Friday, April 22, 2016

Stepdown Speech for Washington State Mr. Leather 2015

My stepdown as Washington State Mr. Leather 2015was on Saturday March 19, 2016.  Thanks to Hobbit, I have a video of my stepdown speech, which I’ve trimmed and will attached to this post.

Here is my Thank You letter from the contest program:
This last year has been a lot of fun — as it should be!
As I told the judges in my contest interview in 2015, a major personal reason for me to run for Washington State Mr. Leather again — last year was not my first title contest, nor the first time for Washington State — was that having a title sets goals, requirements, and deadlines in front of you, and for myself, that forces me to focus and be my best the entire year. 
I will save the meaty items for my on-stage comments and limit this letter to my thank you list.  And if I forgot to list you, I promise, it’s only because I forgot, not because I am not thankful. 
To the WSMLO board, for your support during the year.  And the boards of Seattle Men in Leather and Rain Country Dance Association, beyond your support as clubs and as individuals, for letting me utilize your pull for my events, and for pulling me in to do events for you. 
To my clubs and club brothers (and sisters): Seattle Men in Leather, Vancouver Men in Leather, Alameda County Leather Corps, Rainy City Rubbermen, and Seattle Pups & Handlers, plus the support of Seattle girls of Leather and Flaggers PDX.  To Rusty and Kent, for style.  To Norm, for being a sounding board.  To Gylan and Phil, for when I tried to reach too far.  To my IML 38 brothers.  To Odie, for having the foresight to arrange for our first WSMLO fundraiser last year.  And to all my Menagerie fisting bros — (insert clenched fist image here, just because!) — thanks for all the well lubed support.  And especially to Cole in Portland and Reid in Vancouver, and Bob from
And above all else, to my sash partners, Liliya and Beau.  You are beautiful.
By request from one of my Facebook followers, here is a transcription of my speech.  (This is an edited transcription, fixing up some of the text to make it more coherent for reading.  The speech was followed by awarding a Leather Emerald Award, which I have omitted here.  That is why this seems truncated.)
Thank you all for being here tonight. 
I’m not going to give the litany of “thank you’s” — that’s all in my step-down letter in the program.  Instead, I want to give you a rundown of what I did this last year.  Many of you have followed me on Facebook, so you know that I went to Rubout; I went to International Ms. Leather; I went to FistFest twice, in different states; I went to IML; I went to Mid-Atlantic Leather; I went to Folsom Street Fair; I went to Oregon Leather.  I don’t know how many trips I took, but one of the key things I want to tell our incoming titleholders and any of you who think about doing this — the number of trips that I took this year that I took because of the title rather than because of my activity in the leather community is two: Folsom Street Fair and Richland Pride. 
A lot of people come into one of these titles thinking “Oh my god, there’s no way I can put out the effort and put in the extra work to go to all the events and do all the things!”  So I want to give our incoming titleholders and any of the rest of you a hint: it is easy if you are already deeply embedded in your local leather community.  If you are already in the habit of going to the socials, being involved in the organizations, supporting the existing titleholders, the Sisters, the Court, whatever it is… if you’re already doing all that stuff, it’s 10% more work, plus a couple of fundraisers.  Which is still a lot of work!  But it isn’t this humongous mountain to climb; it’s a hill.  If you are interested in being involved in the title community, be involved in the leather community.  It’s easier, and it will make you a whole lot happier. 
Beyond that, I got to do three workshops this year: one for Seattle girls of Leather, one for Seattle Men in Leather, and one for FlaggersPDX in Portland, and I’ll be doing two more for CLAW in Cleveland next month.  I hosted eight play parties this year — my travel fund is based on having people over to my place to have sex.  One of the things you will hear for the titleholders is “Your year is what you make of it” or “Your year is your own”.  That never gets explained to people, so let me explain it to you.  If your passion is traveling all over the country spreading Washington love, do that.  If you passion is teaching workshops, sharing your skills, do that.  If your passion is expanding the sexual community in the area, do that.  But for God’s sake, do something! 
One other piece of “explaining it all for you” is something that our incoming titleholders and everybody else hears a lot: “The title patch is a target” and “The leather community is full of politics”.  So here’s another secret: half of the politics is self-generated.  We make our own Hell.  Don’t send yourself to Hell, and you won’t suffer the politics.  If you don’t give them something to aim at, the target is not a patch… er, the patch is not a target.  Live your life as a titleholder, as a leathermen or leatherwoman, open and free and proud and all these things that you hear horror stories of probably will not happen.  Be bulletproof. 
I wanted to also share three pieces of advice that I have gained from people over the years: 
  • From George Wong, who was one of the founders of Avatar in Los Angeles, rest his soul.  He told me at IML years ago: “Never tell them you’re tired.  Tell them you’re weary, because if you tell them you’re tired, they might agree with you.” 
  • From previous year’s IMsL, Patty: “At the end of the day, you still have to take out the trash.” 
  • The other piece comes from before the Internet was the Internet, back circa 1989 on one of the USENET newsgroups — and this is a humbling thing for all of our titleholders — “None of us here are more important than anyone else, some of us just have bigger mouths.” (And are willing to use them.)

