On Saturday November 27th fellow Spanner Trustee John Lovatt (centre) and I gave a presentation in Oxford, organised by "Talisker" (far left).
The highlight of my November was travelling to Palm Springs for the weekend of the 12th-14th to emcee the Mr Palm Springs Leather Contest. I flew out on the Thursday (21 hours door to door), emceed a meet and greet on Friday night and the contest on Saturday night, attended a pool party on Sunday, flew back on Monday, landed in London at 7am on Tuesday morning and was back at work on Tuesday afternoon! At the end of the contest I was made an Honorary Member of Palm Springs Leather Order of the Desert - which is much appreciated.
It's difficult to believe that it's the end of another year. Looking at some of the ongoing troubles around the world it would be easy to remember 2004 for negative reasons. But many good things happened in 2004. I wrote to some of the people I've met since winning IML and asked for their success stories:
"The highlight of the year for Stonewall was the passing of the Civil Partnership Act, for which we had campaigned so hard. Gay people in Britain will now be able to register their partnerships with exactly the same rights across the board - from pensions to childcare - as their straight counterparts. Thanks to everyone who helped us with this."
For more information on Stonewall's work or to become a supporter go to www.stonewall.org.uk
"The U.S.' biggest gay news story in 2004 was the state of Massachusetts' legalisation of full same-sex marriage. The first weddings took place May 17 and same-sex marriage remains legal in Massachusetts. Of course, there was quite a reaction to that. On Nov. 2, during our national election, 11 states amended their state constitutions to ban same-sex marriage, in direct response to the Massachusetts move. "Gay marriage" also became a huge issue in the presidential campaign and there are those who argue that conservative Christians turning out to vote for gay-marriage bans cost John Kerry the election by upping the number of Bush voters. As it turned out, Ohio was the decisive state in the presidential "electoral vote" count, and Ohio voters both went for Bush and amended their constitution to ban same-sex marriage. So, did gays (or gay marriage) inadvertently give George W. Bush four more years? If so, that's a huge (though unfortunate) story as well.
Meanwhile, Canada is going full-steam-ahead on same-sex marriage. It's legal now in British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan and the Yukon Territory, with Newfoundland and Labrador expected to be next. Full same-sex marriage also is legal in Belgium and the Netherlands, of course, and will be in Spain very shortly. In other big U.S. news, the fact that U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter Mary is an open lesbian also became quite the issue in the election campaign. Too bad she never speaks out in her own defence. Cheers from San Diego."
Rex's blog can be found at http://wockner.blogspot.com/
"By far the most dramatic news from the Leather Archives & Museum is the successful completion of the capital campaign, which raised over $400,000 in less than seven years to buy the Museum's home at 6418 North Greenview on Chicago's near north side. Ownership of the building not only means the absence of rent or mortgage payments; it is also proof of the permanence and viability of leather, fetish and BDSM culture. A mortgage-burning celebration is being planned for Sunday, February 20, 2005 - please come along if you can make it!"
For more information or to become a member of the LA&M please go to www.leatherarchives.org
"2004 was a good year for the Woodhull Freedom Foundation and Federation (WFF). We were formed in February 2003 as an international non-profit organisation based in Washington DC, dedicated to affirming sexual freedom as a fundamental human right. The group is making substantial progress in achieving one of its primary goals: to eliminate antiquated and unjust sex laws. WFF has been instrumental in changing D.C. laws and regulations and has completed the first phase of a joint project with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to publish a comprehensive guide to sex laws throughout the U.S. and to provide tools to grassroots activists to help them change those laws. In October this year WFF formed an affinity group with the Spanner Trust in the United Kingdom to help overturn the onerous legal decision in the Spanner case that makes most BDSM activities illegal in the UK."
For more information or to sign up as a supporter please go to www.woodhullfoundation.org
"In 2004 the federal German organisation BVSM e.V. (Bundesvereinigung Sadomasochismus e.V.) started working to remove the diagnoses of Sadomasochism, Fetishism and Transvestic Fetishism from their national version of the International Classification of Diseases, published by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
This is important because, as with the earlier diagnosis of Homosexuality, the more countries that stop using stigmatising national SM and Fetish diagnoses, the bigger is the possibility that WHO will follow suit."
Congratulations to everyone involved in these projects.
I hope you all have a happy holiday and a peaceful New Year.
International Mr Leather 2003