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Once again, Chuck Renslow, President of IML (and self-proclaimed world representation of all leatherman) is trying to force the leather community to do as he commands, as you can see in the note below from IML's home office:

Dear Vendors:

On behalf of International Mr. Leather, Inc., I would like to thank you for your past support and in particular for your participation as a vendor in our annual Leather Market. We are writing you today to inform you of a policy change affecting next year (2010) and all future markets.

Though we are now three decades into the HIV/AIDS epidemic, no cure has been found. The CDC and local health officials inform us that new infections are on the rise. And, while we have had some success developing medications that might make infection more manageable, that accomplishment comes at a price. Not having experienced the deaths - the loss of loved ones -- which preceded these medications, we have an entire generation who may not fully appreciate or comprehend the severity of the situation.

Too many in our community believe HIV/AIDS is curable or manageable. Too few understand that HIV/AIDS infections dominate life. We believe that it is our duty to inform and educate. Several years ago when “Meth” was the scourge of our community, IML drew a line in the sand and raised awareness and used all our influence to try and stop this addictive madness. As is the case with HIV/AIDS, we believe it is our further obligation to do everything in our power to prevent future infections.

To that end, after considerable discussion, the Executive Committee of International Mr. Leather has decided that it will no longer allow participation in the IML Leather Market by any entity which promotes barebacking or distributes/sells any merchandise tending to promote or advocate barebacking. This restriction will also apply to distribution of gifts, post cards or any other information via our facilities.

This policy takes effect immediately.

Sincerely,
Chuck Renslow, President
International Mr. Leather


Although I don't personally agree with barebacking/barebackers, outlawing the sale of bareback media at IML is unconscionable. He's not going to stop nor prevent barebacking, just as he didn't stop the use/sale of methamphetamines in the leather community three years ago with his little speech about the evils of them. He's only going to push the barebacking community deeper underground.

It's virtually the same as when Rudy Giulian closed all the bath-houses in NYC when the AIDS epidemic started. It didn't stop sex from happening -- it just pushed it underground. When something is underground and hidden from view, there's no way to easily educate men who are partaking in such events...

Barebacking videos, photos and stories provide a safe alternative to the real thing. Any adult (and only adults are allowed into the marketplace) knows the risks of barebacking. Censoring barebacking media from IML is NOT the answer!!

If Chuck succeeds in getting his way, what's next? No fisting or watersports? No bondage or S&M? This is a slippery slope, Chuck. Who are you to dictate to the leather community what they can buy, watch or do behind closed doors?

Furthermore, consider that IML (in general) has been losing touch with it's roots, as can be seen in what Vern Stewart wrote: "For many hardcore leather men attending IML 30, thoughts and questions ranged from; is this a costume party? to, what has cartoon characters and spider man dress ups have in common with leather? The curious came in droves and departed with their mouths hanging open. Hardcore leather men, spent most of the weekend shaking their head and ‘ trying to remember if ever in their life had they ever dressed like who they were looking at. Leather has taken on a completely new look with the youth of today. Our future leather leaders will have their work cut out for them in attempting to bridge the gap from yesteryear to the future."

Spiderman costumes? What's next? Wonder Woman?

For the past ten years, the IML beauty pageant (contest) has been a joke. Most people going to IML don't bother going to the contest portion of the event -- they go to the leather market, local bars and private parties in the host hotel... Over the same weekend is the Chicago Bear Weekend. At least they're more masculine than someone in a Spiderman outfit!

You'll find me at Bear Weekend instead in 2010!



Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
gearjock
Jul. 17th, 2009 01:42 pm (UTC)
I think you are begging the argument here.

He is hardly "outlawing" barebacking videos, he does not have that power.

He is making a statement of what behaviors his organization embraces or does not, which is totally within his free speech rights and his right as owner of IML.

You may not agree with his decision and that is totally your right.

A lot of us agree and embrace his statement, feeling it is long overdue. There are a lot of us who feel creating a culture where irresponsible sex, HIV, STD's and barebacking are trendy is not a good example to set. These things are not sexy and not a good example to be setting. They fuck up your life and leave you dependent on a lifetime of drugs and financially drained.

There are some that feel "anything goes" is their right, and to a certain extent, that is their right as well.

