IML Diary: June and July 2003

Photo of John at the Palmer House Hilton, Monday 26th May
Monday 26th May 2003 -
The day after I won IML at the
Palmer House Hilton, Chicago.

Photo credit: Dave Harris

The four weeks after I won IML were the busiest of my life. My work colleagues had had to endure three months of me talking about nothing else in the run up to the contest, and although they were glad that I would soon be taking unpaid leave and they'd finally get a break, I still had a some weeks left to work. The TV company I work for is amazing. They followed the competition on the Internet and when I won they started processing my sabbatical straight away. My last day at work was set for Thursday July 10th to give time to train people up to fill my role while I was away.

For those weeks I spent an hour answering IML emails before work, was away from home from 9:00 to 18:45 boring my colleagues and anyone else who would listen, then back home for another 2 to 6 hours work as IML in the evening. I tried to prioritise my time: queries from the IML office in Chicago were answered first, then press interviews by email, then promoters who wished me to attend an event, then potential sponsors, people who needed something from me to auction ... and way down the bottom of the list came emails from friends who would understand why there was no reply. Any time I took a night off then the next night there was twice as much to deal with.

Saturday 31st May - The Hoist London, my sponsor for IML, threw a victory party in my honour.
Photo of John and Juan Zazueta (IMDL '03), backstage at IML 2003
Juan (left) and me, backstage at IML 2003.
Photo credit: Juan's interpreter
Photo of the back of John's IML waistcoat
Look out for this over the next year. It will be in a different city every week.
Photo credit: Dave Harris
After that night all my spare time was taken up trying to organise my diary for the year - or Dave's and my impending ceremony to sign the London Partnerships Register. I missed friends' birthday parties and a bear picnic at Kew Gardens. Looking back my diary is full of things I wanted to attend and couldn't. (You'll notice that bears are a recurring theme in my diary entires. Chest and tummy fur does for me what catnip does for cats.)

One of the friends I made at IML this year was Juan Zazueta. He entered IML as "Mr Deaf San Diego Leather 2002" and placed 4th overall. On June 5th he entered International Mr Deaf Leather 2003 in Orlando, Florida and WON! Sadly, I couldn't attend the event as it was scheduled too soon after IML.

In the weeks before I started my travels I needed to get my wardrobe sorted out. Expectations is a leather store in London which made a number of clothes for me before and after IML. In June they also made a leather waistcoat (UK)/ vest (US) for me to wear at official events, so that I don't have to wear my sash all the time. It has a Union flag on the back. Yes, IML is finally teaching me how to be patriotic.

Saturday 28th June - A week after our tenth anniversary, Dave and I were the 487th couple to sign the London Partnerships Register. The register was created two years ago and has no legal significance yet, but it meant a great deal to us to be able to go to a Civic building and add our signatures alongside the Mayor of London's on an official document. The ceremony lasted half an hour and guests included work colleagues, both our families and leathermen from the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and The Hoist London. There was a strict "black and blue" dress code, and everyone was given a red buttonhole flower to symbolise the red heart in the leather flag. After the ceremony all the guests were taken to a restaurant - also decorated in black and blue - for a celebratory meal. The cake was also decorated to look like the leather Pride flag - are you spotting a theme yet? Photo of Dave and John exchanging rings during their partnership registration ceremomy. June 2003
Dave and John exchange rings. Also present is close friend, Kevin Daniel, who led the ceremony.
Photo credit: Ulli Richter

Photo of Dave and John on the balcony of City Hall after their partnership registration. June 2003
Dave and John on the balcony of City Hall after the ceremony.
The backdrop is London's famous Tower Bridge.

Photo credit: Ulli Richter

Photo of Dave and John kissing after their partnership registration. June 2003
That's as romantic as we're ever going to get!
Photo credit: Ulli Richter
More of Ulli's photographs can be found on

Thursday 10th July - My last day at work. The very next day I flew to Chicago to start my full-time role as IML. My first official appearance outside the UK was at the Chicago Eagle on Saturday 12th July, followed by a week in Chicago meeting the leather family there. I was also taken to a barbecue where I saw my first fireflies. I haven't seen things glow-in-the-dark like that since a couple of guys went into a back-room in Amsterdam wearing luminous logos on their t-shirts.

Pictured (left to right): John Pendal (IML 2003), Tammie Nelson (IMsL 2003), slaveboi eddie (IMsBB 2003), Richie Chameroy (IMrBB 2003)
Pictured (left to right): John Pendal (IML 2003),
Tammie Nelson (IMsL 2003), slaveboi eddie (IMsBB 2003)
and Richie Chameroy (IMrBB 2003).

Photo credit: Mister Marcus (

A few thoughts from Chicago: why are all the domestic fire escapes made of wood? And why won't gyms there let me train without an ID card? We don't have ID cards in the UK. Are the sash, medal, waistcoat, LA&M leaflets, IML business cards and colour photos NOT ENOUGH?!

Thursday 17th July - Driven to Omaha, Nebraska to appear at International Ms Leather. The drive took seven hours through corn and soy fields, with tornadoes on the horizon (another first for me).

Saturday 19th July - Tammie Nelson (sponsored by the Great Lakes Leather Alliance) won International Ms Leather 2003 and slaveboi eddie won awarded International Ms Bootblack 2003. Tammie is the volunteer coordinator for The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom.

Sunday 20th July - We had a weather warning on all TV channels that a tornado was heading our way. At 19:30 the sky went GREEN and I was dragged inside the hotel. A few minutes later the trees outside bent at an angle and we went up to our hotel rooms. If you want to see a picture of the ominous clouds just before I went indoors click here.

Monday 21st July - I was driven back to Chicago followed by a surprise birthday party for me at a show tunes bar! Thank heavens for the two bears who volunteered to be sound insulation. Two bears and a cake made of rice crispy treats: that's what I call a birthday party.

Tuesday 22nd July - My 32nd birthday. I flew home to David and only managed to get one hour's sleep on the plane, which landed 6:55 Wednesday morning. Lucky Dave - can you imagine how grumpy I was until I'd caught up on all that missing sleep?!

Photo of John meeting a drag cleaning-woman on the London Gay Pride march, July 2003
Meeting a drag cleaning woman on the
London Gay Pride march, July 2003

Photo credit: Dave Harris

Photo of John with the staff of RoB leather shop, August 2003
Friday 1st August -
I met the staff at the main
RoB store in Amsterdam

Photo credit: Dave Harris

Photo of John with another IML, August 2003
August 2nd & 3rd - attended events held
by the Motorsportclub Amsterdam (MSA)

Photo credit: Dave Harris

We flew back home to find that London was having a heatwave with the hottest temperatures ever recorded. (38 degrees C, 100 degrees F) I know it was hotter in Omaha but they had air conditioning. In London you're lucky to find a rotating fan. Fortunately we were only home for a couple of days before setting off as guests of MSC Iceland for an ECMC leather summit in Reykjavik, Iceland - but that's another story ....

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