Masculinity and Acceptance

This is going to be less risk/harm reduction, and less Leather than most of my posts on my blog.  Other than one other more private blog that I have, this blog seems to be the most logical place to put this.

I have always struggled with what masculinity means to me, and while I have dealt with some of the demons I’ve got in this area, it’s definitely clear I’ve got other demons in this area I’ve not dealt with.

Case in point: The gym.  More recently, I’ve really hated going to the gym if it’s busy, even the gym in my condo.  More recently I’ve preferred to work out alone or with people I have specifically brought with my like one of Scott’s boy’s who is a personal trainer, boy troy, or one of my brothers, such as slave Mike who has spent years lifting.

It comes down to a few things that go through my mind

  • I feel freaking awkward and want to be able to make my mistakes in private  – I’m not talking about mistakes that would hurt myself like tearing a muscle or tendon, but more I’ve been feeling really awkward – physically and socially.
  • There’s a degree of, I don’t feel ‘good enough’ whatever that means, because anyone that knows my history of sport knows that I’ve done some interesting things that aren’t even in the line of sight for a gym rat.
  • I’ve been letting the gym immaculate me – well, I’ve been emasculating myself and using the gym as an excuse to do it.

I look at some of the muscle Bears, Leathermen who happen to work out and general body builders that I follow on various social media.

Beyond the common thread of not originally liking how they looked when they were younger – most were quite smaller than they are now, some bigger like me – ultimately the common thread, when it comes down brass tacks is masculinity and acceptance.

Thinking about lifting this afternoon with boys troy and nico, and looking around the gym, I had a good chuckle thinking about this and how recently I had not wanted to be in a gym with others around.

And for the first time in a long time, I felt like I belonged.  I was comfortable, in a weird way, felt like home.  I’ve not felt that in a long time.

I love what Wikipedia says about the topic:

  • Masculinity (also called boyhood, manliness or manhood) is a set of attributes, behaviors and roles generally associated with boys and men
  • Masculinity is socially constructed, but made up of both socially-defined and biologically-created factors distinct from the definition of the male biological sex

Did I really just figure out that the common thread with every guy that’s at the gym is working through their own fucked up sense of what masculinity is?  Well, I figure the social construct that *I* created and have been creating in my head has been doing a few things including putting myself down and being judgemental in my own head.

I have no doubt that most men out there, whoever they are, have a fucked up sense of masculinity and we all question ourselves.  All we can do is learn to be more self aware over time, and also learn to be true to ourselves.

 

One year a #TruvadaWhore, and…

It’s actually over one year – more like a year and four or five months since I started on Truvada.

I don’t really want to write about me today, what I want to write about is two things:

– Health Canada has officially endorsed Truvada for PrEP – This is huge as it allows provinces to possibly start coverage as part of drug programs, as well insurance companies will start covering Truvada for PrEP.  Some insurance companies already do, although some have been known to stop if they realize it’s not for someone living with HIV.
We have our first report of someone seroconvert to HIV while taking PrEP properly.  Even more interesting is that the paper was presented by my own GP this week at CROI (Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections).  
Not much to write about with Health Canada other than I will probably switch from Toronto General to having my PrEP handled by my actual GP.

Someone seroconverting while taking PrEP properly was always a “when” not an “if” for me.  The case of someone seroconverting while taking PrEP properly that was reported this week at CROI (Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections), by my actual GP, Dr. David Knox. (Link is to the actual presentation which has a lot of great information.)

Previous research showed that the only people who seroconverted were those who were not taking the medication properly.  That would imply 100% effectiveness, but not quite.  We know that it’s possible for resistant genotypes of HIV to be transmitted to someone who is already positive, causing drug resistance.  We also didn’t know (and somewhat still don’t know) the percent effectiveness between someone who is positive and detectable versus positive and undetectable fucking a negative guy on PrEP.

What’s clear is

  • If someone is positive and undetectable they cannot transmit HIV to someone.
  • If someone is positive and not undetectable and not resistant to the medications in Truvada as PrEP, they’re unlikely to transmit HIV to someone but there is some risk.
  • If someone is positive and not undetectable and resistant to the medications in Truvada as PrEP, it is very possible that they will transmit HIV to someone, it’s risky.

Some details from the presentation:

  • The 43 year old was bottoming and was definitely neg prior to going on PrEP, had been on PrEP for 2 years, and has been shown to be taking his PrEP properly.
  • The top was poz and had a genotype of HIV that was drug resistant to both components of Truvada.
– It is suggested that the top was not undetectable.  The researchers say this because it has been shown in recent research that someone who is undetectable cannot actually transmit HIV to someone who is neg, even if they have the genotype of virus that is resistant to Truvada.

That said, researchers are implying that the type of resistance to the active medical components of Truvada seen in this case is rare.

Still, this goes to show that no medication is a silver bullet, and anyone I’ve talked to has always said that.

1 in 40,000 – That’s 0.000025%.  5 years of people fucking while on PrEP – some using condoms, some not. That said, think of all those loads taken and given.  That’s a lot of ejaculate!  Not to make light of the situation, but seriously, the point is PrEP is still a highly effective means of prophylaxis against HIV.  The odds are very good right now.  Still, be aware of what’s going on and keep yourself up-to-date with info, what’s happening out there with drug resistance.

