It’s Been a Long While……

I thought I would be better at keeping up my blog but many times by night I am really tired. I have one year left of coursework for my Ph.D. After coursework I take the exam and then the dissertation. The road I am on is very lonely and you can be in a relationship and not only feel alone but you can feel lonely. All the people that knew me my first go around in studies are all dead and people today will give you a few seconds of kind words and then poof they be gone. Culture has certainly changed a lot. Not sure I like how it has evolved, especially when you have a significant amount of people on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. When you see statistics this large, you realize (or at least I do) that we have an enormous problem. My support system is nothing of what it used to be and I’m not sure its my fault. One can reach out to people but if they cant be bothered with you then you move on. Everyone seems to be so self involved; usually with their phones. That seems to be the major relationship everyone is involved with now…..their phones, ipads, ipods.  I learned that you never go where you aren’t invited or wanted. Since phones are a solitary device for the most part, you are alone and the more alone and isolated we become the more anxiety and depression will proliferate and I believe its going to get MUCH MUCH worse within the next 5 years. Technology is to assist us not take over as the main mode of communication between people. Have you noticed that people don’t converse anymore? You go out to a bar and everyone is on their phones texting to the guy they want to meet from 10 feet away. Yeah people, we are in a heap of trouble. No one even calls anyone anymore; they text. They propose marriage over a text, they break up over a text, they fight through texting, they make important announcements through texting. No one hears any human voice anymore. you have a computerized voice to tell you where such and such place is. You don’t even talk to an operator anymore to get a number or to ask for directions at a gas station. You TEXT to get answers for everything. This in my estimation is NOT good at all! The human system is broken and we have allowed technology to break us. Rather than have technology be OUR servant it has become our MASTER! Leather groups are becoming less and less, and the only way the “community” gets together is through a contest with brings in the green (money). Leather has become big business and the producers and vendors know it…OHHH they know it. If a producer is losing money year after year that he digs deep into his own pocket to keep a contest going, so much that he has to work all year to produce his contest, he would get tired and stop. The fact that they don’t, means they are pulling profit. NO ONE is going to keep a contest going for 5 or ten years when they have to work at their full time job to keep the contest going because it loses substantial money EVERY year. That don’t make sense and no one loves their community THAT much even when the producer whines about all the money he’s losing  just to keep the contest going! REALLY? So you lose money EVERY year and you work at your job to pay rent food car etc., AND to keep the contest alive? When pressed for a response I get them to admit that well not EVERY year. Sometimes they break even and sometimes they pull in good money.. THANK YOU!! I know a guy who ran a contest and was able to lease new cars to travel all over the place to keep his contest in the public eye but the title holder got NOTHING for his travel fund. He gave nothing to his community but kept his pockets ample! I don’t bother much anymore with what I see. I cant change it but I remain true to who I am and that’s the best I can do. I have wonderful memories that no one is interested in hearing because it doesn’t exist anymore and no one is interested in trying to get back to basics. Too much business and money involved. Leather groups used to be very social within their community. Now they are concentric circles of emotional and sometimes sexual incest. IF you don’t bring in new people then you have this small clique of guys who tend to keep everyone out and never reach out to their community. IF they are solely a social group, they don’t have open social events for others to maybe want to join because they’re too busy and focused on keeping the circle closed. They usually die out because there’s no growth. They pat each other on the back when they really do nothing for anyone but themselves. Yes things have changed a TON! There has to be a way around this.. I just haven’t been able to figure it out….YET.

PrEP …ANOTHER WAY TO PREVENT HIV TRANSMISSION.

