From Issue 2.6 - June/July 1996

Virginia is for Lovers

By Caxton West

Gary Virginia, the first Mr. Daddy's Leather, is now Mr. SF Leather. Daddy's owner Philip Turner was understandably thrilled that Daddy's very first candidate took the city's crown. He called Virginia an "energetic young man who will bring unity and vibrancy to the entire community."

Virginia was equally pleased to be representing Daddy's, which he termed the " 'Cheers' of the gay community." He ran principally because he wanted the Daddy's title holder to be a regular. His first thought when he realized that he'd won, though, was "oh shit, now I have to do the next thing," meaning the city-wide contest. Virginia said he got a lot of support for the main event, with help from Daddy's and its regular patrons.

Since winning the Daddy's title, Virginia has put together a couple of fund-raisers already, netting $2,000 for the AIDS Emergency Fund (AEF) and AIDS Benefits Counselors (ABC). These two organizations have, in turn, recently had Virginia as a client. They will continue to be his main focus as a title holder. Virginia felt that they deserved a lot of support because they help people "when they're in the most need," noting that 90% of the funds raised go directly for client services.

Virginia felt that the Mr. SF Leather vest isn't his, so much as it was "loaned to him" for a year. In fact, it belongs to the entire community, and he intended to "find out who they are and try to listen." Virginia said he wants to help, for example with the AIDS Walk, lending the attention the title can draw to important causes. Also Virginia wants to rally support for the AIDS Candlelight Vigil, and is asking people to meet at Daddy's between 7-8 pm on Sunday, March 19th. The march will begin at 8pm.

Virginia's focus for the year is "to build unity and visibility." The former will come, according to Virginia, by "crossing lines to bring down barriers." Speaking of unity, the question he pulled out of the hat for the citywide contest was about women in the leather community. He admitted disappointment that there was no Ms. SF Leather contest, because he sees the omission of a 1996-1997 title holder as a break with history. At the same time, he noted that the whole contest concept may not be what women want or need, but he also offered to help do a fund-raiser to make a contest happen. Virginia said he felt his role to be one of "support" to the women's leather community, and understood that women have "different lifestyle issues" from men.

Virginia was encouraged by the sense of working together that he has felt since winning the title. The SF contest engendered a sense of "competing with instead of competing against," and Virginia noted that several of the contestants get together socially now and support each other's fund raisers. He hopes that this spirit of cooperation will continue throughout the year.

Virginia has his sights set on some ambitious fund raising. His goal for an August 8th raffle is to raise $50,000 for AEF. The raffle prize is a trip to Hawaii, all of which he wants underwritten. He also is hoping to get a car donated for the Folsom Street Fair.

The next big step for the 6'2", 163 lb. Virginia is to represent San Francisco at the International Mr. Leather contest in Chicago. He said he is representing the "best leather community in the world."

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Last updated: 4 July 1996