Friday, July 24, 2009

International Mr. Leather bans barebacking

Posted By on 07.24.09 at 02:51 PM

According to the LGBT newspaper Chicago Free Press, the International Mr. Leather pageant is finally instituting a long-overdue policy prohibiting marketing that promotes unprotected sex.

"Any entity that advocates barebacking (condom-less anal sex) or distributes or sells any merchandise promoting barebacking is, effective immediately, banned from IML's leather market," Free Press reports, citing a letter sent to vendors at the annual event's leather market.

IML, which attracts contestants from around the globe, is one of the largest gay and lesbian events in the world—and a major tourist draw for Chicago. The centerpiece of the annual Memorial Day weekend gathering is a contest for the title of International Mr. Leather, but the leather market is a big factor in its success—as are parties and other social activities.

Quoting Free Press: "In a letter to vendors last week, IML president Chuck Renslow said that the policy change is in large part to help prevent future HIV infections." Free Press also says that Renslow—a longtime gay businessman who was my employer when I was editor of the now-defunct GayLife newspaper, which he owned—"was first inspired to change the policy through President Barack Obama's Act Against AIDS campaign, which emphasizes that every 9.5 minutes, a person in the U.S. becomes HIV-positive." The new policy will impact IML 2010's leather market.

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