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Seattle, WA – The time has come once again. This week is Washington State Leather Pride Week (photo from 2014 courtesy of Malixe Photography). Typically the last full week at the end of March, this WSMLO produced event attracts participation from a broad spectrum of individuals, organizations and businesses from across the Pacific Northwest region in a week-long celebration of leather pride culminating with the Leather Emerald Awards Brunch. Since my own title run years ago, Leather Pride in Washington has always been an important event but this year's is particularly significant to me personally ...
For me, the week kicks off with the SML Annual Dinner & Meeting tomorrow evening. This members-and-invited-guests-only, pot-luck is sponsored by Seattle Men in Leather which also hosts Daddy's Leather Tag Sale later in the week. Saturday also marks the Seattle Eagle's 34th anniversary celebration. And the week continues, packed with a variety of events hosted by local business, clubs and organizations all celebrating the history, values and sense of connection fostered by our leather community of family and friends. For a full list of events check out WSMLO's page 6.
With groups as varied as the Center for Sex Positive Culture, Steamworks Seattle, Emerald City Hoedown, Northwest Bears, the No Safeword Writers Group, Rain City Jacks and SEA-PAH, there is no doubt the week attracts a wide range participants, but there is no denying WSMLO's production of the Washington Stater Mr|Ms Leather & Bootblack Contest is the cornerstone of Leather Pride Week. Founded in 1983, the Washington State Mr|Ms Leather Contest is the state's oldest, continuously run leather title contest. Held each year to select our next Washington State Mr. & Ms. Leather, and now our Bootblack titleholder, it is used as a fundraiser for other non-profit organizations and educational forums serving our community. It is the premier even that brings the members of our tribe to Seattle from around the region.
The contest weekend kicks off with our Meet & Greet at Doghouse Leathers on Friday, March 27th. But this isn't going to be just another meet and greet for me. This one marks the end of my tenth year serving on the board of WSMLO. It also marks the day I step up as President of the organization that is responsible for ensuring that all this continues in a way that honors our past and embraces our future. It’s a little difficult to believe that it was his weekend in 2002 that I stepped up to make my run for Washington State Mr Leather and now thirteen years later, here we are. I’m just incredibly thankful that as I take on this new role, I do so with the support of an extraordinarily strong, talented and experienced board of directors.
On Saturday, March 28th we will be presenting the Washington State MR|Ms Leather & Bootblack Contest at The Cuff Complex and this year’s contest promises to sash our next iteration of title leaders while delivering a night to be remembered. With an esteemed panel of judges and what I understand will turn out to be an amazing slate of contenders, this year’s competition should prove to be quite fierce. As co-emcee with the breathtakingly beautiful Lamalani, I can guarantee you will be entertained and provoked by our contestants as well as performances by Karen Ultra and Sheldon Jacobs, and our guest speaker International Ms Leather 2014 Patty. Then once the step down speeches are given, the generosity of our sponsors Miller Lite and Columbia Distributing are acknowledged, and a special award recognition is presented, the scores will be tallied and our new 2015 Washington State Mr & Ms Leather and Bootblack will be named.
And finally, on Sunday, March 29th Washington State Leather Pride will culminate with my favorite part of the week, our Leather Emerald Awards & Brunch. This event is used not only to introduce our new titleholders and allow guest speakers to present important educational information to those attending, but to recognize and honor the positive contributions of the many individuals and groups doing great deeds in our leather community. The Leather Emerald Awards are broken out into varying categories: The Community Service Award is awarded to a person or group, who has given both heart and soul to the greater Washington State Leather Community or the general Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer community; The Leather Emerald Award is awarded to a person or group, who has had a positive impact on behalf of the Washington State Leather Community specifically; The International Community Service Award goes to a person or group, who has given both heart and soul preferably, to the serving of the Leather Community and the general LGBTQ community through educational forums or community services; and when awarded, the National Leather Emerald Award goes to a person outside the State of Washington, who has either assisted the Seattle leather community in the past or has provided positive leadership to the leather community in general. Additionally WSMLO invites other Washington State leather groups and organizations to present their annual awards at this event. These groups have included Seattle Men in Leather, Seattle Women in Leather, Seattle Boys of Leather, Seattle Girls of Leather, The Knights of Mantra and Generic Leather productions of Washington, among others. Then, at the end of our program, we take the time to remember the members of our community who have passed and add their names to the Leather Memorial Plaque which is dedicated to the Seattle Leather Community, in memory of those fallen Leathermen and Leatherwomen who came before.
I do hope you will be able to join us for part, if not all, of this year’s celebration.