On Friday evening, April 30th, I had the pleasure to attend, along with my partner, the 35th anniversary celebration of Kansas City's oldest leather club, the KC Pioneers. The event took place in the second floor bar of Missy B's, one of the largest and most popular of Kansas City's gay establishments. Missy B's is owned by Mike Burns, a longtime member and supporter of the KCPioneers.
Mike Burns (right) with Ron Davis (left)
It was great to visit with good friends and also with members of the community we don't see as often anymore, but who turned out for the special celebration. Jan and Mike welcomed us warmly right away. I always enjoy talking with Jan, a terrific photographer and community documentarian whose work often appears in Kansas City gay magazines.
Jan (on right) Joey (on left)
Two huge tables were set up in the middle of the dance floor, and a remarkable quantity of food, all of it made by the Pioneers' members, was set out. A separate table with cakes and other desserts was set up at the end of the dance floor. Ron and I filled our plates and joined good friends Joey Kraley and Dan McMurtry at a corner table to catch up and share news over bites and drinks.
Ron, Dan, Russ, Joey
Two leatherboys from the Texas Lone Stars were also present. Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to speak with them. The publisher of KC Exposures attended, as well. But best of all an old friend from the past, a nurse named Nancy, attended. Some years ago, during the height of the cowboy dance craze, Nancy was my favorite dance partner. Later, during a medical crisis, she was also briefly my nurse. I had not seen her in ten years. I spotted her first and snapped two photos before she turned around to see where the flash was coming from. Then she stared for a moment before her eyes widened. It was great to catch up and learn that she's doing well. As with everybody, ten years is a long time, and much has changed in our lives.
Nancy and friend
And that thought perhaps was foremost in my mind throughout the evening. There were friends and Pioneers' members not present. Some of passed on. Others have changed to the point that I didn't recognize them. One table had been set aside for the club's copious photo history - books of photographs from meetings, runs, picnics and gatherings through the years. Those photos represented an amazing trip through time.
In some ways, this anniversary celebration represented the closest thing Kansas City has ever had to a "Leather Family Reunion." Indeed, such a "reunion" might be an idea to pursue on its own terms sometime in the future when all the leather clubs and all the leather enthusiasts could come together as one tribe.
But I'm grateful for this one night and for the invitation extended to me to participate. I am not a member of the KC Pioneers, but I've always done my best to support their activities and their goals. They've raised a lot of money for all the various gay causes in this town, and they've helped to foster and maintain a sense of leather community here. I count them as friends, and I wish every one of them well. Thank you, KC Pioneers.