Trip Report: International Ms. Leather 2016

IMsL 2016 was a fantastic experience.

At many men's leather events, I feel that the handful of women attending are a combination of sidelined and ignored — and sometimes even resented.  At IMsL, I have never felt that in reverse.  While this is partly because of the significant trans component at the event, the women’s leather events are simply a different beast.  Pretty much all aspects of the event are open to the attendance and participation of men of all stripes.  Kudos to Pat and Sharrin for a great Generation 4 event.

One thing that particularly struck me was how many of these women I know and love, and have for almost 20 years — this was my 6th IMsL (my first was 1997), plus 3 Ms. Worlds.  It was so great to get to spend a little reconnect time — and to realize that, yeah, they do remember me! — with Judy, Mama Sandy, Gabrielle (whom I have known for over 25 years), Amy, Faye, Lamalani, Dara, Patty, Dee, Angel, Sarge, Tabitha, Aurora, Nancy, Jessi, Pat, Rachele, Beth, and more, and I hope to get to know those I just met this year — Penelope, Meghan, Jane, Sarah, Shiloh, Jen, Vi, etc. — more during the coming years.  And of course my Northwest peeps who were there: Beau, Carla, Brynn, Reesey, Ash, Stormy, Spencer, Dr. Danger, Sparrowhawk, Paul, Kian.

And the other guys who attend: beyond Bamm Bamm and Patrick as judges, there were Bob, Michael, PJ (and Jen!), Roran, Dr. Clockwork, Thib, Randy, and my IML bros Todd, Cody, and Harry, and IMBB bro Douglas (“Camaraderie or else!”).  And more I am forgetting at the moment — sorry!

There were great workshops — Dr. Evil on fisting, Lamalani and Dara on titleholding, and Shiloh on flagging.  (I’m totally gonna steal some of Shiloh’s content for a more gay male-aimed version of the flagging workshop.  With her love and permission, of course.)  And Bevvies with Beavers, the Canadian party!  And Shan and Vi at the brunch!  So much great stuff!

I love the open interviews.  Would love to see more contests do that, although it takes longer to wrangle.  (No way could they manage it at IML, with 60 contestants!)  The mini-teach as part of the interview was brilliant.  Also loved seeing IMsL and IMsBB as one class, including both sets of judges involved in the interviews for both titles.

And it’s true: I am now no longer a gold-star gay.  Thank you for the tarnishing, M--.  #notwhatyouthink #unlessitis.  And B--, too, with pencils.  #notthesamething

The silent auction was great as always.  I walked away with a hot framed poster from the Tristate contest, a pretty necklace (Christmas for Mom!), and gee, who did you think would buy the fisting basket?  (It was for the tequila, of course.)  (“Lying”, says the cat.  #sagarules)

One of the things that I like most about the women’s events is the sense of history, of the importance of remembering and passing it forward, of stories.  The gay men’s community tends so much toward “It’s about sex” (and if it isn’t that, then “It’s about fundraising”) that we forget to make and re-make those connections which are what makes the “community” an actual community.  (I think that’s one of the reasons I like Mid-Atlantic Leather more than many other men’s leather events, because while understated, there is still a definite sense of continuity and history there.)

Oh yes, I will be back!