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My Trip Back to Washington, DC


In March of 2000 I traveled back to Washington, DC to attend the 4th Leather Leadership Conference.  I went back a couple of days early and stayed a day or so beyond the event so as to give myself a mini-vacation in our Nation's Capital.  I have some very fond memories of DC.  It was the first big city that I ever lived in, it was where I earned my college degree, and it was the city where I came out both as a gay man and as a leatherman as well.  I truly enjoyed living in that city for most of my time there.  Toward the end of my seven years in DC I was getting a bit tired of the way the city behaved.  In the years since I left I learned that it got worse.

Washington, DC is in an odd situation.  It is a city in its own right but is one that is fundamentally hamstrung by its being a Federal District.  It has only limited powers of self governance and is subject to the whims of an often fickle US Congress.  The whole city is permeated by a very odd attitude and it is one where civic virtue is not held in high esteem.  Everyone seems out to get what they want with little heed to their effect on others.  The level of government services in that city are appalling.  You would think that the Nation's Capital would be in a lot better shape than it is and that its residents would take a lot better care of their slice of it.  The reality is hardly the case.  This is too bad, really.

Washington, DC is one of the best laid out cities I have ever been in.  The traffic circles which are so confusing to out of towners actually serve to define neighborhoods extremely well.  They also provide pocket parks in what is otherwise a very intense urban area.  I really enjoyed being able to walk down to my local "circle" (which what these are called) and just sit back to watch the world go by.  Dupont Circle was one of the larger ones and it served as the hub of that neighborhood. Washington Circle was right next to where I went to college and it was a good base as well.  Other circles (Thomas, Scott, etc.,.) were wonderful places to take the world in.

Once I arrived out here in San Diego I looked around for some feature of the real estate which would help me tell where one neighborhood started and the next ended.  There is none.  Endemic to the type of urbanization here in the West, there are no real definable centers to the neighborhoods out here in San Diego.  It leaves a rather rootless and transitory feeling to the whole affair out here.  That too is part of the "California Experience."  It is also one of the things I miss about DC.

The city of Washington is so well laid out and there is so much to do there.  The National Mall is wonderful.  It is a huge park to play in.  "The Nation's Front Yard" as it is called.  And it lives up to this.  When I lived there I would enjoy riding my bike up and down the Mall to take in the sights.  There was plenty to see.  For one thing, the Smithsonian Museum was right on the Mall and entry was always free.

Another good thing about DC was that it was close to everything.  Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and New York were short train rides away.  I made the trip to Philly and New York several times.  While in DC I even made it up to New York for Stonewall 20.  That was a blast and a very memorable trip indeed.

Still though, after seven years in that town, I was ready for something else.  In 1989 I moved from there to Atlanta, Georgia.  I had thought I would find a new home in the Peachtree City.  I was wrong.  Atlanta is a fun city to party in but there is little more to it than that.  This would be OK had there been something else nearby to Atlanta.  There isn't.  Atlanta is an island of civilization awash in the sea of Georgia.  I didn't like that limitation so I changed things.  I moved out to the Left Coast.  I have been there ever since.  It is my place in the sun.

This doesn't mean I don't miss DC or Atlanta and I have been back to both of them now since I moved out here.  This latest trip Back East was to attend a Leather Leadership Conference.  This is an annual event for those of a more political and organizational bent within the leather/ SM/ fetish community.  This was the second one that I attended, my first being up in SF the previous year.  It was very much worth my while as I both learned a lot, made a whole bunch of connections, and also got to answer a whole bunch of questions about what happened in San Diego back in October 99.

I also got a good chance to catch myself up on my old stomping ground.  It was a very interesting experience.  Here are some pictures I have scanned in from that trip.


DC Is A Monumental City

But Not Every Structure There Is A Monument, There Are Quite A Few Landmark Pieces Of Architecture In The Nation's Capital.  Architecture That People Actually Live And Work In

 
 
 
The Cairo

Here is a DC landmark.  This is the tallest residential building in DC.  It is the tallest building within the DC city limits as well.  That is also the reason, after more than a century later, it is still the tallest such building.  Up until the Cairo was built, near the turn of the last century, building something this high for people to live in was considered impractical.  Then the good Mr. Otis came up with an efficient elevator design and that changed everything.