The upshot:
  •  PrEP is still very effective.  They are still saying it is 99.8% effective against HIV.
  • Anyone in the medical community looking at PrEP is saying, if you’re active get on it.
  • This is a rare exception.  5 years of research and countless number of loads taken and given, where no one taking the medication seroconverted in many respects proves that PrEP is very effective.  There were people who did seroconvert, but it was shown that they were not taking their medication properly.
  • There are currently around 44,000 people prescribed Truvada; this is one person of 44,000. Statistically, that is around 0.00002% which is of no statistical value, ask any statistician.
  • The CDC (Center for Disease Control) still considers PrEP to be more effective than condom use.  Here is a great visual tool: https://wwwn.cdc.gov/hivrisk/index.html – I still maintain that if anyone is fucking around casually and using just condoms, get on PrEP too.

One month a #TruvadaWhore

It’s been a month since I started PrEP, and really, not much to report, or so I think.

Let’s see:

  • I am 100% compliant with my medication.  The closest ‘slip’ was nearly forgetting to take my pill this morning after a weekend up north with Master Chuck.
  • It’s not difficult taking a pill every morning, and I don’t feel any anxiety around taking my medication.
  • The clinic pharmacy was awesome in calling me to remind me to pick up my medication on December 29th.  It’s really nice having that reminder, and a clinic so proactive in having prescriptions ready.  I’m not sure how I’d deal with refills at my local pharmacy.  For now, and given I need to get blood work done every few months, I might as well stick with the hospital pharmacy for now.
  • Given I am currently on a weight lost diet that has had some interesting effects as my body started to get used to it, I did feel the nausea that people often report when starting Truvada.  It only lasted for probably 4 days, max.  Since then, no side effects.
  • No side effects since the first week (did I mention that?)
  • Some people report having vivid dreams.  I know I’ve had my share of some interesting dreams in my lifetime, but I’m not sure the recent ones are a result of being on PrEP.  But hey, if so, bring them on.  I enjoy dreaming.  Ask me the one about the elevator ride.
  • I’ve never been big on taking vitamins.  Horrible at it and would take them intermittently. I’m not on week two of taking vitamins at the same time.

So there you go.  I think that’s significant for someone who may be interested in my experiences on PrEP.

Why is #TruvadaWhore important to me?

As an activist, and as someone who does like, I would say, pushing the boundaries of sex, I like people making assumptions about what I may be into, and if they really want to start rumours based on me wearing a #TruvadaWhore t-shirt, then go right ahead.  What’s even better is when they come to me and ask me what it’s about, what PrEP is about, etc…

Here’s a great example of what I’m talking about:  Have any of you heard the story about Master Chuck being into gainer scenes?  This was a rumour started at a Leather Run one year.  The funny thing is, one of Master Chuck’s subs at the time literally lost half a man in weight, and my self as an example, lost 50lbs three years ago (and I’m re-working to lose the 60 lbs I gained unintentionally since then!).  Scott, my partner, at one point lost 100lbs. Between us, that’s two bears gone.

Bring on the assumptions.

The truth is, my activities have not changed just because I’m on PrEP, but I know that I’m covered.  It’s added protection that has been proven to work even in the early studies.

So far I’ve had two discussions about PrEP where I’ve had to work to counter perception:

  • “Is PrEP the new party drug that guys in the village are taking?”/”I’m worried that it will lead to more guys barebacking”
    While it’s possible that some guys are looking at PrEP as an opportunity to bareback and I know some who do, most reports have suggested that guys on PrEP are potentially using condoms more in the near term.  It will be interesting to see what happens in the long term.
  • “It doesn’t stop other STIs so why bother?”
    I think this is an important one to dispell.  The concept of “safe sex” versus “unsafe sex” really came out of HIV coming on the scene in the early 80s.  Now that said, there are other concerns out there, agreed.  Admittedly the concepts of PrEP and Undetectable viral load do make this a grey area.  And as I saw earlier today, a quote from someone that said, that anyone who said they would not rejoice if there was a discovery in the 80s where a pill could stop HIV.  They’d be rejoicing.
    Hepatitis C and antibiotic resistant STIs come to mind as a concern that I have.  Thankfully there are medications that help with Hepatitis C, but they are expensive, possibly more cost prohibitive.  There is research that rates of antibiotic resistant STIs are falling.  Still, to me, this doesn’t give anyone a carte blanche to bareback.
    That said, I will counter that if you are on PrEP you do have to go in and get your STI checks done.  Meaning that STIs are caught earlier, and not spread as far.
    So this is my argument for using condoms.  But if you could contribute to stopping HIV in it’s tracks, why wouldn’t you?

There are other arguments I’ve also heard, and I was once a nay sayer as well.  The proof is in the studies that have occurred and are still to be completed.  The key thing is making sure you read the reports and truly understand what the percentages represent, the sample size, etc…

I am still happy I did this.

#TruvadaWhore

IMG_2181It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything – more than half a year.  Admittedly, I’ve not had much inspiration to write recently.  Leather-life-wise, Sir and I have not had the chance to spend much time together and with both of our jobs being very busy, setting up for intense scenes and such has been lower on the priority list than just spending time together.  That’s life.  While the leather is in our hearts, life happens.

That said, I’ve been following the debates and research on PrEP.  Face it, I have a reasonably high sex drive and I like getting out there and having a good time whether I’m at home or on the road.  I’m not shy to say that I like my bath house and public sex action.  That’s me and what gets me hard.  I’m a pig at heart, and the reality is that I play with guys who are negative, positive, undetectable and somewhere in-between.