I received several messages from a “sir” and I use this in quotations because just because you refer to yourself AS one doesn’t mean crap. I don’t know who you are, where you are from or what community you belong to. He went on a rant about PrEP and that I need to be recommending that and that I have HIV issues.. YOU bet your ass I have HIV issues. I lost all my freakin friends to the disease. He then went on to judge me and my posts and the fact that I didn’t update the posts to include PrEP.
Well HERE WE GO. I am a FIRM believer in PrEP as a tool in the arsenal against HIV. I HIGHLY recommend it. IF you are having bareback sex you should be on PrEP…PERIOD. Many of you have heard the term Truvada whore, Well I call myself a PrEP pusher. You KNOW you aren’t using condoms EVERY SINGLE TIME. Most gay men don’t and the studies are out there proving they don’t. YOU NEED TO BE ON PrEP..YOU NEED TO BE ON PrEP… IF you are HIV positive you are hopefully adhering to your medication regimen. If you are HIV negative you NEED TO BE ON PrEP. I cant make this any clearer for you.
With that being said, PrEP will NOT however prevent the other 35 Sexually Transmitted Infections. IT ONLY works for HIV, NOTHING ELSE. If you are going to engage in bareback sex you can STILL get one of the other STI’s. There is no cure for Herpes or Genital warts once you get them although there IS a vaccine now THAT YOU SHOULD CONSIDER GETTING for warts. The “sir” who commented on PrEP didn’t even mention ANY other infection you could get. His attention was totally focused on HIV. Since I wanted to write a post answering his concerns, I wanted to give the bigger picture of the other nasties that are out there. Recently there has been a discovery of new strains of HIV in the Caribbean that are not responding to meds very well. I do NOT know what this means if you are on PrEP and are exposed to one of those specific strains. In addition there are now antibiotic resistant strains of Syphilis and Gonorrhea. The “sir” made no mention of this either in his comments. Then he had the balls to tell me that I needed therapy..been there done that…and STILL doing that. I think that he needs some therapy also because to focus on ONE STI out of 36 is foolish! You may prevent your comrades, “sir” from getting HIV BUT you are EXPOSING them with your ignorance by NOT addressing the other 35. TO my brothers out there…BE AWARE, GET INFORMATION, IF you are positive, GET INTO CARE and STICK to treatment. IF you are Negative, GET ON PrEP but be AWARE that you can STILL get ANY OTHER Sexually Transmitted Infections. PrEP is NOT a “Cure” for HIV; its a tool in an ever growing arsenal of ways to prevent you from getting infected. Condoms are NOT foolproof. THEY BREAK. PrEP when taken AS DIRECTED will PREVENT HIV 99% OR MORE of the time but again, IT WILL NOT PREVENT ANY OTHER OF THE 35 Sexually Transmitted Infections. Again; BE INFORMED, READ, ASK QUESTIONS!

Dedication

I wanted to Dedicate my Mr. Community Service Award 2015 to my friends who died of AIDS. It is because of them that I am who I am. It is because of them that I have given so much. It was through their death that I learned about life and how to live.I couldn’t save them but I knew I could be of service to others. Much of who I am is because of what I learned from them and how bravely they faced death. Although I never got HIV, I was terrible affected by it. I have learned to co exist with a virus that is NOT inside me but still lives WITH me and has taken so much FROM me. I often make a concerted effort to not look back or think about them too much because it takes me out of the present and makes me very sad and upset. With World AIDS Day coming up on December 1st, this Award came at the appropriate time of the year for me. The greatest honor I have ever been given and privileged to, are the times when guys will come up to me (and its happened 5 or 6 times) and have told me, “you saved my life Daddy.” That is by far the GREATEST award anyone could ever give me. Telling me I, in some way, had a part in saving their life! I say it again, there is NOTHING better on this earth!

In September 2014 I was awarded Associate of the Year for the First Coast Leather Society at their Anniversary weekend (which I attended). in 2011 AND 2013 I was Awarded Associate of the Year for the Trident knights. Being the recipient of an award is quite a different experience than winning a leather title. You don’t get adoring fans and groupies wanting to sexually service you and you don’t get to travel to represent anything. Being given awards are years of the recipient working within their community and years in the making. Leather titles you can walk in off the street, look good in leather and VOILA, you’re a title holder. You automatically get a voice whether you earned that voice or not! You work your ass off for Awards and you earn them over MANY years. After a year your title ends. With an Award your work NEVER stops. You feel a GREATER sense of responsibility because you were given the award in recognition of DECADES of service and you feel compelled to do even more AFTER you have been recognized. I am more than honored to be given these recognitions. Getting a standing ovation truly does put everything into perspective for me. I felt my friends looking down at me smiling. I often say I will never retire and I never will. Too much left to do! I again want to thank everyone who had a part in giving me this honor and I will bring honor to the award you have given me long after the year is over!

