Over Memorial Day weekend, I had the pleasure of attending several events for International Mr. Leather (IML). As I have probably mentioned before, one of the steps of the coming out process is integration--you want to see yourself as a part of society. The patrons who partake in the festivities at IML are no exception. Leather, fetish, bondage, rubber, role play...it's all a subculture of the LGBTQ community and the sex-positive culture. While there were many displays of fetishes that I do not particularly understand, there was such an inclusive environment created. To each his own, but I know I don't need to put electrodes on my privates nor clamps on my nipples to have great sex. A little pain is fun, but too much hurts!
IML was hosted at the Marriott in downtown Chicago this year. Pretty much the entire hotel (a very large high rise) was booked for this event and was filled with men in jockstraps and bears in leashes and guys in animal masks and everyone in leather harnesses. Even the hotel lobby was like a nonstop nightclub the entire weekend. There were kinky sex and fetish parties in almost every room and lots of booze and other intoxicants. It's a very sex-positive culture. I'm so used to seeing this stuff in small doses, but it was fascinating to finally go to this event after so many years of wanting to see it in person on such a grand scale. I'm somewhat desensitized from scenes like these, but when I step back and think about where I grew up I realize how extreme this truly is!
Everyone was so comfortable in their own skin no matter the shape of their bodies. And everyone you would meet was so kind and nonjudgmental which can be refreshing in the gay world. For more pictures, check out the Archives page!