This is a marketplace of ideas and we make these decisions of what we will or will not endorse as acceptable to endorse.

The younger members of our community, who look to see what is "trendy" look to their peer groups and affinity groups to see what those trends are.

One of those groups is IML.

If people feel it is unfair they should simply choose not to compete or attend IML.

But you and I know the same people who create a tempest in a teapot about this, will be the first ones to buy their tickets to next years event.

Also the "what's next fisting?" argument is a non-starter. These do not spread disease geometrically into the community putting us all at risk.

Edited at 2009-07-17 01:46 pm (UTC)
mc4bbs
Jul. 17th, 2009 01:55 pm (UTC)

I know that Fort Troff and other regular vendors will be prohibited from bringing their regular stock to IML, should they not completely boycott the event.

Prohibiting free speech and specific types of adult videos is simply yet another nail in the coffin of IML.

Personally, I don't support nor attend contests. See my posting about the IML beauty pageant here: http://mc4bbs.livejournal.com/179675.html
gearjock
Jul. 17th, 2009 02:12 pm (UTC)
I guess I am not getting the connection of how a businessman choosing what he stocks his store with is prohibiting free speech?

-Can you not buy barebacking videos anymore?
-Has barebacking been made illegal?
-Can you not choose to bareback someone tonight, if that was your thing?

I am not a big fan of IML as well, but it's because for years they and the leather community have been influenced by the latest batch of the "leather intellegensia" that we don't take stands on issues like this.

You've probably seen some of my scathing posts about IML as well, it's one of the reasons I added you to my journal. I find you thoughtful and bright, but on this particular point I think we disagree.

But if you recall, and I know you to be a leatherman, we DO. We took a stand for safe sex, we shunned behavior where people are dishonest about their HIV status, we loathed people and drummed them out when they didn't practice safe S&M techniques.

Why should I expect or even demand any less now?

If it's any consolation, the leather community and anything it used to represent is on it's way out.

The new paradigm is making profit on the uniformed, even if it kills them or leaves them sick.

So Chuck's stand will be short lived because the "real" leader of the new leather community, the vendors, will find a way to promote this vile behavior as "cool and trendy" again.

Because it makes them money.

Young kids be damned, more will come with money later.

It just makes me sick sometimes.
mc4bbs
Jul. 17th, 2009 02:51 pm (UTC)

As Evelyn Beatrice Hall (writing under the pseudonym of Stephen G Tallentyre in "The Friends of Voltaire"), said: "I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

I personally promote safer sex. I discourage bareback sex, not only due to HIV/AIDS, but due to many other STDs. HOWEVER; I feel it is unjust (if not inappropriate) for IML to prohibit the FREE SPEECH of others by outlawing it.

I personally feel that having pornographic movies that depict unsafe sex, but contain the typical "warning messages" against unprotected sex are valid and safe outlets for personal enjoyment.

You (and Chuck Renslow) seem to believe that the jump in HIV/AIDS cases are caused by "monkey-see, monkey-do" from naive newbies in the leather scene. I believe EDUCATION is the cure, not HIDING it from public view.

The numerous underground sex parties (including specific "bareback: no condoms allowed" parties) proliferated after New York City closed the bathhouses. The same happened in San Francisco.

When you outlaw DISCUSSION and DEPICTION of bareback sex, you close the door for EDUCATION and OUTREACH.

Perhaps I'm not reading Chuck's statement properly, but it seems that he is specifically targeting VIDEOS. What else in the IML marketplace could be banned? Merchandise that "promotes barebacking or distributes/sells any merchandise tending to promote or advocate barebacking"?

The private sex parties in the host hotel (many of them bareback) are out of bounds for Chuck... he's not (and will never be) the sex police.

Additionally, there is no such thing as "SAFE SEX", there's only "SAFER SEX". Many things could be probably be construed to promote or advocate barebacking.

I think Chuck's new ruling is unenforceable and will only serve to irritate the people and vendors that help make his beauty pageant possible.

bigfootcub
Jul. 17th, 2009 06:20 pm (UTC)
respectfully, this is in responce to someone in my journal entry

i agree with you, when i heard Chuck speak at IML, i had tears in my eyes at well, but there was a unsettling thought in the back of mind then.


my question to that is if Meth and HIV/AIDS is a problem in the gay leather community, then lets get other issues.

