Thursday, October 29, 2009


Dr. Jennifer Tyburczy, Ph.D., Joins the Leather Archives & Museum as Director of Programming

Chicago, IL - October 22, 2009 - Dr. Jennifer Tyburczy joins the Leather Archives & Museum [LA&M] staff shortly after successfully earning her Ph.D. from Northwestern University's Department of Performance Studies where she specialized in gender and sexuality studies.

At the LA&M, Tyburczy continues to pursue her theoretical scholarship while at the same time mobilizing educational programming that appeals to leather/kink/fetish communities as well as scholars and researchers. She ultimately wants to continue the LA&M's current function as a community center and establish the LA&M as the premier institute for conducting research on alternative sexuality in the United States.

"We're excited to have Dr. Tyburczy on board. Her experience and expertise will heighten the quality of educational programming and research opportunities the Leather Archives strives to bring its patrons" said Executive Director Rick Storer.

Tyburczy's articles on sexuality, visual culture, and the exhibition of sexual artifacts in museums have appeared in numerous journals, encyclopedias, and newsletters. She joins the LA&M staff as a teacher with over eight years of experience in the university classroom where she has taught classes as diverse as "Gender and Performance," "Sexuality and Visual Culture," and "Exhibiting Sexualities."

Tyburczy's dissertation work, entitled, "Exhibiting Sexualities: Pleasure, Power, and Performance in Museums," is the first full-length investigation of a group of museums in the Americas dedicated to the exhibition of sexuality. It describes how museums adopt and adapt certain themes, contexts, and display technologies to exhibit sexuality for diverse museum audiences.

About the LA&M : The Leather Archives & Museum is a unique museum, library and archives with collections centered on leather, fetishism and sadomasochism. For more information, please visit

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I'm not easily excitable, but I made a point of watching the CNN coverage of the President's signing ceremony today, October 28, as he put his name to the Mathew Shepard - James Bird Hate Crimes Legislation. As I watched the event on CNN, I also listened to coverage on Michael Signorile's Out-Q radio show.

The measure expands current hate crimes law to include violence based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. To assure its passage after eleven years of frustrated efforts, Democratic supporters attached the measure to the must-pass defense policy bill over the steep objections of many Republicans.

The president signed the bill using ten (I think) pens, and my heart pounded. When the various people standing around him, including the Secretary of Defense and many military officers, began to applaud I confess that I also applauded here at my desk. I'm not convinced that the bill will have any practical effect, that it will actually lead to a reduction in hate crimes, however, America should be as much about its ideals and its ideas. The Equal Protection of law and the constitution should be guaranteed for everyone. This bill takes another step in the right direction.

I have not always been a big supporter of President Obama. Despite his claims, he is no "fierce advocate" for our community. His administration has offered a very homophobic defense of DOMA; he's done nothing to halt "Don't Ask, Don't Tell;" he's remained totally silent about events taking place now in Maine and in Washington State that would strip gay people of hard-won rights in those states. For all the many promisees he made to our community, his feet must be held to the fire.

But today, this afternoon, I'm grateful to the president for taking this action. I'm grateful, also, to Senator Edward Kennedy, who championed this legislation for so many years before his death, and to Judy Shepard, who worked tirelessly to achieve this goal. This is a bright day for the Gay Nation.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mr. Louisiana Leather - A Partial Review

I'm writing this from New Orleans. My partner has had a business conference down here since the past Friday, and I've tagged along. A few days before we left, on an impulse, I checked the Calendar of Events in the Leather Journal and discovered that we were in town just in time for the annual Mr. Louisiana Leather Contest. Yippee! Now I would have dropped by the Phoenix/Eagle in any case, because my partner had never been there. This gave us an excuse to pack some leather.

Our schedule was tight, but we dressed in appropriate attire and headed to the Phoenix for Friday night's contestant meet-and-greet. The Phoenix has long been one of my favorite leather bars, and I was eager to see how it had changed in the five years since my last visit. Our hotel is on Canal Street near Harrah's Casino on Canal Street, and the Eagle is at the farthest end of the French Quarter in an area called Marigny. So we took a cab. The driver knew exactly where to go.

We were greeted by a very friendly pair of doormen. That was just the beginning. New Orleans is friendly country. The Phoenix is the downstairs bar, and the area was packed with men in leather and denim, many gathered around the pool table. The Phoenix also has an outdoor patio, which is new to me. It lends extra space and is a much welcome addition.

Up a steep flight of steps is the Eagle. Careful here - the ceiling is low and the stairway narrow, as if to give warning that you're entering a different world. The Eagle is dark and darker and sometimes, darkest, depending upon the bartender's mood. A jail cell adorns one corner. Customers sit or stand around a bar or lean on a long rail. At times, it can be hard to see each others' faces. However, Friday night the lights were just a bit brighter.

A very nice woman sat at one end of the bar, and she promptly beckoned me over. Why not? She was surrounded by attractive men. Her name was Toni Pizani. Something of a grandmotherly type, she introduced me to the other guys close by, who turned out to be members of the legendary Lords of Leather. I enjoyed her company quite a lot and enjoyed talking with the Lords. I may have to write a post about them. One of the oldest leather groups in the south, they are the first official gay mardi gras krewe. They do a lot of charity work down here, as well.

