On a rare occasion a comfort can be found in the frustration of not having words to describe an experience. This would be one of those occasions. Over the last 38 days I've been on a whirlwind adventure of events, some of them piled on top of each other, that have pushed me to places I had never expected. I'm not referencing physical places, but I'll get there. For the interest of organization I'll start from the point when my journey took a surprising turn, you'll have to read the blog posts that follow about not having words to describe my experiences., but back to where it began.
On June 25th I became Mr Leather Colorado. It was such a great surprise to be given the opportunity to represent my community. The honor also gave me a sense of being a deer in the headlights of that hypothetical oncoming car. I hadn't even begun to think about all the events I would want to attend as Mr Leather Colorado. I was not prepared to become this instant celebrity of sorts. Sure a lot of people have no fucking clue there is even a Leather title circuit and look at me like I just grew horns when I try to explain it, but that doesn't stop the hundreds of people that know about it from flocking. I'm honored how many people come up to me when I'm out and about wishing me congratulations and offering encouragement on my title-year. However, it still feels strange. I'm someone that has a hard time accepting praise and congratulations as it is, but this time I feel like I didn't even do anything to earn the praise. I didn't publish a book, star in a blockbuster film, or cut an incredible record deal. Instead I weathered an interview with a panel of judges that pulled no punches, strutted my stuff on the catwalk, pulled a little speech out of thin air because I had covered all of my speech in the interview, and kept from passing out or puking the whole time. That last part was the biggest challenge for me. Ha ha!
That was when the privilege became something way more than I had expected. Riding on a car in the Pride parade the next day was surreal. People cheered and waved as we drove the route. Hardly any of them knew me. They have no idea what I'm hoping to do with my year as Mr Leather Colorado. I wonder if any of them even know there is a contest to become Mr Leather Colorado, but that is aside from the point. They cheered regardless, waved with honest smiles, and a few even shouted quick words of admiration or encouragement. At first I had a hard time accepting all the revelry. I felt like it would have been better given to someone that had worked harder for it, but I accepted it with big smiles and cheers back to many of the shining faces.
After reflecting back on that parade experience and the many public appearances I have made in the last 38 days I've begun to grasp new concepts of leadership, and in particular the role that a representative plays as a leader in her/his community. Being Mr Leather Colorado doesn't necessarily mean I will be out to play with all the hot guys, at all the hot events around the country, and get to have all the fun. I damn well intend to have a lot of fun with a lot of hot guys, but that isn't even close to half of what I hope to accomplish this year. I am hoping to bring some greater awareness and education into the Leather community about the issues surrounding many of the marginalized subgroups in OUR community. This is the year that bridges begin to get built or rebuilt. This is the year for hetero men to stand alongside their gay brothers and say, "Despite what gets my dick hard we all belong together." This is the year for gay men to play in the dungeon alongside their screaming sisters and smile to the thought of how diverse OUR community is. This is the year to march hand-in-hand showing solidarity regardless of OUR many differences. This is THE year. Over the next eleven months I will be travelling a lot, speaking at as many events as I can, and getting my metaphorical hands dirty in the grime and muck that has divided OUR community into its fragmented and sequestered subgroups.
With all of that in the front of my mind I realize that it isn't realistic for one man to do it all. It's going to take many voices and many hands to effectively get some bridges built, but as Mr Leather Colorado I have a unique opportunity to be the nucleus. As the representative for the community I have an obligation to bring people together, lend my ear to their concerns, and offer what I can to tear down the walls that have plagued OUR community for so long. So for the next 11 months you'll hear me time and time again saying, "This is THE year."
Thank you to my community for choosing me to represent them as Mr Leather Colorado. I don't intend on letting you down!