Alcohol......it is a Drug that affects the mind just like meth, ghp..in doing so lessaning the personal controll that one has to make the decision on barebacking or not.

Cigars/Cigarets..... not only does it harm 1st hand lungs capasity, but also second hand. An when those who have asthma walk by the doors should not be forced to breath the smoke that makes the asthma worse.

lets not stop there....what about BDSM equipment....it can be used for abuse; all fetish ware because it objectifys people and sexually stimulates people in ich those who are unstable attack and rape and murder each other.


as you can see, if IML and the Leather community choses what is in their venue, then they have to look at ALL things in there venue, and if we follow the above example then there would not be any IML at all!

As for the Poz parties.... i will be the first to admit i have not seen them, but my question is.... are they promoting barebacking or are they socializing so they do not have to endure pozphobia.


And my thoughts on the porn studios... well its just my thoughts. i have been told that the traditional mainstreem producers are loosing money left and right, much more then then the barebacking titles. Also why would anything assoiciated with barebacking studious be banned. If you look at Gord’s entry, even the oral/swallowing videos are also banned due to association (even though the vid is under a diffrent label)

i guess the whole point of this is, where does personal responsability come in? i dont want to see HIV/AIDS spread, and want it wiped out.....but making descisions for others has shown historically as bad. What can we do diffrently to promote HIV awareness and protect each other? This should be done threw individual education, rather then sweeping censorships.

if Chuck means what he says, why are there not more and bigger booths for Education at the vendor market or even the lobby? if Chuck is serious, why dont they set up free HIV testing stations? Major Condom dispensor and lube free?

mc4bbs
Jul. 17th, 2009 08:04 pm (UTC)

You have some very valid points!

Honestly, I think this is just more rhetoric from Chuck Renslow. God forbid you try to prohibit alcohol! He made his money from the Gold Coast/Chicago Eagle. Perhaps he should consider closing the seedy back room at the Chicago Eagle, where unsafe sex takes place?

I'm sure his "prohibition on unsafe sex at IML" announcement originated elsewhere... and it could be that his intentions are for the best; however, he's going about it the WRONG WAY.

There are many, many people that practice safer sex, but enjoy watching bareback videos, read fantasy stories that refer to bareback sex -- trying to pretend that unsafe sex does not happen by banning sale of material that promotes/portrays it will not help.

Re-read what Chuck wrote: "To that end, after considerable discussion, the Executive Committee of International Mr. Leather has decided that it will no longer allow participation in the IML Leather Market by any entity which promotes barebacking or distributes/sells any merchandise tending to promote or advocate barebacking. This restriction will also apply to distribution of gifts, post cards or any other information via our facilities."

Therefore, much ART by the Hun or Tom of Finland would be PROHIBITED. Art from these two great guys appears in postcards, books, t-shirts and posters.

The question came up today from a friend if "boy butter" could even set-up shop, as his primary lubricant is not condom-compatible.

You're absolutely correct that free HIV testing stations, condoms, latex gloves, dental dams and lubricants would be much more appropriate. The measures he's attempting to take will 'divide' the leather market -- perhaps, that is what he truly wants?

I see a major marketing possibility for an IML competitor on the same weekend now...


Edited at 2009-07-17 08:05 pm (UTC)
gearjock
Jul. 17th, 2009 09:30 pm (UTC)
All interesting questions to be sure.

Where DOES personal responsibility come in?

I can't buy into the "slippery slope" argument of BDSM equipment, fisting etc.

I mean, if one person in hurt in a careless BDSM accident, do they go out and infect 10 more and that 10 100 more and that 100 a thousand more?

Barebacking is a unique situation, safe sex is a personal responsibilty to be sure, but it is also a community responsibility.

Fort Troff was selling a lube that had ingredients that were deemed to be unsafe and someone called them on it.

Vendors will make money, community be damned. I don't suppose at one level I can blame them for pursuing easy money.

That doesn't mean I have to quietly stand by on the sidelines and say "oh, what a shame".

It doesn't mean Chuck does either.

We have a right wing conservative who give money to those who fight against our rights selling whips in our community to make money.

He has the right to make a buck right? But he does it at the price of the happiness of my friends.

