A drag queen, a leather cop, and a boy walk together down the sidewalk each with their own unique posture and gait: she is elegant and smooth, he is strong and assured, and the boy struggles with the weight of the bags he’s carrying for them. They enter through the rotating glass door of the hotel and find a lobby buzzing with the activity of leather men and women preparing for the Mr. San Francisco Leather contest. Kisses and hugs are exchanged en route to the ballroom where final preparations are being put into place for the night’s events.
This year’s contest was hosted by Donna Sachet and Lenny Broberg–two of San Francisco’s notable community leaders and longtime friends. Being the lucky boy of Lenny’s, I got a backstage look into the contest and was able to see the proceedings from a more intimate perspective.
I sit and review the contestants’ info sheets with Sir as he gathers his notes for the evening. I read to him about their tattoos and piercing, their community involvement, and why they want to be Mr. San Francisco Leather. All four contestants have passion and heart for Leather and each one comes at it from a different angle. As I read over their bios I can’t help but ponder what I will write one day for my title application.
I pass through the dressing room of the contestants and see an entire wall lined with boots, pants, shirts, and all kinds of gear. Everything sitting quiet and ready…waiting for the rush and noise of the night. I meet the den-daddy and the boys who will help dress, primp, and calm the four men who have come tonight from different segments of the community to compete for the title. Everyone is so handsome and eager…and despite the fact this is a contest, the men are all gracious and brotherly to each other.
I help organize Sir’s clothes for the night and observe him and Donna planning their hosting routine. People come in and out of the dressing room asking questions, giving instructions, complaining about some little detail or laughing about some small infraction. As a boy I stand off to the side and quietly observe, soaking up the experience and smiling at the layers of friendship and drama that are so present in the community.
The night begins and I sit out in the audience–now on the other side of things. At intermission I dash upstairs to unlock the dressing room and help both Lenny and Donna change into their second half outfits. I zip up Donna’s red fairy tale ball gown and help tuck in Lenny’s brand new, completely official leather cop uniform. As I’m on my knees lacing up his boots Donna says, “You’re a lucky boy. There are lots of people who like to be where you are right now.” I smile and agree 🙂
The contest finishes, a winner is crowned, and I look around at all the brothers and sisters in their gear. It’s great to see the big turnout and the enthusiasm…and as people start to disperse I hate that there’s not time to see and talk to all the friends (old, new, and those yet to be) who are there.
Good contest, good insights. Good luck Darren!