Toni, it turned out, was also one of the judges for the weekend's leather contest.

Now, as my subject line says, this is only a partial review of the event. In the crowded bar, I could not get the names of the other judges, nor were they familiar to me. Same thing for the five contestants. I had talked with several of them, but I didnt write down their names. I'm hoping to have that information soon for an update.

After the contestants and judges were introduced, the crowd began to thin out a little. A half hour later, my partner and I also headed out. The main event, the competition itself, was scheduled to take place the next evening at a different bar a giant disco called OZ in the French Quarter. I'm afraid that we declined to pay the $15 per person cover charge to view the final, not because of the cash, but because of the smoke.

Which brings me to my only problem with New Orleans bars. Both my partner and I have gotten so used to non-smoking bars in the major cities. It startled us to walk into the clouds of haze that fill the bars down here. The Phoenix/Eagle is still one of the great leather bars in the country, and the people are wonderful. However, between that bar and the numerous others we've visited, my eyes haven't burned so much in years, and I've got a suitcase full of stinking clothes.

So the Phoenix/Eagle gets an A+

Ms. Toni Pizani gets an A+ (read her column in the AMBUSH)

The hot men at the event get an A+

But the smoke gets an F. Get with the times, New Orleans. People don't want to breathe this shit anymore.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Video from the March on Washington

Watch more AOL News videos on AOL Video

This raw video is courtesy of AP.

I wasn't able to attend the march, but I did listen to Obama's speech to HRC on a live CNN broadcast. I was very moved and proud as I listened to it over the radio with my partner. Afterward, however, the speech felt - empty. The speech was sharply delivered, yet ultimately Obama said nothing new. I want to hope. Maybe the passage of the hate-crimes legislation, once that vote is finalized, will shine a brighter light on things. But hate crimes legislation can't be enough. We have to continue to hold Obama's -- and the rest of the democrats' -- feet to the fire. The must move forward on the promises they made to us, and not just the small, easiest ones.

To those who marched today, thank you.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


This video is entitled "Will You March With Us in Washington?" Unfortunately, I will not be there. But my heart will be there with thousands of my gay brothers and sisters. These are the warriors of the gay community, the fighters. Out men and women, they are putting their bodies and their dollars on the front lines of the gay movemebt to fight for our rights in our nation's capital.

October 11 is National Coming Out Day. In its own quieter way it is as important as our Gay Pride celebrations because it reminds us of who we are, where we've come from, and where we have yet to go. It also provides one more opportunity to remind the broader straight society that we are here and we're not going away.

So much is on the line right now. In Maine we're fighting another effort to overturn our hard-won right to marry. In Washington state, we're fighting a right-wing effort to strip away domestic partner rights. A bill to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has just been introduced in congress. Several court cases across the country have been launched to repeal the hateful Defense of Marriage Act. In Washington, D.C. the city council is almost certain to approve same sex marriage, but that will have to be defended -- just as we have to defend every gain we've made in every state and city and town in America.

We've come a long way. But as we learned in California with Proposition 8, our gains can often be taken away with a simple vote.

Where ever you are this weekend -- on the street, in a theater or museum, in a restaurant or a bar -- remember those marchers in Washington. Power concedes nothing without action.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Gay Marine - A Profile In Courage

Tim Smith, a four-year Marine, was just days away from assignment in Iraq a Marine chaplain betrayed a confidence and revealed to Smith's superiors that Smith was gay. Smith was honorably discharged and returned to his home in Memphis, Tennessee where he now attends university.

In a story that has now made national and international headlines, Tim Smith once again donned full Marine and appeared on a Memphis billboard, along with a message that said, "I'm gay and I protected your freedom." A plain simple and TRUE statement.

Then, some cowardly bigot ripped the billboard to shreds in the dark of night.

Smith says he expected some backlash, but nothing quite like this. “As a gay veteran, I have to be able to speak for those still serving in uniform that aren't able to." He added, "It was more or less shock and then it turned to righteous indignation and anger towards whoever had done it and that the act had even been committed,” says Smith.

It's not the first time Smith has faced adversity because of his sexual orientation. He was kicked out of the Marines under the 'Don’t Ask, Don't Tell policy' -- less than a month before he was supposed to deploy to Iraq.

“It was the result of a minister pushing the issue of my being gay and being allowed to continue to serve,” says Smith.

Despite the billboard's destruction, Smith says he feels the attitude towards gay people is changing. “I think the person or persons who did this are of a dying breed and that kind of hate is a dying hate.”

Smith says there have not been any threats made against him, and he's not afraid.

The billboard has gone back up, along with four other billboards with different messages, all in time for National Coming Out Day.

Memphis police say they are investigating this as a theft of property. Right now, it has not been classified as a hate crime. Duh. Memphis police have their heads up their asses.

Friday, October 2, 2009

World War II Vet Speaks Up for Gay Marriage

This is a remarkable statement by an 86 year old veteran of World War II giving testimony in Maine on behalf of Maine Equality. Listen to his response when someone asked him outside a voting booth if he believed in equality for gays and lesbians.