Many attendees had left by this point, so this shows about 2/3 of the turnout.
I'll have good things to say about the event itself in a few paragraphs, but I want to make this point first:
THE TRIBE IS BACK.
Brotherhood, acceptance, intimacy, mentoring, leadership, and a lot more are the new normal, after a few bad decades. It's all back again. I can't think of a single thing that could be healthier for gay leathermen, and the trend is accelerating constantly.
Twelve to fifteen years ago, if somebody wanted to invite others to show support for a man who was going to represent us at the International Mr. Leather Contest in Chicago, there would have been very few takers, and the warring factions would have broken the project down. Too many of us were still struggling with rage and grief after having been through the horror of so many of us dying. We weren't ready to unify, because we were so wounded. That's why there are so very few former Mr. San Diego Leather titleholders available as mentors nowadays… They had their hearts broken, and they dropped away. It was a bad time, but we all did the best that we could.
In 2011, my generation appears to have made peace with the past, and is ready to be visible, supportive, mellow and sweet. Yesterday's fundraiser for Anthony was a perfect example. The pictures are nice, but they don't tell the whole story. If you had stood amidst yesterday's crowd, closed your eyes and just listened, you would have heard the same sound you hear at every single event these days - The happy roar of satisfied, comfortable and unified people. That was NOT the case, for decades lost to us.
So, if you have formed a rock-solid, long-held opinion about San Diego's leather community, I urge you to let it go. We don't have to be cynical and self-protective any more. Open up your heart and rejoice in being part of a powerful, joyful and supportive community.
THE TRIBE IS BACK.
The BBQ Fundraiser
Anthony has been preparing for months to be our city's ambassador at the International Mr. Leather Contest in two weeks, but like most of us, he isn't made out of money. The airfare, hotel expenses and food alone cost the moon, and it's not fair for him to pay for it out of his own pocket when he's doing it all on our behalf. Contests like this are NOT "pretty-boy pageants". They are a conscious, powerful way to enroll new leaders among us.
On May 3, Kurt (the current Mr. SD Leather) decided to throw an informal BBQ fundraiser on May 15th to help his predecessor (Anthony) afford the trip to Chicago. Kurt threw the BBQ invitation out on every mailing-list, on Facebook and heaven knows wherever else. As nice as that was, it's not enough to convince large numbers of people to come out and contribute. There has to be a basis for trust. Credibility counts. There was plenty of that, since Kurt and Anthony are both men of integrity, who are well-loved. They have BIG fan-clubs, that they've earned the hard way. So, a lot of people took the time off on a very pretty Sunday afternoon to attend.
Dutch was kind enough to loan the use of his beautiful canyonside home, but the yard needed a lot of work. So, a bunch of volunteers helped for days, clearing brush, weeds and branches, and sweeping up to make the place a joy to admire. It was a perfect setting.
The volunteers at the event provided food, drink, dessert and various items for sale, and then worked vigorously to make sure that everything ran perfectly. You could have powered a major factory with the energy that these folks were putting out!
There were many different ages represented in the crowd, but I was thrilled to notice so many of the men of my generation who showed up. This has not been common in past years, and it's nice to see so many men with extra miles on their odometers being visible again. It gives the younger guys hope for a better future if they see us oldsters thriving and participating.
I am afraid that I got a little pushy when it came time to take the group photo - My heart's in the right place, but I sure can be a Border Collie when I get excited about this sort of thing. I wanted to give Kurt and Anthony a tangible keepsake that proved how well-loved and effective they are.
Anthony is a superb candidate, and he has everything that he needs to win, now that we've all been helping out with the finances. There hasn't been an International Mr. Leather from San Diego since 1988. Anthony has everything that Mike Pereyra had, and more - Mike wasn't as articulate and heartfelt onstage.
Great job, everybody, and good luck to Anthony!