FINALLY IT HAS HAPPENED TO ME!!

Well this past weekend I got the surprise of a lifetime. I attended the First Florida puppy contest. That always coincides with my anniversary to Rene since we met at the International contest held at the Flamingo Hotel 3 years ago and we go back every year to celebrate.

AS always we attend the contest. This year held indoors due to heavy rains! The contest was half over when the announcer took to the stage and spoke of the MR. and MS. Community Service Awards for 2015. The first ever given in Florida. They began with the Ms and clap clap clap. Then the guy begins to read a biography. For the first few sentences I didn’t pay much mind to it but he kept going and it sounded like me. I looked over at the judges who were nodding their heads and smiling and looked back at Rene who smiled. IT WAS ME they were talking about!! Well when he finished reading from his phone, the crowd got up and gave me a standing ovation; something I have NEVER experienced before. I was numb that walking up to the stage I felt like I was having a out of body experience. They kept clapping and standing. I was a bit stunned. I only recall the announcer saying to me that he aspires to be like who I am!!

I never expected any recognition for anything. Service is its own reward and the best compliments I have ever gotten is when a guy would come up to me and say, “you saved my life.” NOTHING is better than that. NOTHING. I am however loving the medallion and I will wear it proudly. It provokes me forward to accomplish more. The front of the medallion is a torch somewhat like what the Statue of Liberty is holding. Its nice to think that I am that light and that I make a difference in others lives. For that I am privileged, honored an2015 Community Service Awardd grateful.

Not Enough time on my Hands Anymore.

IT has been awhile. Several important milestones in my life have taken place. This year (which is almost over) is my 40th year in Leather. I HATE being referred to as an “elder”. I’m NOT a deacon in a church! Then comes the fact that I am BACK in School. I have been accepted as a Doctoral Candidate and am studying for my PH.D in Psychology with a focus in Gender Diversity. THIS takes up A LOT of my time. Third thing. As founder of the Leathertarian Award it has taken me a year but I have accomplished making The Leathertarian Award a Trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
I’ve accomplished quite a bit just in a year. Ive seen more of my friends dying and it reminds me of my own mortality and 40 years in the leather community remind me how fast time has gone by and I’m trying my best to savor and accomplish while enjoying my time here. IF you want information on the award you can go to http://www.theleathertarianaward.com and you can nominate someone to be the recipient of this award which happens every June 21. I am NOT on the panel of 6 who decides the recipients so I have no say nor do I even know who they choose. You will find all the information on there.

I find it annoying sometimes when I am on Facebook (for 10 whole minutes) and guys are telling me how “bored” they are. REALLY? Why dont you try volunteering and get OFF the computer? I dont have time to be bored. I am STILL on the Gay men HIV work-group which works out of Tallahassee for our monthly phone calls on the status of HIV in Broward County. I am STILL a volunteer with the county Health Dept and I am still on the MSM Strategic Planing Committee which meets once per month. How is it that I can find time for all of this and STILL have a life to do “other” things that give me joy? I just dont understand it at all and I guess I never will because my mind-set is not theirs and thats a good thing. I’ve learned to organize and manage time through trial and error. I had a good SIR who taught me well over those ten years I was with him.
I will try to write more. I have off the next two weeks before starting my next two courses. Dynamics of Family and the Psychology of Women. The last bunch of courses were research and writing oriented and I am pulling a 4.0 index (Straight A’s) so you can teach a middle aged dawg new tricks. Your brain doesnt have to go to mush when you remain active and vital. I dont believe that one has to decay a painful slow downward spiral into the abyss. You can remain sharp edgy and active. For now though I am going to hit the sack and get some sleep.

