Mr. TCL Contestants in Their Own Words
Kurt Patton became Minnesota’s newest leather titleholder during the Mr. Twin Cities Leather (TCL) 2019 competition on Saturday, Feb. 16 at The Saloon. Then, at Sunday’s Victory Brunch (also at The Saloon), Jude Stanek was presented with this year’s Robert “Bobbie” Smith Community First! Award.
The weekend was sponsored by Twin Cities Leather & Latte, The Saloon, and The Nicollet Diner. Lavender Magazine was the media sponsor. As Mr. Twin Cities Leather 2019, Patton will represent Twin Cities Leather & Latte and Minnesota’s leather community in the 41st annual International Mr. Leather competition (www.imrl.com), May 23–27, 2019 (Memorial Day weekend), in Chicago.
Although the contest judges could only select one new titleholder, all of the contestants represented themselves proudly, especially during the speech segment of the competition. Their words from the stage were authentic, inspiring, and powerful. Here are some excerpts from the evening’s speeches.
Contestant #1, Blake Hunter: “A community leader I respect and look up to has a phrase that he uses a lot: I am my brother’s keeper… I can honestly say I would not be up on this stage if I did not have the community that is here tonight… We as a community are marginalized from every direction, especially these days, with censorship, prejudice and just plain ignorance. And sometimes all we have is each other. I will take that phrase and make it more inclusive: I am my community’s keeper; we are each other’s keepers.”
Contestant #2, Ash: “I am a transgender man of color. I’m real. I’m human. I am alive. I want to use the restroom to safely pee in comfort. I want to get home safely, to not worry about who’s behind me while I’m walking down the street. I want to go on a date without someone asking me what’s in my pants as an icebreaker. I am a man. Respect and use my pronouns. They are not ‘preferred.’ They’re mine.”
Contestant #3, Kurt Patton: “Hello, community! I say ‘Hello, community’ tonight and not ‘ladies’ or ‘gentlemen’ or ‘those beyond the binary’… I say ‘Hello, community’ tonight because as I look over the faces in front of me in the audience, at all of you, I see more than any adjective can contain. Because we contain multitudes. And my definition of community contains those multitudes. Because it contains every person who feels that they should belong. And not only that, it doesn’t stop there. It makes space for those who don’t yet know they [belong].”
Contestant #4, The Urban Mayan: When I was little, my sister and I were both adopted from Honduras… Every morning I looked at myself in the mirror, and I asked myself, who am I? As a Latino adopted into a white family… was the color of my skin and my culture irrelevant?… Could I even consider myself a Mayan even though I lived thousands and thousands of miles away from my home territory?… Two years ago, my husband and I went to Chichen Itza, and I ran into a local man…. and he said ‘Welcome home.’ After having a long conversation with him… all of my insecurities washed away… I knew that I was complete. So, take a DNA test. Ask your family about your ancestors. Because it’s never too late to ask that very important question: Who am I?”
Contestant #5, Ray Charging Hawk: “One of my earliest childhood memories was of moving to a new school and trying to make new friends. I approached a girl with the same name as me and asked her to play. She replied, ‘You’re ugly and brown. I don’t want to play with you.’ That theme seemed to continue on throughout my life—from asking someone out on a date and getting the reply ‘Eww! No!’ to my ex-husband telling me he was ashamed to be seen with me because I looked like a boy. Over time I became angry and bitter. At the age of 11 I took my first drink of alcohol. And suddenly I was ten feet tall. I was handsome, and I was funny. I was everything I thought I wanted to be but wasn’t… Before I knew what had happened, I looked in the mirror to find a 31-year-old alcoholic who drank a bottle of Jack a day staring back at me. Sick and tired of being sick and tired, I made the life-altering decision to sober up one day at a time. Today, I stand before you on the two-year anniversary of that day, still sober and, more importantly, I stand before you as the authentic version of myself, not the person I think you want to see.”