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For a long time now I’ve felt in a minority … a proud active Leatherman. But one for who the majority of the gay fetish “scene” in the UK hasn’t held much interest. I’ve always enjoyed my trips to Leather events and bars in the USA – CLAW (Cleveland Leather Annual Weekend) is a favourite event, and The Eagle in San Francisco a favourite bar.
And one of the reasons I have always enjoyed them is they have a real sense of community, of support, of brotherhood.
Something that until recently I can’t really say I have found at most events in the UK. I recently had my first visit to The Backstreet in London, what I can now see has been the UK’s only Leather bar for a long time. But that is going to form another blog post in the coming weeks.
This past weekend was the Annual General Meeting of Manchester Leathermen (MLM). The group was founded in 2012 and in 2015 merged with the Manchester Superchain, and last year I was excited to join as a member and attend my first MLM events.
Unfortunately, I have found it hard to get to as many of the regular events they host as I would like. The additional cost of a hotel (living two hours away) and free weekends lining up with events seem limited.
Even though I can’t get to many events I follow the activities of the group through their Twitter and Newsletters etc. Throughout all of this there comes a real sense of community, a group of people who support each other, who want to build something more than just another bar night.
One of the members of MLM who has helped spread the word of the group across the country and Europe is Joe King. He won Mr Leather UK 2016 and then Mr Leather Europe 2016. As a holder of both titles he has worked for the benefit of the community.
And now he is hoping to make it to International Mr Leather this May in Chicago. But attending such an event takes time and money, quite a lot of money!
One of the aspects of community I have admired from the American Leather scene is its willingness to support each other in representing their own bars, cities and organisations.
IML is an amazing event to attend, and for many it involves one thing – sex and lots of it! For others it’s cocktails, and lots of them, for others it’s about social time, shopping and discovering new friends.
For those who are attending to compete it is a very different weekend! They must attend all the formal events, rehearsals, meetings, meet and greets, interviews with judges, photo calls, press calls, networking and promotional events.
It’s busy, it’s hard work, it’s incredibly full on! In fact, most contestants usually have at least one person with them acting as their Personal Assistant. Ensuring they attend everything, are in the right place at the right time, have everything they need, their kit is ready, they eat, they sleep and hopefully get to enjoy what is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
The only time a British Leatherman has won the title of International Mr Leather was when John Pendal won in 2003. So I think its’s about time we changed that! And we also showed the rest of the kinky leathery world that the UK is working hard to build an amazing community. And quite frankly American’s love the Royal Family …
So please join me in helping Send The King to IML and make a donation to his travel fund and to put the UK on the map again at the worlds biggest gay fetish event!