Earlier this year I went in to see my doctor after 3 years of going without.  I have a new doctor as my previous doctor is now out in Vancouver.  This doesn’t mean I’ve not looked after my STI checks and such.  I like going to Hassle Free Clinic for that.  It’s kind of tradition, it’s home, it’s where my tribe go to get checked out.  Yeah I could go to a nameless blood testing lab – and I’ve had some great experiences with them, as well as some awful.  It just feels right to me going to Hassle Free Clinic.

On my list among other things to go through with my new doctor was PrEP.  We had a good chat about my practices and such, and he referred me to Dr. Isaac Bogoch at the Immunodeficiency Clinic at Toronto General Hospital.  The link there is to a talk he did at a TEDx in Stouffville.

What a fantastic clinic.  Everyone I met was awesome.  Dr. Bogoch is so personable and with his bedside (office-side?) manner, it was easy to open up to him.  He was also impressed by my GP’s thoroughness in all the tests.  Dr. Bogoch was more than happy to provide me with a prescription for Truvada after checking everything out.

So that was two hurdles, of sorts, to get through.  Not that it was difficult, but none the less, had to get over them.  The next step was getting the prescription and wondering if my insurance through work would cover it.  I did ask Dr. Bogoch if he’s heard problems about it being covered by insurance, and he literally said that he had not heard of anyone not being covered.

Truvada is, for a one month supply, $967.22 with an $11.99 fee if dispensed at Toronto General at the Immunodeficiency Clinic. Seeing Patient Pays: $0.00 on the receipt gives me new hope that more people who choose to go down the route of using PrEP to enhance their protection and the protection of others, will do so.

IMG_2176

PrEP is a total mind fuck for those of us who grew up in the period of so many of our brothers and sisters dying from HIV.  The message has been consistently, “Use condoms”.

The thought of being covered by up to 99% if having unprotected sex with someone who is undetectable is huge in the world of harm reduction.  Stats say PrEP reduces the chance of contracting HIV to 92% to 100%; being undetectable reduces the chance of contracting HIV to 97% or so conservatively.  While research has been done on people who are not detectable, the jury is still out on the degree to which the risk is reduced.

So why am I choosing to use PrEP as part of my personal harm reduction strategy?  Well, I do play in bath houses a fair bit although admitedly how often I go has dropped, I do have regular fuck buddies that I do play with, I play a lot on the road when I can, and I am definitely playing with people who do not know their status, are undetectable or otherwise positive.

For the things I do (primarily oral and fucking as a top with condoms), at one level I’m pretty low risk.  That’s not no risk, but low risk meaning there is some risk.  With specific close partners, there are things that we are doing that are riskier, and given between myself and one of my partners, we’re probably equal in the amount of action we get on the road, so why wouldn’t I do my part in “getting to zero” meaning – let’s do what we can to eradicate this virus.

The other thing I questioned myself on was, I was playing at bath houses between 1996 and later, at a point before the current generation of ARVs, and I got to my 40s without becoming positive, why bother with PrEP?  Well, I admit, I was picking and choosing my activities, wasn’t swallowing, etc.  These days, I admit I am being less picky and have gone out to be a cum swallowing pig at the baths.  Yes, my risk has increased.  I’m not always at ease with that, but I will say that being on PrEP does put me at ease that a low risk activity is now even lower.

Again, it protects me, and it protects my partners.  And if that makes me a #TruvadaWhore, then so be it.  The stigma doesn’t hurt me, it challenges me to push back on the stigma and be out there.

FullSizeRenderMe being open about this allows me to open the eyes of people, but in particular those of us in Canada.  PrEP is not approved, yet, by Heath Canada as a preventative but doctors are free to prescribe it for prevention.  This needs to change and it will be changing, let’s hope sooner rather than later.

PrEP does not protect you from other STIs that are out there.  Syphilis, Hepatitis C, and antibiotic resistant strains of STIs are a major issue in this and any other big city.  You still have to be careful.

I plan on writing a bit more about my experience in PrEP.  Specifically any side effects and such that I am feeling, possibly ethical questions that come to mind, and challenges to stigma.

For now, daily PrEP and Condoms are the new norms.  I am happy about this.

Here a few handy resources:

To quote this article briefly:

Undetectable Partner

– If one partner is HIV positive and is undetectable on medication (viral load <40 copies/mL on some tests and <20 copies/mL on others), then the chance of passing HIV is reduced by 97% or so (conservatively).

–  If the negative partner is on PrEP, and taking the medications reliably, then that person’s risk of acquiring HIV is reduced by, let’s say, 92% to 100% according to various studies. (Just using PrEP)

– With these reductions in risk (97% and then 95%), the risk becomes something like 1 out of 50,000 encounters. If we use a 99% figure for PrEP, we’re looking at 1 per 250,000 episodes.

Both Partners Negative, Both on PrEP

– If both partners are negative and on PrEP, then both are being seen by medical providers. And if those providers are following protocol, then the patients are getting tested every three months for HIV and STIs and taking their meds and should reliably be negative. 

