Ottawa
2 min

Leadership & leather

Ottawa prepares for Mr Leather 2005

Plans for Mr Leather Ottawa 2005 are coming together and at least four men – including a former runner-up – have thrown their names into the ring.



As Steven Hould, Mr Leather Ottawa 2004, gets ready to hang up his sash this month, he looks back on a hectic but unforgettable year.



“One of my accomplishments was to establish a rapprochement – a better relationship between the Ottawa leather community and the Montreal leather community,” explains Hould. “But my biggest accomplishment was the Toys For Tots fundraising campaign. It’s the Ottawa Knights that basically organize it, but I was able to raise at least 500 toys on my own, and $1,200 cash for the annual fundraiser.”



Hould enjoyed his year overall, but notes that holding the title involves a lot of time and energy.



“I think people think that it’s party, party, party,” says Hould, who holds a full-time job with the federal government. “But in reality it just isn’t.”



But then, times have changed since the earlier days of the contest – which began in this city in 1992 – and the title-holder’s responsibilities have changed too.



Hould says the role’s responsibilities have grown largely because of one former title-holder.



“I really think that it started with Dean Ross, Mr Leather 1999, giving self-defense courses to gay men, because of gay-bashing,” he says. “It’s increased, and obviously every year, depending on one’s career, we also have to juggle our personal lives and our work and some previous title holders have been able to commit more time.”



Thom Lockwood, Mr Leather Ottawa 1998, remembers his tenure fondly.



“The biggest responsibility was to attend the International Mr Leather contest and represent Ottawa, as well as to go to various leather events, in Eastern Canada and the States.”



In Lockwood’s day, the contest had no particular theme, and it had just begun its long tradition of being held at Barrymore’s – a move that spiralled the leather-based event into the broader gay community.



“It became more high profile,” says Lockwood. “The idea of a theme never really developed until the year after I stepped down.”



Lockwood says that each year has brought new personality to the role and depends heavily on the interests of the title-holder.



“I was trying to support Egale and at that time, 1998, being a member of a couple whose spouse works for the federal government, it was only the year before that that we received same-sex benefits,” says Lockwood, an interior designer. “But the outgoing Mr Leather had been very much involved in the Rideau Speedeaus. Certainly the Mr Leathers since then, they are much more active within the community. It was fairly casual and easy-going in the early days.”



Hould agrees. While he has attended many bar events over the year, he says the job now involves a lot of public relations.



“My personal belief is that leather is not about sexual promiscuity, it goes beyond that,” he says. “I think as the years progressed the Ottawa Knights have redefined the responsibilities of what they are looking for as a title holder. They expect title-holders to be involved and present at various functions, they want us to go outside the parameters of the leather community, which is important. There’s a broad gay community that doesn’t understand the leather concept.”



This year, the theme is Jail Break, and the venue has changed. While most events will be held at Cell Block and the Holiday Inn, the actual contest on Sat, Nov 13 will be at Capital City Music Hall instead of the traditional Barrymore’s, says organizer Murray Lavigne of the Ottawa Knights. “Everything is on the website,” he says, adding, that rooms are still available at the Holiday Inn.



* For more information, visit www.ottawaknights.com.