Gay men who are into fetish often find themselves on the margins of the scene, says Conor Buggy, but GEAR Ireland is aiming to change all that.
It is often said that the gay fetish scene struggles to be recognised within our larger diverse community here in Ireland. Not being mainstream can sometimes go against the grain. In Europe and farther afield in America there is much more acceptance, integration and celebration of this diversity, with many cities and countries holding annual leather men and fetish titleholder competitions.
This is the colourful pageantry of the fetish community – as long as the colour is generally black and made of leather or rubber. The annual International Mister Leather (IML) is an event held in downtown Chicago that can attract over ten thousand people from around the globe; it runs over five days each May and is recognised as one of the biggest events on the Pride calendar in the US. This year it was covered by the Huffington Post bringing it even more international coverage.
GEAR Ireland aims to ensure that our Irish gay fetish community can take its place in a colourful and fun international family. It is a monthly social night held in Dublin for gay men interested in fetish gear such as leather, rubber, skinhead, military and sportswear. It was established in May 2013 and has been run successfully by a group of volunteers every month since then at Fibber Magee’s on Parnell Street (third Saturday of each month). Each month between 60 and 120 men come and enjoy each other’s company all the while attired in whatever fetish gear they wish to bring with them. Changing facilities and a free cloakroom are provided.
Any profits achieved from running the monthly night and associated events are donated to charity at the start of each year. In January 2014 donations were made to Gay Switchboard Ireland and to the Merchants Quay Project. GEAR Ireland was established from the outset as a non-commercial event run solely by volunteers to act as an outreach event for the gay fetish community.
Quite often it is difficult for gay men to come out of the proverbial fetish closet even after they have become open about their sexuality. Having a social event where these men can meet up with other likeminded men in an accepting and safe environment is the principal aim of GEAR Ireland, and without their continued support and attendance the event would cease to exist. GEAR Ireland and the Dublin Bears also have a very good relationship, and both groups partnered up to march together at Dublin Pride in June.
This year GEAR Ireland joined up with five other European fetish groups to have a presence at the Easter European Titleholders convention in Berlin, and at Folsom Europe, also held in Berlin in September. Ireland’s first fetish event titleholder Mr. GEAR Ireland 2014 was well received at both events and it planted the Irish gay fetish scene firmly on the map with our international brethren. The affiliated European groups have since encouraged GEAR Ireland to create extra titles for their 2015 competition to include Mr. Leather Ireland and Mr. Rubber Ireland which will ensure the Irish competition matches the competitions already held throughout Europe and America. The Irish titleholder competitions begin in November 2014 and culminate in the final in January 2015.
If any gay men are interested in going along to the monthly social events please log on to www.gearireland.com for further information. Get your gear on and enjoy!
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