Friday, July 21, 1995

LavLife: Leather

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #4, July 21, 1995)

Let me start this column by reminding you of what’s going on this weekend. Some of the events, like the Atons Campout or the International Ms. Leather contest in Chicago, are in progress as you read this, and if you’re not at the event in question you’re probably too late. On the other hand, it’s easy to join in the fun at the North Star Regional (Gay) Rodeo, which has events happening all weekend both at the Washington State Fairgrounds in Lake Elmo and at Bandana Square in St. Paul. I know of at least two notorious leathermen who will be competing Saturday in the Wild Drag event (one of them will be wearing gold lamé—and no, I’m not talking about myself here.) Both of those locations should be readily accessible if you feel like hanging out with cowfolk and watching them compete—or if you feel like being a rodeo rider yourself.

The fundraiser for Lawrence Lawyer (you read about it in this column last issue) will be happening as scheduled. And another party has been added to the calendar: Clark Bufkin, formerly the publisher of Gaze Magazine, prominent member of the leather and bear communities, and holder of three titles including International Daddy Bear ’95, has evidently been listening to the Village People (or was it the Pet Shop Boys?) and has decided to “Go West” to San Francisco. Come bid him farewell Saturday, July 22, from 4 to 9 pm in the Dance Annex at the Gay 90’s. Details on these two events are elsewhere in this issue.

So, that’s what’s going on this weekend. The remainder of this column will be devoted to some thoughts about what went on last weekend, when I ended my year as Great Lakes Mr. Drummer.

When I was growing up I remember hearing people ask Miss America contestants what they thought was the best part of their experience of being in the contest. I remember them always answering one of two things: either “the people I’ve met” or “the changes I’ve made in myself.” At the time I thought it sounded hokey and plastic and treacly. Guess what? If you asked me that question, I’d give both those answers. It may sound hokey and plastic and treacly, but it’s the truth.

In the last few weeks, with the help of J.D. Laufman and John Tudor, I seem to be making the transition from leather titleholder to leather mentor and impresario. The experience of helping put together the Great Lakes Drummer Weekend has been as exhausting—and as rewarding—as the experience of competing for a title last year. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s been a thrill to receive so much support from the leather community—locally, regionally, and even nationally! And what really makes it a thrill is that there was a time when it looked like it would never happen.

Shortly after the International Mr. Drummer finals in September last year, there were rumors that the Drummer title system would not continue. With those rumors, and also with the recent happenings at International Ms. Leather and at the NLA International, I began hearing questions of whether titleholder systems—Drummer, IML, IMsL, the NLA titles—were becoming obsolete, whether their time had passed. Personally, I don’t think that’s the case at all; I strongly believe that our community still needs titleholders to be role models and leaders. AIDS and the radical right are still with us, and so are many other challenges.

I’ve seen and heard some encouraging things lately. The International Ms. Leather contest that’s happening this week in Chicago will have more contestants than ever before. On August 19, a new title will be created as the first International Mr. Fantasy is chosen in Omaha. And I’m very glad to see the tradition of the Drummer title system continuing. I was not destined to be the last Great Lakes Mr. Drummer, and Keith Hunt is not destined to be the last International Mr. Drummer.

So, to all the contestants who entered, to the advertisers who placed ads, and to everyone who bought tickets and cheered, thank you! You have all helped strengthen and preserve a tradition and a valuable community resource. I hope everyone joins me in wishing the best of luck to the new Great Lakes Mr. Drummer and Drummerboy.

In closing, I’ll say again what I said at the contest: My year as Great Lakes Mr. Drummer may be over, but I’ll still be around. See you next issue.

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