It is always interesting to sit down with leather titleholders and hear the story of the life experiences that brought them to the point of being selected to represent their community. I have been fortunate to have that opportunity many times. No leather journey I’ve heard is more complicated then that of Jack Thompson (Exile ONYX) who in December at the DC Eagle was sashed Leatherman of Color 2019.
Recently Jack was kind enough to meet me at my office, or as some people call it Leon’s, to share with me the story of his life. It was an evening that I will not soon forget.
Born in Berkeley, California, Jack was always kinky. At age five he was already into puppy or wolf play and made his family call him “Fang” and treat him like a wolf. He enjoyed it when friends would lead him around with a leash. He did not have access to the internet, so he was unaware that puppy play was even a thing.
Although now a proud transman, he came out as a lesbian in middle school. Although his mother was not 100% sold on the idea, his parents were supportive of the fact that their girl liked girls. For Jack there was still something not quite right. He was still not happy. In high school he met someone who was trans. He was curious but unfortunately the first time he looked up “transgender,” the web directed him to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. In his sophomore year of high school, he was interviewed for a newspaper article about the murder of a transgender person in the community. The writer identified him as being trans. This resulted in him being called into the principal’s office. Since he was not 18, there was not much he could do about his situation. When he sought help for being transgender, all he found were counselors who wanted to fix him and talk him out it. Thankfully his high school had a gay / straight alliance which provided a safe space. He came out to his family as transgender. Jacks says it was like coming out again.
With hormone shots priced at $200 apiece, he was grateful when he found a trans health clinic in San Francisco that was a non-profit and had a pay what you can policy. (It his case he couldn’t afford to pay anything and that was okay.) He began to become his true self.
In San Francisco he also found himself working at the icon Mr. S. leather store. Jack quickly explained that he did not just work as a salesclerk, but he worked in production. All the leather goods at Mr. S. are produced in house. He worked there for two years and the staff really taught him everything. Filled with my fantasies fueled by pictures in the Mr. S. catalog and by a porn video I once saw of a salesclerk helping a young man try on a straitjacket, I asked Jack if he had any erotic stores to tell. He said, “It is less sexy when you work there.” He enjoyed working at Mr. S. and commented that If he ever moved back to San Francisco, he would be happy to return to work there.
In July of 2018 Jack and his husband Geoff Millard, California State Bootblack 2018 / Mr. San Francisco Leather 2017, moved to Baltimore where they live in a beautiful house in the Hamilton part of town. On a visit to Baltimore, they discovered how affordable the city is compared to the high cost of living in San Francisco. Jack added that, “Baltimore has a slower pace and I don’t have to bust my ass to be able to afford things.” He also likes that Baltimore is conveniently located between Washington and Philadelphia. Jack met Geoff at an ex-girlfriend’s birthday party. At that time, he did not date men, but he and Geoff soon became close friends and after a year started to “experiment.” Jack’s sexuality defies labels and he didn’t tell his family about Geoff for two years. He laughed and added: “How many times do I have to come out to my parents?”
I asked him what inspired him to run for the Leatherman of Color title. As a member of ONYX Mid-Atlantic, he knew that he wanted to step up and run for something. This title just felt right. He is looking forward to taking the title to Chicago in May and competing in the International Mr. Leather Contest, but currently has a problem. Although the IML contest allows contestants to be transgender, identifying documents must list the contestant’s sex as male. Jack is working on resolving that problem and stated that should he win IML, that would be the first thing he would fight to change. He is planning an IML send-off fundraiser on May 3rd at the DC Eagle and hopes to also have a fundraiser at the soon to reopen Baltimore Eagle where he will also be working. As an eleven-year member of the Rebel Kings of Oakland troupe, he is currently involved with the Rebel Kings of Baltimore who have a show every second Wednesday of the month at the Clifton Pleasure Club (2803 Grindon Avenue, Baltimore). The next show is March 13th.
Leatherman of Color is a national title that started in Chicago. Jack hopes to help recruit many more contestants for the 2020 contest and hopes to encourage all the chapters of ONYX to send a representative. “In the LGBT community representation matters!” It has been a complicated journey for Jack Thompson, but it is clear to see the great pride that he has in having been selected as Leatherman of Color 2019. I’m excited to see where his journey will take him and cannot be happier that if only for one evening, I was given the opportunity to join him for the ride.
- Rodney is originally from Hagerstown, Maryland and for many years has lived in Baltimore. In April 2017, Rodney was sworn in for his 10th year as the President of the ShipMates Club of Baltimore. He has been involved in the leather community for many years, but often denies that he sold Jell-O shots at The Last Supper. He has been writing THE LEATHER LINE for the BALTIMORE OUTLOUD newspaper (Baltimoreoutloud.com.) for over fourteen years. He has produced the Mr. & Ms. Baltimore Eagle Contest and the Maryland LeatherSIR/Leatherboy Contest. In 2001 he was proud to serve as Maryland Mr. Drummer 2001. Rodney also does stand-up comedy and in 2013 was thrilled to perform at Philadelphia Leather Pride Night. He has been nominated multiple times for a Pantheon of Leather Award, was selected Leather Man of the Year in 2013 by COMMAND M.C. and by the Baltimore Leather Association of the Deaf in 2006. The 11th annual 12 Days of Christmas benefit show was dedicated to Rodney and his partner Sir Steve. He has been twice selected as ShipMate of the Year. He has judged Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather 2015, Atlantic States LeatherSIR / Leatherboy and recently judged Mr. Eagle NYC 2018. He is delighted to be able to bring news of his beloved leather community to his readers every issue.