Celebrating IML: Meet Five Heroes From The Leather Community

This weekend the International Mr. Leather competition, or IML as participants call it, is upon us! Founded by Chuck Renslow in 1979, the Chicago-based event draws thousands of leather fans from around the world.While many partake in IML just to have fun, some participants and title holders have used it as a platform for advocating for LGBT causes. It’s also a surprising example of queer diversity, with attendees crossing ethnic, age and even gender boundaries. (2010 IML titleholder Tyler McKormick is a wheelchair-bound trans man.)

Earlier this year we profiled five heroes of the leather community who are more than just pretty faces in harnesses—they’re using the spotlight to draw attention to vital issues. With everyone going hog wild in the Windy City, we thought we’d revisit these rawhide radicals

Click through to meet some heroes of the leather community

Photo: Michael Skiff


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  • jason

    I don’t consider them heroes at all. I consider them fetishists with a huge vanity streak. They exploit the misery of cows for the purpose of an event and an “award” from someone whose mouth drops leather purses when he speaks. I have no respect for the participants or their fetishes.

    Leather fetishists should stop shrouding their vanity streaks in the dignity of the gay rights notion.

  • TMO

    @Jason: MMM MMM this bacon cheeseburger sure is delicious!

  • jason


    Yes, I eat meat. But that’s not vanity. Humans eat meat out of necessity.

    These leather queens are all about saying “look at me, I said look at me, dammit”. A cow had to die to serve their egos.

  • MikeE

    @jason: there’s one particular cow I can easily imagine going the way of the dodo.

  • Max


    True, but as the article points out they’re using their vanity and drive for self-promotion for noble ends. Heroes? Perhaps not. Anti-heroes? I can go with that.

  • SteveC

    There’s no such thing as a ‘leather community’.

    Having a fetish for leather is not a sexual orientation.

    Still though – those folk are heroes. They are LGBT heroes who have a fetish for leather.

  • Eric in Chicago

    I would add Mr. Michigan Leather 2009 and current IML judge Dave Watt as a “Hero” in the leather community. He not only works for an HIV/AIDS organization but created MR FRIENDLY to reduce the stigma of HIV and encourage testing. (you can join Mr Friendly on FB). He travels all over the country trying to fight the Stigma of HIV. Beyond that he’s the nicest (and hottest) man you’ll ever meet. He’s awesome sauce.

  • Eric in Chicago

    @jason: You are a sad judgemental person. Nothing about what you said is true. The increase in neoprene and rubber at leather events is also a fact. Just an FYI. There are plenty of masculine men in the leather community. I know a lot of them. I dare you to say it to their faces.

  • Eric in Chicago

    @SteveC: If you don’t think there is such a thing as a leather community then you don’t know people in the leather community. I haven’t seen a group that gives back or supports one another as much as the leather community does.

  • Daez

    @jason: The vast majority of leather is taken as a byproduct from the meat industry. There is no reason to raise cattle just for leather. Unless you are also vegan.

  • Oh, ok

    Jason is Cam and Villa. Just a sad troll with multiple personalities saying dumb things for attention.

  • jason

    I’m sorry but these leather events are often masks for unfettered sexual activity. I suspect many of the participants look forward to their hotel room trysts as much as they do to winning the competition.

    And, please, don’t give me this bull about how concerned some of these leather guys are about AIDS. LOL. That’s like an arsonist putting out a statement about the need to reduce kindling. It’s not believable.

    Many of these leather guys actually create the conditions which cause illnesses.

  • shannon


  • Eric in Chicago

    @shannon: Obviously you haven’t been to IML in Chicago – there are so many hot men you don’t know where to look first!!!

  • Eric in Chicago

    @jason: What’s wrong with people looking forward to hotel room trysts? Nothing. Winning the contest is about so much more than that – just read the experience of anyone who has won. You don’t know what you’re talking about. Your satement about leather and AIDS is really ignoranat as well – lots of Leather sex include things that have nothing to do with exchanging fluids or risk of HIV/AIDS.

  • Mike

    LMAO IML and the “Leather Community” are all about vanity, how many leather contests you win as a sash queen, and about how much money you spend on expensive leather clothing that you wear in contests.

    A lot of men who are into leather and/or BDSM such as myself find the contests like IML to be a total joke and they pretty much always have been.

    Most people who go to IML could care less about the contest but they just want to hook up. If they practice safer sex or decide not to that is their choice.

  • IML Veteran

    I agree with comment #16 since it’s true.

    I’ve been to IML a few times over various decades and IML/leather and such events are not about leather and or fetishes/kinks or consensual BDSM but about primadonna sash queens on stage wearing very expensive pieces of leather, and it’s always been about hooking up first and foremost.

  • Martin

    LMAO not surprisingly IML is not the type of event where gay and bisexual men who are actually masculine and into leather go to. Then again many people who are into leather and/or BDSM such as myself find leather contests to be a total joke.

  • Peter

    Eric in Chicago-The leather “community” does not give back. Sure they may have very expensive cover charges that they claim go to charities or non-profit orgs but if you’ve ever researched where most of the money that gets donated to charities and non-profit orgs goes very little if any actually goes to the people that these groups are set up and supposed to help and most of it goes to the people who are in charge of these charities and orgs.

    Chuck Renslow owns a bath house, makes lots of money from this bath house and from IML and his bath house freely allows people to bareback and use meth.

  • Tyler

    @Eric-You have no idea what you’re writing about. I have met A LOT of men who go to IML and they tell me how they like to do it bb/raw or have anal sex without condoms and a lot of them are into meth, and fist or get fisted up the ass without gloves and could care less about their own sexual health let alone the sexual health of all the men they do it raw with.

  • Jeff

    Damn Danny Logan isn’t even 30 and he’s HIV+ and has been for awhile, that’s just sad. If he wanted to be a bug chaser and intentionally become HIV+ which is what happened that’s his choice to be an idiot.

    Secondly he’s a drag queen, not masculine at all, and shouldn’t be in any sort of leather contest.

  • Donald

    WTF is a woman or Tra nny like “Tyler McCormick” doing entering in IML?

    I guess this now means that if I or any other men want to enter leather contests for women we have every right to do so now. ;)

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