The Mr. Bear San Diego 2014 contest was held on Saturday 29, 2014 at The Hole. Three contestants vied for the opportunity to represent the Bears San Diego this year: David Ferguson, Jeff Breeze, and Phil Leggitt. Contestants withstood a private interview with a panel of judges at 6 PM.
The four-judge panel consisted of Everardo Aguilar, Mr. San Diego Bear 2001; Sister Ghana Maria from the San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence or The Asylum of the Tortured Heart; Ben Hernandez, Mr. SoCal Bear 2013; and this author.
Emceed by the wonderful and entertaining Empress XXV Roxie Bleau, the contest also drew many Sisters and one fearless Guard from the Asylum of the Tortured Heart, who showered the venue with blessings, songs, sass, and naturally…glitter.
On working with the Sisters, contest producer and Bears San Diego Treasurer Jeff Rosenfeld said, “The Sisters have truly been our partners in our fundraising endeavors throughout this year. We could not accomplish what we do without them.”The contestants were introduced to the audience in Casual Wear (everyday clothes). After a break, the three men took turns on stage in Bear Wear (what makes them feel sexy).
1. For those who don’t know you, please tell us about yourself & what your titles are.
First the easy part: As far as titles are concerned, all mine have been given to me as honorary titles.
1999 Man of the Year from National Leather Association International
2007 Lifetime Achievement Award from National Leather Association International
2010 Recipient of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Leather Leadership Award
2012 Presidents Award - Pantheon of Leather
Now the hard part: I am a native Texan and have been active in the LGBT community since the early 1970's. I became fascinated with Leather in the late 1970's and stepped into my first Leather bar sometime around 1978. Since that fateful day I have continued on my Leather journey and am a former member of the Dallas Motorcycle Club, Leather Rose Society, National Leather Association, Discipline Corps and a founding member of Inquisition Dallas.
I have written many articles on Leather/BDSM topics and am the author of four books currently in circulation including "Family Jewels, a Guide to Male Genitortureand Torment "and” Soul of a Second Skin-Memoirs of a Gay Christian Leatherman."
I have also directed a few films on Leather/BDSM subjects including "Leather" a short film-poem about the gay male Leather experience and "Out of the Darkness, the Reality of SM" a documentary on the critical difference between SM and abuse.
Professionally I am a Marketing Specialist and I live in Dallas with my boy/partner of 18 years Patrick and our feline mistress, Elvira.
2. What or who got you started in the leather community and for how long?
What drew me to Leather was the hyper-masculinity of it. I never considered myself feminine; nor was I attracted to feminine men. Leather just pushed all the right buttons for me and once I got involved I fund that I really liked rough sex and SM.
The community, as such, didn't really exist when I came in, but the subsequent AIDS crisis pulled us together and gave us a real sense of purpose. We, in Dallas, started educating our community to the many ways sex could be hot and kinky and still be safer-sex.
3. Which club or bar are you affiliated with and tell us more about the history?
Currently I am a member of NLA: Dallas and Discipline Corps. NLA: Dallas is a pan-sexual organization with a mission to educate and network Leather/Fetish/BDSM folk of all sexual orientations and genders.
Discipline Corps is a men-only social and play group whose primary focus is monthly dungeon parties and having a good time!
When I go to a bar it is the Dallas Eagle, our local Leather bar, though I am not officially affiliated with it the owners, Mark Frasier and Jeffery Payne are close friends of mine.
4. How did you enjoy being one of the judges at IML XXX5 and what were your favorite moments?
Judging at IML was an amazing experience. I was worn out form the long days, but energized by the great men I met during the experience. I knew most of the judges before the contest, though I did make new friends since a couple of the judges were new faces to me. We all bonded immediately and the contestants were all outstanding. The final choice was very hard, since any of the Top 20 could have easily been a wonderful IML.
My favorite moments were getting to meet so many folks from outside the US, and the South African delegation was a particular joy!
