For me, my venture down the Leather rabbit hole really began over the summer…
I stand alone at the bar on the second floor of the Eagle in the dim reddish light looking at myself in the mirror behind the liquor bottles. I tell the innocent face staring back at me, “look confident, look casual” but all I see is, “I’m nervous and uncertain.” There’s that unique bar smell of alcohol, maybe some cleaning product, and faint BO drifting to my nostrils (a scent that’s become familiar and comforting). My shirt is off and I admire my pecs…still boyish, but muscled…and I tap the floor with my boot while nervously fingering the leather collar around my neck…it’s Thursday night, my first CODE night.
The night is early and there are only a few men around…all of them standing in the shadows against the walls. Hairy man porn plays on the TV screen and dance beats come from the DJ booth. The stage is set…this is what I’ve been wanting to do…I’m at the Eagle on leather night. Now what?
At the far end of the bar stand 2 handsome guys in full gear talking to the bartender. With their facial hair and gear they look like quintessential Leathermen to me. They also look friendly and as I’m checking them out they turn to me and give me a little smile. I don’t know it yet, but my life is about to take a wonderful turn for the leather.
The men share a few words with each other (no doubt saying something like, “let’s go check on the new kid”) and then head down the bar towards me. As soon as they say hello I feel all my nervousness melt away and be replaced by the excitement that’s been driving me to be here at the Eagle. The men are Rick and Peter, Mr. Eagle 2007 and 2008, couple extraordinary and regulars of the bar. I immediately like them…and for perhaps the first time I feel warmly welcomed at this big dark leather bar.
We chat for a while and words like “IML”, “St. Andrew’s cross”, and “dungeon” come up (!!!). They talk about their fundraising experiences as Mr. Eagle, their network of buddies in the community, and the various protocol associated with Leather. A whole world starts to open up to me and I love it….amazed at its depth and flavor.
Flash forward to a week later when I’m at their apartment looking at all their gear and getting ready to go to the Eagle. Peter and Rick invited me over to check out their gear/get dressed up for CODE and educate me some in the ways of kink (totally theoretical…they are very polite gentlemen). They show me harnesses and cuffs, jackets and pants, cockrings and singlets…I learn about weights and hoods and piercings. I finally choose a few pieces, put them on, and then head out the door.
We walk out of their building and into the summer night…three leathermen together. People shout and hollar…my face exploding with excitement…so thrilled to be with them, so thrilled to be in gear and participating in a whole new subculture.
From that night on, I’ve been at the Eagle’s CODE Thursday every week I possibly can. Rick and Peter have been my leather foster dads…teaching me, encouraging me, and inspiring me. They introduced me to a brotherhood where a man can find enjoyment and support. I’ve learned a lot since that night I was standing alone at the bar looking at myself in the mirror…and there’s truly a lot more to learn.
Becoming Mr. Eagle 2012 is my goal because the L.C. is such an awesome group and I would be honored and overjoyed to represent them. I also think a young Mr. Eagle would be an interesting and positive thing for the L.C. in the 21st century. I’m still shaping my vision…but have a great starting point. Onward we go.