Both Partners Say They’re Negative, One on PrEP

– If you are the person on PrEP, you need to ask yourself how well you know the other person. Do you trust that the person is really negative? Do you know when the individual last got tested? Do you know the individual’s sexual history? And finally, are you comfortable enough with what you know and with Truvada’s ability to prevent HIV infection to not use a condom with this person? A more difficult choice to be sure, but one where knowledge of your partner can help to reduce risk.

The Unknown Partner Scenario

To those who say they would use a condom, I say that is the way they then need to handle every unknown hookup.

For those who say they would still have unprotected sex, I first say that I hope that PrEP will be as effective in this scenario as it was in studies overall. I then caution them that the data we have from studies have not proven that is true. The studies of PrEP have not looked at the HIV status and viral load levels of every partner of the study participants. We cannot say for sure that PrEP will work as well overall if one is constantly encountering partners with very high HIV viral loads. That is not to say for sure that it won’twork, but we just don’t know. People who are on PrEP and not using condoms with strangers are, in fact, experimenting with their own bodies. I am not saying that they are wrong or stupid or ill-informed, but they need to be aware that we do not know for sure that this will be safe.

 

Central Canada Boot Black – Call for Contestants

Call for contestants for Central Canada Community Bootblack
CCCB 2014 is open to bootblacks who are residents of Ontario

(Toronto, Ontario, CA) — Contestant registration is now open for the Central Canada Community Bootblack (CCCB) contest. The CCCB 2014 is open to bootblacks who are residents of Ontario.

CCCB 2014 will take place during the Central Canada LeatherSIR / Leatherboy (CCLSb) 2014 contest weekend, which take place the Easter holiday weekend in April.

The weekend will feature seven events between the evening of Thursday, April 17 and the afternoon of Sunday, April 20. A complete roster will be posted at www.LeatherSirCanada.com.

For more information or to receive a contestant application for CCCB, please email contestinfo@leathersircanada.com

Steamworks Baths Toronto (www.SteamworksBaths.com) is the Presenting Sponsor and official bathhouse for CCLSb / CCCB 2014. Community Partners confirmed to date include Club120 (http://www.Club120.ca), Spearhead Toronto (www.SpearheadToronto.com), Churchmouse & Firkin (www.FirkinPubs.com/pubs/Churchmouse-and-Firkin), Black Eagle Toronto (http://www.BlackEagleToronto.com) and CLAW (www.clawinfo.org).

In January, the former Eastern Canada LeatherSIR / Leatherboy contest region that had existed since 2003 was reorganized to create three new regions — Central Canada, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. CCLSb and CCCB are produced by Brandon Matheson (Eastern Canada LeatherSIR 2004) and Dan Falkenham (Eastern Canada Leatherboy 2004), who have produced the Eastern Canada contest since 2005.

For more information about CCCB and CCLSb weekend, visit www.LeatherSirCanada.com.

Central Canada Community Bootblack

PRESS RELEASE
March 4, 2014
For immediate release

Contest Coordinator and judges announced for Central Canada Community Bootblack

(Toronto, Ontario, CA) — Producers of the Central Canada Community Bootblack (CCCB) contest today announced the appointment of Contest Coordinator and panel of judges for CCCB 2014. The CCCB Contest Coordinator will be boy Alex Dunlop, from Toronto. The three-member panel of judges will be: Paul William, International Community Bootblack 2013, from Seattle; Ron “cub” Tummon, Bootblack Toronto 2005, from Toronto; and, Eli Campanaro, Bootblack Toronto 2007, from Toronto. The Tally Master will be Iain Bennett, Eastern Canada Leatherboy 2011, from Toronto.

The CCCB contest is open to bootblacks who are residents of Ontario. Registration for contestants is now open.

CCCB 2014 will take place during the Central Canada LeatherSIR / Leatherboy 2014 contest weekend, which take place the Easter holiday weekend in April. Seven events will take place between the evening of Thursday, April 17 and the afternoon of Sunday, April 20. A complete roster of events will be posted at http://www.LeatherSirCanada.com.

An active member of the Canadian and international bootblack communities, boy Alex holds the titles of Ms Black Eagle 2002 and Bootblack Toronto 2006. Boy Alex has served on the judging panels for Bootblack Toronto in 2007, International LeatherSIR / Leatherboy and International Community Bootblack in 2008, and International Ms Bootblack in 2010. Recognized by his peers and community, boy Alex was the recipient of the Community Choice Award at ICCB 2008. Alex served as the Tally Master for the Eastern Canada LeatherSIR / Leatherboy contest in 2012 and 2013. In 2010, boy Alex was the recipient of a Community Builder Award, presented by ECLSb. In 2014, boy Alex was awarded the David Galbraith Award for his outstanding contribution to bootblacking, presented by Heart of the Flag Federation.

Paul William, from Seattle, holds the titles of International Community Bootblack 2013 and Northwest Community Bootblack 2013. In 2012 he began bootblacking at the monthly social held by the Seattle Men of Leather. He’s been active in events such as Kinkfest and Boot Weekend.

Eli Campanaro holds the title of Bootblack Toronto 2007, and went on to compete at the International Community Bootblack contest in 2007. Eli was on the panel of judges for Bootblack Toronto 2008. An educator, Eli has presented workshops at events such as Unholy Harvest. He’s a feminist, transmasculine life model and trained leatherworker and farrier.

