15 July 2009 | 16 Comments
As if the leather community didn’t have enough problems already… Our leather bars are disappearing (our one “leather bar” here in NY is best described as “leather friendly” – there is no time when you’re turned away for wearing white pants or sandals), our organizations are shutting their doors (e.g. “the World’s largest gay S/M organization” – GMSMA here in NY – is now gone), there’s rampant racism in the community, etc. So what does the International Mr. Leather (IML) organization do? It decides to go on the warpath against a big portion of the people in its own community to reduce the numbers even further. Their target is barebackers. Anyone associated with barebacking is now barred from being a vendor in IML’s leather mart. Here’s the text of their letter to vendors…
On behalf of International Mr. Leather, Inc., I would like to thank you for your past support and in particular for your participation as a vendor inour annual Leather Market. We are writing you today to inform you of a policy change affecting next year (2010) and all future markets.
Though we are now three decades into the HIV/AIDS epidemic, no cure has been found. The CDC and local health officials inform us that new infections are on the rise. And, while we have had some success developing medications that might make infection more manageable, that accomplishment comes at a price. Not having experienced the deaths – the loss of loved ones — which preceded these medications, we have an entire generation who may not fully appreciate or comprehend the severity of the situation.
Too many in our community believe HIV/AIDS is curable or manageable. Too few understand that HIV/AIDS infections dominate life. We believe that it is our duty to inform and educate. Several years ago when “Meth” was the scourge of our community, IML drew a line in the sand and raised awareness and used all our influence to try and stop this addictive madness. As is the case with HIV/AIDS, we believe it is our further obligation to do everything in our power to prevent future infections.
To that end, after considerable discussion, the Executive Committee of International Mr. Leather has decided that it will no longer allow participation in the IML Leather Market by any entity which promotes barebacking or distributes/sells any merchandise tending to promote or advocate barebacking. This restriction will also apply to distribution of gifts, post cards or any other information via our facilities.
This policy takes effect immediately.
Chuck Renslow, President
International Mr. Leather
(Emphasis is mine.) Click here to see an image of the actual letter.
For years they’ve been profiting from barebacking, yet somehow it’s suddently a problem. I haven’t heard any public apologies for the racist comments at their contest this year – apparently that doesn’t bother them. They can’t even bother with private apologies – the e-mail I sent them complaining about the racist comments was never answered. They don’t seem to mind racists in their midst, but apparently they just can’t stand that someone would CHOOSE to not use a rubber when fucking. It’s sorta insulting actually – they seem to think the people who go to IML don’t understand the risks – that they’re stupid and need to be protected from themselves.
And let me make something crystal clear – if they say it’s a health issue their either delusional or lying. These days smoking kills WAY more gay men than barebacking yet they’re completely supportive of the smoking fetish. I mean cigar smoking leather daddies are iconic in the leather community. How many of them will die horribly painful deaths because of their choice to smoke? If IML were serious about health issues they’d start there and ban all vendors that have anything to do with supporting smoking – that’s the activity that’s going to kill the most people in the leather community, not barebacking…
From what I can tell, this is a case of the “old guard” vs. the “new guard”. People my age and older, who dominate the leadership of IML, often don’t get that HIV/AIDS is a very different disease today than it was before ARVs came on the scene in 1996. Just because we had a horrible experience with HIV/AIDS they think no one has the right to fuck raw – ever…
The appeal of the leather community used to be that it was edgy. Minorities used to put up with the racism just to feed off the overall edginess of it all. For those of you who were around NY back in the ’90s Pork @ The LURE on Wednesday nights was an incredible experience – the East Village boys invaded and ran a leather bar and it was a wonderful mix. Today what edginess there is in the gay community is found in the bareback community. So the question is what’s the appeal of the leather community if it’s openly hostile to the leading edgy elements in the gay community? Why will people bother with leather? Why will they want to learn how to do BDSM properly? Leather will just become a fashion statement and BDSM will become marginalized as something only old queens do.
The reason why I care is because the leather community used to be the embodiment of a group that unapologetically demanded respect for who they were. They demanded tolerance for their sexually deviant consensual acts, but yet they’re unwilling to be tolerant of others’ sexually deviant consensual acts. They’ve lost something, and it’s sad… In an era of everyone conforming to heterosexual norms (with gay marriage) we need a group that stands up for tolerance and respect of being different, being kinky, and being a deviant…
Let me just run down the vendors who are affected. Since most places that sell videos sell at least some bareback titles, that eliminates almost everyone who’s related to porn with the exception of production companies that only shoot condom porn. The other question is whether they consider pre-condom to be bareback. It is, and if they’re really being consistent they should not allow companies who continue to sell bareback videos under the title “pre-condom”. If they don’t treat pre-condom as what it is – bareback – then that just points out the craziness of their decision.
- Bijou Video (pre-condom)
- Dark Alley Media (recently started producing bareback titles)
- Dick Wadd Media
- Erotic Writers (will IML allow writing about bareback sex?)
- Factory Video / Gay Reality Porn
- Helix Studios
- Spunk Video
- Treasure Island Media
Those are just the ones I can pick out from their list… I think there might be others.
Needless to say, I’m not going to IML next year. I had already decided a while back to go to MAL instead…
If you would like to tell IML what you think of their decision, the e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org… But don’t expect a response…