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Are Leather Titles Necessary? - A Panel Discussion with Race Bannon, Joe Gallagher, Eric Paul Leue and Graylin Thornton


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Are Leather Titles Necessary? - A Panel Discussion with Race Bannon, Joe Gallagher, Eric Paul Leue and Graylin Thornton

  • SF LGBT Community Center 1800 Market St San Francisco, CA, 94102 United States (map)

Is a leather title necessary to take a leadership role?  What compels contestants to run?  What do we expect of titleholders and how has that changed over time? Are titleholders meeting the BDSM/Leather/Fetish community’s expectations?  Are there too many title contests?  What would the community look like without titles?  Could we improve the way we choose titleholders?

Recording of the event

Join us and our panelists for a conversation on these questions and more.  There will be time for Q&A, bring your questions for our panelists.  Or submit question suggestions in advance, by clicking here.

Please note the new location for this program: SF LGBT Community Center, 1800 Market Street.


Kinky sex has been one of RACE BANNON’s passions as a practitioner, organizer, writer, educator, commentator, activist and leader since his first explorations of the leather world starting in 1973. Race’s accomplishments include co-founder of the Kink Aware Professionals referral service; leader of The DSM Project that began to change how psychotherapy professionals view kink; author of Learning The Ropes: A Basic Guide to Safe and Fun BDSM Lovemaking; founder of Daedalus Publishing Company, the first company dedicated to publishing nonfiction leather/SM/fetish books; prolific writer; former sex advice columnist; former producer and host of the first kink internet talk show Bound To Talk; past Board member of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, NLA International and Avatar Club Los Angeles; co-founder of NLA Los Angeles; and member of Chicago Hellfire Club, The 15 Association, and Society of Janus.

 Race is the Board Chair for the Community-Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities and he sits on the Board of the Leather Hall of Fame. Recently Race was inducted into the Society of Janus Hall of Fame. He is featured in the documentaries Vice and Consent, Out of the Darkness: The Reality of S&M and Folsom Forever. Race is also a popular speaker who has delivered the keynote address for a number of events. He has been awarded the 2006 National Leather Association International's Lifetime Achievement Award, 2010 Mister Marcus Hernandez Lifetime Achievement Award (Man) Pantheon of Leather Community Service Award, the 2011 Philip M. Turner Lifetime Achievement Award, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Creating Change 2013 Leather Leadership Award.

 You can read some of Race's writings at or or in the Bay Area Reporter ( where he is the leather/kink columnist.

JOE GALLAGHER, a native of Philadelphia and a proud gay leatherman, had the honor in 1996 to represent New York as Mr Leather New York, winning the title of International Mr Leather that same year. He is an outspoken proponent of sexual freedom, using his year as IML to speak to BDSM and leather communities across the U.S. and Canada about the importance of being out about who we are and what turns us on. The first IML to come out as HIV-positive, Joe was on the board of Gay Male SM Activists from 1996 to 1998, the year he moved to San Francisco. He was founder and publisher of the legendary Leatherpage (.com) from 1997 to 2009, which served during those years as the website of record for the leather and BDSM communities. In 2004, he opened Joe’s Barbershop in the Castro, now celebrating its 10th anniversary. Joe and his husband Mike married in Brooklyn in 2011.

ERIC PAUL LEUE was born an East Berliner in ‘86. He has been in the Leather community since he was 18, first in Berlin, then London and now in his hometown, Los Angeles. He went on to be awarded Mr LA Leather after placing first in the Eagle LA Mr Leather title. He visited more than 40 communities in the US and Europe in the course of his title year and judged more than 20 contests.

He is a versatile switch with orange hanky, rides horses, motorcycles, and men.

During his title year he changed his career path after being reprimanded for his community work by his SF based corporate employers. created a new position for him as Director of Sexual Health and Advocacy, which focuses on bettering how sexuality and sexual health is approached.

Eric is probably most known for his straight forward, no-nonsense approach when it comes to PrEP. He has given interviews ‘in-sash’ for national and international news stations such as the BBC, writes a sexual health column for Bear World Magazine, and publishes on Leatherati, Huffington Post, The Leather Journal, and publications in France, Canada, the UK, and Germany.

“All I do I do without any Ego. I just want people to be healthy, happy, and enjoy loving the people they choose to, the way they choose to.”

GRAYLIN K. THORNTON, International Mr. Drummer 1993 (the only African-American to hold that title), is currently a board member of Leathermen's Discussion Group and produces their annual Fetish Fair Weekend. In 2009 Graylin received both the National Gay Lesbian Task Force Leather Leadership Award and a Pantheon of Leather Award.  Graylin was honored to be chosen the Official Community Grand Marshall for the 2011 San Francisco Pride Parade.

He is a founding member of the South Bay Leather and Uniform Group (SLUG), an Associate Member of the Chicago Hellfire Club, a former board member of New Leaf Services for the Community, an Emeritus National Board Member for the Leather Leadership Conference (LLC) and served on the planning committee for the first LLC in San Francisco.  Graylin is now working to bring an Onyx chapter to Northern California in 2015. He is a former producer of the first Ebony Leather Contest in San Francisco, Northern California Mr. Drummer, Southern California Leather Sir/boy, the first SLUG leather weekend and former chair of San Diego Leather Pride/Mr. San Diego Leather.

Over the past three decades, Graylin has participated, judged, MC’d, or taught workshops at leather events including International Leather Sir/boy and Community Boot Black, IML, IMsL, Northwest Leather Conference, International Master/slave, ABW, International Deaf Leather, MAL, MLT etc.  His greatest thrill, however, is to serve with the family of the Bay Area KINK community and continue the legacy of the men and women who entrusted the survival of our future to this generation.