The fifth annual Minnesota Leather Pride (MNLP) weekend was held Aug. 9-11, 2019. As part of the weekend, on Saturday evening, Aug. 10, Minnesota’s leather community gained four new leather titleholders.
The MNLP titles are owned and sponsored by the community. For this fifth year of these titles, the contest weekend was moved from April to August. Also for 2019, the three existing titles (Minnesota Leather Sir, Minnesota Leatherboy and Ms Minnesota Leather Pride) were joined by a new title: Mx Minnesota Leather Pride, the first gender-non-binary title in Minnesota. (Mx, pronounced “Mix,” is an gender-neutral honorific used in place of Mr. or Ms for those not identifying as being of a particular gender.)
But this jam-packed weekend included much more than four separate concurrent leather title contests. On Friday evening, The Saloon hosted three events: the MNLP contest meet-and-greet gathering (emceed by Angie and Boy Woody), followed by a Twin Cities Rubberman social, followed by Leather Night at The Saloon. On Saturday at The Saloon, the weekend’s contestants participated in a community panel discussion moderated by Ryan Brown (Mr. Minneapolis Eagle 2013).
Other events at The Saloon on Saturday included a series of educational seminars presented by the Knights of Leather. Topics included working with chains in a BDSM scene; discovering your Erotic Empowered Persona (EEP); and The Good Touch Games, a discussion exploring the concept of consent. Also on Saturday at The Saloon was “A Space of Our Own: Building Healthy Communities, Leadership and Representation By and For People of Color”, a panel discussion featuring members of Twin Cities Spectrum.
On Saturday evening, the action moved to LUSH, starting with a BLUF Minneapolis monthly uniform social before the evening’s contests. A Saturday-evening victory party at Lush after the contests was combined with a cigar-smoking party presented by the Atons of Minneapolis on the Lush patio. And Sunday’s victory brunch at Lush was combined with Sundress Sunday, presented by the Twin Cities girls of Leather.
This year’s MNLP weekend included four contests and four contestants, one per title:
• Competing for Minnesota Leather Sir was Britt Sickman, a co-founder and vice-president of Twin Cities T-Rexx.
• Competing for Minnesota Leatherboy was Ray Charging Hawk, a full member of Twin Cities T-Rexx and Twin Cities Puppy Pack and an associate member of Twin Cities boys of Leather, Twin Cities girls of Leather, and Twin Cities Sirens.
• Competing for Ms Minnesota Leather Pride was Monica Malone.
• Competing for Mx Minnesota Leather Pride was Rylee Sickman, a charter member of Twin Cities T-Rexx and an associate member of Twin Cities Sirens.
The weekend’s panel of seven judges was a distinguished and diverse group: Red Bootblack (San Diego Bootblack 2017), Nathan Kendrick (Mr. San Diego Leather 2017), Daddy Sky Cotton (American Leatherwoman 2018), Perrin (International Mx Olympus Leather 2017), Boy Pugsley (Minnesota Leatherboy 2017), Mikayla Victoria Stanek (Ms Minnesota Leather Pride 2017), Dylan Dwiyn (Minnesota Leather Sir 2017 and Mr. Midwest Olympus Leather 2018). All of the judges judged all four contests.
Saturday evening’s contest at LUSH drew a crowd of at least 150 people, according to a representative of MNLP. The contest started with the traditional blessing by the The Ladies of the Lakes, a fully professed house of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The blessing was followed by an opening number by Slaymantha Fox, the evening’s emcee.
Judging categories for each contest were: private interview with the judges (held prior to the contest at the DoubleTree Suites Downtown Minneapolis, the host hotel for the weekend); contestant speech; fantasy performance; physique/pop question; and “social.”
Contestant speeches touched on topics including community history and growth, the importance of service as a pillar of the community, and the importance of making the community “radically welcoming” to everyone. Fantasy performances included a dramatization of gender-fluid sexuality (Rylee Sickmann), a superhero scene (Britt Sickmann), a construction worker and a sexy television show that becomes real (Monica Malone), and a Native American folk tale (Ray Charging Hawk).
According to MNLP contest rules, just because a title has only one person competing for it does not mean the title is automatically awarded to that contestant. A contestant with no challengers must earn enough judging points to qualify for their title. For each 2019 MNLP contest the maximum points possible was 460; contestants had to earn a minimum of 277 points (60 percent of available points plus 1 more) to be awarded the title. Happily, all of the 2019 contestants met that threshold and all four titles were awarded.
Of the evening’s four new titleholders, two are out-and-proud members of the trans community and one is gender-non-binary. Also of note, and another first for Minnesota: Two of the new titleholders, Rylee and Britt Sickmann, are a married couple.
There also is a fifth new Minnesota leather titleholder, although of a Wisconsin title. On the evening of Aug. 17, 2019, Allan Dahl became the new Mr. Northwoods 2019-2020. Dahl is a member of the Black Guard of Minneapolis.
The title was awarded at the Mr. Northwoods Contest, part of the annual Northwoods Campout presented by the Argonauts of Wisconsin. This year’s campout celebrated the 45th anniversary of the Argonauts, Wisconsin’s oldest GLBT organization.
As Mr. Northwoods, Dahl will compete in next year’s International Mr. Leather contest.