Michael Zane Mr Hayes Valley 2012 sent me this very sweet recount of his experience of running for IML this year. Thank you Michael, you made us proud.
As I fly home from IML I am left with the memories of an experience that will forever change my life. For years I had wanted to go to IML simply as a spectator and, well, for all the hot leather men and sex. If you had asked me 18 months ago if I would have been standing on the IML stage, I would have told you that you were crazy. The thing is before February 15, 2011 I could not see much value in myself or my life. I had been battling and addiction to alcohol and crystal meth and it was claiming my life. I was at the end of my road and saw no way out of the hell I was living in, but suicide. In a final attempt to change the path I was on I asked for help and went to my first 12 step meeting. I was scared and desperate and would do anything to get relief from the hell I was living. One good thing about being at your absolute bottom and in total desperation is that there is no place to go but up. Eleven days after my first meeting I found myself at the San Francisco Eagles 30th anniversary party. I was newly sober, I didn’t know what end was up and I was scared.
Now I had always thought a man in leather was hot and there is nothing better than getting fucked with a pair of boots and chaps on, but I never understood the meaning of a leather family till that night. As I stood there, a terrified leather boy, I was introduced to Lance Holman who was then the current Mr. SF Leather. Lance recognized the fear in my eyes and literally took me under his big leather clad arm and protected me for the rest of the evening. That single event had changed my life, it was right then that I felt protected, safe and loved. It was in the leather community that I would be protected and encouraged to grow and mature. I attended Mr. SF Leather 2011, my first leather contest ever. I could not imagine myself ever worthy of standing on that stage or any other and putting my life on public display. Over the next several months my leather family began to grow. It was this family that saw potential in me when I could not see it in myself. I was introduced to Race Bannon and he must have saw something in me because since then he has been a mentor and Sir to me. With the guidance and love of my community I began to grow and venture out in the world. I eventually met my partner JB Kern and was introduced to the Hayes Valley family. With the encouraging words of the men I looked up to, I decided to run for my first leather title. On January 22, 2012 I became Mr. Hayes Valley 2012. I began to gain confidence in myself and began to reach out to my community with such members as Patrick Mulcahey and Queen Cougar. They sat with me and offered advice and love. I competed at Mr. SF and placed 3rd, not bad really for someone who could not even see value in their life just one year before.
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