"Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you. Never excuse yourself. Never pity yourself. Be a hard master to yourself-and be lenient to everybody else.” ― Henry Ward Beecher
This past weekend I was in Tampa again for their Eagle’s FIRST Anniversary bash. The drive up and back is always a pleasant ride. Theres never much traffic when I get in the car to go and for 15 bucks I take a trip up and I ALWAYS have a GREAT time.
I went over Daddy Eric Siglin’s home and I had a wonderful dinner with about a dozen or so men; some in leather some not. Even though the only person I knew Was Eric I felt that everyone welcomed me. Eric made sure to let everyone know I was part of Mama Sandy’s Leather family. It felt good to belong.. I am still amazed how many have never heard of her or the work she has done. I am always watching my weight. I prefer to watch it then have others watch it for me and tell me about my expanding waist so I keep myself disciplined and in check. The reason I mention this is because there was so much food that I liked and would have demolished but refrained from doing so. I ran int one of the guys I knew from 3 yrs ago. I went to open the door since I was closest and there was Tony..FREAKIN WOOF. I was all over him like hair attached to my chest. We got to spend some good time together reconnecting at Eric’s. I am planning to go see him one day soon. We ended up staying there watching videos on his HUGE TV till almost 11PM.
The hotel I stayed in with the Leather wolf dog was by far one of the best hotels I have ever been in. The Hilton Gardens Hotel in Ybor City was a class act from beginning to end. I give it a perfect score on all fronts.
On Saturday afternoon we walked on the main drag in Ybor and it was dead. It looked like an evacuation and someone forgot to tell me. We spoke to one of the women in a pizzeria and she told us between the economy bad weather both in Florida and up north, that the stores were dead. Many had left or relocated because the landlords wouldn’t lower their rent to reflect the tough times. I would rather get some rent than nothing. So many greedy individuals end up shooting themselves in the foot to keep their property empty rather than rent it out and get something for it each month. It took me awhile to get used to the place looking like a ghost town on a Saturday afternoon when the last time I was there the place was packed.
But I digress… after dinner at Eric’s we came back to the hotel and changed, walking out into the night to the Eagle for the evening festivities. Those guys up there know how to make you feel welcome. Without going into detail lets just say that Daddy had a great time with several, ok ok, 4 guys. The leather store that just opened up inside the bar hosted a very friendly guy who owned the shop and he was very helpful. Anyone up there needs to check it out. The guys who went there were very friendly and accommodating to me. The place was fairly crowded and it was nice to see leather everywhere. I can understand why bar owners don’t restrict the crowd to leather only. They would lose a ton of business, AND MONEY, so as an offering they designate a SMALL space to the leather crowd with the majority of the bar left for everyone else. Here’s what I DON’T get. Even though these one a month evenings get packed, they REFUSE to expand the space, like maybe they should let the ENTIRE bar go leather only just for one night a month? When you have been in the SAME space for MANY years you can afford to do that but there are those that no matter how much they get they want more..its NEVER enough. I am however happy, for the crumbs we are fed. It’s better than nothing. To say that things have changed is an understatement. I often wonder how did leather, which by its very nature was rebellious and tribal, come to mean or be politically correct? I hate going off on tangents but I love leather and the lifestyle so much that its very upsetting to me to witness what it was and what it now is.
We left on Sunday morning beating out the bad weather which was headed toward the Tampa area to return to a partly sunny and FINALLY very warm Wilton Manors. I keep accumulating memories of the community I love with incredible men. Matt, Wolfy, Lincoln, Todd, Eric, Tony and several others all conspired to give me more of who I am and what I need…Thanks men. You are my family.
I arrived home this afternoon after a fantastic weekend at the Tampa Leather Club’s Leather SIR/boy Contest. I always come back with a feeling of renewal and rebirth. When I come back from HUGE events such as IML or MAL, I feel a bit underwhelmed and left with a hungry feeling; like I haven’t had enough to eat.
The reason I feel this way is because at these giant behemoths of leather, you don’t truly get to KNOW anyone. It’s a cruise in passing or running off to here or there. At these smaller events or runs you get to spend time with other men and women in leather who share so much common ground. There is a chance to actually sit down and not only make small talk but to have a meal, to enjoy the company of others who feel as you do for hours. The guys tend to hang out with you and really talk. You hear a story, you hear a history, you hear a life without sonic booming music or thousands of others which can get VERY distracting every time you move your heard to see who’s who or who’s hot. You end up resembling Linda Blair in the exorcist with your head spinning around in a 360. all that’s missing is the split pea soup.
My favorite event and runs SO far, are the Trident Knights run in August in Augusta Georgia, The Tradesmen Leather Run in May in Charlotte NC, Mr SECC in February in Augusta Georgia, and the Tennessee Gryphon’s in July in Greeneville Tn. and now the Tampa Leather Clubs Leather SIR/boy contest.
I am sure there are many others but I haven’t gotten to them …YET
The best part is I can go to ten of these smaller events for the same amount of money that it would take to go to ONE IML or MAL. I prefer the smaller events. The enormity of the others is not what I visualize as the community for me. Its a place to get laid, buy leather off the rack, look at porn stars and hot men with steroid muscles wearing couture leather to accentuate those muscles and spend a ton of money in ONE event rather than supporting ten venues who could really use my support and meeting GENUINE leathermen that DO come in all shapes, looks and sizes. These are the ones I will choose to continue to go to.
Welcome to my blog. I am in St. Petersburg, Florida this weekend for the Tampa Leather Club’s Leather SIR/boy contest which will be taking place in a little over 2 hours. My Leather wolfdog, Spike, gave me the idea to start an interactive weblog. The reason that I decided to begin this new adventure is my personal feeling that there are so many out there who throw around the words “Old Guard” without any of them ever being IN that lifestyle, or from stories they have heard from others who weren’t there either. There was NO Old Guard.
IT was leather. PERIOD.
The term emerged as that first wave of men were dying of AIDS VERY quickly. At First it was called the Saint Disease (taken from the mega disco in NYC) since everyone who got sick and died went there (including myself, though I remain HIV-). Then the name changed to Gay Related Immune Deficiency (GRID) and then to AIDS/HIV. This was the dividing line between what is now known as New Guard (or No Guard, from all I hear out there), and what was.
There seems to be miscommunication, misinformation and downright lies about what it was and wasn’t. Principles have been slanted to reflect personal points of view rather than the realities of what it was. As much as the families had different rules and protocols, there was much that we shared in common. The differences were not stark in comparison to today, where guys make up their own names and labels then claim it was Old Guard or similar to it.
I want this to be an interactive blog. I want it to be about your questions and comments — your ideas and your input. I can only give you my insights and perceptions as to what I have seen and experienced AS a leather boy in NYC in the 70s and 80s. I don’t qualify myself as an expert: just as an observer who WAS there and lived it on a day-to-day basis. I want to add a ton of content, videos and comments, and share this as far as I can reach so that I can affect those coming into this, those who are curious about it and those who are already involved and wish to know more.