One of the basic principles of the of the BDSM community is the Leather Credo: safe, sane, and consensual. Masochist are provided with a safe word to use to inform the Sadist that he has had enough. It should be some random word like “banana” or “California.” It would be a word that would not normally be used. “Stop” and “ouch” are not safe words. The utterance of this word ends the scene. Unfortunately, there is no safe word to end a pandemic.
As I write this, I should be packing for a weekend on Fire Island, to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Excelsior, MC leather club from New York. I made my reservations months ago. As I’m sure you guessed, this event has been cancelled and will not be rescheduled in 2020.
Since 1979 the month of May also brings the largest leather event of them all as thousands of leather folks from around the world descend on Chicago for the annual International Mr. Leather / International Mr. Bootblack Contest. Traditionally held over the Memorial Day Weekend, it has currently been rescheduled for September 24th – 27th. Producers, however, note that the event will only be held if its safe to hold such a crowded event in September. Time will tell. International Ms. Leather / International Ms. Bootblack scheduled for April in San Jose, California was cancelled.
Just as the Kentucky Derby did not take place on the race’s traditional first Saturday in May (It has been rescheduled for Saturday, September 5th), Cleveland Leather Awareness Weekend did not happen in April as it usually does. This popular weekend filled with lots of educational sessions, large leather mart, and parties has been rescheduled for November 19th – 22nd. Also scheduled for May 2nd was the Centaur MC’s 50th anniversary to be held in Virginia at Mount Vernon. I received my formal invitation months ago. May 2nd turned out to be a beautiful sunny day, but I was sad. The club hopes to hold the celebration next year. Congratulations to the Centaur MC for 50 years!
In 1976 the Philadelphians MC hosted their first leather weekend (run) over the New Year’s weekend. Since everyone in Philadelphia had just gone through a whole year of Bicentennial celebrations, the club called their event “Tri-Cen” and thought they would celebrate the kickoff of the nation’s third century. Last year the Philadelphians MC announced that they were bringing back their popular leather weekend after ten years. I attended the last one and had a fantastic time. I was not going to miss Tri-Cen XX- reErection scheduled for October 23rd – 25th. Well, I am going to miss it. The Philadelphians MC have regrettably canceled their event. They are going to try again next year.
Also scheduled for October was the popular Iowa Leather weekend. It has also been canceled. The 2020 Iowa Leather Family will have an extension of their title for a year.
As if all the postponements and cancelations of leather events isn’t depressing enough, the Mid-Atlantic leather community received even more sad news on May 5th when their social media feeds were filled with stories about the DC Eagle bar closing after 48 years. The DC Eagle bar was DC’s oldest LGBT nightclub and home to many of the area’s leather clubs. The Mr. DC Eagle title was the longest-running leather title. The bar was already having financial problems and after all bars were forced to close for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the business could no longer hold on. The DC Eagle relocated several times in the bar’s history, but there are no plans to relocate or reopen this time. I have so many memories of events and bar nights at the DC Eagle. I cannot begin to express how sad this news is to me.
The above items are just are few of the countless leather events that have been affected by the coronavirus. I know it seems trivial to think about parties and leather contest when as I write this there have been 84,763 confirmed deaths from the pandemic in the United States with no end in sight. There are days when I feel like I have lost hope. There is no safe word to make this pain stop. I can only pray for everyone to stay safe. I hate this cliché but “we are all in this together.”
- 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.