Friday, April 22, 2016

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!

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