Everyone's journey is unique and takes us in very different directions. Darrell Klassy has taken several paths on his journey and the one thing I get from him is that he's unapologetic.
Darrell talks openly about his time in the military. How he sacrificed being himself (gay); you have to remember this was a time when being gay could get you discharged. While in the military he would meet Rodney, the man he would spend 29 years with; he remembers meeting him for the first time while stationed at Keesler Air Force base. "I was terrified that someone would find out that I was at a gay bar" he stated, "and it would be on my 4th visit that I was introduced to Rodney by friends". They both understood that their relationship would have to remain quite, which wasn't difficult since they were both very private and quite about their sexuality.
March 2016 he would make himself come out for the first time since Rodney passed away (something he talks about with emotion). He knew almost nothing about the leather community, but wanted to explore this aspect of his life. In 2017 Darrell joined the Lords of Leather in New Orleans. Darrell stated, "I found a place that I belonged, it interested me, I knocked down a door for myself and it was something I wanted".
It would be later that year he would enter and win the Mr. Louisiana Leather, a contest that represents not only New Orleans but the Gulf South. Darrell knew he didn't have much experience and didn't feel right about doing it, but after several people talked him into registering for the contest he went full steam ahead. Now until that event, I'd never heard of Darrell, but hell he had the guts to do it, so why not. "I was nervous as fuck and it wasn't until I came out for the second portion that I began to feel comfortable," he says. "I remember saying holy fuck I won". The next step for Darrell is IML in Chicago where he will represent New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.
Our conversation turns to HIV/AIDS something he is very passionate about. He finds it amazing how many people are not properly educated on HIV; how so many don't even understand what it means, what undetectable is and the history of HIV/AIDS. What angers him the is the stigma of HIV, "the LGBT community gives this false sense of security about HIV and then there are the pharmaceutical companies and the healthcare industry that use fear to present drugs to the community", he says. He also thinks that the use of PreP has allowed members of the community to become complacent about HIV/AIDS and STI's
One of the interesting aspects of his journey is his personal relationship(s). He is currently in a polyamory relationship. Darrell stated "I have different feelings for each one, they are my family and each person has their own life outside of our family. I just ask they respect each other and be true to us all".
Regardless of what you think of Darrell, he is determined to live his life for himself "I don't care what people think or say about me, this is my life and I'm not changing my life for anyone", he states. So, I'm going to end this on that note, it couldn't have been said better.