Being IML - June 2003
Thank you for over five hundred kind messages I've received since May 26th. I don't know which was a bigger surprise: winning the "International Mr Leather 2003" title or arriving home to find that for the first time in years, "real" emails out-numbered offers of free viagra! Thanks also to the Hoist London for sponsoring me and to all the IML staff and other contestants for making the contest such an experience this year, even if I was too sleep-deprived to know what was going on most of the time. A special award has to go to the contestant in the room next to me who got more sex than I did during the weekend, thus removing my need for an alarm clock. (You know who you are...)
Photo credit: Dave Harris
A high point of the trip to Chicago was ordering a plate of "English muffins" in a diner. Dave and I were very intrigued, as we don't have "English muffins" in England. A low point would be making myself a cup of "English tea" backstage at one of the events. Fortunately we don't have anything like that in England either.
I've been granted a sabbatical from work and will be taking unpaid leave from July 11th so that I can spend the year travelling and meeting as many of you as possible. If you've contacted me already and I haven't replied please be patient. I hope to respond to as many messages as I can eventually. To help you get my attention, here are some things I'll be looking for during the year:
- I want to support local organisations and voluntary groups who are working hard for little recognition. Tell me what's going on in YOUR area so that I have something to talk about this year other than me!
- I would also like to help some struggling leather communities. Although it's great fun to visit large events, that may not be where I'm most needed. Tell me how I can make a difference and I'll see what I can do.
- My idea of "perks" may be different to yours. I value friendship, a home with an oven (to cook my gluten free bread), and an Internet connection (to stay in touch with my partner). That will sway me more than a ticket to an all night party and free beer. (P.S. I'm allergic to beer ... you have been warned.)
- I want to build on the international nature of the title. If you are based outside the U.S. please get your request into the IML office quickly. Don't wait until my diary is full of American events and then complain that I only toured the U.S.A.
- International fares aren't cheap, so I may prioritise events that can be grouped together in a single visit. That's not to say I won't visit you for a one-off, but I have to be sensible with my schedule.
The IML contest is run extremely professionally by two members of staff and hundreds of well co-ordinated volunteers. Without the work of the American leather community IML would not have grown to be the size it is, and that must be acknowledged. However, here are some things that leather communities outside the U.S. can do to help make the event even more international:
- Continue to send high quality contestants to IML. I was overjoyed to see that the final 20 line-up this year included 2 leathermen from Canada and Germany and 1 each from Italy and the UK, but that leaves many countries unrepresented. We need to encourage more good quality candidates from outside the U.S. to step forward.
- If you think there aren't enough international judges, send in your nominations to the IML office now (via www.imrl.com). Don't expect them to know the names of all the leaders in your communities around the world. Give them a helping hand.
They are waiting for you to get in touch. Make sure YOUR leather history is preserved.
Finally, there was one question at the IML press conference that I was unable to answer: "You've heard a lot of messages from previous IML winners to help you in this 25th anniversary year. Imagine you're at IML's 50th anniversary - what message would you give to the contestants?" It's taken me a few days to think of something but my message would be:
"Welcome to the 50th International Mr Leather in (insert name of country here). We've waited a long time but it's great that the contest is finally being held outside America!"
Thanks again for your support. Hope to see you soon.
Yours in leather,
International Mr Leather 2003