Friday, July 4, 1997

Pride and Privilege

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #55, July 4, 1997)

During the past couple months I’ve been on a Pride binge. I think it started at the International Mr. Leather contest; this year’s gathering of the tribe had an even more profound impact on me than usual. I felt proud to be among these people and privileged to be at this event. When Savage Aural Hotbed played and when the new International Mr. Leather was announced I was extremely proud to be from Minnesota. Those feelings continued through Capital City Pride, the Twin Cities Pride Festival, the Pride Parade, and the Leather Pride celebration. I was proud to be there; I felt lucky to be there.

Now it’s Fourth of July weekend, which I’ve come to think of as “USA Pride.” This is the weekend when the (non-GLBT) rest of the country finally gets to engage in the kind of celebratory activity that we GLBT and leather types have recently been enjoying. And isn’t it grand that we get to enjoy the fireworks right along with them? We are, after all, just as much a part of this country as anyone else. And although our country, our politics, and our society are far from perfect, I feel proud and privileged to be a citizen of the USA.

Many people today see patriotism and civic pride as maudlin anachronisms. Many others see them as the property of the religious right, and therefore want nothing to do with them. We in the leather community, on the other hand, have our own style of patriotism and civic pride. We appreciate the good things about our society and this country. We also recognize our society’s problems and are committed to making them better by getting involved. That fosters a realistic, practical patriotism, as opposed to a starry-eyed, my-country-right-or-wrong view of things. To anyone who doubts the American leather community’s pride in their country: I wish you could have heard the assembled leather crowd’s stirring and heartfelt rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” at the start of the introduction ceremony for this year’s International Mr. Leather contestants. If the Promise Keepers could have heard it, they would have been mightily impressed.

So I have three flags on my figurative flagpole: the Stars & Stripes, the Rainbow, and the Leather Pride flag. And I’m proud of all of ’em.

* * * * *

Daddy’s Day a hit: The recent Daddy’s Day celebration presented by the Atons at The Saloon was well-attended and quite enjoyable. The Daddy-Boy contest, done like an episode of the old “Newlywed Game,” was a crowd-pleaser. International Mr. Leather 1997 (and ultimate Daddy) Kevin Cwayna was given a rousing welcome-back ceremony. I spent much of the evening on the Saloon’s patio, where the atmosphere is very close to that of the San Francisco Eagle’s patio (one of my all-time favorite leatherspaces). The Tank was so tightly packed that the bouncers were pressed into service as human ramp-meters, letting one person in for each person who left. (If this keeps up, we’re gonna need more space.) The Saloon continues to prove that it can be as leathery as it wants to be.

One final note: This was the first weekend I saw men wearing a clever visual pun, tank-tops with local leather artist Damon Thrift’s “Tank” logo on them; I guess that makes them “Tank tanks.”

Upcoming Leather Events

North Star Gay Rodeo Association presents The Great Northern Shindig
July 11-13, Radisson St. Paul and Washington County Fairgrounds, Lake Elmo
Check out the 20-page souvenir Rodeo program (prepared in large part by your humble leather columnist) in the current issue of—dare I say it?—Q Monthly. Then get your Shindig Weekend packets at Town House Country and Rainbow Road; events are also priced individually. (Both black and brown leather are apropos.) For further information, call the Shindig Hotline or check out the NSGRA web site:

Mark Your Calendar . . .

July 18-19: Mr. Minnesota Drummer and Drummerboy Contest at the Club Metro Underground. Special guest appearance by current International Mr. Drummer Kyle Brandon. Still room for more contestants; if you want to compete, call Colin Spriestersbach.

July 25-26: Grand Opening Celebration at the new Main Club in Superior, WI (which opened for business June 5).

August 15-17: International Mr. Fantasy weekend, Omaha, Nebraska. Always a hot and fun weekend, and easy to get to. Come cheer for Mr. Minnesota Fantasy ’97 Michael deLeon. Weekend event package is $30 ($35 after August 1). FFI: Fantasy Productions, Inc., Omaha NE. Host hotel is Radisson-Redick, 1504 Harney St., Omaha NE 68102.

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