Ron “cub” Tummon, of Toronto, holds the title of Bootblack Toronto 2005. He is the first BBT to win the Brotherhood Award at International Mr Bootblack in 2005. In 2007, cub was the recipient of the Courtlan Forsey Award, presented by the Mr Leatherman Toronto Competition, for his contributions of lasting significance to Toronto’s leather and SM community. Cub served on the panel of judges for the Eastern Canada LeatherSIR / Leatherboy 2007 contests.

Steamworks Baths Toronto (http://www.SteamworksBaths.com) is the Presenting Sponsor of CCLSb and CCCB 2014 and is the official bathhouse of CCLSb/CCCB. Community Partners confirmed to date for CCLSb weekend include Club120 (http://www.Club120.ca), Spearhead Toronto (http://www.SpearheadToronto.com), Churchmouse & Firkin (http://www.FirkinPubs.com <http://www.FirkinPubs.com/pubs/Churchmouse-and-Firkin> ), Black Eagle Toronto (http://www.BlackEagleToronto.com) and CLAW (http://www.clawinfo.org).

In January, the former Eastern Canada LeatherSIR / Leatherboy contest region that had existed since 2003 was reorganized to create three new regions — Central Canada, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Central Canada LeatherSIR / Leatherboy and Central Canada Community Bootblack are produced by Brandon Matheson (Eastern Canada LeatherSIR 2004) and Dan Falkenham (Eastern Canada Leatherboy 2004), who have produced the Eastern Canada contest since 2005.

For more information about CCLSb weekend or being a contestant, visit http://www.LeatherSirCanada.com or emailBrandon@LeatherSirCanada.com

Blah blah blah we’re a dying breed blah blah blah

How many times have I heard, “The Leather community is dying”, and I don’t know many different variations of that, in the 9 years.

What’s happening is that the comfortable walls you’ve created are being torn down because the world around you is changing.  I’ve been through it and I’ve observed it as well in my years as an out gay man.

What comes to mind is, isn’t that what beating to your own drum is about?  There’s no need for the melodrama!  If other people won’t create what you want, then create it for yourself – show some leadership.

I’ve lived through it via my links to the Bear community, which has changed considerably since I first heard about the community in 1990 and since I came out in 1996.  I know the frustration, confusion and in many respects the anger that came with a shift in ideologies in the community.  I don’t necessarily identify with what it is now, but I still find many the guys hot.

The history of the Bear community from when I lived it, is pretty different from what it is today.  It’s like looking back at the 80s and what we had then with big hair and shoulder pads, to the grunge images of the 90s.  Time goes on, things change.

I think the lyrics from Pet Shop Boys’ Being Boring sum it up perfectly:

Now I sit with different faces
In rented rooms and foreign places
All the people I was kissing
Some are here and some are missing
In the nineteen-nineties
I never dreamt that I would get to be
The creature that I always meant to be
But I thought in spite of dreams
You’d be sitting somewhere here with me

I also can’t help but think of the book “Who Moved My Cheese?” when I hear all these proclamations.

The premise of the book is that you have Sniff and Scurry who recognize that the cheese supply is dwindling, they’re mentally prepared for it and then find a new cheese supply; and Hem and Haw who are angered and annoyed over the lack of cheese, they become arrogant, and victimized, comforted by their old routines and is frightened about the unknown.

Sounds familiar, eh?

Just because change occurs, does not mean that I don’t hold myself to the high standards of being a Leatherman.  It doesn’t change any of that.

I’m also still able to have the kinky pig sex that I’m into, and then some!

As a community, we have gotten so fixated on history and tradition that we’re trying to live in the past, rather than the present.  I’m not saying a sense of history is not important – it is, but we shouldn’t try living in that history – we can’t magically bring back those days.

That is what I fear that people in our community have been trying to do rather than trying to create something new that works.  We’ve moved forward while people are stuck looking backwards.

Not all history is lost.  Where can we go for history?  Well some of the clubs that are still around have a rich documentation of history.

  • Going to Spearhead runs – the guys would bring out photo albums of past runs, events and such.
  • Talking to members of the Rochester Rams, they can wax poetically about past runs, events and people.
  • Go to an Ottawa Knights bar night.
  • The 15 Association is still very much active and alive in San Francisco.

It’s unfortunate that a lot of people have seem to forgotten that these and other clubs (Unicorns, Bulldogs, etc…) have existed, preferring the larger events rather than considering smaller events.

You’re not going to find all the history you’re looking for at contest events.  You need to branch out.

Also, a lot of these clubs are starting to go the way of the Dodo, if they haven’t already done so.

I challenge anyone who would regularly go to CLAW, IML or ILSb-ICBB to try going to a Rams Run where you can tie a boy up to a tree, flog in him hard and fuck him senseless outside.  It sure beats being in a bath house or a hotel – both which I also like.  There’s something special being outside. 😉

There are other places where we can go to, to get a sense of history:

  • The Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives has some leather history from a Canadian perspective.
  • In the US, the Leather Archives & Museum, has a lot of history documented.  It’s well worth the walk through, and I’m glad that in 2011 that I had that chance.  I saw some cool things from my days in Ottawa.
  • I wonder if the LGBT Archives in New York may have something for those in the US.
  • Spend some time in SF and go to the off-the-beaten track places.  You might find other people you can talk to that don’t go to the contest circuit.
  • Talk to some of the older members of the community.  I can think of several people I could go to in Toronto and Ottawa to give you regional history.
  • Talk to leaders of organizations that you may not necessarily see out as often as you once did. They’ll be glad that you asked good questions about their perceptions of the past.

