Carrie Gray could be considered Canada’s best dildo harness manufacturer.
The owner and head designer of Toronto’s Aslan Leather Inc has been at it for a decade – she started designing sex toys in 1992.
“I feel fantastic about making sex toys for women,” says Gray. “It’s one of the greatest occupations I could have. Making dildo harnesses and bondage gear makes me feel good about myself, because I’m contributing in a positive way towards women’s pleasure.
“Putting on a dildo harness is very empowering. I see women putting them on and it’s clear how turned on they are. It’s a whole new level of sexuality and an incredible item.”
When Gray became interested in dildo harnesses, their availability was low. Dildos were very politically incorrect among lesbians a decade ago.
“I started creating stuff because I found there was nothing made for women, such as a good dildo harness or quality bondage gear that would fit women.”
Gray also gives regular workshops called Strap-On Sex. She also regularly attends the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival again, vending harnesses and bondage gear.
“I used to be under the assumption that every butch knew how to use one, but I was wrong,” she says.
And what’s wrong with femmes wearing strap-ons? “I think a femme with a dildo harness is one of the most powerful images I can imagine.”
Gray says that designing and using strap-ons has had a profound effect on her own life.
“Wearing a harness and cock as long as I have, it has helped me to come to a comfortable place with my gender. I identify as a transgendered queer. Strapping on a dick makes the experience as close to reality as possible and has facilitated my own sexual growth. I can take on a male persona sexually when I choose and it gives me the choice whether I want to play sexually as a man or a woman.”
Gender changes have been in vogue in the last decade among butch dykes. When asked about the use of testosterone or surgery, Carrie explained that for her, the health and emotional risks are too great. “Being trans means moving through the world as male a large percentage of the time while still enjoying the comfort of my female body.”
Gray’s interest in designing sex toys and leather products developed as she moved through a series of relatively “normal” career choices.
“I grew up in Scarborough but was born in East Africa, in Tanzania. My family came to Canada when I was two and a half. I moved out when I was 18. I worked as a carpenter, a house framer, then in a photography store and next a daycare. I began making leather stuff while at the daycare. Next I spent four years as a chef at La Hacienda on Queen.
“I used to joke about opening a sex-positive toy store across the street. The opportunity came up and I opened Come As You Are with two business partners. I worked really hard to open the store, but my leather business became so de-manding that I couldn’t manage both.
“I pulled out of the co-operative store a month and a half later and decided to concentrate on Aslan Leather fulltime.”
Aslan is a character in the CS Lewis series of books The Chronicles Of Narnia, the lion who protects a world called Narnia.
“I chose that name for my business because it’s about these kids who go through a secret closet or passageway and arrive at Narnia, a wonderful place where there was no evil,” she says. “It symbolizes coming out of the closet and going to a land of fantasy. As queers, we all remember coming out; the first time we cross that threshold and realize our dreams.”
Finding a lack of venues for kinky queer women and trans folk to play, Carrie began hosting Narnia play parties and DJing at Ciao Edie for Here Kitty Kitty Sundays.
* For more info, check out www.aslanleather.com.