5. Tell us about your charity involvement and goals.
As far as charity work I have several. My contributions to my church, Cathedral of Hope are an ongoing passion of mine. We even have a full pew of Leather folk wearing their colors every Sunday. I also work with Kiva, a micro loan organization that funds small businesses and individuals across the world.
I serve as Chairman of the Board for the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance in Washington, DC and work raising funds to support it and its many programs.
6. Tell us about your leather family.
My leather family is small, just me and my boy/partner. My extended Leather family is larger. About 8-10 close friends who I think of as family. Beyond that I have a large circle of friends who I have met at events and contests all over the continent and they too, are like family. I consider them my Leather cousins.
7. Who is the most influential person in your life and why?
I have to say my father. He taught me a lot as far as values and how to treat other people. He was authentic and honest and I try to emulate that. He loved his work and his family. He was intellectually curious and being a scientist, he never stopped learning, and that is something I think I got from him.
8. In your mind, what’s the biggest misconception of the leather community?
The biggest misconception I see about the Leather community is that we are some sort of homogenous group with a written code of conduct and values. No such thing. We are as varied as the general population, except for our love of kink and Leather. As a whole I have found our community does communicate more than the average vanilla folk, and I attribute that to the fellowship of our organizations and to the need for communication when we play.
9. What would you say are the most important strengths to have as a Leather man?
Honesty, authenticity and a good bull-shit detector.
10. What does leather mean to you?
I could prattle on about this topic forever but I would sound like I was doing a canned speech for a title contest. In reality leather means as many different things as there are people involved in it. Some simply are drawn to the fetish. Leather clothes and gear are sensual, organic and arousing. Some are drawn to the BDSM aspect of it. That was part of my attraction.
Leather folk, the energetic and intense encounters that SM play offers. I went into it thinking I would be a "grey Hankie" guy. Only into bondage and light SM but quickly realized that bondage was really not very interesting to me and more hard-core SM was my thing. Changed my hankie to black and never looked back.
11. What do you see for the future of leather in your community and internationally?
It is in a state of flux. Leather always changes, as sexual pioneers we are on the edges of what is possible physically and sexually and so there will always be something different and new. I see a disturbing trend to try to turn back the clock and relive the glory days of Leather in the 1970's, but surprisingly the people who are trying to do that are predominately straight. They have adopted the Leatherman look as though it was a codified uniform and remind me of " Renfair" folks, donning period costumes and role playing at Leather.
12. What does sexual freedom mean to you?
As someone who came of age I the late 1960's sexual freedom means being able to define my sexuality on my own terms Being able to enjoy consensual activities with other adults and not have to conform to any rigid rules. I have begin to think of myself more as "Queer" than gay, not because I do not have an affectional orientation toward men, but because I enjoy playing with anyone so long as we click and our goals are the same. Sexual freedom is a basic human right, it is up to us to define it and express it and celebrate it.
13. Whats your view on the huge anti-gay wave that is happening in certain states in America? What do you think people can do to protect their rights and help others retain it?
What you mentioned as the "anti-gay wave" sweeping parts of the country is not a massive display of anti-gay sentiment in my opinion. It is the last gasp of the hard core bigoted right. Their attitudes are dying out. Public opinion polls show most Americans believe in equality for LGBT citizens. What these anti-gay laws are is an attempt by the right to change the framing of the issue from "equality" to "religious freedom" or as I call it the freedom to hate.
All of these attempt have failed and even in far-right leaning states like Arizona. Even there the Governor recognized it's not a religious freedom issue it is equal rights. The laws are clumsily crafted and over reaching to begin with and would not withstand judicial scrutiny, so I have o believe its just politics and its not working.
14. We all have so many issues we want to highlight, please tell us what cause is close to your heart right now and how are you involved?
