Mr. LA Leather Bear 2023 – Carlos Zavala
I’m a 31 year old witch and second generation Mexican American who moved to LA in 2020. Witchcraft, curanderismo, brujeria, it’s a way of connecting to my Mexican heritage and my queerness. Learning and practicing traditions that my ancestors did, brings me closer to them.
It follows that I love vintage leather, and it brings me pride and a sense of connection wearing something I found and restored. I imagine who used to own it, and feel like I can carry on a leather story now that they may not be around to do anymore.
I’ve been lucky to meet so many truly special people since moving here, and it’s in no small part because of leather.
Several years ago, I came to The Eagle in LA during an Onyx event for the first time and felt like I stepped into a Tom of Finland piece. It all clicked for me then that not only can I wear leather, but I can be a leather man along with the people I was seeing and meeting for the first time.
Wearing leather has made me open up, push past my comfort zone and discover different sides of myself. I spent many years being “accepted” by acquaintances and some parts of my family, only to realize they only accepted a sanitized version of me. I made myselfsmaller, in relationships, friendships, every aspect of my life.
Leather has become such a big part of my life, because I’m now supported by my fiancé and friends who appreciate all parts of me and have seen me grow during my leather and kink journey. I’m truly happy and, even though I got started a little later than some I’m making up for lost time!
Winning Mr. LA Leather Bear is an honor, and affirmation that my goals of helping people on their own leather and kink journeys is supported. Whether it’s someone who’s going to their first gay bar, or someone who may be discovering leather and kink later on in life. I’m proud to do my part of welcoming people and making them feel comfortable in themselves.