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Seattle, WA –- What a fucking week! I am completely spent but it was all well worth the effort and rewarding on so many levels. For me, Washington State Leather Pride week is about Clan, Family, Service and Play. Each year since 2002, this week in my local community has been marked by transforming experiences.
In 2002, I began my title year as Washington State Mr Leather and then stepped down in 2003 as my brother Mark Nunley stepped up. In 2004 I watched my brother Gene step up as Washington State Mr Leather and received a Leather Emblem Award for my service to the community. In 2005 I was asked to join WSMLO's Board of Directors. In 2006 I began producing the contest that serves as the anchor event of the week's festivities. In 2007, I got to share my family and local community with Derek for the first time. In 2008, Derek was with me again, only this time as my collared boy, and I was sainted by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Or was that in 2007? I digress.
This year was no exception. Over the course of the past year, the Dragon Clan has grown to ten Brothers and Sisters. Eight of them were on-hand in Seattle this week including Brothers Gene Romaine, Odie Heaston, Mark Nunley, Hugh, myself and Sisters Panther, Mercea and Lynnda Hale. The only two missing, and missed, were Brothers Tristan Steel and Mark Bozif.
My own family has grown to four with three collared boys (photo above). Granted one is a collar of consideration, but I'm already beginning to consider Blueeyes part of the family. This was the first opportunity the three boys have had to meet each other in person. While the pace of events through the week and the sheer demand on everyone's efforts prevented the kind of bonding I would have hoped for, I realize that will come over time. Three things are totally clear however; these are great boys, they already care for one another deeply and a sense of family has developed.
Of course, I ended up throwing yet another variable into the mix. Last week I invited Element (photo left), a boy I meet in Portland over Sash Bash, to come up and visit me. We had planned for him to stay Tuesday and Wednesday but something special happen so I asked him to stay through the weekend. Element is a beautiful and kinky 22 year old boy who has never really experienced what I had introduced him to during our short time together and he was acting very much like an orphan that had finally found a home. I couldn't send him home without offering him a glimpse at the community that feeds my soul. He stayed and, much like Derek two years ago, witnessed why I call Seattle, the Pacific Northwest and our leather/Sm community home. He and Derek definitely bonded over the weekend... kindred spirits I think.
I had all four boys in tow for the contest on Saturday and a cast of volunteers that help the event go off without a hitch. And part of that going off without a hitch was the presentation of a National Leather Emblem Award to my boy Derek for his service to our community in Washington State, without him knowing about it before hand. For the record, I had nothing to do with the nomination, recused myself from the debate and abstained from the vote. You earned it all on your own, boy, and join the racks of some pretty impressive past recipients. Congratulations.
I want to thank our judges for the 2009 Washington State Mr|Ms Leather competition: Linda Coomas, our Head Judge; International Bootblack 1996 Todd; Washington State Mr & Ms Leather 2007 Gylan and Candy; and Seattle's own Bootblack Boris. I want to extend my deepest appreciation to the many volunteers including: our emcees, Ronda & Lynnda; volunteer ASL Interpreters Joel & David; Judges' Runner Paka; Judges' Tallies Dawn & Jeremy; Contestant Coordinator Panther; Doormen Tom & Percy; Stage Manager Odie; and our crew of boys Derek, Josh, Tim, Danny and Element.
My congratulations go out to Toby Noon and Lamalani who served outstanding years as Washington State Mr & Ms Leather 2008. My thanks and best wished go with both of them as Toby continues his service in our local community as President of Seattle Men in Leather and Lamalani as she steps up as the new d'IMsL (inside joke... my bad).
Please join me in welcoming our new 2009 Washington State Mr & Ms Leather Doug & Angie, and in thanking our first runner-up for the Mr title, Jim, for putting himself in the running and for all the work he continues to put in for the community.
Of course, none of this would be possible without the support of our sponsors, Miller Brewing and Columbia Distributing Company; or our host bar, the Cuff Complex and its staff. Thanks guys.