 

A landmark building in landmark city.
Now taller buildings made more sense, not less, and the Cairo was the first such "skyscraper" to be built in DC.  It dominated the landscape around it.  And that was its problem.  It also stuck out like a sore thumb when people looked around the DC skyline.  The architects of the federal buildings didn't like that.  It went against the aesthetic of the Capitol's design.  So, they enacted a height restriction on any structure built within the DC limits.  As the Cairo was already built, it was exempt.  Anything after that though, was not. A 12 story tall building in a city where 7 stories is the legal limit!

Since then the building has seen better days and worse days and is now on one of its better times.  The building has been renovated and sub-divided into upscale condos and apartments.  The view, as you might imagine is extraordinary.  The architecture of the building is up to the task and matches the buildings views with its own grandeur.
 

Detailing on the bay windows Looking up the center Some of the stonework details

 
The geometry of modern brickwork
 
 

These two images are of a building which I remember as being the Iraqi embassy.  At least it was when I lived there.  I don't know who is occupying it now.  In any event the brickwork is wonderful and very different from the other examples I am featuring above and to the right.

These bricks were both thinner and had a semi-gloss finish to them.  The resulting patterns of their coursing were very different and really made for a handsome building.

Bricks

DC is a city made of bricks.  Bricks and granite.  At one time, Washington DC was the brick making capital of the Mid-Atlantic.  Bricks are everywhere in this city and they are not just the red colored and rough textured ones that first come to mind when you hear the word.  Instead there is an abundance of different brick colors, thicknesses, and finishes.  The way they are employed differs greatly as well.  In some buildings, as here on the left, they are coursed in a standard manner and are pretty much standard bricks.
 

In other cases the brickwork is done in a very artistic and fine manner.  These two examples (above to the left and here on the right) are within a few blocks of each other near Dupont Circle.  There are a whole bunch of such buildings in that neighborhood and their brickwork is one thing which helps make Dupont Circle such a visually pleasing place to be. 

Another view of this brick entryway

Street level brickwork on a rowhouse in the Dupont Circle area.
The brickwork, whether precisely artistic as here above or industrially artistic as above on the left, all helps to make their structures seem warmer and more pleasing to the eye.  It is also one of the things that give the city of DC its own character.  The texture of this city is unique.

 
A row of granite houses Granite

DC is also a city of granite.  The way some builders handled this fine stone is wonderful to see.  I remembered this block of granite houses from the first few days I was in Washington back in '82.  They were that impressive then and are that impressive now. 

Perhaps not as warm as the brick, the granite has its own dignity and the artistry in which it was employed is very impressive on its own rights.

A view of one of the granite rowhouse entryways


 
The Dupont Circle Metro Station

A unique piece of architecture itself and one that defines the Dupont Circle area almost as much as the Circle itself.  The Dupont Circle Metro Station entrance on the Q Street side is so bizarrely futuristic it actually fits right into the rest of the buildings there. 

This is one of the more dramatic entryways on the Metro system.  It is unique to the Dupont Circle area and as such it has become one of its landmarks.  It makes for a great place to set up meetings next to as it is easily recognized, very well known, and not so large people could miss each other if on the "wrong" side of it.

The futuristic entrance to the Dupont Circle Metro on the Q Street side.
Down into the pit! Here is a view looking down into the station itself.  This is one of the longer escalators in the world and maybe the longest on the Metro in DC.  Riding down this escalator is an exercise in leaving the "old" city behind and stepping into the next century.  It is that futuristic.  It is also a ride that takes but a few seconds although it does seem longer.

 
One other thing which I remembered about this station was my first 12 speed bike.  It was a Univega Sportour and I really enjoyed that machine.  I rode it all over the place when I lived back in Massachusetts and I did the same with it when I started school down here.  It was a good bike for this city.  It had enough gears to handle most of the DC hills with relative ease and it was built tough enough to take the rough city streets as well.

I learned early on the merits of have a strong look for my bike and I made sure to get myself one of those Kryptonite bike locks.  Such locks are extremely effective and are almost impossible to defeat.  At least for the casual bike thief.  Given enough time and privacy, just about anyone can eventually defeat any lock.  A strong lock like a Kryptonite just makes it that much more difficult to do so.