These vendors can make any kind of porn they like, they choose barebacking, in part it's at the price of peoples lives.

It was their decision to bareback, but trust me they had help.
bigfootcub
Jul. 18th, 2009 04:57 am (UTC)
i first want to say that i respect your opinion and enjoy this debate....the best thing about awareness is debate, so thank you!!


you stated:
I mean, if one person in hurt in a careless BDSM accident, do they go out and infect 10 more and that 10 100 more and that 100 a thousand more?

actually the potential is there, actually it does not take one to "infect others" its peoples own perception of what BDSM is knowing what is real and what is fantasy. We both know that being tied up 24/7 is not a real reality, but a mear fantasy. Anatomy showes us that the muscles can atrophy and blood clots can be created if we are not carefull. Also if some one is emotionally and psychologically abused, but is not aware of it.....they would pass that on to others, only because that is what they know is reality is. i have personal experiance in that.

you also stated that

Barebacking is a unique situation, safe sex is a personal responsibilty to be sure, but it is also a community responsibility

i disagree that barebacking is a unique situation. if we follow the "monkey see, monkey do" philosophy then we also have to look at alcholhl consumption. Last time i checked, alochoholism is a disease, and is far more addicting then barebacking. when young leatherfolk see that most leatherfolk drink alcholohl and some to over excess, they think that would be normal (again if we follow the MSMD philosophy) Since it is addicting, one can add that it can lead to other addicting behaviors like meth, oxycodone, vicadine, heroine, etc.

as for the Fort Trough case, i agree with you 100%.

are you also aware that mainstream porn performs sometimes cut the condoms so that they can bareback but appear they are being safe? The company is not aware of it, but the performers do, so should we ban all porn then?
kumazuki
Jul. 17th, 2009 02:49 pm (UTC)
Chaz, I am with you 100%! It sounds like an agenda move to me. I seriously doubt that it is for the "good of the community" (who are too stupid, so filled with lust that have no common sense or lack any concepts of personal responsibility).

(forgive the following sarcasm but stupidity make me crazy)

Save us from ourselves, Oh IML. The one true event, the only chance I have once a year to live the life I want. You know what is best for me.

So, what next, will it be water sports, temp piercing and fisting because of the possibility of Hepatitis contraction?

And we all know that the only really true "safe sex" is no sex at all. IML the Celibate Leather Event.
mc4bbs
Jul. 17th, 2009 02:55 pm (UTC)

You got that right!!

Now that Chuck is old and unable to achieve an erection, perhaps this is his bitter revenge on those that actually have a good time at IML.

I'm surprised that he hasn't tried to FORCE people to attend the beauty pageant (*ahem*, contest).
mc4bbs
Jul. 17th, 2009 03:47 pm (UTC)
Yeah... I want to tap me some of that! NOT!!!


A prime example of the new look at IML!

bigfootcub
Jul. 17th, 2009 06:19 pm (UTC)
Re: Yeah... I want to tap me some of that! NOT!!!
respectfully, isn't Leather about what is in peoples hearts and not what they ware? i personally agree with that i do not like what they are waring, but i dont know what they think of leather and the lifestyle.

the 1st runner up at IML is a Punk type leather man from ottwa, but from what i have heard from others and personal experiance, he has a true leather heart.

mc4bbs
Jul. 17th, 2009 07:51 pm (UTC)
Re: Yeah... I want to tap me some of that! NOT!!!

So, you're saying that PURPLE EYE LINER, GAUDY FEMALE JEWELLERY and a BEJEWELLED TERRA would be ENCOURAGED (or even ALLOWED) in a proper dress-code leather bar?

