A years worth of contests have designated titleholders from around the world who in a few weeks will converge in Chicago, Ill. for International Mr. Leather. The best of the best have been chosen and will make their pilgrimage in pursuit of the ultimate title, International Mr. Leather; thousands will gather as a new International Mr. Leather 2013 is chosen. What type of man will be chosen to assume the sacred role ? There are big boots to fill with out-going IML2012 Woody Woodruff!
What makes a title, the person or the title? The reality is that each person must make the title their own. From what I have observed when a person walks off the stage and into a title year there is increased attention to every action no matter how small. There is also an expectation that because a person has won the contest they will inherently have all of the answers.Everywhere that a titleholder goes they are expected to “be on”, at all times. There are not instructions however of how a title-holder, whether IML or a regional titleholder, should blaze a new trail. There is the brotherhood of previous titleholders to offer support and to nurture growth however a title-holder will make the title their own. In full disclosure, I am not a title holder although I have competed in several contests (Mr. Midwest Leather 2011 & 2012).
Ethically however, what are the expectations that the community has for their titleholders? Does the community expect that a title-holder take up the torch regarding safe-sex? Do we expect that a titleholder will become an educational source? Is their an expectation that a titleholder will serve as an ambassador for the BDSM, Leather and Kink Communities?
For me a title-holder has an ethical responsibility to make the community a better place through the reduction of new HIV-infections. While some might make this their entire platform others may simply make this an after-thought. Without guidance however from the community a title holder will never be as successful as what they could be. A person who competes in a contests and wins is ultimately the representative of our communities and must be supported. The things that are important to the community must be communicated to our leaders and titleholders.
Below are some of the many platforms that have been embraced by titleholders? What would you add to this list?
- Marriage Equality
- HIV Prevention
- Leather Education
- Community Service
- Bridging the gap between various communities
At the end of the day, a person makes the title. While the celebrity status of a title might seem attractive from the outside there is a seemingly daunting task of fulfilling obligations to the community. A title is more than simply putting on leather and mastering the art of a contest-interview. A title demands leadership for the community and with leadership comes ethical responsibility.