five years ago — he thinks judges sensed he grasped the community service element of the title and realized, as he puts it, that his “greatest contributions to the community are ahead of me.”
“I wanted to move beyond just going to events and going to the club,” the 43-year-old West Chester, Pa., native says. “I had a real sense that being a titleholder comes with a big microphone and gives you permission in a way to talk to anyone and hear people’s stories. You can say what you want and hear what other people think.”
Despite the kink component — part of the contest involved him “entertaining” the crowd in a leather thong — he says he has encountered no flak. He gave his boss (he works as a project manager for a federal contractor that works with NASA) a heads up before entering and says it was no problem.
Pierre has a busy Pride weekend planned. He’s running a 5k with three other Mr. D.C. Eagle titleholders, will be on the leather float for the parade, will be at Thunderdome: A Leather Event benefitting Capital Pride Saturday night at 10 p.m. at Tropicalia and volunteering at the SMYAL booth at the festival.
Pierre and boyfriend Keith have been dating for two-and-a-half years. Pierre lives in Fort Dupont and enjoys volleyball, singing and rope play in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I’ve been out since 1993. My mom was the hardest person to tell, because I knew she would worry about my happiness and safety.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Bayard Rustin. We have a lot in common: black; gay; West Indian; from West Chester, Pa; influenced by Quakers. He’s a great role model for living with purpose and passion.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
The D.C. Eagle. I used to think I didn’t like bars and that I didn’t like bar people. But then I walked into the Eagle and felt what it’s like to be in a place where people aren’t judged by how they look or what they’re wearing.
Describe your dream wedding.
It would be a small, backyard wedding. We’d wait until the one-year anniversary to do a ginormous reception/anniversary celebration.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
There’s no such thing as a non-LGTB issue; every human issue is an LGTB issue. That said, I care most about supporting youth and seniors, because I feel it’s the privilege and responsibility of every community to take care of its juniors and elders.
What historical outcome would you change?
The cancellation of the “Firefly” TV series.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
The first season of MTV’s “The Real World” in 1992.
On what do you insist?
Frequent and early use of vehicular turn signals.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
A TED talk on how your body language impacts your mood, confidence and ability to handle stress.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Ivy League Kinkster”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
There is only one power in the universe and it only works for our highest good.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Remember that, despite our diversity, the members of the LGTB community are more alike than different. What happens to any of us, happens to all of us.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
My boyfriend Keith. And cupcakes. I’d moonwalk across hot coals if my boyfriend Keith was holding cupcakes.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That we are immutable; that we are only one thing at a time and that we never change.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
What’s the most overrated social custom?
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
The Pantheon of Leather Community Service Award
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That I was enough.
There’s a critical mass of LGTB folks of color here working to make the world a better place. It’s affirming to be among folks who look like me, who think like me and who are working for the forces of good.