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Women of Leather Interviews - Pat Baillie

What titles have you held?

After retiring from the Air Force in 1993, I was able to be out in the leather community and ran for the Ms Leather Masters 1995 contest in San Jose, CA. I won and about 1 month before I ran for International Ms Leather, the DBA for the Ms San Jose Leather became available so my title changed right before I left for Chicago. There wasn’t time to get a vest made but one of my mentors, Jeff Tucker, shared his 1993 Mr San Jose Leather and we restudded it by changing the 3 to 5 and the Mr to Ms. went to Chicago and competed in the first contest in the generation 2 (new producer took over – Amy Marie Meek – that was held out of CA with 19 contestants (highest since the contest started) and won IMsL 1995. 


What were you able to accomplish while holding your titles?

As a new-generation titleholder, the book was open for me. I wanted to travel during my title year internationally (outside North America). I went to Mr Europe Leather contest in Amsterdam as one of my first trips. Just to attend but one of the judges couldn’t make it and they asked me to join the judging team. I was the first woman to judge that contest and loved hearing from leathermen from all over Europe who competed.

There were not many women titles in those days and lots of events wanted to invite me but weren’t covering the trips so I spent a lot of money getting to events and connecting with women. I went through my $2600 travel fund on that first trip but it was worth every penny. During the Amsterdam trip, very few women attended but I connected with a local group and went to their play party before the contest's formal dinner. I spent a lot of time answering questions all year long and talking about what it meant to me to be a leatherwoman. 

Although I was supposed to be the pinnacle of leather leadership and had been in the community at this point for over 15 years (now it is almost 45 years), I think the title opened up a much better understanding of this thing we call the leather community. I learned the laws, challenges, and desires varied but we all came together 


What are the top three experiences you have had as a person of leather?

At the start of my run, I had a pin that I was selling and giving to contestants at the contests I went to. I was Celebrate Diversity. It was amazing to see those pins on vests over the years. I got the idea from Jeff who had a pin that said Better Together. It really was my theme for the year and contributed to our pin culture. I have lots of trade pins that each has their own unique story. 

I had been a community activist my whole life and in the second half of my year, I wanted to give back to communities and encourage them to grow and make a difference where they lived. Obviously, I was encouraging women to be part of that community and working with men to include women in their events and add local titles. I wanted to give communities a reason to get involved so I created Leatherwomen United (consider this a Tom Sawyer movement). I would come up with a theme (Voter Registration, Women’s Health Awareness, Food Drives, and Outreach to Youth) and ask the communities to join with events, activities, and volunteering locally and then report their results back to me so I could compile national levels that each community contributed to and could see their efforts connecting and impacting. The most amazing one was the food drive. I encouraged participants to bring canned or dry goods to an event (get a discount on the entry fee etc. with a can of peas…). Lots of leather folks stopped at stores on the way to events and several towns created so much support that their local towns started food backs (for example, Alameda Food Bank is still going on. I was just the idea person, so many people did the work and found a way to make the community look beyond itself. 

I am an educator so I love teaching classes and as I mentioned above, I learned so much during my year I found myself having more and more discussions about who we are as a community. I loved the opportunity to get a Master’s (although I am a boy at heart) in who we are. I continued to stay involved and try to keep building. I was part of the first Consent Counts survey as NCSF was growing its work because I had community connections with whom we could collect data on what is happening around consent issues and guidelines. I also have always valued the new titleholders and want to help them have the quality of experiences I have had as they go through their year. The IMsL and IMsLBB titleholder alumni have years of experience and I started the IMsL Foundation as a 401(c)3 during Generation 4 of the title that managed the fundraising and support for the new titleholders and education at the annual event. 


What are the bottom three experiences you have had as a person of leather?

Long before the title, I watched so many of my friends die from HIV/AIDS in the 80’s. I consider myself a GDI (God-dXXX Independent) but I did try to join the Phoenix Levi and Leather Club in Arizona in 1980. Over the years, many of those men died and I had to move on to another military assignment and never became a full member and decided to not join other organizations. It was helpful because I never ran into the issue of “I don’t like that group” as I worked with various communities. 

I value the honesty and integrity that is touted to be part of this community. I live by those standards and continue to believe others do as well. Unfortunately too many times, I have found that people steal from the community, don’t address issues directly with the person that they have an issue with, and seem to not want to see anyone else succeed. It has more and more prevented me from working as hard as I did in the early years. 

Although it seems there is a hierarchy in the leather titles (international, regional, state, and local) but bottom line, each title holder is a leader in their own way and they make their own legacy. We are all just working and should be recognized and valued. When community, producers, and titleholders lose that focus it can prevent others from stepping into the limelight and doing what they think needs to be the next step in this evolving leather journey.  


Who are your top three people who have had an impact on your life?

Leather-wise, when I started in San Jose I would have to say Jeff Tucker, Graylin Thornton, and Gabrielle Antolovich got me started. The San Jose and Albuquerque communities were amazing and supported me in all my wild ideas. Kevin Roche was my titleholder husband in San Jose and we had an amazing year. As I grew into a mentor and stepped out of the limelight, Chuck Renslow, Race Bannon, and Joe Gallagher have helped me step back and see the growth and change in the community as a natural progression and not good or bad. And then as I mentioned, there are the alumni of IMsL and IMsLBB. We are a group of people who have the title in common and little more but we come together when needed.  


What are three things you see have improved?

Communications – I was the first IMsL to have an email address during her title year and it is so much easier to connect and get the word out on events happening in the community and have better opportunities to build our history

More women titleholders around the country and in most cases, the men in the community are more aware. The improvement is that women are creating more of these events for themselves. 

It seemed in the early years there were leathermen and Leatherwomen with traditional looks, now the community includes puppies, bootblacks, fetish players, MX titles, and about anything that is outside the “vanilla paradigm”.  I never envisioned this as Celebrating Diversity but it is and I love it!


What are three things you see have gotten worse?

Communications – many times issues are put out on the internet instead of having discussions between the vested parties. I get concerned when all the facts may or may not come out and if things are resolved, that fact may not get out to let everyone know what happened.

COVID slowed us down and made us have to look for a new way to be in the community with the bars and the events. It also made many people rethink their priorities. I know I am looking for new leaders and what they want to work on and ask us to join in. It’s the way I look at leadership so I am learning to adjust.

I know that for me playing in the community and building relationships was about negotiation, trust, and consent. Things happen, mistakes are made, and even abuse happened but both parties decided if they wanted to connect again. I see now that those criteria seem to change. I know for me, the new trends make me think twice about playing.


What organizations are you a part of?

None actively but support leather history, women leadership and visibility efforts


What do you see for the future?

Being a mentor when needed and a listener to the adventures of new titleholders as they discover the world


What projects or events are you currently working on?

I continue to attend IMsLBB under Generation 5 but mostly have stepped back to focus on work, health, and my relationship with Lady


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