The issue closest to my heart is the cause of sexual freedom. I believe sexual freedom is a fundamental human right and as such it needs to be protected and nourished. To that end, I work with the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance, a human rights group with the focus on sexual freedom. In fact I am chairperson of the board. That's how involved I am and how important it is.
We work to affect policy concerning sex education, freedom of speech, sex workers and gender and sexual inequality. It's a great organization that has made a real difference for our country. Woodhull holds the gender and sexuality seat on the US Human Rights Network, the group which monitors our country's adherence to the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
15. What advice can you give a future title holder?
Be authentic, approachable and honest. Bull-shitters stick out like sore thumbs. The title holders I know and admire are all down to earth folks who try to use their titles to benefit the community not themselves.
16. Tell us what your favorite piece of Leather is and why?
Other than my hat, my favorite piece of Leather is my flogger. It was made by Janet Hartwood and designed to fit me perfectly. The falls are longer than most folks like, but they balance perfectly with the handle and the flogger becomes an extension of my body when I play. I have several floggers and all were custom made for me. I believe if you invest in quality your toys will live as long as you do.
17. In your own words, can you tell us the difference between BDSM and Leather?
Hard to say. I used to think of them as the same, but apparently there are folk who see a big distinction. Leather does not imply SM, it can simply be a fetish. It is also a different kind of community and that is what sets it apart nowadays. To some folks Leather can only be gay men and BDSM is pan-sexual. There is another word that is loaded with nuance. Pan-sexual was a word coined by the Leather community to describe its inclusion of all sexual orientations, but has been co-opted by the straight community to mean "heterosexual" sexual orientation with some lesbians thrown in for spice. If I sound cynical, that's because I have seen this in practice. Play space where two women playing together was acceptable if they were playing in ways that the men enjoyed, but men playing together got stares and snide comments.
Personally I don't have problems playing in the newly defined "pan-sexual" spaces, I think a Leather person can define their own Leather-space and create a scene wherever it works.
18. Please tell us exactly what is beyond vanilla & what are your favorite activities you indulge in?
I would think anything that goes beyond plain sex would qualify as beyond vanilla. Spankings, role play, bondage, SM all of it moves beyond vanilla for me. My favorite activities are floggings and clothespins and CBT, but most often these are woven into some kind of erotic experience. I think all SM is better with an element of Eros. It doesn't have to be penetrative sex, but without a sexual aspect it has less appeal for me.
19. What’s the funniest safe word that you have heard?
Then comes the safe word. I have heard lots of strange ones from "aardvark" to "Pontiac". Personally, I like this system. I tell my bottom or sub to call me "Sir" as long as he or she is having fun, and to call me "Hardy" if they need to talk. It keeps the communication going and has never failed me.
20. What’s your favorite drink? And if you could invent a cocktail for the Leather community and what would you call it?
Well I stopped drinking in 1986 so my favorite drink is sparkling mineral water. My drink for the community would be just that, mineral water with a chaser of mouthwash, cause I love kissing and detest bad breath!
18. We would love to have you visit South Africa in the future, what classes do you think we could benefit from?
I do a lot of classes, but my favorites are a workshop I call "Putting Sex Back in SM." The pan-sexual dungeons in the US are notoriously tepid when it comes to palpable eroticism. Many do not allow sexual activities for legal reasons and some just are uncomfortable with sex. This workshop is intended to put that spark of the erotic back into the play in the dungeon and discusses and demonstrates how scenes can become erotic encounters with no "traditional sex" happening.
My "Family Jewels" workshop is always fun. Concentrating on CBT and how it can become part of a scene. I explain the use of toys, safety and exploration of various aspects of genitorture.
I have a complete list of classes I present I can provide you.
19. In conclusion, anything you would like to add to this interview for the Leather community of South Africa?
I would add that the Leather community in South Africa seems to be vibrant and growing and I encourage you to continue to explore, share what you learn and nurture the next generation of Leatherfolk. To them you will become the "Old Guard" and with that is the heavy responsibility of knowing you are setting an example for future generations. Play hard, play safe, have fun!