What I think some people need to realize is

  • Not everyone does the contest circuit or wants to have anything to do with the contest circuit.  And that’s okay – it’s not for every one.
  • History as passed down by word of mouth, verbally, etc… is subject to the telephone game.  For example, some of us can wax poetically about The Toolbox, a notorious Leather Bar here in Toronto.  Not every weekend featured hot and heavy sex on the pool table. 😉  I do wish I could bring back some of these glory days because I’d be a considerably bigger pig than I ever was.
  • Not everyone goes to the most popular Leather Bars – I can think of a large number of Leathermen who go to The Lone Star on Friday Nights, they’re not necessarily at The Eagle.
  • Yes, there are a large number of Leathermen who are considered “underground” who don’t go out, don’t go to the local Leather bar.  If you ask around a bit deeper, you may actually find them.
  • Go to your local sex club on Leather Night and even on non-Leather nights.  For example, I can think of folks who prefer to go to Blow Buddies over going to the bar.  For a while there, I preferred bath houses over bars.
  • Go to local educational events such as “So you want to be kinky” in Toronto, or even some of the events hosted by Northbound Leather.
  • Not everyone is in a major center.  I cite the example of Master Chuck (ECLS 2011) and Thug Rocco (ECLS 2012) in Northern Ontario.  Master Chuck can retell stories of all kinds of kinky sex happening in Northern Ontario.
  • Not everyone into kinky sex is on Recon.  Lesser known websites such as Squirt.org, who are full of kinky fuckers.

Inclusiveness is a tough subject, and I can appreciate how tough it is to balance.  I know I don’t have an answer.

To use local examples

  • I’m not sure I want bath houses to be open beyond cismales, but I also know that if transguys were allowed in, I wouldn’t bat an eye and I probably wouldn’t have a problem with it.
  • The Rough House events that I support and very much appreciate, are primarily a mens party and are open to transguys.  It’s not an issue, and everyone adds positively to the piggy vibe that occurs.

It’s funny, I’m struggling to state why I have no issue and much of it comes across as judgemental to those who don’t want our events to be open.  I will say in some of the responses in my Facebook, maturity is definitely a factor.

We cannot go back to a point in our history and restart.  We can, however, learn from our history and past.

Personally, I cannot think of another time that is more exciting than the present.  From what I can tell, we’re actually a much stronger community with many allies that many of us don’t actually realize that we have.  We’re stronger in numbers and I think we may be growing.

That doesn’t mean that everything is perfect.  We have lost a lot of key bars (The Toolbox), and we nearly lost a key place in the SF Eagle.  We need to look at what is truly important to us and support those efforts.

  • That’s why I will often support bath houses and sex clubs in the US and Canada when on business trips – Admitedly I’m not much into bars. (Sadly, Steam in Portland was closed the last time I was in Portland, OR)
  • Why I volunteer on the board of So You Want To Be Kinky.
  • One aspect of why I have a Sir in Northern Ontario – so I can learn some of the hot kinky shit Sir is into and bring that down.
  • Why I make myself available to mentor young gay men who are interested in kink.

The negative attitudes, the looking backwards and living in the past does nothing for our cause.

And I close this blog entry off with Pet Shop Boys – Being Boring

ILSb-ICBB Updates Policy

Following up to my previous journal entry, I would be remiss in not providing an update, given the ILSb-ICBB board has met and has chosen to make changes to their previous announcement.

The updates

  • Clarify the regional structure
  • Clarify the stance on appointees
  • Reverse a decision banning transguys from running for ILSb

Firstly – thank you for the clarifications and changes.  It was important that the board does this, and I’m glad the board took the time to soul search on this.

Regional Structure

I can appreciate the challenges that some regions have with their size – whether small or large.  I come from and have represented one of the largest regions in the ILSb circuit and I know Sir and I talked about wanting to represent in other parts of the region – Montreal, Halifax and St. John’s.  It’s difficult and cost prohibitive unless you have airline miles to use, and the job to back you up.  As it’s called out, it can be hard to network.

That said, I’m glad it was clarified that the regions were “never eliminated”, because that is one of the hallmarks of our contest.  Regions are vital.  In the original message, it was pretty clear that regions had been done away with and you have seen several region co-ordinators stepping down.  I am glad that the board has had that change of heart.  They’re going to have to work hard to gain back the support of those individuals who felt thrown away.

I’m also glad that regions can choose to change their structure to something more suitable – whatever that is, and agreed on.  That said, I would heed that a balance in the number of regions is definitely required.  Although, if this contest does go truly international and not just North America-wide, then, obviously, change to allow such a potentially large number of regions would have to occur.  Change like this is not necessarily a bad thing, and this is called out in the update.

Licensing agreements make sense as well.

Appointees

I still have no issue with appointees.  We’ve had appointees in Eastern Canada before, and typically it’s because we’ve genuinely not had a particular contestant step up and run for a particular title.   As with any region, sometimes you have a dry spell, other times you’re raining with contestants.

However, I am aware that there are regions who are much more political and competitive.

I will say, if a region doesn’t have a Sir or boy running, and the region producers know of someone who could take that place and fits the dynamic represented by ILSb, then appoint.

I think this is just going to be something I disagree with – I still do have my concerns.

And honestly, I don’t think it helps with integrity either way.

