Leather Knights, DFW Sisters join together for Angel Tree Gift Project kick-off
Knight: The word alone conjures up a world of chivalry and honor. Add “leather” before it and, here in Dallas, you are still talking about a world of chivalry and honor.
The Leather Knights, a nonprofit organization of gay leather men dedicated to providing service and support for the North Texas LGBT community, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. And this weekend, Leather Knights kick off their 10th annual Angel Tree Gift Project, with a little help from the DFW Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and Lipps LaRue of the United Court of the Lone Star Empire.
“We do a lot of fundraisers and service projects, but this one is my favorite,” Leather Knight Adam Lynn said of the Angel Tree Gift Project. “Each year we focus on helping the clients at AIDS Services of Dallas and making some of their Christmas wishes come true. It’s what the holiday season is all about.”
Beginning Saturday, Nov. 22, the Leather Knights will have a Christmas tree near the front door of the Dallas Eagle, 5740 Maple Ave., decorated with tags bearing the wish lists of AIDS Services residents. Patrons are asked to choose an ASD “angel,” purchase the item or items on that person’s wish list and return those, unwrapped, to the Eagle by Dec. 14.
The Knights will then deliver the gifts to AIDS Services where they will be wrapped and given to the residents.
“The things they are asking for are usually pretty basic,” Lynn said. “They ask for anything from pots and pans to sheets or shoes. And if somebody wants to buy gifts for a child, they can do that, too.
There are residents who have children and we will have some children on the angel tree.”
But the children aren’t the main focus this time.
“We do have about 35 children living here, and a few of them are included on the Leather Knights’ Angel Tree,” said Alexis Sanchez, residential coordinator at ASD’s Hillcrest House. “But really, it’s the single adults that we like to focus on with the Leather Knights’ Angel Tree.
“The children and their families get attention from a lot of groups, but the single adults are really the overlooked population at Christmas,” she continued. “Most of the single adults here are estranged from their families and have no real support network. So it is really great when someone like the Leather Knights come in and focus on doing something for them.”
Sanchez agreed with Lynn that the ASD “angels” are asking for very basic gifts. “The majority of our clients here are very low income, so this gift project gives them an opportunity to ask for and get things most people just take for granted, things like blankets and pillows.”
Lynn said Leather Knights will have about 150 ASD “angels” on the tree for patrons to choose from, and “our goal is to clear the tree this year. We want to make sure that every person on the tree gets what they want and what they need.”
Last year, he said, there were about 200 ASD residents on the Leather Knights Angel Tree, and not all of them were chosen by patrons. But the Knights won’t let anyone be left out. That’s where the cash donations — and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence — come in, Lynn said.
“Maybe someone doesn’t have time to go buy the gifts on the list but they want to help,” Lynn said. “So we accept cash donations and use the money to go buy whatever we still need at the end of the project.
“And the Sisters help with that, too, by staging a show to kick off the Angel Tree Gift Project,” Lynn added. “This year, that show happens Saturday night (Nov. 22), at the Eagle.”
And it will be one fun show, promised Sister Lawna Jocqui, mistress of events for the DFW Sisters.
Sister Lawna said she went to the Leather Knights three years ago to “ask how the Sisters could help make the Angel Tree even better, and if they’d consider letting me put together a variety-type show, with a little burlesque, live singing, drag and a number of other perfectly legal activities.”
The Knights agreed, knowing, Lynn said, that the Sisters have a higher and more public profile in the LGBT community and could therefore broaden the event’s reach. And so the Sleigh Ride in Leather show was born.
Sister Lawna asked “my best gal pal, Empress 37 of the United Court of the Lone Star Empire Lipps LaRue,” to join as co-emcee for the second annual Sleigh Ride show last year, and the event brought in nearly $2,000, she said.
This year, the Sisters are adding an underwear auction and “Lipps will be selling the undergarments right off the gentlemen on stage. No nudity, though, because that would get us a hefty fine,” Sister Lawna said. Other items will be auctioned off, including one of United Court member Danielle Starr’s famous cakes.”
Lynn noted that the Eagle Outpost, the leather store located inside Dallas Eagle, is contributing to the Angel Tree Gift Project as well. The shop carries Nasty Pig clothing and Nasty Pig has created a line of special, limited edition T-shirts and a hat to commemorate its 20th anniversary. Eagle Outpost will donate $5 from the sale of each limited edition T-shirt and hat from Nov. 22-Dec. 14 to the Angel Tree project.
“It’s a great way for people to give and at the same time get a cool shirt,” he said.
Sister Lawna said those attending the show should expect Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza song parodies along with some of the traditional holiday favorites, like “I Saw Daddy Kissing Santa Claus,” “Santa’s Baby” and “Blowjobs for Christmas.”
The Sleigh Ride in Leather show is “sure to be full of sin and debauchery,” Sister Lawna said. But there is a serious side to the endeavor, too, just as with all the group’s efforts.
“When we take our vows as fully professed Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, it includes ‘promulgating joy and expiating stigmatic guilt.’ Another part of our vows mentions asking for help when needed and providing help when called upon,” Sister Lawna said. “The Sisters worldwide give a large portion of their lives — in terms of finances as well as time and effort — to the communities they serve. For those who’ve been doing it for decades, it’s proof that it truly is a calling. The reward is knowing, at the end of the day, we’ve made a difference.”
HIV stigma continues to cloud the lives of thousands upon thousands, and new infections continue to occur. “That’s why it is so important to support these fundraisers,” Sister Lawna said. “Show the people around you that this matters … . Let them know you give a damn. Everyone has something to give, even if it’s just a hug.”
She continued, “We want to help people living with HIV/AIDS. In the old days, the earlier days of the epidemic, when we did these things, we were trying to make sure someone got what they wanted for Christmas because it was probably going to be their last Christmas. It’s different now; people are living with AIDS now. But there’s still no reason they should be left out at the holidays. Whether it’s
Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or just Dec. 25, they should know that someone, somewhere is thinking of them.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 21, 2014.