Friday, January 16, 2009

2008: A Look Back

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #356, January 16, 2009)

A Pivotal Year for Minnesota’s Leather Scene

For the first Leather Life column of 2009, let’s cast a fond backward glance at 2008. Yes, the last part of the year had its problems, among them worldwide economic turmoil and Prop. 8 in California. But before all that, for Minnesota’s leather community plenty of good things happened in 2008. Years from now we, and our community’s successors, may look back on 2008 as a pivotal year in some respects.

February: The Black Guard held their 31st annual Black Frost run in spite of some last-minute logistical problems (not of their making). The club had to expend so much effort dealing with a last-minute hotel change that they weren’t able to present their traditional show during the run.

(We interrupt this look back for a look ahead: The Black Guard of Minneapolis will be presenting Black Frost 32 Feb. 6-8, 2009, and the registration form promises “Yes, we will have a show this year!” There will also be games, a banquet, a bar tour, and a great bunch of guys to meet. Registration deadline is Jan. 24, so hurry. For details and a printable run registration form, visit <>.)

April: MSDB inaugurated a new series of monthly education presentations, The LAB. The first class was about wrestling, and topics since have included spanking, flogging, massage and “holiday-themed play piercing.”

May: The Minnesota Storm Patrol presented the club’s second run, Northern Xposure II, which had the distinction of having the spring MACC (Mid-America Conference of Clubs) meeting be a part of the run. May also saw the 30th International Mr. Leather contest in Chicago—unfortunately, without a contestant representing Minnesota. At the end of May, the Knights of Leather held their 20th annual Knights Tournament run and attracted their largest crowd ever. The theme was kinky variations on fairy tales and cartoon characters.

June: The 2008 Minnesota Leather Pride celebration took things to a new level, with a triumphant public unveiling of a new giant leather pride flag right after a tearful retirement/farewell ceremony for the old flag (the flag that first appeared in 1998). The ceremony was probably the most public leather event ever held in Minnesota—it even made the evening news on at least one channel. A video documentary captured the ceremony, along with some behind-the-scenes interviews.

July: The Atons of Minneapolis presented Gopher XVIII, their “Close Encounters”-themed run. That same weekend in Chicago, at the annual Pantheon of Leather Community Service Awards, Minnesota picked up an award (“Large Event of the Year”) for Leather Leadership Conference XI, held in 2007 in Minneapolis (more about this later). Later in the month, a Minnesota Leather History roundtable discussion was presented at Patrick’s Cabaret.

November: Minnesota’s leather community shares a loss with the GLBT community as Pi Bar closes, a victim of the current and continuing economic and financial turmoil.

December: The end of the year brought two traditions: MSDB’s Bizarre Bazaar and the Atons Holiday Fundraiser. It also brought the completion of an ongoing project: the posting of the final podcast from Minnesota’s award-winning Leather Leadership Conference XI (only 20 months after the conference itself). There are a total of 20 episodes, available for listening on your computer or downloading to your iPod or other MP3 player. The cost? Free. The value? Priceless. Find a link to the podcasts at

Wow, that was fun! Let’s do it again in 2009! (Without any further bar closings or other financial catastrophes, of course. And how about having someone from Minnesota in the International Mr. Leather contest this year?)


June, 2008: Minnesota’s new giant leather pride flag is unfurled for the first time. (From the documentary video “Minnesota’s Giant Leather Pride Flags: Saluting the Old, Unfurling the New.”)

PHOTO CREDIT: Donny Brunner/Mediastash