San Diego Pride celebrated its 40th Anniversary the weekend of July 18-20 in the Hillcrest district and Balboa Park. Its’ annual LGBT parade is among the largest in the country, attracting over 300,000 spectators and was on Saturday, July 19. This year’s theme “Reflections of Pride” truly showed in the Leather community’s contingent as the San Diego tribe was joined by Leatherfolk from all over Southern California.
Ms San Diego Leather 2012 Wish did a great job as parade monitor again. The San Diego Eagle’s float, organized by Mr. San Diego Eagle 2014 Paulo Batista, followed the Leather-clad marchers. The Los Angeles and San Diego Ponies and Critters groups brought up the rear with their crowd-pleasing pony carts and dog sled. Bears San Diego had a truck as well.
Over 150 Leatherfolk continued marching into Balboa Park and headed directly into the Leather Realm to volunteer for, or attend, a weekend of fun and education. This year’s Realm was made possible by a generous donation from Club X.
The Realm opened with new co-producers, Bikkja Amy and Cobi Maravilla, a new committee, a new logo, designed by Sarge Servitus, and a new motto, “Turn Fantasy into Reality."
The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) held its annual Coalition Partner meeting in Nashville, TN from March 14-16. The Coalition Partners voted in the new Board of Directors for NCSF, approved the 2014 budget, and brainstormed on NCSF's projects and goals for the coming year.
"The annual meeting gives NCSF's Coalition Partners the opportunity to tell the board where our focus should be in the coming year," says Chairman Kevin Carlson. "It's also their time to give us feedback on how we're conducting the day-to-day business of NCSF. The Board and staff of NCSF are now re-energized and eager to continue the good work of the NCSF."
The Tom of Finland Art Fair returns to TOM House the weekend of October 3-5, the iconic property where it has been held in earlier years in los angeles, CA. The Art Fair’s tagline, Art in Residence, reflects its staging at a residence of much significance to art lovers.
Situated on a quiet street in the los angeles neighborhood of Echo Park, TOM House is the site where the artist Tom of Finland lived and worked for the last decade of his life, producing the erotic drawings for which he was internationally renowned. Preserved in homage to Tom, the house is visited by fans from around the world. The house also remains a home for the operations of the Tom of Finland Foundation, whose archives comprise the world’s largest repository of erotic art.
The art fair will showcase more than 30 artists, both emerging and established, from the USA and beyond. Workshops and panel discussions will be held, and artwork – spanning sculpture, photography, paintings, sketches, digital renderings and more – will be for sale. Visitors will also have the opportunity to tour TOM House, including the attic space that served as Tom of Finland’s bedroom and studio.
CLAW XIV will be held April 24-27 at the Sheraton Airport Hotel in Leather-friendly Cleveland, Ohio. Shuttle buses will meet every CLAW air-travel attendee — day or night — for their one-minute ride to the lobby door.
Cleveland Leather Awareness Weekend (CLAW) has seen a growth rate of about 15 percent each of the past several years. CLAW’s biggest Vendor Mart will feature more than 25 merchants, including CLAW sponsors Leatherwerks, Mr. S Leather, Leatherman NYC, Torso, and Stompers Boots; three Recon Reflex dungeon parties in the warehouse attached to FLEX Spas in downtown Cleveland; and more than 40 skills workshops and other educational offerings, including 25 Years Later, a discussion featuring Guy Baldwin and Brian Dawson, the renowned and groundbreaking Leather titleholders who were International Mr. Leather and International Mr. Drummer, respectively, in 1989.
Greater Palm Springs Pride announced the recipients of its 2014 Pride Honors Awards. The prestigious Pride Honors are presented annually to individuals in order to recognize the work they have put into raising awareness and furthering the causes of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and their allies. The awards will be presented at a ceremony on October 10, at the Hyatt Palm Springs.
