Joint Interview: Ryan Brown, Mr. Minneapolis Eagle 2013 and Kyle Truss, Mr. Twin Cities Leather 2013
This column is a double interview with the two local titleholders (also known as sash brothers) who will be representing Minnesota at the International Mr. Leather (IML) contest in Chicago, Memorial Day weekend. Ryan Brown is Mr. Minneapolis Eagle 2013, and Kyle Truss is Mr. Twin Cities Leather 2013.
Who is helping each of you prepare for IML?
KT: My club brothers, the Atons, are really stepping forward. Anything I need—I just have to ask. The Knights of Leather are helping out with morale support. They’re a pansexual group, so they’re not tied to IML as closely as the Atons are, but they’re still behind me one hundred percent. The local community has really stepped up and said whatever you need, just ask and we’ll help. It’s been very, very exciting.
RB: I have to agree with exactly what Kyle said. The local community has been awesome. Everyone is willing to help out and be a part of my journey as long as I’m willing to ask.
What do each of you want to accomplish with your title?
KT: The Twin Cities Leather title is owned by Twin Cities Leather, the local fetish shop. Their motto is “Community First,” and that’s kind of what I’ve always embraced with what I do. That’s why I work with Leather Pride—to be a part of the larger community. Part of what I want to do with my title is that there’s always seemed to be this divide between the gay leathermen and the pansexual leather groups. I’d like to pull both communities closer, and see more gay men at pansexual events and more pansexuals at queer events.
RB: One thing I’ve gotten passionate about, based partly on my travels, is seeing other communities and the amount of community-based education they do. I want to see more of that here in the Twin Cities. I had the great opportunity to host a rope event at the Eagle, and I was blown away by the turnout at the event—especially considering how quickly it came together. There was less than a week of advertising for it, yet we had fifty-five guys at the bar. That said to me that there’s a real hunger for more opportunities for knowledge.
How are each of you involved in the local community?
KT: Basically through my work with MN Leather Pride. One of the things Leather Pride is looking at doing is to not focus everything on the week before Twin Cities Pride—to have workshops, demos and classes all throughout the year. I’m also a member of the Atons and an associate member of the Knights, my brothers and sisters.
RB: HIV stigma has been a huge piece of what I’ve been doing, even before becoming Mr. Minneapolis Eagle. I’m involved with the Mr. Friendly project to reduce HIV stigma, and now I’m also on the Community Action Board of the Minnesota AIDS Project. Today I was at the state capitol meeting with legislators, talking about the importance of funding not only for continuing AIDS prevention efforts, but also for the quality of care for people living with HIV. I’ve also done the Red Ribbon Ride. And if Spring ever gets here, softball season will be starting—I play with the Minneapolis Unicorns.
What are your thoughts as you look forward to IML?
KT: Mostly panic. I just want to make sure that I’m not trying to be anything other than who I am, and kind of keep myself in check so that I’m not trying to put on a show when I get there—just remember to be authentic. Yes, to care about what other people think, but not to the point where I’m changing who I am deep down.
RB: In the lead-up to IML, there isn’t a whole lot different than what I’m already doing. There’s a little bit of traveling involved. I’m continuing to learn about the community. I’ve got some fundraising events coming up for the Aliveness Project next week. And I’ll be continuing to chat with people in the community. I agree with what Kyle said—gotta be yourself, there’s no one else to be.
What IML send-off events will each of you be having?
Ryan: My send-off party will be Saturday, May 11, 9:00 P.M. at the Eagle-Bolt Bar, which coincides with Gear Night at the Eagle.
Kyle: My send-off party is still being scheduled, so people should check my Facebook page or my blog for details [see below].