Today, at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Creating Change conference in Atlanta, I was awarded their 2013 Leather Leadership Award. It is a moment in time and an award I will remember for a lifetime. The video recording of the awards ceremony is below. The award is presented within the first 20 minutes of the video.
I am still floating on air from this award. The entire text of my acceptance speech is also replicated below.
Thank you to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and to the people who voted to grant me this honor. This is truly one of the highlights of my life. I mean that.
Every so often life presents us with opportunities to do some good in the world. It’s up to us to grab on to those opportunities when they present themselves.
Little did I know, back in the early 70′s when I walked into my first leather bar, that it was the beginning of a journey that has not only provided me with an extremely rewarding sexuality and identity, but also with a collection of friends and associates that few on Earth would not find quite remarkable.
And while I get to mix and mingle alongside these remarkable people, both within the constituency that NGLTF directly represents as well as others, I get presented with the option to add my little bit of knowledge, experience and skill to improve the lives of leather men and women and the other kinksters that navigate within the same realm. I am forever grateful that I get to do that. Some have thanked me for the work I do, but I really need to thank everyone else for allowing me to do it because it fosters a passion in me that adds so much to my own life.
The myths and misconceptions about leather and kink sexuality are plentiful. I hear them all the time. Part of my work is to dispel those falsehoods among the general population at large, and also within the leather and kink communities themselves. What is heartening, with NGTLF having this award, is to know that what I consider the preeminent LGBT rights organization in our country considers those communities worthy of recognition and respect. To those who don’t consider themselves part of the leather community, I want to tell you that you have no idea how incredibly important that recognition is. NGLTF has historically done its work underneath a rather wide umbrella and you should all be proud that your collective minds are open and savvy enough to include the leather community as one of the many that deserve protection under the umbrella. My community thanks you.
On a personal level, I could thank many people. Many people. But out of respect for you listening to me here today, and because there is no way I could do justice to each and every one I could thank, and because undoubtedly I would neglect to thank someone I should have, I simply want to thank all of the men and women who have been integral to my life (they know who they are), both within the leather and kink scenes and without, for allowing me to be part of your lives. And I must in particular thank my two partners of 16 years who put up with this crazy person who likes to leap on the latest projects or passion as they both roll their eyes and say to themselves “there he goes again.”
Thank you, thank you, thank you. My community thanks you. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.