There are group-hugs and tears as Ireland’s representative at International Mr Leather in Chicago, Conor Vaughan-Buggy, gives us the final installment of his daily diary
Well it is done and I am exhilarated, exhausted and emotionally drained. I now understand how this unique experience really forms bonds of brotherhood and friendship that will last forever between the men that participate, not to mention the team that coordinated and helped us through the weekend. Yesterday we moved to the massive Harris Theatre and we spent the entire day rehearsing, in between group hugs and tears.
So I got into the top 20! I was stunned, to be honest, every single one of the 59 men on stage could have been in that group and deserved to be in it. I was able to stand up and give my 90-second speech and I received great praise for it afterwards. I was the first speech of the night, so I’m glad I made that impact. The text of my speech is below.
David Tigger Bailey (pictured left) won the International Mister Leather 2016 title. Tigger is an awesome guy from New Jersey and is very dedicated to the community here in the US. I hope to entice him over to Dublin for one of our Geared Ireland events ( www.gearedireland.com ). In the meantime I’m looking forward to Dublin Pride, where I’ll be marching with my Geared Ireland friends, wearing my International Mr Leather medal with pride!
My International Mr Leather Speech
I stand here as a teacher, and I’d like to help you all understand our past and look to our future. Many of you are thinking how fantastic it is that Ireland has become a shining example of equality. Well we have, but it was not always this way. Our three-decade fight for equality was prompted by the murder of an innocent.
In 1982, Declan Flynn died at the hands of five teenagers who were out to gay-bash in a sunny park in Dublin. They beat Declan so badly, he died choking on his own blood. They stole his money and watch. They walked free after using Declan’s sexuality as a defence, and the judge said: “This could never be regarded as murder”. The outrage amongst the LGBT community lead to the first march in Ireland for gay rights at a time when our community was underground and in fear for their lives.
It has been a long hard and exposed road since 1982. On the day of our marriage referendum last year when we realised all our hard work had paid off, flowers and badges were being left at Declan’s bench in the park to honour the man whose senseless murder triggered our 33-year fight. I could not take to this inspirational stage as a newly married man and not acknowledge him and those men and women that fought for our freedom and equality.
Ireland is an amazing beacon to the world on how the fight for equality can be achieved. As a community we must all remember our history and honour the generation that came before us and continue this fight and march forward together in unity. Thank you my friends.
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