My roommate was doing some research and pulled out some old newsletters for GMSMA (Gay Male S/M Activists). Here’s a photo from 1987, 23 years ago. It was taken at Leather Pride Night, either the first or the fourth depending on how you count it: it was previously named Pride Night at the Spike, a fundraiser by NYC’s leather community held at its premier leather bar (in the days when there were several to choose from!) to benefit Heritage of Pride (HOP), the group that organized New York’s Lesbian and Gay March each year.
In just four years the event had outgrown the confines of the bar, and the indefatigable David Stein found it a home that year at The Saint, NYC’s famous gay disco, which previously had been the Fillmore East, and today is probably a bunch of overpriced condos. I was in charge of the publicity for the event and discussed the change with Brian O'Dell, one of GMSMA's founders and also an active member with HOP, and we decided to rename it Leather Pride Night, which I maintain is the first time "leather" and "pride" appeared alongside and in conjunction with each other as a concept or a name.
We worked very hard and set a new record, netting over $8,000 for HOP and organizational seed money for the first-ever Leather Contingent for that fall’s Gay March on Washington, on which weekend would also include a first-ever national conference for leather and kinky folk. In both cases, us leather queers and perverts were using the power of fundraising and donations (and lots and lots of argument) to buy us a seat at the table with other gays, many of whom were ashamed of this subculture and would just as soon have us remain in the closet, or worse.
Jesus on a dinosaur, where did that soapbox come from? Funny all the memories that come flooding back from a photo. Anyhow, where are they now?
“Drum” was a drawing by the talented artist Bill Ward, featured in comic pages for many years in Drummer magazine (which thanks to furr_a_bruin, you can see many of them here, NSFW). We asked him to donate a drawing, and he gave us a full-length portrait of Drum (hmmm, who looks suspiciously like wescobear!), which we made very good use of: he appeared on T-shirts for GMSMA’s Leatherfest event the previous fall, which were sold to raise money. And we thought it might be a fun idea to do a life-size blow-up of him, which for $5 people could get their picture taken with at Leather Pride Night. And both the original drawing and the blow-up were auctioned off at the event.
Pat Califia was one of the founders of Samois, San Francisco’s lesbian s/m
Brick was an active and enthusiastic member of GMSMA in its early years, but we lost him to AIDS.
Jo Arnone, one of the founders of Lesbian Sex Mafia (LSM), New York’s lesbian s/m group (which is still going strong!), has since moved out of New York but returns every year to emcee the Lesbian and Gay Pride March and serve as auctioneer for Leather Pride Night (which is still going strong!).
David Stein retired from GMSMA (which he helped found) after 15+ years of service in just about every capacity. He went on to write the health and safety column for Bound and Gagged magazine for many years, numerous other articles, and has since authored three books for gay leathermen, both erotica and non-fiction.
Ray Matienzo was one of GMSMA’s best Presidents, and although he retired to Florida, remained active with and supportive of GMSMA to its very end last year.
John Kenny, the official photographer for the event, moved to San Francisco many years ago, and is here on LJ as bigjohnsf. He and I thus go back at least 23 years, and since I don’t have much contact with Mary, Nelson, or Jim these days, John has ascended to the rank of My Oldest Friend, with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities that entails.