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!