ILSb board unanimously rescinds trans exclusion in contest participation

Historic-ILSb-MedalAfter heated debate over the last week, the International Leather SIR/boy and International Community Bootblack board of directors announced Friday it would undo the recent rule change that prevented transgender men from competing in the ILSb competition.

The board met in a closed meeting Thursday to discuss the changes announced last week, including the trans exclusion, appointed titleholders not being able to compete and regional producer contracts not being renewed.

The letter released Friday, below, addresses the changes in detail and encourages the leather community to come together for continued understanding and collaboration moving forward.

Historically, the ILSb competition was for gay men and the board felt the need to revert back to that tradition based on opinions to “reclaim our gay identity, our gay events, our gay clubs and our gay pride and how we had become too inclusive in our quest to be politically correct.”

However, “never, never, never was any discussion to purposefully exclude any segment of our community to be perceived as negative, bigoted it harmful,” the letter states in part.

The change was overturned by unanimous vote Thursday night, allowing anyone who identifies as male to compete.

“As it has been stated in the contracts since 2007, contestants for the International LeatehrSIR and International Leatherboy titles “must identify as gay males and be of same-sex orientation,” the letter states.

The board also announced that it will create a history program coordinator to ensure the history in the community is accurate and documented, as much of the tradition was passed down orally. It will also implement an advisory council of community members to gain input. ILSb-ICBB founder Mike Zuhl will serve on the council.

Read the full letter below.

—  Anna Waugh

Mr. and Ms. Texas Leather crowned … but not without some controversy

UPDATED at 1:00 p.m.

The announcement of the new Ms. Texas Leather ended up being the most dramatic thing that happened Saturday night at the Dallas Eagle.

While the Mr. Texas Leather competition was full of deserving candidates, only one woman, who goes by Master Ces, entered for Ms. Texas Leather (which last year took place at a separate ceremony, held in the summer). That might be seen as a sure thing for her to take the title, but apparently that’s not the case. As former IML champ Jeffrey Payne-Roy pointed out in the announcements, in order to win the title, the contestant must score a minimum of 70. Because Master Ces did not reach that threshold, current reigning Ms. Texas Leather Synn Evans was tapped to continue in the position for 2013.

Or so it seemed. That was at 10:20 p.m. By 10:30, things had changed.

The disappointment and empathy for Master Ces in the audience was palpable and within about 10 minutes, the judges rescinded their prior decision. [ED NOTE: Apparently, there was a tallying error; see below.] Master Ces was officially instated as the new 2013 Ms. Texas Leather. Official photos were re-taken with the new titleholder in place.

One thing that did not change that night was the sash bestowing Mr. Texas Leather on Austin’s Bobby Thurman (pictured). One of the co-founders of Austin Gears, a year-old fetish organization in the capital, and the current Mr. Leather Knight, Thurman was clearly a popular choice among the many qualified and well-dressed candidates. He will compete at International Mr. Leather in Chicago next Memorial Day weekend.

Congrats to both.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Ms. Texas Leather Synn Evans wins International Ms. Leather over the weekend

The leather title tradition continued this weekend when Synn Evans, from Dallas, brought home the International Ms. Leather title. This matches the International Mr. Leather title won by Jeffrey Payne in 2009. This was the 26th annual event for the title, which was held in San Francisco.

She was tagged in this photo soon after she won the contest. Read our profile on Evans when she won Ms. Texas Leather 2011.

 

 

—  Rich Lopez

Jeffrey Payne announced as TGRA Grand Marshal for annual March rodeo

Former International Mr. Leather Jeffrey Payne can add another accomplishment to his resume. The Texas Gay Rodeo Association has announced Payne as its 2012 Grand Marshal for its annual March event, A Texas Tradition Rodeo. TGRA celebrates almost 30 years of gay rodeo and the 2012 event will be held March 2–4 in Fort Worth.

Read the official announcement after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez

Mr. Leather needs your help — still

As I wrote in last Friday’s paper, former International Mr. Leather Jeffrey Payne is trying to get funding for his charity, which provides hearing aids and sign translation to the hearing impaired. (Payne himself is losing his hearing.) He’s in the running for a $50,000 grant from Pepsi, but has stalled at 73rd position (it needs to finish in the top 10 to get money). The online contest continues through the end of the month.

If you can, please visit the site and vote for Payne’s charity. Local guy, local charity, local benefactor (Pepsi is based in Plano) and a nice thing to do for the gay community.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Jeffrey Payne announces on his Facebook that Mr. IML 2010 is coming to Dallas gay Pride

Jeffrey Payne passed his Mr. IML title on to recent winner Tyler McCormick last month in Chicago. That doesn’t stop Payne from still working his ambassador-ship in the community. He just posted this status update on Facebook:

I am very pleased to announce that IML 2010, Tyler McCormick, has accepted our invitation to visit Dallas and ride in our Pride Parade in September! We have many plans to make for his visit and the Dallas Community is very excited about his participation!

I haven’t noticed a status update mentioning this on McCormick’s page, but that’s mostly because he “only shares some of his profile information with everyone.” What can I say? McCormick is seen here winning the title with our very own Jack Duke taking second runner-up.

—  Rich Lopez

Jack Duke placed third at IML

Reigning Mr. Texas Leather Jack Duke — who we profiled last week — made a great showing in Chicago for International Mr. Leather, coming in second runner-up behind Mr. San Francisco Leather and the winner, Mr. Rio Grande (based on New Mexico, not Texas). That’s a remarkable achievement, on the heels of outgoing International Mr. Leather Jeffrey Payne, who followed the same path as Duke last year.

Payne himself was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award … but not just any kind. He is the first recipient of the JEFFREY PAYNE Lifetime Achievement Award, which will henceforth be named after him. Payne really dedicated himself to leather during his tenure, and the citation reads: “In recognition of service above and beyond to the international leather community.” Yea for Duke! Yea for Payne! Yeah for Texas.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Jeffrey Payne profiled in HIV Plus magazine

In the Ask and Tell feature of HIV Plus’ May/June issue, they talk with 2009′s International Mr. Leather Jeffrey Payne, who also happens to be based in Dallas. Payne gives props to the Dallas leather community as well as talks about his role as the 2009 IML in speaking about HIV to the masses.

Here’s a snippet from the q&a:

So what’s been the crowd reaction in general to your candidness about your life with HIV?
It’s been terrific! In fact, at one conference where I gave a speech about being HIV-positive, one of the MCs also came out of the “HIV closet” and said he’d been positive for eight years but never felt comfortable telling anyone before. I know that if I continue to share my journey, others like him may draw strength and be able to free themselves of those invisible chains that HIV has wrapped around them.

Payne will surrender the title May 30 at this year’s IML in Chicago. All of our eyes are, of course, on Jack Duke, the current Mr. Texas Leather. We’re hoping he can pull off a clean sweep of leather titles just like Payne did in 2009.

—  Rich Lopez