The key here is to actually lock your bike correctly with the lock itself.  This is a lesson lost on some folks.  I figured this out early on as well and always superimposed the front quick disconnect wheel onto the rear wheel and ran the "U" portion of the Kryptonite through the two of them, past the bike frame, and around a suitable metal pole or post.  That insures that everything remains put.

Some folks miss this and only lock the lock around the frame and that pole or post, as you can see here.  In this case it is a very simple matter to simply pop the quick disconnect hubs and walk away with them.  A front wheel can easily set you back $30 plus the cost of buying a new tube and tire.  If the thieving scum snags a rear wheel the costs go up by another $30 or $40 because now the rear derailuer gear cog and its drive chain have to be replaced in addition to the wheel, tube and tire.  An expensive lesson.

What brought all this to mind for me was the time I parked my bike at the Dupont Circle Metro station one night.  I was in a rush and was late for a date.  Thinking with my "little head," I went through all of the proper steps outlined above.  I indeed made sure to lock my Kryptonite lock to one of the railings alongside the station.  That lock was very secure.  Unfortunately I didn't lock the lock to anything but itself.  In my haste, I had simply leaned my bike against the railing, taken the front wheel off, superimposed it over the rear wheel, unlocked the Kryptonite lock, and latched it onto the railing.  The next morning I came back to find my Kryptonite lock very securely attached to the railing.  My bike, however, was long and gone.

An expensive lesson indeed.

Other Architecture In DC


Not all of DC is filled with old brick and granite rowhouses.  There has been a lot of new construction in the Nation's Capital since last I was there.  It seemed that every time I rounded a corner there was some new example of the architect's artistry and builder's craftsmanship.

Here is one such example. 

The city itself is laid out in a grid pattern with north/ south and east/ west streets making up that grid.  However, it is not like New York city in that there are a number of diagonal streets which serve to connect the city together and make travel more efficient if you are going cross town.

Of course, there are some places where the angles of those diagonal streets meet up with the grid patterns on the north/ south or east/ west streets in such a way as to make for some very sharp corners.

This makes for some very interesting architecture.

This building celebrates its sharp corner position in a particularly nice manner.  Very elegant and very distinctive.  I am sure it is a landmark for its surrounding area.

I am not quite sure what all the uses of this example are.  I can see that the Western portion of it, the side with the brick walls, is very clearly a restaurant.  The Eastern side however, I'm not so sure of.  In any event it makes for a very striking construction.  You can also just make out the curved roof on the left there.  It is made out of burnished metal and left in its natural finish.  This makes for a rather unique reflected glow from that side of the building.  That is what initially caught my eye about this place and drew me to it.  Unfortunately, my photos of that glow didn't really capture it well enough to reproduce.

 
AGU Headquarters Another interesting building.

This is the headquarters building for the American Geophysical Union and it is very striking.  In particular is the dramatic corner piece which projects up and out at an angle.


 
 

This bold geometry is a powerful touch to the building and contrasts nicely with the rest of the structure. It is also a nice touch that it really only starts affecting the building once well above street level.  It is not intrusive in its placement, yet it is almost a "visual reward" for anyone who can bring themselves to look up at the rest of the world and not down at their feet as they slog ahead.  I like architecture like that.



 
 

The Offbeat


History No More

The Hilton Washington & Towers Hotel near Dupont Circle.  Actually this hotel is not exactly close to Dupont Circle, being a few blocks to north and along Connecticut Ave, but it is in the neighborhood.

I don't know if this is a finer hotel or much anything else about it.  What I do know however, is that it has a certain degree of notoriety to it.  Or perhaps, infamy.

 

Back in 1981 that blocky little structure, whose opening is immediately below the "Hilton Ballroom" sign, didn't used to be there. 

Even after President Reagan got shot right there, this little structure wasn't put up until several years later.

Yes, this is where John Hinckley's 15 minutes got its start.


For many years you could walk right up to the spot where the shooting took place.  Then they built this little garage type structure.  It serves two purposes.  One is its official purpose of providing more security to anyone needing it as they arrive or depart the hotel.  There are rolldown doors on either end of this structure.  Now, a limo can pull up into it, the doors come down, and THE MAN can safely move to and fro.

The other purpose is to essentially pave over where the incident took place.  There certainly is no plaque attesting to the shooting's location.  I know the Hilton folks would just as soon forget the entire incident and would prefer that the world did the same.  To that end, putting this new construction atop where the assassination attempt took place is one way of wiping out its memory.


