Reginald Dennis didn’t always love leather.
“In fact, I actually had no desire to become involved in the leather community,” says Dennis, who now holds the title of Mr Central Canada Olympus Leather 2007.
It was a bad encounter years ago with a couple of leathermen that put Dennis off of leather initially.
“They were playing games I wasn’t prepared for,” he says. “I was not explained the process and it was my first time.”
But once he moved to Ottawa, things changed.
“I met some people who showed me the proper way that leather people should behave,” says Dennis.
Soon, Dennis got involved with the Ottawa Knights and Ottawa leather contests and began to enjoy the leather lifestyle.
Looking back on his last five years in the Ottawa leather community, he says he is glad he gave the lifestyle a second chance.
“I saw that leather in Ottawa was a true community, and people take care of each other here.”
Dennis has been helping out at the AIDS Committee of Ottawa — including as chair in 2005 — and is dedicated to helping raise money in support of HIV/AIDS during his reign as Mr Leather.
“The leather community in Ottawa has lost a bit of momentum over the years, but is still going strong,” says Dennis. “We have a lot of new people coming in and we just need to be able to move with change, and make it work for us.”
Dennis says he is pleased with the fact that more young people seem to be getting involved with leather contests as of late and hopes that the trend will continue, especially since the current Ms Central Canada Olympus Leather, Katelyn Cartwright, is only 19.
“I think the reason that there aren’t more young people involved with leather is because it can be intimidating,” says Dennis. “They like what they see, but they’re also kind of scared — so what we really need to work on now is getting the next generation involved with leather.”
Although Dennis is moving to Toronto in the fall, he promises that he will continue to spread the word about leather there, too, and hints that we may very well see him as Mr Leatherman Toronto sometime in the future.
Before he goes, Dennis will be a judge in the Ottawa Leather Fest’s Central Canada Olympus Leather 2008 at the end of August.
Dennis has a few words of advice to those planning to compete. Check out the video below: