This has been an experience that mere words cannot describe… While the title system is not for everyone, it helped me dramatically. It brought this person who was never sure of himself, timid, shy, and introverted, and unveiled a man of confidence, strength, and community. Nothing has “changed” about me; I have just been revealed. Depression and anxiety will always be my companions, but the competitive title system made me aware of the need to focus attention on my mental health.
This journal will take excerpts from my personal musings for the month before the contest, in the hope that you, the reader, may learn something my experiences and missteps. At the very least, it may keep you entertained.
October 15th: The Finale.
We started out with the poolside jock auction. I was not given a second opportunity to speak before bidding began, so I was not able to raise as much as them. Furthermore, a lackluster performance, and a continual refusal for the MC to use my proper stage name confused some in the audience. My auction basket went for less than half of its value. On a good note, I was well-received, and the judges were living for my performance, even with my wallet going missing. Brett and Jody were wonderful in going to search for the wallet.
The wallet was returned by hotel staff later in the day. I was then getting ready for my fantasy, and Anna sewed together the Tribbles for my fantasy scene. Despite the mishaps of being told right before the show that my music wasn’t working, music beginning before they had set up the stage, the stage crew not following the provided stage layout for my fantasy, putting everything on top of the bench, the crew forgetting to put out Jody’s weapon, and me knocking over the American flag that wasn’t supposed to be on stage… The audience erupted in applause for the Klingon BDSM scene. My save was to pick up that flag and wave it proudly as a Klingon-American.
At the end, I was not the victor, but a lovely first alternate. Disappointment did not come. I did what I had set out to do, and more. People had listened to me, and were still listening. It was an endorsement of my message to end imposing traditionalist values as the only possible methodology of leather.
A group of us then went to close down the 501, following the trend of closing Eagle bars. It was my first, and unfortunately, my last time there. Butch had asked to borrow my impact baton earlier, and was wailing on some fortunate few, flipping my switch. I’ll carry those bruises with pride. It may be the end of one chapter, but the book is still being written.
Joy. Unadulterated, pure joy, and pride in myself.
This day did not start this way. I found out that I would be the first contestant for the Sirs. The first to set the bar. The first to flounder. The first to excel. I was going to have to face two of my greatest fears today: to be judged and to speak in front of a live audience. My leather history knowledge of GLLA was admittedly weak, as the website for the contest had many information gaps, and research from both the Leather Archives & Museum and my leather between proved fruitless. On a good note, my boots had been located, and had arrived at the hotel that morning.
I walked up to the interview, garrison cap-clad and in my long-sleeved formals. My sash wife Sarah and one of my producers, Master Michael were there for me. During the interview, Judge Jan set the stage for calm by asking me a biology-related question on Zika. I was floored that every question was tailored to me… that these icons of leather had taken the time to research me do thoroughly, a contestant. It was here that the subject of rising suicide attempts came up, which I welcomed the opportunity to talk about. However, I knew in my heart that it was not enough to just speak to the judges.
I had mulled this as I was preparing throughout the day for my evening competition. Anna and Brett were in my room, helping me get ready. Anna was so sweet in that she blacked my formals for use that evening. I picked out a leather rose to wear in my cover, and that’s where it hit me: I was tossing my speech. I needed to speak on how traditionalism and role molds were destroying the morale of kinksters throughout the country, being forced to live up to an unnecessarily rigid standard of behavior and protocol. I spoke, and the words flowed out like a song. Yes, I went over my time, but I didn’t care. It needed to be heard.
I had an extremely odd encounter with a current IML-track titleholder, who told me that I was lucky that I wasn’t running against him, because he’d easily beat me. It was a very odd way to begin the weekend, and a weak attempt to throw me off my game, in favor of his state’s contestant. Apparently, he was set to make self-aggrandizement a running theme this weekend.
Next, the hotel gave me the wrong room, and I went through five rounds of key cards. I finally unpack, with the realization that I need to slightly modify my scene. Earlier in the day, I realized that I had forgotten my phaser for Jody (the current Mr. Kentucky Leather), my demo partner, to use. I was also having a problem retaining the history of my judges, so I was up late going over their backgrounds and social media accounts. There was also no indication from UPS as to the whereabouts of my red boots that I had Thudd Thumper work on for me.
An anonymous threat to pull out came in today. It was apparently not the first time that this has happened, when a contestant is not favored to run. Rest assured: I am more determined than ever to represent Illinois to the best of my ability, and to push forth my agenda of love for all.
I was freaking out a bit earlier, because an issue came up with my ride to the contest last-minute. Luckily, my sash brother Sir Krzysztof came through for me, and is getting me in the morning. I love the unique closeness that my title run family has, both sashed and non-sashed. I never forget that had it not been for Tom Wray (the guy who I competed against for the title) and Sarah Sloane (my sash wife), I would not have been likely to run. I am forever grateful.
There is a difference between taking advice and changing who you are.
This approach may not be favored. However, I’d be a hypocrite if I did anything different than to remain true to myself. A victory as a person who I cannot recognize is a defeat.
I get it. Many of you want Illinois to bring back the title. Believe me in that I am going to do my best to do so, but without compromising my ethics, standards, or my personal brand.
So while I may be the silliest Muppet Sir Treks-A-Lot in Herstory, that’s me. I only have time for you if you accept me as I am.
Sweetness, joy, and courtesy are not my weaknesses in leather. Indeed, these are my greatest attributes.
Dominant =/ Domineering
Protocol =/ Leather
Exclusion = Death
If we do not allow the different into our fold, we will never grow or evolve. History and biology both teach us this fact: those who do not change will become extinct. Let us live by welcoming every form of kink: every interpretation, and indeed, every representation.
Remember this: if you are not having fun, experiencing joy, or feeling fulfilled, there is something wrong. All people deserve a road to happiness. Please do not close off that avenue to anyone.
It’s hitting me hard now. In a month, I could be taking on the mantle. I’m scared, excited, and nauseous at the same time. Sleep will come slowly tonight. The mock judging that I went through a few weeks ago was one of the worst experiences that I’ve had this year. To have every nuance of your persona picked apart by people who you love… It was done to make me stronger, but I felt like an empty shell after that. I was happy that I stood up to one in particular in the end, refusing to take a piece of advice because it would change who I am.
I’ve started this journey of loving myself just a few months ago. I’m not going to let a competition destroy my mental health progress.