D.C. Leather Pride is holding its Winter Solstice Ball, an event it plans to make annual, Saturday night at 8 p.m. at the D.C. Eagle (3701 Benning Rd., N.E.).
The D.C. Imperial Court and the D.C. Sisters are co-hosting the event, which will be emceed by local drag legend Kristina Kelly. Several groups have donated gift baskets, raffle and auction items and several performances are scheduled. The event is a holiday fundraiser for Food & Friends.
A $5 donation, which gets you five raffle tickets, is suggested. Look for its Facebook page for more information.
Kyle Collins is the founder and co-chair of D.C. Leather Pride. The 26-year-old Rhinebeck, N.Y., native came to Washington four-and-a-half years ago.
He’s on the board of Capital Pride. He tends bar at Bluejacket, Partisan and the Eagle.
Collins lives in Southwest and enjoys volunteering, trying new restaurants and bars, cigars and attending community events in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I came out almost 10 years ago, when I was a junior in high school. The hardest person to tell was my mother. I thought she would take it the best, and that was not the case, she had a really hard time. Since I lived with her, that made it even harder on both of us. But I’m happy to say that we have an amazing relationship today. She even threw all of her support my way for the D.C. Eagle contest last month.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
I’ve come to find that many of the real heroes are the people you’ve never heard of. The people who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make all of the things we take for granted today a reality. The organizers and volunteers whose names didn’t make it into the history books. The people who protested the persecution of LGBT federal workers with Frank Kameny, the people who staged the first Pride marches (yes marches, not parades), those who cared for those dying of HIV/AIDS when no one else would.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
The D.C. Eagle, which has existed here since the early ‘70s and it is so much more than a nightspot. It’s been a home to many people who don’t have anywhere or anyone else to go to. We serve free dinner on Thanksgiving, we care for our peers when they’re sick or down on their luck. It’s so much more than just a bar. But even as a bar, it’s a damn fun place to be.
Describe your dream wedding.
I don’t have a desire to be married. I support our right to do so, but they can keep their institution. My dream wedding is more of a collaring ceremony.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
My biggest passion is education. I think our education system is failing our society in a multitude of ways and doesn’t just need reform, but needs to be rebuilt from the ground up.
What historical outcome would you change?
The fear and stigma that resulted from the AIDS crisis that is still felt today.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
The death of Michael Jackson.
On what do you insist?
Respect. Everyone deserves respect. Give respect and you will get respect. I have no tolerance for disrespectful people.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
A reminder for Winter Solstice.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Here We Go Again”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
I’d be fighting to ensure the rights of minors against being given this treatment. I’d also fight to ensure proper measures against prematurely administering said treatment to adults.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I don’t believe in anything specific. I believe there may be something out there bigger than ourselves, but I don’t know what that is and don’t think anyone else does either.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Don’t lose sight of our community. Don’t forget who you are representing and what you are fighting for. It is easy to lose our cultural identity if we trade it for certain rights. We shouldn’t have to sacrifice who we are as LGBT people and our culture to be treated as equal.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
My loved ones. My community. And tacos.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
The stereotypes we put on ourselves. The self loathing and entrenched homophobia that is perpetuated by our own community. Particularly the characterization of gay men as overindulgent drunks and vapid sex addicts. Our community is not summed up by one group of people, and I say that without any judgment, and to characterize our community as such is an injustice to us all.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“The Birdcage” followed closely by “To Wong Foo.”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Mindless chatter when you don’t have anything to say to someone. Silences shouldn’t be uncomfortable.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
I don’t really covet an award or trophy. Recognition and appreciation is always a nice feeling. But I don’t do what I do for the rewards or recognition.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
How to be more empathetic.
I’ve always liked this city. I’ve met some very interesting people, some of my closest friends and loved ones. I’ve grown substantially as a person since moving here and I like the person I’ve grown into and continue to grow into.