Representing our community in Chicago

Mr. Leather Ottawa ranks eighth

Douglas Connors, Mr Leather Ottawa-Outaouais 2003, placed eighth out of 58 contestants at the 25th Annual International Mr Leather (IML) competition in Chicago.

“I didn’t win the contest, but I won the audience,” says a jubilant Connors.

On stage in front of a loud and exuberant crowd, 58 of the world’s top leather men listened for their name to be called after being scored in two equally weighted categories: the interview and “Pecs and Personality.”

One by one, each of the 20 contestants who would move onto the next stage of the competition were called to the front. As the names were announced, they became garbled amidst the noise and applause from the crowd below. A screen was placed in front of the contestants who anxiously waited to see their number appear. But by the time the first 10 contestants reached the front of the stage, the screen was blocked. Cheers from the crowd kept getting louder and louder as more of the finalists were announced.

Gazing at the lineup of what appeared to be the 20 finalists, Connors was feeling somewhat disappointed when deafening applause and wild cheering billowed from the crowd below. There was one more. One more contestant. Turning to look, Connors saw his number on the screen.

“I thought he was going to pass out,” says Leith Chu, Mr Atlantic Leather Canada 2001 and head judge at Connors’ Mr Leather Ottawa-Outaouais win, of the moment Connors realized he was the 20th contestant to make it through to the finals. “He was hyperventilating and jumping up and down.”

Scores from preliminaries did not carry through to the finals. Judges now scored the 20 finalists in three categories: leather image (40 percent), presentation skills (40 percent) and physical appearance (20 percent).

John Pendal, Mr Hoist 2003 from London, UK, won the IML 2003 title. Connors placed eighth.

“They (IML judges) were into the body phase this year and Connors didn’t quite fit that category,” says Murray Lavigne, president of the Ottawa Knights. Lavigne, who attended the event, says he is exceptionally proud of Connors. “He mentioned he was a smaller person, but felt big.”

Connors’s speech in the final round of competition was the only speech to receive a standing ovation. “He was honest,” says Lavigne

The speech detailed Connors’ journey through leather, from his first experiences as a visitor at IML in 2000 through winning Mr Leather Ottawa-Outaouais, and on to competing at IML 2003. He admits it was a very personal speech about taking chances and being comfortable with who you are.

“There’s no quality more attractive than authenticity,” says Connors.

Connors is proud that there was not a single moment in the entire competition when he was not himself. Of his eighth place finish, he says he is satisfied because “it’s eighth place with integrity.”


Lavigne acknowledges that Connors left a very good impression of himself with the international leather community and that is what is important. “He was representing his community firstly and competing at IML second.”

This is Ottawa’s third top 10 finish at IML in the last five years, following Howard Hao’s seventh place finish in 2000 and Dean Ross placing ninth in 1999.


In an article in the last issue of Capital Xtra, May 22, 2003, it was reported that Douglas Connors competed in the Uniform Contest at the Bar Aigle Noir in Montreal. Although Connors did attend, he did not compete in this event.

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