IML not gathering for traditional Memorial Day weekend; pushing for Nov. 11-14

Tue. May 25, 2021 10:09 AM by Gerald Farinas

iml on hold for second year

photo credit // anthony meade

'Your safety and peace of mind remain our first priority,' say organizers

International Mr. Leather—popularly known as IML—will take a pause for another Memorial Day weekend.

Organizers are planning to hold off on their annual convention and exhibition until November 11 to 14—barring any new pandemic circumstances.

The Chicago-based event brings together leather culture devotees from other countries for workshops, exhibits, social gatherings, and a pageant of contestants for the title, “International Mr. Leather.” Also in competition is the title of “International Mr. Bootblack” (IMrBB).

Throughout the world, bars and taverns, local clubs and organizations, have sponsored grassroots leather competitions. Winners advance to Chicago for the international title.

What once was mostly an American and European interest has now grown to qualifying leather competitions in all regions.

“We continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on large events. As we have all learned, there is not a guarantee gatherings of our size will be allowed by authorities or that international travel will resume by Memorial Day,” IML says.

“Our hopes of being back together in May as a tribe have once again been blindsided by uncertainty,” IML continued in its statatement as it announced its November dates. “We cannot wait to see our tribe in person again.”

“Your safety and peace of mind remain our first priority.”

It is not yet clear if IML will create vaccine requirements, as has been announced by Lollapalooza and Pitchfork Music Festival.

Ticketholders at those events must show proof of SARS-CoV-2 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test 24 hours before attending each day.

Both music festivals also made legal disclaimers that attendees waive their right to sue organizers for acquiring COVID-19 and its variants, suffering severe illness, or even death.

IML has been convened annually since 1979—largely as a fetish event. It has always included the BDSM community.

Its forerunner was a Chicago bar competition hosted by Chuck Renslow and partner Dom Orejudos called “Mr. Gold Coast.”

IML 1989 was a landmark year with the introduction of the leather Pride flag.

IMrBB was introduced at IML 1993.

Tyler McCormick, a transgender man who competed as Mr. Rio Grande Leather, took the IML title in 2010.

Any profits made from annual IML events are donated to the Leather Archives and Museum—in the far North Side neighborhood of Rogers Park.

The most recent International Mister Leather is Jack Thompson—previously the Leatherman of Color titleholder.

The most recent International Mister Bootblack is Kriszly de Hond of The Netherlands. He was previously XXXLeather's House Bootblack titleholder—as well as Mr. Puppy European Union.