Another year, another IML.
This year marked 14 years of me covering International Mr. Leather. That is a really long time. But, turns out there can still be IML firsts for those who started going when they were still young and skinny.
This is the first time I’ve collared someone at IML. Now, I have collared boys before, but the last boy I collared was <mumble> years ago. But this was the first time I collared them at the event and the first time I was able to be at IML with my boy. Felt pretty damn good.
The boy is Pup Bayard, one of the other writers on this site. (No, I don’t plan to collar every writer… though that could be an idea.) He and I started talking on a regular basis after he started contributing to the Den and as IML approached, I suggested putting a collar of protection on him. He agreed and the more we talked, the more it became more. He’s now wearing my collar of consideration. I’ve become very proud of him and all he does.
I put a collar on him as soon as he arrived in Chicago. There is an erotic feeling in collaring a person. The trust and faith they put on you. Being called Sir. I admit I got rather hard. Definitely happy about putting my collar on him.
In hindsight, doing in during IML might not have been the best timing. Because I also had houseguests, he had another pup under his wing, we were both covering the event for the website. So there wasn’t a lot of time together. We did get some, but not nearly enough. But there will be other times as we start to figure out how to see each other. And I’m looking forward to it. Even Jeff is doting on him and pups usually drive him nuts.
It was also the first time I had a truly organized team to cover IML. Two photographers, three writers. And the writers were totally on top of social media. They owned it, including live broadcast. I could not be happier with how they did over the weekend.
Of course, with IML, there is drama. And for once, I’m not really going to comment on it. I could say a LOT about it because no one is really coming out of it undamaged. But I’d rather focus on the new titleholders and the fact that Chicago FINALLY got onto the podium after 37 years.
There were ups and downs this year. The event drop has been brutal. And I’m still trying to catch up on sleep. But it was good. I got to see friends. I got to be myself. I got to collar my pup. Jeff had more fun this year than he has since our wedding four years ago. This was a good year. There’s just enough time to recover before next year.
Ruff Wray is the publisher and founder of Great Lakes Den. He lives in Chicago with his husband Jeff. He can be contacted at email@example.com.