Ottawa
3 min

Mr Leather Ottawa 2004: Steven Hould

His approach makes it easier for people to connect with him

LEATHER PRIDE. Steven Hould proudly displayed the new MLO sash during his first official function as title holder at the Mr Leather Toronto competition Nov 28–30. Credit: Brian Gallant

Considering that he had to stand on stage in front of a raucous crowd in full leather gear, it’s a little surprising that Mr Leather Ottawa 2004 is shy.



“I am a timid person, believe it or not,” says Steven Hould. “I’m timid and shy, but I’m very much a leader as well.”



Hould explains that despite his reserve he has been active and a leader throughout his life. He has been especially visible at gay and lesbian events over the past couple of years.



“I like being involved in organizations,” he explains, “I like taking leadership roles, at times, but as a title holder I certainly want to be visible in the community.”



That desire, coupled with a strong work ethic and an eagerness to work collaboratively would seem to be Hould’s main strengths.



“I think my contribution is that I’m very easy-going, I am very easy to work with, I’m always willing to lend a hand, to be there and be supportive.”



Hould first became interested in leather while living in Toronto in 1996. When he moved to Ottawa he hooked up with the local community through Cellblock. It was three years ago that he first became interested in running for Mr Leather.



His predecessor, Mr Leather 2003, Doug Connors, says he was extremely happy with the judge’s choice. He describes a bond he feels with Hould because they had competed together in the previous year. “He deserves it,” Connors says, “he’s a gem of a man.” Connors’ best piece of advice is to “just be yourself.”



The ability to be himself is one of the things Hould says he learned by competing for the title last year when he was first runner-up. Hould claims that the main difference this year was that he was better prepared. He had a better sense of the contest and expectations. That allowed him to feel more at ease and to be himself.



For example, Hould was joined on stage for the speech portion of the competition by his Rottweiler Hugo. He eloquently spoke of the pride and commitment he takes caring for his dogs (his other Rottweiler Tory died recently), saying that he would bring the same pride and commitment to serving his community as Mr Leather Ottawa 2004.



Hould sees “openness” as the single most important thing that the leather community can bring to the larger GLBT community. In his speech he dispelled the misconception that the leather community is all about sex and emphasized four points: “openness, mutual respect, tolerance and acceptance.”



“Whether we’re into leather or not, we all want to be accepted,” Hould explains. “We want to have people tolerate our differences.” In his opinion, the leather community is uniquely positioned to address the issue of openness.



“I think the leather community, being a very visible ‘quote unquote’ minority within the gay community – and sometimes a misunderstood segment of the community – can bring to the larger community the idea that we have to be open and we can’t start judging each other. We have to support each other, we have to work together.”



Those who know Hould say he is very well qualified to fulfill those expectations.



“In the almost one and a half years I have known Steven, he has demonstrated his capacity to connect with a wide variety of people and groups within the GLBT communities,” says Jean-Francois Pinsonnault, executive producer of MLO 2003 and 2003. “He is dynamic, full of energy and has a welcoming approach which makes it easier for people to connect with him.



“I know that the coming year will be an opportunity for growth for Steven. However, I also believe that he’s more mature, more experienced and more self-confident than some recent title-holders. I think the coming year may be a year of consolidation and alignment rather than a journey of personal growth.



“Steven is self-confident without being cocky or pompous, intelligent coupled with street-smart, dynamic and welcoming and easy to get close to and appreciate. He is a man worth knowing.”