Cain Berlinger


The great city of New Orleans once again played host to the Pantheon awards, the controversial Oscar-like presentation of Community Service awards to the "movers and shakers" of the Leather Community. Congratulations to all the recipients of the pantheon honors and the newly elected Mr. and Ms. Olympus winners.

The most surprising award of the evening went to Mr. Marcus, honoring his many, many achievements over the years as Leatherdom's most influential and beloved columnist. The most memorable moment of the evening came when a slightly handicapped (knee surgery) Billy Lane became 1999's reigning Mr. Saliva!

The most impressive showing, were the people of Atlanta's Sanctuary. This familial group touched me on all levels, in their display of love and support for each other as a family - truly inspirational!! When I lived in Atlanta in 1990 there was a fractured community at best. Its growth in the last few years is nothing short of astounding. Keep up the good work Atlanta! I can't believe we're already into the month of March and the flurry of contests around the country for International Mr. Leather contestants has jumped into full gear. Personally I think every title holder should serve out his entire title year before moving from regional to International, sometimes within a matter of months. But hey, what do I know? I can only hope that all future contestants realize the responsibility that comes with a title sash and that its not just about how you look, but how you perform to the higher ideals of the Leather/BDSM community, and no matter how big a Top you are in your personal play, you are a bottom to the community for the entirety of your reign. Let's face it, its about representation and raising funds to further our political and social goals, personal agendas aside.

Pet peeve of the month would happen to be the Internet, the main communication tool of our existence these days. So much of our information is coming to us through the net and its many Leather related lists. It is because of these lists that many new generations of our brothers and sisters in the more rural areas of our country are getting valuable information from the postings of us urbanites. This information is not just sexual in content but political and social as well and its messages are being received in the farthest corners. So it is disturbing that the brutal infighting, political nastiness, and pettiness, not to mention overt racism, is also being disseminated through the net. Preaching diversity and brotherhood is one thing, but many are learning through contrary examples. So the next time you pull your keyboard out to express an opinion, do realize that your postings are reaching hundreds, possibly thousands, of eager new minds that will make their decisions to come out of the rural (and even urban) closet based on what you have to say, and how its being said. The internet has elevated us all to international role models whether we like it or not.


It's been a busy time for the People of Color Community. I just returned from OUTWRITE, a four day conference for Lesbian and Gay writers. There were plenty of writers of color in attendance and it was great to see that many of us have found, and are finding, a voice through the printed medium. I attended a screening of Woubi Cheri a 62 minute film about transgendered/transvestite communities on the Ivory Coast; a society not divided by gay and straight, but a complex web of sexual traditions intermingled. A definite must see. What is amazing is the sudden emergence into the mainstream gay consciousness of once invisible minorities.

There are still people out there still holding on to their antiquated ideas of what constitutes a community of so-called diversity. On a recent Bear list (large sometimes hairy men who identify as gay) there was a racist note sent to the moderator of the list, claiming that his web site for Bears of Color was a shameful fraud since Bears as he knew them were 'white and pridefull'. This started a long stream of subsequently blocked e-mails where many of the Bears of Color tried to communicate and understand the mans' ignorance. Personally I don't ever feel the need to justify my presence or for whatever I chose to call myself. Fortunately this is only one of a few isolated incidents and the Bear Community is still one more sanctuary for people who are different and also constitute a minority.

A most recent controversy that has been brewing since circuit parties reared their elitist heads, is the so-called White Party. Originally the parties were called white parties for the attire requested, which was all white, as were the black parties which became dress coded for black - usually leather - attire. The concept of white parties in New York took on a whole new meaning when the publicity poster for the 1999 Saint White Party was recently unveiled. It is a sea of identical white-only faces on a background of red with a superimposed party logo resembling a swastika/hammer and sickle and the word WHITE emblazoned along the sides of the poster. Naturally this has raised hackles among the community for obvious reasons.

It is this kind of racism that we try to address letting the community know that this sort of thing is not acceptable even in the name of art. Chicago used to be called the most segregated city in the country, yet so far has managed to show diversity and sensitivity in these times and made many steps at outreach to include and make the words diversity mean something.

On a brighter note, "Black Men In Leather", telling what its like to be a person of Color in the Leather Community, is now available through mail order and the entry forms for Mr. Ebony in Leather are now available on the Mr. Ebony web site http://www.mrcain/Mel.htm.

e-mail Writercain@aol.com


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