International Mr. Bootblack 2017 Ryan “Pawlish” Garner-Carpenter and International Mr. Leather 2017 Ralph Bruneau (Photo courtesy of IML)
CHICAGO — Ralph Bruneau, Mr. GNI Leather 2016, of Los Angeles won International Mr. Leather 2017 at Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre on Sunday, May 28. Ryan “Pawlish” Garner-Carpenter of Cincinnati was named International Mr. Bootblack.
Ralph came out on top of 63 contestants from 23 states and ten foreign countries. This year saw the first contestants from Finland and Brazil and the oldest contestant ever with Jon Brittain, Mr. Classic Leather 2017, competing at the age of 73. Other nations represented included Canada, the United Kingdom, Israel, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and Italy.
The first runner up for IML was Geoff Millard, Mr. San Francisco Leather 2017, and the second runner up was Joe King, Mr. Leather Europe. Rhys, Australian Bootblack 2017, was first runner up for IMBB.
For the first time, IML founder Chuck Renslow did not make his annual leather state of the union speech. Doctor’s orders kept him at home. The speech was given by Renslow family member Joe Cervantes. The speech focused on calling the leather community to resist the current political climate that has put conservative and far-right people into power in the country and to support organizations fighting for civil rights both in the U.S. and across the world.
Many of the contestant speech this year focused on inclusion of all members of the community, no matter their gender identity or race. The topic has been under discussion in many parts of the community and had been raised again over the weekend when IMsL 2014 Patty, one of this year’s judges, and her wife were the target of misogynist comments while making their way through the hotel.
The Midwest was well represented in the top 20 with contestants from Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Minnesota all making it into the finals.
Keep on eye on Great Lakes Den for more photos from the weekend.
Leather State of the Union