Philly to stage fundraising leather event

A Pride event is returning to Philadelphia next month — and it’s not your typical rainbow-covered festival. The Philadelphia Leather Pride will run from Nov. 8-11 at venues throughout the city. This year’s Pride will play host to a new art exhibit and new workshops. Last year, the event raised more than $10,000. The 2012 beneficiaries include William Way LGBT Community Center, Carter/Johnson Library, The Leather Leadership Conference and several others. According to Jen Victor, producer of Philly Leather Pride, the event started in 2009 as just a five-hour fundraiser. “I was the first mid-Atlantic leather woman in 2009 and I was required to do a fundraiser during my title year,” Victor said. She created Philly Leather Pride Night, which was held at Voyeur (then named Pure). As the years went on, the event grew into its current multi-day format. Victor said the event has different workshops every year but one aspect that stays the same is the presence of the Carter/Johnson Leather Library, which was created by Vi Johnson and her partner, Jill. The traveling library contains historical documents relating to the leather/fetish/S&M community and will be displayed at William Way, 1315 Spruce St. “We’re the only city in the country that can bring in the entire 14,000-piece traveling library,” Victor said. This year’s workshops include a panel called Back in The Day, 12:30-2:30 p.m. Nov. 10 at the center, which will feature three men and three women sharing stories of their lengthy histories in the leather/fetish/kink lifestyle. The event will also feature a new, fluffier class this year. A special event titled “Bring Your Pup to the Library” will teach attendees about human puppy play. “It is absolutely adorable watching it,” Victor said. The class will be held from 3-4:15 p.m. Nov. 10 at William Way. Pride will feature a new exhibit by artist Sir Nagrom Morgan Monceaux. “Pages from a Black Leatherman’s Journal” is a 40-piece exhibition of journal entries displayed at William Way Nov. 8-12 and is free to all guests. Nagrom said that actually seeing the exhibition take life has been one of his proudest moments since he started the series in 1998. Victor first saw Nagrom’s work in 2002 at American Brotherhood Weekend in Washington, D.C., and again at the Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore, Md. “He is a very talented artist and very different,” Victor said. Nagrom said his work ties right into the event. “What I’m doing is showing a perspective of a leather lifestyle from a man of color’s perspective. That is what my journal is about — a subculture. A black man living a leather life 24/7 in the leather community and also in mainstream,” Nagrom said. Leather Pride Weekend will culminate in Saturday’s Leather Pride Night, 6 p.m.-midnight at Voyeur, 1221 St. James St. The event will be emceed by International Ms. Leather 1996 Jill Carter and will feature a leather-archive exhibit, bootblacks, a pup zone, a silent auction and raffle prizes. The event will be followed by an after-party at Bike Stop, 206 S. Quince St., from 11 p.m.-2 a.m. Victor said the event averages 250-300 attendees every year for the Saturday-night activities alone. Last year, more than 500 people attended events held in the William Way. She hopes to have more this year. Victor said the organization sold weekend sponsorships and program-book advertisements to make sure that most events were free, including those held in the William Way and access to the Carter/Johnson Library. “It is very important, especially in today’s economy, people don’t have that much expendable money,” Victor said. Victor said that attendees don’t need to be part of the leather community to enjoy the event. She welcomes all those who are curious or questioning. Participants are coming from as far as Los Angeles, in addition to New York City, Washington. D.C., and Maryland. “I’d say the city is going to be filled with leather men and women that weekend,” Victor said. For more information, www.plpn.orgvisit.