 
 
DC's Finest At Work

DC's Finest At Work

A day in the life on the big city.

I have no idea what this fine gentleman on the ground here had done to deserve such attentions of these officers but it was obviously something of importance enough to bring the bunch of them together.  This occurred almost directly in front of the Lambda Rising Bookstore.

The Man On The Street

Here is a closer view of this gentleman as he gets a closer of view of the pavement and that officer's shoes.  The situation was fully in hand and this lad was going nowhere fast.  Yet the officers really didn't like having a photographer around.  They got rather testy and shooed me off.  Not wanting to enjoy the same such attentions as this guy was, I left.  What didn't go away however, was the sour taste in my mouth put there by the unnecessary hostility of these law enforcement officers.

I had always thought the DC Metro Cops were a pretty mellow bunch.  It was always the Federal cops (Uniformed Secret Service,US Park Service Police, US Capitol Police) who were the uptight and overly gung ho ones.  Just a few minutes earlier, while I was in Lambda Rising, I had defended these officers when someone commented about the excessive nature of having four police officers taking down just one man.  Referencing the recently tried Amadou Diallo case in New York, I said that four officers taking down one man is a lot better than forty one bullets taking him down.  That seemed to put a cap on things inside the store.  Then these officers on the street soured the mix by being so testy.  Ah well, that is life in DC.
 



Where It All Started

Late August 1982.  I was a freshly enrolled transfer student at George Washington University.

Looking through the DC Metro phone book for the Georgetown University ROTC Detachment's phone number, I find the listing for Gay Male Dating in bold lettering.

Immediately underneath that was a listing for the "Gay Bookstore."  So, I called them up and got their address.

Later on that week, I hoped on my bike (the same Univega Sportour which I later forgot to lock at the Dupont Metro) and rode on up Connecticut Avenue to S street, which is where the address was listing.  Yet, I couldn't find it.  That block of S street, between 19th & Connecticut, is very short and I went up and down it a bunch of times but I just couldn't find any store which had the name "Gay Bookstore" like in the phone book.

There was a store by the name of "Lambda Rising" but that wasn't "The Gay Bookstore."  I even found a payphone and dialed the number up.  It was only then that I could make out what the store clerks were saying every time they picked up the phone.  I originally couldn't make it out but now it was clear, they were saying "Lambda Rising."  That WAS the name of the Gay Bookstore.  Silly me.  What can I say.  I was young and still a virgin.  Not for long.  On either count.

I strolled on into the store with all the swagger a young kid full of ignorance - and knowing it - could muster.  After checking the place out, I sauntered on up to the front counter and told the clerk; "I'm new in town.  Where're the spots?"  At which point he whipped out the "Gay & Lesbian Map of Washington, DC" and began noting "the spots."  I left that store with a map and a plan.  That was a Wednesday, come that Friday, I put my map based plan into action.  Looking at that map I found that the nearest recommended gay bar was a place called "The Frat House."  It was within walking distance of my dorm at GW.  So, off I went.

It was my first time in a gay bar.  Hell, it was my first time in a bar, period!  I was already old enough to drink but had never really felt the urge.  This time though, this was the place to go.  So I went.  I got in the front door and found that there were two levels to the Frat House.  The ground floor had a dance floor and there was a cover to get in to that.  Being the poor college student I elected to go to the upstairs portion of the bar.  That part showed videos and was free to get into.

I bought me my beer (my one beer a night as that was all I could afford) and parked myself in a strategic spot.  I was wearing what I though was the closest approximation to what a knowledgeable gay man should be wearing in a bar in 1982.  For me that meant a plaid shirt, dark pants, and sneakers.  What can I say, I was young, inexperienced, not at all knowledgeable, and it WAS 1982!  It seemed to work though, for in short order I met Ken.

He was sexy, I liked his hair, and he liked me.  That was enough.  After we chatted each other up for a while he asked me to leave with him.  I don't remember the exact details of the set-up but he did know that I was a college student who couldn't take anyone back to my dorm as my roommate was straight and homophobic (and also a pudgy white boy from New Jersey who never did catch a clue, liked Molly Hatchet, and thought that "Jerry Falwell has gotten a bum rap from the press.")  Ken also made clear that he couldn't take me back to his place either.  What we could do was make out in the back seat of his car.  And that we did.