A LONG LONG Journey

I just celebrated my 40th Anniversary in Leather. The road has been long with bumps turns and twists, which I guess its the way life in general is. I have been blessed and privileged beyond belief because of the men in my life who raised me as a leather boy back in NYC, then as a Daddy and finally being covered as a SIR. I posted this on Facebook and I wish to share it here:

IT was Monday July 1, 1974. He remembered the date and the time. 4:45PM. I had forgotten and he let me know it. 85 yrs old in a few weeks and sharp as a tack. MY journey began 40 years ago on Christopher St Greenwich Village NYC, in a store window. THAT I remember! I followed him and grew to love him after being afraid of what he offered to me but at the same time fascinated and excited. I ended up with 4 brother boys 3 pups, better known then as dog boys or manimals or humanimals and his “man-servant”. I was his baby boy; his sunshine who often pissed him off. I tested his limits more than he tested mine. An arrogant tough Brooklyn prick I was because that’s all I knew. I grew to respect him and love him with everything in my being. I had the honor of knowing HIS SIR and HIS SIR’S SIR. I miss those days terribly and my 4 brothers who died of AIDS as did his man servant. I am all that’s left of that time and I dedicated my life to over 30 years of being an advocate/activist for those with HIV while watching all my friends DIE. I remained unscathed by that fucking virus! It wasn’t “Old Guard”; there was no mystery or magic except when I looked into SIRS blue eyes. I never romanticized things. It was difficult sharing him but I learned that he was able to satisfy all of us and I got all the extra attention because I was the youngest (and as I always chided, the hottest). FORTY YEARS have gone by and the ride has been EXTRAORDINARY for me. I hate the term elder because I’m not in a church. I hate the term old guard because it never existed. IT was leather. I also hate what leather has devolved into; CIRCUIT PAGEANTRY and a CONSTANT barrage of fundraisers, producers, vendors and events while they wear pretty leather and don’t know how to put on a harness! So many have been turned off by nasty mean comments because people don’t look hot enough or are deemed NOT worthy enough to be in the presence of some of the sash queens. Even I have experienced that too many times. Those guys are DEAD to me. They offer NOTHING to either the title or the community! 40 years has taught me about family with so many people out there who I consider family. I understand why men will leave leather or back away from it or create their own families AWAY from the mainstream! I have said this many times. You DONT need a title to affect change. You are better off without one. Why? Because you don’t have to kiss anyones ass to win anything and you can get things accomplished faster. I sit on 3 boards for HIV prevention with the local and state Health Departments up to the National level. I am the VP of the Leather Heart Foundation and I founded the Leathertarian Award. I am studying for my PH.D; ALL WITHOUT ANY title. After 40 years the only title I ever need was to be SIR Paul’s boy and Daddy Jim. SIR, Thank you for giving me life as an adult. For teaching me what bonding with men was REALLY like. I love you more than forever for giving me, ME! I bow to you and get on my knees for everything I am and everything you taught me to be. Happy Anniversary Daddy. I LOVE you with my LIFE and no matter what, BEFORE anything else, ANYTHING ELSE, I AM ALWAYS YOUR BOY, SIR! Forever your sunshine….Jimmy.

MY Second big milestone..

Back in January..I believe it was Jan 29 or 30, 1994 I received my Muir Cap from SIR up in Boston. IT was my 20th year anniversary. That was very emotional for me…When I received my Cap, there was no ceremony, no pomp or circumstance. He took me to a store..I think it was called the Marquis de Suede? We looked around and we left. Several hours later he gave me the cap. One interesting thing he did. He had a chain put on over the brim, and twisted it one time. HE told me that it signified that I would never be perfect (just like the hat wasn’t) ..oh, and that I was twisted… LOL. 

Im not saying that the way covers are given now are wrong..it is what it is. Things were different and I kind of enjoy the ceremony now when a cover is given. I have attended quite a few and have myself covered several and have spoken at many of them so I actually enjoy them; ESPECIALLY when I know the person receiving either his boy cap or his Muir cap. It always makes me smile. In the first pic I am in the process of giving a good man his Muir cap. SIR Travis. The second and third photos are MY MUIR CAP thats 20 years old. IF you notice in the third photo in particular, the twist in the chain that SIR purposely put there!!ImageImageImage