The Community Grand Marshals recognized for their positive and lasting impact represent two generations of volunteerism and service in the community. Alexis Ortega is part of a new generation that’s dedicated to building a stronger and more vibrant community and Thomas Smith is recognized for 30 years of community service, leadership in the Leather community and as an award winning author.
Community Grand Marshal Thomas Smith is recognized for 30 years of community service which includes being active in projects to provide books for elementary students, organizing a prom for youth with disabilities and raising funds for student scholarships, the senior citizens center, and community musical concerts. He has been a high school mentor and advisory board member of the Palm Springs High School Business Academy and currently he is serving as president of the Rotary Club of Palm Springs.
VT-TLJ: Is your contestant run sponsored by an Event, bar, club, organization?
LJD: Not applicable
VT-TLJ: Tell me about your favorite charity.
LJD: My Charity is The Pinnacle Foundation. The Pinnacle Foundation was established to provide scholarships to lesbian, gay, transsexual, queer, intersex and bisexual youth who are marginalized or disadvantaged. Their aim is to help young LGBTIQs who can face a tough time coming out to their families, friends and schools, with some finding themselves without the money and support needed to keep up their studies.
The Leather Leadership Conference 2014, to be held at the DoubleTree Hotel and the William Way Center in downtown Philadelphia April 11-13, has done an internal inventory of what it has offered, combined with conference feedback forms and with the results of their 2012 community survey, with the result of that inventory being the creation a new Do It Yourself (DIY) program that will debut in Philly with a new delivery system for that program.
LLC has been the offering leadership training for Leather/BDSM/Kink/Fetish and LGBT communities for nearly 18 years. During that time, several changes have taken place and there has been more acceptance for those in alternate lifestyles, including more positive media. The Internet has given endless opportunities for contact, communication, and networking. There are a multitude of groups, munches and events to attend; sometimes so many that one could go to at least one event a week or have to choose where to participate.
John C. Anderson Apartments Move-In Scheduled for January 2014, with Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony in February 2014
The Leather Journal reported on the ground breaking ceremony on this story in 2011 when covering Philadelphia Leather Pride. Now the complex is ready to accept residents.
The John C. Anderson Apartments - the nation’s pioneering LGBT-friendly, low-income senior housing apartment complex, located in the heart of the Philadelphia Gayborhood – has passed all city, state and federal inspections and is now certified to accept residents. Accepted applicants are now receiving notification and information about move-in, which will begin in January 2014. To mark the completion of this significant project, a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held in late January or early February.
The apartments - named for John C. Anderson, a Philadelphia City Council member from 1979 until his death in 1983, instrumental in the passage of Philadelphia’s civil rights bill for sexual minority individuals – broke ground in November 2012. Financing for the $19.5 million project was provided through a Philadelphia HOME grant, Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Programfunds, and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits. Pennrose Properties, one of the nation’s top 10 affordable housing developers, oversaw the project. WRT Design was the architect and Domus Inc. was the general contractor.
For those who don’t already know, please tell us about yourself, your Leather titles and how you are connected to the community.
Hey there, my name is Joey McDonald. I’m 57 years old and a native Chicagoan, but have also lived in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Virginia and Key West, Florida. I am a US Navy Veteran who served as an openly gay sailor (long, long before Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell). I was lucky enough traveled around the world by the time I was honorably discharged, having visited 32 countries. In the mid-80s, I owned a catering and event planning business. I am a trained master weaver, and spent 15 years in the interior design industry designing and weaving luxury/high-end upholstery fabrics.
I worked for LGBT equality in Illinois until April 2013. I currently work as a Community Health Advocate, serving the homeless, recovering/addicted and HIV/AIDS impacted people and am going to school to get certified as a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor.
