DALLAS – Jeffery Payne and the board of International LeatherSir/Leatherboy announced Friday morning that the board has changed its decision on allowing transmen to compete in the ILSb contest. Both cisgender and transgender gay men can compete. In a lengthy letter on both Payne’s and ILSb’s Facebook pages, the board explained their reasoning in last week’s decisions.
In relation to contestants, they gave these points:
• We made our decisions based on the history of the event as we knew it – as was passed down to us by word-of-mouth by those individuals within the community who we believed, at the time, were knowledgeable of the history.
• We made our decisions based on the continuous requests to return to ILSb’s traditions and history: comments that were strongly made known to us verbally during this last ILSb-ICBB weekend.
• We made our decision based on collective information, including well-known leaders who had recently given speeches or provided written opinions about the need to re-claim our gay identity, our gay events, our gay clubs and our gay pride and how we had become too inclusive in our quest to be politically correct.
• We based our decision on advice and support from well-trusted community members.
• We based our decision as we took over an event that was in decline. By the suggestions and information given to us by the vocal community, it seemed clear that you wanted this event to return to its traditions.
• Never, Never, Never was any discussion to purposefully exclude any segment of our community to be perceived as negative, bigoted or harmful.
• We failed to recognize the balance between advice and the community itself.
• In this world (certainly in the U.S.) where everything in our gay community (churches, neighborhoods, clubs, organizations, etc.) is being homogenized – we have felt the ever-increasing loss of our gay identity. We thought our decision was one that would reclaim and celebrate our traditional event.
• It is clear that the International LeatherSir and Leatherboy titles are gay male titles. That has never changed and we do not anticipate that to change – it is part of our rich, gay culture.
After a week of rational discussion with the community and within the Board of Directors, we would like to state the following:
• What has changed is our community. Some have changed at a faster pace than others. Certainly, in our (Board) geographic area things have progressed slower than in other areas.
• We, as a Board, do not claim or pretend to know everything about our Transgendered community or the process to transition from female to male. In reality the only individuals that can truly know exactly what the experience is like belongs only to those that have made the transition. What we do know is that we genuinely confess our love, acceptance and respect for the transgender community just as any other individuals that come to our family.
• We want to reiterate that never, never, never was our discussion and decision meant to be harmful, to purposely exclude in a manner of hate or to be perceived as an action of bigotry. We wholly stand firm in our resolve that our intent was not to cause or create division in our community. For anyone that perceived our decision in this manner, felt hurt or disenfranchised, we offer you our sincerest apology.
ILSb also announced the creation of a program coordinator of history to ensure the accuracy of the contests history. This was done as a reaction to many comments and questions about the history of the contest. The coordinator will be reaction out to people and other resources to create and secure historical documents which will be made available on the ILSb-ICBB website.
The board is also establishing an advisory council of community members to reflect the diversity of the community and ILSb. ILSb-ICBB founder Mike Zuhl has already agreed to be the first member and the board will keep the community informed as more members are added.
In relation to the regions, the board says the contracts were never voided. They expired on Sept. 1, 2013 and were not renewed. Regions were never eliminated and each region still retains the right to hold contests. The change was made because of issues of geographic spread (some regions cover as many as eight states, making travel and coordination expensive and difficult) and give the producers to set their borders in a way to be the most effective in their work. The board did say if an area does have a regional contest, contestants do need to go through that regional system. If a regional contest does not exist for an area, then new local contests can be established to find contestants to compete and go onto international. Regional producers can apply to have their borders changed and any new regions or changes will need to be approved by the board.
The board made no changes to the rule on appointed titleholders in the interest of maintaining transparency and to offer better publicity for regional and international contestants.