Friday, June 14, 2002

Ticket to Pride: Pride Every Day, All Year

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #184, June 14, 2002)

It’s June, the season of GLBT Pride and Leather Pride—time for our annual trek up Hennepin Avenue with our flags flying, our leather shining and our heads held high. Wouldn’t it be great if life could always be like this?

Well, maybe we can’t march in a parade every day, but there’s no reason we can’t show our leather pride in months other than June. The key is simple: Get Involved. Choose an aspect of leather or a cause you believe in, and invest something of yourself in it. Among your rewards will be a heightened sense of pride in yourself and your leather tribe.

Just for starters, here are ten ways to show your pride every day and make it last all year. You can probably think of many more. Consider this a call to action. Please don’t overlook item #10—it’s especially important right now.

1. Attend a leather community event. The next time you hear about a club run, a leather contest, a class or training seminar, or a fundraiser, put it on your calendar and show up to support it.

2. Volunteer to help with a leather event. After attending a few events, maybe you’ll be moved to the next level: helping to make an event happen—anything from a local event all the way up to a major international leather gathering. They all need volunteers.

3. Join a club. It’s a great way to get involved and to meet people. There are clubs for every taste and orientation, and they all welcome new members who are sincerely interested in participating in club life. If you still can’t find one that matches what you’re looking for, start your own—how do you think all those other clubs got there?

4. Volunteer at the Leather Archives & Museum in Chicago. Spend a weekend (or as much time as you can spare) surrounded by our leather heritage as a Vacationing Volunteer working with the collections or doing administrative work. They even have volunteer opportunities that don’t require travel and can be done from your home. For more information visit <> and click on “Get Involved.”

5. Volunteer with the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF). For a long time our community and our sexual freedoms have been attacked by various right-wing groups, and NCSF is leading the charge against them. Over the past four years NCSF has emerged as a leader in the defense of our rights to privacy, free speech, freedom from discrimination and freedom to engage in non-traditional, consensual sex practices. They are truly an amazing organization that is fighting multiple battles on multiple fronts and doing a very good job. If you’re tired of reading news reports about the problem, volunteer with NCSF and be part of the solution. Visit <> and click on “Volunteer Opportunities.”

6. Volunteer for a GLBT cause or event—but do it as someone who’s into leather. Take your pick: the Pride Committee, District 202, Outfront Minnesota, the various GLBT musical groups, church groups, softball, bowling, rodeo or any other group. Get involved, and don’t hide your leather.

7. Volunteer for a non-GLBT cause or event—but do it as someone who’s into leather. I know leatherfolk whose causes include breast cancer, lupus, multiple sclerosis, disabled children, and the list goes on. Working for causes like these is a way to make our leather culture visible to the wider public.

8. Find a mentor. Or be one. Filling either role will make you a better leatherperson and a better just-plain-person, too.

9. Read a book. Classic books by writers such as Guy Baldwin, Joseph Bean, and Larry Townsend have stood the test of time. Let yourself be mentored by our community’s authors.

10. Write a letter. If there’s an issue you feel strongly about, let your voice be heard! Praise the good and noble; lobby against the bad and intolerant. Write a letter to your congressman and/or senator; TV and radio stations, magazines, newspapers and other media outlets; and businesses both supportive and non-supportive. A suggestion: Write your first letter to the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Chicago to thank them for hosting the International Mr. Leather weekend in spite of a reported 1,000-plus angry phone calls from members of religious right-wing groups. Hyatt representatives have publicly taken the stand that “Hyatt Corporation doesn’t discriminate against anybody.” Send your letter of thanks and support to the attention of Thomas Pagels, General Manager, Hyatt Regency Chicago, 151 E. Wacker Drive, Chicago IL 60601. Or send an e-mail to <>.

The leather community is what you make it—what we all, together, make it. Your contribution counts. When you get involved, you’ll feel more like a part of the community and the community will be better off because of your involvement. Yes, all these statements sound like cliches. But they also happen to be true.

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