It was bittersweet to be home again. I can’t lie. I was thrilled and proud to be going home as International Mr. Leather, yet to see my city again after the hurricane was difficult. But it turned out to be the closure that I needed.
The weekend started with my arriving at the hotel to see none other than my sash wife, Lamalani. What a sight for sore eyes! She is a beautiful woman, inside and out. She had never been to New Orleans before, so I got to take her on a three hour tour (seriously, it was a three hour tour!) of the major highlights of New Orleans. Café Du Monde for beignets and then to Jackson Square and the Cathedral. Then to the gay strip (Good Friends, Parade, Oz, Lafitte’s and Rawhide). Then she had to head back to the hotel for she had to practice for the contest (she was in two fantasy scenes with ABW contestants). So I headed to the old homestead. I was able to carry Bear with me and he got his picture taken at the old homestead. (I’ll explain who Bear is at the end of this blog.) Then I walked back to the hotel and caught up with Randy, Alex, Rick and a whole assortment of good looking men and we walked down to Rawhide for drinks. We hung out there until it was time for the meet and greet at the hotel.
Back at the hotel, we had the Meet and Greet and it was great to see everyone. Dean, George W., George H., Mr. Marcus, Dave and Frank to name a few. Then it was back to the bar for the official IML bar crawl. Had a great time going to each of the bars and visiting with everyone. Although for me, it was great to reminisce about old times at the bars. (I only reminisced in my mind – I didn’t bore everyone else with my thoughts.)
David (my husband) was taking a late flight into New Orleans from Dallas, and he was delayed, but he finally made it in at around midnight. We grabbed a quick drink and then headed back to the hotel for some rest.
Saturday, we slept in and then got up and traveled the Quarter with some Leather Knight Brothers and others. Stopped at Lafitte’s for drinks and then back to the hotel. Then we caught up with a large group of friends and had dinner. Dinner was grand! I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with all of them. Then we headed to John Paul’s for the auction and drag show. Actually, it was a drag show and they were able to auction off two or three items only. But we sang along with the drag queens and I got many, many, MANY photos which could be used at a later date as leverage for monetary gain. I also got to two-step with Ken (Mr. LA Leather). It was crowded and not very conducive for two-stepping; however, we made the best of it.
Sunday was the contest. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, did an incredible job!! The fantasy scenes were elaborate and well performed. We have an amazing amount of talent and hot looking men, women and boys in our community!! Anyone could have and would have done the title justice. I would like to congratulate the eventual winners: Alex, Dakota and johnny boy as American Leather Man, Woman and boy, respectively. Congratulations to all of you and I know you will succeed in your title year!
I also want to congratulate Randy, Joan and Chris for a successful title year. Each of you represented our community with class and dignity and I look forward to working with each of you for years to come to further the causes important to all of us and to also have fun doing it!!
I also spoke at the contest and, once again, I went up there with nothing prepared. I can’t remember the last time I went into a speech with something prepared. I find it best to speak from the heart and let the words flow. I figure if it’s coming from my heart, everyone will understand what I’m saying.
But I will tell you like I told everyone at ABW. I am still shocked that I am IML. It is an honor and a privilege and I only hope that I do the title justice and make everyone in the community proud.
The story of Bear: Bear is my teddy bear that I received from my Mom when I turned one year old. Bear turned 40 this year on January 27! He looks a bit rough around the edges (photo attached), as he’s been through a lot. But Bear is still hanging in there! I take Bear on all of my travels with me and he has his picture taken at different points during my travels. Bear’s travels will be documented on my website (http://www.iml2009.com/) shortly. Bear will also be the mascot for the new program being run through the Sharon St. Cyr Fund, Inc. called “Bear”. The details of the program will be released shortly; however, the cause that Bear will fund will be that of raising funds for various Children’s Homes within the United States. As many of you know, I was brought up in a Children’s Home and believe that the children going through that system need to have constant and positive reinforcement by us in order to move into adulthood and succeed in their lives. I know that as I was growing up in the Children’s Home and eventual Foster Home, my “Bear” was a constant source of companionship and security. We need to make sure we provide that same companionship and security to those children who are living without their parents and without that support system.
Many have commented that Bear looks like he's been rode hard and put up wet. Well, he kind of has been. He's suffered and survived an attack by a dog, the pounding of a hurricane, a cat that thought his ear tasted mighty good, a childhood (with me) that saw many days of being dragged around by his leg over flooring, concrete, rocks, grass, and many tug-a-wars where he served as the rope. Think about it: How pretty would you look after all of that? I think he looks great!! LOL
By the way, if you are wondering how Bear got his name, here is the story: I was asked by someone at a young age what my teddy bear’s name was. I looked at them and said, “Bear”. What was funny was the way I said it. I said it with my head cocked to the side, eyebrows pushed down and used a dry voice which had the implied, “What are you, stupid? It’s a Bear. What else would his name be? Dumbass.” Yes, even at a young age (5), I could give a one word answer and still speak volumes. The early sign I was gay.
Your Leather Brother,