It could have been his refreshingly youthful face or his bold maroon mohawk, but there was certainly something that gave Brendan McGovern an edge the night of the Mr Leather Ottawa contest. At 23, McGovern is the youngest Mr Leather Ottawa in the event’s 16 year history.
“I did the mohawk about two months ago. It was a very impulsive decision. I was just sitting at my desk at work, and all of a sudden had this thought: ‘I’m going to shave my hair into a mohawk tonight,’ which had disastrous results. I ended up having to get a hairdresser to fix it for me! I decided the mohawk was more me. But if I had a winning edge, it would probably have been my desire to make the fetish community a more accessible place to younger or inexperienced people.”
McGovern is relatively new to Ottawa, having just returned to the city from Trent University in Peterborough. He says his interest in the leather community took root in his university years.
“It started in Peterborough. A friend and I expressed our interest in the community and began going to Toronto occasionally to buy leather stuff. But it was when I went to Northbound Leather that it really hit me that this was the kind of community I would be into. I loved how open it was. And I was amazed by the diversity. I identify as gay, but it wasn’t just a gay thing. It was straight, gay, bi, trans. I really appreciated that.”
Despite McGovern’s appreciation for the leather scene, he wasn’t sure about entering in this year’s Mr Leather Ottawa contest.
“A friend suggested that I compete. He said MLO was really hurting for contestants. They were having issues with the venue and at the time they only had two contestants, so they weren’t sure if it was going to happen. I was kind of all over the place — I was going to do it, I wasn’t going to do it. I got the weekend off work, but then I was told they had four contestants and they didn’t need me! By that point I was all prepared. I decided to go ahead anyway.”
McGovern laughs when asked if he expected the win.
“No! Not a chance. I was pretty secretive about the whole thing. I didn’t really tell my friends or family. I just wanted to get up there and have a good time.”
Looking forward to a fun night on the town, McGovern found the whole experience more meaningful than he expected.
“I was really nervous. And the whole experience was new, but still everyone was so welcoming and supportive. That was the best part. In the first part of the competition we had just met each other but we all bonded right away. I never felt like we were competing against each other. It was more, just doing something totally awesome together.”
A highlight of the various phases of the MLO contest is always the fantasy scene. McGovern gave it everything he had.
“I asked my closest friend to help me in the fantasy scene. I was up on stage in my naughty nurse outfit, he was my patient. It involved me injecting him with a needle, then cutting into him with a scalpel. It was a little sexy, a little violent comedy but people seemed to like it. I actually heard a woman in the audience say that I’d make a really terrible nurse. I thought that was pretty funny.”
Mock horrified, McGovern adds, “I do actually want to go back to school for nursing!”
For the moment though, McGovern is pretty content with the win and his upcoming responsibilities.
“I told my family about it and showed them the bracer. My mom had just been talking to me about volunteering, so she thought it was great when I explained that I’d be an ambassador for the community. I’ll be doing some public speaking, maybe even raise funds to go to Chicago for the International Mr Leather competition.”
“My work has also been great. My boss wants to put the article up at work. He even asked if he could start calling me Mr Leather. I said, “Absolutely! It’s a real honour.”