A lot of New York City boys no doubt have their own ideas about life in America below the Mason Dixon Line… especially when it comes to attitudes about the Leather scene and the GLBT community in general. As a Southern Leatherman, what does Sam Clemons, the newly sashed Mr. Bluegrass Leather 2011, have to say about it? The 46-year old Kentucky native tells me, “Leathermen and Leatherwomen in the Midwest and South seem to be more accepting. It‘s more about Southern hospitality, fundraising, and being inclusive of all groups with the community.” What stereotypes or myths would he like to debunk? “The main stereotype I personally don’t see as a Leatherman is that we are all horndog fuck machines out for one thing as a Titleholder.” (Hmmm… as if that were a bad thing!) Clemons adds, “ I am proud to be a community and state Titleholder. With this title, I pledged to serve my community and to educate those who I can reach. Sex is great obviously, but being a Titleholder isn’t about that for me.” Indeed, Sam takes his job as a role model quite seriously. He recently spoke to me about his philanthropic endeavors, his goals for the new year, and why he won’t be going with me to start a Leather club in Hawaii anytime soon!
JR: Congratulations again on your Title of Mr. Bluegrass Leather 2011. How has the Title year been treating you so far? SC: Thank you Jed. So far, things are going pretty well. Not long after I won the title, I moved to Lexington – so its been a very hectic few months. Title wise, things are starting to kick into gear.
JR: Since winning, do you find that you get hit on more? Or, are guys intimidated by the Sash?
SC: Since winning, I do find I get hit on online more and get called “SIR” quite a lot. Are men intimidated by the sash? I don’t believe so, because I am still the same man they knew and for those I meet new, I attempt to come across as approachable and kind.
JR: Cool! What philanthropic causes and/or issues are you dedicated to?
SC: Having children, I am a strong advocate to the Trevor Project. Also, being a survivor of HIV over 25 years, I hold this dear to my heart closely as well. I thank God each day for my health, and I feel that as a healthy person living with HIV, I must do what I can for my brothers and sisters who are in greater need that I.
JR: I understand! Now, in your opinion, who is a true role model for the Leather community?
SC: In my opinion, we are all role models for the Leather community. Each of us as individuals bring ourselves wholly to the table as ourselves. We may all excel in different avenues and arenas, but we all inspire in different ways.
JR: That said, what can every member of the Leather community do, on a day-to-day basis, to keep our community thriving?
SC: Interesting question. My first thought is to just be ourselves, and living truly and honestly. No one wants to see a Titleholder who is just a sash queen and lives for when he can wear it, et cetera… Every day, we have an opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life – by our words or by our actions. By living an inspiring, open life, we can change it for the good and help the community as a whole. See, we are more than a group of men who wear leather, et cetera. We are members of our communities who are THERE for those communities and for the persons within.
JR: When a Leatherman comes to visit Lexington, Kentucky, what stops should he include on his visit?
SC: Most definitely, stop at Crossings Lexington on Limestone Rd, Downtown Lexington. What an amazing bar and staff. Of course, no visit to Lexington would be complete without the Kentucky Horse Park and Bourbon Trail Tours!
JR: I’ll keep that in mind! The only Lexington I’ve been to is Lexington Avenue in Manhattan! Now, Leathermen are often seen as the epitome of masculinity and sexiness. As a role model and ambassador for the Leather community, what makes a man sexy?
SC: What I find most sexy in a man is confidence, not cockiness. For myself, I tend to be a modest, humble guy who sometimes gets lost in the crowd. But, as a Leatherman, I am a different person – because I am a confident, humble man who enjoys how he looks in leather and enjoys the attitude I have when dressed.
JR: I couldn’t agree more. So, where can people meet you this coming year?
SC: I am going to attempt to attend Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend (MAL) in January, I will most definitely be at Cleveland Leather Awareness Weekend (CLAW) in April and, of course, International Mr. Leather (IML) in May. But, you will most likely always find me attending some sort of fundraising event any given weekend here and around Lexington.
JR: Finally: According to my research, there are a few states with no Leather clubs or organizations, including North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, or… Hawaii! Now, granted, it might be tough-going to be in your best leatherwear where it’s always 80 degrees… but I was thinking of eventually settling in Hawaii, and bringing a bunch of dedicated Leathermen with me to start the first Leather club in The Aloha State. Are you up for joining me?!
SC: Up for joining you by moving to Hawaii? Sadly, no, because I won’t be that far away from my kids. But helping to get a leather club in Hawaii started, that would be an awesome legacy!
You can follow Sam at his blog, http://www.mrbluegrassleather2011.wordpress.com.
(Photos of Sam courtesy of Crossings Lexington and The Bluegrass Leather Association.)