Although I never won a Leather title, I competed for and was a runner-up for Mr. Windy City 1981. I am a member of the Executive Committee of International Mr. Leather, Inc. (IML). I have served as the IML Den Daddy for the past eight years, working with the men who compete each year. I have the distinction of having volunteered at every IML since its beginning in 1979.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) has announced that Pat Baillie will receive the organization's Ninth Annual Leather Leadership Award at the Task Force's 26th National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change. Over 4,000 leaders and activists are expected to attend the conference, which will be held in Houston, January 29 to February 1.
"We are very proud to honor Pat's long dedication to and leadership in our movement," said Rea Carey, Task Force executive director. "Pat's exemplary career in the Air Force and as a rock-solid pillar of the Leather community inspires all of us to do more, to do it better and to stay the course."
The award will recognize Baillie's more than three decades of leadership and activism within and on behalf of the Leather community. Among many other achievements, she is International Ms Leather 1995, a founder of Leather Women United, a Vice Chair of the National Leather Leadership Conference and in September 2013 became co-producer of the International Ms Leather and International Ms Bootblack Contest. See editors note for biography."
Prominent San Francisco Leather community activist Race Bannon will begin writing a new leather column for the Bay Area Reporter, the nation’s longest continually published LGBT newspaper, on January 23, 2014.
Bannon’s first column, penned while attending the annual Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend in Washington, DC, continues the traditions started by the preeminent gay news weekly.
In his first column, Bannon wrote:
“San Francisco and the overall Bay Area has one of the most vibrant leather and kink scenes in the United States and indeed the world. Yes, it’s changed and morphed as various factors have influenced how LGBT kinky folk live and express their alternative erotic identities and sexualities. But the scene is still rather awesome here, and I’m comfortable saying it’s in pretty good shape nationally as well.
“Thus all the more reason I am honored to have been asked to carry on the legacy of the original writer of this column, Mr. Marcus (Marcus Hernandez), who established the Bay Area Reporter’s leather column as one of the preeminent leather news and information sources in the world. Upon Mr. Marcus’ passing, Scott Brogan took over this column and truly did justice to Mr. Marcus’ memory. I promise to always try to live up to both men’s history as I embark on being the caretaker of this important piece of journalistic real estate.”
The Bolt Bar in Sacramento will host Sacramento Leather Weekend, Friday, February 14 through Sunday, February 16. The Bolt is located at 2560 Boxwood Street in Sacramento. Sacramento Leather Weekend will feature a Cigar Social, formal Leather Dinner at a popular Sacramento restaurant, and Leather activities and demonstrations.
A portion of the proceeds will go to benefit Shriners Hospital and Mama’s Family, the largest Leather family in the world with 1,700 members. Founded in San Francisco by Sandy "Mama" Reinhardt, a stalwart advocate for the LGBT Leather community, Mama's boys and girls each year raise hundreds of thousands for numerous charities, including toy drives to supply holiday presents for needy or sick children. As Mama always says, "Ask yourself, 'What can I do to make a difference?' Then do it from your heart!"
Funds raised will also help send Mr. Bolt Leather 2014 Matt Bunch to represent Sacramento's Leather community at International Mr. Leather in Chicago this May.
The Heart of the Flag Federation Inc. (HOTF) announced the nominees for the 2014 Toronto Leather Pride Award. The award will be presented on Saturday, August 9 during the Toronto Leather Pride Competitions.
The nominations for the 2014 Toronto Leather Pride Award are: Mistress Sydney Creighton, Toronto, Ontario; Jaco Lourens - Cape Town, South Africa; and Alex Wisniowski - Ottawa, Ontario.
Nominee bios are listed at http://TorontoLeatherPride.ca/toronto-leather-pride-award-nominees/
The Toronto Leather Pride Award is presented on an annual basis to an individual or organization in the local, national or international leather community who has contributed significantly to the development of Leather Pride and/or for Life Time Achievement. This award focuses on the people and organizations which have created and contributed to the vibrant and diverse Leather Community which exists today in Canada and throughout the world.