Who may be a contestant

This was the issue, other than my concern for the regional structure, that really concerned me, and I am glad the board reversed their decision.

Having competed along side transmen, and not realizing this, I have no issue with transguys competing.  I think this is a testament to how much of a man these people are.  I doubt the naysayers would have even realized either.

A further concern

Reading the press release on Leatherati has me concerned.  Less so about ILSb-ICBB, but a concern for the community.

I’ve seen two “swings” if you will.  During my title year, it felt like people were shitting on others because of a need to retain traditions and heritage.  On the flip side, in this situation we’ve seen the challenges of when you try to… the only words I have for it is to try and “go back in time”.

I can appreciate the need for history and tradition and all of that.  It’s one thing if people are getting the information wrong, such as one dominant telling another dominant off for having their sub walk to the “wrong” side.

We’ve never been a community that does things exactly the same.  Okay some of our symbols such as collars may represent the same thing – being owned by someone, but it’s not like every dominant’s collar looks exactly the same.  Not every dominant does things the same way and not every submissive is the same.  If we were, imagine how boring things would be!

On the flip side, the press release says, “We made our decisions based on the continuous requests to return to ILSb’s traditions and history: comments that were strongly made known to us verbally during this last ILSb-ICBB weekend.”

I can understand that change can be threatening.  A few things come to mind:

  • When you open up something, you can’t really close that door.  Opening up ILSb  to trans-men as was done, you can’t really close the door.  We’ve seen the out come of what happened when you try that here.
  • Change is a fact of life.  You really do have to get over it.  Change with the times or you’re left behind.  I’d love to be able to go back to pre-HIV days – we can’t bring back the loved ones lost, we can’t bring back the whole generation of Leathermen we lost.  In short, we have to keep moving forward.

As a community, we have gotten so fixated on history and tradition that we’re trying to live in the past, rather than the present.  I’m not saying a sense of history is not important – it is, but we shouldn’t try living in that history – we can’t magically bring back those days.  That is what I fear that people in our community have been trying to do rather than trying to create something new that works.

Not all history is lost.  Where can we go for history?  Well some of the clubs that are still around have a rich documentation of history.

  • Going to Spearhead runs – the guys would bring out photo albums of past runs, events and such.
  • Talking to members of the Rochester Rams, they can wax poetically about past runs, events and people.
  • Go to an Ottawa Knights bar night.
  • The 15 Association is still very much active and alive in San Francisco.

It’s unfortunate that a lot of people have seem to forgotten that these and other clubs (Unicorns, Bulldogs, etc…) have existed, preferring the larger events rather than considering smaller events.

You’re not going to find all the history you’re looking for at contest events.  You need to branch out.

I challenge anyone who would regularly go to CLAW, IML or ILSb-ICBB to try going to a Rams Run where you can tie a boy up to a tree, flog in him hard and fuck him senseless outside.  It sure beats being in a bath house or a hotel – both which I also like.  There’s something special being outside. 😉

There are other places where we can go to, to get a sense of history:

  • The Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives has some leather history from a Canadian perspective.
  • In the US, the Leather Archives & Museum, has a lot of history documented.  It’s well worth the walk through, and I’m glad that in 2011 that I had that chance.  I saw some cool things from my days in Ottawa.
  • I wonder if the LGBT Archives in New York may have something for those in the US.
  • Spend some time in SF and go to the off-the-beaten track places.  You might find other people you can talk to that don’t go to the contest circuit.
  • Talk to some of the older members of the community.  I can think of several people I could go to in Toronto and Ottawa to give you regional history.
  • Talk to leaders of organizations that you may not necessarily see out as often as you once did. They’ll be glad that you asked good questions about their perceptions of the past.

What I think some people need to realize is

  • Not everyone does the contest circuit or wants to have anything to do with the contest circuit.  And that’s okay – it’s not for every one.
  • History as passed down by word of mouth, verbally, etc… is subject to the telephone game.  For example, some of us can wax poetically about The Toolbox, a notorious Leather Bar here in Toronto.  Not every weekend featured hot and heavy sex on the pool table. 😉  I do wish I could bring back some of these glory days because I’d be a considerably bigger pig than I ever was.
  • Not everyone goes to the most popular Leather Bars – I can think of a large number of Leathermen who go to The Lone Star on Friday Nights, they’re not necessarily at The Eagle.
  • Yes, there are a large number of Leathermen who are considered “underground” who don’t go out, don’t go to the local Leather bar.  If you ask around a bit deeper, you may actually find them.
  • Go to your local sex club on Leather Night.  For example, I can think of folks who prefer to go to Blow Buddies over going to the bar.  For a while there, I preferred bath houses over bars.
  • Go to local educational events such as “So you want to be kinky” in Toronto, or even some of the events hosted by Northbound Leather.
  • Not everyone is in a major center.  I cite the example of Master Chuck (ECLS 2011) and Thug Rocco (ECLS 2012) in Northern Ontario.  Master Chuck can retell stories of all kinds of kinky sex happening in Northern Ontario.
  • Not everyone into kinky sex is on Recon.  Lesser known websites such as Squirt.org, who are full of kinky fuckers.
  • I can also tell you that drama such as what happened this past week doesn’t help to bring those folks out.

Inclusiveness is a tough subject, and I can appreciate how tough it is to balance.  I know I don’t have an answer.

