Knight of Leather Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Originally published in Lavender (August 19, 2005)


This year the Knights of Leather became the third Minnesota leather club to reach the 20-year mark. Founded as a club exclusively for leatherwomen, the Knights were reconstituted in 2000 as a pansexual leather club. I recently interviewed P.J. Knight, the most senior member of the Knights of Leather, who told me the fascinating history of the club.


The Knights of Leather was founded in January, 1985, by five leatherwomen. Shortly after starting the club, two of the founders moved to San Francisco. Another was with the Knights for two or three years. Another, nicknamed "Kooks," was a member of the Knights for six or seven years and now lives in Florida.


The only founding Knights member still in the area is Red (now Russ) Helbig, who for many years was involved with Twin Cities Gay Pride, Leather Pride, and Minnesota Leather Encounter as well as the Knights of Leather. Helbig left the Knights about ten years ago.


For years I was under the mistaken assumption that Knight helped found the club and that it was called "Knights of Leather" because of her last name. Knight was not one of the five original members. She was, however, the club's first pledge, or "squire," in March, 1985. Three months later she became a full member and has been one ever since.

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