Southerland could bring International Mr. Leather title to Chicago

Tue. May 24, 2011 2:45 PM by Brett Anthony

jason southerland

photo credit // anthony meade
Chicago, IL - Jason Southerland, Mr. Chicago Leather 2010, continues his quest for the title of Mr. International Leather 2011 this weekend as thousands of leathermen invade the Windy City for the annual leather and fetish festivities.

"I'm looking forward to representing Chicago at IML," Southerland told's Anthony Meade during a recent photo shoot. "There has never been a Chicago winner at IML and I'm hoping to change that this year."

Southerland was born and raised in Ranchos Palos Verdes, California, where he admits to being a ‘surfer boy,' but now the 41-year-old leatherman calls Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood his home.

"Chicago people, like the city, are wonderful," he says. "They have been the most welcoming since I've been here." Southerland moved to Chicago by way of Boston and New York City. was told Southerland has a solid chance of winning the title for the city where it all began, a first in IML's thirty-three year history.

Southerland described the allure of the leather scene, which as he explained gives him opportunity to be himself "without all the hang-ups."  

"The leather scene is about brotherhood, it's about caring about one another, it's about being a part of something bigger than who you are as a person."

IML started in 1979 when about 400 gay leathermen gathered in Chicago for what has since become a global event. Last year more that 15,000 leathermen participated.

IML 2011 runs Friday, May 27 through Monday, May 30, 2011 (Memorial Day Weekend) in Chicago. 

Related: View photo gallery of Jason Southerland by Anthony Meade