By Cory David – Mr. Eagle Wilton Manors 2020/2021
Twenty-five years ago I purchased my first leather harness at 501 Eagle Indianapolis. Twenty-five years ago I attended my first International Mr. Leather (IML) Competition. A force of awareness for common causes and contagious love from the leather community became embedded in my soul. With my philanthropy background in LGBTQ+ causes, HIV/AIDS, and community, I felt a higher leather calling. Roughly 25 years later on February 1, 2020, I would win the title and honor of Mr. Eagle Wilton Manors.
At my first IML attendance, the term “Power of the Title” became clear to me. A title is less of an exercise in vanity, but a platform to reach a greater audience and take action on a shared common cause. It can take one individual voice, create a larger voice that otherwise may not have one of their own, and empowers a community into action.
Always understanding a leather title competition is a very serious decision to take. A title win comes with a responsibility to represent your community, title sponsor, city, or state with the highest of standards. If you look at contestants most will have things in common, some a passion in community, others overcoming personal obstacles, and most making a difference in their community. Having a platform is necessary with a solid direction of how you will make a positive difference.
Competition requires you to be the best in the categories of your precision to requirements, ability to explain your platform, and presence on stage. Now having a wide audience and opportunity to a community stage gives a voice for those that normally would not have one. Intrigued, my love for community service, and a leatherman, I started to wonder, “Could I do this? Do I have time? Do I have what it takes?”
Pondering a leather title run for years, with my competitive nature and always a good sportsman, I decided I would start planning my title run. To me this needed to be a well planned action and with all good will in mind. Attending competitions for years, knowing titleholders, event producers, one in particular inspired me.
Liam Mathews, Mr. Indiana 2017, was a titleholder after they had a 21-year competition hiatus. Liam earned the reigns with limited direction, or influence, and only a belief in himself. He jumped in, boots first, and gave the title a life. His fundraisers, appearances, and community service proved the “Power of the Title.” Today he still continues to support his community and common causes.
In competition, I knew I may not swim like Phelps, drive like Andretti, or throw like Manning. However, as a leatherman and a community activist I had something to say for those silent voices. My goal was and is to make a difference. 2020 was a rough year and everyone has done their best with their abilities. Now awarded a two-year term, due to this unfortunate pandemic and very honored to continue my community efforts and represent Eagle Wilton Manors, I hope so far I have made you all proud.