Punks, Skinheads and the sort I can see -- but, sorry, these gender-bending outfits do not fit my definition of "leatherman"

This photo WAS taken at IML.
bigfootcub
Jul. 18th, 2009 04:41 am (UTC)
Re: Yeah... I want to tap me some of that! NOT!!!
if it was true, i wouldnt be allowed in the strict leather code at the Black Eagle, i do not have nor can affored much leather... i am lucky that i have boots, and that i have my earned cap and vest, but that cap and vest makes me over heated very quickly wich would put my health at risk.

strictly speaking, i dont think i would fit in either the Leather or Bear click because i either do not have the leather, or i am to fat.

so my question is this, if we as gay men are fighting for equality and denouncing Prop 8.... why are we ourselves segragating ourselves? are we not all equal....or just seprate but equal?
gearjock
Jul. 17th, 2009 09:33 pm (UTC)
Re: Yeah... I want to tap me some of that! NOT!!!
Were those contestants? Not to counter my own points, but how long before MRSA is a threat to a good time?
algonquin81
Jul. 20th, 2009 09:31 pm (UTC)
Re: Yeah... I want to tap me some of that! NOT!!!
Those women are freaky looking.
mc4bbs
Jul. 17th, 2009 03:56 pm (UTC)
From RawTop's Blog:
Not that I agree with barebacking, RawTop's statement says a lot of truth:

For years they’ve been profiting from barebacking, yet somehow it’s suddently a problem. I haven’t heard any public apologies for the racist comments at their contest this year - apparently that doesn’t bother them. They can’t even bother with private apologies - the e-mail I sent them complaining about the racist comments was never answered. They don’t seem to mind racists in their midst, but apparently they just can’t stand that someone would CHOOSE to not use a rubber when fucking. It’s sorta insulting actually - they seem to think the people who go to IML don’t understand the risks - that they’re stupid and need to be protected from themselves.

And let me make something crystal clear - if they say it’s a health issue their either delusional or lying. These days smoking kills WAY more gay men than barebacking yet they’re completely supportive of the smoking fetish. I mean cigar smoking leather daddies are iconic in the leather community. How many of them will die horribly painful deaths because of their choice to smoke? If IML were serious about health issues they’d start there and ban all vendors that have anything to do with supporting smoking - that’s the activity that’s going to kill the most people in the leather community, not barebacking…

From what I can tell, this is a case of the “old guard” vs. the “new guard”. People my age and older, who dominate the leadership of IML, often don’t get that HIV/AIDS is a very different disease today than it was before ARVs came on the scene in 1996. Just because we had a horrible experience with HIV/AIDS they think no one has the right to fuck raw - ever…

The appeal of the leather community used to be that it was edgy. Minorities used to put up with the racism just to feed off the overall edginess of it all. For those of you who were around NY back in the ’90s Pork @ The LURE on Wednesday nights was an incredible experience - the East Village boys invaded and ran a leather bar and it was a wonderful mix. Today what edginess there is in the gay community is found in the bareback community. So the question is what’s the appeal of the leather community if it’s openly hostile to the leading edgy elements in the gay community? Why will people bother with leather? Why will they want to learn how to do BDSM properly? Leather will just become a fashion statement and BDSM will become marginalized as something only old queens do.

The reason why I care is because the leather community used to be the embodiment of a group that unapologetically demanded respect for who they were. They demanded tolerance for their sexually deviant consensual acts, but yet they’re unwilling to be tolerant of others’ sexually deviant consensual acts. They’ve lost something, and it’s sad… In an era of everyone conforming to heterosexual norms (with gay marriage) we need a group that stands up for tolerance and respect of being different, being kinky, and being a deviant…

Let me just run down the vendors who are affected. Since most places that sell videos sell at least some bareback titles, that eliminates almost everyone who’s related to porn with the exception of production companies that only shoot condom porn. The other question is whether they consider pre-condom to be bareback. It is, and if they’re really being consistent they should not allow companies who continue to sell bareback videos under the title “pre-condom”. If they don’t treat pre-condom as what it is - bareback - then that just points out the craziness of their decision.

* Bijou Video (pre-condom)
* Dark Alley Media (recently started producing bareback titles)
* Dick Wadd Media
* Erotic Writers (will IML allow writing about bareback sex?)
* Factory Video / Gay Reality Porn
* Helix Studios
* Spunk Video
* Treasure Island Media

Those are just the ones I can pick out from their list… I think there might be others.

Needless to say, I’m not going to IML next year. I had already decided a while back to go to MAL instead…

If you would like to tell IML what you think of their decision, the e-mail address is info@imrl.com… But don’t expect a response…
gearjock
Jul. 17th, 2009 09:34 pm (UTC)
Re: From RawTop's Blog:
Does anyone know the "racist comment" in question? I had not heard about that...
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