Ken, being much more experienced than I, knew just the spot - and it wasn't that far from the bar.  A handy thing that.  It was in the parking lot of the Martin Luther King Jr. High School.  Well, we parked there and got busy.  We managed to get the windows all steamed up and everything!  All too soon Ken was dropping me off in front of my dorm.

That was the start of things though, and I never looked back on my actions.  It fit, it was comfortable for me, and it made me happy.  I never did go through an agonizing period of coming out.  I know I am very lucky in that.

DC was where I came out as a gay man and where I found myself as an adult.  The two are different and both involved a lot of growth on my part.  I lived in DC for seven years.  I was fully "over" the city by the end of that time and just had to get out.  So, I did.  I moved to Atlanta and that lasted for all of eight and a half months.  Atlanta wasn't it.  From there I moved to San Diego and that has become my place in the sun.  While I haven't looked back on my decisions, and while SD is my home, I still do like certain aspects of Washington and I also have been back there a couple of times since.

The first was just shortly after I left and was to attend the Mister Mid-Atlantic Leather (MAL) contest.  Here is the "official" site on this fine event run by the Centaur Motorcycle Club.  Far a decidedly bizarre view of it, you can click on this link.  Slavery Returns To DC is put up by the American's For Truth folks.  A finer bunch of bigoted, reactionary zealots you'll never meet.  Reading their "report" is actually rather amusing.

The next time was for the 1993 March On Washington.  While I enjoyed both of those trips, they were very short duration and left almost no time to check out my old stomping grounds.  On this trip back, I was determined to do things differently.

So, I planned the trip as a mini-vacation of sorts.  I added a couple of days to me arrival date and added a day after as well.  This made it more than just a trip to DC to attend the Leather Leadership Conference.  Now I had the time in hand to revisit these special places and to reconnect with my first Big City experience.  It was well worth it.

Aside from the pictures I took of all the interesting architecture and such, I also made sure to go back to the first few places that figured so prominently in my formation as a young gay man.  Of course, I couldn't do this and NOT take pictures of them!  No, I couldn't do that!  So, with that in mind, here they are:
 


 
What used to be Washington's Best Gay Bookstore Things change.

This used to be Lambda Rising.  Back when it was on S street.  Now it has moved on to Connecticut Ave and gotten much bigger and much better.  But this is where I first found it.

The bookstore used to be where the "Moving Sale" sign is in this picture.  The Washington Video store expanded into the space.  It looks like they are expanding out of it too.  That is not surprising, the store space was very tight.

 

This bar used to be called "The Frat House."  It was probably the first bar I ever went into and definitely the first gay bar I ever went into.  There isn't much of it to show that is very distinctive.  At least not much that is still there now from when I was there then.

The entrance to the bar is just to the right in this picture.  The stairs to the upper level were immediately to the left of that.  You could walk forward a little bit and enter where the dance floor was or you could turn to the right and go into a tiny little bar on that corner.

Upstairs were three separate areas.  The main area was a bar that ran along side of the building immediately above the ground floor entrance.  This was the main room for upstairs.  It was where they would run movie videos all night.  There was a smaller video room off of this bar.  In that one they ran porn videos.  At the other end of the building on this level was the bar's restaurant.  As part of some really arcane laws Back East, a lot of bars had to have a place where you could sit and eat in order to maintain their liquor license.  So, this place had one.  I wouldn't want to eat anything they cooked but they did have one.  The open window on the second floor here is where the seating area was.  As I was here during the day, the bar was closed and I don't know how much it has changed inside.

I don't even know if it is still a gay bar or not.  It is in the Dupont Circle area and it was a gay bar for a very long time but things do change...

 

What once was the Frat House
THE place

Well, things DO change.  This nicely grown field and set of tennis courts used to be part of the parking lot for the high school.  No more.  As near as I can figure it, somewhere in the middle of where this grassy stretch is now, is where I lost something in the back seat of Ken's car that I was only too happy to part with.

Once I was "picked up" by Ken, he drove us over to a place where we could make out in the back seat of his car.  This turned out to be the parking lot of the Martin Luther King Jr. High School and was just a block or two away from the Frat House.

