Leather contest, and was Runner-Up? Well as I was leaving Wellington a few weeks ago after the excellent Outgames Human Rights Conference and Urge Black Party, I discovered that the lovely Jamie who'd won the title was unable to make the contest in Melbourne this weekend - so I am heading over the Tasman tomorrow to represent my country on the international stage.
Now, I won't be looking as good as the guy on the right, a photo that was taken in the 1950s, and that shows just how long leather has been part of the erotic world of gay men. I nicked the pic from a blog about gay leather history, and there is quite a bit of it.
Just why some of us have a thing for leather is hard to pin down. It's something I've moved in and out of over my life. It's kind of cool for me that this is in Melbourne, because it was there, way back in 1980 when I was just 18 or so, that I first got involved in this world.
And it is a world of its own really. There is something about the Leather Community that does make it a community - a strong sense of identity I guess. And you can find this group in just about any city around the world that has some sort of gay scene in it. It's not just about fucking, though that's a core part of it - and often adventurous, kinky, fetishy fucking - but not always. I've had some beautiful tender loving times with guys in leather as well as some hard-out (I won't go into details here) athletic kink.
Some people laugh and say it's just another form of drag. Yes and no. It's a deliberate choice and way of presenting yourself as hyper-masculine. Drag has an element of parody to it that the leather world doesn't, but they both play around with mainstream ideas of what it is to be a man - and that's fun - I like fucking up people's expectations. If you get it, you get it - it's one of those things.
Leather men were a key part of that big change in what it means to be gay that happened back in the 60s and 70s. Instead of everyone stereotyping homos as weak girly-boys, they presented an alternative, and the raw sexuality they embodied was disturbing to many, but they celebrated it. They were the backbone of the old 'Clone' style of that era, and carried a huge weight through the worst years of the plague. Probably most of the guys I knew from those days are gone now.
I'm nervous about it all I admit, but I'm also looking forward to it. It's going to be a challenge, it's going to be a bit stressful, but it's going to be fun as well.
Fingers crossed !