By Rodney Burger
I have always been intrigued by the English language. I even taught high school English when I first got out of college. Our language is always changing and evolving. Each year the Merriam-Webster Dictionary adds new words. In 2019 “vacay”, “escape room”, “colorism”, “fatberg” and more were added. We have added lots of new words and phrases to our vocabularies in the last few years such as “fake news” and “alternative facts.” There is a new phrase now that I hear and read every day to describe our current life under the coronavirus restrictions: “the new normal.” I have friends who always do their shopping online, never go to restaurants in person when they can order at home, don’t go to bars, don’t spend money attending leather contests when they can sit home and watch a livestream on Facebook, don’t go to movie theaters when they can download movies, meet people online, and live life in a living room. Maybe this is normal for them- but it isn’t for me! I pray to God that living my life on my phone and my computer is NOT the new normal! But for now, staying at home is what we are forced to tolerate. The good news is that the leather community has not faded away. They can be found in force on our devices.
I have always loved YouTube. I watch all sorts of videos there. Recently I’ve watched everything from Hattie McDaniel’s Oscar speech at the 1940 Academy Awards to President Richard Nixon’s 1974 resignation address. I love history and YouTube is also filled with leather community history. In fact, Mr. Maryland Leather 2015 Greg King used his title year to interview and preserve some of Maryland’s leather history. He interviewed local leather leaders Mike McDonnell, Robert Guenther, Dan Noel, Buz and Lee Norwood, David Allen, the Centaur MC, ONYX Mid-Atlantic, and even Rodney Burger (I loved how my interview turned out.) He also interviewed Ms. South Africa Leather 2015 Selogadi Mampane. Mr. Maryland Leather 2010 Justin Terry-Smith also documented his leather journey and has many wonderful videos on YouTube. Plus, a must watch is the speech of IML contestant Jack Thompson whose powerful words at International Mr. Leather 2019 helped him bring the IML sash home to Baltimore. You will also want to watch Vi Johnson’s Leather Bedtime Stories.
Speaking of Vi Johnson, make sure you like the Carter / Johnson Leather Library page on Facebook. I have a love / hate relationship with Facebook. I’m sure many people do. It is, however, a wonderful way to keep in touch with friends while stuck at home and to promote events. The Woman of Drummer are doing great things on social media. Make sure you also join the Rhythm of Her Own Drum page. The South-Central Region Woman of Drummer are hosting virtual round tables with the next one scheduled for April 30th from 6 pm – 8 pm.
The leather community is also holding meetings via Zoom and with the bars and play spaces closed, some leather clubs are even hosting virtual bar nights. On Saturday, April 18th COMMAND MC hosted Leather Lockdown, a virtual bar night complete with a main room for dancing, drinking, and socializing. There were also kinky demos and a virtual backroom. There was a $10 donation suggested with the money going to the Leather Heart Foundation.
Although Mr. Maryland Leather 2020 Sir Oya Ra cannot be out in the community fundraising, it doesn’t mean he has stopped working. Look for his fundraiser on Facebook for the Maryland Leather COVID- 19 Relief Response. He is collecting donations up until June 1st to help members of the community who are facing hardships due to the pandemic. It may seem like the world has stopped, but the leather community keeps going. Visit the websites and Facebook pages of our local leather clubs. Thanks to modern technology, the leather world is still holding events. It is something new for now. I hope this isn’t the new normal!
- 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.