 

Some things don't change.

This is Badlands.  I think just about every city in America has had a Badlands gay bar at one time or another.  Just like they have also had an Eagle bar as well.

Badlands opened in '83 or early '84 and was HUGE for its day.  It had a much larger dance floor than the Frat House, had a several bars within the building and was located just up the alley from the Frat.

Badland's Video Bar
I was behind this door four nights out of seven each week! Actually, the Frat was the bar which could be better said to be "just up the alley" as it was located on the interior of the block and Badlands was on one of the street sides.

Anyway, this is the bar where I spent most of my Summer of  '84 in.  I got a job working there as a bouncer.

That was really an amazing year.  I was living on my own for my first time ever and I was working as a "residential hall receptionist" at GW as part of their "visiting student group" rental program - in which they rented the empty dorms to visiting groups (student or otherwise) and needed people to staff the lobby. 

This also meant that I had my own room during Summertime!  Free, white and over 21 (22, actually) in the Big City!

Oh, also, this was back in 1984 in DC.  That meant that the Plague had yet to really touch life in most places outside of New York or San Francisco.  This year was the last you could say that of.  It certainly was for me.

I made the best use of it though and I really had a blast.

Part of that was in landing a job at one of DC's hottest gay nightspots.  In two very short years I had come a long way from when I first walked into the old Lambda Rising store on S street.  A long way indeed.

 

Back when I worked there, this used to be the main entrance to the bar.  I worked just behind this door and sat behind a little podium taking the bar cover and handing out drink tickets.  It was interesting at first and then became routine over time.  It did mean that I gave up any sort of social life outside of working at the bar Thursday through Sunday night.  In trade though, I got to see just about everyone in the gay community in the DC metro area come through those doors.  There were SOME advantages to working at a hot gay bar!
February 2004 Update:  In going through the links on this page I've now learned that some things I thought don't change just didn't change for a long while but then, they too changed.  Badland's DC is now no more.  Its new incarnation is "Apex" but its charter seems much the same.  At least they have a spiffy website to go with the new version of the place.

 
Well, enough with the nostalgia.  I went to DC to do something more than take pictures of pretty houses and sordid pits of debauchery (although there is nothing wrong with such sordid pits so long as the debauchery is done right.)  I mainly went to DC to attend a conference.  Let me tell you about that.
 

The Leather Leadership Conference

To quote from their website:


"The Leather Leadership Conference is an organization dedicated to strengthening the SM/Leather/Fetish community through the development of the leadership skills of community members and fostering a greater sense of connection between and within community groups.

The LLC hosts yearly conferences where attendees may share their knowledge and experience with one another, fostering a greater sense of unity and understanding within the community as a whole."

I have been to two of these things.  The first was up in SF in '99 and the second one I attended was back in DC in 2000.  I enjoyed them both.  These events are designed to help those of a political and organizational bent within the leather community learn ways to better their craft.  This one is for the wonks among us and I am very proud to call myself one of them.  We are the ones who get things done on a day in, day out basis.  Titleholders and other entertainers are good at attracting attention to things but it is the people like those who attend LLC's who actually do the work in our community.  They are the ones who make sure the programs get carried out, that the workshops get planned, that the weekend kink conventions actually happen, and so on.  Not the glamorous stuff but the necessary stuff which propels our community forward.  As such, events like LLC are vitally necessary for our community to become better organized and able to meet the growing demands of the kink community for organizations and community services to meet their needs.

This is not to say that the weekend was filled with arcane technical discussions of political science methodologies or that we stood around congratulating each other on what fine jobs we were doing.  Hardly.  Instead we used the time to catch up on what was going on in the world around us and to learn of each other's successes and failures.  I was very much part of this discussion as I was the spokesman for the San Diego Six.

Back in October of '99 the San Diego Police Department sent its Vice Unit officers to one of our play parties and conducted a raid on it.  They arrested six individuals (hence the "San Diego Six") for either "Lewd Acts in Public" or "Public Nudity" or both.  This was a major surprise and an entirely unwelcome development for the San Diego leather community as we had thought we were on pretty good terms with the police.  We were wrong.  In the weeks and months that followed we all received a first hand lesson on how the legal system works and how politics play a part in law enforcement.  We also received a first hand look at how our community responds to crisis.

