Chuck Renslow (1929-2017) was a gay businessman best known for cofounding International Mr. Leather with his romantic partner Dom Orejudos, and cofounding the Leather Archives & Museum with Tony DeBlase.
In 1958, Renslow and his romantic partner Dom Orejudos bought Gold Coast Show Lounge in Chicago and transformed it into America’s first gay leather bar, called the Gold Coast bar, with a uniform/western/leather dress code, a backroom, and homoerotic art (by Orejudos) on the walls. The forerunner of International Mr. Leather was the 1970s “Mr. Gold Coast” bar contest held at the Gold Coast bar. The “Mr. Gold Coast” contest became one of the bar’s most popular promotions causing the need to locate the competition to a larger venue (starting in 1979), and title change to International Mr. Leather.
In 1963 Renslow and Orejudos launched Mars, an overtly leather-focused magazine. They also produced non-explicit gay-themed 16mm movie shorts, written and directed by Orejudos.
In 1965, Renslow was a founder of the gay leather club called the Second City Motorcycle Club, which was also in Chicago and was the first such club not on the West Coast.
Renslow founded Chicago’s August White Party on August 8, 1974, when he hosted a party to celebrate his birthday and thank his patrons. It was then held for the next 36 years until 2010. The largest of those parties was held in 1979 at Navy Pier with 5,000 participants.
In 1991, Renslow was inducted into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame.
In 1992, he received the President’s Award as part of the Pantheon of Leather Awards.
In 1993, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the Pantheon of Leather Awards.
In 1995, “Chuck Renslow – IML” (among others) received the International Deaf Leather Recognition Award.
In 1996, he and Jim McGlade received the Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the Pantheon of Leather Awards, and in 2007 Renslow received it alone.
In 1998, he received the Forebear Award as part of the Pantheon of Leather Awards.
In 2009, he was inducted into the Leather Hall of Fame.
In June 2019, Renslow was one of the inaugural fifty American “pioneers, trailblazers, and heroes” inducted on the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor within the Stonewall National Monument (SNM) in New York City’s Stonewall Inn. The SNM is the first U.S. national monument dedicated to LGBTQ rights and history, and the wall’s unveiling was timed to take place during the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.
Renslow is listed as the Chairman In Memoriam of the Leather Archives & Museum. The museum also gives out the Chuck Renslow President’s Award to honor individuals and organizations for their contributions to it.