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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.

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!


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.
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.

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?

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)
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.
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?

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