I was very surprised, and somewhat saddened, to see just how many of our local "leaders" within the San Diego leather/ SM/ fetish community chose to attack Club X for its imagined failings.  That these people were so quick to try and fix the blame rather than try and fix the problem was a real eye opener for me.  I had thought that they would have tried to live up to their grand rhetoric but when it came time to toe the line they revealed just how small they actually were.  It is when times are tough that you really do find out who your friends are.

Fortunately not everyone in the leather community was as vindictive and petty as these few.  I was genuinely touched by the overwhelming support shown by the leather community at large.  I was the person who put out all those press releases about the San Diego Six.  The first of these went out less than twelve hours after the Raid.  It was a wise decision to keep the whole world up on what was going on.  It really showed our side effectively and allowed the community a clear way to show their support in our fighting for our rights.

In short order, a legal fund was set up to help cover the expenses the Six would incur in fighting back against the charges leveled upon them.  Within a few months the first of the Six, Cricket, came to trial and it turned into a complete disaster for the police and the City Attorney.  Finding for the defendant with a not guilty verdict, the jury then went on to damn the City Attorney for even bringing the case to trial.  In the post trial comment phase, the jury told the Prosecuting Attorney that the Prosecution's case was "weak" and a "waste of time."  Sweet.  Even sweeter was the City Attorney's decision to then drop the remaining charges against the other five defendants.  Sweet indeed.

For more information about the raid, the trial and its aftermath, you can go to the San Diego Six website.

All of this occurred in the span of just a few months with the charges being dropped by late January of 2000.  The Leather Leadership Conference was held on the first weekend on April so the San Diego Six were a very hot topic.

I had already planned on attending that year's conference and was asked to present a "poster" on the San Diego Six.  Poster presentations were an idea first brought to life at the '99 LLC and they worked extremely well.  There is always time during a conference when its attendees are out in the hallways, milling around.  Someone came up with the bright idea of making good use of that time by allowing groups and individuals the chance to display more than just the few odd fliers and pamphlets.  Small tables were set up that were perfect for displaying posters alongside those flayers and pamphlets.  So to was time allotted for there to be speakers available for each poster presentation.  This meant that the conference attendees could browse through each presentation, learn from it as they wished and then be able to speak to an actual person about it as well.  A very smart idea which made excellent use of people's time at the event.  This was expanded and improved at the 2000 LLC.

Not only did I create and display a poster which explained everything about the San Diego Six, I also used the setting to display the San Diego Six T-shirts I had shipped out there as well.  We had struck upon the idea of selling them as a means of fundraising for the legal fund and it paid off handsomely.  I mean, who doesn't want another black, scene related T-shirt!


 
 

Pictures From The Conference

The San Diego Six Poster I Presented Here is a good overall view of the San Diego Six Poster as well as some of the others on display.  This actually shows less than half of those featured as the tables continued off the picture to the right as well as mirroring things to the left.

That is one of the San Diego Six T-shirts there laid across the tabletop beneath the poster.  The poster itself detailed the timeline of events about the Raid, Trial, and its Resolution.  It also explained the nature of the charges leveled and what the points were which we used to defeat them.  The presentation concluded with a list of lessons learned.

This is another view of our poster.  It was pretty thorough in giving any viewer a good idea of what had happened and of what they could do to either avoid such a fate befalling them and/ or how best to deal with such a thing if it did occur in their midst.

During the "Poster Presentation Session" I held forth standing next to my poster and answered hundreds of questions.  I also sold a lot of T-shirts.  While I generally do not like selling things, as this was for a very good cause, I had no shame in shamelessly plugging these T-shirts.  As a result, I came back with about a third of the shirts I went out there with.  A good deal and a good way to help the Six.

Another View of the San Diego Six Poster

 
The Millennium March on Washington
for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgendered Rights
Poster Presentation

2000 was the year the fourth such a March on Washington was to take place.  The Millennium March itself was just a week after the LLC.  The LLC organizers asked the MMOW (Millennium March on Washington) office if they would like to make a presentation about the March and its importance to the leather/ SM/ fetish communities.  It was, after all, at the 1987 MOW that the very first "Leather/ SM/ Fetish Convention" took place.  This was a seminal event in the leather community history as it marked the first time our community began to bring itself together in an organized fashion on the political front.  A number of groups and organizations sprang from that first set of meetings and it really changed our perception of ourselves.

