By Michelle Talsma Everson, November 2018 Issue.
Oshun Onyx, also known as Brooklyn Diazz Onyx or the Southwest Leather Mama Bear 2018, knows what it’s like to have a foot/paw/boot in several worlds at once. She’s a proud woman of color who is also a member of the LGBTQ community, she’s been actively involved in the kink, leather and BDSM lifestyle for decades, she’s a decorated drag king and she’s an outspoken survivor of, and advocate against, sex trafficking.It’s the combination of these experiences, that led her to realize the importance of living life out loud and visible – to not be ashamed of who she is and where she’s been. In doing so, she hopes to encourage other members of these communities to do the same.
In August, she competed for – and won – the inaugural title of Ms. World Bear 2018 during World Bear Weekend in Lexington, Ky.
The Bear NecessitiesOshun explained that she has been involved in the BDSM and leather lifestyles for going on 20 years. She’s a longtime member of ONYX Pearls Southeast, an organization for women of color in the leather, fetish and BDSM lifestyles. She also spent years as a titleholding drag king, earning 1st alternate to Mister Phoenix Pride in 2015. She is also a member of the Imperial Court of Arizona and is currently serving as Baroness for Reign XIII.
“I did a lot of sponsoring [of] different pageants and fundraising for different causes as a [drag] king,” Oshun said. “As a woman title holder, there often isn’t a lot of support. But I keep going because I am valid. As a person of color, as a leather person, as a person – I am valid and I am going to be here.”
Upon realizing that she hadn’t found a way to incorporate her love of leather and BDSM into her time as a drag king, causing her or keep these characteristics of herself separate, she set a new goal.
“I got tired of hiding it [leather],” she said. “I lost myself and I had to be true to myself. I remembered that the leather community does a lot of fundraising as well, so I ran for the Southwest Leather Mama Bear title.”
After winning the title of Southwest Leather Mama Bear 2018, she wanted to do something bigger with her title.
When members of the World Bear competition staff contacted her, it was an easy decision to run for the inaugural contest, billed as a unique event that “combines the bear, bootblack, and pup communities into one action-packed weekend of fun, philanthropy, and a competitive spirit of love and brotherhood/sisterhood.”
Oshun’s partner, Southwest Leather Cub 2017 Tyler Merry (Pup Moh Moh), also made plans to attend World Bear Weekend and to compete for the World Cub 2018 title.
Together, the couple raised funds, prepared their contest packages and departed for Lexington together on Aug. 21.
“[Pup Moh Moh] is, first and foremost, my partner. My boy second, [then] my cub and my pup. He is also my best friend,” Oshun shared. “Holding our titles together for the first time was amazing. We got to travel, do events and talk to people together… Competing at an international level together … wasn’t as stressful as it would be if we were competing alone, although the nerves and anxiety was there during competition time.”
Joining Oshun in the quest for the inaugural Ms. World Bear title was Ms. New Jersey Leather 2014 Nikki LezBear and Mamabear (Courtney) of Louisville.
As the first three female bears to take the stage in pursuit of the international female bear title, the contestants competed in title wear, swim wear, formal wear, fantasy wear and interview categories – with Oshun earning the highest combined score.
Taking Care of the Cubs
Becoming the inaugural Ms. World Bear is a great fit, Oshun said, because it gives her a place for her platform: raising awareness about child sex trafficking.
“Titles can help give you a voice, and because this is a world title, I can travel internationally,” she explained.
This platform, she added, has already given her an avenue to discuss her personal experiences.
“I was sold into child sex trafficking at 14 by my mother,” she explained. “When people think of sex trafficking, they think it only happens in third-world countries, but it doesn’t happen just there. It happens here. It’s mainly trafficking of children and men.”
According to polarisproject.org, its National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888) has received reports of 22,191 sex trafficking cases inside the United States since 2007.
It Takes A DenIn addition to raising awareness, Oshun plans to raise funds for various nonprofit organizations. During World Bear Weekend, she noted that the weekendlong event was dedicated to raising funds for Rainbow Railroad (rainbowrailroad.com), a nonprofit that helps LBGTQI+ around the globe.
One of her favorite nonprofits, she said, is the Starfish Project (starfishproject.com), which helps exploited women and children overseas. Oshun added that she would eventually like to start her own nonprofit to help victims of sex trafficking.
Now that she’s officially Ms. World Bear 2018, Oshun hopes to inspire other people of color to know that they aren’t limited to specific contest or events. She hopes that they, and everyone in the community, feel safe in leather bars, bear bars, and anywhere else they’re led to.
“People are well-meaning, but please don’t treat women or people of color any differently,” she shared. “And don’t shun vanillas, either. We’re all people and should be all welcome.”
To those unfamiliar with the leather and BDSM lifestyles, Oshun emphasized that it’s not all about sex.
“It’s about community, about family, about looking out for one another. Most of the leather titles are fundraising titles that raise money for a variety of causes,” she said, adding that she could not have accomplished this achievement without support from her local community.
“I don’t ever want anyone to feel that they’re unwelcome in the LGBTQ or leather communities,” she added. “We should make all people feel welcome until there’s a reason not to. All people deserve that fair chance.”
For more information on Ms. World Bear 2018 Oshun Onyx, visit facebook.com/ms.worldbear2018. For additional details on World Bear Weekend, visit worldbearweekend.com.