Congratulations to Eric Guttierez, on the title of International Mr. Leather 2011 and a personal congratulations to local and friend Jim Deuder for the title of International Mr. Bootblack 2011. The competition was fierce and you all came in on top!
How do I even begin to explain the experience of the IML competition? Imagine a Disneyworld of hot, hairy leather gay men gathering together to honor a sacred brotherhood. That’s IML weekend. And to be honest, it was not as magical as I hoped. I knew that this would be the biggest event of the year for Sara, so as always, I was there to set up her outfits, accompany with her on appearances and be her mega hot eye candy!
But gay man culture is strange to me.
Let’s start with the idea of a gay man’s brunch: mimosas, sliced fruit and coffee. I’m a fatty and as we are running from one event to the next, I need breakfast i.e. a meat and a protein. The only edible item that was guaranteed to be at every brunch was beer. The event was sponsored by Bud Light, so beer was everywhere. I have gotten so accustom to going to events that also have play spaces, meaning no alcohol. It was so weird to see men who were all geared up for sex holding beers. But then again, the IML hotel had no public play space. All sex took place in people’s hotel rooms.
Now as an aspiring sex educator and a chronic worrier, the idea of mixing alcohol and horny strangers makes me fear that safe sex gets thrown out the window. And without a dungeon or play space monitor to intervene in an unsafe situation, anything goes. At the end of the day, people are adults and can make their decisions about how they practice their sex. Being at IML just made me realize how accustom I have gotten to the play spaces in my Queer Community and how safe they make me feel. And I consider myself lucky to be a part of such an awesome community.
Though the weekend was a bit of a culture shock, there were a few highlights of the weekend:
A ROOM OF HER OWN EXHIBIT – The Leather Archives Museum had the opening of their Room of Her Own Exhibit, an exhibit documenting leather women’s history starting from the early 90’s. It was a super fascinating exhibit that gathered photographs, books, video and leather artifacts created and inspired by leather women. I was honored to learn that I am becoming a part of such an amazing history, a strong group of women who fought for the rights of LGBT folks. The opening itself was an historic event for women’s visibility at the Leather Archive Museum.
BOOTS SHINED BY JIM – After getting my boots shined by this year’s winning bootblack, I knew who to cast my vote for!! I’ve owned a tall pair of red Docs since last Christmas that have never been shined, must less cleaned and Jim made them shine like I never knew they could! I am gaining a profound respect for bootblacks, as I watch Sara’s leather collection grow and talk to kd Diamond about her love for the craft. I am proud to say that I now own boot blacking supplies from the winner himself!! Thanks RopeBoi for building a bootblack starter kit for me. No longer will my leathers go neglected!!
THE COMPETITION – Think Broadway! The IML competition was more extravagant then I imagined it would be. I’m talking fog machines, videos of IMLs past, a live band, speeches – I felt like I was at the Grammys! There were so many contestants I was having a hard time keeping up! Even so, Sara found her sash husband and watching Jim try to balance his huge boot blacking trophy made me smile.
Overall the weekend was a reminder that is important to continue to bring visibility to leather woman’s community in gay men’s spaces. Some of the guys we ran into at IML were surprised there was even an International Ms Leather competition. Yes, we exist and our community is just as valid as the gay men’s community and we can all fight for visibility across gender lines together.
A special thanks to all of our hosts in Chicago. Thank you for making Sara and I feel welcome and for showing us such an awesome time in the city!
So, remember how Queer Invasion was way too hot for me to write about? Well luckily I have worked up the courage to write about Queer PlayCon, another weekend long event filled with workshops, practicum and play! Sara and I were still exhausted from IMsL but made it to the second day of festivities on Saturday. We sat through a very invigorating Master/Slave Discussion and an amazing Cutting class taught by the lovely Sarah Sloane. Somehow she makes the art of cutting so much less scary and so much more interesting!! I was generally excited for QPC but a little anxious for this event, as I promised to indulge Sara’s sadistic side by trying staples for the first time. Thanks to a dear friend and Sara’s encouragement, it was quiet a blissful experience.
To find out more about the naughty in’s and out’s of this sharp encounter, read my article on Fearless Press, Shrinking Hard Limits: The Evolution of a Kinky Relationship at http://www.fearlesspress.com/2011/06/06/shrinking-hard-limits/
Warning: The following paragraphs are filled with coming-of-age birthday feelings. Read at your own risk!
I had a bit of a soul searching birthday last week. I laughed and cried, drank and ate. I couldn’t help but look back on what a rockin’ year it’s been. Last year around this time, I was still shaking off my wacky college years trying to discover whether or not the “alternative” life was even for me. Now that I am sure I am a complete pervert, I feel really good about my dirty lil’ self! This year has turned me into a Sash Widow/Pageant mom, a smut writer, a permanent volunteer and, as my mom is learning to call me, a not-so-quiet queer activist.
On top of all that, Sara and I are still setting the parameters of our polyamorous relationship. I’m learning that as much as I love people (talking to people, getting to know people, fucking people, etc.), people are complicated, relationships are complicated and relationships take time. As I fill up my calendar with IMsL appearances, poetry readings and work, I’m suddenly so anxious about all there is to do this summer. I constantly keep thinking there simply is not enough time!
So I am learning to slow down. I’m learning not to rush life and not to put too much pressure on myself to write a certain way or grow in a certain way or have relationships in a certain way. This year, I’m giving myself the gift of acknowledging who I am and who I am becoming. And I’m done thinking there isn’t enough time. I promised myself when I start to feel overwhelmed, I am simply going back to basics: lots of tea drinking, reading books on sunny afternoons, listening to classic R&B, calling old friends, writing letters and most importantly, laughing, a lot…especially when it’s to keep from crying!
Besides, I’m 24…it’s too early for me to become a cynical, resigned adult…right?
Stay tuned for highlights on upcoming adventures:
Dark Odyssey – Fusion where Sara and I will be teaching our “The Revolution will be Kinky” class
The Floating World, my first event without my lovely
and, most exciting of all, The Lambda Literary Emerging LGBT Writers Retreat!!!
Peace, Love and Liberation!