International Mr. Leather
(IML) is officially cancelled for 2021—nixing plans for a November date. International Mr. Bootblack (IMBB) will also be canceled.
After abandoning the traditional Memorial Day weekend for the world leather community's international convention this year, IML and IMBB were planned for November 11 to 14 instead.
However, Renslow Charitable Foundation told GoPride.com that the November date would not work.
“This decision was not made lightly and has more to do with the overall impact on the event itself and less to do with the aftermath of the pandemic,” they said in a statement.
Organizers said that logistically, the smaller space for a traditional leather and kink marketplace, and reduced hours for sales at the exhibition, would not be financially feasible for vendors.
They also said, “The financial impact to our guests in possibly attending two IML weekends six months apart” was a major factor.
There was concern for participants and potential winners of the IML and IMBB title competitions.
Gerald “Daddy G” Cernak was Mr. Chicago Leather 2017 and a former contender for IML.
“This decision is in the best interest of leather community, for sure,” Cernak told GoPride.com.
“I feel if the contest did happen in November of 2021 and another in May 2022, it would mean the potential winner would have a very short-lived title year."
Cernak, a committed volunteer for the Leather Archives and Museum, 6418 N. Greenview Ave., expressed concern for the main benefactor of the convention and exhibition.
“Since IML and IMBB are a funding source for the Leather Archives and Museum, it also means another near of no additional income,” he shared.
“But just like with many other obstacles our community has had, we'll find other ways to raise additional funds that'll help LA&M continue to preserve our history.”
IML executive staff said, “Everyone working on and for IML is a close family—and we, like many of you, are taking this decision hard.”
“Our event is truly a labor of love—and we know there will be some who passionately disagree with this decision,” they continued. “We understand and respect those opinions, but we have always promised we would return when it was both smart, as well as safe.”
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.
IMBB 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 Mr. Leather is Jack Thompson—previously the Leatherman of Color titleholder.
The most recent International Mr. Bootblack is Kriszly de Hond of The Netherlands. He was previously XXXLeather's House Bootblack titleholder—as well as Mr. Puppy European Union.