If I have to say one thing, I have discovered that the leather community is one of family. It is one that no other can really be compared to. While many groups that seem like family such as the military or fraternities, they aren't. They get you to bond, by making everyone the same. Leather is different in that we embrace all of our differences and encourage people to be who they feel they are.
This brings us to leather events. If I was to compare these to anything, it is a massive family reunion. A slightly incestuous family reunion, haha, but a family reunion nonetheless. I see brothers and sisters that I have not seen in months. I see cousins that I rarely get a chance to see outside of these events, but I get to see them. For a lot of the part, many people know each other. The thing that surprises me is that there are so many people that recognize me, that I had just met for the first time at Mid Atlantic Leather. I am not a big name in the leather community. In fact, I am fairly new to it. I am not incredibly hot, nor highly desired in everyone's bed. I am not a title holder, nor have I held a title. Actually, I didn't even win our bar's title this year. But still, people knew me. Maybe they did not know my name, but I did get the "You're the guy from Dallas" statement more than once. It is sort of like hearing, "Oh, your Uncle Steve's little boy?" It is the same.
Another aspect of the leather community is that we consistently try to better those that wish to learn more, or improve their knowledge in the community, or just simply need help. I've seen this with titleholders and their crazy travel schedules needing a place to crash for a weekend, and someone in the community will volunteer a spare (or same...haha) bed for them to save them a couple hundred bucks. When a couple of my friends in the community found out I had no mentor to help me prepare for the Mr Dallas Eagle competition, they met with me almost every night that week before the competition to give me tips and help me get my gear ready. Then we have those groups that truly need help. These are the people that need help, living with HIV, but cannot afford the basic essentials such as food after paying for their medications, or even worse, not even being able to afford their medications. Our leather groups and several others in the area with the help of the Bears, the Sisters and the Imperial Court will raise funds for organizations that help those in most dire need.
And now that I am back home after a great MAL event, I would almost be sad that I no longer can see my friends. But I know, just like any other family reunion, I will get to see my leather friends again. and like members of my biological family, there are those that I strive to be proud of me. Someday, I want to be someone that the leather community can look up to. I want to be a person that helps carry on the traditions and also to bring others in to help our community grow. I want to be there to help teach these traditions to the next generation so they can carry that torch after I am no longer able to.
And now, I would also like to thank my leather family for all their encouragement during my bar title run. I can only hope to take what I learned from the experience and try to improve myself for next year. And I can't wait to see some of you this weekend during the Mr/Mrs Texas Leather competition.
P.S. - If you are in Dallas, come out to the Dallas Eagle Friday the 24th and Saturday the 25. It'll be a fun night :p