European Bootblack 2020
LeatherHiraeth (Alistair) grew up on the coast of rural Wales. His grandfather taught him to Bootblack. Al remembers he was a stickler for clean shoes and as kids they would be in trouble if they went to school with them dirty. So they learned how to put polish on and take it off. Al’s father was in the Royal Navy and later taught him how to spit shine, and also taught him pride in caring for your boots, pride in working at it, in persevering, and pride in your ability and craft.
When Al first heard about Leather it was an instant recognition; that’s what he was and what he needed in his life. He read about it avidly from his small rural community, waiting weeks for books to arrive from the States via Amazon. And he yearned for it. He yearned for that leather community and family that he read about. 7 years ago he petitioned to earn his leathers with DK Leather and the UK KRueL Leather Family. His Leather name Hiraeth (bestowed by DK Leather), is a Welsh word that means “a yearning to belong, a homesickness; for a place, an idea, an emotion or people”. That’s exactly how he felt about Leather. In earning his leathers he discovered aspects of himself that he hadn’t recognised before; a Leatherboy heart and a love of service, a D/s driven Leather Sir and a nurturing Daddy. He earned his leathers old school style from the bottom up, and learned a lot.
Passionate about Leather community and history, Alistair would love to see bootblacking becoming a more visible and accessible kink in the UK, where it is not often seen outside of gay leather spaces, and even there, is limited in it’s visibility at events. Al says, “Bootblacks are the heart of Leather community, providing a space of service and care. We are made up of different genders, kinks and personalities. We may all shine and serve in different ways, but we each bring something unique to our craft. Bootblacking is an intimate act of service and nurture. We each walk our leather paths in our boots and our leathers, and caring for those boots gives care to the people that make up our vast and diverse community.” Al would like to bring bootblacking back into kink and see it being given regular space at mainstream kink events, not just gay leather spaces. He sees that as his mission for his title year; to be an ambassador for bootblacking and leather pride across the UK and Europe, and to make the heart and passion of leather service and bootblacking accessible and visible within wider kink communities. Al recognises the need for workshops, peer support, and Bootblack stands at events in the UK, and thinks our kink communities need bridges building from one space to another. “Whatever gender or sexuality, and whatever kink we inhabit, we are stronger together!”