The law of attraction states that similar energies are drawn together. The outside world is a reflection of yourself, because you attract everything you experience. I'm speaking to Suzanne on the phone. She has decided to run for Miss Leather Netherlands.
“Ah, Wil Groot. The one that is active in Africa.” That is correct, yes.” “I sponsor an Islamic girls’ orphanage in Kenya. On holiday, I met a journalist who took me there. We had to wear a veil. When I saw the girls there, I was sold. We chatted some more, and there was a click.
It is Sunday evening. On the stage of Cafe Blue on the Albert Cuypstraat, all Mister Leathers are looking at a radiant Suzanne van de Laar with a big smile on their faces. She has just received the first Miss Leather Netherlands title. The sash covers her beautiful body. Suzanne is beautiful indeed. I notice that it is a mixed audience, and that there are a lot of lesbians present. I am delighted with this change, to have a development beyond Mr. Leather.
The presenter wants Suzanne's attention. “Well, Suzanne, the public has spoken. What are your plans as the first Mrs. Leather Netherlands? He gives her three options.
1 – A selfie with the Amsterdam Mayor Mrs. Femke Halsema, or 2 – Give educational information at schools, or 3 – Participate in a TV show?”
Suzanne smiles and takes over the microphone. She looks at the audience with a loving smile and says; "All three!" The audience cheers, beer flows, and cameras are clicking. Suzanne is a photographer by trade, but now the roles are reversed. A new activist is born.
A few days later, I visit her in Almere, where she lives. She picks me up from the train with her daughter who has just come home from school. "I'm taking you to a campaign, Wil." I look at her, wondering what she means. “We are campaigning for the charity “Lock Me Up – Free A Girl,” her daughter Merel says. “With this annual campaign, the Free a Girl foundation is raising money to free girls who are stuck in prostitution in order to make a new and better life for those girls possible. In India, girls are locked up in cages and are sometimes raped 10 times a night."
I have to process that for a moment. A little later we arrive in Almere Haven where I see two large cages on the terrace of Brasserie Julia. Yes, I am committed to this, and Miss Leather Netherlands is also committed to this.
Gay people are trendsetters. That is general knowledge. Minorities seek each other out, and the leather scene is one of those minorities. Australia and the United States already have a Miss Leather, and there is an international Miss Leather as well. In 2017, Mister Europe and the former Mister Europe set up a group on Facebook to activate leather women. This year, Mister Leather has also worked hard to get more women involved with the leather scene. That is what titles are for. Title holders are expected to break taboos and bring people together.
How did you get involved in the leather scene, Suzanne?
I was making pictures in the leather community, and those men inspired me. They became my friends. The activism was something that had always appealed to me. I became a member of MSA, Leatherfriends Netherlands. Through that, I visited the Miss Leather Sydney election. I took from this that creating the Miss Leather Netherlands title creates visibility for women. The current Mister Leather Netherlands then asked me if I wanted to participate. At the age of 17 I owned and wore my first leather jacket. It felt like a second skin. It made me feel safe and it still does.
What are your plans?
“More visibility and safety, building bridges between leather and bear women, and straight, lesbian or puppy ladies and women. I want them all to be strong in unison. I see myself as a PAN sexual woman. I love people.
Meanwhile, the terrace is full of people. Miss Leather Netherlands is called to the stage and the presenter starts his auction. Sponsored shirts, with signatures from Ajax and the Dutch hockey team, among other things, generate a lot of money, even via telephone bids from those who cannot be there in person.
Later that evening, I read through my notes and realize that there are a lot of similarities between Suzanne and me. We both have a certain drive. We share our activism and try to contribute to a better world. The law of attraction was and is applicable.