In the years since however, leatherfolk have had to work extremely hard to see any representation of ourselves in the MOW committees and organization.  We are very much a fringe community in their eyes and they would just as soon we remained closeted while the various MOW committees tried selling their homogenized version of alternative sexualities to the overall American public.  It was no surprise then that the Millennium March On Washington Committee declined to present a full hour and a half workshop at the Leather Leadership Conference.  The MMOW Committee had its hands full dealing with its rather painful failings that were already being pointed out by the gay and lesbian community.  The MMOW folks didn't want to face the hostile audience they knew would greet them at our event.

So the LLC folks asked the MMOW Committee if they would simply come up with a poster pushing their event and set that up with a few fliers.  Simple enough.  Lord knows the MMOW folks had already produced enough posters for their event.  It would have been simplicity itself to simply tack one of them on some posterboard and prop it up on one of the tables the LLC provided.  No sweat off the MMOW's brow.  A good, minimalist and non confrontational way to keep the MMOW visible with the leather community (even if the Millennium March On Washington Committee didn't want the leather community visible at the March itself.)  The MMOW Committee agreed and the LLC folks set aside a space for them.  They even provided the posterboard upon which the MMOW folks could tack their poster to.  Very simple and easy to accomplish.

Well, this is what the Millennium March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgendered Rights Committee decided to make for their Poster Presentation

When You Don't Care Enough to Send the Very Best

Nothing.
Not a god damned thing.

They couldn't even do a half-assed job of it.  Their indifference or ineptitude really showed the depth of their commitment to equal rights for all sexual minorities.  The deliberate silence of their voice at the LLC really spoke volumes.  Their absence was all too visible.  It left a very deep impression among all of us at the event.

The Millennium March on Washington did take place and it was a truly half assed event.  Mismanaged from its inception and poorly run from the start, the whole affair lost a ton of money (not even mentioning that which was "stolen" from the Millennium Festival vendor area) and really served to increase the cynicism about it in not only the leather community but in the overall gay & lesbian communities as well.  If anyone want to hold another one of these grand events then they are going to have to do a whole lot better than this last one for anyone to give it any attention.
 

On to Other Things

The California Gang at the Leather Leadership Conference


But all was not doom and gloom at the LLC.  Aside from being disappointed at the MOW's antics, we all managed to have a pretty good time learning about each other's efforts and making those all important networking connections.  As a way of winding things up, the organizers of the LLC concluded the final session by forming regional caucuses.  This allowed for the folks from the same geographic areas to meet each other.  The picture above here is the California Caucus and it represents folks gathered from San Francisco to San Diego.

The numbers actually worked out to be pretty much even between the three major metro areas.  I have since gotten to know some of the SF/ Bay Area folks very well.  Among those are Bailey, kneeling in the front row, and Treasure, the second guy in from the right standing in back.  They have both proved enormously helpful in supporting Club X's recovery from the Vice Raid and San Diego Six episode.  It is just these sort of contacts which really made the event as good as it was.


  

That about wraps it up.  This trip was very much worthwhile for me.  I not only got to make some very solid connections within the political/ activist side of the leather/ SM/ fetish community, I also got to touch base with an important part of who I am.  DC is always an interesting city to visit even if you haven't already lived there for seven years as I did.

There is always something interesting going on in our Nation's Capital and even just the history of the city and its surrounding areas make for a worthwhile trip.  I know I'll be back there again at some point.  Not sure when for I think I did a pretty good job of hitting the places I both wanted and needed to hit.  But like I said, there is a lot going on and a lot to see in DC.


 
 
 

If you would like to know more about me, then ask me directly.  Just click on my email address here: 
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In the meantime, I hope you have enjoyed your "stay" at this site.  Check back again to see what new images I have added.  Until then, stay well, play hard, play safe, and have fun!

Madoc

This page was last updated on: 10 February 2004  


Unless otherwise noted, all photographs and images on this page are copyright protected property of Madoc Pope.  If you would like to use any of my images you must contact me first before you do so.

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In the meantime, I hope you have enjoyed your "stay" at this site.  Check back again to see what new images I have added.  Until then, stay well, play hard, play safe, and have fun!

Madoc