To use local examples

  • I’m not sure I want bath houses to be open beyond cismales, but I also know that if transguys were allowed in, I wouldn’t bat an eye and I probably wouldn’t have a problem with it.
  • The Rough House events that I support and very much appreciate, are primarily a mens party and are open to transguys.  It’s not an issue, and everyone adds positively to the piggy vibe that occurs.

It’s funny, I’m struggling to state why I have no issue and much of it comes across as judgemental to those who don’t want our events to be open.  I will say in some of the responses in my Facebook, maturity is definitely a factor.

We cannot go back to a point in our history and restart.  We can, however, learn from our history and past.

Thank you to ILSb-ICBB for the reversal in these policies.  I hope to walk into the Eagle in Dallas again.  I’ve not actually been to the new Eagle and I am actually overdue for a trip to Dallas.

Well, now…

I’m coming out of Switzerland.

During my title year, I ran into an issue that heated up community politics that left me quite disappointed as to how a specific individual was being treated.  Now, this individual made his own bed and had to lie down in it – he needed to be called on his shit – no bones about that.  On the flip side, the reactions from several so-called “community leaders” to this person, and they way they held themselves, was nothing short of disgusting.  I bit my tongue and I will say that it made me wonder whether I truly belonged in the so-called “Leather community” with those people in it.

For the longest time, I’ve considered those community leaders “persona non-grata” in my life.  I can do without all of you, honestly.

It also lead me to step back after my title year and really pause – How do I want to be involved, what is my purpose, etc… In all honesty, staying true to the concept of “marching to the beat of my own drum” has been key in all of this.

Major Changes at ILSb-ICBB: http://www.leatherati.com/2013/09/ilsbicbb-changes-2013/

We’ve got some major and concerning issues going on at ILSb/ICBB:

  • A change in status of the competition such that only cismales can compete
  • Regional producers contracts have been dissolved
  • You must run for the competition, there cannot be any appointments

To the regional producers – my hats off to those who truly built their contest region and worked for the betterment of their’s and the greater community.

There is part of me that says it could be a blessing for some regions who may have felt trapped in some way being under contract. I think it may help some regions grow a bit more organically.

I have always seen this contest as being about two things:

  • Players – Those who play deep, dark and nasty kinky
  • D/s – After all the tag line was “There’s something special between a Sir and a boy” – and it’s this aspect that truly grabbed my attention about this contest.

I think the removal of the regional producers and the fact that you must run for the competition, and not appointing, ultimately dilutes the Sir/boy aspect of the contest and what Drummer and ILSb represented.

I think it also makes the competition needlessly more political than it is in some respects.  Believe me, I’ve heard more than enough stories of bullshit from IML.

You’re going to have people entering for willy nilly reasons instead of truly representing the dynamic, just as you see people entering feeder contests into IML without any sense of what Leather is about.  To acknowledge properly, we have gotten that in the ILSb circuit and those individuals have grown – either in to Leather or away from Leather because they realize who they are and they’re better for the experience – so that specifically is not all bad.

In short, we don’t need another IML, which is what is happening – forget that it might or will, it IS happening.  The writing is on the wall, and it’s been on the wall for years.

What’s to differentiate it from IML now?  Players?  I think if you go after only the “Players” you’re missing a significant and important part of the community that would be alienated.  And you can’t forget that there are seriously bad players out there.   I can’t forget the boy from my title year that came back to the green room bleeding from an out of control whipping on stage.

Please don’t look at this as me IML-bashing.  Both IML and ILSb have their purposes and I believe both are very much needed.  Ultimately, we don’t need two of the same thing.

ILSb does not need to be this grand big-ass event.  There is something to be said about smaller events that pack a punch.

There’s something to be said about marching to the beat of your own drum.

 

Regarding the setback of only allowing cismales to compete?  Not even IML is stupid enough to go backwards in time, and had a trans guy win the IML title – The title that, at one level, represents the Tom of Findland-esque image of a man.

You know, it’s not that long ago where I used to look in disdain at guys into gear, guys who would just fuck in Leather, but didn’t have an interest in D/s.  Of course, I grew up, I accept this and, gosh, imagine that I found it hot!  I’d be a fucking hypocrite and an asshole if I continued that behaviour.

Because of this experience and having done some growing up, I don’t look at a trans guy and think of them other than being male.  They are the embodiment of masculinity just like any other man, especially one (man in general however you identify) that is comfortable in your own skin.

Are you going to deny my title, because I acknowledge that I have bi-leanings and I’m not a fully Kinsey 6 ranging homosexual man?

It’s 2013.  If you’re a man, if you are and identify as male; if you are and identify as gay – you should be allowed into ILSb, period, regardless of how your genitalia was expressed at birth.

To the board of ILSb/ICBB, consider this my open letter to tell you in no uncertain terms that it’s time to get back with the program.  You’ve got a mess on your hands that you need to clean up because no one will attend your contest, especially with the cismale requirement.

I am happy to support my local community, my local ILSb titleholders and former producers – they’re my brothers and will continue to be my brothers and I know they’ve got an important job to do for the region.  I’ve been in some of their boots.

I can’t support ILSb anymore.  I haven’t been able to, since it was sold, given behaviours of certain board members that I have alluded to at the beginning of this blog entry.

All of this just goes against my morals and who I am as a Leatherman.

You won’t catch me attending ILSb-ICBB after this, and I sure as hell won’t be stepping in the Dallas Eagle.